Wormholes, Monopoles, and Weyl Fermions: Making Exotic Physics Inside Ordinary Matter

Wormholes, Monopoles, and Weyl Fermions: Making Exotic Physics Inside Ordinary Matter

I write about physics, science, academia, and pop culture.

There’s been a bit of buzz this week about an experiment that has created a “magnetic wormhole” (which was actually released several weeks ago, as you can see from the date on that story, so I’m not quite sure why it’s making news now…). This is analogous to the spacetime wormholes that are a staple of science fiction, only rather than carrying Matthew McConaughey to a giant black hole without passing through the intervening space, it transports a magnetic field from one side of an apparatus to the other without producing any detectable field in between.
This joins a list of other experiments that have observed analogues of exotic phenomena inside other forms of matter– the most recent of these is the discovery of “Weyl fermions,” the subject of a bunch of papers in Nature Physics and this Physics World story (a more technical writeup is available from Physics, as well, which includes a PDF of one recent experiment). There have also been some high-profile experiments making magnetic monopoles, inside solid matter, and in a dilute vapor Bose-Einstein Condensate (the latter experiments included a visiting professor at Union, which is cool).
I’m not going to go into the technical details of these, which are extremely complicated, but the collision of the Weyl fermion and magnetic wormhole pieces in my social media feeds reminded me of a general point that I think is worth a blog post. Back at the Schrödinger Sessions, Prof. Jimmy Williams of JQI (not this kid) gave a talk about condensed matter physics including an excellent introduction to this sort of stuff. At the time, I said “I’m totally going to
steal \borrow that for a blog post,” and now I will…
Prof. Jimmy Williams talking at the Schrodinger Sessions. (Photo by Chad Orzel)
Prof. Jimmy Williams talking at the Schrodinger Sessions. (Photo by Chad Orzel)

The fundamental problem of condensed matter physics is describing the behavior of particles in vast numbers coming together to make a liquid or solid. This is, in principle, a tremendously difficult task, as it involves far too many particles to count– all the electrons and all the nuclei inside whatever you’re trying to describe– and all of them are charged particles that interact with each other via the electromagnetic interaction.Williams pointed out in his talk, though, that if you just start with the simplest, stupidest spherical-cow approximation you can imagine– that is, saying that the atomic nuclei are fixed in place and the electrons are free to move through the resulting matrix without interacting– it works surprisingly well to describe the properties of electrical conductors. We make heavy use of this in our introductory physics courses, because you can understand a lot of material properties just by thinking of conductors as containing electrons that rattle around inside the material moving more or less freely– I wrote up a blog version of this many years ago, explaining how the microscopic motion of
electrons leads to Ohm’s Law.

This is kind of incredible when you stop to think about it, because the underlying physics is really complicated. But somehow, in the end, the effect of all those interactions is just to shift the properties of the electron by a tiny amount. It’s as if inside those materials, you have electrons flying around freely whose effective mass is a tiny bit larger or smaller than that of an ordinary electron outside the material. In other cases you can modify the effective charge of the electron; there are semiconductor materials that behave in most ways as if current was being carried by particles with positive charge, rather than the negative charge of real electrons.

This picture provides a nice conceptual framework for understanding a lot of the activity in condensed matter physics. As Williams noted, the observation that these complicated interactions very naturally gives you small changes in the effective properties of the electron immediately makes physicists ask “How far can we push this?” And with a more complete understanding of what’s really going on– a full quantum-mechanical treatment including energy bands and all the rest– condensed matter physicists can figure out exactly what sorts of material properties give rise to these shifts. Armed with that knowledge, they can go looking for materials that produce really extreme effects.
That’s what’s going on in the experiments I listed at the start of this post: physicists have found substances (some naturally occurring, some artificially engineered) where the effect of all those interactions is not a tiny modification of the properties of the electron, but a drastic one. In the case of the “Weyl fermions” (and earlier experiments observing “Dirac fermions” in graphene), the effective mass of the electrons in a particular material is pushed all the way down to zero. Something similar is going on in the “magnetic monopole” and “magnetic wormhole” experiments; in these systems, the “particles” are larger collections of things, but the end result is similar: you can describe the resulting system in terms of “effective” particles with properties that are radically different than anything found in nature.
Philosophically, this raises a couple of interesting issues. One is that this is another Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics kind of situation– it’s not obvious that nature has to work this way, but it’s very convenient that it does. There’s also a deep philosophical question about whether investigating these analogues of exotic particles in condensed matter systems actually tells you anything about the physics of fundamental exotic particles.
Those are conversations for a different context, though. For the purposes of this post, I just want to note that this is a Thing condensed-matter physicists can do. And something worth celebrating as amazingly cool.
Chad Orzel is a physics professor, pop-science author, and blogger. His latest book is Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist (Basic Books, 2014).

How 'Quantum Cognition' Can Explain Humans' Irrational Behaviors


How 'Quantum Cognition' Can Explain Humans' Irrational Behaviors

An emerging theory takes principles from quantum physics and applies them to psychology.
Dabarti CGI / Shutterstock
The theory of quantum mechanics earned its stripes by making accurate predictions concerning the behavior of atoms and the tiny particles that make them up. No one quite understands what quantum mechanics means, but it works. That’s its appeal, and so it’s understandable that researchers in other fields might want to borrow the insights of quantum mechanics.
Enter “quantum cognition,” a new theory which suggests that the mathematical principles behind quantum mechanics could be used to better understand another notoriously inexplicable area of study: human behavior.
Researchers from Ohio State University, Indiana University, and Queensland University of Technology, recently published a pair of review papers explaining this emerging theory. Quantum models are particularly useful when humans behave in ways that seem irrational under classical probability theory.
“It’s interesting—when we say something is irrational in decision-making, it’s because it’s against what a classical probability-based decision model should predict,” says Zheng Joyce Wang, an associate professor of communication at Ohio State University and a co-author on both papers. “But humans don’t behave in that way.”
Take, for example, the classic prisoner’s dilemma. Two criminals are offered the opportunity to rat each other out. If one rats, and the other doesn’t, the snitch goes free while the other serves a three-year sentence. If they both rat, they each get two years. If neither rats, they each get one year. If players always behaved in their own self-interest, they’d always rat. But research has shown that people often choose to cooperate.
Classical probability can’t explain this. If the first player knew for sure that the second was cooperating, it would make most sense to defect. If the first knew for sure that the second was defecting, it would also make most sense to defect. Since no matter what the other player is doing, it’s best to defect, then the first player should logically defect no matter what.
A quantum explanation for why player one might cooperate anyway would be that when one player is uncertain about what the other is doing, it’s like a Schrödinger’s cat situation. The other player has the potential to be cooperating and the potential to be defecting, at the same time, in the first player’s mind. Each of these possibilities is like a thought wave, Wang says. And as waves of all kinds (light, sound, water) are wont to do, they can interfere with each other. Depending on how they line up, the can cancel each other out to make a smaller wave, or build on each other to make a bigger one. If “the other guy’s going to cooperate” thought wave gets strengthened in a player’s mind, he might choose to cooperate too.
The making of a decision collapses a thought wave into a particle, according to Jerome Busemeyer and Peter Bruza’s book Quantum Models of Cognition and Decision. “We argue that the wave nature of an indefinite state captures the psychological experience of conflict, ambiguity, confusion, and uncertainty; the particle nature of a definite state captures the psychological experience of conflict resolution, decision, and certainty,” they write.
The act of answering a question can move people from wave to particle, from uncertainty to certainty. In quantum physics, the “observer effect” refers to how measuring the state of a particle can change the very state you’re trying to measure. In a similar way, asking someone a question about the state of her mind could very well change it. For example, if I’m telling a friend about a performance review I have coming up, and I’m not sure how I feel about it, if she asks me “Are you nervous?” that might get me thinking about all the reasons I should be nervous. I might not have been nervous before she asked me, but after the question, my answer might become, “Well, I am now!”
This doesn’t necessarily happen every time someone asks you a question—some answers you just know, you don’t have to make them up on the spot, which means there might not be an observation effect. “For many questions you do have a stored answer that is simply retrieved on demand (e.g. Have you ever read a certain book?),” Busemeyer and Bruza write. “But other questions are new and more complex and you have to construct an answer from your current state and context (e.g. Did you like the moral theme of that book?).”
Another key concept in quantum cognition is the idea of “complementarity.” Two ideas are complementary if they are incompatible, if you can’t think about them both at the same time. This is similar to the uncertainty principle in quantum physics, which states that if you are certain of a particle’s position in space, you must necessarily be uncertain of its speed, and vice versa. Translated to decision-making, this means that if you are certain about what you think about one thing, you can’t simultaneously be certain what you think about another thing.
“We have limited capacity,” Wang says. “This is nothing new. We know we cannot think about everything at the same time.” We can think about some things at the same time, for example, a person can simultaneously know her name and age. Those two things are compatible. You can ask the questions “What’s your name?” and “How old are you?” in whatever order and expect to get the same answers. Classical probability works here. But if the answers are incompatible, then the order you ask the questions matters. Here’s an example, from the Busemeyer/Bruza book:
Suppose a teenage boy is directly asked “How happy are you?” the typical answer is “Everything is great.” However if this teenager is first asked “When was the last time you had a date?” then the answer tends to be “Seems like a long time ago.” Following this sobering answer, a later question about happiness tends to produce a second answer that is not so sunny and rosy.
In this scenario, asking the teen about the dates he’s not having before asking if he’s happy gets him thinking about happiness in terms of romantic success, which, welcome to the rest of your life, hypothetical teen boy. This explanation makes sense, but like many non-quantum explanations of the order effect, it’s “vague, general, and verbal,” Wang says.
“Intuitively, it makes sense, of course,” she continues. “The first question changes the context to answer the second question, but the problem here is that it’s not very precise. It’s not really very testable.”
Quantum probability can take the intuitive answer and show how it works with math. Previous work done by Wang and her colleagues showed that quantum models were able to predict order effects shown in 70 different national surveys. None of this means that the brain is necessarily a quantum machine. It may be! But we don’t know. Either way, scientists can still use quantum probability to predict and model behavior.
All these behaviors that seemed irrational under classical probability models become explainable through quantum theory. (Which, incidentally, can also explain all the stuff that classical probability can, leading Wang to think that “classical probability theory is a special case of quantum probability theory.”)
“Rationality itself depends on how you define it,” Wang says. “It’s perfectly consistent with theory, and so it’s rational. Quantum rational.”

