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How hopping robots can conserve energy

In a new study that could extend the range of future rescue and exploration robots, researchers have found that hopping robots could dramatically reduce the amount of energy they use by adopting a unique two-part “stutter jump.”

Taking a short hop before a big jump could allow spring-based “pogo-stick” robots to reduce their power consumption as much as ten-fold. The formula for the two-part jump was discovered by analyzing nearly 20,000 jumps made by a simple laboratory robot under a wide range of conditions.

“If we time things right, the robot can jump with a tenth of the power required to jump to the same height under other conditions,” Daniel Goldman from the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology said.

“In the stutter jumps, we can move the mass at a lower frequency to get off the ground. We achieve the same takeoff velocity as a conventional jump, but it is developed over a longer period of time with much less power,” he said.

Jumping is an important means of locomotion for animals, and could be important to future generations of robots. Jumping has been extensively studied in biological organisms, which use stretched tendons to store energy.

How to beat insomnia for good without pills

Poor sleep, which can make a misery for those who suffer from it, can be overcome by following a simple set of tips, experts have claimed.

Evidence shows that insomniacs report low energy levels, mood swings, less productivity at work, relationship difficulties, and persistent poor sleep can even increase the risk of developing conditions including diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and strokes.
To deal with their sleep problems without pills, most people focus first on what Colin Espie, professor of clinical psychology and director of the University of Glasgow Sleep Centre, calls “sleep hygiene” - our pre-bed routine, and the physical environment in which we try to sleep.

Espie believes these factors account for a mere 10 percent of sleep problems “'most people with insomnia have better sleep hygiene than easy sleepers'.” But most sleep experts concur that the following do make a difference, the Age reported.

Firstly, a dark room is important to a good sleep. Also try to avoid “'blue light'” less than two hours before bed: research by the Lighting Research Centre at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State suggests light from laptop, tablet and smartphone screens tricks us into thinking it is daytime and keeps us alert, although this has been disputed.

Bedrooms should be a comfortable temperature (around 18C), quiet and well-ventilated, with comfortable beds and pillows.  Secondly, anything that stimulates the system like caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, tobacco, a heavy meal or strenuous exercise will make it harder to get to sleep. Indigestible foods are obviously best avoided; carbohydrates can promote serotonin, which aids sleep. Aim for a regular, balanced diet and no late-night excess.

Vampire skeleton discovered in Britain

A discovery of a skeleton, dating from 550-700AD, with metal spikes through its shoulders, heart and ankles has revealed details of one of the few ‘vampire’ burials in Britain.

The skeleton was found buried in the ancient minster town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, the Daily Mail reported.  It is believed to be a ‘deviant burial’, where people considered the ‘dangerous dead’, such as vampires, were interred to prevent them rising from their graves to plague the living.

Only a handful of such burials have been unearthed in the UK.

Matthew Beresford, of Southwell Archaeology, details the discovery in a new report.
The skeleton was found by archaeologist Charles Daniels during the original investigation of the site in Church Street in the town 1959, which revealed Roman remains.

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