Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Something's Fishy

In my first post here, I promised you a future post on robotic fish, so here it is. I was going to write about humans possibly evolving from Roswell aliens (kind of à la Stargate), but I've discovered I'm a little too tired to process the science in the article I found, so am therefore too tired to speculate on outcomes, possibilities, and so on. This may be what I get for writing all my posts after midnight. Anyway, the human-alien connection will be coming, probably on Friday.

Would you believe robotic fish are a Thing? Apparently they are. I have not one, not two, not three, but four different ones for you today.

1) Boing Boing reports that MIT reports that several MIT researchers have built a fish-shaped robot to explore areas where other robotic submersibles couldn't go. These "fish" are made of polymers that can flex and bend, so they're more fish-like than previous models, which had multiple sections and would, I imagine, have moved more stiffly with the added bonus of potential leakage of water. Compare that to:

2) Meanwhile, PhysOrg tells us via io9 that the Germans have built what looks like an alien fish skeleton, which can mimic a number of different fishes. The Germans (or someone) have also provided us with video:

If you think the speakers are saying more than the subtitles, you'd be right. The subtitles do hit the important points, though.*

3) And finally, Michigan State University reports** their own fish-bot. I'm not sure where this one differs from the others. The article's all about applications, which are the same ones suggested for the others—minimizing erosion and ecosystem damage, exploring smaller spaces underwater, detecting environmental factors and changes.

That's all well and good, of course, but let's think further here! If you can built a robot to explore the Great Barrier Reef without ruining coral, couldn't you build one to explore Europa or Titan? Or the Moon? They've all got liquid, we're told. Could you use fish-bots to build underwater dwellings? Could you use them to find a different famous gem on the Titanic, and spark a sequel?

Yeah… the Europa idea's the coolest, isn't it? Who needs more Titanic when we have Avatar?

4) And this one is almost certainly decorative.***

* Yeah, I sort of speak German. Very badly.
** Engadget, this time
*** via, of all places, my dad

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