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Grasping with kirigami shells

The ability to grab, hold, and manipulate objects is a vital and fundamental operation in biological and engineering systems. Here, we present a soft gripper using a simple material system that enables precise and rapid grasping, and can be miniaturized, modularized, and remotely actuated. This soft gripper is based on kirigami shells—thin, elastic shells patterned with an array of cuts. The kirigami cut pattern is determined by evaluating the shell’s mechanics and geometry, using a combination of experiments, finite element simulations, and theoretical modeling, which enables the gripper design to be both scalable and material independent. We demonstrate that the…

Complex manipulation with a simple robotic hand through contact breaking and caging

Humans use all surfaces of the hand for contact-rich manipulation. Robot hands, in contrast, typically use only the fingertips, which can limit dexterity. In this work, we leveraged a potential energy–based whole-hand manipulation model, which does not depend on contact wrench modeling like traditional approaches, to design a robotic manipulator. Inspired by robotic caging grasps and the high levels of dexterity observed in human manipulation, a metric was developed and used in conjunction with the manipulation model to design a two-fingered dexterous hand, the Model W. This was accomplished by simulating all planar finger topologies composed of open kinematic chains…

Robot mothers in science fiction

Scifi assumes creating a robot mother will be easy, research indicates otherwise, but both suggest you might not want one anyway. Source: Science Mag: Robot mothers in science fiction

Dunbar’s number: why my theory that humans can only maintain 150 friendships has withstood 30 years of scrutiny

Wisiel/Shutterstock Exactly 30 years ago, I was pondering a graph of primate group sizes plotted against the size of their brains: the larger the brain, the larger the group size. I was curious to know what group size this relationship might predict for humans. The number my calculations gave was 150. Since this seemed low, I hurried off to the library to look for data on natural human group sizes. Hunter-gatherers live in multilevel societies, with groupings of individuals forming a hierarchically layered structure – families within bands, bands within communities, communities within tribes. The community level of organisation turned…

How sex work has been affected by the pandemic

Challenging circumstances. Vlue In the months before the pandemic, I was involved in an extensive piece of research into the sex work industry in the UK. Focusing on the main online market for sex work in the UK, AdultWork, we analysed the profiles of more than 11,500 sex workers to understand the industry and how it operates online. The total number of sex workers in the UK was estimated in 2016 to be slightly over 70,000, so our sample was a substantial portion of the industry (albeit not necessarily a representative sample). The findings, and follow-up work that I have…

The US Just Approved Its First Big Offshore Wind Farm, and It’s a Breakthrough for the Industry

The US Just Approved Its First Big Offshore Wind Farm, and It’s a Breakthrough for the Industry The United States’ offshore wind industry is tiny, with just seven wind turbines operating off Rhode Island and Virginia. The few attempts to build large-scale wind farms like Europe’s have run into long delays, but that may be about to change. On May 11, 2021, the US government issued the final federal approval for the Vineyard Wind project, a utility-scale wind farm that has been over a decade in the planning. The wind farm’s developers plan to install 62 giant turbines in the…

Winning a campaign before it even begins – the power of preemptive persuasion

We have just made an impact even before our supporters had a chance to get involved! More often than not, campaigning is the only way to effect behavioral change. Ultimately, however, we hope to also change values so that the need for campaigns disappears altogether. And we’re seeing it in action! Our movement fighting modern slavery is growing and conveys so much power that sometimes just the thought of a campaign is enough to make change happen. Here’s a peek at an example of a campaign we were ready to launch but didn’t have to, thanks to the strength of…

Japan’s Rikunabi Scandal Shows The Dangers of Privacy Law Loopholes

Technology users around the world are increasingly concerned, and rightly so, about protecting their data. But many are unaware of exactly how their data is being collected and would be shocked to learn of the scope and implications of mass consumer data collection by technology companies. For example, many vendors use tracking technologies including cookies—a small piece of text that is stored in your browser that lets websites recognize your browser, see your browsing activity or IP address but not your name or address—to build expansive profiles about user behavior over time and across apps and sites. Such data can…

Boris Johnson’s advisers may push for a virtual Cop26. He should ignore them | Fiona Harvey

The UK must risk an in-person meeting in Glasgow if this crucial climate conference is to be a successWalkouts, standoffs, shouting, tears, bloodletting – the UN climate Cops have seen it all. The annual meetings, in which all countries bar a few failed states take part, under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), are the only global forum for discussing the future of the planet. They have veered between triumph and disaster, marked by dramatic and sometimes traumatic moments. At their best they can be momentous events, shifting the world’s response to the climate crisis into a……

Climate emissions shrinking the stratosphere, scientists reveal

Exclusive: Thinning indicates profound impact of humans and could affect satellites and GPSHumanity’s enormous emissions of greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere, a new study has revealed.The thickness of the atmospheric layer has contracted by 400 metres since the 1980s, the researchers found, and will thin by about another kilometre by 2080 without major cuts in emissions. The changes have the potential to affect satellite operations, the GPS navigation system and radio communications. Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/12/emissions-shrinking-the-stratosphere-scientists-find

What happened when Italy criminalised environmental protest

What happened when Italy criminalised environmental protest Environmental movements are increasingly finding it hard to exercise their right to protest. This is partly due to the pandemic, though not always. The UK government, for instance, has proposed a bill which would give the police extra powers to use against protests, based on a government report which focused on disruption caused by Extinction Rebellion and protests against fracking, a badger cull, and the construction of the high-speed rail line HS2. My home country of Italy has also strengthened its ability to police and ultimately criminalise public protest, and was doing so…

Research on the Influence of Media Internalized Pressure on College Students’ Sports Participation—Chained Intermediary Analysis of Social Physique Anxiety and Weight Control Self-Efficacy

Purpose: Discuss the relationship among college students’ media internalized pressure, social physique anxiety, weight control self-efficacy, and sports participation in providing a reference for promoting college students to develop healthy and confident living habits. Methods: Take Southwest University in China as the object, select the subjects by stratified random sampling, and process the data with SPSS19.0 and AMOS21.0 statistical software. Results: (1) Media internalized pressure is positively correlated with social physique anxiety, weight control self-efficacy, and sports participation; social physique anxiety is significantly positively correlated with weight control self-efficacy and sports participation, and weight control self-efficacy is significantly positively correlated…

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