Tag: applied physics lab

Meet Sally. She’s a Robot.

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Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins APL
Photo courtesy Johns Hopkins APL

She looks friendly, right? But don’t be fooled; Robo Sally (full name:  Bimanual Dexterous Robotic Platform) is designed for combat.

Will This Baltimorean Be Our Next Astronaut?

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Photo courtesy JHU APL
Photo courtesy JHU APL

Last week, NASA announced that Christina Hammock, an electrical engineer who works at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, is one of eight new astronaut candidates winnowed from a pool of more than 6000 applicants. Hammock heads to space school at NASA’s Johnson Space Center this summer. And I am officially so jealous.

Meet and Mingle with Johns Hopkins’ Coolest Robots This Week

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TAA_Sally

On the subject of thought-controlled bionic arms and other amazing robots, we thought we’d let you know about an exciting opportunity to meet some of the most exciting robots out there today. Think of it as a sort of meet-and-greet, but not everyone in the room will be human.

This Week in Research: Death, Terrorism, and a Really Cool Video

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In this series, we look at the newest findings coming out of our area’s top research universities. We’ve got some great minds in Baltimore — let’s learn what they’re learning!

Okay, this one is less “research” and more “cool experiment”:  what happens to a glass of water in space? Would it freeze? Would it boil? Would it kind of… float there creepily? Well, one cool thing about Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Lab is that they have all sorts of cool equipment with which to simulate space. So if that question is still bothering you (hint:  it’s kind of a trick question), just watch the video above to find out what happens.

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According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, 69 percent of lung cancer patients and 81 percent of colorectal cancer patients didn’t understand that their chemotherapy wasn’t likely to cure their cancer. That’s because physicians aren’t forthright enough with their patients, says Johns Hopkins oncologist Thomas Smith. “We do a fair job of communicating to patients that their terminal illness is incurable, but only one-third of doctors tell patients their prognosis at any time during their care.” Smith, who’s also the director of palliative medicine at Hopkins, recommends the ask-tell-ask method:  “asking patients what they want to know about their prognosis, telling them what they want to know, and then asking, ‘What do you now understand about your situation?’ ”

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Although the central branch of al-Qaida may have been pummeled into submission by strategic assassinations/drone attacks/other methods — only one of the 5000 terrorist attacks in 2011 is attributed to the group — but that hardly means they’re not a danger. The real issue now, according to recent research out of the University of Maryland, is al-Qaida linked groups, like al-Shabaab in Somalia (which killed 70 and injured 42 last year) and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen (110 killed; 45 injured). More than a quarter of 2011’s terrorist attacks happened in Iraq, while the U.S.’s ten attacks amounted to less than .2 percent of global terror attacks.

This Week in Research: Pregnancy is Stressful — for Men; How Viruses are Like Homeland Security

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Pregnancy is stressful for both partners — that’s certainly not news. But according to recent research from Penn State and Johns Hopkins who studied over a hundred heterosexual couples expecting their first child, women and men process stress differently during pregnancy.

Johns Hopkins APL Names Best Inventions of 2011

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The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab is sort of like a playroom for really smart people, but instead of Legos they use microminature motors and undersea acoustic technologies. This is physics in action, folks, and it’s dramatic.

Last year, 460 scientists at the APL disclosed 259 inventions — an all time high! — but only two get honored at the Invention of the Year Award Reception (yes, trophies were provided).

The top invention of 2011 was the Ultra-Compact Multitasking Motor Controller, which is — well, it’s kind of exactly what it sounds like. By “ultra-compact,” the device’s inventors (Harry Eaton and Douglas Wenstrand) mean “the size of a dime.” Which is, indeed, ultra-compact. The controller is designed to coordinate movement in a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm, which features movements so nuanced that each individual finger can move independently. Previously, most similar controllers were three times the size of this one — and it’s able to coordinate with the 10 motors within the prosthetic arm, to boot.

Giant Asteroid Skims By Earth Tonight

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Good thing it’s lovely weather out there today, Baltimore, because in a few short hours, a giant asteroid will zoom by Earth, and we all know how those movies usually end.

Of course, “close” is a relative term in these situations. Asteroid 2005 YU 55 (who could use a catchier name) is projected to sail by us around 201,000 miles away. But don’t get too comfy — that’s closer than the moon passes in its orbit. And though NASA scientists are saying reassuring things (“There is no chance that this object will collide with  Earth or moon”), isn’t that what they always do before the handsome renegade steps in to save us all?

But some among us are welcoming the near appearance of this space rock. As per the directions of President Obama, NASA has recently shifted its focus to try to land a human on one of these near-Earth asteroids. According to scientists at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory, the plan is to land a robot on an asteroid by 2015. If we make it until then, that is.

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