Why would Steve Rannazzisi or anyone lie about surviving 9/11?

Why would Steve Rannazzisi or anyone lie about surviving 9/11?

Washington Post
Steve Rannazzisi didn't sound like someone putting on a show.
"I was sort of the party starter of Merrill Lynch," he said in an interview in 2009. "Until our building got hit with a plane."
"Oh, Christ," his interviewer, the podcast host Marc Maron, interjected.
"Yeah. And then the party ended right there."
Without tears or theatrics, Rannazzisi went on to explain that he was working on the 54th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. He felt the impact of a plane ramming into the first tower and ran outside to see what was happening. When the building began to crumble, "I just started f_ing booking it," he told Maron. He stopped just in time to turn around and see the second tower collapse.
When he and his fiancée — who was supposed to be working in the towers but was still on the subway when the planes hit — got home, they decided to leave the city for Los Angeles, a decision Rannazzisi often credited with jump-starting his career.
"How much did it f_ you up mentally?" Maron wanted to know.
"I still have dreams of like, you know those falling dreams," Rannazzisi said.
But Rannazzisi's account was no more real than those dreams. This week, the New York Times uncovered that the 37-year-old comedian, a star on the FXX show "The League," was working several miles from the site of the attacks that morning. Confronted with this story, he issued an apologetic series of tweets Wednesday.
"As a young man, I made a mistake that I deeply regret and for which apologies may still not be enough," he wrote. "After I moved with my wife to Los Angeles from New York City in 2001 shortly after 9/11, I told people that I was in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. It wasn't true. I was in Manhattan but working in a building in midtown and I was not at the Trade Center on that day."
"I don't know why I said this," he continued. "This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry."
Though actual victims of trauma often struggle to talk about their experiences, there is no lack of pretend survivors eager to tell their tales. False memoirists have written for years about drug addiction, child abuse and Holocaust survival. In one famous case, an American woman claimed to be a survivor of both the Holocaust and abuse by a Satanic cult.
Rannazzisi isn't even the most famous person to have publicly pretended to have survived 9/11.
In fact, to Angelo J. Gugliemo Jr., Rannazzisi's account sounded a lot like one he had heard from his friend Tania Head, the former president of the World Trade Center Survivors' Network. Like Rannazzisi, Head spoke of working for Merrill Lynch on the morning of 9/11. Like Rannazzisi, she said she had a fiancé who worked in the towers (though he was killed in the attacks).
Like Rannazzisi, Head wasn't telling the truth.
Though some lies have obvious tangible benefits for the teller, the impulse that drove Head, Rannazzisi and others to make up their stories is more complicated. Neither Head nor Rannazzisi wrote books or sought compensation from a survivor's fund. Neither gained any kind of obvious advantage for framing themselves as a victim.
Head, who still hasn't admitted to fabricating her story despite evidence that she was taking classes in Spain on that day, won't say why she made it up. According to his tweets, Rannazzisi doesn't know.
The simplest explanation may be that such liars feel ignored and crave attention. Sometimes there's an intangible social reward, particularly in recent years, to having been a victim. Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who claimed to be African American, seemed to thrive on stories of encountering discrimination. She also got a job as the director of the NAACP in Spokane. Pretending to have experienced trauma is a way to reap whatever real or perceived benefits victimhood provides without actually having to suffer the real event.
Psychologist Christopher Chabris, who studies false memory, said that Rannazzisi's story isn't a case of someone mistakenly remembering something that didn't really happen. It's about inserting one's self into a narrative that's already getting a lot of sympathy.
"I'm not sure it takes a psychologist to come up with motivations for that," he said. "Saying you survived 9/11 . . . is a more attention-getting story. You can get into a loop where if you get rewarded for that sort of thing you keep on doing it."
But Gugliemo, who was friends with Head for several years and directed the documentary "The Woman Who Wasn't There" about her fabrication, has a more charitable explanation.
"I think Tania started to reach out to [survivors] simply as one human to another and ended up becoming a 9/11 survivor," he told The Washington Post. "She needed that intimacy, that connection. She needed to be part of that community and not an outsider."
In a strange way, it makes sense to him that someone might want to lay claim to some piece of 9/11 experience, despite the horror of the actual event.
"There's a very pure form of love that is part and parcel with people's reaction to survivors and people who have actually endured a horrific unthinkable event. It's just this outpouring compassion," Gugliemo said. ". . . I think people need a piece of that more than anything. That feeling of belonging."
"It's a dark world," he continued, "People have voids they are trying to fill."
The psychology behind that explanation for liars is as complicated as the stories they tell. Neither Rannazzisi nor Head is quite a pathological liar — there's no evidence that they have a chronic compulsion to tell falsehoods, other than this one big one. Neither do they appear to have been suffering from false memories (as some psychologists argued about Brian Williams, who inaccurately claimed to have been shot down while reporting in Iraq). Rannazzisi tweeted that he wished for many years he could take back his story, knowing that it was untrue.
But Gugliemo's explanation — that they do it for connection — is a one that psychologists have considered.
Rannazzisi and Head's falsehoods are similar to what psychiatrists call Munchhausen Syndrome. Named for an 18th century German baron who became famous for telling unbelievable tales about his exploits (riding bestride a cannonball, driving a sleigh pulled by a wolf, dancing a Scottish jig in a fish's stomach), a condition that causes people to feign illness or psychological trauma in order to gain sympathy. Munchhausen patients are aware that their symptoms and stories are made up, but, like Rannazzisi, they don't know how to stop themselves from telling them. One Munchhausen sufferer, Wendy Scott, told the New York Times she faked ailments because she "just wanted to be in the hospital."
There, she thought, "somebody will care."
The compulsion to invent trauma may go even beyond the simple need for sympathy or attention. Particularly in cases of collective importance — like the Holocaust or 9/11 — a fabricated memory can reflect the desire to be part of the communal outpouring of emotion that stems from it.
In a 2013 article in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, Harvard psychologist Brendan Gaesser argued that there is "neural overlap" between imagination, memory and empathy. Functional neuroimaging studies have shown that a "shared constellation of brain regions" lights up both when patients are asked to recall a personal experience and when they are prompted to empathize with another person.
This is an adaptive trait, Gaesser suggests. Our ability to imagine a shared future and remember a shared past enables us to form the groups that make us such an "evolutionary success story." That we respond so dramatically to another's pain we build it into our own experience — consciously or unconsciously — could be seen as a human virtue.
Until, in cases like Rannazzisi's, it becomes a human failing.
"It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones," he tweeted about his falsehood Wednesday. "The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake."

