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Podcasts, webcasts, online video and audio on science and engineering topics.
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Podcasts, webcasts, online video and audio on science and engineering topics.

Housecat Adopts Bobcat Kittens

3 bobcat kittens we rescued by Big Cat rescue.

Introductions like these can be very scary because the mother cat can be overly protective of her own kittens and fatally strike out at the new comers. President, Jamie Veronica, has had a considerable amount of experience in this area though and had taken every precaution to make sure it went as well as it possibly could. Bobbi turned out to be a dream come true for three little orphaned bobcats though. She immediately pulled them in close to nurse and began to bathe them. The little bobcat babies were so startled that they hissed at her!

She ignored their resistance and just kept on loving on them. Once they figured out that this strange smelling “bobcat” mom had the real deal to offer at her breasts, they were in love too.

Related: Friday Cat Fun #12: Cat and PuppiesTreadmill CatsMother Cat with Bunny and Kittens

Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show: Rockets

Watch this fun webcast on how to make a rocket.

Related: Home Engineering: Bird Feeder That Automatically Takes Photos When Birds FeedLego Autopilot Project UpdateYoung Engineers Build Bridges with SpaghettiHome Engineering: Building a Hovercraft

Friday Fun: Robocup 2010, Robot Football

Robocup 2010 took place in Singapore and 2 German team faced each other in the finals. Robocup is an international research and education initiative. RoboCupRescue is a related effort to develop rescue robots for hostile environments.

Related: RoboCup 2008: Robot Football (Soccer)Robot Playing Table TennisToyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair

Nikola Tesla – A Scientist and Engineer

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, in the Austrian Empire (today’s Croatia), he was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth and later became an American citizen. Nikoka Tesla studied electrical engineering at Technical University at Graz, Austria, and the University of Prague.

Tesla’s patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, including the polyphase system of electrical distribution and the AC motor, which helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

In 1882 he moved to Paris, to work as an engineer for the Continental Edison Company, designing improvements to electric equipment brought overseas from Edison’s ideas.
According to his autobiography, in the same year he conceived the induction motor and began developing various devices that use rotating magnetic fields for which he received patents in 1888.

He emigrated to the United States in 1884 and sold the patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse the following year.

In 1887, Tesla began investigating what would later be called X-rays using his own single terminal vacuum tubes.

Tesla introduced his motors and electrical systems in a classic paper, “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers” which he delivered before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888. One of the most impressed was the industrialist and inventor George Westinghouse.

The Tesla coil, which he invented in 1891, is widely used today in radio and television sets and other electronic equipment. Among his discoveries are the fluorescent light , laser beam, wireless communications, wireless transmission of electrical energy, remote control, robotics, Tesla’s turbines and vertical take off aircraft. Tesla is the father of the radio and the modern electrical transmissions systems. He registered over 700 patents worldwide. His vision included exploration of solar energy and the power of the sea. He foresaw interplanetary communications and satellites.

“Within a few years a simple and inexpensive device, readily carried about, will enable one to receive on land or sea the principal news, to hear a speech, a lecture, a song or play of a musical instrument, conveyed from any other region of the globe.” – Nikola Tesla, “The Transmission of Electrical Energy without wires as a means for furthering Peace” in Electrical World and Engineer (7 January 1905)

“Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life.” – Nikola Tesla

Related: PBS – Tesla, Master of LightningWerner HeisenbergToyota Develops Thought-controlled WheelchairNeil Degrasse Tyson: Scientifically Literate See a Different World

Teaching Through Tinkering

I wrote about the Tinkering School, Engineering camp previously. I am a strong believer in the value of helping kids (even adult kids – the few that haven’t resigned themselves to limited capacity to wonder since they now are grown up and not suppose to waste their time dreaming) explore their ideas and assisting them in making those ideas into reality. I think this is the best way to learn, not learning to pass a test, but learning to gain knowledge and accomplish things. Here is a nice 15 minute talk by the founder of the Tinkering School, Gever Tulley: “Turning Curriculum Design On Its Head: Engage First Then Look for Learning Within”

The format of the tinkering school is week long sessions where the kids stay overnight.

