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  • Reviews & Previews

    Our fascination with robots goes all the way back to antiquity

    Gods and RobotsAdrienne MayorPrinceton Univ., $29.95

    Artificial intelligence and robotics are hot scientific fields today. But even in the brave new world of AI, there’s nothing new under the sun, writes classics and science history scholar Adrienne Mayor in Gods and Robots.

    In a breezy and thought-provoking account, Mayor describes how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian and Chinese...

    01/20/2019 - 08:00 Archaeology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence
  • News in Brief

    These robots can follow how-to diagrams

    Robots imbued with a certain kind of common sense may soon be able to follow instructional diagrams to build things.

    When studying pictures for assembling IKEA furniture or LEGO villages, humans are naturally good at inferring how to get from A to B. Robots, on the other hand, normally have to be painstakingly programmed with exact instructions for how to move. “Even when you try to...

    01/16/2019 - 14:00 Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Technology
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers ask about electrons’ roundness, a science board game and more

    Beer today, gone tomorrow

    Rising temperatures and more frequent droughts could cut barley crop yields worldwide by the end of the century, leading to beer shortages and high prices, Jennifer Leman reported in “Add beer to the list of foods threatened by climate change” (SN: 11/10/18, p. 5).

    Online reader Jean Beaulieu was hopeful that scientists will figure out an easy way to grow...

    01/08/2019 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Climate, Robotics
  • News

    How Twitter bots get people to spread fake news

    To spread misinformation like wildfire, bots will strike a match on social media but then urge people to fan the flames.

    Automated Twitter accounts, called bots, helped spread bogus articles during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election by making the content appear popular enough that human users would trust it and share it more widely, researchers report online November 20 in...

    11/20/2018 - 11:00 Robotics, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    A new robot decides how and when to transform to get the job done

    A robot made of several smaller robotic pieces can autonomously transform its body into shapes best suited for a particular task. 

    The bot primarily consists of wheeled, cubic “modules” that link up with one another using magnets, forming a small assortment of body types reminiscent of cars or snakes. The brains of the operation reside in a specialized module equipped with cameras and a...

    10/31/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology