Science Friday: Emotional Machines, Holodeck Treadmill, Solar Sailing, Luminous Wallpaper + more

Today we dive into another edition of Science Friday with a look at steps towards a positronic emotion chip, a walk through virtual worlds, the progress of NASA’s not-so-warp-capable Phoenix mission, and another look at solar wind powered space travel. Also check out our new gadget of the week, OLED wallpaper.

“Feeling” Machines Know How to Make You Smile
Technology similar to that of Dr. Noonien Soong‘s emotion chip may have roots in present day research from The Humaine Project which has developed a method for machines to recognize the emotions of humans by combining what is being said, the tone in which it is said, the expression on the face, and smaller signals like eye gaze, hand gestures and posture. The computers cannot reciprocate this emotion however. Says one researcher, "That may never happen. Humaine’s philosophers have thought through carefully whether we should allow it to," he adds. Even if it does go that way, it is certainly not any time soon, he notes.

Data talks to “Mr. Tricorder”

One Virtual Step for Man, One Real Leap for Mankind
Imagine having your very own holodeck. What program would you run? A walk along the Cliffs of Heaven on Sumiko IV, visit to the surface of Mars, or maybe a stroll through the streets of ancient Pompeii? CyberWalk researchers are aiming to make this experience possible through the use of omni-directional treadmills. “Walking through a virtual city was impossible before,” a CyberWalk scientist says. “We are the first to demonstrate that you can walk through a virtual city or any type of extended environment.” See CyberWalk‘s web site and the below video.

The CyberWalk treadmill in action

NASA’s Phoenix Lander Fine Tunes Course for Mars
William Shatner says there’s upcoming news on life on Mars…maybe it will come from the Phoenix. NASA engineers have adjusted the flight path of the Phoenix Mars Lander which hopes to sample Martian ice and dust (not make the first warp flight), setting the spacecraft on course for its May 25 landing on the Red Planet. The lander’s current conditionally approved landing site is a broad, flat valley informally called “Green Valley.” A final decision will be made after NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter takes additional images of the area this month. Track the Phoenix spacecraft and watch its progress! Also check out the Mars mission interactive timeline!

The (non-warp capable) Phoenix Lander

Solar Wind Sail Could Power Future Space Travel
As a nice follow-up to a previous Science Friday solar-sail discussion, solar wind sails have made the news this week. An electric solar wind sail developed two years ago has moved rapidly from invention towards implementation. The electric sail uses the solar wind as its thrust source and therefore needs no fuel or propellant. The solar wind is a continuous plasma stream emanating from the Sun. Changes in the properties of the solar wind cause auroral brightening and magnetic storms, among other things.

Presenting: The solar wind sail

Gadget of the Week: Breakthrough towards luminous wallpaper
What if you could have an entire room wallpapered in flexible, paper-thin light? The key to making this affordable is roll-to-roll processing, a method of manufacturing organic LEDs (OLEDs) that works a whole lot like a printing press, according to General Electric who is heading the project. The ultimate hope of GE scientists is to make these wallpaper light sources cost-effective enough to coat entire rooms with the stuff. See the full story at DVICE.

Gives “computer wallpaper” a whole new meaning

Science Quickies

Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.

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Oooo – glow-in-the-dark wallpaper! What could be better?!
…that would keep me up at night…
cool, though!

Geile Scheiße ;-)

Cool! I want one of those treadmills at my house!

good stuff…very informative

The holodeck-floor-thingy was actually created by me in my brain when I first watched TNG. This is how I always imagined that the ships crew never hit a wall of the holodeck.

Man, I could have made a lot of money out of my thoughts back then…

the wall paper……….oh…my……God……..damn cool!

I know I’m a Dirty Old Man(tm), but when someone asks “Imagine having your very own holodeck. What program would you run?” … what pops into my mind doesn’t involve a lot of hiking :)

That said:

#5: you still have plenty of opportunity to cash in on your ideas … For the 24th-century holodeck to work we’ll need a model that can handle a half-dozen people strolling off in different directions …

The solar wind, came blowin’ in – from across the sea
Our walls lit up there, so warm and fair – the toaster loves me
All summer long, we cyberwalked – pheonix landed in sand
Two sweethearts….. and the solar wind

The video is from the TU Munich! (I am from Munich, but I study at the LMU)

I’ve seen these omni-directional treadmills before. I wish I had one!

See the link below for a video of another (more advanced?) one.

