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Take College And University Courses Online Completely Free

In recent years massive open online courses (MOOCs) have become a trend in online education. The term was coined in 2008 by David Cormier, manager of web communications and innovations at the University of Prince Edward Island. The first MOOC was created the previous year, at Utah State University. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of courses available online at no cost. You can study anything from business to zoology in your own home at no cost. EdX is another non-profit course site created by founding partners Harvard and MIT and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. EdX offers MOOCs and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence (AI). It has partnerships with tertiary institutions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, China and Korea. MIT has their own open courseware, where most of the materials used in the teaching of almost all of MIT’s subjects are available on the Web, free of charge. They have more than 2,000 courses available. Stanford also has their own online and open courses. These are great options if you prefer to work at your own pace, as compared to structured classes like those offered at Coursera and EdX.

MOOCs are designed like college courses but are available to anyone anywhere in the world, at no cost. You do not receive a college credit, but you will receive a certificate of completion when you complete all coursework. The courses span dozens of subjects and are taught by some of the leaders in those fields. The courses are designed to be interesting, fun and rigorous; the courses are not just in science, and not just in English. Coursera is perhaps the most well-known of the online education facilitators. Their latest numbers indicate that they have 17,000,000 enrollments from students representing 190 countries. There are 240,000 students in their most popular class. Coursera has over 400 courses in more than 20 categories, created by 85 Universities from 16 countries. Their courses are available in 12 different languages. European institutions are also getting in on the act. Germany-based Iversity offers courses in both English and German and the first courses went online in October this year. Future Learn is a subsidiary of the British Open University and is currently in its beta stage. It already has partnerships with universities across Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The courses will begin this coming November. For those looking to learn a language Duolingo offers completely free language education. If you’re interested in learning a valuable skill CodeAcademy teaches programming and coding in online, free and interactive lessons.
Robotics researchers have constructed small cubes that with no exterior moving parts are able to propel themselves forward, climb and jump on top of each other and snap together to form arbitrary shapes. The cubes could even move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces.  The idea first came about in 2011 when a research student at MIT called John Romanishin proposed a new design for modular robots to his robotics professor, Daniela Rus. At first Rus was unsure of the design; however two years later Rus showed a fellow robotics researcher at Cornell University, a video of prototype robots, based on Romanishin’s design, in action. He was also skeptical at first. This coming November Romanishin, who is now a research scientist in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), as well as Rus and postdoc Kyle Gilpin are going to present a paper describing their new robots at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Robotic researchers had previously used an abstraction called the sliding-cube model, where one cube can slide up another and across its top if the two cubes face each other. The robots that implement these sliding-cube models are much more complex than the M-blocks. Existing modular-robot systems are also “statically stable,” which means that the motion can be paused at any time, and the robots stay where they are. The MIT researchers were able to simplify their robots’ design by forgoing the principle of static stability. The magnets on the cube essentially bring the cubes into alignment.

The robots are known as M-blocks and are cubes that have no external moving parts. Inside each cube is a spinning mass, a flywheel that can reach speeds of 20,000 revolutions per minute. Angular momentum is transmitted to the cube when the flywheel is braked. Permanent magnets are found along each edge of the M-blocks and along every face, allowing the cubes to attach to each other. The team behind the robots aim to make them as miniatures, in effect to have a swarm of microbots that can self-assemble. Even at their current size and with further refinements, the robots could prove useful. The mobile cubes could be used to form different types of equipment, for repairs, or to gain access to environments inaccessible to humans. The cubes could also be used for transportation of specialty equipment. Each edge of a cube has two cylindrical magnets that are mounted like rolling pins. When two cubes approach each other, the magnets rotate automatically so that north poles align with south and vice versa. This means that any cube can attach to the face of any other cube. The edges of the cubes are bevelled, which means there’s a slight gap between the magnets when the two cubes are attached. This strengthens the connection between the cubes and anchors the pivot. Four more pairs of smaller magnets are on each face of the cube. The researchers are planning to build an army of 100 cubes, and to further refine their robots.

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