Information that deserves attention, 10

These are the articles and videos from the previous week I found most interesting.

  1. Pioneers Welcome
  2. Controlling free flight of a robotic fly using an onboard sensor inspired by insect ocelli
  3. Alaska

Pioneers Welcome


In our industry, we are all pioneers” says BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley in a new video, as he highlights the need for the best technology to unlock the planet’s plentiful energy resources.

Controlling free flight of a robotic fly using an onboard sensor inspired by insect ocelli


This paper describes the first time a fly-sized robot — the Harvard Robobee — has carried a sensor onboard. In previous flights, the vehicle was “flying blind” — it required an array of external cameras to precisely track its trajectory to control its flight. In this paper, we used a light sensor inspired by the ocelli of insects to tell the vehicle about its motion relative to a light source so that it could stay upright in flight. It will be necessary for the fly to carry sensors like this for it to be able to fly autonomously. Additionally, we used our work to suggest a hypothesis about insect flight. Because our vehicle has similar size and dynamics to that of the honeybee, we suggest an explanation for how this animal could use its light sensing ocelli to fly stably without tumbling to the ground, which is currently an open question in biology.


Russia Gave Us a Discount on Alaska


Many ridiculed Secretary of State William Seward for purchasing Alaska from Russia in 1867. But he turned out to be quite the shrewd businessman.

Alaska’s Glaciers Take Up More Space Than All of West Virginia


There are about 30,000 square miles of glaciers in Alaska, many of which have been melting rapidly. The largest, the Bering glacier, deposits 6.5 trillion gallons of water a year into the Gulf of Alaska

A Volcano 10 Times More Forceful than Mount St. Helen’s


There are 50 active volcanoes in Alaska, two of which blow their tops every year. But nothing compares to the 15 cubic kilometers of magma that spewed from this volcano in 1912.

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