How To Access The Dark Web

How To Access The Dark Web

CryptoJunky (cryptojunky) | February 18th, 2015


This article will show you how to access the Deep Web. There is some awesome stuff on the deep web as well as some not so awesome stuff. Be careful when browsing. Unlike the internet you use everyday, this portion of the web is largely unregulated and as such is host to the full-spectrum of what humans are capable of, from the incredible to the horrible. Note that I do not endorse any of the sites here, browse at your own risk.
Also, for tips on staying safe on the Dark Web and elsewhere online, see the Jolly Roger's Security Guide For Beginners

The Dark Web

So you've heard of the dark web before but aren't quite sure what it is, or what to make of it. You may have also heard terms thrown out there like the deep internet, dark internet, and surface internet. These all refer to different yet sometimes overlapping spaces on the internet.
Surface Internet:
The surface internet refers to the internet most people access everyday. It's largely where sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Yahoo exist.
Deep Web:
The deep internet is the portion of the internet that is typically not indexed by search engines (i.e. Google, Bing).
Dark Internet:
The dark internet refers to web addresses and network hosts that no one is able to reach.
Dark Web:
Dark Web refers to the portion of the internet that people intentionally bury and is typically only accessible through the use of a special browser.
A lot of people use these terms interchangeably but they do in fact refer to different areas of the internet.
What I'll be showing you here is how to access the dark web through the Tor browser bundle. The dark web has been the home to sites like The Silk Road Marketplace, a site where users often trade Bitcoin for drugs. Yet the dark web also plays an important role for political dissidents and the privacy conscious. Even Facebook recently set up a way to access their site via Tor, making Facebook one of the newest additions to the dark web.

Meet Your New Browser: Tor

So how do you get to the dark web?
Well first you're going to need to download the Tor Browser Bundle from The Tor Browser Bundle contains a version of Firefox along with some additional software that keeps websites from seeing your IP address and other information as you browse the web. Versions of the Tor browser have been made for just about every operating system, from Windows to Mac to Linux and Android, so you shouldn't have any problems there. I'm not going to go into the details of how Tor works here, for that I suggest you check out this overview of Tor from
Download Tor Here
Once you have Tor downloaded go ahead and start it by running the file that you downloaded. For Windows users this will be a .exe file that will install the Tor browser bundle for you. For Linux users you'll need to run the start-tor-browser file found in the folder that you just downloaded.
After you've downloaded and installed Tor just start the program. Soon you'll see Tor's version of Firefox pop up with a window that should look like this:
Tor Congratulations Screenshot
You can also use the Tor browser to visit websites anonymously. One of the simplest uses of Tor is to check how web sites render or display from different areas of the world. For instance, if you go to in Tor you'll more than likely find yourself at the home page for another country's version of Google.

Getting To The Dark Web

Once you are up and running with Tor the next step is to visit our first .onion sites. The .onion suffix is sort of like .com or .net. Sites that use the .onion suffix are largely what make up the dark web and are only accessible through the use of the Tor browser.
The first thing I'm going to have you do is to go to this article in Tor. Just copy and past the address into the Tor Browser and you should see it render just like here. We're doing this so that you can click directly on the .onion addresses below and not have to copy and past them every time.
Note: When you navigate to this site you will see a warning sign saying that this site is trying to extract HTML5 canvas data.... This is from the code used to generate the bitcoin QR codes on the side of the page. You probably won't even use those codes so feel free to click not now and not allow this site access. The only functionality you'll be missing is the QR codes on the site. Also, if you're not comfortable with this then just copy and paste the links from here into Tor.
How To Access The Dark Web
It should look like this:
How To Access The Dark Web - Screenshot
Usually when you're looking for something online you start with a search engine, so that's what we're going to do next.

Tor Search

Tor Search is a crude search engine for the dark web. To use it just type in kbhpodhnfxl3clb4.onion to your address bar like you would a normal site.
Tor Search (.onion link)
You should see something like this pop up on your browser:
Tor Search Screenshot
If you get a web page from your ISP saying that the website wasn't found and offering suggestions, then you probably just typed or entered the address into your regular web browser. Make sure you're using the Tor browser you downloaded and installed earlier.
To test Tor Search enter the term bitcoin and you'll see results for bitcoin mining pools among other things.
Tor Search Bitcoin

All You're Wiki

So Tor Search was great and all, but let's be honest, it isn't quite the portal to the dark web you were looking for. In that case you might like this Wiki built specifically for .onion sites. It is a bit cleaner than some of the other places you might come across down there and lists a lot of useful Tor sites.
All You're Wiki (.onion link)
All You're Wiki Screenshot


Now let's try a site you might be more familiar with, Facebook. Late last year Facebook announced that they would be opening a .onionportal to their site (https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion/).
Facebook (.onion link)
Now, you could access Facebook through their normal url, but you could also try through their new .onion url. For the record I have yet to use this version of Facebook and probably won't. Still, navigating to their .onion url should look something like this:
Facebook Onion


Now let's say that you don't want to search the dark web, but you want to search the surface web from the dark web. Well you're in luck as there is a .onion portal to search engine DuckDuckGo.
DuckDuckGo (.onion link)
DuckDuckGo Onion Screenshot

Other Methods For Getting To The Dark Web

There is a handy site that acts as a layer between the surface internet and the dark web called If you want to access a site on the Tor network but for whatever reason don't care to use the Tor browser then you can use this site. Just replace the .onion suffix of the tor/onion site with

Surface Internet Communities For Those Interested In The Dark Web

At the moment there are a number of subreddits and other sites that are the place to go if you're interested in learning about the dark web and .onion sites but don't actually want to poke around there.
Here is a short list:


Well there you have it, you are now fully able to access the dark web and visit .onion sites like a pro! You'll find all sorts of sites down here, from sites for political organization to digital marketplaces to bitcoin mining pools. Now you might ask, but why would I need this? Well there are a number of possible reasons. For a lot of us, myself included, I'm curious about the workings of the dark web. The idea that another internet exists that is beyond the reach of a lot of law enforcement is both incredibly intriguing and somewhat terrifying.
Maybe you're a journalist looking to dig up some information, or a political dissident. Maybe you're an intel analyst looking form information about a criminal or terrorist organization, maybe you just like your privacy and want a more anonymous internet where your every move isn't being recorded and marketed to. Or maybe you're just curious and want to see what this wild-west of the internet is doing. Either way, thanks for reading and stay safe down here!
If you have any questions or suggestions be sure to leave them in the comments and I'll get back to you with a response (I tip bitcoin to helpful comments!).

Check Out These Spectacular New Images Of Pluto

Check Out These Spectacular New Images Of Pluto

September 18, 2015 | by Elise Andrew
Photo credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
NASA just released their new images of Pluto and they are stunning. The header image above features Pluto’s crescent and was captured on July 14th by New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging (MVIC) camera and downlinked on September 13. In it we see the incredible Plutonian landscape backlit by the Sun.
“This image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, in a statement. “But this image is also a scientific bonanza, revealing new details about Pluto’s atmosphere, mountains, glaciers and plains.”

The breathtaking new view showcases an area 1,250 kilometers (7480 miles) across. In it we see part of the heart of Pluto—a region informally named Sputnik Planum—and the icy mountains surrounding it.
Earlier data collected by the LORRI instrument revealed Pluto’s tenuous, nitrogen rich atmosphere to be layered and hazy. In this image we can see more than a dozen layers of thin atmospheric haze that extends as high as 100 meters (60 miles). Also visible is what appears to be a bank of low-lying fog highlighted as the Sun sets against Pluto’s dark side. Pluto could experience daily, changing weather just like we have here on Earth.

"In addition to being visually stunning, these low-lying hazes hint at the weather changing from day to day on Pluto, just like it does here on Earth," said Will Grundy, lead of the New Horizons Composition team from Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona.

After the first close-up images were beamed back from New Horizons, the science team began to find evidence that it could snow on Pluto, granted the snow would not be like what we have here on Earth. These latest images help to back that up by providing evidence that Pluto has an Earth-like hydrological cycle; however, rather than water ice this process would involve exotic ices such as nitrogen ice. The heart of Pluto—aka Sputnik Planum—is an frozen plain, rich in nitrogen ice. As this area is exposed to the little bit of sunlight Pluto receives, the ices heat and the nitrogen evaporates. It then falls back down in the form of snow in the surrounding mountains. The team thinks the ice then returns to Sputnik Planum in the form of glacial flow as seen in previous images.
"We did not expect to find hints of a nitrogen-based glacial cycle on Pluto operating in the frigid conditions of the outer solar system,” said Alan Howard, a member of the mission’s Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “Driven by dim sunlight, this would be directly comparable to the hydrological cycle that feeds ice caps on Earth, where water is evaporated from the oceans, falls as snow, and returns to the seas through glacial flow.”