Don’t know about emotions but my computer has s*%&-fits on a pretty regular basis.

The Phoenix lander is never mentioned by anyone in First Contact. Therefore, I’m sorry, but it is not canon and clearly does not actually exist.

I love the new light sources. This glowy Silly Putty and that gravity lamp a couple of months ago. I can’t wait to hit Lowe’s in a couple of years. (By then, Home Depot will be out of business, despite being based in the best city on Earth, because their sales staff will not respond to your questions about glowy Silly Putty, or anything else.)

The wallpaper seems pretty pointless to me.

CmdrR#12- LOL!


I always imagiined that the TNG crew was walking on a thin layer of holo-matter that would, of course, move much like the treadmill :)

15 — In TNG, several stories (‘Elementary My Dear Data,’ ‘Pen Pals’) show real characters getting quite far apart from each other. Wouldn’t at least one of them smack their face into the real holodeck bulkhead?

the thought is that the holodeck partitions them off into their own little spaces and essentially creates a little holo room within the holodeck, projecting the individuals image to eachother…..

For years there have been photoluminescent signs, as well as wall and floor tape, that allow people to at least navigate if there’s a general power failure in their building, but that OLED tech kicks ass. I’d imagine that once the tech is perfected, you could have an entire home or office structure’s lighting on a separate electrical system, running to a relatively small UPS, and keep the place lit indefinitely – a small solar array on the roof could keep a charge on the battery packs if the local utility grid went down. A person could go from soft, ambient lighting to a shadow-free room at the touch of a button. Throw in video wallpaper, and you just eliminated every CRT and flat screen on the premises. As a computer tech, this stuff fascinates the hell out of me; plus, if it’s efficient on a large scale and helps get us off the foreign oil teat, I’m all for it.

Well, the Phoenix Mars lander may not be the first spacecraft with warp drive (like the fictional Phoenix in ST:FC) but if it finds evidence to support past or present life in the Martian polar region, I’d buy that ‘droid a brew and shake its extensor! As a Planetary Society member (and as a lifelong space geek) I eagerly await this landing. Once again, Earth invades Mars! Benignly, of course. Hope it makes it OK (unlike the ill-fated Polar lander of ’99). Best of luck to everyone involved in this flight!

I like the idea of progression with the solar wind propulsion on the new frontier. It wasn’t that long ago that sea-faring vessels used the equivalent while earth-bound. It wasn’t that long again before technology sped those up. Nice bit of continuity coming full-circle.

I am still waiting for William Shatner to announce to all of mankind the discovery of life on Mars.

“I… havebeengiven… the…. great honor toannouncethe …
EXISTENCE… of EXTRAterrestestrial life on Mars. It isgreen… with very full lips..LONG darkhair…
And Iwant her!

Gee guys, thanks for the credit regarding the onculation and the treadmill :(

dont know if anyone caught it or not tonight, but the new 4 skinjob cylons on BG tonight met up in room number 1701D….1701D……just thought that was cool and a nice nod to the next gen fans

23…yeah sean caught that 1710D in BSG, thaught it was cool

crap…ah…1701D…yaknow what I meant.

#21. Well, if green animal women are present on Mars, sending Shatner to them might cause a “War of the Worlds!” As for Shatner’s “announcement,” I am increasingly scared by how many people really took him seriously! And by your very funny post, I take it you are NOT one of them? As for the Phoenix (space program nay-sayers probably quote Zefram Cochrane; “To hell with the Phoenix”), I think the most it can find is indirect evidence of past/present life. I’m not sure if its instruments can DIRECTLY observe any kind of Martian microscopic life. Would be quite a discovery, though. As long as they don’t wage war on us and call us, “ugly bags of mostly water!”

The treadmill… WOW! Humans scare me!

The description of what a holodeck is (from Wikipedia):

“The holodeck is depicted as an enclosed room in which objects and people are simulated by a combination of replicated matter, tractor beams, and shaped force fields onto which holographic images are projected. Sounds and smells are simulated by speakers and fragranced fluid atomizers, respectively. The feel of a large environment is simulated by suspending the participants on force fields which move with their feet, keeping them from reaching the walls of the room (a virtual treadmill). Perspective is retained through use of sound damping fields and graviton lenses, which make objects, people, and sounds appear to be more distant. The effect is an ultra-realistic simulation of an environment, with which the user can interact.”

So now all we need is the fragrance fluid thingies!

Can the radiation blockers stop antimatter radiation?

Man, I love that line. :P