Newz For Nerdz

January 10, 2019

The science of pee, robotic surgeons, and rubber bands

The Pee Flinger

I’ve worked with people who had to pee a lot. I mean, A LOT.

One person in particular was famous for going every single hour. We almost used them as a timepiece. You could put a chicken in the oven the first time they left and take it out the next.

But insects pee, too. One bug in particular sucks up such an incredible amount of tree sap that it pretty much pees non-stop. It has to or it would explode.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter was captured on slow-motion video doing its business - and no, that’s not creepy. Scientists think they can learn more about microfluidics (I know you love that stuff) by studying the sharpshooter’s system for flinging pee. Yes, flinging.

Here’s a link to the story at ScienceNews that explains it all.

I might not have chosen this story for the podcast (which you can hear above) except the various videos explaining the process are fascinating. In fact, here are a couple of them.

Robotic Surgeons

I blame Terminator and other movies of that ilk for placing this idea in our heads that robots and artificial intelligence are out to murder us.

(Well, to be truthful, it could happen. But forget about that for a moment.)

Listen, robots are not new. They’ve been helping humans do a variety of tasks for decades. When they build your car you don’t seem to complain too much.

Image courtesy of  Natanael Melchor  on  Unsplash

Image courtesy of Natanael Melchor on Unsplash

Ah, but would you be comfortable letting one take a scalpel and operate on you? That’s one of the stories in this week’s podcast.

I understand that no amount of data and reasoning will appease some people, but I gotta say I’d be game to lie on that table. Machines have already been assisting human surgeons for years; why not give them a chance at bat?

Here’s where you can read more about it, courtesy of Scientific American.

And here’s my all-time favorite video about robotics. Two notes:

(1) This is actual footage of a working/walking robot. It just has hilarious audio added to it. (The “What the (bleep), Kevin?” might be the best part.)

And (2) DISCLAIMER: This video contains profanity. Perfect profanity, I happen to think, and lots of it. But I have to warn you just the same in case you wanna watch it with your kids.

Rubberband Fight

You know how you can be with someone for years and then find out something new about them?

I’ve known Gretchen for years, but it wasn’t until this past week I discovered she’s a rubberband sniper. She can wind a rubberband around her hand and shoot it clear across the room with deadly accuracy.


She taught me. See photo.

But if you try to get into a rubberband war and you’re using the old-school “launch from the end of your thumb” technique, you may be doing it wrong.

(This, by the way, is exactly the kind of science story we like on Newz for Nerdz.)

As you’ll hear in the podcast, a couple of dudes at Boston University studied the dynamics of shooting rubberbands. (Your grant money at work, folks.) And while we may not need this information every day, we at least got some cool video out of it.

To find out how you’re doing it wrong, you can follow this path.

And one of the slow-mo videos is here:

Thanks to Gretchen for tech work on Newz for Nerdz, and to Charlie Keaton for the NFN opening/closing theme music.

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