Algorithm Magnifies Motions Indiscernible to the Naked Eye

MIT has been investigating techniques for amplifying movements captured by video, but indiscernible to the human eye. The algorithms can make the human pulse visible and even recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of objects filmed through soundproof glass. A new version of the algorithm can amplify small motions even when they’re contained within objects executing large motions. So, for instance, it could make visible the precise sequence of muscle contractions in the arms of a baseball player swinging the bat, or in the legs of a soccer player taking a corner kick.

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Robots Learn to Observe, Adjust Their Force, and React


When robots and humans have to work together, it often leads to problems. Researchers on the CogIMon project want to teach robots to understand the forces during the movement of an object, and how to appropriately react to changes in weight or contact with the object while carrying it. Humans have no problem estimating the weight of an object, but robots lack this ability.

Researchers used the humanoid robot prototype COMAN (COmpliant huMANoid platform) in the CogIMon project. (Bielefeld University)

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Tests Show Football Player Concussions are Caused by Different Head Motions

When modern football helmets were introduced, they all but eliminated traumatic skull fractures caused by blunt force impacts. Mounting evidence, however, suggests that concussions are caused by a different type of head motion, namely brain and skull rotation. Stanford engineers have produced a collection of results that suggest that current helmet-testing equipment and techniques are not optimized for evaluating these additional injury-causing elements.

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Simulations Reveal Near-Frictionless Material

Scientists from Argonne National Laboratory used simulations to identify and improve a new mechanism for reducing friction. The resulting hybrid material exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale.

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NASA System Would Enable Unmanned Aircraft to Fly in US Airspace

NASA, working with government and industry partners, is testing a system that would make it possible for unmanned aircraft to fly routine operations in United States airspace. The tests engage the core air traffic infrastructure and supporting software components through a live and virtual environment to demonstrate how an autonomous aircraft interacts with air traffic controllers and other air traffic.

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Jet Contrails Affect Ground Temperatures and Climate

High in the sky where the cirrus ice crystal clouds form, jet contrails draw their crisscross patterns. Now researchers have found that these elevated ice cloud trails can influence temperatures on the ground and affect local climate.

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Material That Mimics Owl Wings Could Make Planes Quieter

A newly designed material that mimics the wing structure of owls could help make wind turbines, computer fans, and planes much quieter. Early wind tunnel tests of the coating have shown a substantial reduction in noise without any noticeable effect on aerodynamics.

(Credit: m01229)

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New Nanowires Absorb Light

Harvard University scientists have created nanowires with new useful properties. The wire not only absorbs light at specific wavelengths, but also light from other parts of the spectrum. The technology could have applications in areas ranging from consumer electronics to solar panels.

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Nanogenerator Harvests Power from Rolling Tires

A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and a collaborator from China have developed a nanogenerator that harvests energy from a car's rolling tire friction. The technology ultimately could provide automobile manufacturers with a new way to reuse energy and provide greater vehicle efficiency.

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Diamond-Like Coating Application Improves Engine Components

Applying carbon coatings to engine components, such as piston rings and pins, reduces friction and lowers fuel consumption. Using a new laser-based method, researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Munich, Germany, say they can now produce layers of carbon that are almost as hard as diamond. The team of researchers have created hydrogen-free tetrahedral amorphous carbon coatings of up to 20 micrometers, which, they say, are more resistant to wear than conventional diamond-like coatings.

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