We've seen MIT's super-fast four-legged Cheetah bot sprint on a treadmill many times, but it seems that the team at MIT is finally ready to let the thing outside. Now, quadrupedal bots traversing hill and dale are nothing new, but the Cheetah's doing so using a new algorithm and without the benefit of an internal combustion engine or hydraulics. That algorithm determines the amount of force the bot's custom high-torque electrical motors deliver, which in turn controls how fast the robot runs and how high it leaps. Using this force-based approach, the Cheetah is more stable and agile, according to the boffins at MIT, and it can maintain its balance as the speed of its gait increases. Not to mention that the electric motors are quiet, so instead of an exhaust note, you only hear the pitter-patter of robot feet. This all adds up to a robot that can silently bound across uneven ground and even jump over obstacles. It's not as fast as its furry namesake... yet, but you can hear from its creators and see its bounding baby steps in the video after the break.

[Image Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT]

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Mass spectrometry. What's it good for anyway? Analyzing substances to figure out just what they are, that's what. The inherent problem with the process, though, is that it's basically impossible to do outside of a dedicated lab. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (more commonly known as MIT) think they have a solution to that problem: shrinking the necessary testing components down to nanoscale-sized versions, which would allow analyses to be performed with a tool the size of a smartphone. They'd be a lot cheaper too, dropping the price from "tens of thousands of dollars" down to "hundreds" according to MIT News. Ideally, this would make vaporizing (!) samples a ton faster without crime scene investigators, among others, sacrificing the analysis' quality for convenience -- as if criminals needed more worries about covering their tracks.

[Image credit: Getty]

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Ready to feel small? Our sun is just one of 300 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is one of many, many other galaxies -- but at least we now know where it is. Astronomers have mapped a "supercluster" of galaxies including the Milky Way and dubbed it Laniakea, or "immeasurable heaven" in Hawaiian. Using several radio telescopes, the team calculated the movement of nearby galaxies relative to each other, after taking into account cosmic expansion. They chose the supercluster boundary based on that motion, since galaxies tend to flow along the same paths toward common gravitational wells. Lanaikea was defined based on its flow toward the "Great Attractor," along with another supercluster called Perseus-Pisces. As shown in the stunning video below, our own insignificant galaxy is on a prominent flow path in Laniakea, right at the edge of a massive void.

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Though the effectiveness of quantum computing is highly disputed right now, that hasn't deterred Google from throwing more money at it. Mountain View just announced that it's backing another effort to build a new breed of quantum processors with scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). Google is already a partner at NASA's Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QUAIL), and invested some $15 million in a D-Wave quantum computer for the project. However, a study done on a D-Wave's computer has cast doubt on the efficacy of the machine, a claim that was refuted by D-Wave as "bullshit." Intriguingly, several researchers involved in that study were also from UCSB -- like John Martinis, who has worked on quantum computing for nearly 30 years.

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By definition, the Internet of Things (IoT) should connect with anything -- even writhing, kinda gross, but often delicious eels. SK Telecom's latest project is aimed at showcasing its IoT skills with a pilot connected eel farm that uses a network of sensors to monitor thousands of eels, mostly autonomously. Sensors dotted across multiple 20-foot-wide tanks check on water temperature, pH and oxygen levels, Data is then collated and analyzed by the Korean carrier's cloud system, and bounced to a simplified smartphone app -- all in pretty much real time. "Why?" is a good question, but there's a good answer too: apparently minute changes in those factors above can be fatal to young eels. Before, this meant regular tank checks by workers every two-to-six hours. Now, it's mostly automated and sudden changes will even ping a warning to eel farmers' smartphones when needed. SK Telecom is planning to roll out the system commercially next year -- who knew eel farming was big business?

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NASA's ironman Mars rover Opportunity, like your five-year-old PC, is about to get reformatted. Problems have been causing the aging vehicle to reboot and scientists suspect that worn-out cells in the flash memory are to blame. Opportunity's been running for 10 years despite an expected mission life of three months, so even having such problems is a bonus -- and its now-defunct twin, Spirit, had a similar procedure in 2009. Scientists will back up the rover's memory, then send a format command to prevent the bad cells from being accessed. They'll use a slower-than-normal data rate to reinstall the software, since Mars is currently 212 million miles away and the signal will take 11.2 minutes just to reach it. NASA said that Martian winds have kept the rover's solar panels surprisingly clean since it hit the ground rolling in 2004 (see the video below). As the picture above from August 10th shows, it's still doing science and exploration like a boss.

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If WiFi can track a heartbeat through walls, why can't I get internet in my corner bathroom? Jason Cole was trying to figure that out too, but unlike me, he's a PhD student in physics. So he mapped his own apartment and assigned refraction values to the walls (shown above), then applied so-called Helmholtz equations to model the electromagnetic waves. As detailed in his (math-drenched) blog, the best spot for his router was where you'd expect: directly in the center. Since that was out of the question, he was still able to get "tendrils" of internet by placing it in the corner of the apartment. His experiment implies that even in a distant room you could eke some connectivity by judiciously shifting around your laptop. Some commenters want him to turn his equations into a WiFi mapping web service -- unfortunately, he thinks the idea is "unfeasible" due to the processing time and assumptions made.

