ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... has some obvious flaws.  Some of these are things that Asimov himself explored in stories.  The matter has become more urgent these days with people deploying drones that can kill human beings.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Check out this robotic quadruped which can run and jump.  It's pretty cool.  Legs are more versatile than wheels for traversing uneven terrain and surmounting obstacles.  So this is a fascinating advance.

Although billed as a robotic cheetah, it lacks the characteristic flexible spine which creates the cheetah's famous speed.  I'm thinking more mechanical hound.  This isn't just a random quibble, by the way, it's science in action.  I know how  a cheetah generates so much speed -- that spine acts like a spring -- and I can apply that knowledge to other contexts.  So I knew to look at the spine of the robot.  Now if I were into competition robotics, this would inspire me to experiment with springy-spined robots to see if I could really make a robotic cheetah.  And maybe I'd try to stick a gyroscope in one too, because a cheetah's cornering agility is also a masterful thing, whereas vertical robots have this annoying tendency to wipeout on turns.  (I am impressed by the above robot's ability to stay upright.)  Since I'm not skilled at building robots, I'm putting these ideas online for the amusement of anyone who is.

Just, y'know, don't use it to make mechanical hounds for hunting bookworms.  In this society I feel a need to make that warning.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a cool article about the Amish adoption of technology. They all follow one basic rule: if a new thing is more trouble than it's worth, they won't use it.  Different Amish communities draw that line in different places.  

I actually use that rule myself, again with a different threshold.  I've had people call me Amish, meaning it as an insult, for not using things they think I should be using that I don't use because they're worthless or troublesome for me.  I say, "No, but that is where I got the idea."  It's a great rule.  It saves so many headaches.  I'm neophilic in many ways.  But I've seen society make a lot of stupid mistakes, and its safety precautions are abysmal.  This contributes to my caution about adopting new things myself.  I look for the drawbacks.

Most people don't.  Their default is to accept new technology.  They often don't consider the costs.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... the radioactive wild boar.  Eat one.  Get gored by one.  Stress one enough that it mutates.  Instant superpower.

*laugh*  And some people think I make this all up from whole cloth.  No, really, it's amazing how much of my F&SF inspiration I get straight out of the news.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This poem is from the September 2, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by Anthony Barrette, sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It also fills the "We're all going to die!" square on my 9-1-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest.

WARNING: This poem talks about cancer; the original prompt was for cancer survivors. It's mostly in allegorical terms, but that's the main focus. If this is a squicky topic for you, skip it.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Meet the current biggest dinosaur, link courtesy of my partner Doug.  Imagine riding that into battle.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Creepy little predator.  Now imagine if it were big enough to threaten your characters ...
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was fascinated by this effort to make computers display images that would appear sharp to people with vision defects.

Ghost Trees

Aug. 1st, 2014 03:57 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 The actions of the past are visible, like ghosts, in the shapes of present trees.

Lucy

Jul. 31st, 2014 08:16 pm
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
We watched the movie Lucy today. It was awesome; I heartily recommend it. I had been keeping my expectations down, because the trailers looked promising but I could see some obvious opportunities for things to go wrong (most of which did not happen) and the reviews were mixed. I now suspect that most of the people panning the movie missed 3/4 of the content and got hung up on the obvious cheese factor.  I plan to buy this at full price when it comes out on DVD.  I want to give these people my folding vote.

For those of you who do not mind explicit spoilers or have already seen it, I will discuss the awesome in more detail.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Apparently Satanists are asserting their religious right to make medical decisions based on science, and claiming that distorted anti-abortion propaganda violates their rights.  So, Satanists are treating people better than Christians are.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
An Indian university has bred seedless mangoes.  Science is SO AWESOME.
ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
This poem takes place in Terramagne, even though it came out of the very first Poetry Fishbowl on November 21, 2007, long before Polychrome Heroics was established. Over time I've learned to recognize different worlds and what makes them distinctive, so when I came back across this poem recently, I recognized it as belonging to this setting. This poem was inspired by prompts from LJ users Beetiger and Je_reviens. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman.

Read more... )
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article is really about why most people don't remember being babies

It doesn't mention the fact that some people DO remember.  But the logical explanation connects to at least one reason for remembering: those of us who come into this life with some memories already in place.  Think of it as a scaffold.  If you already have some memories, then you press that template into the barely-formed brain of your new body.  This makes it easier to attach new memories immediately.  The physical plasticity means you'll probably still lose some stuff, but you are way ahead of people who have to start from scratch.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer tipped me to this fascinating article about Naia, the oldest paleoamerican skeleton found. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
In honor of the holiday, here are a few tidbits to enjoy ...

"What Fireworks Are Like" -- John explains to Sherlock why fireworks are not fun for him.

"Fireworks" -- Rai and Bai watch fireworks with their father.

"The Winter Soldier -- Star Spangled Banner" -- gorgeous fanvid, all the feels.

Guide to Firework Colors
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Apparently if you skin frog legs and then salt them, they move.  My inner 12-year-old boy approves.

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