Six tiny microbots weighing 3.5 ounces pull a 3,900-pound car

Slow but steady does it.

John Markoff at the New York Times:

A group of researchers at the Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Laboratory at Stanford University has been exploring the limits of friction in the design of tiny robots that have the ability to pull thousands of times their weight, wander like gecko lizards on vertical surfaces or mimic bats.

[Modeled After Ants, Teams of Tiny Robots Can Move 2-Ton Car / John Markoff / The New York Times]

Golly, swearing is good for you

Research shows cursing helps you endure pain, but people who swear habitually experience less relief. Other research shows swearing helps strengthen social bonds and group morale. But swearing also has social drawbacks.

So swear, and swear often. But don’t overdo it, you fucking cunt.

A Strategic Guide to Swearing / Stephanie Hayes / The Atlantic

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Photo: Anna Frodesiak / Wikimedia Commons

“Jolly Jane” Toppan was “the most notorious woman poisoner of modern times”

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“Jolly Jane” Toppan worked as a nurse in New England in the late 19th Century and was well-loved by her patients for her conscientious attention and cheerful disposition. She confessed to poisoning 31 of those patients, and quite possibly did in a lot more.

[Criminal Episode 38: Jolly Jane]

Ex-Marine describes why he loves Soylent and how it changed his life

Reddit user “lewis0451” says he was a US Marine who let himself go when he left the service, and whose weight went up to 255. He consumes mostly Soylent now, and is down to 180 pounds.

He credits Soylent, a liquid food substitute that supposedly has all the nutrients you need to live. The manufacturers claim you can live healthy on a diet of only Soylent. Some enthusiasts do that, although most, like “lewis0451,” are on a mostly-Soylent diet and have real food for special occasions.

I decided to order some for myself and see how things would taste. After a week, I decided I might want to try to pull off a 30-day challenge of nothing but Soylent, and I tried my best, but stumbled a few times. I stuck with it and used it as much as I could. I knew I could lean on it to meet a weight loss goal, but I never thought it would allow me to reshape my entire life. I’m so much more positive, slightly richer (no senseless food expenditures), and way more responsible. I no longer live to eat. Here’s the best part – I still take time to ENJOY GOOD FOOD. I’m not going to come off Soylent for frozen pizza since I’ve had it about 1,300,543,000 times in my life before, but I will absolutely take time to order a beautiful piece of grilled salmon with fresh veggies that snap when you crunch through them, along with red potatoes or something akin to that. I try to make good choices and when I eat food, I make sure I’m doing it to engage all my senses. I do it for the experience — not to just hide from everything, binging on junk food.

lewis0451 wants to be the Soylent spokesman, like Jared from Subway, but “without all the creeper stuff.”

The fact that he even mentions Jared means he’s going to need some serious marketing training before Soylent signs him on. Heh.

[Soylent: Can I be your Jared? (without all the creeper stuff). I’m the weight loss dude w/ the logo fail. I don’t feel like re-uploading. / lewis0451 / reddit.com/r/soylent]

I tried Soylent for a full day in the summer. I wrote about the experience on Light Reading. [I Ate Soylent for a Day: ‘Food’ Special / Mitch Wagner / Light Reading]

I liked it enough to think that I might want to use it for occasional food-on-the-go and ordered a one-week supply – which is now, alas, sitting in the pantry with the clock ticking toward its expiration date.

I’ve had better luck with MealSquares, which also advertises itself as everything you need to eat healthy, in one package. But unlike Soylent, MealSquares is actual food. It’s a dense, square muffin. To eat it, you need to take small bites, and chew thoroughly.  I find it tasty and satisfying, though it’s very rich and dry. Julie dislikes it.

I often carry a MealSquare or two in my bag when I’m out and about.

I’m going in for a colonoscopy March 30 (nothing wrong, just a routine, baseline check), and might subsist on Soylent for a week prior to the test, rather than go through the confusing and complicated dietary restrictions. MealSquares too, if they’re allowed.

And yes the name comes from the movie. But the manufacturers say real-world Soylent doesn’t have people in it. Which is exactly what they said in the movie!

The trouble with transporters on Star Trek (and elsewhere)

Is the transporter on Star Trek a nifty sci-fi transportation mechanism? Or is it a sinister murder machine, killing the person who steps on the platform and spitting out a duplicate on the other end?

Start watching for the geeky fanwankery, stay for the meaty speculation about an astounding philosophical problem: The problem of consciousness. Everybody has consciousness, but nobody knows what consciousness is. You can’t prove that anybody other than you is conscious, and you can’t prove to anybody else that you’re conscious.

This is another in a series of wonderful CGP Grey video.

Stay on top of Apple Mail using Mail Perspectives

I was pleased to once again have a two-minute audio tip featured on Mac Power Users. In it, I describe Mail Perspectives, software that lets me stay on top of email by displaying a mini-window showing key information about recently arrived messages.

My tip starts here.

Listen to the whole episode here: #309: I Haven't Discounted The Possibility That You're Crazy