## 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.

## Engineering a Better Football

The football (soccer ball) for the 2010 FIFA World Cup features completely new, ground-breaking technology. Eight 3-D spherically formed panels are moulded together, harmoniously enveloping the inner carcass. The result is an energetic unit combined with perfect roundness.

Aero grooves create the clearly visible profile on the ball’s surface. The Grip’n’Groove profile circles around the entire ball in an optimal aerodynamic way. The integrated grooves provide unmatched flight characteristics, making this the most stable and most accurate Adidas football. The ground breaking performance features have been confirmed in comprehensive comparison tests at Loughborough University in England and countless checks in wind tunnel and the Adidas football laboratory in Scheinfeld, Germany.

The process, shown in the video, for manufacturing the footballs is way more complicate than I thought it would be.

## Friday Fun: Longest Basketball Shot

Amazing basketball shot from Texas. Popular Science looked at the physics involved:

The horizontal distance to the basket from the launch point is approximately 50 meters, and the launch angle Î¸ is about 20 degrees.

Looking at the horizontal part of the motion and accounting for the launch angle we can then determine the initial speed (v0) of the basketball necessary to cover the horizontal distance in 3.8 seconds. We get

Î”x = vhorizontal t = v0cosÎ¸t

and therefore v0 = Î”x/cosÎ¸t = 50 m /[cos 20 (3.8 s)] = 14 m/s

Now if we look at the vertical part of the motion we can determine how far the ball would drop in 3.8 seconds. We’ll then compare our theoretical result to the actual vertical distance from the third deck down to the basket that we observe in the video. (We estimate that drop to be similar to the horizontal distance of about 50 meters.) Therefore, based on the time of flight and the initial velocity that we determined above we calculate a vertical drop of

Î”y = v0vertical t + Â½ at2 = v0 sin t — Â½ gt2 = 14m/s(sin 20)(3.8 s) — Â½ (-9.8m/s2 )(3.8)2 = -53 m

Well, this corresponds pretty well to what we see in the video. Even accounting for the effects of air resistance (which we did not address above to keep things simple) the result isn’t altered drastically. The motion recorded in the video (in what appears to be a continuous frame) certainly appears possible according to the laws of physics.

See more videos of circus basketball shots by Dude Perfect.

## Bike Folds To Footprint of 1 Wheel

Inventor’s Bike Folds Into Its Own Wheel

Dominic Hargreaves‘s bike, The Contortionist, has been shortlisted for this year’s James Dyson Award for innovation. It may bag the young inventor Â£10,000.

The 24-year-old, from Battersea, London, said he wanted to create a decent folding bike after the one he was using collapsed. “I couldn’t find a folding bicycle I liked,” he added. “I wanted something that could take a bit of punishment and that you could have fun with. “So I made one myself.”

Mr Hargreaves has been in contact with various manufacturers and hopes to get the bike into production soon.

His bike lock system (see photo) won the Toyota IQ Awards.

Once again I have created a group on the ESPN NCAA Basketball Tournament Challenge for curiouscat college basketball fans. To participate, go to the curiouscat ESPN group and make your picks.

I also created a second challenge, using Sportsline, that rewards picking upsets. The password for this one is cat.

## Teen Goalie Designs Camouflage Pads

Teen goalie designs pads to trick shots

Leahy sketched out new leg pads that blend into the goal netting behind him. He wanted pads, a trapper, and a blocker that are white with a raised double-stitched design, just like the goal. He applied for a design patent and had them custom-made by a Canada-based pad maker.

“When the shooter comes down and only has a split second to shoot the puck, they’re looking for net,” said Leahy, a senior from Hampton, N.H., who grew up in Byfield. “If you put the net on the pad, they’ll shoot at the pad instead of the goal.”

Exactly what will happen to the pads after this season is unclear. Leahy said he would like to play hockey in college, probably at the club level, and wants to market the idea. “It would definitely be cool to get it out there and get other guys in the future wearing it,” he said.

## Fast Fitness Forecast is False, it Takes Time

Fitness Isn’t an Overnight Sensation

“To make a change in how you look, you are talking about a significant period of training,” Dr. Kraemer said. “In our studies it takes six months to a year.” And, he added, that is with regular strength-training workouts, using the appropriate weights and with a carefully designed individualized program. “That is what the reality is,” he said.

And genetic differences among individuals mean some people respond much better to exercise than others

Now, said Mr. Antane, who runs with a group in Princeton on Thursday nights, “everything changed — my outlook on life, who I hung out with, how I felt about myself.”

Our bodies evolved under conditions with much more exercise than we currently get if we sit in an office all day. And we had less food. It is no surprise with more food and less exercise that we gain weight. And given that the benefit of fat was to help us survive when we had little food out bodies don’t change overnight. If they did then our ancestors would have had much more difficulty surviving – the whole point was to provide a resource to tap in bad times. If that resource dissipated quickly it would not have helped much.

## RoboCup: Robot Football (Soccer)

RoboCup aims to, by 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world champion team in football. As the video shows the teams have a ways to go. But this seems like a great process.

## BCS Title Game, Live in 3D

BCS title game to be available live in 3-D

Thanks to an impressive — though not glitch-free — test broadcast of an NFL game two weeks ago, Burbank, Calif.-based 3Ality Digital said Tuesday it had won the contract to shoot the Jan. 8 BCS National Championship game in 3-D.

The game between Florida and Oklahoma will be broadcast live in 3-D to 80 to 100 movie theaters in about 30 U.S. cities, said 3Ality Chairman David Modell. Tickets are expected to cost \$18 to \$22, said Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., which is working with 3Ality to deliver the broadcasts to theaters.

“The live broadcast to the Paris Hotel and to movie theaters across the nation is the latest example of how we can deliver our programming to audiences in new and exciting ways,” said Jerry Steinberg, senior vice president of field operations and engineering for FOX Sports. “3D technology holds unlimited potential for the future of both sports broadcasting and live event production.”

Cool, though not quite the holographic TV I am still waiting for.

## How Aerobic Exercise Suppresses Appetite

How aerobic exercise suppresses appetite

Those of you who run, bike, swim, or otherwise engage in aerobic exercise have probably noticed that in spite of burning scads of calories during your chosen activity, the last thing you feel when you’re finished is hungry.

The researchers discovered that aerobic exercise produces increased peptide YY levels while lowering ghrelin, leading to decreased appetite. Weight training was associated with a decrease in ghrelin, but no change in peptide YY, meaning that there was a net suppression of appetite, but not to the same degree as observed with treadmill training. In both cases, changes in appetite lasted for about two hours.

I know I find this to be true for me.

## Static Stretching Decreases Muscle Strength

Stretching: The Truth

Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds – known as static stretching – primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them.

A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow.

To raise the body’s temperature, a warm-up must begin with aerobic activity, usually light jogging. Most coaches and athletes have known this for years.

Athletes who need to move rapidly in different directions, like soccer, tennis or basketball players, should do dynamic stretches that involve many parts of the body. “Spider-Man” is a particularly good drill: drop onto all fours and crawl the width of the court, as if you were climbing a wall.