Random Flurries

With winter having a new flurry here in the Pacific North West and meaning that some hours of hunkering down are required, it is interesting to scan the news feeds for cheerful excitement occurring elsewhere in the world. 

The tale of “Vstone and the Five Robodwarves” was the first to catch my eye.  These little chappies are running a marathon in Osaka as I hunt and peck. It will be a very boring race for them, as they have to trot around the 100-meter track a total of four hundred and twenty two times in all. The rules of the Rob Mara Full are harsh though. If one green robot should accidently fall, he has to get up and continue without help from sympathetic supporters. But they’ll tough it out, and the winner is expected to cross the finish line sometime on Sunday, if the race officials haven’t gone to sleep and lost count. It'll be 5 full days of sport that the robodwarves won't forget.

As a fan of Test Match Cricket with its matches lasting 5 action-packed days, I felt a new sporting enthusiasm stirring and within a few seconds of surfing I discovered the RoboCup. Last year 500 teams from 40 countries played robodwarf football in Singapore. This years Robot Soccer World Cup will be in Istanbul. At this time, I am uncertain if the marathoneers can be re-programmed to play soccer or if the swearing and foul play require a different build.

Back to my window on the real world and the steely-grey sky and driving snow force me back to longingly view the warmth of the Sun Drop diamond that is vacationing in the warm depths of the National History Museum in London. Pear-shaped (aren’t we all) perfection in a one-inch, yellow, refracting, one hundred and ten carat crystal, it is sitting there smugly making our Valentine Day’s gifts look puny. Ah well, I am comforted by the fact that the yellow is due to a small percentage of nitrogen atoms inveigling their way into the perfect tetrahedral diamond lattice and making it imperfect as nitrogen is a cheapskate and is only prepared to make three bonds to carbons four, thus short changing the gem.

Dragging myself away from pear-shape perfection, I see that Taylor, Wedell and Ciffelli (1) had done some rummaging in a box of very old bones and spotted a new sauropod with big hips, well big all over really standing about four meters high, who they’ve called ‘Thunderthighs’ or ‘Brontomerus to those lovers of the Greek amongst us. The kicker was that it would kick the hell out of the competition. Maybe the engineers working on this year’s teams for the RoboCup could get some design tips from the Early Cretaceous.

1. http://www.app.pan.pl/archive/published/app56/app20100073.pdf

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