Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Antikythera Mechanism: Forgotten In Time

By: Dr. Tom Macon, Ph. D.

The Unimaginable Discovery
Scientists would definitely have been astonished at the site of a wooden box about the size of a shoebox being brought out by divers off Greece more than a hundred years ago. It would have been mind boggling to conclude that what appeared to be a rotten piece of metal was capable enough of predicting the positions of sun and moon in the zodiac on any given date.

The Mechanism
 Almost like a science fiction tale of archaeologists we have an example of a mechanism which can be easily attributed to be one of the most complex antiques in existence. The Antikythera Mechanism or a polished wooden case holding bronze gears within which the entire universe dances, is basically a kind of mechanical analog computer used to calculate the movements of stars and planets in the universe.

The Structure that shook us
It has been estimated to be built around 87 B.C. The device was made of bronze and it appeared very thin. It was mounted in a wooden frame with various Greek characters inscribed over it. The Antikythera mechanism seems to fill the void that existed in ancient scientific history about the possibility of any such device that could predict cycles of the solar system.

How Capable is this Mechanism
It provides a unique window on history, giving us an opportunity to view the knowledge of the Ancient Greek. It witnesses the mathematical and engineering capabilities that the Ancient Greeks had. The mechanism seems to provide us with a lot of information on the wide database that the Ancient Greeks had regarding astronomical knowledge of that time. The device could mechanically imitate the irregular motions of the moon which are caused by its elliptical orbit around the earth.

Intricacies deep within
The device consists of three dials. One dial appears in the front and two at the back. The front dial has divisions according to the Egyptian calendar and the back dials have them regarding the Greek signs.  This inner dial is movable and can be adjusted to pay off for leap years. Since the Greeks were aware of five planets in their time, there is a possibility that the device could have indicators for all five planets along with references in inscriptions about Mars and Venus.

Why Should We Care
Nothing comparable to the Antikythera device is known. Nothing like this instrument ever preserved anywhere either from scientific text or literary insinuation. From all the knowledge of science and technology that we have we can gather that nothing of this sort could ever exist at a time when Greek were thought to be non- experimental people. This was mainly due to the existence of notions of slavery.

The Intellectuals
 Also, it has been long recognized that in astronomy and mathematics, the Greeks were no beginners but people of another school of thought who attained great heights of superiority. Even the most complex devices of that time contained simple gears. The development of Antikythera mechanism in such a time stands as an issue that needs to be cared about.

High Time that We Care
The mechanism had some really interesting features and putting all pieces together it can be inferred that the whole purpose of the device was to mechanize the cyclical relation that existed in the bodies of the universe. There is hardly any ancient discovery that we ought to care about. A few details taken and the whole body with mass remains just an amount of dust collected and moulded into fine shapes.

A Mechanism that can Open Minds
The Antikythera mechanism however requires some more attention since it potentially is one of the most efficient findings of modern times that can change all pre-conceived notions in our minds on heavenly cycles. It demands care not only because of the whole significance in astronomical terms attached to it but also because of the need to open our minds to the acceptance of inventions that can possibly be better than the modern times.

 The Incredible Invention
The Antikythera mechanism is a breakthrough in modern science and an answer to innumerable astronomical puzzles, a key to the hidden treasures of modern scientific discoveries right from the minds of the ancient intellectuals.


Friday, February 13, 2015

By: Dr. Tom Macon, Ph. D.

Transhumanism: The Magical Unification in a
World Of Magic and of God

The Old Story
For years it has been a stride for us humans to excel in every field we enter. We have tried to utilize the best of technology, science, literature or any other information that we can catch hold of. We feel immensely happy on being able to accomplish short term goals and take our superiority to the next level forgetting that in the long run we always harm some vividly important natural resources that have been given to us.

Towards a New Beginning
Change is a constant and despite several efforts of trying to stop time to our benefits, we have kept flowing with the tide. We have done the needful to demolish nature and natural resources but circumstances are taking a steep change. A new culture is being developed that aims towards primarily altering the human culture with the development of technology in order to improve the intellectual, physical and psychological capabilities of human beings.

