Thursday, 4 June 2015

Bruce Shapiro’s Mesmerizing Kinetic Sand Drawing Machines

In a 21st century take on the traditional Zen sand garden, artist Bruce Shapiro invented the Sisyphus Machine, an elaborate kinetic drawing machine that uses magnets to drag rolling steel marbles through a thin layer of sand to create complicated mandala-like patterns. Shapiro, who was once a practicing physician, has spent the better part of 25 years experimenting with computerized motion control and many of his Sisyphus Machines have been installed in locations around the world including a large device in Switzerland back in 2003 and at Questacon in Canberra, Australia in 2013. It appears the artist is currently working on a tabletop consumer version and if you’re interested you can sign up for his mailing list here. (via Core77, Fast Company)

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Space Image: Rhea’s Horizon

Gazing off toward the horizon is thought-provoking no matter what body’s horizon it is. Rhea’s horizon is slightly

The post Space Image: Rhea’s Horizon has been published on Technology Org.

 
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Well-read layperson here (i.e. the dangerous sort, hehe!). I'm going to make a prediction about...

Well-read layperson here (i.e. the dangerous sort, hehe!). I'm going to make a prediction about black holes and physics. It's based pretty much purely on the observation that everything arising from our big bang is fractal in nature; everything repeats (with 'twiddles') at every scale.
So here's my prediction:
We will find new breeds of particle that exist only at the gravitionally intense fields found at the centre of black holes. They will be made of the same fundementals (or equivalents) as 'normal' particles: quarks, gluons etc. and will follow dissimilar-but-equivalent rules to the chemical elements wer're familiar with - there'll be equivalents for protons, electrons, band-gaps etc.

Oh, and at a stroke, the infinities normally found in the physics of black holes disappears (well, gets pushed beyond a scaling horizon??)
Anyway, Monty Python reference coming up:
That is my theory, which it is too by Miss Anne Elk.

Thoughts or feedback would be really appreciated :)

 » see original post https://plus.google.com/+MarkHightonRidley/posts/DwrU3MfHwtX

Why playing video games is good for your brain

The Conversation

Whether playing video games has negative effects is something that has been debated for 30 years, in much the same way that rock and roll, television, and even the novel faced much the same criticisms in their time.

Purported negative effects such as addiction, increased aggression, and various health consequences such as obesity and repetitive strain injuries tend to get far more media coverage than the positives. I know from my own research examining both sides that my papers on video game addiction receive far more publicity than my research into the social benefits of, for example, playing online role-playing games.

However there is now a wealth of research which shows that video games can be put to educational and therapeutic uses, as well as many studies which reveal how playing video games can improve reaction times and hand-eye co-ordination. For example, research has shown that spatial visualisation ability, such as mentally rotating and manipulating two- and three-dimensional objects, improves with video game playing.

To add to this long line of studies demonstrating the more positive effects of video games is a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Vikranth Bejjanki and colleagues. Their newly published paper demonstrates that the playing of action video games — the sort of fast-paced, 3D shoot-em-up beloved of doomsayers in the media — confirms what other studies have revealed, that players show improved performance in perception, attention, and cognition.

In a series of experiments on small numbers of gamers (10 to 14 people in each study), the researchers reported that gamers with previous experience of playing such action video games were better at perceptual tasks such as pattern discrimination than gamers with less experience.

In another experiment, they trained gamers that had little previous experience of playing action games, giving them 50 hours practice. It was showed that these gamers performed much better on perceptual tasks than they had prior to their training. The paper concludes:

The enhanced learning of the regularity and structure of environments may act as a core mechanism by which action video game play influences performance in perception, attention, and cognition.

In my own papers, I have pointed out many features and qualities that make video games potentially useful. For instance, in an educational context, video games can be fun and stimulating, which means it's easier to maintain a pupil's undivided attention for longer. Because of the excitement, video games may also be a more appealing way of learning than traditional methods for some.

Video games have an appeal that crosses many demographic boundaries, such as age, gender, ethnicity, or educational attainment. They can be used to help set goals and rehearse working towards them, provide feedback, reinforcement, self-esteem, and maintain a record of behavioural change.

Their interactivity can stimulate learning, allowing individuals to experience novelty, curiosity and challenge that stimulates learning. There is the opportunity to develop transferable skills, or practice challenging or extraordinary activities, such as flight simulators, or simulated operations.

Because video games can be so engaging, they can also be used therapeutically. For instance, they can be used as a form of physiotherapy as well as in more innovative contexts. A number of studies have shown that when children play video games following chemotherapy they need fewer painkillers than others.

Video games have great educational potential in addition to their entertainment value. Games specifically designed to address a specific problem or teach a specific skill have been very successful, precisely because they are motivating, engaging, interactive, and provide rewards and reinforcement to improve.

But the transferability of skills outside the game-playing context is an important factor. What's also clear from the scientific literature is that the negative consequences of playing almost always involve people that are excessive video game players. There is little evidence of serious acute adverse effects on health from moderate play.

Dr. Mark Griffiths has received research funding from a wide range of organizations including the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy and the Responsibility in Gambling Trust. He has also carried out consultancy for numerous gaming companies in the area of social responsibility and responsible gaming.

More from The Conversation US...

 
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 » see original post http://theweek.com/articles/442243/why-playing-video-games-good-brain

City Museum: A 10-Story Former Shoe Factory Transformed into the Ultimate Urban Playground

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Housed in the former home of the 10-story International Shoe Company, the sprawling 600,000 square-foot City Museum in St. Louis is quite possibly the ultimate urban playground ever constructed. The museum is the brainchild of artist and sculptor Bob Cassilly who opened the space in 1997 after years of renovation and construction. Although Cassilly passed away in 2011, the museum is perpetually under construction as new features are added or improved thanks to a ragtag group of 20 artists known affectionately as the Cassilly Crew.

So what can you find at the City Museum? How about a sky-high jungle gym making use of two repurposed airplanes, two towering 10-story slides and numerous multi-floor slides, a rooftop Ferris wheel and a cantilevered school bus that juts out from the roof, subterranean caves, a pipe organ, hundreds of feet of tunnels that traverse from floor to floor, an aquarium, ball pits, a shoe lace factory, a circus arts facility, restaurants, and even a bar… because why not? All the materials used to build the museum including salvaged bridges, old chimneys, construction cranes, and miles of tile are sourced locally, making the entire endeavor a massive recycling project.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) and live in the midwestern United States or have any other means to get to St. Louis, if you aren’t immediately planning a trip to City Museum, you’re missing out on life. On my first visit last year our family hardly left the museum for two days. It is the complete antithesis to commercialized theme parks like Disneyland. You can see more photos at Gallery Hip.

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CU-Boulder instrument selected for NASA mission to Europa

A University of Colorado Boulder instrument has been selected to fly on a NASA mission to Jupiter’s icy

The post CU-Boulder instrument selected for NASA mission to Europa has been published on Technology Org.

 
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