Drone on

UAVs will rule the skies (unless the FAA says otherwise).

Jeff Bezos’ recent demonstration of a drone aircraft simulating delivery of an Amazon parcel was more stunt than technological breakthrough. We aren’t there yet. Yes, such things may well come to pass, but there are obstacles aplenty to overcome — not so much engineering snags, but cultural and regulatory issues.
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Four short links: 10 August 2012

Four short links: 10 August 2012

Coffee Rings, Scaling Laws, Autonomous Aircraft, and Dreaming Computers

  1. The Coffee-Ring Effect (YouTube) — beautiful video of what happens in liquids as they evaporate, explaining why coffee stains are rings, and how to create liquids with even evaporative coating.
  2. The Importance of Quantitative Thinking Medicine (PDF) — scaling laws underly aging, metabolism, drug delivery, BMI, and more. Full of wow moments, like Fractals are a common feature of many complex systems ranging from river networks, earthquakes, and the internet to stock markets and cities. [...] Geometrically, the nested levels of continuous branching and crenulations inherent in fractal­like structures optimise the transport of information, energy, and resources by maximising the surface areas across which these essential features of life flow within any volume. Because of their fractal nature, these effective surface areas are much larger than their apparent physical size. For example, even though the volume of our lungs is about 5–6 L, the total surface area of all the alveoli is almost the size of a tennis court and the total length of airways is about 2500 km. Even more striking is that if all the arteries, veins, and capillaries of an individual’s circulatory system were laid end to end, its total length would be about 100000 km, or nearly two and a half times around the earth.
  3. Autonomous Robotic Plane at MIT (YouTube) — hypnotic to watch it discover the room. A product of the Robust Robotics Group at MIT.
  4. Electric Sheep — hypnotic screensaver, where the sleeping computers collaborate on animations. You can vote up or down the animation on your screen, changing the global gene pool. Popular animations survive and propagate.
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