19 February 2008

Awesome-o

There's a hilarious South Park episode involving Cartman dressing up as a robot to play a trick on Butters, but the joke is on Cartman when the military thinks that he's an actual robot, who is super-intelligent and must be destroyed. He calls himself Awesome-o.

Well, we saw the real Awesome-o robot this weekend, the Honda Asimo. When you see clips on the news about Japanese robots doing amazing things, it's the Asimo. It was part of the Japan! exhibit at the Kennedy Center. (Sunday was unfortunately the last day.) And it truly was awesome. At one point during the demonstration I said out loud, "There has to be a kid in there." It runs and walks up and down stairs. It plays soccer. Not quickly, but hey, you can only get so much from a robot. I'm unsure of all the technical terms, but something like millions of sensors and gyroscopes are constantly in a state of monitor and correct, so that Asimo can actually balance on one leg and when he runs, both feet leave the ground for a tiny fraction of a second, just like when humans run.

There were also several art installations, like this one, called Day Into Night, which is part of a two-part project called Dots Obsession. (The other was Night Into Day, which was a black background with yellow dots.)

The Kennedy Center is open daily to the public with free tours. Visit their website for upcoming performance and exhibit information. There's a parking garage there and a shuttle from the Foggy Bottom Metro. It's not a very far walk from the Metro station though, and you pass the Watergate along the way, where you can pretend to be a spy or an investigative reporter:
Watergate

(See more pics at flickr.)

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