The Impossible MachineWritten by Jim Henderson
There are a lot of complicated machines in world today. Some are marvels of design and engineering. Only a few years ago, they would have seemed stuff of science-fiction. Nothing invented today will be like machine that I’m going to build.
I’m going to build a machine. It will be extremely complex, more than a television, or a VCR, or even a computer. This machine will be so complex that it will contain volumes of complicated information locked in a special code. Oh, and it operates itself, that’s right! It doesn’t need someone to “run” it.
What if I told you that it that it will be so smart that it can even repair and replace itself so it will never wear out? Even complicated machines wear out and have to be fixed. Even these machines don’t operate themselves. But mine will! Wouldn’t you like to have a car like that? Did I mention that it will even reproduce and replace itself. I mean it will create exact functional replicas of itself.
Sounds extremely difficult, doesn’t it? Maybe impossible is a better word. I’m still not finished telling you about my machine. This machine can “fuel” itself so it won’t need gasoline or batteries. It doesn’t run on nuclear power either.
It will be in some ways like a small city complete with it’s own transportation, manufacturing, even it own power plant. And laboratory, since it operates by complex chemical reactions, much too complex to even begin to describe here. With all this activity it will have to a waste disposal system too -- it cleans itself.
A amchine that could do all this would have to huge...wouldn’t it? So with all this, how big will it be? What if I said my machine will be miniature? So small, in fact, that it will be invisible...almost. Unless of course, you use a microscope, a very powerful one.
Monkey EarsWritten by Andrea Campbell
Just other day I was talking to Ziggy, my Helping Hands capuchin monkey, and she looked at me quizzically and said, "Huh? Speak up!"
I have been operating under assumption that her eyesight and hearing was equal to or better than ours. What made me think that? Well, we live at top of a hill and, as a result, cars coming up steep incline can generally can be heard lowering into a heftier gear just before their approach. When K-9, our Dalmatian was alive, even though she was a bright dog, Ziggy used to bark arrival of an approaching vehicle before K-9 did. Therefore, I’d just assumed that monkey’s ears were keener. Now a new study comes out from some researchers at Michigan State University telling me I’m wrong. That monkeys’ hearing is "discernibly less acute than that of people for frequency range in which human speech is expressed and heard." In fact, clinical truth of this has been known for a long time, but a fundamental explanation as to why has forever been lacking. Until now.
Physics is a field dealing with properties and interactions of matter and energy. Currently, a new subfield of physics, biological physics is providing answers to questions such as why monkey ears, while so similar to our own, work differently. Michael Harrison, a Michigan State University physicist, has written a paper for American Physical Society outlining, for first time, his results explaining this phenomenon. And apparently size is all important key.
To begin, Harrison tells us that we can think of our ears as holding pens for all matter of sound. Human ears register pure tones, which our brain eventually translates into meaningful sound such as speech or music, but tones must fight their way through a lot of noise. The noise is created from amount of air that is found inside ear canal, under certain ambient air temperature. In other words, Harrison explains it like this: "Air molecules are like people moving around in a crowded room at a cocktail party. The warmer it is, more molecules—or cocktail guests—run around, and it creates noise. With this random noise, it’s harder to hear an individual conversation."