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Emancipation Application, oBot, This Little Piggy

Very Short List delivers one excellent item to your inbox, daily: Books, films, music, web-things, and dispatches on science and technology. Today, see a mindblowing version of a classic fairy tale, meet the world’s first robot octopus, and check yourself into Internet rehab.


VERY SHORT LIST

Emancipation application
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WEB APPLICATION
Freedom

Freedom is a free Web app that disables your computer’s Internet connection for up to eight hours. In other words, it’s the Internet addict’s version of putting a lock on the liquor cabinet.

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If the withdrawal symptoms get too intense, you can take extreme measures: A system reboot restores your online capability. But stay strong, and the lack of distraction might allow you to start that novel, or finish those home repairs. Sadly, the application works only with Macs: PC users will have to rely on more old-fashioned strategies to break their Net habits. Camping, perhaps?

 

DOWNLOAD Freedom

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VSL:SCIENCE

oBot
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BIOROBOTICS
The robot-octopus project

Italian roboticist Cecilia Laschi is trying to create the first robot without a rigid skeleton — a tiny, octopus-like machine that will boldly go where no machine has gone before.

The robotic octopus is really a more flexible version of the miniature, remote-controlled robotic submarines we’re already using to explore the oceans. But even the smallest subs are still too big to navigate the ocean’s biologically rich nooks and crannies. Hence the “artificial muscular hydrostat structures” — soft silicone arms embedded with electroactive polymers that make them stretch, stiffen, soften, or contract like real tentacles — that Laschi’s working to build. One of her colleagues calls her plan “a bit crazy.” But Laschi likes to think big — even when she’s thinking small.

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READ more about the robot-octopus project

WATCH a video about the robot-octopus project

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VSL:WEB

This little piggy
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VIDEO
“Stop-motion with wolf and pig”

Takeuchi Taijin took a wolf suit, a papier-mâché pig, and hundreds of photographs and came up with a brilliant animated fairy tale.

Taijin’s creation is essentially two stop-motion pieces in one: First he captured a story on 4 x 6 photographs; then he photographed the photographs and turned them into a stop-motion movie. When the characters in the photos go down a flight of stairs, the photos themselves mirror the action and climb down Taijin’s wall. The effect is dizzying and brain-rattling: The juxtaposition of planes, the messing-about with space and time — it’s heavy stuff for a guy in a wolf suit, but you’ll be glad he made the effort.

WATCH Takeuchi Taijin’s “Stop-motion with wolf and pig”

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