These images are just a taste of what’s to come as it will take New Horizons 12 more months to fully downlink all the data collected from the flyby. What we’ve seen so far has shown what was once thought to be a boring, icy body devoid of any activity to be dynamic and surprisingly Earth-like. According to Stern “no one predicted it.”

What Is The Dark Web

What Is The Dark Web?

August 17, 2015 | by David Glance
Photo credit: There’s a dark side to the internet. powtac/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND
The “dark web” is a part of the world wide web that requires special software to access. Once inside, web sites and other services can be accessed through a browser in much the same way as the normal web.
However, some sites are effectively “hidden”, in that they have not been indexed by a search engine and can only be accessed if you know the address of the site. Special markets also operate within the dark web called, “darknet markets”, which mainly sell illegal products like drugs and firearms, paid for in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
There is even a crowdfunded “Assassination Market”, where users can pay towards having someone assassinated.
Because of the the dark web’s almost total anonymity, it has been the place of choice for groups wanting to stay hidden online from governments and law enforcement agencies. On the one hand there have been whistleblowers using the dark web to communicate with journalists, but more frequently it has been used by paedophile groups, terrorists and criminals to keep their dealings secret.
Going Dark
There are a number of ways to access the dark web, including the use of Tor, Freenet and I2P. Of these, the most popular is Tor (originally called The Onion Router), partly because it is one of the easiest software packages to use. Tor downloads as a bundle of software that includes a version of Firefox configured specifically to use Tor.
Tor provides secrecy and anonymity by passing messages through a network of connected Tor relays, which are specially configured computers. As the message hops from one node to another, it is encrypted in a way that each relay only knows about the machine that sent the message and the machine it is being sent to.
Rather than conventional web addresses, Tor uses “onion” addresses, which further obsure the content. There are even special versions of search engines like Bing and Duck Duck Go that will return onion addresses for Tor services.
It is a mistake to think that Tor is entirely anonymous. If a web site is accessed, it can still potentially find out information about whoever is accessing the site because of information that is shared, such as usernames and email addresses. Those wanting to stay completely anonymous have to use special anonymity services to hide their identity in these cases.

The real deal is only virtual. Antana/Flickr, CC BY-SA
Services on the dark web would not have been as popular without a means of paying for them. This is something that Bitcoin has made possible. A recent study by Carnegie Mellon researchers Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin has calculated that drug sales on the dark net total US$100 million a year. Most, if not all, was paid for in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is made even more difficult to track on the dark web through the use of “mixing services” like Bitcoin Laundry, which enables Bitcoin transactions to be effectively hidden completely.
How ‘Dark’ Is The Dark Web?
The developers of Tor and organisations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF argue that the principal users of Tor are activists and people simply concerned with maintaining their privacy. Certainly, Tor has been used in the past for journalists to talk to whistleblowers and activists, including Edward Snowden).
However, even a cursory glance at the Hidden Wiki – the main index of dark websites – reveals that the majority of sites listed are concerned with illegal activities. Some of these sites are scams, and so it is not clear how easy it is to buy guns, fake passports and hire hackers from the services listed. But there are likely sites on the dark web where these things are entirely possible.
Although the dark web makes law enforcement agencies’ jobs much more difficult, they have had a great deal of success in bringing down sites and arresting their users and the people behind them. The most famous of these was the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the person behind the most well known of the drug markets, Silk Road.
More recently, the FBI’s arrest of two users of a child abuse site on the dark web highlighted that they are now able to use a range of techniques to unmask Tor users’ real internet addresses.
The Conversation

Rules of life of Audrey Hepburn. Memorize!

Rules of life of Audrey Hepburn. Memorize!

Terrific sincere. No pathos. That's her. Such as it was. Such as it is. On it one can not speak in the past tense. Because it-Audrey Hepburn. A woman with eyes fawn.

We publish the rules for you. To know. To remember
Creative Agency "My World"
So: Audrey Hepburn advises ....
"I'm half Irish, half-Dutch, and was born in Belgium. If I were a dog, I would be in big trouble.
When I was little, my parents with me forever is not enough time. Chocolate has been my only love, and he never gave me no.
All my life my mother inspired me that a person must be useful.
I remember when I was ill with bronchitis during the war, my mother said: "I wish I could drink your orange juice. I wish I could get it for you milk and eggs. " I thought how nice that she wants me to indulge. But now I understand what it meant for her to go to bed, not knowing what she was going to feed me the next day.
As a child I was taught that to attract attention and to arrange performances - a sign of bad manners. Exactly this I began to earn a living.
I'm not beautiful. My mother once called me an ugly duckling. But if my traits considered separately, it is possible to find something good.
In my life there were times when I hated myself, I considered myself too fat, too tall, too ordinary or too ugly.
Sexuality - this is something that is hidden inside a woman. Sexuality is understood and not put on public display. I can not boast of forms Sophia Loren or Gina Lollobrigida, but because sexuality - it's not just size. I do not need a bedroom to prove their femininity. I can be sexy, just tearing the apples from the apple tree in the rain.
I love the people that I laugh. Laughter - my favorite activity, it is able to cure many diseases.
I never wanted a divorce. I hate that word: I'm all contracts when it pronounced. I wanted to get married once and for all.
Earrings, which gives you a man tell what he thinks about you.
People, even more than things that need to be picked up, repaired, and found a place for them to forgive; never let anyone throw.
The duty of every person - to help children who are suffering. Everything else - just a whim and pampering.
I believe, but my faith is not related to any religion.
I really liked the book, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", but I was terribly afraid that this role is not for me, for the role of Holly Golightly needed an extrovert, and I'm an introvert. It was difficult on the set, I was very thin and is often thought of as a bad game.
My greatest victory is that I have learned to live with yourself, accept their shortcomings. I am far from being able to be who I want to be. But I decided that I was not so bad after all.
It's hard to see yourself on the screen, I just suffer from it.
In the Netherlands, Belgium, England and then in the happiest moments of my life I have always been associated with the village. I love nature, trees, birds and flowers. I'm not a city dweller, cement, makes me sad.
I would be happy if one spent the weekend at his apartment. So I have to charge their batteries.
Something is seriously wrong with those who think that Audrey Hepburn does not sweat, no hiccups and sneezing. Incidentally, I often hiccup them all together.
When you make a cup of tea no one, when you do not need one, that's when I think life ends.
If we are really honest, I have to admit that I still read stories and love them with all my heart.
Reading - my favorite activity.
Cosmetics can decorate your face, but it is powerless if you are ugly inside. Unless you eat cosmetics.
I heard a definition of happiness: health and a short memory. I would like to be the author, because it's true.
I believe in manicures, screaming in clothes, in that on vacation, too, need to dress up and lipstick. I believe in pink, in that happy girls - the most beautiful and that tomorrow is a new day. Also, I believe in miracles.
Let's face it is that plain old chocolate cake helps people to live, I'm sure it helps.
Those who do not believe in miracles, can not be called realistic.
Mom always said good things do not just fall down on his head. God is generous, but he expects you to fulfill your obligations first.
Some people dream of the pool, I - on the cabinet, and not one.
Success - is something like a long-awaited birthday, during which you realize that you have not changed.
A woman can be beautiful and smart.
In the long life and a good dinner, there is a small difference - at the dinner dessert served last.
Over time, you realize that you are given two hands - one for himself, the other for helping others.
I'd never worried about age, if I knew that I will continue to love and I will love too.
That's when I remove the 70 films, and the audience will want more, then I believe that I'm a star.
Only the most determined people successful.
Choose a day and enjoy it. The past has taught me to appreciate the present and I do not want to spoil his concern about the future.
The most important thing - it is to grow old with dignity. And it is impossible to do if you do not descend from covers of magazines.
How wonderful just to be alive. "



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Shadow robot hand system
Robotics is the branch of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronic engineering and computer science that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots,[1] as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing.
These technologies deal with automated machines that can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, or resemble humans in appearance, behavior, and/or cognition. Many of today's robots are inspired by nature contributing to the field of bio-inspired robotics.
The concept of creating machines that can operate autonomously dates back to classical times, but research into the functionality and potential uses of robots did not grow substantially until the 20th century.[2] Throughout history, it has been frequently assumed that robots will one day be able to mimic human behavior and manage tasks in a human-like fashion. Today, robotics is a rapidly growing field, as technological advances continue; researching, designing, and building new robots serve various practical purposes, whether domestically, commercially, or militarily.[3] Many robots do jobs that are hazardous to people such as defusing bombs, mines and exploring shipwrecks.