Transhumanism as a Culture
We have named this culture as Transhumanism which in the long run might appear as a path to reunite with God. The Transhumanist thinkers work in a manner such that they study the probable danger that technology which can overcome basic human imperfections, can pose. They also deal with the ethics of developing and using such technology.

Breaking the Barriers
A new thinking has taken its roots in the minds of intellectuals like scientists, researchers, neuroscientists as well as all those who are at the forefront of the developing technology. They focus towards changing the basic assumptions that human nature can never face change. It will keep working as a custom even after changes in status, wealth or culture. Transhumanism speaks that such assumption no longer is true.

On the Path to Development
Transhumanism has gained impetus as a movement that would break away stereotypes in the minds of those who think that the condition of human beings can never be altered. Technology no doubt has attained a lot, from developing prosthetic limbs that can work very well to creating a living organism with an alien DNA. However, it is best used when such inventions and discoveries can help solve problems rather than piling them up.

The Basic Mechanism
Our ancestors believed in religion so much so that they found happiness in it. Today we have lost that religion by indulging in too much science. But transhumanism claims to achieve all that has been lost including the promises of religion with resurrection and compassionate gods. How will transhuanism achieve this? Well the generations to come will be living in a world way too fast for them.

In the Later Times
The next generations will live for longer years maybe to a thousand. The technology that we have today would become obsolete and they would require better inventions maybe to the tune of magic! In such a scenario with better developments they might be able to fill their minds with powerful thoughts. Maybe they even merge with artificial intelligence way more capable than human minds.

Solution to all Problems
If that becomes the case, it would not be long for human beings to reunite with God and mix with intelligence that would take the universe towards a new evolution. The Transhumanist thinkers might appear to live in a world of tomorrow. That however does not mean that they find it difficult to adapt the present situations. The issues in question for them presently include achievements such as cloning, Moore’s law and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

As a Social Benefactor
The view of the transhumanists might appear cold and distant initially but their approach is quite positive in a world which once stated the use of anesthetics at the time of child birth as unnatural. Instead of rejecting the accomplishments of present times it encourages us to accept them whole-heartedly with the belief of improving our present conditions and easing atrocities and pain.

Door to a New World
Transhumanism might end up as an opportunity to connect with God and to bridge the gap between humans and spirituality, be it in a way of giving importance to religion or progressing towards a fast paced era. Instead of being just another proposed theory, this movement comes out to be a problem solving approach which would broaden with more social as well as technological developments.
It is not long when we would call ourselves to be living in a time where we would have achieved an age of miracles and still be very close to God!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Never to young to enjoy Robotics!

By: Dr. Tom Macon, Ph. D.

My students often ask me, "Dr. Macon, how old does a child have to be to get involved in robotics?"

My answer is expressed in terms of my experience with my granddaughter Katie. Over the years, I have received hundreds of robots as gifts from students and peers. Most are small toy-sized units.  Katie was about 19 months old when she began coming into my office at school and claiming my miniature robots as her own.

I found her actions most interesting. It was not something I encouraged or discouraged. It just happened naturally. So being of a scientific mind, I decided not to intervene and simply observe.

Over a period of 6 months, she had collected 25 or so of her favorite robots and hidden them in secret places throughout her room and house.

When she was about 2 1/2 years old, she would close her door and retrieve her hidden robotic friends and play. If you opened the door, she would grasp a handful of her comrades and protect them from anticipated retrieval. Some were life-like and others were simple prototype animatronic skeletons. She adored them equally.

I always wondered what went on in her secret robotic tea parties. One of my trusted mini-bots was equipped with a black and white spy-cam setup. I turned it on and got this beautiful picture of Katie playing quietly with her robot friends. They were a rag-tag bunch. Her favorite one is the one to the left of the picture. She calls him, "Super-Mega". A close runner up is her Roomba Robotic Sweeper by iRobot!

