Friday, November 15, 2013

Daily 2 Cents: Robot Commits Suicide -- New Invisibility Cloak Design -- Sun Turning Upside Down


Overworked robot commits suicide by jumping onto stove top

A woman was shocked to find that her robot had committed suicide.

Scientists have tried to create robots that can take over people’s jobs.

Although the vision for a human sized, working robot had failed, some were successful in creating small robots to do small tasks.

One Irobot Roomba 760 robot in Hinterstoder, Austria, that was designed to clean people’s houses, was reportedly “fed up” with having to clean the same house every day, and decided to end it all.

The robot somehow reactivated itself, made ​​its way to the counter and pushed a pot aside. It walked onto the stove top, got burned, and that was the end of it, according to firefighter Helmut Kniewasser.

"It very quickly began to melt and it became stuck to the stove top. It then caught on fire. By the time we arrived it was a pile of ashes,” Kniewasser said.

The whole building was evacuated, and there was a lot of smoke damage mainly in the apartment in which the robot had “committed suicide.”

The 44-year-old homeowner, who was not at home at the time of the incident, is still puzzled as to how the robot activated itself, and how it ended up on the hot stove.

"I don’t know about the allegations of the robot committing suicide, but the homeowner insists that the device was switched off,” Kniewasser said.

“It's a mystery how it came to be activated and ended up making its way to the hot plate,” he added.

It took an hour to clean up and make the building safe before residents were allowed back inside. - Jewish Times

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Sweden's Ice Hotel told to get fire alarms

The Ice Hotel, which is rebuilt every year in northern Sweden out of enormous chunks of ice from the Torne River in Jukkasjärvi, Kiruna, will this year come equipped with fire alarms - and the irony isn't lost on the staff.

"We were a little surprised when we found out," hotel spokeswoman Beatrice Karlsson told The Local.

"But we do understand. Safety is a primary concern for us. There are indeed things that can catch fire, like the reindeer skins, the mattresses, and the pillows."

While it might sound crazy that a building made of water needs to be equipped with fire alarms, the fact that the hotel is built from scratch every year means it needs to abide by the rules that apply to every new building, rules set by the National Housing Board (Boverket).

Karlsson at the hotel isn't concerned about the new changes, and admitted that it was just a matter of adaptation.

"Every hotel is brand new anyway, there is always something new to think about. And this year is no different, we actually have a few surprises in store," she told The Local.

While Karlsson refused to go into too much detail, she hinted that a range of new international artists would be on the scene, and that the company had a few big partnerships to reveal soon.

The Ice Hotel opened its (igloo) doors to guests for the first time back in 1990 and has been a staple tourist attraction of the ice-olated Kiruna ever since. thelocalse

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New 'active' invisibility cloak design 'drastically reduces' visibility

A new type of “active” invisibility cloak that could operate over a broad range of frequencies has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin.

By employing a “superconducting thin film” that is electrically powered the cloak could overcome the limitations of current “passive” designs.

Scientists have previously created small-scale invisibility cloaks that work only in response to very limited types of light. The researchers at the University of Texas give the example of an object that is made invisible to red light, but becomes bright blue as a result, “increasing its overall visibility”.

"Our active cloak is a completely new concept and design, aimed at beating the limits of [current cloaks] and we show that it indeed does," Professor Andrea Alù, a lead author on the study, told the BBC.

"If you want to make an object transparent at all angles and over broad bandwidths, this is a good solution […] We are looking into realising this technology at the moment, but we are still at the early stages." Read more at New 'active' invisibility cloak design 'drastically reduces' visibility

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The Sun is About to Turn Upside Down (Sort Of)

The Sun's poles will soon be swapping places as the magnetic field turns completely upside-down.

The change might sound dramatic, but the Sun's magnetic field actually reverses its polarity every 11 years. The event takes place at the peak of the solar cycle at a time when sun spot activity is particularly intense, leading to large solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

Astronomers have been expecting the reversal for some time but it still not clear exactly when it will take place. Back in August it was estimated to be within "3 to 4 months" meaning that it should happen before the year is out.

While the idea of a magnetic pole reversal sounds like it has the potential to be problematic for us here on Earth, the truth is that it is a regular event that will likely pass by, as it has always done, without incident. Read more at The Sun is About to Turn Upside Down (Sort Of)

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