Backflipping Robot from Boston Dynamics

  • Boston Dynamics is back with updates to Atlas, its humanoid robot. Now, Atlas can do a backflip. 
  • Google sold Boston Dynamics to Softbank earlier this year. 
  • Boston Dynamics’ robots are both cool and creepy.

Boston Dynamics may have switched owners from Google to Softbank a few months ago, but development of its creepy-but-cool robots continues apace.

For instance, here’s a new video of Boston Dynamics’ human-like Atlas, which can now do a backflip. But don’t worry, that’s definitely not something we mere humans should be scared about.

Check it out:

It’s so close to lifelike — and yet not.

It seems like Boston Dynamics is ready to show a little bit more about what it’s been working on. Earlier this week, the company demonstrated the newest version of its SpotMini robot dog in a video that shot to the top of the YouTube charts.

And because we’re getting closer to the holiday season, here’s Boston Dynamics’ 2015 Christmas card, in which older versions of SpotMini take “Santa” on a ride.

Everything is fine.

Inside Google’s Giant Data Centers

Inside the internet: Google allows first ever look at the eight vast data centres that power the online world

  • Data centres range from vast warehouses in Iowa to a converted paper mill in Finland
  • Buildings are so large Google even provides bicycles for engineers to get around them
  • Street View tour of North Carolina facility reveals Stormtrooper standing guard

Google has given a rare glimpse inside the vast data centres around the globe that power its services.

They reveal an intricate  maze of computers that process Internet search requests, show  YouTube video clips and distribute email for millions of people.

With hundreds of thousands of servers, colourful cables and even bicycles so engineers can get around quickly, they  range from a converted paper mill in Finland to custom made server farms in Iowa.

 

One of Google’s server farms in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which provides over 115,000 square feet of space for servers running services like Search and YouTube

‘Very few people have stepped inside Google’s  data centers, and for good reason: our first priority is the privacy and security of your data, and we go to great lengths to protect it, keeping our  sites under close guard,’ the firm said.

‘While we’ve shared many of our designs and best practices, and we’ve been publishing our efficiency data since 2008, only a small set of employees have access to the server floor itself.

‘Today, for the first time, you can see inside our data centers and pay them a virtual visit.

‘On Where the Internet lives, our new site featuring beautiful photographs by Connie Zhou, you’ll get a never-before-seen  look at the technology, the people and the places that keep Google running.’

The site features photos from inside some of the eight data centers that Google Inc. already has running in the U.S., Finland  and Belgium.

Google is also building data centers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Chile.

Virtual tours of a North Carolina data center also will be available through Google’s ‘Street View’ service, which is usually used to view photos of neighborhoods around the world.

The photographic access to Google’s data centers coincides with the publication of a Wired magazine article about how the  company builds and operates them.

The article is written by Steven Levy, a journalist who won Google’s trust while writing ‘In The Plex,’ a book published last year about the company’s philosophy and evolution.

Google colour codes its servers depending on their location, while piping in the  buildings is coded depending on what it carries – with cool water in blue tubes and warm in red

 

Google’s Douglas County data centre in Georgia is so large the firm provides Google branded bicycles for staff to get around on

The data centers represent Google’s  nerve  center, although none are located near the company’s headquarters  in Mountain View, Calif.

As Google blossomed from its roots in a Silicon Valley garage, company co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin worked  with other engineers to develop a system to connect low-cost computer servers  in a way that would help them realize their ambition to provide a digital roadmap to all of the world’s information.

Initially, Google just wanted enough  computing power to index all the websites on the Internet and deliver quick  responses to search requests. As Google’s tentacles extended into  other  markets, the company had to keep adding more computers to store videos, photos,  email and information about their users’ preferences.

 

A street view tour published by Google also reveals a hidden surprise – A Stormtrooper standing guard over a server in Google’s North Carolina server farm

The insights that Google gathers about the  more than 1 billion people that use its services has made the  company a frequent target of privacy complaints around the world.

The latest missive came Tuesday in  Europe, where regulators told Google to revise a 7-month-old change to  its privacy policy that enables the company to combine user data  collected from its different services.

Google studies Internet search requests and Web surfing habits in an effort to gain a better  understanding of what people like. The company does this in an effort to show ads of products and services to the people most likely to be  interested in buying them. Advertising accounts for virtually all of Google’s revenue, which totaled nearly $23 billion through the first  half of this year.

Even as it allows anyone with a Web browser  to peer into its data centers, Google intends to closely guard  physical access to its buildings. The company also remains cagey about how many computers are in its data centers, saying only that they house  hundreds of thousands of machines to run Google’s services.

Google’s need for so many computers has turned the company a major electricity user, although management says it’s constantly looking for ways to reduce power consumption to  protect the  environment and lower its expenses.

 

Here hundreds of fans funnel hot air from the server racks into a cooling unit to be recirculated in Oklahoma. The green lights are the server status LEDs reflecting from the front of the servers

 

The Iowa campus network room, where routers and switches allow data centers to talk to each other. The fiber cables run along the yellow cable trays near the ceiling.