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We've heard music made from bats' echolocation signals and the sounds of glaciers before, but what about tunes composed with something a little more, say, industrial? And no, we aren't talking about Nine Inch Nails' classic The Downward Spiral. Think more along the lines of a song comprised of sounds from pneumatic equipment and welders and you're most of the way there. As spotted by Laughing Squid, musician Matthew Dear partnered with GE and recorded the acoustics used to diagnose the performance of turbines and jet engines, among other things, and the result is a dance-ready electronic track dubbed "Drop Science." Sure, artists including Amon Tobin have done similar sorts of things before, but not at such a grand scale. Curious to hear what it sounds like when thousands of machines are humming at peak performance? Check out the video and audio embedded below.

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Pizza is essentially the perfect food. Well, so long as you aren't lactose intolerant or have problems with gluten. We realize that those are pretty big caveats, but stay with us for a second -- it'll be worth it: NPR spotted a study of why different cheeses diverge in looks and taste when baked. Seriously. In a paper called "Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality," researchers found that, among other things, the reason why mozzarella is so unique of a topping has to do with the way it's prepared. The cheese bubbles and browns because of its inherent elasticity due to stretching. In contrast, cheddar isn't as ideal because it isn't very elastic, thus it doesn't bubble as well. The same apparently goes for Edam and Gruyere, too.

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As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, though, let's say it's worth millions and millions of internet connections. Thanks to John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine which focuses on helping companies locate internet-connected devices, we are getting a pretty detailed look at how the web looks on a map. While Matherly's tweet says the picture shows where "all devices on the internet" were located after he pinged them, that might be a bit of a stretch. Still, the image manages to give us a really good idea of the internet traffic across different parts of the world. And we reckon it's beautiful.

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We've all got memories we wish we could view less negatively. Some are trivial, like that drunken display at the office party; some are serious and create genuine psychological challenges. So far, researchers have figured out how to create false ones, or remove them entirely. Now -- in mice at least -- scientists have converted a bad memory into a good one. The researches established good and bad memories in the mice (with food rewards, or light shocks) and recorded the parts of the brain that dealt with the location (hippocampus) of those events, and the emotional recording part (amygdala). To switch the memories, when the mice returned to the location where they received the shock or food, they triggered the location memory of the other event. The mice then displayed behaviours consistent with the opposite memory (quickly moving from, or remaining calm in the current location). While the work gives us a new insight into the mechanics of memory, the process is too complex and invasive for there to be any hope of it being used for treatment of obvious conditions like PTSD. It could however lead to further validation of other therapies (like CBT) that work on similar principles.

[Image credit: rduffy/Flickr]

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Schrodinger's cat, the good ole thought experiment that's been twisting (non-Quantum physicist) brains for decades. Scientists might have just caught it. Or not. Typical. What you see above is a combined image where a stencil was bombarded with cosmic rays photons, but the photons that generated the image actually never interacted with the stencil -- stay with us. It was separate photons (which shared the same quantum state as the ones that hit the camera) which arrived at the stencil. The science goes that when two separate particles are entangled, their physical properties appear to correlate and they share a single quantum state.

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Surgeons and medical assistant wearing mask and uniform operating patient.?

For all the advancements we've made with technology and medicine, a cure for cancer still eludes us. But maybe that's because we haven't enlisted nanoparticles to attack tumors just yet. New research from the University of California's Davis Cancer Center, spotted by PhysOrg, suggest that could be a reality sometime soon. By attaching a tumor-recognition module to a nanorobot, doctors would be able to both diagnose a cancerous growth and inject drugs directly into the carcinoma. This would effectively target only the malignant cells and leave the surrounding areas unharmed -- taking things a few steps further than, say, the nanodiamonds we've heard of. It's a stark contrast to how chemotherapy treatment typically works, too, which is a blanket attack on all of a certain type of cell that often inflicts as much collateral damage as it does good. Who knows, a world where cancer patients don't have their hair or bone marrow destroyed during treatment might not be too far off after all.

[Image credit: Shutterstock / StockLite]

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Journalist

Over the past few years, social networks have become an extremely powerful tool for every journalist, whether it's here in the United States or elsewhere across the world. But social networks like Twitter and Facebook aren't just a venue for sharing links or live-tweeting breaking news events, as great as that is -- it's also about the engagement one can have with readers and other fellow journalist. Knowing this, The Times of India has recently implemented a new policy that requires its journalism employees to hand over Twitter and Facebook passwords, as it looks to gain control of what they can and cannot post on their social accounts.

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