November 19, 2011

Camouflaged sea dragons

This stunning HD footage from the acclaimed BBC - Life series of two Weedy Seadragons showing off their courtship ritual is truly a sight to behold.

The Weedy seadragon is a marine fish related to the seahorse. It is found in water 3 to 50 m deep around the southern coastline of Australia. They resemble drifting weed when moving over bare sand but they have got nothing on their cousins, the Leafy Seadragon.

Bonus video: Leafy Seadragon

There is more to the universe than what meets the eye

"Realize that there is an underpinning reality, a reality that exists below the reality that we feel with our fingers and see with our eyes"

 What color is the night sky? Black, speckled with stars? Sure, but only to the underdeveloped human eye. Some animals see a completely different sky altogether. With Xperia arc and Dr. Joshua Peek's latest app, you can view the heavens in all their normally unseen glory: X-rays, gamma rays, far infrared, and more.

Slowing down light

By use of a Bose--Einstein condensate, Danish physicist Lene Vestergaard Hau (Harvard University) succeeded in slowing a beam of light to about 17 metres per second, and, in 2001, was able to momentarily stop a beam completely.

About a decade ago, Hau started playing with BECs — for a physicist, that means shooting lasers at them. She found that lasers of the right wavelengths could tune the optical properties of a BEC, giving Hau an almost supernatural command over any other light shined into it.

Her first trick was slowing a pulse of light to a crawl — 25 kmph as it traveled through the BEC. Since then, Hau has completely frozen a pulse and then released it. And recently she shot a pulse into one BEC and stopped it — turning the BEC into a hologram, a sort of matter version of the pulse. Then she transferred that matter waveform into an entirely different BEC nearby — which emitted the original light pulse. That's just freaky. Hey, Einstein may have set that initial speed limit of light, but he only theorized about BECs. "It's not breaking relativity," Hau says. "But I'm sure he would have been rather surprised."

This clip was taken from BBC documentary Absolute Zero.

The Bose-Einstein condensation of matter

In school we all learned that there are 3 states of matter; solid, liquid and gas. It turns out that we have been lied to. Most people will have heard of plasma which is sometimes called the 4th state of matter but there are many more. Have you ever heard of the Bose-Einstein Condensate phase of matter? Prepare yourself for some truly mindblowing stuff.

 More info: Wikipedia - Bose-Einstein condensate

 This clip was taken from a two part BBC series called absolute zero. Part 1 is called "The conquest of cold" and part 2 "The race for absolute zero". PBS has cut down that material to a single episode called absolute zero (1h40, HD) but I would recommend watching the longer BBC version.

November 15, 2011

One small step for a robot, one giant leap for skynet

PETMAN is an anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing made by Boston Dynamics. Although testing clothes is a nice start, future version of PETMAN could go far beyond that.