In 1994, Dante II, a 1,700 pound robot built by Carnegie Mellon and NASA, rappelled into the volcano of Mt. Spurr at the rate of one centimeter per minute. The team wanted to test the capabilities of autonomous systems and robotic mobility at the time. In August of that year, Science Friday brought together a group of experts to discuss the trends in robotics: moving from complicated,highly programmed machines to smaller swarms that could be interconnected, where robots could be useful and the ethical dilemmas the technology. One of those guest was Charles Thorpe, a senior research scientist at the Robotics Institute, who was working on developing an autonomous car. He returns to Science Friday to discuss how far robotics have come in the last two decades.

And as engineers build squishy biological-machine hybrids, with mouse muscles and sea slug mouthparts, how far are we from creating truly living machines? A look at the future of ‘bio-bots’ and the unintended consequences of combining flesh, neurons, and mechanical parts.

Children's Doodles Found in Margins of Medieval Manuscript

The margins of a medieval manuscript from a convent in Naples, Italy, are decorated with doodles of what are apparently devils, a farm animal and a person that were likely drawn by children, a new study finds.

Children probably scribbled these doodles on the 14th-century manuscript a few hundred years after the book was made, said the study’s author, Deborah Thorpe, a research fellow at the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders at the University of York in the United Kingdom.

The drawings are a rather serendipitous find; Thorpe discovered them by chance while conducting research for another project.

“I was looking through a database of medieval manuscripts online, and I found images of these beautiful doodles in the margins, and to me they looked like they were done by children,” Thorpe said in a statement. “I thought, ‘This is really interesting, has anyone written anything about this?'’ Read more.

Esther Thorp

Had another chance to shoot with Esther Thorp last week. The last time we met up for a shoot was late summer, which was considerably warmer. Winter is generally a slow time it seems for many photographers, and obviously there is a lot to consider when planning a shoot. The temperature, winds, wind chill, snow, ice, sleet, how to keep warm, where to warm up, all things a Michigander should know about. We had planned at some point to shoot this classic look, and despite the freezing temperature ( not that I could complain, I wasn’t wearing the dress ), I’m glad it ended up working out this winter. I have to give thanks, and props, to Esther, for managing to keep her composure, and ultimately create yet another successful shoot.

Watch on

Diane’s Entrance on Flickr.