I Go to Pieces

… and then get myself back together again.

A modular robot that reassembles itself after being kicked apart

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After successful self-reassembly, the system stands up and continues its task

… which is apparently to fall over like a drunk sailor soldier. (Sailors walk randomly, but don’t fall down. Everybody knows that.)

Random Nonphysics Link

Son-Of-A-Bitch Mouse Solves Maze Researchers Spent Months Building

The test subject, a common house mouse, briskly traversed the complicated wooden maze in under 30 seconds or, according to the study’s final report, roughly 1/8,789,258 as long as it took the lab to secure funding for the experiment.


“Had we obtained any usable data, perhaps that information would have led to the development of a cure for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said Dr. William Eng, who led the team responsible for creating the maze. “What is unclear at this time is why this particular mouse had to be such a dick and render useless all the work we had put into this controlled behavioral experiment.”


Over at Skulls in the Stars

We want to put a sundial up on the new building on which I’ve been working. (sooooo close to being done, too). I had joked at one point that we would mount a light that would move around the gnomon, so you could read it at night. Just like that first clock.

But, take any of these with a 5 MHz or even 1 pps input, and we could do something with it …

UPDATE: an animated version of the “word” clock

Name That Ampersand

More than you probably wanted to know about ampersands and how they look in different fonts.

As both its function and form suggest, the ampersand is a written contraction of “et,” the Latin word for “and.” Its shape has evolved continuously since its introduction, and while some ampersands are still manifestly e-t ligatures, others merely hint at this origin, sometimes in very oblique ways.

He Ain't Heavy

… he’s my unbibium.

Reports of a naturally occurring superheavy element

Non peer-reviewed reports, mind you, this is on arXiv

In the neighborhood of Z = 122, A = 292, abundance = 10^-12, relative to thorium, and a half-life in excess of 100 million years. Found when doing mass-spectrometry on Thorium. The half-life appears to be inferred from the relative abundance. If it’s real.