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La Vida Robot

Across campus, in a second-floor windowless room, four students huddle around an odd, 3-foot-tall frame constructed of PVC pipe. They have equipped it with propellers, cameras, lights, a laser, depth detectors, pumps, an underwater microphone, and an articulated pincer. At the top sits a black, waterproof briefcase containing a nest of hacked processors, minuscule fans, and LEDs. It’s a cheap but astoundingly functional underwater robot capable of recording sonar pings…

Intellectual Marijuana: comics and their critics

In terms of their reputation within respectable society, comics hit their nadir in the early 1950s. Slowly, however, the pendulum started to swing the other way. The careers of two Catholic intellectuals, Marshall McLuhan and Father Walter Ong, illustrate how comics re-won respect in the post-war era. In the 1940s, long before his fame as a media guru, McLuhan was exciting the imagination of bright, young students by confidently linking…