News Briefs 28-02-2017

Fly me to the Moon!

Quote of the Day:

Utopian movements produce dystopias.

Dennis Prager

Handle: A New Boston Dynamics Robot That Has Legs with Wheels

Just when you thought you could survive the coming robot revolution by outrunning them, Boston Dynamics have released video of their latest invention, 'Handle': a 6 and a half foot tall humanoid style robot which can travel 9mph via the wheels on the end of its legs. Oh, and it can jump 4​ ​feet vertically while its motoring along too...

​It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. ​​​Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles​ found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds.

Joking aside though, this latest robot looks to have amazing potential for simple carrying/moving/delivery jobs.

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News Briefs 27-02-2017

We're on an express elevator to hell...going down!

Quote of the Day:

You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.

Robert A. Heinlein

News Briefs 24-02-2017

"The Tao is like a well: used but never used up..."

Quote of the Day:

“...It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities.”

Lao Tze

Felines are Fine: New Research Finds No Evidence that Owning a Cat Might Make You Psychotic

Toxoplasma gondii

In recent years there has been a surge in interest in the idea that human behaviour might be sometimes manipulated by microscopic parasites, as this has been observed happening in many other species. Perhaps the most famous example is the brain parasite toxoplasma gondii, which manipulates rodents' behaviour to make them less fearful of cats. It does this because toxo only reproduces inside a cat's stomach - by making the rodents less fearful, they are more likely to be eaten and 'deliver their payload' to where it needs to be.

Some have suggested that humans too might be affected by toxo, an idea that sounded even more plausible when last year researchers found that chimpanzees with toxo seem to be less fearful of a feline predator, the leopard. Previous to that study, other research had implicated toxo as the possible cause of a range of psychological effects in humans, from delayed reaction time right through to suicidal thoughts.

But a new piece of research has now thrown doubts over that idea, with scientists finding no evidence that cat ownership contributes to mental health problems in teenagers:

Congenital or early life infection with Toxoplasma gondii has been implicated in schizophrenia aetiology. Childhood cat ownership has been hypothesized as an intermediary marker of T. gondii infection and, by proxy, as a risk factor for later psychosis. Evidence supporting this hypothesis is, however, limited.

We used birth cohort data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate whether cat ownership in pregnancy and childhood (ages 4 and 10 years) was associated with psychotic experiences (PEs) in early [13yo] and late [18yo] adolescence, rated from semi-structured interviews. We used logistic regression to examine associations between cat ownership and PEs, adjusting for several sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors, household characteristics and dog ownership.

Cat ownership during pregnancy was not associated with PEs at age 13 years or 18 years. Initial univariable evidence that cat ownership at ages 4 and 10 years was associated with PEs at age 13 years did not persist after multivariable adjustment. There was no evidence that childhood cat ownership was associated with PEs at age 18 years.

The researchers concluded that while pregnant women "should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter, given possible T. gondii exposure", overall the study "strongly indicates that cat ownership in pregnancy or early childhood does not confer an increased risk of later adolescent PEs."

So there's one less excuse to use when your child asks you for a kitten...

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News Briefs 23-02-2017

Our lives are always the prelude. What comes next is up to us.

Quote of the Day:

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death."

˜Robert Fulghum

News Briefs 22-02-2017

My daughter Isis reviews fantasy genre books from her viewpoint as a teenager - check out her blog 'The Book Goddess' for some cool recommendations (both old and new).

Quote of the Day:

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

Martin Luther King Jr.

The Golden Ratio Coloring Book

The Golden Ratio Coloring Book by Steve Richards

When I was looking for suitable artwork for the cover of Darklore Volume 8, I was lucky enough to serendipitously come across the amazing drawings of Steve Richards, aka the (poetically named) 'Cosmic Joker'. When I asked Steve about how he fell into drawing sacred geometry-themed artworks, he told me that the urge to make art hit him just seven years ago in 2010, though stopped shortly after, before returning in 2012, when "I immediately knew it was staying and it wasn't going to just disappear". Along with this urge came a "throbbing" in Steve's forehead as well as tinnitus.

So for 6 months I just drew non stop bright vibrant pictures with colouring pencils...and then in Dec 2012 I picked up a fineliner [and] haven't stopped since!

My life long passions regarding the nature of reality, consciousness, ancient Egypt, synchronicity, cycles and symbols are themes I'm trying to put into my Art and finding ways of including information too, where symbolic, coded or literal. Trying to make information beautifull springs to mind.

Steve now has more than just a book cover as part of his portfolio - he has an entire book! As part of the recent interest in colouring-as-a-form-of-meditation, Steve created the illustrations for the recently released book The Golden Ratio Coloring Book: And Other Mathematical Patterns Inspired by Nature and Art. If you're into colouring, and you read this site, then it's likely this book will be right up your alley with illustrations like this:

Platonic Consciousness

You can find out more about Steve/follow him on social media/buy his stuff via the following links:

News Briefs 21-02-2017

Nothing to see here, move along...

Thanks @thePumamama and @MattStaggs..

Quote of the Day:

This is where we are at right now, as a whole. We are experiencing a reality based on a thin veneer of lies and illusions. A world where greed is our God and wisdom is sin, where division is key and unity is fantasy, where the ego-driven cleverness of the mind is praised, rather than the intelligence of the heart.

Bill Hicks

News Briefs 20-02-2017

RIP to the funky drummer...

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

We all live our entire life for the three, agonizing, last three minutes in which you are going to die. And you very fast realize - at a speed beyond anything we know - you realize what you did, and what you didn't.

Guillermo del Toro