The word robotics was derived from the word robot, which was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), which was published in 1920.[4] The word robot comes from the Slavic word robota, which means labour. The play begins in a factory that makes artificial people called robots, creatures who can be mistaken for humans – very similar to the modern ideas of androids. Karel Čapek himself did not coin the word. He wrote a short letter in reference to an etymology in the Oxford English Dictionary in which he named his brother Josef Čapek as its actual originator.[4]
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word robotics was first used in print by Isaac Asimov, in his science fiction short story "Liar!", published in May 1941 in Astounding Science Fiction. Asimov was unaware that he was coining the term; since the science and technology of electrical devices is electronics, he assumed robotics already referred to the science and technology of robots. In some of Asimov's other works, he states that the first use of the word robotics was in his short story Runaround (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942).[5][6] However, the original publication of "Liar!" predates that of "Runaround" by ten months, so the former is generally cited as the word's origin.

History of robotics

In 1942 the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov created his Three Laws of Robotics.
In 1948 Norbert Wiener formulated the principles of cybernetics, the basis of practical robotics.
Fully autonomous robots only appeared in the second half of the 20th century. The first digitally operated and programmable robot, the Unimate, was installed in 1961 to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. Commercial and industrial robots are widespread today and used to perform jobs more cheaply, more accurately and more reliably, than humans. They are also employed in some jobs which are too dirty, dangerous, or dull to be suitable for humans. Robots are widely used in manufacturing, assembly, packing and packaging, transport, earth and space exploration, surgery, weaponry, laboratory research, safety, and the mass production of consumer and industrial goods.[7]
Date Significance Robot Name Inventor
Third century B.C. and earlier One of the earliest descriptions of automata appears in the Lie Zi text, on a much earlier encounter between King Mu of Zhou (1023–957 BC) and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an 'artificer'. The latter allegedly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical handiwork.[8]
Yan Shi (Chinese: 偃师)
First century A.D. and earlier Descriptions of more than 100 machines and automata, including a fire engine, a wind organ, a coin-operated machine, and a steam-powered engine, in Pneumatica and Automata by Heron of Alexandria
Ctesibius, Philo of Byzantium, Heron of Alexandria, and others
c. 420 B.C.E A wooden, steam propelled bird, which was able to fly
Archytas of Tarentum
1206 Created early humanoid automata, programmable automaton band[9] Robot band, hand-washing automaton,[10] automated moving peacocks[11] Al-Jazari
1495 Designs for a humanoid robot Mechanical knight Leonardo da Vinci
1738 Mechanical duck that was able to eat, flap its wings, and excrete Digesting Duck Jacques de Vaucanson
1898 Nikola Tesla demonstrates first radio-controlled vessel. Teleautomaton Nikola Tesla
1921 First fictional automatons called "robots" appear in the play R.U.R. Rossum's Universal Robots Karel Čapek
1930s Humanoid robot exhibited at the 1939 and 1940 World's Fairs Elektro Westinghouse Electric Corporation
1946 First general-purpose digital computer Whirlwind Multiple people
1948 Simple robots exhibiting biological behaviors[12] Elsie and Elmer William Grey Walter
1956 First commercial robot, from the Unimation company founded by George Devol and Joseph Engelberger, based on Devol's patents[13] Unimate George Devol
1961 First installed industrial robot. Unimate George Devol
1973 First industrial robot with six electromechanically driven axes[14][15] Famulus KUKA Robot Group
1974 The world’s first microcomputer controlled electric industrial robot, IRB 6 from ASEA, was delivered to a small mechanical engineering company in southern Sweden. The design of this robot had been patented already 1972. IRB 6 ABB Robot Group
1975 Programmable universal manipulation arm, a Unimation product PUMA Victor Scheinman
2009 The first collaborative lightweight robotic arms were distributed UR5 Universal Robots

Robotic aspects

Robotic Construction
Electrical Aspect
A level of programming
There are many types of robots; they are used in many different environments and for many different uses, although being very diverse in application and form they all share three basic similarities when it comes to their construction:
  1. Robots all have some kind of mechanical construction, a frame, form or shape designed to achieve a particular task. For example, a robot designed to travel across heavy dirt or mud, might use caterpillar tracks. The mechanical aspect is mostly the creator's solution to completing the assigned task and dealing with the physics of the environment around it. Form follows function.
  2. Robots have electrical components which power and control the machinery. For example, the robot with caterpillar tracks would need some kind of power to move the tracker treads. That power comes in the form of electricity, which will have to travel through a wire and originate from a battery, a basic electrical circuit. Even gas powered machines that get their power mainly from gas still require an electric current to start the gas using process which is why most gas powered machines like cars, have batteries. The electrical aspect of robots is used for movement (through motors), sensing (where electrical signals are used to measure things like heat, sound, position, and energy status) and operation (robots need some level of electrical energy supplied to their motors and sensors in order to activate and perform basic operations)
  3. All robots contain some level of computer programming code. A program is how a robot decides when or how to do something. In the caterpillar track example, a robot that needs to move across a muddy road may have the correct mechanical construction, and receive the correct amount of power from its battery, but would not go anywhere without a program telling it to move. Programs are the core essence of a robot, it could have excellent mechanical and electrical construction, but if its program is poorly constructed its performance will be very poor or it may not perform at all. There are three different types of robotic programs: remote control, artificial intelligence and hybrid. A robot with remote control programing has a preexisting set of commands that it will only perform if and when it receives a signal from a control source, typically a human being with a remote control. It is perhaps more appropriate to view devices controlled primarily by human commands as falling in the discipline of automation rather than robotics. Robots that use artificial intelligence interact with their environment on their own without a control source, and can determine reactions to objects and problems they encounter using their preexisting programming. Hybrid is a form of programming that incorporates both AI and RC functions.


Power source

Further information: Power supply and Energy storage
At present mostly (lead-acid) batteries are used as a power source. Many different types of batteries can be used as a power source for robots. They range from lead acid batteries which are safe and have relatively long shelf lives but are rather heavy to silver cadmium batteries that are much smaller in volume and are currently much more expensive. Designing a battery powered robot needs to take into account factors such as safety, cycle lifetime and weight. Generators, often some type of internal combustion engine, can also be used. However, such designs are often mechanically complex and need fuel, require heat dissipation and are relatively heavy. A tether connecting the robot to a power supply would remove the power supply from the robot entirely. This has the advantage of saving weight and space by moving all power generation and storage components elsewhere. However, this design does come with the drawback of constantly having a cable connected to the robot, which can be difficult to manage.[16] Potential power sources could be:
  • pneumatic (compressed gases)
  • Solar power (using the sun's energy and converting it into electrical power)
  • hydraulics (liquids)
  • flywheel energy storage
  • organic garbage (through anaerobic digestion)
  • faeces (human, animal); may be interesting in a military context as faeces of small combat groups may be reused for the energy requirements of the robot assistant (see DEKA's project Slingshot Stirling engine on how the system would operate)


Main article: Actuator
A robotic leg powered by air muscles
Actuators are like the "muscles" of a robot, the parts which convert stored energy into movement. By far the most popular actuators are electric motors that spin a wheel or gear, and linear actuators that control industrial robots in factories. But there are some recent advances in alternative types of actuators, powered by electricity, chemicals, or compressed air.

Electric motors

Main article: Electric motor
The vast majority of robots use electric motors, often brushed and brushless DC motors in portable robots or AC motors in industrial robots and CNC machines. These motors are often preferred in systems with lighter loads, and where the predominant form of motion is rotational.

Linear actuators

Main article: Linear actuator
Various types of linear actuators move in and out instead of by spinning, and often have quicker direction changes, particularly when very large forces are needed such as with industrial robotics. They are typically powered by compressed air (pneumatic actuator) or an oil (hydraulic actuator).

