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Announcing Sacred Mounds, a novel of Magical Realism and Historical Fantasy from Jim Metzner, with a foreword by Hutke Fields, principal chief of the Natchez Nation.
Cyclonic hordes of insects, a telepathic despot, body-swapping sex - just a few of the surprises Salvador Samuels encounters when he is swept back to pre-colonial times, walking in the moccasins of a blind Indian - who, in turn, has been transported into Salvador's body in present-day America. Sacred Mounds Book Cover Four hundred years apart, they are bound by a mission to rescue our world, aided by the mysterious presence of the mounds. Thousands of these ancient earthworks once dotted the landscape of North America. We still don't know why they were created. Sacred Mounds suggests they are as important today as when they were made over a thousand years ago. Sacred Mounds weaves the stories of two men, each a stranger in a strange land. With the help of two remarkable women, they must find a way to save our planet and return home.
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KSC Biomimicry - Novel Robots: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Sep 29, 2009
Scientist: Bob Full

KSC Biomimicry - Novel Robots

KSC Biomimicry - Novel Robots
Robots can be so, well, robotic. But bio-inspired engineering is pointing the way to a new and nimble breed of robots.

music; ambience

RF: “Most of the legged robots that you see out there move really slowly, and they measure every movement very carefully.”

Watch a robot in action, and it’s no wonder the term robotic often refers to stiff or mechanical motion. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Bob Full is a professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, in Berkeley. His research on animal movement is helping engineers design a new breed of nimble robots.

RF: “When we looked at the animals, we saw that they don’t do that at all. They go very rapidly, and they deal with the terrain in a way that is much simpler, where the control that you see is based more on their legs and their body than their brain. What we discovered is that you could make a new robot where its leg was kind of tuned to the different surfaces and the different rough terrains that it was going over, so that as you kind of hit a rock or a perturbation that got pushed one way, the springy legs kind of pushed it back the other way, so that it corrected itself. It actually self-stabilized without requiring lots of sensing and measuring from the environment. That allowed these robots to go over a wide variety of different terrains that other robots couldn’t negotiate and at speeds they couldn’t do. Since we know that a lot of the control can be built into the body and not necessarily the fancy electronics or brain, you can produce these great structures that kind of fold up like origami, and with very few motors you can produce a wonderful robot.”

We’ll hear more about robots which are inspired by nature in future programs. Bob Full is one of the participants in the Kids’ Science Challenge, our nationwide competition for third to sixth graders, made possible by the National Science Foundation. A new competition launches October first at kidsciencechallenge.com.