This week's (and my first) "Ask a Science Blogger" question comes from a Science Blogs reader named Jake Bryan (aka chezjake). He asks:
Assuming that time and money were not obstacles, what area of scientific research, outside of your own discipline, would you most like to explore? Why?
The answer is all of them. I'm an information junky, so I'd love to study just about everything. Of course, my less-than-stellar math abilities would make theoretical physics pretty difficult, but a guy can dream, right? But if I'm going to give a real answer, the choice would have to boil down to either paleontology or robotics. Paleontology would be great because you get to go out in the field, put visual puzzles together, and learn about the history of life on the planet. I think I'm going to have to go with robotics, though. Sure, robotics isn't really that far outside of my own field, but I think it's far enough for me to use it as an answer.
Why robotics? Well, for one, I like the idea of doing research that produces tangible results that you can hold in your hand, or use to clean up your lab. But most of all, I'd want to be a roboticist so that I could take part in RoboCup! What is RoboCup, you ask? It's a conference/competition that combines two of my greatest strengths: being a geek and watching soccer. Only in this case, the soccer is played by robots. Teams and individuals build robots (or computer simulations), and those robots compete in various soccer-like games. The ultimate goal is to have a soccer team composed entirely of humanoid robots that can compete with a human team by 2050. They've got a ways to go, but I wouldn't do the humanoids anyway. I'd go with the four legged robots.
I'm guessing it's not cool to say so in the robot world, but I adore the Honda robot (whose name has just flown out of my head.) It walks! down stairs!! just like a person in a space suit!!! So extra-very cool!!!!
Did you see any of the stories about the DARPA challenge to create a self-navigating car? I thought it was really interesting the way the Stanford team and the CM team came down on the two sides of the robotics issue, i.e. mind vs. body. (And there are so many, many, many elisions in that statement, I don't know where to begin to clarify & qualify...)
Hey, I've heard about the competition, though I haven't read enough about it to know how the two teams approached it. I'm assuming the CM team came down on the body side. Was Brooks involved at all?