Series elastic actuators

A spring can be designed as part of the motor actuator, to allow improved force control. It has been used in various robots, particularly walking humanoid robots.[17]

Air muscles

Pneumatic artificial muscles, also known as air muscles, are special tubes that contract (typically up to 40%) when air is forced inside them. They have been used for some robot applications.[18][19][20]

Muscle wire

Main article: Shape memory alloy
Muscle wire, also known as shape memory alloy, Nitinol® or Flexinol® wire, is a material that contracts slightly (typically under 5%) when electricity runs through it. They have been used for some small robot applications.[21][22]

Electroactive polymers

Main article: Electroactive polymers
EAPs or EPAMs are a new plastic material that can contract substantially (up to 380% activation strain) from electricity, and have been used in facial muscles and arms of humanoid robots,[23] and to allow new robots to float,[24] fly, swim or walk.[25]

Piezo motors

Main article: Piezoelectric motor
Recent alternatives to DC motors are piezo motors or ultrasonic motors. These work on a fundamentally different principle, whereby tiny piezoceramic elements, vibrating many thousands of times per second, cause linear or rotary motion. There are different mechanisms of operation; one type uses the vibration of the piezo elements to walk the motor in a circle or a straight line.[26] Another type uses the piezo elements to cause a nut to vibrate and drive a screw. The advantages of these motors are nanometer resolution, speed, and available force for their size.[27] These motors are already available commercially, and being used on some robots.[28][29]

Elastic nanotubes

Further information: Nanotube
Elastic nanotubes are a promising artificial muscle technology in early-stage experimental development. The absence of defects in carbon nanotubes enables these filaments to deform elastically by several percent, with energy storage levels of perhaps 10 J/cm3 for metal nanotubes. Human biceps could be replaced with an 8 mm diameter wire of this material. Such compact "muscle" might allow future robots to outrun and outjump humans.[30]


Main article: Robotic sensing
Sensors allow robots to receive information about a certain measurement of the environment, or internal components. This is essential for robots to perform their tasks, and act upon any changes in the environment to calculate the appropriate response. They are used for various forms of measurements, to give the robots warnings about safety or malfunctions, and to provide real time information of the task it is performing.


Main article: Tactile sensor
Current robotic and prosthetic hands receive far less tactile information than the human hand. Recent research has developed a tactile sensor array that mimics the mechanical properties and touch receptors of human fingertips.[31][32] The sensor array is constructed as a rigid core surrounded by conductive fluid contained by an elastomeric skin. Electrodes are mounted on the surface of the rigid core and are connected to an impedance-measuring device within the core. When the artificial skin touches an object the fluid path around the electrodes is deformed, producing impedance changes that map the forces received from the object. The researchers expect that an important function of such artificial fingertips will be adjusting robotic grip on held objects.
Scientists from several European countries and Israel developed a prosthetic hand in 2009, called SmartHand, which functions like a real one—allowing patients to write with it, type on a keyboard, play piano and perform other fine movements. The prosthesis has sensors which enable the patient to sense real feeling in its fingertips.[33]


Main article: Computer vision
Computer vision is the science and technology of machines that see. As a scientific discipline, computer vision is concerned with the theory behind artificial systems that extract information from images. The image data can take many forms, such as video sequences and views from cameras.
In most practical computer vision applications, the computers are pre-programmed to solve a particular task, but methods based on learning are now becoming increasingly common.
Computer vision systems rely on image sensors which detect electromagnetic radiation which is typically in the form of either visible light or infra-red light. The sensors are designed using solid-state physics. The process by which light propagates and reflects off surfaces is explained using optics. Sophisticated image sensors even require quantum mechanics to provide a complete understanding of the image formation process. Robots can also be equipped with multiple vision sensors to be better able to compute the sense of depth in the environment. Like human eyes, robots' "eyes" must also be able to focus on a particular area of interest, and also adjust to variations in light intensities.
There is a subfield within computer vision where artificial systems are designed to mimic the processing and behavior of biological system, at different levels of complexity. Also, some of the learning-based methods developed within computer vision have their background in biology.


Other common forms of sensing in robotics use lidar, radar and sonar.[citation needed]


KUKA industrial robot operating in a foundry
Puma, one of the first industrial robots
Baxter, a modern and versatile industrial robot developed by Rodney Brooks
Further information: Mobile manipulator
Robots need to manipulate objects; pick up, modify, destroy, or otherwise have an effect. Thus the "hands" of a robot are often referred to as end effectors,[34] while the "arm" is referred to as a manipulator.[35] Most robot arms have replaceable effectors, each allowing them to perform some small range of tasks. Some have a fixed manipulator which cannot be replaced, while a few have one very general purpose manipulator, for example a humanoid hand.[36]

Mechanical grippers

One of the most common effectors is the gripper. In its simplest manifestation it consists of just two fingers which can open and close to pick up and let go of a range of small objects. Fingers can for example be made of a chain with a metal wire run through it.[37] Hands that resemble and work more like a human hand include the Shadow Hand, the Robonaut hand,[38] ... Hands that are of a mid-level complexity include the Delft hand.[39][40] Mechanical grippers can come in various types, including friction and encompassing jaws. Friction jaws use all the force of the gripper to hold the object in place using friction. Encompassing jaws cradle the object in place, using less friction.

Vacuum grippers

Vacuum grippers are very simple astrictive[41] devices, but can hold very large loads provided the prehension surface is smooth enough to ensure suction.
Pick and place robots for electronic components and for large objects like car windscreens, often use very simple vacuum grippers.

General purpose effectors

Some advanced robots are beginning to use fully humanoid hands, like the Shadow Hand, MANUS,[42] and the Schunk hand.[43] These are highly dexterous manipulators, with as many as 20 degrees of freedom and hundreds of tactile sensors.[44]


Main articles: Robot locomotion and Mobile robot

Rolling robots

Segway in the Robot museum in Nagoya.
For simplicity most mobile robots have four wheels or a number of continuous tracks. Some researchers have tried to create more complex wheeled robots with only one or two wheels. These can have certain advantages such as greater efficiency and reduced parts, as well as allowing a robot to navigate in confined places that a four-wheeled robot would not be able to.
Two-wheeled balancing robots
Balancing robots generally use a gyroscope to detect how much a robot is falling and then drive the wheels proportionally in the same direction, to counterbalance the fall at hundreds of times per second, based on the dynamics of an inverted pendulum.[45] Many different balancing robots have been designed.[46] While the Segway is not commonly thought of as a robot, it can be thought of as a component of a robot, when used as such Segway refer to them as RMP (Robotic Mobility Platform). An example of this use has been as NASA's Robonaut that has been mounted on a Segway.[47]
One-wheeled balancing robots
A one-wheeled balancing robot is an extension of a two-wheeled balancing robot so that it can move in any 2D direction using a round ball as its only wheel. Several one-wheeled balancing robots have been designed recently, such as Carnegie Mellon University's "Ballbot" that is the approximate height and width of a person, and Tohoku Gakuin University's "BallIP".[48] Because of the long, thin shape and ability to maneuver in tight spaces, they have the potential to function better than other robots in environments with people.[49]
Spherical orb robots
Main article: Spherical robot
Several attempts have been made in robots that are completely inside a spherical ball, either by spinning a weight inside the ball,[50][51] or by rotating the outer shells of the sphere.[52][53] These have also been referred to as an orb bot [54] or a ball bot.[55][56]
Six-wheeled robots
Using six wheels instead of four wheels can give better traction or grip in outdoor terrain such as on rocky dirt or grass.
Tracked robots
Tank tracks provide even more traction than a six-wheeled robot. Tracked wheels behave as if they were made of hundreds of wheels, therefore are very common for outdoor and military robots, where the robot must drive on very rough terrain. However, they are difficult to use indoors such as on carpets and smooth floors. Examples include NASA's Urban Robot "Urbie".[57]

