Hear and Now: Robots Are Getting Soft

Allison Loudermilk

Hear and Now: Robots Are Getting Soft HowStuffWorks NOW
Hear and Now: Robots Are Getting Soft HowStuffWorks NOW

Hello readers and, we hope, would-be listeners! Here's a sample of the three stories you'll hear about in this week's episode of the HowStuffWorks Now podcast.

This first story from Jonathan Strickland about autocorrecting entries in an Excel spreadsheet doesn't sound like a big deal — until it occurs in the supplementary files of your published academic paper. And to quite a few other published papers, specifically when they're mentioning the names of genes.

And then that mistake is propagated out to your fellow researchers. Who are busy building on the shoulders of giants and don't have to time to mess with Microsoft Excel autocorrections. And that may explain why they're considering using Google Sheets instead of Microsoft Excel now. Here's a link to the open access study, which the authors conducted to draw attention to the issue.

Meanwhile, folks at Harvard have been busy messing with our conceptions of robots and turning them all soft. Like us humans. The autonomous one that host Robert Lamb talks about is nicknamed Octobot and, as you probably guessed from the name, resembles a cephalopod.

Octobot doesn't do much in its current squishy incarnation, but future versions of these biomimetic, soft-bodied robots could have a big role to play in biomedical technology and robotic surgery. You wouldn't have an issue letting an Octobot slither inside your belly and perform surgery, would you? We didn't think so. Check out the Nature article if you're curious to learn more.

Lastly, host Ben Bowlin alerted us to a social experiment going on in Seattle, which, like the rest of the United States, is experiencing a big problem with opioid addiction. The idea being floated is to open government-sanctioned and medically supervised safe spaces for heroin addicts to use drugs. What? Isn't that encouraging people to do drugs? Wouldn't that draw some unsavory types into the neighborhood? Ben has the answers. Or most of them at least. Just watch the below video or listen to the embedded podcast.

That's our trio for the HowStuffWorks Now podcast this week, which we've embedded for your listening pleasure in this article. If you like what you hear, please subscribe



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