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Global Warming

   Ice at the North Pole is melting at an alarming rate. Experts say the change is far swifter than simulations indicated. Recent studies revealed that sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean during the summer decreased by 25% in the past two years, leaving an additional 1 million square miles of open water exposed.
   Polar bear populations will be reduced to one-third of the current population of 22,000 by the year 2050, according to a report released by the United States Geological Survey. The bears hunt for food from the ice floes, which are rapidly disappearing from all but a few places in Canada and Greenland during the summer months.
   One estimate suggested that ships would be able to sail across the Arctic Ocean in as few as twenty years.
   The melt has been attributed to a variety of global and climatic changes; including the interaction of wind, weather, ice drift, ocean currents, and greenhouse gases.
   One critical factor is the reduced amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean. Half the carbon dioxide from humans that pollutes our atmosphere are absorbed by the ocean, where the gas dissolves and plankton absorb it. Unfortunately, the gas dissolves less readily at warmer temperatures and warming disturbs the currents and water flows that mix deep and surface waters that provide nutrients to the plankton. (See A Swiftly Melting Planet, By Thomas Homer-Dixon, Published: October 4, 2007, New York Times)

For more on this subject click here.
Click here for an Interactive Graphic.

Robot Toys, and more...

Hanson Robotics introduced Zeno, "the world's first, complete robot" at Wired Magazine's NextFest on September 13, 2007.

According to their website, "Zeno is a fantastic combination of an expressive face, a walking body, vision, speech and hearing."

As much fun as Zeno appears to be, I was more impressed by the Albert Einstein version shown on their website. The video demos the walking robot and clearly shows the life-like facial movements.

Their Products page offers an even more exciting possibility...

HumanKind Custom Edition: We can build you! That's right, no matter who you are or where you're from, we can build life-like representation of any character, past or present. Our state of the art 4-D laser scanning technology takes a precise topographical image of your face, covering every nook, cranny and contour, and then transfers the data into a solid mold. Apart from the physical attributes the robot, our team of A.I. developers, scientists and robotic designers will build a personality based on your knowledge, memory, thoughts, and speech patterns.


Priced in the tens of thousands of dollars (and upwards, I would imagine), Hanson Robotics robots offer a range of mechanical marvels in two categories called RoboKind and HumanKind. Currently, Zeno, 17 inches tall and 6 pounds, is the only RoboKind robot listed. However, several HumanKind models exist, including:

  1. Joey Chaos: the Humanoid Rock Star
  2. A collaboration of East and West: The Albert        -Hubo
  3. A robotic humanoid sculpture named Vera
  4. Jules, our androgynous conversationalist
  5. The best of all worlds: Eva
  6. One of the first: Yargh-bot
  7. A robotic portrait of Philip K. Dick (not for sale)

Robot Features
- Emulate over 62 facial and neck muscles
- Embedded micro-cameras providing vision recognition
- Utilizes the latest in A.I. software technology for face and speech recognition, eye tracking, and conversational operations
- Capable of running in full autonomous or       Robo-phone mode, meaning that you can turn off the A.I. to use the robot for local/remote puppeteering or even research
- Portable and can run on up to 1/20 the power required for comparable products
- Interface with standard computers (included with robot)
- Can function in a variety of research environments, including computer vision, computational interaction, and speech perception

You can visit their site at


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