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Science Topics You Would Like To See On The Show: Season 7 Edition

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Yeah but real world logic doesen't always apply in Sitcom Land, the writer's main objective is comedy, but the basis of your analysis and logic is correct.

Perhaps; however this program does kind of work as a low key science outreach. Here is something David Saltzberg, science advisor to The Big Bang Theory had to say.

from http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/march-2012/the-brain-behind-tvs-the-big-bang-theory

 

B: Is this is a good outreach tool?

D: I have no way of measuring its impact. I just know that I've gotten emails and they're positive. I've gotten emails from school kids asking me questions about things in the show.

It certainly is outreach. It's a different kind. You're reaching people that may never turn on (the science documentary series) NOVA. You're reaching more of them as well. Brian Greene's books, NOVA physics documentaries, etcetera, those are more in-depth treatments. This is the opposite of in-depth. It may be nothing more than the word gets mentioned and that's it—you never hear from it again. Where I think this helps is the main characters. If people don't like them, they're not going to watch the show. So the main characters are likable. They have faults, but they're likable. And so they have these likable characters doing physics like we do. They love it like we love it and that may be the main part of the outreach of the show.

Edited by djsurrey

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Doug Engelbart died at 88.

 

He was the inventor of the computer mouse but also much more. At a time in history when computers were batch operated and not interactive he lead a group at Standford University that developed the concepts of modern interactive computing. His goal was to change the world and he did. Apple and Microsoft came later and they were able to capitalize on his ideas.

 

Engelbart had been inspired by an essay by Vannevar Bush written in 1945. Bush was concerned that the problems in the world were becoming more and more difficult. He felt that science needed to be applied to these problems but that the systems used to access new research results were too outdated and inefficient. He imagined a device that could hold vast amount of information on microfilm.

 

Engelbart recognized that a computer could serve as the device that could possibly implement Bush's vision of a information device that could enhance the work of groups of people. He set up a research lab at Stanford University for the augmentation of human intelligence.

 

from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/technology/douglas-c-engelbart-inventor-of-the-computer-mouse-dies-at-88.html?_r=0

 

 

In December 1968, however, he set the computing world on fire with a remarkable demonstration before more than a thousand of the world’s leading computer scientists at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, one of a series of national conferences in the computer field that had been held since the early 1950s. Dr. Engelbart was developing a raft of revolutionary interactive computer technologies and chose the conference as the proper moment to unveil them.

For the event, he sat on stage in front of a mouse, a keyboard and other controls and projected the computer display onto a 22-foot-high video screen behind him. In little more than an hour, he showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists. He demonstrated how a mouse, which he invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing.

In contrast to the mainframes then in use, a computerized system Dr. Engelbart created, called the oNLine System, or NLS, allowed researchers to share information seamlessly and to create and retrieve documents in the form of a structured electronic library.

The conference attendees were awe-struck. In one presentation, Dr. Engelbart demonstrated the power and the potential of the computer in the information age. The technology would eventually be refined at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center and at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Apple and Microsoft would transform it for commercial use in the 1980s and change the course of modern life.

 

(edited)

A new video posted Oct 15, 2013 about

CERN and collaborative models

Edited by djsurrey

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How about all the crap an inventor goes thru versus someone who wants to open up a sandwich shop ?


How about the effects of the neo-feudal agenda of the government for the economy and how scientists and engineers are screwed over ?

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How about all the crap an inventor goes thru versus someone who wants to open up a sandwich shop ?

How about the effects of the neo-feudal agenda of the government for the economy and how scientists and engineers are screwed over ?

Can you rephrase that so it sounds more like english and less like a conspiracy theory?

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The LHC (large hadron collider produces an astonishing amount of data. I would not have been possible to process the data in a reasonable amount of time without computers. The discovery of the higgs was dependent on this high speed data processing.

 

A video

Large hadron collider and data petabytes

http://www.dnatube.com/video/28763/Large-hadron-collider-and-data-petabytes

 

 

(eddited)

A new video was posted by CERN on Oct 15, 2013

 

"Society and high performance computing"

Edited by djsurrey

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I kind of like this story in the news because it talks about collaboration between neuroscience, computer science and physics.

 

see

New Theory of Synapse Formation in the Brain

 

"It was previously assumed that structural plasticity also follows the principle of Hebbian plasticity. The findings suggest that structural plasticity is governed by the homeostatic principle instead, which was not taken into consideration before," says Prof. Abigail Morrison, head of the Simulation Laboratory Neuroscience at Jülich. Her team is already integrating the new rule into the freely accessible simulation software NEST, which is used by numerous scientists worldwide.

