Imagine building a mechanical character from a computer program that could calculate the size and positioning of gears in order to make that character’s motions come alive. The team at Disney Research have designed and programmed this interface for non-experts, and have 3D printed the resulting objects: Computational Design of Mechanical Characters.
The video presentation could definitely use a bit of background music or narration, but it’s still fascinating to watch and great for discussion. The content is also groundbreaking for automata, self-operating, moving mechanical devices that look like robots or living things.
Related video watching: kinetic sculptures, gears, toys, and spirographish things.
via The Automata Blog.
Well-preserved, thanks to just the right combination of conditions over 72 million years, a 16 foot (5 meter) long dinosaur tail has been unearthed by paleontologists in Coahuila, Mexico. Based on evidence, the excavation team believes that the tail could have been from a duck-billed hadrosaur, and they hope to locate more of the dinosaur’s body deeper underground. From Yahoo:
A group of locals discovered the fossil in June 2012. Paleontologists with INAH and the National Autonomous University of Mexico spent about a year surveying the area, and began their excavation on July 2…
Aside from providing a valuable addition to the world’s limited collection of intact dinosaur fossils, the team hopes their findings will help explain the mechanics of how hadrosaur tails moved…
Finding the remains of this web-footed herbivore in such good condition is rare, and will add to the information gathered from previous discoveries. Related hadrosaur reading should include Dakota, the 67 million year old "mummified" hadrosaur that was excavated in North Dakota in 2006.
Watch more paleontology videos.
In this beautifully illustrated lesson from TED Ed, science writer and educator Carl Zimmer explains some answers to the question, How did feathers evolve?
From his article in National Geographic:
Most of us will never get to see nature’s greatest marvels in person. We won’t get a glimpse of a colossal squid’s eye, as big as a basketball. The closest we’ll get to a narwhal’s unicornlike tusk is a photograph. But there is one natural wonder that just about all of us can see, simply by stepping outside: dinosaurs using their feathers to fly.
With animation by Armella Leung, see how today’s birds are related to the dinosaurs of the past, and how fossils with feathers have helped us understand that connection.
Related viewing: evolution, dinosaurs, birds, flying, and a robot that flies like a bird.