(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘DARPA

A Symbolic Achievement…

source: PaperBlog

Like the ampersand, the “@” symbol is not strictly a mark of punctuation; rather, it is a logogram or grammalogue, a shorthand for the word “at.”  Even so, it is as much a staple of modern communication as the semicolon or exclamation mark, punctuating email addresses and announcing Twitter usernames. Unlike the ampersand, though, whose journey to the top took two millennia of steady perseverance, the at symbol’s current fame is quite accidental. It can, in fact, be traced to the single stroke of a key made almost exactly four decades ago*

The whole story is @ Shady Characters (“The Secret Life of Punctuation”).

* Before it became the domain address marker– and the overall symbol– for email, “@” was used to denote the unit price (or weight) of an item:  10 books @ $1.00 would total $10.00…  the symbol is believed to have originated with medieval scribes who used the symbol to eliminate the two extra pen strokes that would have been necessary to write “at.”

As we check our spam filters, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958, in reaction to the Soviet’s Sputnik success the prior year, that Congress passed the legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)… the Space Race was on.  (ARPA [now DARPA]– the sponsor of the work that spawned the internet and birthed the “@” in the form in which we all now use it– was born the same year out of the same concern over Soviet scientific progress.)

source

Explanations one would really rather not have to give…

EATR (source)

From a press release issued by Cyclone Power Technologies and Robotic Technology:

In response to rumors circulating the internet on sites such as FoxNews.com, FastCompany.com and CNET News about a “flesh eating” robot project [ c.f., e.g., EATR: The Robot That Can Survive on Corpses], Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets: CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian.

On July 7, Cyclone announced that it had completed the first stage of development for a beta biomass engine system used to power RTI’s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR™), a Phase II SBIR project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office. RTI’s EATR is an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling.

RTI’s patent pending robotic system will be able to find, ingest and extract energy from biomass in the environment. Despite the far-reaching reports that this includes “human bodies,” the public can be assured that the engine Cyclone has developed to power the EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips – small, plant-based items for which RTI’s robotic technology is designed to forage. Desecration of the dead is a war crime under Article 15 of the Geneva Conventions, and is certainly not something sanctioned by DARPA, Cyclone or RTI.

“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission,” stated Harry Schoell, Cyclone’s CEO. “We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter. The commercial applications alone for this earth-friendly energy solution are enormous.”

As we contemplate off-label uses, we might also celebrate the happier fall-out of military maneuvers, as it was on this date in 1799 (or close; scholars agree that it was “mid-July” but disagree on the precise day) that a French soldier in Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign discovered a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria.

The stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts inscribed by priests of Ptolemy V in the second century B.C.– Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Egyptian demotic.  The Greek passage proclaimed that the three scripts were all of identical meaning– so allowed French Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion to decipher the hieroglyphics… and opened the language of ancient Egypt, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly two millennia.

The Rosetta Stone

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
%d bloggers like this: