Science Fiction Roundup: the Old, the New, and the Lego
Hello everyone! I was planning to do a Science Fiction Problems this week, but when I saw these articles, I couldn’t resist! Next week, however, I’ll get into a topic inspired by a few of these articles as well as a recent writing experience of my own. Until then, here’s another Science Fiction Roundup!
Fighting the Nazis One Giant Ingot at a Time
I caught sight of this over at boingboing.net and was immediately intrigued. Just look at the size of that thing! It’s a WWII-era press forge capable of turning a 15 x 1 foot titanium ingot into a jet chassis by the sheer force of its over 100 million pound pressure. And we still use it, apparently. They sure built things to last back then, didn’t they?
There are so many alternate history stories in science fiction that it’s easy to forget just how amazing the technological progress was back during the World Wars, and this machine is a great example of what made those massive leaps forward possible. http://boingboing.net/2012/02/13/machines.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29
Speaking of Alternate History Science Fiction…
I have yet to actually read a steam-punk story that I liked, but I’ve always been amazed at the creative designs and automata that steam punk geeks come up with. This, however, is actual early robotics stuff. While personally I would be terrified to strap myself onto that hulking, blank-eyed creature, I am very amused with the idea of riding a mechanical elephant, and I’m sure it was a sight to see back in the day. Be sure to take a look at this article and the rest of his sight if you’re into antique mechanical contraptions!
Which is Better? You Tell Me.
This device represents an important step in prosthetics, not only functioning by receiving input from the user’s own nervous system, but allowing for natural function and movement to the point that the user almost forgets he’s using it. The most important feature for the Michelangelo Prosthetic Hand is its articulated electronic thumb, which unlike most motorized prosthetics, actually moves. As you can see from the video, it’s still far from being as good as a real hand, but this is far better than the clamps and claws that most amputees are stuck with. I’ll be doing a few posts looking at prosthetics, actually, so sure to look for that next week. Until then, read the article at singularityhub.com below to learn about some of the design problems that this new product helps to solve, and you’ll have a few good things to think about when you’re writing an amputee into your story.
The Michelangelo Prosthetic Hand: http://singularityhub.com/2012/02/08/man-receives-new-bionic-hand-with-electronic-opposable-thumb/
And finally, yes, I dug up another video with a robotic hand- but this time it’s made of Lego! It’s actually pretty impressive, having all of the degrees of movement of a real arm, although admittedly rather slow about it.
That’s it for now! Next week I’ll get back to a Science Fiction Problems, this time for sure! Until then, what do you think of the articles? Anyone else have an itch to ride that creepy elephant? Let me know in the comments below!