So I am not sure what age children should be to become interested in robotics. Outside of concerns for small parts which might present a choking hazard, or moving parts that could pinch a little child's fingers; maybe somewhere around 2 or 3 would be a good age to expose them to robots as friends. I say this because of Katie and out of wonder for what her future might hold if she embraces technology like this at such an early age. Life is full of wonders, both natural and man-made.

If you are interested in some sources for robotic kits for children, try a few of these suggestions:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Parrot Drone QuadCopter with Smart Phone control features

This is a second-generation mobile-controlled AR.Drone 2.0, which has upgraded hardware and software for enhanced control. It is loaded with a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer and an array of new sensor to give it increased stability in flight.

The unit has a 720p front-facing camera, which allows users to capture flight activity in HD, and like the Helo TC we discussed last month, this drone is also controlled by a Smart Phone.

The drone’s “absolute flight” mode will allow users to steer the device with a single tilt of a Smart Phone or Tablet. For a more traditional experience Parrot has designed an Android and iOS app, which can also be used to share flight data with friends.

Now here is why I am so excited; Parrot has provided developers of the Apple and Android communities with a software development kit that would allow for more apps and games accessible to the AR.Drone 2.0. This means we are getting closer to my predictions of true consumer deployable micro-robotics. It appears that such technologies might be poised to merge with mind control apparatus such as the EmoLogic headset controllers. Imagine a thought controlled mini robotic drone! Oh how the micro-world of robotics is poised to change rapidly in 2012 and beyond. These are truly exciting times we live in. I wish I were 20 years old again so that I could live another 50 years to see teleportation and time travel become a reality!

From the LAS VEGAS, Jan. 9, 2012 PRNewswire on COMTEX, we learn the following,

“While in flight, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0′s front camera transmits real-time what the quadricopter sees onto the pilot’s device screen. For the first time the AR.Drone 2.0 camera, with a 1280×720 resolution, shows a view from the sky in high definition with smooth and unbelievable images. The pilot enjoys an experience like never before, as if he was on board. For gaming purposes, this camera also can recognize specific shapes and colors to show augmented-reality elements on the smartphone’s screen. Thanks to the new AR.FreeFlight 2.0 piloting application, players can record their own HD videos and watch them or share them with the AR.Drone community.

Additionally, with the “travelling” feature, the pilot can film HD video sequences like a professional! Simply select the direction of travel (forward, back, sideways) and the duration, and the AR.Drone 2.0 does the rest. In addition to flying the AR.Drone, new application AR.FreeFlight 2.0 – available to download for free from the AppStore(SM) and Android(TM) Market – offers players a new interface and several options.

FreeFlight: Access to the piloting application. The pilot can record flights, take HD videos or photos and save them in the piloting device. All the flight data (altitude, speed, duration and place) can be saved, checked by the pilot and shared with the community. Guest Space: Access an overview of the AR.Drone 2.0, the best flight videos and practical information. Drone Update: Access the AR.Drone 2.0′s free software updates. AR.Drone Academy: Get geolocation data of the best flight zones, watch other pilots’ videos and access their shared flight data. AR.Games: Access applications/games available for the AR.Drone. Photos/Videos: Directly access your own videos and photos. Watch or upload to YouTube for the community to enjoy. After the AR.FreeFlight 2.0 pilot application has been loaded onto an iOS or AndroidTM smartphone or tablet, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 connects to the device via Wi-Fi. After connection, all the on-board instruments appear on screen with a cockpit view. Press the take off button briefly and the four brushless motors turn on. The AR.Drone 2.0 takes off. Flying is very simple. With your thumbs placed on either side of the screen, a control button automatically forms beneath: Press and hold the left button and the AR.Drone 2.0 follows the movement of the pilot’s device: it moves forward, backwards or sideways when you tilt the tablet forward, towards you or to the left or right. Slide your finger over the right button, and the quadricopter rises, descends or rotates right or left. Thanks to Parrot’s patented new ‘Absolute Control’ mode, the player accesses an even more intuitive piloting system. With a 3D magnetometer, the AR.Drone 2.0 knows its precise orientation with respect to the smartphone, which becomes the reference point. The pilot no longer needs to care about the orientation of the AR.Drone 2.0′s front camera, which will accurately track the smartphone’s motion and tilt. Experienced players will select ‘Relative Flight’ mode, the conventional flight mode. This disables Parrot AR.Drone 2.0′s magnetometer. The pilot manages the quadricopter’s orientation with no assistance.

