Widgets Magazine

Scientists want to give you artificial, robot muscles

Army researchers and visiting scientists are working on two avenues of research that could lead to robotic muscles that contract and move like biological ones. This would allow the construction of more quiet robots as well as drastically improve the efficiency and form of prosthetic devices and exoskeletons.

Remember that LS3 Mule robot the Marines tested but then decided against deploying because it was just too noisy for use on the frontlines? That was sort of crazy, right? But Army researchers are doing a large amount of work to make quiet, robotic muscles to reinforce soldiers, exoskeletons, and robots of the future.

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How the Space Force could conduct an airborne assault on the moon

So the Space Force wants to be a thing, huh? Well, if they want to be cool guys, they have to learn to do what paratroopers, Rangers, Recon Marines, Air Force pararescuemen, and Navy SEALs have all learned: How to parachute into enemy territory. It is, admittedly, harder when your target has little gravity.

Look, we all hope that Space Rangers will be elite, Buzz Lightyear-types but with tattoos and lethal weapons instead of stickers and blinking lights. But if they're going to be Buzzes, they have to learn to fall with style. And in the U.S. military, that means airborne school.

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What happened when the VC attacked a Special Forces base

In 1967, Viet Cong forces launched a 10-day assault on the Irregular Defense Group base at Loc Ninh in an attempt to wipe it out and to prepare for the Tet Offensive. The town of 6,000 bore witness to the battle as an entire communist division descended on a base with 11 Green Berets and a couple hundred South Vietnamese forces.

It was a small airbase on the border with Cambodia. It bordered a town of 6,000 that survived on the proceeds of local rubber plantations. The airbase was guarded by a few hundred South Vietnamese regulars supported by 11 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers. But it would host a 10-day battle that would see hundreds of North Vietnamese forces killed while that tiny force held the ground.

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Russian propaganda has one surprising shortcoming

A new paper from the RAND Corporation looks into the problem of Russia failing to attract top talent to develop destabilizing propaganda. So, otherwise polished propaganda products aimed at everyone from Americans to Arabians to Romanians suffer from flawed word use, improper grammar, and more problems that make it less effective.

You ever seen those Google Translate music videos? Where singers or other entertainers sing songs that have gone through Google translate or another "machine translation" program? Whelp, it turns out, that's how Moscow often creates its lower-tier propaganda. It either uses Google Translate or low-rent translators who are not especially proficient in the target language, leading to a problem where anyone who can read at a middle school level or better is largely resistant to it.

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The NSA needs teenagers to protect democracy

What are you doing with your summer? While I'm riding roller coasters and you're planning your next all-expense-paid trip to JRTC, the NSA will be leveraging American teenagers to help protect U.S. secrets and conduct cyber attacks, espionage, and more against adversaries.

Remember your first summer job? This author's was as a door corp member, a host, at his local Waffle House. He was fine at that job and terrible as a waiter on Sunday mornings. But the NSA has a program for teens who want to make a bigger impact: Come to the NSA as an intern before college. And the benefits are better than what this author gets now.

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This is an actual Army guide to creating an entire arsenal

We're not talking how to drive a nail through a board or fold a newspaper into a shank. The Army's Improvised Munitions Handbook tells you how to make things like remotely fired mortar tubes, a shotgun, and even improvised explosive devices from supplies and trash. Oh, and it has been available online for decades.

Where should you turn if you want to bring down the man? If you want to destroy the pillars of an oppressive society, one of the best places you could turn is, ironically, the U.S. military. It has a guide on how to make land mines, mortar tubes, and even propellants for rockets right at home. TM 31-210 can help you become a full-on anarchist or, as the government would prefer, a resistance fighter in another country.

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That time the Australian Navy enlisted a little girl as its mascot

The Royal Australian Navy's first female sailor was not a pilot, a riveter, a nurse, or even an actual crewperson on a ship. Instead, she was a 6-year-old girl brought onboard as a mascot, a rank typically held by an animal. But it was for a good reason: It was the only way to legally save her life.

In November 1920, a little girl was playing in the bushland of Tasmania when she slipped and fell to the ground. Nancy Bentley surprised a snake which proceeded to bite her wrist, threatening her life. Because of the remote location where she was bitten and the fact that she was a woman, the Royal Australian Navy enlisted her into the service as a mascot to save her life.

Yup. Really.

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North Dakota was the world's 3rd most powerful nuclear power

In 1963, North Dakota was home to 300 Minuteman ICBMs, meaning that it would have had a larger nuclear arsenal than any country besides the U.S. and the Soviet Union if it had seceded. The modern situation is even crazier. If the U.S. broke apart today, seven former U.S. states would be in the top 10 of world nuclear powers.

If you had to guess at the world's strongest nuclear power, you would probably get the top two right. America and Russia are top dogs and have been so since Russia became an official country again. Before that, you guessed it, the Soviet Union was on top.

But do you know who is number three in the world? Well, for a few years in the Cold War, North Dakota could have claimed that spot by seceding.

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How the Army is figuring out how to predict future weapons

An Army researcher has discovered a law-like trend in the development of weapons from early footsoldiers and archers to horsemen and towed artillery to modern tanks. Understanding how this progression has functioned and how it will continue might allow the Army to predict the future weapons it will have to fight against.

Imagine being a German soldier in the lines of World War I. You know that your government and rival nations are developing new weapons that will either give you a sudden advantage or spell your doom. Then, a rumble comes across No Man's Land, and the hulking forms of the world's first tanks break through the mist and smoke as they bear down on you. The die has been cast, and you are doomed.

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