These findings are also of relevance for the Human Brain Project. Neuroscientists, medical scientists, computer scientists, physicists, and mathematicians in Europe are working hand in hand to simulate the entire human brain on high-performance computers of the next generation in order to better understand how it functions. "Due to the complex synaptic circuitry in the human brain, it's not plausible that its fault tolerance and flexibility are achieved based on static connection rules. Models are therefore required for a self-organization process," says Prof. Markus Diesmann from Jülich's Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, who is involved in the project.
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Yes, DJ, Computational Neuroscience is possibly my favorite branch of Neuroscience. My PhD was meant to be mostly computational but sadly things didn't work out with my computational supervisor so I ended up doing mostly experimental stuff, but I'm a total sucker for theoretical work. That's why I've been ranting ever since I joined this forum that I want Sheldon and Amy to work on a joint project together. Many people don't realize how much physics and neuroscience interact. A great number of theoretical neuroscientists comes from theoretical physics. And plasticity is my favorite topic! I'm fascinated by how statistical information and fluctuations in the environment have an effect on the reorganization of synapses and brain connectivity. It's pretty much what I'd like to focus on in my career :) 

 

On another note, I found this snippet of a NYT article on Sursonica's Tumblr and I am also totally outraged by the implications in this statement. I am probably going to write this "journalist" a pretty angry email. If being "normal" means agreeing with people like her, then I'm happy as hell not to be normal:

 

For proof of the stereotypes that continue to shape American attitudes about science, and about women in science in particular, you need only watch an episode of the popular television show “The Big Bang Theory,” about a group of awkward but endearing male Caltech physicists and their neighbor, Penny, an attractive blonde who has moved to L.A. to make it as an actress. Although two of the scientists on the show are women, one, Bernadette, speaks in a voice so shrill it could shatter a test tube. When she was working her way toward a Ph.D. in microbiology, rather than working in a lab, as any real doctoral student would do, she waitressed with Penny. Mayim Bialik, the actress who plays Amy, a neurobiologist who becomes semiromantically involved with the childlike but brilliant physicist Sheldon, really does have a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is in no way the hideously dumpy woman she is presented as on the show. “The Big Bang Theory” is a sitcom, of course, and therefore every character is a caricature, but what remotely normal young person would want to enter a field populated by misfits like Sheldon, Howard and Raj? And what remotely normal young woman would want to imagine herself as dowdy, socially clueless Amy rather than as stylish, bouncy, math-and-science-illiterate Penny?

 

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Some people will never get it regardless of what you tell them. But Mayim gives a good explanation of why/how she was drawn to science. I can't give it from a women's perspective although my sister was a math major and I have a microbiologist cousin.

 

 

The people in science are all different just like other pursuits. From my point of view scientists and engineers come across as nerdy in real life simply because they enjoy reading technical stuff from their own fields. Trying to keep up with new developments is essential so this is a common attribute that apparently seems strange to some other people. In the past some of my kids got a kick out of showing their friends the technical manuals I happened to be reading.

Edited by djsurrey

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Just been reading up on this a bit.

 

 from http://www.techradar.com/us/news/software/the-technology-behind-cern-the-hunt-for-the-higgs-boson-1119595#null

 

"The technology behind CERN: the hunt for the Higgs boson" "In Depth How software is helping The Large Hadron Collider"

 

"Scientific Linux is co-maintained by CERN and the US laboratory Fermilab"

 

"Linux at CERN"

http://docmadhattan.fieldofscience.com/2012/07/linux-at-cern.html

 

Also of interest "Tools under non-commercial licences" see http://mathtools.web.cern.ch/node/13

 

 

"There are a number of tools available that can be freely installed. At CERN, ROOT, GNU Octave and Scilab are being used. Python is also extensively employed and can be extended to cover the same application area."

Edited by djsurrey

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That lego model is so cool! It's currently sitting in the foyer of our physics building (I'm at the University of Manchester). When Higgs came last week, I was lucky enough to get tickets to attend the Regius Professorship ceremony, and ended up sitting two rows behind him! Along with Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, I was in a 5m radius of three Nobel Prize winning physicists. I didn't get to meet Higgs personally, but he smiled at me and a friend across the lecture hall when my friend waved at him(!). Basically last Wednesday was the best day I've had in a long time. 

