Curious about Everything

Day: October 13, 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

Patrick Stewart on the teacher who spotted his talent – and saved him

Patrick Stewart, The Guardian »

Had I sat that test, I might never have met Cecil Dormand, a teacher at the secondary modern where I ended up, who would change my life when I was 12, by putting Shakespeare into my hands for the very first time. It was The Merchant of Venice. He gave copies to most of us and told us to look up Act 4 Scene 1 (or the famous trial scene, as I was to learn). He cast all the speaking roles and told us to start reading. We all did, but silently. “No, no, you idiots, not to yourselves!” he yelled. “Out loud! This is a play, not a poem. It’s life. It’s real.”

The first words – “I have possessed your grace of what I purpose” – was the first line of Shakespeare I ever read. I barely understood a word, but I loved the feel of the words and sounds in my mouth. A 400-year-old writer reached out a hand in invitation to me that morning. I felt a sense of an internal, private me being released and connecting with something mysterious, alien and exciting. I was hooked.

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Updated » William Shatner and three other passengers launched into space today on the second crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket

Video from inside the New Shepard Mission NS-18: Apogee »


Update » Immediately after his trip to space, Shatner tells Jeff Bezos the following »

What you have given me is the most profound experience, I can imagine. I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened. It’s extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.

You can see it for yourself in the video below. Start at about 2:44:00 to see the crew exit the capsule and greeted Bezos.


William Shatner will join Dr. Chris Boshuizen, Audrey Powers, and Glen de Vries.

Live launch coverage begins at 12:30 UTC.

The crew of Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-18 mission, from left: Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers, and Glen de Vries. (Source » Blue Origin)

Elsewhere »

  • Star Trek star William Shatner ready to boldly go into space » BBC
  • William Shatner is set to launch into space on Wednesday and, this time, it’s not the set of Star Trek — it’s real life. But did you know Shatner’s journey from infancy to outer space actually started in Montreal? » MTL Blog
  • William Shatner, the veteran actor who spent four decades playing the fearless commander of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, is set for a real-life leap into the stars on Wednesday on the next stage of billionaire Jeff Bezos’s quest to dominate the fledgling space tourism industry. » The Guardian
  • Shatner, 90, will become the oldest person to fly into space » NPR
  • Actor William Shatner counted down Wednesday to his wildest role yet: riding a rocket into space, courtesy of “Star Trek” fan Jeff Bezos. » CityNews Toronto

Plug-in electric vehicles are the future. The power grid isn’t ready.

Will Englund, Washington Post »

Converting the nation’s fleet of automobiles and trucks to electric power is a critical piece of the battle against climate change. The Biden administration wants to see them account for half of all sales by 2030, and New York state has enacted a ban on the sale of internal combustion cars and trucks starting in 2035.

But making America’s cars go electric is no longer primarily a story about building the cars. Against this ambitious backdrop, America’s electric grid will be sorely challenged by the need to deliver clean power to those cars. Today, though, it barely functions in times of ordinary stress, and fails altogether too often for comfort, as widespread blackouts in California, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere have shown.

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The Augmented Cane, a new white cane that uses camera and sensors to help visually impaired

The Augmented Cane helps people with impaired vision navigate by using sensors to understand the environment and feedback modes to help guide and inform the user.

The Augmented Cane uses its variety of sensors to overcome the challenges of helping a person with impaired vision navigate different challenges. The LIDAR measures distances to obstacles, the inertial measurement unit (IMU) provides orientation estimates, the GPS measures outdoor position, and the camera takes images.

Science Robotics »

Globally, more than 250 million people have impaired vision and face challenges navigating outside their homes, affecting their independence, mental health, and physical health. Navigating unfamiliar routes is challenging for people with impaired vision because it may require avoiding obstacles, recognizing objects, and wayfinding indoors and outdoors. Existing approaches such as white canes, guide dogs, and electronic travel aids only tackle some of these challenges. Here, we present the Augmented Cane, a white cane with a comprehensive set of sensors and an intuitive feedback method to steer the user, which addresses navigation challenges and improves mobility for people with impaired vision. We compared the Augmented Cane with a white cane by having sighted and visually impaired participants complete navigation challenges while blindfolded: walking along hallways, avoiding obstacles, and following outdoor waypoints. Across all experiments, the Augmented Cane increased the walking speed for participants with impaired vision by 18 ± 7% and sighted participants by 35 ± 12% compared with a white cane. The increase in walking speed may be due to accurate steering assistance, reduced cognitive load, fewer contacts with the environment, and higher participant confidence. We also demonstrate advanced navigation capabilities of the Augmented Cane: indoor wayfinding, recognizing and steering the participant to a key object, and navigating a sequence of indoor and outdoor challenges. The open-source and low-cost design of the Augmented Cane provides a platform that may improve the mobility and quality of life of people with impaired vision.

 

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