1. Launch of Spaceblimp-3, 13 November 2010.

    16 November 2010

    I got up rather earlier than usual last Saturday morning (0600 EST5EDT) to get ready for another Spaceblimp launch by HacDC, this time from a location in semi-rural Maryland. I had just enough time to get Windbringer prepped, my doctor's bag packed, and the rest of the stuff I wanted to keep close by into my backpack when I got a phone call from Bjorn in the parking lot outside my apartment building, who would be driving the chase car this time around. We met up with Nick (who rode shotgun in the TARDIS last time) and then struck out …

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  2. The people said "No more!" and the TSA said "Shut your pie holes!"

    14 November 2010

    First, I'd like to give special thanks to I/Oerror who's been keeping a hawk's eye on this. I found a couple of the articles for this post on his Twitter feed during my daily news crawl. I wish I had the time to dedicate to scanning feeds constantly for stuff like this.

    I haven't been posting about this for two reasons: first, because hearing that stuff like this is going on within the United States of America to decent people who haven't done anything upsets me greatly. There is simply no reason to mistreat people like this, all it …

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  3. Spaceblimp-3 launch in T-11 hours, 33 minutes.

    12 November 2010

    HacDC will be launching Spaceblimp-3 from Maryland tomorrow morning. You'll be able to follow its progress on Twitter, or you can watch the balloon's positional telemetry on aprs.fi as long as it's in the air. If you'll be out and about (or you're just allergic to Twitter) but want to keep track of the balloon, text the words "Follow hacdcspaceblimp" to phone number 40404 and you'll receive text messages with periodic status reports.

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  4. Gada prize for personal manufacturing announced.

    10 November 2010

    If you've been following my blog for a while you've no doubt picked up on my interest in 3D printing and the open source fabber called the RepRap. It seems that I'm not the only person who's been keeping a sharp eye on this particular technology. The Gada Prize (formerly the Kartik M. Gada Humanitarian Innovation Prize in Personal Manufacturing) has been announced to advance the state of the art in 3D printing and personal manufacture by putting up $20kus to the person or team whose project meets certain criteria by 31 December 2012. The prize appears to be aimed …

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  5. Granular universal gripper.

    10 November 2010

    One of the trickiest things in the field of robotic engineering is getting the manipulators right. Look down at your hand: you probably have five digits, four fingers and a thumb which are articulated and largely independent of one another (modulo a bit of funny business with the ring and little fingers but, as with many things natural variation comes into play here). Each finger folds and rotates in ways that the science of engineering hasn't quite gotten the hang of replicating. Then a group of scientists discovered an insanely simple design: a small sack full of granules and a …

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  6. Artificially constructed human organs on the horizon?

    10 November 2010

    The liver is arguably one of the most complex organs in the body due to the list of functions it carries out. Not only does it help to filter the blood but it synthesizes an array of proteins, strips worn erythrocytes out of the bloodstream, and produces a number of hormones. That's just the first page of the list. It's also unusual in that it is capable of regenerating and becoming fully functional once again given enough time and proper conditions. Except when it doesn't; there are a number of diseases and chronic conditions that can render the liver nonfunctional …

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  7. And the Wall was torn down.

    10 November 2010

    Pictures taken at the Roger Waters concert at DC's Verizon Center in October. The zoom function of my camera really got a workout that night because we were up in the nosebleeds for the show. Certainly high enough up that looking down at the crowd (or even the seat in front of you) was enough to make one dizzy. Thus, I apologize for the rather low quality of some of the pictures, I had to make the most of what visible light there was.

    I'd also like to point out that some of the funkier, most abstract pictures are of …

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