 

I took a photo the other day of the lego model close up if anyone's interested:

tumblr_mv1e7rJOEX1r1lgmgo1_1280.jpg

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That lego model is so cool! It's currently sitting in the foyer of our physics building (I'm at the University of Manchester). When Higgs came last week, I was lucky enough to get tickets to attend the Regius Professorship ceremony, and ended up sitting two rows behind him! Along with Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, I was in a 5m radius of three Nobel Prize winning physicists. I didn't get to meet Higgs personally, but he smiled at me and a friend across the lecture hall when my friend waved at him(!). Basically last Wednesday was the best day I've had in a long time. 

 

I took a photo the other day of the lego model close up if anyone's interested:

tumblr_mv1e7rJOEX1r1lgmgo1_1280.jpg

 

I'm so jealous! That is awesome!!! And that Lego model is so cool :)

 

I went to a lecture today that set my cogs running about the Shamy joint-project I keep dreaming about. It was about combining Bayesian statistics and Statistical Mechanics to describe how the brain is essentially a probability calculator that seeks to minimize prediction errors. I so love this stuff, and it's such a perfect way to mingle physics and neuroscience. Come on writers, I beg you!  

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I haven't had a chance to look up the science in the latest ep yet, but I was wondering if the physicists in here could shed some light on whether (and how much) it was absurd for Sheldon to discover a new method to synthetize a new element that gets discovered so quickly thereafter. I mean I know there's no way the element would be discovered so quickly, although we aren't told how much time was between the scene with Sheldon developing the method and the element being discovered I guess, but how plausible was the rest of it? 

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I haven't had a chance to look up the science in the latest ep yet, but I was wondering if the physicists in here could shed some light on whether (and how much) it was absurd for Sheldon to discover a new method to synthetize a new element that gets discovered so quickly thereafter. I mean I know there's no way the element would be discovered so quickly, although we aren't told how much time was between the scene with Sheldon developing the method and the element being discovered I guess, but how plausible was the rest of it? 

 

I would say that I'm more of a physicist-in-training, but I do think they took a lot of artistic licence with it. For a start, when Sheldon made his "discovery", there wasn't anything on his whiteboard that I could see leading to it. Just a few electron configurations for various elements, and a couple of nuclear fusion equations (not too sure what the numbers at the bottom of the board were for though). That's A-Level Physics/ Chemistry at best (so not even at university undergrad level). Besides, I thought new elements are discovered by experimentalists smashing nuclei together in labs- if they synthesise something that sticks around for them to record and it can be verified elsewhere, that's a new element. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think theorists have contributed much to discovering new elements since they were predicting them in the gaps of the early periodic tables. I guess if he was working on nuclear physics he may have been able to determine if an isotope of a new element would be stable (but heavier elements tend not to be anyway) and a possible route to get there. And even if he did somehow theorise a means to synthesise a new element, it would take a much larger amount of time to verify experimentally than the timescale of the episode.

 

As Sheldon said, "That can't be right, no-one's ever done that before!". I'd also like to know how a theorist specialising in string theory knows more about nuclear physics than nuclear physicists who work on this stuff all the time, enough to discover something they haven't. Then again, most of the characters do seem to be involved with a much larger range of subjects and projects than is realistic. Like this comic I saw, but not as extreme, haha:

 

real-vs-movie-scientist11-640x1024.png

 

I don't mind all this though, it's always nice to see science in any form on the TV. There's been a good amount of it in season 7 so far so I'm happy!

 

(While I'm here can I say how funny I found Amy's line about Americans and the metric system? :p)

 

Edit: I had a closer look at the board, and the new element seems to be number 120, Unbinilium. I read up on it and there have been a fair few synthesis routes for it that have been suggested, but none have been successful so far. Even if Sheldon came up with a new one he wouldn't know for sure whether or not it would be successful. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbinilium

Edited by AdAstra

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I would say that I'm more of a physicist-in-training, but I do think they took a lot of artistic licence with it. For a start, when Sheldon made his "discovery", there wasn't anything on his whiteboard that I could see leading to it. Just a few electron configurations for various elements, and a couple of nuclear fusion equations (not too sure what the numbers at the bottom of the board were for though). That's A-Level Physics/ Chemistry at best (so not even at university undergrad level). Besides, I thought new elements are discovered by experimentalists smashing nuclei together in labs- if they synthesise something that sticks around for them to record and it can be verified elsewhere, that's a new element. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think theorists have contributed much to discovering new elements since they were predicting them in the gaps of the early periodic tables. I guess if he was working on nuclear physics he may have been able to determine if an isotope of a new element would be stable (but heavier elements tend not to be anyway) and a possible route to get there. And even if he did somehow theorise a means to synthesise a new element, it would take a much larger amount of time to verify experimentally than the timescale of the episode.

