SmartBird Robot Design That Flies Like a Bird

The SmartBird is designed by leading-edge German company Festo. SmartBird is a remarkable and amazing marriage between Biology and Machine.

One of the most enduring of engineering challenges, a call that once inspired the genius of Leonardo Da Vinci, has been met: the quest to create a machine to successfully mimic the complex wing movements of birds and in the process achieve flight.

Now for the first time this dream has been adequately fulfilled. The SmartBird elegantly reproduces the wing movements of birds with a brilliant concept. The result is an astonishing creation that can take off, fly and land autonomously, and achieve this with an unprecedented efficiency in flight operation. Continue reading

South African Sunset Painted By The Master Scientist

South African Sunset
South African Sunset over the Bot River Estuary -- Photo: John Bradfield. Taken with a Canon Powershot A460

This photo was taken just after sunset with a Canon Powershot A460. If you painted this incredibly beautiful sky just this way . . well, it would look as if you changed your mind somewhere, wouldn’t it?

The Bot River Estuary lies against the foothills of the Kogelberg mountains in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and only 20 kilometers outside Hermanus, South Africa. At bottom right part of the Kogelberg mountain range is just visible.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor (1932 — 2011)

Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor -- Artist: Max Tegman on Flickr

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE (27 February 1932 – 23 March 2011) died yesterday morning at the age of 79.

“I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands. For me, life happened, just as it does for anyone else.”

Oscar-winning actress and super-star, Elizabeth Taylor, starred in over 50 Hollywood movies. She was a committed AIDS activist, raising in excess of $200 million dollars for AIDS research.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1999.

Update: Elizabeth Taylor was buried alongside her last ever love letter from Richard Burton. She had kept the romantic note on her dressing table for 27 years.


Artist: Max Tegman on Flickr

Marilyn Monroe American Icon

Marilyn Monroe American Icon
Marilyn Monroe American Icon -- Artist: ~cometomorrow Holly on Deviant Art
Born Norma Jean Baker (1926 – 1962), Marilyn Monroe began her career as a model and landed her first film contract in 1946. She made her first appearance on the cover of Life magazine in April 1952, where she was described as “The Talk of Hollywood”. Marilyn was catapulted to fame after her picture appeared on the cover of the first Playboy magazine in 1953.

Without any acting experience, Marilyn became a Hollywood media star and a legend in a career that spanned 16 years and 29 movies.

Her story book wedding to baseball great Joe DiMaggio ended in divorce after just 274 days. Marilyn then married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956. Their union ended in divorce five years later. In Marilyn’s last film, “Misfits” in 1960, she co-starred with Clark Gable. Continue reading

Nuclear Problems Loom As Japanese Tsunami Cleanup Continues

People wait for buses to leave the city of Yamagata -- Photo: Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images
May God in his mercy visit the Japanese people and give strength and comfort to those in need. You are in our prayers and our hearts are with you.

At right people queue for buses at a station to get out of the city of Yamagata, in Yamagata prefecture. Explosions and a fire at Japan’s quake-hit nuclear plant in neighboring Fukushima prefecture unleashed dangerous radiation on March 15, 2011.

It was a week ago yesterday that an 8.9 earthquake followed by a 10-15 meter (30-50 feet) tsunami struck Japan. With the threat of a nuclear disaster looming from several damaged reactors at Haiichi, Japanese citizens are bravely going about the business of recovering from the devastation and searching for survivors (12 photos – click to enlarge).
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Smoke and Fire in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve – Day 2

Well, the fire didn’t go away. This short Video clip shows Day 2 of the fire in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve

The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve is in the heart of the Overberg about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Hermanus in the Western Cape, South Africa



Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve
Panoramic view of Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on fire, day 2
At right, the aftermath of Wednesday’s fire is visible in the center. Burning right through the night the fire advanced over the mountains seen in the background. This morning, on day two, the fire had moved into new territory and was burning strongly.

In this previous post yesterday you can see a photo of the fire just minutes after it started around 2pm on Wednesday.

By late yesterday afternoon the wind was a factor, blowing strongly from the south-east. The fire was moving rapidly into the mountainous area north of the N2 national road, threatening farms in the area.

Smoke and Fire in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve

The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on Fire
The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on fire
Within minutes, yesterday afternoon, this fire had blossomed from a wisp to a towering column of smoke. The vegetation of Fynbos contains plant matter with eucalyptus-type oils that burn very quickly.

After sunset the fire continued to burn as it marched over the peaks of the mountains in the distance at left casting a bright yellow glare in the night sky.

Japanese Tsunami and the Amazing Resilience of Japanese People

Japanese nuclear reactors
Japanese nuclear reactors under threat -- click to enlarge

Day five and utter devastation and mounting problems face the deeply shocked survivors of the worst Japanese seismic event in history. The Japanese people, in the first moments realised that something was different from the intensity and duration of the movement of the ground.

The one-meter drop in sea level which occurred immediately after the 8.9 level earthquake confirmed that this was a seismic event big enough to generate a deadly tsunami. People on the coast began evacuating immediately.

The tsunami arrived on the shore at Sendai a mere 10 minutes after the quake, and 30 minutes after the quake at the shorelines of the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. The wave was shockingly huge, reports vary between 10 and 15 meters. The series of tsunamis (tsunamis come in sets) penetrated 10 kilometers (6 miles) inland, further than expected. Continue reading

Avatar Movies Trilogy in the Works

Avatar Movie 2009
Avatar Movie 2009 -- click to enlarge
Avatar, like the Star Wars classic, looks set to become a ‘Trilogy’ with Avatar 2 and 3 in progress on the directors canvas. Just as the Star Wars franchise moved into the Star Wars Expanded Universe, as it is known, it seems that Avatar will follow suit.

In this earlier post we explored Cameron’s plans to film Avatar 2 underwater in the deepest ocean on earth, the Marianas Trench. The movie is set in the turbulent seas of Pandora, an alien moon.

The director is planning to film Avatar 2 & 3 back-to-back with the two movies set to be released in 2014 and 2015. James Cameron is not a new phenomenon. He has a passionate Geek audience who are drawn in droves to movies like Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss. Continue reading

Is This Bike The Ultimate Ultrabike?

Icon Sheene the Ultimate Ultrabike?
Is the Icon Sheene the Ultimate Ultrabike?

The world’s most powerful production road bike is the Icon Sheene. It was designed and developed over a five-year period as a tribute to the motorcycling legend Barry Sheene.

The handcrafted bike is also the worlds most expensive production bike at R1.2M (£107 000). The turbocharged 1400cc four-cylinder engine puts out 250bhp and is capable of an incredible 320kph (200mph).

British designed and built, production of the Icon Sheene is limited to just 52, one for each year of Barry’s life. Each is decorated with a different playing card, held by a 1940s-style pin-up, hand-painted by Mike Fairholme – the man responsible for the artistry on Barry’s helmets.

Follow this link for more details and photographs.