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Astaire Unwound (Ceiling Dance from “Royal Wedding”)

My high school physics teacher, Admiral Peebles, showed us episodes of this nerdy, awesome science video, which demonstrated what various common motions (a falling ball, a rolling ball) look like from fixed and moving frames of reference. The 1969 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey featured a huge rotating set, a realistic representation of artificial gravity in the interior of a space ship. I pored over stills from this scene a few years…

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How to Make a Website: Guide to Web Creation, Design & Styling

I am a textual thinker, not a visual thinker. The resources I create for my own students focus on my own strengths and needs as a college English teacher:  the writing, basic conventions, and genres such as instructions and emails, and user-focused areas I’ve picked up out of necessity after watching my students learn to write for the web (there’s nothing in a typical composition class that will help them understand the…

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World Trade Center Literary and Cultural Reflections (first posted September 11, 2001)

Not knowing what else to do, in the numb hours after the towers fell, I made a web page that explored the World Trade Center in literature and culture, as well as urban technology in general. I updated it a bit over the next few weeks or months, but have mostly left it as an historical record.    As journalists improvised to meet the public’s demand for online updates (in…

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Meet octobot, a soft-bodied robot that looks like the future

Our future robot overlords never looked so squishy. A team of Harvard University scientists has built an entirely soft robot — one that’s inspired by an octopus. The octobot, described this week in the journal Nature, could pave the way toward more effective soft robots that could be used in search and rescue, exploration and to more safely interact with humans. “The octobot is a minimal system designed to demonstrate…