 

As Sheldon said, "That can't be right, no-one's ever done that before!". I'd also like to know how a theorist specialising in string theory knows more about nuclear physics than nuclear physicists who work on this stuff all the time, enough to discover something they haven't. Then again, most of the characters do seem to be involved with a much larger range of subjects and projects than is realistic. Like this comic I saw, but not as extreme, haha:

 

real-vs-movie-scientist11-640x1024.png

 

I don't mind all this though, it's always nice to see science in any form on the TV. There's been a good amount of it in season 7 so far so I'm happy!

 

(While I'm here can I say how funny I found Amy's line about Americans and the metric system? :p)

 

Edit: I had a closer look at the board, and the new element seems to be number 120, Unbinilium. I read up on it and there have been a fair few synthesis routes for it that have been suggested, but none have been successful so far. Even if Sheldon came up with a new one he wouldn't know for sure whether or not it would be successful. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbinilium

 

Right, I did recognize the Chemistry bits on his whiteboards but I wasn't sure about the rest of it. Haven't done Physics since I was 16, sadly. From what he said to Leonard I thought the part of your post in bold is what he was allegedly doing. The timescale for the verification though is totally off, obviously! 

 

I don't get too nitpicky with the science unless it's just plain wrong or perpetuates myths (yes, Left Brain vs Right Brain, I'm looking at you). Artistic licenses I'm fine with. I think it's great that this kind of stuff get into people's homes to start with and even a song like the one Howard sang is enough to get young people in particular familiarized with science terms and little trivias, so it's great that they take the time to incorporate all of this. And, obviously, Sheldon was meant to do something nobody has done before. I think it's a bit too much to ask even of David Saltzberg to come up with something genuinely new and groundbreaking for a sitcom plot. LOL! I think he'd probably rather get it published if he had it, than on Big Bang :p

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It looks like you may have a chance to ask David Saltzberg about this yourself. After a very long break he has restarted his BBT science blog. I see he has and entry for S7E3.

 

 

http://thebigblogtheory.wordpress.com/

 

I'm going to just wait to hear what he has to say about Sheldon's work on this before I say too much. I'm not even a physicist in training (my background is electrical engineering). I'm thinking the point is that Sheldon thought he had done something no one can do (yet) but they did not go into the details of his new heavy element so it kind of hard to say much about it anyway. The newest elements added to the bottom of the periodic table are generally unstable and don't last long. I'm guessing the suggestion was that he predicted a relatively stable isotope for an element that had not been synthesized before.

 

As far as I am aware the standard model of particle physics describes the interactions and forces between particles but little is actually known or can be predicted about the stability of elements that have never been synthesized.

 

Anyway I found this link. It does not really answer your question but it gives a little background. I see this more as a way to add some science to the show rather than to be a realistic depiction of what the character Sheldon might be working on.

 

http://www.livescience.com/39204-new-super-heavy-element-115-confirmed.html

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How about they get invited to an unveiling of the new Aerodyme airplane that combines vortechnology and conventional aerodynamics.

 

That would make TV sit-com history !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    :pilot:

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Something that Raj might want to follow.

 

see http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57610663/india-vies-for-elite-role-in-space-with-mars-trip/

 

India is aiming to join the world's deep-space pioneers with a journey to Mars that it hopes will showcase its technological ability to explore the solar system while seeking solutions for everyday problems on Earth.

With a Tuesday launch planned for Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, India will attempt to become only the fourth country or group of countries to reach the Red Planet, after the Soviet Union, United States and Europe.

 

(edit on Nov. 5) Launch today http://www.newsdaily.com/article/64bdcc234df0553da1401d17f6a1edf5/india-blasts-off-in-race-to-mars-with-low-cost-mission

Edited by djsurrey

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Howard needs to build one of these:

 

see http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/06/robot-beats-humans-at-rock-pap.html

 

The robot wars have begun, and no matter how fast you choose your weapon - rock, paper, or scissors - the robot will beat you every time.

