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How Geckos Turn Their Stickiness On and Off

Geckos can turn their stickiness on and off by changing the angle of their toe hairs, a new study revealed.

March 9, 2014: Racing the Iditarod With Twins, Time Traveling to a Black Hole and More

Join radio host Boyd Matson every week for adventure, conservation and green science. This week they ride 1,000 miles across Alaskan wilderness with a pack of dogs, hike quickly down the Appalachian Trail, lower scientists into sinkholes on tepuis, program robots to do household chores but not enslave the human race, break free of time on the edge of a black hole, be persecuted for our science, grow organic underwear, and explain evolution to children.

5 Animals With Spectacular Sniffers

Dogs aren’t the only creatures with outstanding sniffers: Fruit flies, honeybees, and even rats can detect disease in people.

Top 10 Headlines Today: Cosmic Currency, Oldest DNA…

The top stories on National Geographic’s radar today: SETI and Paypal are teaming up to create the universe’s first space currency, DNA from an ancient horse has become the oldest ever sequenced, and…

Top 10 Headlines Today: Exotic New Matter, Continental Collision…

The top stories on National Geographic’s radar today: An exotic new form of matter may have been discovered in subatomic particles, a new subduction zone between Europe and America is slowly pulling the continents together, and…

Top 10 Headlines Today: Spacecraft on the Sun, Real Estate on the Moon…

The top 10 headlines on our radar today: Scientists are developing a spacecraft that will propel towards the sun, a lunar real estate agent has already sold a chunk of land on the moon, and…

Top 10 Headlines Today: Cannibal Colonists, Bone-Eating Worms…

The top 10 stories on our radar today: Archaeologists find evidence of cannibalism at historic Jamestown, zombie worms munch on whale bones, and…

Sheep Glow, Robots Feel, and More… Today’s Top 10 Headlines

On National Geographic’s radar today: Scientists create world’s first glow-in-the-dark sheep, a newly developed skin may allow robots to feel, and…

Artificial Intelligence Is Working Hard So We Can Hardly Work

We’ve written about artificial intelligence (AI) a fair amount in the past, from IBM’s Watson supercomputer, to AI-controlled space probes, and swarm theory. As futurist Ray Kurzweil pointed out in his book The Singularity Is Near, the public has a number of misconceptions about AI. Kurzweil argues that AI is proceeding much faster than people…

Animals Inspire New Breed of War Robots

Apart from being four-legged animals, what do a cheetah and a pack mule have in common? They’ve both inspired what may be the next generation of war machines.

Should Robots Be Treated Like People? Kids Say “Yes” – Sort Of

As robots improve and develop the capability to perform social tasks, questions are raised about how humans view and interact with them. A new study examines children’s perceptions of robots as emotional and moral beings.

Bring on the ‘bots

Out on Elliott Key at the Biscayne BioBlitz, the freshman girls of Carrolton School of the Sacred Heart are showing off their robots. From their shore-based remote control station, they deftly maneuver a ‘bot and watch its real-time underwater video feed on a laptop. The frosh girls admit they didn’t build these robots. Seniors at…

NASA to Check Whether Phoenix Survived the Winter

No, Arizona, the space agency will not be making a visit to your lovely but likely unharmed state capital. Instead, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are hoping against hope that the Phoenix Mars Lander might have somehow made it through harsh winter conditions at its final resting place in the Martian arctic. Phoenix amid…

Scales Are Key to Snake Locomotion, Study Finds

Snakes have bodies and methods of locomotion perfect for situations where limbs would be a disadvantage. They can glide in and out of rubble, penetrate crevices, and navigate situations that most other animals would find impassable. This is what makes them so attractive to robot engineers, who envisage many applications for agile and stealthy “snake…

It’s IYA, Baby!

After shaking off the daze induced by family, bubbly, and the vast amounts of tamales that accompany my winter holidays, I have washed up on the shores of Long Beach, California, where almost 2,500 astronomers are gathered for the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. The biggest astro-nerd fest of the year is even…