Walking applied to robots

Walking is a difficult and dynamic problem to solve. Several robots have been made which can walk reliably on two legs, however none have yet been made which are as robust as a human. There has been much study on human inspired walking, such as AMBER lab which was established in 2008 by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M University.[58] Many other robots have been built that walk on more than two legs, due to these robots being significantly easier to construct.[59][60] Walking robots can be used for uneven terrains, which would provide better mobility and energy efficiency than other locomotion methods. Hybrids too have been proposed in movies such as I, Robot, where they walk on 2 legs and switch to 4 (arms+legs) when going to a sprint. Typically, robots on 2 legs can walk well on flat floors and can occasionally walk up stairs. None can walk over rocky, uneven terrain. Some of the methods which have been tried are:
ZMP Technique
Main article: Zero Moment Point
The Zero Moment Point (ZMP) is the algorithm used by robots such as Honda's ASIMO. The robot's onboard computer tries to keep the total inertial forces (the combination of Earth's gravity and the acceleration and deceleration of walking), exactly opposed by the floor reaction force (the force of the floor pushing back on the robot's foot). In this way, the two forces cancel out, leaving no moment (force causing the robot to rotate and fall over).[61] However, this is not exactly how a human walks, and the difference is obvious to human observers, some of whom have pointed out that ASIMO walks as if it needs the lavatory.[62][63][64] ASIMO's walking algorithm is not static, and some dynamic balancing is used (see below). However, it still requires a smooth surface to walk on.
Several robots, built in the 1980s by Marc Raibert at the MIT Leg Laboratory, successfully demonstrated very dynamic walking. Initially, a robot with only one leg, and a very small foot, could stay upright simply by hopping. The movement is the same as that of a person on a pogo stick. As the robot falls to one side, it would jump slightly in that direction, in order to catch itself.[65] Soon, the algorithm was generalised to two and four legs. A bipedal robot was demonstrated running and even performing somersaults.[66] A quadruped was also demonstrated which could trot, run, pace, and bound.[67] For a full list of these robots, see the MIT Leg Lab Robots page.
Dynamic balancing (controlled falling)
A more advanced way for a robot to walk is by using a dynamic balancing algorithm, which is potentially more robust than the Zero Moment Point technique, as it constantly monitors the robot's motion, and places the feet in order to maintain stability.[68] This technique was recently demonstrated by Anybots' Dexter Robot,[69] which is so stable, it can even jump.[70] Another example is the TU Delft Flame.
Passive dynamics
Main article: Passive dynamics
Perhaps the most promising approach utilizes passive dynamics where the momentum of swinging limbs is used for greater efficiency. It has been shown that totally unpowered humanoid mechanisms can walk down a gentle slope, using only gravity to propel themselves. Using this technique, a robot need only supply a small amount of motor power to walk along a flat surface or a little more to walk up a hill. This technique promises to make walking robots at least ten times more efficient than ZMP walkers, like ASIMO.[71][72]

Other methods of locomotion

Two robot snakes. Left one has 64 motors (with 2 degrees of freedom per segment), the right one 10.
A modern passenger airliner is essentially a flying robot, with two humans to manage it. The autopilot can control the plane for each stage of the journey, including takeoff, normal flight, and even landing.[73] Other flying robots are uninhabited, and are known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They can be smaller and lighter without a human pilot on board, and fly into dangerous territory for military surveillance missions. Some can even fire on targets under command. UAVs are also being developed which can fire on targets automatically, without the need for a command from a human. Other flying robots include cruise missiles, the Entomopter, and the Epson micro helicopter robot. Robots such as the Air Penguin, Air Ray, and Air Jelly have lighter-than-air bodies, propelled by paddles, and guided by sonar.
Several snake robots have been successfully developed. Mimicking the way real snakes move, these robots can navigate very confined spaces, meaning they may one day be used to search for people trapped in collapsed buildings.[74] The Japanese ACM-R5 snake robot[75] can even navigate both on land and in water.[76]
A small number of skating robots have been developed, one of which is a multi-mode walking and skating device. It has four legs, with unpowered wheels, which can either step or roll.[77] Another robot, Plen, can use a miniature skateboard or roller-skates, and skate across a desktop.[78]
Capuchin Climbing Robot
Several different approaches have been used to develop robots that have the ability to climb vertical surfaces. One approach mimics the movements of a human climber on a wall with protrusions; adjusting the center of mass and moving each limb in turn to gain leverage. An example of this is Capuchin,[79] built by Dr. Ruixiang Zhang at Stanford University, California. Another approach uses the specialized toe pad method of wall-climbing geckoes, which can run on smooth surfaces such as vertical glass. Examples of this approach include Wallbot[80] and Stickybot.[81] China's Technology Daily reported on November 15, 2008 that Dr. Li Hiu Yeung and his research group of New Concept Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd. had successfully developed a bionic gecko robot named "Speedy Freelander". According to Dr. Li, the gecko robot could rapidly climb up and down a variety of building walls, navigate through ground and wall fissures, and walk upside-down on the ceiling. It was also able to adapt to the surfaces of smooth glass, rough, sticky or dusty walls as well as various types of metallic materials. It could also identify and circumvent obstacles automatically. Its flexibility and speed were comparable to a natural gecko. A third approach is to mimic the motion of a snake climbing a pole.[citation needed]
Swimming (Piscine)
It is calculated that when swimming some fish can achieve a propulsive efficiency greater than 90%.[82] Furthermore, they can accelerate and maneuver far better than any man-made boat or submarine, and produce less noise and water disturbance. Therefore, many researchers studying underwater robots would like to copy this type of locomotion.[83] Notable examples are the Essex University Computer Science Robotic Fish,[84] and the Robot Tuna built by the Institute of Field Robotics, to analyze and mathematically model thunniform motion.[85] The Aqua Penguin,[86] designed and built by Festo of Germany, copies the streamlined shape and propulsion by front "flippers" of penguins. Festo have also built the Aqua Ray and Aqua Jelly, which emulate the locomotion of manta ray, and jellyfish, respectively.
The autonomous sailboat robot Vaimos
Sailboat robots have also been developed in order to make measurements at the surface of the ocean. A typical sailboat robot is Vaimos [87] built by IFREMER and ENSTA-Bretagne. Since the propulsion of sailboat robots uses the wind, the energy of the batteries is only used for the computer, for the communication and for the actuators (to tune the rudder and the sail). If the robot is equipped with solar panels, the robot could theoretically navigate forever. The two main competitions of sailboat robots are WRSC, which takes place every year in Europe, and Sailbot.

Environmental interaction and navigation

Main article: Robotic mapping
Radar, GPS, and lidar, are all combined to provide proper navigation and obstacle avoidance (vehicle developed for 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge)
Though a significant percentage of robots in commission today are either human controlled, or operate in a static environment, there is an increasing interest in robots that can operate autonomously in a dynamic environment. These robots require some combination of navigation hardware and software in order to traverse their environment. In particular unforeseen events (e.g. people and other obstacles that are not stationary) can cause problems or collisions. Some highly advanced robots such as ASIMO, and Meinü robot have particularly good robot navigation hardware and software. Also, self-controlled cars, Ernst Dickmanns' driverless car, and the entries in the DARPA Grand Challenge, are capable of sensing the environment well and subsequently making navigational decisions based on this information. Most of these robots employ a GPS navigation device with waypoints, along with radar, sometimes combined with other sensory data such as lidar, video cameras, and inertial guidance systems for better navigation between waypoints.

Human-robot interaction

Kismet can produce a range of facial expressions.
The state of the art in sensory intelligence for robots will have to progress through several orders of magnitude if we want the robots working in our homes to go beyond vacuum-cleaning the floors. If robots are to work effectively in homes and other non-industrial environments, the way they are instructed to perform their jobs, and especially how they will be told to stop will be of critical importance. The people who interact with them may have little or no training in robotics, and so any interface will need to be extremely intuitive. Science fiction authors also typically assume that robots will eventually be capable of communicating with humans through speech, gestures, and facial expressions, rather than a command-line interface. Although speech would be the most natural way for the human to communicate, it is unnatural for the robot. It will probably be a long time before robots interact as naturally as the fictional C-3PO, or Data of Star Trek, Next Generation.

Speech recognition

Main article: Speech recognition
Interpreting the continuous flow of sounds coming from a human, in real time, is a difficult task for a computer, mostly because of the great variability of speech.[88] The same word, spoken by the same person may sound different depending on local acoustics, volume, the previous word, whether or not the speaker has a cold, etc.. It becomes even harder when the speaker has a different accent.[89] Nevertheless, great strides have been made in the field since Davis, Biddulph, and Balashek designed the first "voice input system" which recognized "ten digits spoken by a single user with 100% accuracy" in 1952.[90] Currently, the best systems can recognize continuous, natural speech, up to 160 words per minute, with an accuracy of 95%.[91]

Robotic voice

Other hurdles exist when allowing the robot to use voice for interacting with humans. For social reasons, synthetic voice proves suboptimal as a communication medium,[92] making it necessary to develop the emotional component of robotic voice through various techniques.[93][94]


Further information: Gesture recognition
One can imagine, in the future, explaining to a robot chef how to make a pastry, or asking directions from a robot police officer. In both of these cases, making hand gestures would aid the verbal descriptions. In the first case, the robot would be recognizing gestures made by the human, and perhaps repeating them for confirmation. In the second case, the robot police officer would gesture to indicate "down the road, then turn right". It is likely that gestures will make up a part of the interaction between humans and robots.[95] A great many systems have been developed to recognize human hand gestures.[96]

Facial expression

Further information: Facial expression
Facial expressions can provide rapid feedback on the progress of a dialog between two humans, and soon may be able to do the same for humans and robots. Robotic faces have been constructed by Hanson Robotics using their elastic polymer called Frubber, allowing a large number of facial expressions due to the elasticity of the rubber facial coating and embedded subsurface motors (servos).[97] The coating and servos are built on a metal skull. A robot should know how to approach a human, judging by their facial expression and body language. Whether the person is happy, frightened, or crazy-looking affects the type of interaction expected of the robot. Likewise, robots like Kismet and the more recent addition, Nexi[98] can produce a range of facial expressions, allowing it to have meaningful social exchanges with humans.[99]

Artificial emotions

Artificial emotions can also be generated, composed of a sequence of facial expressions and/or gestures. As can be seen from the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the programming of these artificial emotions is complex and requires a large amount of human observation. To simplify this programming in the movie, presets were created together with a special software program. This decreased the amount of time needed to make the film. These presets could possibly be transferred for use in real-life robots.


