Microbes at the Gas Pump
Making the most of a meal
Fast-flying fungal spores
Tree Frogs
Frogs and Toads
Sea Lilies on the Run
Fishy Cleaners
Gliders in the Family
Math is a real brain bender
Double take
Mice sense each other's fear
Chemistry and Materials
The hungry blob at the edge of the universe
A New Basketball Gets Slick
Small but WISE
A New Look at Saturn's rings
The Earth-bound asteroid scientists saw coming
Electronic Paper Turns a Page
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Digging Dinos
Dinosaur Eggs-citement
Fingerprinting Fossils
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Petrified Lightning
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On the Trail of America's Next Top Scientists
The Wolf and the Cow
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Finding the Past
If Only Bones Could Speak
Stone Tablet May Solve Maya Mystery
Ancient Cave Behavior
Angler Fish
Electric Ray
Food and Nutrition
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
The Essence of Celery
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
GSAT English Rules
Who vs. That vs. Which
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Math of the World
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Human Body
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Germ Zapper
Electricity's Spark of Life
Bumblebee Bats
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
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Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Dreams of Floating in Space
Gaining a Swift Lift
Bright Blooms That Glow
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Fast-flying fungal spores
Gila Monsters
Space and Astronomy
A Very Distant Planet Says "Cheese"
Sun Flips Out to Flip-Flop
Asteroid Lost and Found
Technology and Engineering
Smart Windows
Beyond Bar Codes
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Adjectives and Adverbs
Revving Up Green Machines
Flying the Hyper Skies
Charged cars that would charge
Arctic Melt
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Where rivers run uphill
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Nonstop Robot

In some of the scariest science fiction scenarios, evil robots refuse to die, no matter how fiercely people fight back. Now, science fiction has edged into science fact. For the first time, researchers have created a robotic machine that can take a beating and keep on trucking. Developed by scientists from Cornell University and the University of Vermont, the new robot looks like a spider with four legs. Until now, even the most advanced robot was almost certain to break down when damaged. That's because its internal computer simply doesn't know how to operate the machine after its shape has changed. To get around this problem, the spidery robot's developers equipped their invention with eight motors and two sensors that read how the machine is tilting. The motors and sensors all provide electrical signals to the machine's software. Using this information, the system follows a new procedure to figure out the machine's shape at any given moment. The program chooses from among 100,000 possible arrangements of parts. From there, the computer considers a wide variety of possible next steps, and it calculates how best to move the robot forward the longest possible distance, before trying to move again. The new strategy is a major advance in robotics, scientists say, and it's far from scary. The technology may someday help researchers create better artificial limbs that give new freedom to people who lack arms and legs. The new knowledge might also help scientists understand how people and animals figure out their own sense of place in space. "Designing robots that can adapt to changing environments and can compensate for damage has been a difficult problem," says neuroscientist Olaf Sporns of Indiana University in Bloomington. "This work provides a new way toward solving this important problem."E. Sohn

Nonstop Robot
Nonstop Robot

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