Monday, May 12, 2008

Phun


I just found Phun the other day. It's a free open-source, cross-platform 2D physics simulator that makes you want to pick up blocks, or maybe crayons, and learn more about the way things fall and move under pressure. Written by a Swedish graduate student, the program teaches concepts of restitution and friction. Having the physics exam made me think of this.

http://phun.cs.umu.se/wiki/Download

Good luck on the exam everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Iron Man


Finally one of my favorite comic book heroes has come to the movies. I highly recommend watching this movie. It definitely strays from the norms of the brawns of most superhero movies and has moments of clever dialog.

Its a cool movie. And the hero, Iron Man aka Tony Stark is a scientist. Although the science and physics involved in Iron Man may seem farfetched, according to New Scientist much of the technology is closer to reality than we may think. One such example is the superhero exoskeleton. The suits that Stark builds give him super human powers but nowadays some teams have built exoskeletal legs that can transfer weight to the ground and make objects like backpacks seem lighter.

One of the coolest things about Stark's suit is not its strength but its ability to fly. Stark zooms to Afghanistan to stop warlords killing a group of poor villagers. This is also a technology being researched by such projects as SoloTrek that was capable of flying 200 km.

The way Stark manages to build his suit is due to the assistance he receives from his artificial intelligence. Stark's robotic helper doesn't always correctly guess what he wants but as real-world software grows evermore sophisticated, modern technology is making such science-fiction seem possible. He also also a 3d software program with a tactile interface.

Perhaps one day we will see these technologies realized. Have a nice rest of weekend.