Many of the robots of science fiction have a personality, something which may or may not be desirable in the commercial robots of the future.[100] Nevertheless, researchers are trying to create robots which appear to have a personality:[101][102] i.e. they use sounds, facial expressions, and body language to try to convey an internal state, which may be joy, sadness, or fear. One commercial example is Pleo, a toy robot dinosaur, which can exhibit several apparent emotions.[103]

Social Intelligence

The Socially Intelligent Machines Lab of the Georgia Institute of Technology researches new concepts of guided teaching interaction with robots. Aim of the projects is a social robot learns task goals from human demonstrations without prior knowledge of high-level concepts. These new concepts are grounded from low-level continuous sensor data through unsupervised learning, and task goals are subsequently learned using a Bayesian approach. These concepts can be used to transfer knowledge to future tasks, resulting in faster learning of those tasks. The results are demonstrated by the robot Curi who can scoop some pasta from a pot onto a plate and serve the sauce on top.[104]


Puppet Magnus, a robot-manipulated marionette with complex control systems
RuBot II can resolve manually Rubik cubes
Further information: Control system
The mechanical structure of a robot must be controlled to perform tasks. The control of a robot involves three distinct phases – perception, processing, and action (robotic paradigms). Sensors give information about the environment or the robot itself (e.g. the position of its joints or its end effector). This information is then processed to be stored or transmitted, and to calculate the appropriate signals to the actuators (motors) which move the mechanical.
The processing phase can range in complexity. At a reactive level, it may translate raw sensor information directly into actuator commands. Sensor fusion may first be used to estimate parameters of interest (e.g. the position of the robot's gripper) from noisy sensor data. An immediate task (such as moving the gripper in a certain direction) is inferred from these estimates. Techniques from control theory convert the task into commands that drive the actuators.
At longer time scales or with more sophisticated tasks, the robot may need to build and reason with a "cognitive" model. Cognitive models try to represent the robot, the world, and how they interact. Pattern recognition and computer vision can be used to track objects. Mapping techniques can be used to build maps of the world. Finally, motion planning and other artificial intelligence techniques may be used to figure out how to act. For example, a planner may figure out how to achieve a task without hitting obstacles, falling over, etc.

Autonomy levels

TOPIO, a humanoid robot, played ping pong at Tokyo IREX 2009.[105]
Control systems may also have varying levels of autonomy.
  1. Direct interaction is used for haptic or tele-operated devices, and the human has nearly complete control over the robot's motion.
  2. Operator-assist modes have the operator commanding medium-to-high-level tasks, with the robot automatically figuring out how to achieve them.
  3. An autonomous robot may go for extended periods of time without human interaction. Higher levels of autonomy do not necessarily require more complex cognitive capabilities. For example, robots in assembly plants are completely autonomous, but operate in a fixed pattern.
Another classification takes into account the interaction between human control and the machine motions.
  1. Teleoperation. A human controls each movement, each machine actuator change is specified by the operator.
  2. Supervisory. A human specifies general moves or position changes and the machine decides specific movements of its actuators.
  3. Task-level autonomy. The operator specifies only the task and the robot manages itself to complete it.
  4. Full autonomy. The machine will create and complete all its tasks without human interaction.

Robotics research

Much of the research in robotics focuses not on specific industrial tasks, but on investigations into new types of robots, alternative ways to think about or design robots, and new ways to manufacture them but other investigations, such as MIT's cyberflora project, are almost wholly academic.
A first particular new innovation in robot design is the opensourcing of robot-projects. To describe the level of advancement of a robot, the term "Generation Robots" can be used. This term is coined by Professor Hans Moravec, Principal Research Scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute in describing the near future evolution of robot technology. First generation robots, Moravec predicted in 1997, should have an intellectual capacity comparable to perhaps a lizard and should become available by 2010. Because the first generation robot would be incapable of learning, however, Moravec predicts that the second generation robot would be an improvement over the first and become available by 2020, with the intelligence maybe comparable to that of a mouse. The third generation robot should have the intelligence comparable to that of a monkey. Though fourth generation robots, robots with human intelligence, professor Moravec predicts, would become possible, he does not predict this happening before around 2040 or 2050.[106]
The second is Evolutionary Robots. This is a methodology that uses evolutionary computation to help design robots, especially the body form, or motion and behavior controllers. In a similar way to natural evolution, a large population of robots is allowed to compete in some way, or their ability to perform a task is measured using a fitness function. Those that perform worst are removed from the population, and replaced by a new set, which have new behaviors based on those of the winners. Over time the population improves, and eventually a satisfactory robot may appear. This happens without any direct programming of the robots by the researchers. Researchers use this method both to create better robots,[107] and to explore the nature of evolution.[108] Because the process often requires many generations of robots to be simulated,[109] this technique may be run entirely or mostly in simulation, then tested on real robots once the evolved algorithms are good enough.[110] Currently, there are about 10 million industrial robots toiling around the world, and Japan is the top country having high density of utilizing robots in its manufacturing industry.[citation needed]

Dynamics and kinematics

Further information: Kinematics and Dynamics (mechanics)
The study of motion can be divided into kinematics and dynamics.[111] Direct kinematics refers to the calculation of end effector position, orientation, velocity, and acceleration when the corresponding joint values are known. Inverse kinematics refers to the opposite case in which required joint values are calculated for given end effector values, as done in path planning. Some special aspects of kinematics include handling of redundancy (different possibilities of performing the same movement), collision avoidance, and singularity avoidance. Once all relevant positions, velocities, and accelerations have been calculated using kinematics, methods from the field of dynamics are used to study the effect of forces upon these movements. Direct dynamics refers to the calculation of accelerations in the robot once the applied forces are known. Direct dynamics is used in computer simulations of the robot. Inverse dynamics refers to the calculation of the actuator forces necessary to create a prescribed end effector acceleration. This information can be used to improve the control algorithms of a robot.
In each area mentioned above, researchers strive to develop new concepts and strategies, improve existing ones, and improve the interaction between these areas. To do this, criteria for "optimal" performance and ways to optimize design, structure, and control of robots must be developed and implemented.

Bionics and biomimetics

Bionics and biomimetics apply the physiology and methods of locomotion of animals to the design of robots. For example, the design of BionicKangaroo was based on the way kangaroos jump.

Education and training

Main article: Educational robotics
The SCORBOT-ER 4u – educational robot.
Robotics engineers design robots, maintain them, develop new applications for them, and conduct research to expand the potential of robotics.[112] Robots have become a popular educational tool in some middle and high schools,[dubious ] as well as in numerous youth summer camps, raising interest in programming, artificial intelligence and robotics among students. First-year computer science courses at several universities now include programming of a robot in addition to traditional software engineering-based coursework. On the Technion I&M faculty an educational laboratory was established in 1994 by Dr. Jacob Rubinovitz.

Career training

Universities offer bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of robotics.[113] Vocational schools offer robotics training aimed at careers in robotics.


The Robotics Certification Standards Alliance (RCSA) is an international robotics certification authority that confers various industry- and educational-related robotics certifications.

Summer robotics camp

Several national summer camp programs include robotics as part of their core curriculum, including Digital Media Academy, RoboTech, and Cybercamps. In addition, youth summer robotics programs are frequently offered by celebrated museums such as the American Museum of Natural History[114] and The Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley, CA, just to name a few. An educational robotics lab also exists at the IE & mgmnt Faculty of the Technion. It was created by Dr. Jacob Rubinovitz.

Robotics afterschool programs

Many schools across the country are beginning to add robotics programs to their after school curriculum. Two main programs for afterschool robotics are FIRST Robotics Competition and Botball.
The Lego company began a program for children to learn and get excited about robotics at a young age.[115]


A robot technician builds small all-terrain robots. (Courtesy: MobileRobots Inc)
Robotics is an essential component in many modern manufacturing environment

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