5 Intriguing Things: Tuesday, 2/11

Google's Hangar One, the remnants of an exploding star, a robot that makes speech like a person, when teosinte became corn, and the Helicopter String Quartet
Talking Bot

1. They should definitely put huge robots in it. 

"Google is taking over the lease at the airfield that houses Hangar One — the giant eight-acre aircraft hangar that was built in 1933 to house massive dirigibles and now is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Silicon Valley.

On Monday, NASA said that Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC had been selected to take over the blimp hangar — a highly visible icon on Silicon Valley’s Highway 101 — and operate the Moffett Federal Airfield that is already home to the fleet of private jets owns by Google’s executives.

The deal is still being negotiated, but if it gets finalized, it could lead to a better lease for the fleet of private jets. And it helps NASA earn some cash for a property that it let languish for the past 20 years. But more than that, it underscores the increasingly tight relationship between Google and the space agency research center, located just three miles from Google’s headquarters. Google has alreadyleased more than 40 acres of NASA Ames space to build a 1.2-million-square-foot R&D facility, and the company is working with NASA to test the world’s first quantum computer at Ames too."


2. We are all made from the leftovers of supernovas, but this star was formed from the remnant elements of a single exploding star

"Based on a comparison of its abundance pattern with those of models, we conclude that the star was seeded with material from a single supernova with an original mass about 60 times that of the Sun (and that the supernova left behind a black hole). Taken together with the four previously mentioned low-metallicity stars, we conclude that low-energy supernovae were common in the early Universe, and that such supernovae yielded light-element enrichment with insignificant iron. Reduced stellar feedback both chemically and mechanically from low-energy supernovae would have enabled first-generation stars to form over an extended period. We speculate that such stars may perhaps have had an important role in the epoch of cosmic reionization and the chemical evolution of early galaxies."


3. Talking is complicated! As proven by a biomechanically realistic robot that produces human speech like a person

"For clarifying human speech, mechanical models are superior method. The speech production is acoustic phenomena, so it is difficult to simulate accurately by computer simulation. From few centuries ago, peoples developed several mechanical models of speech organs, however, these are simple mechanism and difficult to simulate the movement. We started to develop anthropomorphic talking robot Waseda Talker series to combine the speech science and humanoid robot technology, and realized speech production of various vowels and consonant sounds. Additionally, from WT-5(Waseda Talker No. 5), we started to develop models have three dimensional vocal cord and vocal tract models and reproduced more human-like speech production mechanism...

We developed WT-7RII(Waseda Talker No. 7 Refined II) in 2009, which have human-like speech production mechanism. WT-7RII are consisted of the mechanical models of the lung, the vocal cords, the tongue, the jaw, the palate, the velum, the nasal cavity and the lips. These mechanical models are designed based on human and they have same size as adult male of human to have similar acoustic characters. The mechanism have 1 DOF(Degrees Of Freedom) in the lungs, 5 DOF in the vocal cord model, 1 DOF in the jaw model, 7 DOF in the tongue model, 1 DOF in the velum model and 5 DOF in the lips model: the total DOF is 20."

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