Life’s Origins and DNA Computing

Life’s Origins and DNA Computing
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Erasure Cost and Reversible Computing
Maxwell's demon has startling implications for the push toward ever-faster computers. Probe the connection between the second law of thermodynamics and the erasure of information, which turns out to be a practical barrier to computer processing speed. Learn how computer scientists deal with the demon.
The Arrival of Robot Autonomy
Episode 1 of Robotics
Plunge into the world of robots with this engaging introduction. When did we start thinking about robots? What three components are responsible for so many advances in robot design? Why is behavioral autonomy so essential to the development of modern robotics?
Robot Bodies and Trade-Offs
Episode 2 of Robotics
Why just watch robots when you can understand how they actually work? Deconstruct a Roomba to learn the five functional categories of parts all robots need. Then, explore a universal lesson about robotics: because robots can't do everything well, trade-offs (such as simplicity versus maneuverability) are always involved.
Robot Actuators and Movement
Episode 3 of Robotics
Investigate robot actuators: the motors and transmissions that underlie all robotic movement. You'll learn about the early use of springs as motors in automata; how electricity spins the magnets that make motors move; how movement defines what a robot is; and different types of motors (including DC and servo motors).
Robot Sensors and Simple Communication
Episode 4 of Robotics
Intelligent behavior in robots is rooted in the sensors that determine how much robots know about the world around them. Professor Long demonstrates how sensors work to communicate across the electromagnetic spectrum, including through infrared (like in Roombas) and visible light (for underwater robots that communicate using flashing blue lights).
Robot Controllers and Programming
Episode 5 of Robotics
What turns a remotely controlled machine into an autonomous robot? Self-control. So where does self-control in robots come from? Find out in this lecture on robot controllers: the computer-like part of robots that uses sensory information to decide how the robot should achieve its immediate and long-term goals.
Human-Inspired Robot Planning
Episode 6 of Robotics
In robotics, the most important problem mobile robots must solve is how to navigate, or move with purpose, in the world. Here, learn how simultaneous localization and mapping (using internal models, beacons, and dead reckoning navigation) is the key to a robot's autonomy in both structured and exploratory situations.
Animal-Inspired Robot Behavior
Episode 7 of Robotics
Consider an approach to creating robots that's inspired not by maps but by the simple sense-and-act behavior of animals. You'll learn the benefits of behavior-based robotic architecture (including quicker reactions and stronger sensors), and see how simple animals including ants have inspired roboticists to build fascinating inventions.
Basic Skills for Making Robots
Episode 8 of Robotics
So you want to make a robot. Where should you start? Learn how to work with tools like multimeters and solid-core wires; how to perform basic tasks including stripping wire and building simple circuits; and how to "hack" into existing robots to get them to perform tasks they weren't intended…
Designing a New Robot
Episode 9 of Robotics
Move from kits and hacks into the actual design and construction of more complex robots for research or business. As you explore the iterative decision-making process used by robotics engineers, you'll meet intriguing robots including Madeline, the first transphibian vehicle, and RayBot, an artificial fish used for surveillance.
A Robot for Every Task?
Episode 10 of Robotics
Wouldn't it be great to have a robot that took out your trash or put away your books? Explore how robots are designed to perform specific tasks, and the choices roboticists must consider in doing so--including the stability of the workplace and the minute steps of the task itself.
Robot Arms in the Factory
Episode 11 of Robotics
Each year, many tens of thousands of new robots are purchased to help us manufacture cars, medicines, and other everyday materials. And it all started with variations on the robotic arm. Here, examine early prototypes of pick-and-place robots; consider the trade-offs between range and control of motion; and ponder how…