The heart of the AR.Drone 2.0 contains MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). A 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer and a pressure sensor give the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 surprising stability, complete with: 2 ultrasound sensors, which analyze flight altitude up to 6 meters. New! A pressure sensor completes the device and provides great vertical stability. 4 blades, specially designed for the AR.Drone 2.0, make it possible to carry out smooth flights. A second camera, placed beneath the quadricopter and connected to the central inertial unit, measures the craft’s speed using an image comparison system. 2 hulls made for both types of flight.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has 2 hulls with specially designed contours. Made of EPP (a material used in designing car bumpers), they are light, highly resistant and protect the quadricopter. For outdoor flight, the contoured hull, available in three colors (orange/yellow; orange/green; orange/blue), reduces wind resistance and preserves the AR.Drone 2.0′s handling and stability. When indoor, a second hull protects the blades from any impact. The black-and-white cockpit, underlined with a red stripe, reinforces the quadricopter’s mysterious, thrilling appearance.

Finally, light-emitting diodes (green in front, red in rear), positioned on the landing gear, help the pilot track the orientation of the AR.Drone 2.0 for easier flying. In order to expand the use of the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and its compatibility with other operating systems and to develop new flying games and applications, Parrot is providing developers and members of the Apple® and Android(TM) communities with a software development kit. By logging in at and accepting the terms of the license, developers can access the source code used to fly the AR.Drone 2.0. A wiki and a tutorial also are available. A forum is available to discuss new developments and share feedback with Parrot engineers. The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included). Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 will be available for purchase at selected retailers in Q2-2012 in the United States for $299 MSRP”

Let me know if you are as excited as I am about this technology.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dr. Tom Macon's Prediction for Mobile Phone Robotics

By: Dr. Tom Macon, Ph. D.

Dr. Tom Macon here, and have I got some cool robotic ideas for you to ponder!

Mobile phones and their mobile apps are taking over the world and changing everything. My son was in Radio Shack looking in the gizmo section, and he came across a helicopter that you control via your mobile phone. (He has the latest iPhone) And even though I am a die-hard Android fan. (Ice Cream Sandwich) I was amazed at how his iPhone became a command and control center for the stealthy little i400 helicopter.

As the little unit took flight, I realized that I was watching the future of many things to come. It started me thinking about the possibility of smart phone controlled robots. I quickly realized that these handheld wonders might be easily engineered to deploy useful robotic services. My son and I were able to modify a few things on his store-bought unit to increase lift and within a few hours of tinkering, we had a unit rigged with an arial surveillance camera, night-vision and other goodies that I hesitate on mentioning. So for about $400 in total cost, we created a robotic drone that would take off, perform a mission and return to base unassisted. Of course, using the iPhone, we could take over manually if need be.

So in one afternoon, I have envisioned the future by playing with store-bought components and my son's smartphone.

In the near future, I will be expanding on how such technologies might emerge and how the micro-world of robotics is poised to change rapidly... but for now, watch the following YouTube Video to see the smartphone controlled helicopter in action.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Micro Medical Frequency Delivery Bots

By: Dr. Tom Macon, Ph. D.