Some quotes: “we would use real tools and real materials and we would build real things, not model building, [but instead] actual building.” “create a meaningful experience and learning will follow”

Gever Tulley recently published: Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).

Related: Home Engineering: Building a HovercraftKids Need Adventurous PlayAutomatic Cat FeederScience Toys You Can Make With Your KidsWhat Kids can Learn

Critter Cam: Sea Lion versus Octopus

Octopus vs. Sea Lion – First Ever Video

Sea lions fitted with GPS trackers and a National Geographic Crittercam are taking scientists on amazing journeys to previously unknown marine ‘hot spots.’ These areas are important not only for providing the sea lions’ food, but also for maintaining fish populations.

The Crittercams were deployed at Dangerous Reef in Spencer Gulf, a rocky island the size of a football field, and home to the biggest Australian sea lion colony.

Dr. Page says, “One important discovery is that the sea lions always feed on the sea floor” and they don’t eat open ocean fish, known as pelagic. “This is critical information because the marine parks are being set up to protect sea floor habitats,” a move that the scientists can now confirm will protect critical sea lion resources.

In one of the more spectacular pieces of Crittercam video so far, we can see this female working hard to handle a challenging prey item – a large octopus. Too big to swallow in one gulp, she drags it to the surface where she can breathe while she works at breaking it down into bite-size pieces.

Related: Orcas Create Wave to Push Seal Off IceOctopus Juggling Fellow Aquarium OccupantsWater Buffaloes, Lions and Crocodiles Oh MyCat and Crow Friends

Praying Mantis Attacks Hummingbird

The hummingbird did survive.

Related: Cat and Crow FriendsDarwin’s JellyfishesBird Using Bait to Fish

IBM Fellow Grady Booch on the Value of Engineering?

In this webcast IBM Fellow Grady Booch discusses the critical role engineering plays in moving society forward. And he explores the history of science and engineering. This interesting webcast would be a good video to show children, or anyone, to bring out the desire to study engineering and encourage them to study so they can join the many engineers shaping our world and our future.

Related: What is an Engineer?Engineer Tried to Save His Sister and Invented a Breakthrough Medical DeviceThe Engineer That Made Your Cat a PhotographerEngineers Should Follow Their Hearts

Robot Playing Table Tennis

This video shows the robot has a ways to go to become a decent ping pong opponent. But progress is being made. How soon before I can have fun competing with some robot basketball players?

TOPIO can play table tennis with human beings. It has a head, two hands and six legs. It can hit the ball, calculate scores and express feelings upon losing or winning a game. Four high-speed cameras help TOPIO identify the trajectory of the ball and accurately return shots. TOPIO knows how to hit an incoming ping pong ball when it has traveled only 20 cm from the opponents paddle.

The made-in-Vietnam robot TOPIO captured special attention at the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held in Tokyo in late 2007.

Related: RoboCup: Robot Football (Soccer)RoboCup German Open 2008Toyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair

Unique Dolphin Strategy for Hunting Fish

A pod of bottle-nose dolphins off the coast of Florida have developed a hunting technique unknown in other dolphins. One swims in a circle stirring up mud and then the dolphins wait to catch fish that jump out of the water to escape the contracting circle of muddy water.

Related: Dolphins Using Tools to HuntDo Dolphins Sleep?Dolphin Delivers Deviously for RewardsBird Using Bait to FishDolphin Rescues Beached Whales

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Creativity, Fulfillment and Flow

“After a certain basic point, which translates, more or less, to just a few thousand dollars above the minimum poverty level, increases in material well being don’t see to affect how happy people are.”

The speech includes, the first purpose of incorporation at Sony:

To establish a place of work where engineers can feel the joy of technological innovation, be aware of their mission to society, and work to their heart’s content.

Excellent books by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1991. People enter a flow state when they are fully absorbed in activity during which they lose their sense of time and have feelings of great satisfaction.
Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning.
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 1997. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with exceptional people, from biologists and physicists to politicians and business leaders to poets and artists, the author uses his famous “flow” theory to explain the creative process.

Related: Honda EngineeringThe Science of HappinessCurious Cat Management: posts on psychologyEngineers Should Follow Their HeartsThe Purpose of an Organization

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