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Doctor Geek

From the Desk of Doctor Geek

Dr. Scott Viguié (a.k.a. Doctor Geek) holds two doctorate degrees and is an archaeologist, attorney, actor and author. Before his wife will permit him to go back to graduate school, yet again, he will have to promise to move on to something that starts with a "B". As luck would have it, Scott is also the first bionic man. Well, ... not exactly.

In reality, Scott was one of the first to undergo extensive orthopedic surgery to compensate for cerebral palsy. While these cutting edge techniques did in fact grant him the ability to walk, making him better ... stronger ... faster, his new abilities did not in fact come with the cool sound effects. S o began a lifelong obsession with science, technology, and the science fiction that inspires them.

Scott's love of all things science fiction and fantasy can be heard on various podcasts, including Articles of the Shadow Proclamation, Earth Station One, and Earth Station Who. Throughout the year, Scott travels the convention circuit, appearing at such conventions as Dragon*con, Time Lord Fest, and TimeGate, where he can be seen participating in Doctor Who related panels and speaking on such topics as "The Archaeology of Stargate".

Scott established Doctor Geek's Laboratory and Doctor Geek's Science Fair in the hope that it would encourage a rekindled sense of optimism for the future. That it would bring about enthusiasm for innovation. That it would bring the fictional world of tomorrow, one step closer to today.

Scott is also a consultant for the Science & Entertaiment Exchange, a volunteer network based out of Los Angles that connects productions with experts who can add a little science to the fiction.

To contact Doctor Geek directly, email him at: scott@drgeeklab.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/thedoctorgeek.

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The recent Star Wars Celebration had plenty of intriguing factoids.  So that desert planet featured in Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens is not Tatooine, after all. It’s Jakku.  Further, we learned that the soccer ball like droid, BB-8, is not a CG character.  Like R2D2, BB-8 is a real remote controlled robot.

 

Recently, we investigated what it would take for robots to develop into our robot companions seen in such films as Star Wars.  The fact that BB-8 is a practical prop indicates to me, that we are all closer to one day having a droid.

 

It turns out BB-8 was created by a company called Sphero.  The startup, headed by CEO Paul Berberian, was selected for Disney’s accelerator program last year, along with nine other companies. According to Disney’s website, the three-month-long program picks tech startups who want to “make an impact on the world of media and entertainment,” giving them upwards of $120,000 in investment capital. It also matches each startup with a mentor from within Disney’s executive ranks. In this case, Sphero’s mentor was Bob Iger. When Mr. Iger saw Sphero’s technology in action, he realized the potential application for BB-8 and connected the startup with the masterminds of the Star Wars characters.

 

BB-8 however is no mere remote controlled robot.  This droid takes their app controlled robot ball to the next level.   BB-8 moves so quickly, that people were convinced it had to be a CG character till it made it’s in person appearance.  I will admit when I first saw BB-8 in the trailer I thought it was a bit goofy but after seeing it interact on stage, I can see the personality the puppeteer was able to bring out of the brief performance.  BB-8 is truly a worthy addition to the droids of Star Wars, and since the company that made him is also in the business of making robot toys, it doesn’t take the force to see that one day soon we will all have a BB-8 droid of our very own.

 

There has been a lot of development with regards to 3D Printers.  This year alone we have seen the technology used to build anything from buildings to bionic arms.  While some printers can create something as unique as a pizza, most printers create objects out of plastic.

 

It is amazing what you can do with plastic.  But, what if you want to print a pair of pants or need to replicate your child’s favorite stuffed animal?  The answer may have just come from the Walt Disney Company and their fabric 3D printer.  The little fabric rabbit created by the printer is a bit primitive, but I am sure as the technology is refined, you will be able to print your own unique version of your favorite character.  

 

Moment of Science - Esperanto

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The next chapter in our season two finale is here! Professor Pedantic struggles through his first day as the director of the Laboratory of Applied Geekdom.  But, he does manage to introduce our first interview into bionics, with Mr. Mike Hogan.  What bionics is actually capable of surprised even Doctor Geek.

 

Oh and what of Doctor Geek?  In his exile, he has teamed up with The Cobalt Parrot’s Cantina’s own Rick and Sam.  While building a dimensional backdoor to the lab, Doctor Geek is sent to the far future where, no pressure or anything, he learns that the universe depends on him retaking the lab.   

 

Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit organization started last May by Albert Manero with the goal of making affordable, 3-D-printed bionic limbs for children with amputations, helped build an “Iron Man” themed bionic arm for Alex Pring, a 7-year-old boy who was born with a partially developed limb.  Alex received his new arm from non-other than Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr.

 Like all true bionics, the prosthetic is controlled directly by the mind.   The arm works via surface electromyography.  Electromyography (EMG) reads the electrical signal from the brain and transmits it to the arm, producing a signal that triggers the opening and closing of the hand. 

 Manero said he was inspired by Ivan Owen, a special effects artist and puppeteer in Bellingham, Wash., who developed the first 3-D printed hand. Owen posted his design and instructions on Thingiverse, an online community to share 3-D designs.

 

“Alex’s arm is 3-D printed on a Stratasys printer, which takes approximately 40 to 50 hours to manufacture,” Manero said. “Assembly and the electronics take some additional time. Each arm is uniquely tailored for the user, both in fit and in expression.”