TED Talks: Nature’s Grossest Creature a Master of Motion!

funny cat pictures

It is literally nature’s most disgusting creature and there are few people – men and women alike – who are unbothered by it coming within close proximity: the cockroach. And yet, the cockroach is an extraordinarily successful creature on planet Earth and one that will easily survive any apocalypse: mad-made or natural.

And so, in this fascinating TED Talk video, Dr. Robert Full (Director of the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory at Berkeley University) shows us just how amazing these creepy crawlers are in their ability to move through, up, around and over any obstacle or terrain. He and his team have applied the various laws of mechanics and modes of stabilisation they learned from the cockroach to the fabrication of robots, which are cute in a weird and creepy way.

Video Source: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) at YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekUh9AW1hKg

Why is this research prudent? Because getting into tiny spaces, travelling over very rough terrain, pulling off gymnastic maneuvers in air and getting around impossible obstacles could be extremely useful in delivering aid to people trapped in disaster situations, such as earthquakes, tornado or hurricane swept areas. Robots such as these could also be the future of unmanned planetary exploration.

Prestige aside, watching cockroaches move around in slow motion is super interesting!



Epic Rap Battles of History: Edison Vs. Tesla

We’re back with another Epic Rap Battle of History, this time between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Edison (1847 – 1931), also known as the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” was an American businessman and inventor credited for the innovation of the light bulb and the motion picture camera. Tesla (1856 – 1943)  not only has the coolest name, like ever, he’s also a mechanical and electrical engineer extraordinaire. Amongst other achievements, he came up with the idea of AC: alternating current.

In this epic video, these two giants of science and industry battle it out and in the end, you get to decide who wins!

Video Source: Epic Rap Battles of History by Nice Peter, epicLLOYD, Dave McCary and Maker Studios, as seen on YouTube channel www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ1Mz7kGVf0


Gravity and the Laws of Attraction, Somewhat Revised

Here’s a bit of great news: no matter how ugly you are, scientifically speaking, you’re still attractive!

That doesn’t mean that the guy or girl you’ve crushed on for one year, eight months, 37 days, 12 hours and 33 minutes (who’s counting?) is going to jump into bed with you… but it does mean that your feet will always remain planted firmly on the ground. And this is because, to planet Earth, you are attractive.

How romantic!

Sir Isaac Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation

Sir Isaac Newton

I’m not being clever when I say you’re attractive, even though you could eat an apple through a tennis racquet with those teeth. I am being quite literal! Gravity is the force that holds everything to the surface of the Earth and it’s what makes even the lightest feather float teasingly towards the ground. A force of attraction exists between every single being and object on this planet.

Earth’s force of attraction on you – gravity – is the reason we all don’t float out to Space. In fact, gravity is the whole reason the stars and the planets came together. 

“Gravity is the natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract each other with a force proportional to their masses.”

Sir Isaac Newton refined this definition by adding the fact that this force of attraction was inversely proportional to the distance between the two objects. This makes perfect sense: the further away you are from planet Earth, the lesser it’s gravitational pull on you, which is why astronauts float around in Space and your 600-pound mother-in-law has remained couch-bound since the 90’s.

Is the Force Strong with You?

Darth Vader sexy suit

Is there a way we can calculate how attractive you are? I’m so glad you asked, because the answer is yes! There is a formula we can use to determine the force of attraction between you and that hot guy in accounting. While this formula was developed for more austere means, science can also be fun and whimsical:

Gravitational force equation

F is the force of attraction between m1 and m2, which are two physical bodies (you and hot accounting guy). ‘d’ is the distance between these bodies and G is a gravitational constant (because nothing in physics is ever really simple). The value of G is approximately 0.00000000006674.

So, given this information, we can now calculate the force of attraction between you and your would-be beau. Let’s say that you weigh 70kg and he weighs 80kg. Right now he’s sitting at his desk a few cubicles away, chewing lightly on the back of his pencil like he always does when concentrating, knees folded under his chair, golden brown hair, soft skin…

Sexy business man


If you had to draw a diagonal from where you’re sitting right now to his location, he’d probably be about 5 meters away from you and if you keep talking like that you’ll be legally required by a restraining order to make it 200 meters. Now, let’s plug these numbers into Newton’s equation:

F = G x [(70kg x 80 kg)]/(5m)²

F = G x 224 kg/m²

F = 0.00000000006674 x 224 kg/m²

F = 0.0000001914 Newtons

The gravitational pull of his sweet body on yours is 0.0000001914 Newtons.

This may seem like a paltry number compared to the bottomless pit of unrequited love you feel for him, but that’s precisely why we don’t go crashing into each other all the time. Not by accident anyway. We all exert a gravitational pull on each other, but this force is so small you just can’t feel it.

Jupiter’s Tormented Moon

Jupiter and the moon Io

Large objects on the other hand exert a stronger gravitational pull. Earth’s gravity is enough to keep us planted firmly on its surface. But Jupiter, which is a much larger planet – 318 times more massive to be precise – exerts such immense forces of attraction that its nearest moon, Io, is in a constant state of seismic catastrophe. Not only does this poor moon have to travel through Jupiter’s intense radiation field, but its very core is ripped up in continuous cycles of convection caused by Jupiter’s insane gravity. The moon is literally being turned inside out again and again and again.

Have You Thanked Your Gravity Today?

During the formation of the Universe – not the Old Testament version – when there was a veritable sh*tstorm of matter flying about, gravity is what caused the coalescence of the planets, stars and moons. Smaller pieces and fragments of matter would cling to larger pieces and fragments and the resultant balls of matter just got bigger and bigger and bigger until stars and planets were formed. This force of attraction, which is directly proportional to your mass or weight, is quite interesting and responsible for a number of things we take for granted.

Gravity is the reason extreme sports are dangerous. It’s the reason your keys hit the floor in the morning when, with arms loaded, you try to fiddle with that damn stubborn front door lock. The extreme stress it exerts on the core of planets is the reason the centre of, for example, the Earth is molten and it’s what initiates nuclear reactions in the hearts of stars. It’s the reason stars burn; stars being the forges of the heavier elements we are composed of!

Gravity is the reason we enjoy an annual trip around the sun. It’s the reason the oceans have tides. Even galaxies are held together by gravity. You may never have considered this force to be your best friend, especially if you were blessed with double D’s. But we all have a lot to be thankful for! Our very existence and the very order of things as we know it all comes down to gravity.

See what I did there? “Comes down”… Har har.

Spiral galaxy in deep space. Elements of image furnished by NASA

Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message

Contrary to what we know about the accepted model of modern day beauty, the heavier you are, the more attractive you are. The next time your chubby kid comes home crying from the taunting of some cruel schoolyard bully, you tell him or her to say:

“According to the 1687 works of Sir Isaac Newton, the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, my greater mass actually makes me more attractive. Furthermore, my preliminary understanding of the laws of gravitation makes me your intellectual superior and while I can lose weight, you will always be an idiot.”


Success baby meme