Epic Blog of Awesome


How To Use Math To Dominate At Monopoly – Business Insider

Monopoly is one of the classic American games.
It’s played amongst close friends, loved ones, and trusted business partners. 

It’s also one of the few times in life where it’s perfectly acceptable to want to systematically annihilate and crush the aforementioned friends, loved ones and partners. 

Well, we’re here to help.

Monopoly has a major element of chance in it, and the best part about games of chance is that people with Microsoft Excel can basically solve them. 

We broke down the must-know math behind Monopoly as well as several lessons you can take away from what truly is The Most Dangerous Game.

via How To Use Math To Dominate At Monopoly – Business Insider.

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft in Production

As the only operational vehicle capable of taking significant amounts of cargo both to and from the International Space Station, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is already a critical piece of the American space program.  With at least 10 more station resupply missions over the next couple years, and with development of a human-rated Dragon and DragonLab underway, production of the Dragon spacecraft has increased significantly. 

No other American company is mass producing spacecraft at the same rate.  Pictured below are no less than six Dragons in production, as SpaceX ramps up to keep pace with its plans and a very full manifest:

via Production at SpaceX | SpaceX.

Direct laser cooling of molecules

Cooling molecules with lasers is harder than cooling individual atoms with lasers. The very process of laser cooling, in which atoms are buffeted by thousands of photons, was thought by many to be impossible for molecules since photons, instead of slowing and cooling the molecules, could actually excite internal motions such as rotations and vibrations. Consequently, to get cold molecules one method is to first cool atoms and then combine them into molecules.

via Direct laser cooling of molecules.

Flexible robots, in (not quite) living color | Ars Technica

If you model your robot on a cephalopod, it should change colors, right?

Last year, we covered a radically different approach to robotics. Instead of the hard, mechanical skeletons that are features of most robots, a team was inspired by squid, and built a soft, flexible robot that literally ran on air. By pumping different segments of their robot full of air using a set of pre-programmed commands, the rubbery creation could flex its legs and stride across surfaces, slipping neatly under barriers when needed.

But, if the researchers were inspired by cephalopods like the octopus and cuttlefish, then they seemed to also have been a bit jealous of one of these creatures’ other abilities: rapidly changing color to match their surroundings or make a warning display. So, the team is back with a modified version of their previous robot—one that can change color on demand.

The method for doing this was a straightforward variation on the technique used to propel the robot: an external compressor was used to pump material into the robot from an external reservoir. Instead of air, however, the material was a fluid that contained a variety of dyes or fluorescent molecules that gave the robot some color.

The fluid went into a separate set of channels from those that propelled the robot, giving the team a great deal of flexibility. This allowed them to create patterns like the stripes shown above, which are probably closer to a zebra’s than anything that would typically show up on a cephalopod. But the team also crafted some patterns that were more like a mottled patchwork, which could be more useful for camouflage (as they demonstrated on a backdrop consisting of small rocks).

Although their robot is shaped like a squashed X, it can easily move while carrying an irregular sheet of tubes on top. This let the authors build more elaborate camouflage patterns, such as the one shown below. The whole process is reversible, too, so the robot could be restored to its translucent, colorless form, or have one set of colors replace another.

via Flexible robots, in (not quite) living color | Ars Technica.