The audacious rescue plan that might have saved Columbia (and been NASA’s finest hour)
Beautiful account of how Columbia was lost, and a detailed proposal for an unprecedented, heroic rescue mission that could have maybe, possibly rescued the crew only if every single thing went right. Which it never does of course.
It ends with an excerpt of George W. Bush’s speech at the Columbia memorial service:
“This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose—it is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt.”
NASA’s Next Rover Might Be This Crazy Walking Sphere
Biomimicry has taken us far in robotics. There’s the snake. There’s the mechanized pack animal. There’s the birds, and the bees, and the fleas. And on and on. It makes sense that we would, in constructing our autonomous animals, imitate the highly evolved species of the natural world.
Except … when it doesn’t. Sometimes robots are at their most effective when they’re self-consciously unnatural.
Case in point: the Super Ball Bot. Which is the machine’s actual name.
An ingenious approach to robot design. They’ve built something with such flexibility in movement that they have to algorithmically evolve its control mechanics just to operate it, theoretically giving them a system with a baked-in robustness you couldn’t achieve otherwise.
Pretty epic video of a 200,000-mile-long solar eruption that left a canyon on the Sun’s surface. Definitely worth watching in 1080.