 

Even the water pipes reflect Google’s brand: These colorful pipes are responsible for carrying water in and out of an Oregon data center. The blue pipes supply cold water and the red pipes return the warm water back to be cooled.

 

Google’s server farm in Douglas County, Iowa

 

Denise Harwood, a Google Engineer, diagnoses an overheated CPU. For more than a  decade, Google has built some of the world’s most efficient servers.

 

Each server rack has four switches, connected by a different colored cable.  Colors are kept the same throughout data centers so staff know which one to  replace in case of failure.

Green Bank, West Virginia, population 143, the quietest town in America: no cell phones, Wi-Fi, television or radio

Green Bank, in Pocahontas County in West Virginia, the United States, is possibly one of the quietest residential places on earth. There is no cell phone reception here, no Wi-Fi, not even radio or television. But Green Bank is not technologically backward. On the contrary, it’s home to the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope on earth – the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The GBT is the reason why this town is electromagnetically silent.

Radio telescopes work by detecting electromagnetic waves that come from distant galaxies. These signals are so faint that the slightest emission of radio waves from electronic gadgets can interfere with the readings of the radio telescopes. For this reason, all cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio and other communication devices are outlawed here. There are no cell phone towers for miles around, no music plays on the radio or soap operas on the television. Not even gas operated cars are allowed because gasoline engines use spark plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture, and electric sparks produce electromagnetic waves.

 

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The boundaries of the device-free zone extend far beyond Green Bank, covering an area roughly equal to 13,000–square-mile. This region is called the National Radio Quiet Zone, and is located around the sparsely populated countryside that straddles the borders of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Almost all types of radio transmissions and certain electronic devices are banned here so that the powerful Green Bank Radio Telescopes can work without disturbance. Green Bank happens to be the closest community to the Green Bank Telescope.

The tech-free life in Green Bank may seem impossible for those who can’t live without their cell phones, but for the 140-odd residents of the town, life is a bliss. Kids aren’t glued to the glowing screens of their mobile devices. They actually talk to each other instead of texting. Older residents roll down their car windows to greet each other and leave their front doors unlocked. If they must speak to someone out of town, there are pay phones.

 

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The current telescope, completed in 2000, was built following the collapse of the previous Green Bank telescope, a 90.44 m paraboloid erected in 1962. The previous telescope collapsed on 15 November 1988 due to the sudden loss of a gusset plate in the box girder assembly, which was a key component for the structural integrity of the telescope.

Living under the shadow of the giant telescope, some of the residents are not even aware of the technological advances elsewhere.

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“We didn’t realize the rest of the world was getting connected and staying connected constantly, via phones and computers and all that,” said radio host Caleb Diller, who grew up in Pocahontas County. “So we were kinda back in time a little bit. We hadn’t progressed to that.”

Over the last few years, many people have taken up residence in Green Bank. These people claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS—a disease not recognized by the scientific community. It’s said that people suffering from EHS get symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and chest pains from electromagnetic radiations.

“Life isn’t perfect here,” said Diane Schou, one of the first “electrosensitive” immigrants who came to Green Bank with her husband in 2007. “There’s no grocery store, no restaurants, no hospital nearby. But here, at least, I’m healthy. I can do things. I’m not in bed with a headache all the time.”  As of 2013, an estimated 36 people have moved to Green Bank to escape the effects of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

 

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The previous telescope

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The GBT is fully steerable, and 85% of the entire celestial sphere is accessible. The structure weighs 8500 tons and stands 450 feet above ground. The surface area of the GBT is a 100 by 110 meter active surface with 2,209 actuators (a small motor used to adjust the position) for the 2,004 surface panels. The panels are made from aluminium to a surface accuracy of better than 0.003 inches (76 µm) RMS. The actuators adjust the panel positions to correct for distortions due to gravity which change as the telescope moves. Without this so-called “active surface”, observations at frequencies above 4 GHz would not be as efficient.

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They want to believe. Man thinks he saw Giant UFO while in airliner over Nevada desert.

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Some imaginative fellow was on an airplane flying over Nevada when he was sure he saw a giant UFO below the airplane.  It was massive and giving off extremely bright lights. The guy must have thought Earth was under alien attack.

He took some photos below:

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The “I want to believe” UFO community was abuzz when they saw the photos.  Maybe some real evidence that the little green bastards do exist!  But then a skeptic pointed out that the sighting was almost 99.999 percent a solar energy facility in the desert.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the California Mojave Desert, 64 km (40 miles) southwest of Las Vegas, with a gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). It deploys 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors, focusing solar energy on boilers located on three centralized solar power towers. Unit 1 of the project was connected to the grid in September 2013 in an initial sync testing. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014, and it is currently the world’s largest solar thermal power station.

There are ten huge Solar Generating facilities in the Mojave Desert.  The airplane passenger should have done some research before he came to a UFO conclusion.

 

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173,500 of these heliostats (mirror reflectors).

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