The three-fingered robotic hand developed by Ishikawa Oku's lab at the University of Tokyo has a dirty secret: it cheats. A high-speed video camera runs at over 1000 frames per second and watches your wrist and fingers as you begin to form the shape. The robot's visual recognition program needs only one millisecond to figure out which shape your hand will take, and choose the one that will beat you.

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No one on tbbt is working in this area but it is amazing.

 

from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131110204417.htm

 

 

"Advances in DNA sequencing and supercomputing have given us the power to understand evolution at a level of detail that just a few years ago would have been impossible," said Dr. Pollard, who is also a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco's (UCSF's) Institute for Human Genetics. "In this study, we found stretches of DNA that evolved much more quickly than others. We believe that these fast-evolving stretches were crucial to our human ancestors becoming distinct from our closest primate relatives."

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene

 

 

Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene"

 

Now a interdisciplinary group of Engineers and Physicists has made the smallest FM transmitter in the world using graphene to replace passive components!

 

See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131118091502.htm

 

 

"This device is by far the smallest system that can create such FM signals," says Hone.

While graphene NEMS will not be used to replace conventional radio transmitters, they have many applications in wireless signal processing. Explains Shepard, "Due to the continuous shrinking of electrical circuits known as 'Moore's Law', today's cell phones have more computing power than systems that used to occupy entire rooms. However, some types of devices, particularly those involved in creating and processing radio-frequency signals, are much harder to miniaturize. These 'off-chip' components take up a lot of space and electrical power. In addition, most of these components cannot be easily tuned in frequency, requiring multiple copies to cover the range of frequencies used for wireless communication."

 

Graphene NEMS can address both problems: they are very compact and easily integrated with other types of electronics, and their frequency can be tuned over a wide range because of graphene's tremendous mechanical strength.

 

edit:

I should have mentioned that the understanding the electrical properties of graphene is what Sheldon obsessed over in s3e14.  http://thebigblogtheory.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/s03e14-the-einstein-approximation/

 

Actually I brought up graphene once before. see

It is not surprising it is in the news again.

Edited by djsurrey
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Merriam-Webster picked science as the word of the year.

 

from http://www.newsdaily.com/article/22a88f7c2481d6d4acece4de806e2ba8/in-your-face-selfie-science-also-tops-for-2013

 

 

Oxford tracked a huge jump in overall usage of selfie, but Merriam-Webster stuck primarily to look-ups on its website, recording a 176 percent increase for science when compared with last year.

"The more we thought about it, the righter it seemed in that it does lurk behind a lot of big stories that we as a society are grappling with, whether it's climate change or environmental regulation or what's in our textbooks," said John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc., based in Springfield, Mass.

Science, he said, is connected to broad cultural oppositions — science versus faith, for instance — along with the power of observation and intuition, reason and ideology, evidence and tradition.
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Koothrappali could end up analyzing some of the data from this project.

 

From http://www.newsdaily.com/article/44cb2996305d17fe26002f2049bdadb7/europe-launches-satellite-to-map-1-billion-stars

 

 

"The prime importance of this mission is to do galactic archaeology," he said in a phone interview from French Guiana. "It will reveal the real history of our galaxy."

The project is the successor to ESA's Hipparcos satellite, which was launched in 1989 and measured the position of 100,000 stars in the Milky Way.

Gaia, which is named after an ancient Greek deity, will go far beyond that. Scientists have compared its measuring accuracy to measuring the diameter of a human hair from 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away.

"There is still a lot that we don't understand about the Milky Way,"...

ESA has dubbed Gaia the "ultimate discovery machine" because its sophisticated instruments will allow scientists to look for small wobbles in stars' movements that indicate the presence of nearby planets.

[snip]

Carmen Jordi, an astronomer at the University of Barcelona who is involved in the mission, said the satellite's findings will become the main reference for scientists in the years to come.

"Almost all the fields of astrophysics will be affected," said Jordi.

 

http://blogs.esa.int/gaia/

Edited by djsurrey
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A more useful robot competition than we saw in 2.12 – The Killer Robot Instability

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25493584

 

 

Darpa said it had been inspired to organise the challenge after it became clear robots were only capable of playing a very limited role in efforts to contain 2011's Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan.

"What we realised was ... these robots couldn't do anything other than observe," said Gill Pratt, programme manager for the Darpa Robotics Challenge.

"What they needed was a robot to go into that reactor building and shut off the valves."

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