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Which clippings match 'New Scientist' keyword pg.1 of 1
06 DECEMBER 2013

Four-winged robot flies like a jellyfish

"Tiny flying robots usually mimic nature's flyers, like birds and insects–but perhaps that's due to a lack of imagination. A four–winged design created by Leif Ristroph and colleagues at New York University, which boasts a body plan reminiscent of a jellyfish, is more stable in the air than insect–like machines.

The prototype consists of a carbon–fibre frame surrounded by two pairs of thin plastic wings that open and close when driven by a motor. Its shape allows it to fly upright with little effort, without requiring sensors or intelligence to adjust its wings like those used by insects. 'Making a dumb machine is a nice strategy for very small robots,' says Ristroph. 'Without circuits and sensors, it's also lighter.'"

(Sandrine Ceurstemont, 25 November 2013, New Scientist)



2013 • American Physical Society • carbon-fibre frame • carried on the breeze • centimetre-scale • creaturedesign prototypedriftdrone • dumb machines • flappingfloatingflying • flying jellyfish • flying machine • flying robot • fruit flyhelicopter • insect-like machine • jellyfish • Leif Ristroph • New Scientist • New York University • plastic wings • robot • robot drone • robotic creature • self-stabilizing • small robot • tiny • wing


Simon Perkins

The mathematics of Hollywood blockbuster

HOLLYWOOD'S golden age may have ended in the 1950s, but it is only recently that Tinseltown appears to have hit upon a mathematical way to capitalise on our fickle attention spans.

"Film–makers have got better and better at constructing shots so that their lengths grab our attention," says James Cutting, a psychologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He analysed 150 Hollywood movies and found that the more recent they were, the more closely their shot lengths tended to follow a mathematical pattern that also describes human attention spans.

In the 1990s, a team at the University of Texas, Austin, measured the attention spans of volunteers as they performed hundreds of consecutive trials. When they turned these measurements into a series of waves using a mathematical trick called a Fourier transform, the waves increased in magnitude as their frequency decreased.

(Ewen Callaway, 18 February 2010, New Scientist)


1/f law1950s • a series of waves • algorithmalgorithmic filters • attention spans • consecutive trials • constructing shots • Cornell University • decreased frequency • filmmaker • Fourier transform • golden agegrab our attentionHollywoodHollywood movies • human attention spans • increased magnitude • James Cutting • mathematical algorithm • mathematical patternmeasurementneurocinematicsNew Scientist • our fickle attention spans • psychological analysispsychological perceptionpsychological sciencepsychology • shot lengths • Tinseltown • University of Texas


Tessa Szwarnowska
08 NOVEMBER 2008

Language may shape human thought

"Hunter–gatherers from the Pirahã tribe, whose language only contains words for the numbers one and two, were unable to reliably tell the difference between four objects placed in a row and five in the same configuration, revealed the study.

Experts agree that the startling result provides the strongest support yet for the controversial hypothesis that the language available to humans defines our thoughts. So–called 'linguistic determinism' was first proposed in 1950 but has been hotly debated ever since.

'It is a very surprising and very important result,' says Lisa Feigenson, a developmental psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, US, who has tested babies' abilities to distinguish between different numerical quantities. 'Whether language actually allows you to have new thoughts is a very controversial issue.'
Gordon says this is the first convincing evidence that a language lacking words for certain concepts could actually prevent speakers of the language from understanding those concepts.

Science Express (19 August 2004/ Page 1/ 10.1126/science.1094492)"
(Celeste Biever)

[this adds weight to the social constructionist notion that reality is formed through our use of language (not that language is merely an impartial carrier of information)]



Brazilconceptualisation • counting • culturehabits of mind • Hiaitiihi • hunter-gatherers • knowledgelanguagelanguage habits • linguistic determinism • linguisticsmathematicsNew Scientist • numbers • numeracy • Pirahã • social constructionismthoughttribetruth


Simon Perkins
08 NOVEMBER 2004

Smart Glasses Detect Eye Contact

"A pair of sunglasses that can detect when someone is making eye contact with the wearer has been developed by Canadian researchers.

Besides being useful in singles bars, its inventors say the system could play a key role in video blogging, a hi-tech form of diary keeping.

Video bloggers record their lives from the point of view of a first person video narrative. 'I think this is something that we will see over the next few years,' says Roel Vertegaal, co-creator of the glasses at Queen's University's Human Media Lab, in Ontario, Canada.

The main problem is the tedious process of editing out the dull bits where nothing much happens, says Vertegaal. So the glasses allow a video blogger to automatically detect and record interactions and conversations with other people."

(Duncan Graham-Rowe, 19 May 2004, New Scientist)



2004blogCanadaeyeeye contact • eyeglasses • first-person narrative • glasses • Human Media LabNew ScientistQueens UniversityRoel Vertegaalsunglassesvideovideo blogging
30 NOVEMBER 1999

TagandScan, Virtual Graffiti and Collective Actions

"The New Scientist writes on the UK service TagandScan 'By tagging messages to mobile phone 'cells', users can post reviews, leave notes for friends, or even organise demonstrations'. When a user logs onto the TagandScan site using their cellphone, they can opt to be automatically located according to network cell from which they are calling. They can then create a message or view ones already left in that cell by other users.

TagandScan was created by New York company Cimarrones and has been undergoing UK field trails for the past month. Cimarrones' president Ryan Janssen says he has been surprised by the ways people have used the service in testing. 'We had some preconceived notions but people are using them in ways we never intended,' Janssen told New Scientist.

Janssen believes people may also use TagandScan to organise political gatherings or create their own guides to a city's bars and restaurants."

(Will Knight, 17 December 2003)



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