If you have been following my work, you will be aware of my concept of MMFDB (Micro Medical Frequency Delivery Bots). Nano-machines such as tiny medical nanorobots are capable of manipulating matter at the atomic level. These miniaturized robots are tunable and designed to be injected into the human blood stream. Once there, they will seek out and destroy cancer and other diseases by emitting appropriate frequencies that have been proven to rejuvenate healthy cells and destroy unhealthy cells.

Frequency healing promotes balance, resonance and calm within the body, allowing for improved health and healing. Frequency healing has been used successfully all over the world for centuries. It is really catching on in modern medicine because scientists have finally created instruments that can measure how and why frequency healing works.

In essence, everything in the world is made up of energy. We are all constantly vibrating masses of microscopic particles that are always in motion. Every object, person and organ has a healthy vibration rate called resonance. If that vibration is out of resonance, disease results. These imbalances can be treated.

Ancient texts detail the human energy system, where the energy centers are located and what part of the system those centers work with. They also describe how imbalances in those centers can affect our emotional, mental and physical states. I intend to use my nanobot frequency healing technology to correct imbalances in specific places within the human body.

Our world is on information overload. We need to realize that our God given brain is capable of inventing solutions that are well beyond the searchable archives of Google. Applied creativity is the capital of our future. Humanity's destiny is what we make it. Do something different everyday and stretch your mind's ability to function. Shake off the constraints of comfortableness and reach higher. Together we can achieve great things. Forget the proposed limitations of reality, and join me in creating a new tomorrow.

- Dr. Tom Macon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


By: Dr. Tom Macon, Ph. D.

I know some of you will say that this article isn’t related to robotics, but I see it as a component technology that could be integrated into robotic communication and control modules. Just watch the movie “Real Steel” and you surely see potential for its application.

A new technology that lets signals to be sent and received simultaneously on a single channel has been developed at Stanford. This technology allows faster, more efficient communication more than doubling existing network speed.

Radio traffic travels in a single direction at a time.  This is why pilots use the term "over" so often and why walkie‑talkie users and emergency personnel have to take turns speaking.

But now, thanks to this innovation by Stanford researchers, radios can send and receive signals at the same time.

This immediately makes them twice as fast, and it is thought that further developments will mean even faster networks in the future.

Unlike radios, cell telephone networks let users talk and listen at the same time.  To do this, they employ an expensive work‑around.  The method is less feasible for other wireless networks, including Wi‑Fi.

Three electrical engineering graduate students, Jung Il Choi, Mayank Jain and Kannan Srinivasan, worked out the approach.

They realized that wireless networks have each device take turns speaking or listening. It's like two people shouting messages at the same time. If both shout simultaneously, no one can hear anything.

The problem in two‑way simultaneous conversation with radios is that incoming signals get overwhelmed by the radio's own transmissions.  When a radio transmits, its own transmission is billions of times more powerful than the signal it gets from another radio.  You can’t hear a whisper when you are shouting.

The engineers realized that if they had the radio receiver filter out the signal from its own transmitter, then incoming signals could be heard.  The new design uses the fact that each radio knows precisely what it is transmitting at any point, making it easy to filter out that output. The process is similar to that used by noise‑canceling headphones..

Before the Stanford engineers demonstrated the approach, no one believed that sending and receiving signals simultaneously could be done.  One researcher told them their idea was too simple to work, as anything so obvious must have already been tried and shown not to work.

But the new communications technology did work, offering significant implications for future communications.  The most promising result of of sending and receiving simultaneously is that it doubles the amount of information that can be sent.  The approach promises greatly improved home and office networks, systems that pass information faster with less congestion. Just imagine the application in a command and control system for remote controlled combat 'bots of the future.

The Stanford group has a patent on the approach and is seeking to commercialize it. They are now trying to increase the strength of the transmissions and the distances over which the signals travels.  This will be necessary before the technology will be practical for use in Wi‑Fi networks.

The new technology has great promise for future networks and other applications. When new hardware and software is built to employ simultaneous two‑way transmission, the scope of the results could be limitless.

“Over and out!” will be a thing of the past. Please share your thoughts with me on its application.