Having problems solving that Sudoku puzzle? Well, worry no more because someone had the idea to construct a robot to do that for you. Now you can sit back, relax and drink your morning coffee without having to worry about all those pesky little numbers. The robot is built from the ever versatile Lego Mindstorm kits. There's also one that solves a Rubik's cube. Head over to Tilted Twister to check it out.
A UK school has banned students from including bananas in their lunchboxes, because one teacher has a severe allergy to them. The teacher from the Plymouth school is said to have a "potentially fatal" reaction to bananas (so is presumably also unable to visit supermarkets or parks), causing her council employers to recommend the fruit be excluded from her work environment (Mirror)
Somewhere that teacher may want to cross off her list of holiday destinations is Wilmington, Ohio as the town has just held its 15th annual Banana Split Festival in honour of the supposed invention of the dish, in Wilmington, in 1907. The festival also features the "Banana Split Master’s Competition", now in it's 5th year, won this year by Pete Kramme for his "Sweet and Salty Banana Split", which adds cream cheese and pretzels to the traditional recipe (Wilmington News Journal).
Speaking of odd flavours, here's a two-fer. First up, the Double-Down Saloon is offering two-for-the-price-of-one on it's 'eye watering' bacon-vodka martini on Jun 19th, in celebration of National Martini Day (Examiner). Also, a UK barman hopes to beat the credit-crisis this summer by selling beer flavoured ice-cream. The barman, David Wardleworth, is keeping the exact recipe a secret beyond saying that is does include "Thwaites Original" British cask ale. Despite a historic reputation for liking their beer warm, the ice-cream is apparently proving popular with the British public (Burnley Express).
And it turns out weird flavours are not the only way the recession is impacting the world of ice-cream. The poor economy, combined with lower gas prices, has apparently fuelled a boom in ice-cream trucks, whose drivers stand to make from $100 to $200 a day. And it's not just the money and the lure of being your own boss that drivers find rewarding, according to driver John Jones "You get to see a lot of happy people, you get a lot of smiles." (Wichita Eagle).
And the ice-cream business certainly looks about to boom in Linden, NJ, where police are preparing to hand out tickets for free ice-cream to any kids they see wearing a helmet when cycling; the tickets will also include information about a recent law change, that makes helmets compulsory for under-17s. Even better, no child will be left out as the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey is supplying free cycling helmets for children, also available from those friendly boys in blue (My Central Jersey).
A few years ago, a neighbor of my parents, a man who owned a construction company, parked a backhoe in his driveway. The surrounding neighbors nearly had a riot over how the machine was lowering the value of their property just by being there. So you can imagine how this guy's neighbors might feel. Carlos Owens of Wasilla, Alaska, a former Army mechanic, had a dream. His dream was to create a giant metal robot that could mirror the movements of its human pilot. Now the "mecha", as he calls it, has become a reality. It has taken him four years and cost approximately $25,000, but just think of all the fun you could have with one of these.
Rob Spence, a filmmaker in Canada, who lost his right eye has now replaced that eye with a camera. Engineer Kosta Grammatis designed a video camera and transmitter that would fit into a prosthetic eye. Just think of all the possibilities. Waring: video does contain a very brief scene of eye surgery in the beginning. Eyeborg
Ever wondered what human flesh would taste like but you've never been trapped in the Andes due to a horrific plane crash? Then this cute little robot has the answer. Designed by researchers in Japan, the Winebot is supposed to be for sorting different types of wine, cheese and hors d'oeuvres. But when a reporter placed his hand against the sensor, he was declared to be "bacon". Anyone care to confirm?
Back in the early 1960s, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab created one of the first autonomous robots. They called it "The Beast." From Popular Science, Sep 1964:
A computer brain and a flexible arm with microswitch fingers enable a robot to "stay alive" at the Johns Hopkins physics lab. Called "The Beast," the wheeled, two-foot high robot "senses" when its batteries are beginning to run down. It then feels its way along a wall until its fingers find an electrical outlet, plugs itself in and gets a revitalizing charge. "The Beast" has no function other than to satisfy the impish sense of humor of the Hopkins scientists.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.