An inside look at the inner-workings of Google’s top-secret research lab.
Google X isn’t like most R&D labs. In this month’s feature, Fast Company was granted first-of-its kind access into Google’s top-secret research laboratory, where “moonshots” trump real-world feasibility, and failure is openly encouraged. “If we can get to a no quickly on an idea, that’s almost as good as getting to a yes,” says Rich DeVaul, head of Google X’s Rapid Evaluation team in the video above. Hit play to watch what happens when the very active imaginations of some very smart people are given free rein to fail.
Coral is actually a living creature, but the human eye rarely catches it moving. This incredibly slow-motion video lets you see the ocean life you don’t notice, before it’s destroyed by climate change.
“Surgeons at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pennsylvania, are pioneering a new technique to buy surgeons some valuable time when treating gunshot patients. And it involves suspending them in a state between life and death.”
The RoboTuna’s latest iteration comes by way of MIT, and cloaked in soft teal silicone. The fish, which keeps all of its computation and sensors in its head, contains a carbon dioxide canister that puffs pockets of gas to different parts of the body, making it undulate. It can also do something called a C-turn, an escape mechanism real fish pull off to avoid predators.
What if you could see inside someone’s mind? It’s not possible to know exactly what another person is thinking, but neuroscientists from UCSD and UCSF are on their way. They created a “glass brain”: software that shows a person’s brain reacting to stimuli in real time. The implications for virtual reality and digital communication are tremendous, according to Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life, who has been collaborating with the neuroscientists.
“We’re trying to identify which critical factors can most help people feel like they’re face to face,” says Rosedale, whose new company, High Fidelity, is currently working on a next generation virtual world.
Andrew Zolli: Why have art in space at all? What does it say about us as a species?
Forest Stearns: Symbolic mark-making has always been an important part of the human experience. From caves to canvases to satellites, we all have an ambition to tell our story. And as we migrate upwards and outwards with space technology, we felt it was important to take this expressive instinct with us.
Neuroscientist Bevil Conway believes scientists can learn a lot from examining the strategies artists use to clarify color. “The best access we have of what color is and what it does to us is by studying the work of people who have studied it obsessively. Matisse is one of those people,” he says. “I think it’s extremely valuable, and there’s been very limited work treating that corpus as the sort of scientific evidence that it will turn out to be.”
“After the TED talk, Hadfield met with press to discuss all things space. And I had to ask: what does Hadfield think about all the private space companies, like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, that are popping up? Can they really democratize spaceflight?
"You could ask the exact same question a century ago about airplanes. We’re at 1912 or maybe 1915 in spaceflight. The shuttle is a ridiculous vehicle, and yet it’s the best in the world.”
“So even as we kind of hate child prodigies, we remain in awe of their gifts. For a long time, scientists had little insight into the nature of these talents. But over the past several years psychologist Joanne Ruthsatz has assembled what she calls the “largest sample” of prodigies on record—a list more than 30 deep and growing—and what she’s found points to one factor that’s consistently off the charts among prodigies regardless of their area of focus: working memory.
“They all have exceptional memories,” Ruthsatz tells Co.Design. “I think it’s the piece that allows for their abilities.”
Seen from space, cities look incredibly detailed at night, when streetlights and buildings glow brightly enough that it’s possible for astronauts to clearly see individual streets. Photos taken from the International Space Station inspired London-based animator Marc Khachfe to spend hours creating this artwork in homage.