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Olá Robocup 2014!

Now that the warm-up meatbag football matches have ended in Brazil, it’s time to move on to the main event: Robocup 2014. The international robotics competition runs on July 21-24 in João Pessoa and, though a winner will of course be crowned, the event’s long-term goal is “developing by 2050 a humanoid robot soccer team capable of winning against the human team champion of the FIFA World Cup.”

Go to Robocup 2014 to learn more about the matches that feature fully autonomous multi-robot teams battling it out on the field. Check out the live stream of the competition and see another video below.

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This is what happens when someone brings a football to NASA.

The folks at the agency’s Ames Research Center decided to take a closer look at the new ball that was designed for this year’s World Cup. The result is a lesson in fluid dynamics.

Get ready for this Sunday’s final match by reading all about how air flows around the ball here. Then annoy your friends with the scientific reason why this year’s ball has a smoother flight path than the one used during the last World Cup. Spoiler alert: Longer, deeper seams this year mean more disruption to the airflow around the ball and a smaller low-pressure wake behind it after it’s kicked.

This smaller wake leads to less “knuckling,” the erratic dipping and veering of the ball when it reaches the average professional kicking speed of around 50 mph.

“There is a thin layer of air that forms near the ball’s surface called the boundary layer and it is the state and behavior of that layer that is critical to the performance of the ball,” said Rabi Mehta, chief of Ames’s Experimental Aero-Physics Branch. “The materials used, the ball’s surface roughness and its distribution determines its aerodynamics.”

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Performance Artists Could Use Some Serious Sports Medicine

by Chris Gorski, Inside Science

They endure long hours of oft strenuous practice. The way to get better is to practice more, even when injured. For hours at a time, their hearts can beat at 65 percent of their maximum rate. Injuries are common, and there’s always someone waiting to take your spot.

Life in the arts can be tough.

While athletes often have teams of trainers and doctors available to help, many of the insights developed in sports medicine have yet to move beyond the sidelines to the dancers and musicians that could benefit.

In May, at a meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Orlando, Florida, a number of scientists and physicians explained their work with everyone from ballet dancers to heavy metal rockers to classical musicians. They are taking a new approach to the arts — both the disciplines and the participants — in an effort to understand significant issues among recreational and professional artists.

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Txch This Week: Self-Bruising Fabric And The Controversy Over Gravity


By Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we explored space, drones, insects and powerful eye scanners capable of scanning irises that are up to about 21 feet away. 

First, NASA has chosen a space ship design inspired by the Wild West. This craft is designed to slow down an asteroid’s spin and maneuver it much like a cowboy would a cow.

The farms of the future may play home to flying drones and ground-crawling robots. Agriculture is a focal point for current research and development, creating opportunities for more sustainable and efficient farming practices.

Txchnologist then looked at some small creatures doing extraordinary things with just a little bit of tension. An MIT lab has turned insects walking on water into art in their study of fluid dynamics, adding an insoluble dye to accentuate how water moves as the insect scurries.

Finally, scientists have designed an eye scanner so powerful that it is capable of scanning irises from a pretty large distance. Rather than walking up to an eye scanner, this new design will be able to scan the eye in the style of Minority Report.  

Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following from the world of science, technology and innovation.

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