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Watch a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics explore an old mine

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The ground is rocky and uneven. Old, rusted rails that used to carry loads of precious metals run the length of the path. Most wheeled robots would have trouble navigating this uneven surface, but it’s not a problem for Spot.

“This is one of the most advanced robots in the world.” Hao Zhang tells me. He’s a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, and he’s brought his department’s new robotic dog from Boston Dynamics to the Edgar Mine outside of Denver for testing. The school is one of the first customers to buy a Spot robot since the four-legged machines went on sale this summer.

Spot robot in Edgar Mine

A handler guides Spot the robotic dog with a proprietary tablet controller.


Agata Bogucka

Much of Zhang’s work in robotics involves exploring ways robots can take over dangerous jobs from people, like searching for survivors in a collapsed mine or inspecting nuclear facilities.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Zhang said. “I have been working on robots for more than 10 years, and we’ve never had such a robot that is so well designed that it can do a lot of things just out of the box.” 

Watch the video above to see how Spot handled its first test-run inside the mine.

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How to spot gender and education bias in a job advert

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A job advert can reveal quite a lot about whether an employer holds any biased views. Photo: Getty
A job advert can reveal quite a lot about whether an employer holds any biased views. Photo: Getty

Job hunting is a challenging process. Not only is it time-consuming, it’s also tricky to determine whether a position is for you simply from the description alone. Sometimes, you’ll need to get to the interview stage before you can find out more about the employer and the workplace culture.

That being said, a job advert can give away more than an employer realises. And more specifically, it can reveal quite a lot about whether they hold any biased views — unconscious or otherwise — on gender, education, class and other characteristics. So how can you spot the red flags in a job advert?

Be wary of a long list of desired skills and expected experience

Of course, some jobs require specific skills or more experience than others. But an unreasonably long list of requirements for a job may be a warning sign. Research shows that women are unlikely to apply for a position unless they meet 100% of the requirements — while men will apply if they meet 60%.

READ MORE: Why a ‘virtual commute’ isn’t such a bad idea for remote workers

“Whether you have a few months or years of experience, employers that feel it’s fitting to ask for a minimum of five years of experience with a massive portfolio on a minimum wage is an immediate red flag,” says HR expert Will Capper, co-founder of the job search engine DirectlyApply.

“Not only does this mean you would be very underpaid for the level of tasks given, you will likely also end up fulfilling the role of two, perhaps even three people’s jobs, whilst still being rewarded with a disappointing payday.”

Check the language

It can be harder to spot,

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What Are Trans-Neptunian Objects? Scientists Spot Unusually Close Binary TNOs

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KEY POINTS

  • A team of researchers spotted a close pair of trans-Neptunian objects
  • The unusually close pair was also occulting a binary star system
  • The discovery was made with the help of a citizen science project

With the help of a citizen science research network, a team of researchers has discovered an unusual pair of trans-Neptunian objects (TNO).

Any object in our solar system that has an orbit beyond Neptune is considered a TNO. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), there are about 70,000 known TNOs, including Pluto, each measuring at least 100 kilometers (62.137 miles​) across.

In a new study, published in The Planetary Science Journal, a team of researchers discovered a TNO pair orbiting each other. The researchers discovered them using a stellar occultation, which occurs when the light of a star is blocked by an object from reaching the observer, a news release from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) said.

It is somewhat like a transit, which NASA’s TESS uses to search for exoplanets. NASA explains that the difference between the two is that in occultations, the object completely blocks the one behind it whereas, in transits, the object in front only blocks very little of the star behind.

In this case, the data showed that the binary TNO was actually occulting a binary star.

“Binary stars are not unusual and binary objects are not unusual,” study co-author Marc Buie of SwRI said in the news release. “But it is unusual that we had a binary TNO occulting a binary star.”

Trans-Neptunian Object Pictured: This image is an artist’s impression of the trans-Neptunian object that two Southwest Research Institute scientists recently discovered is a binary object. Photo: Southwest Research Institute

The first author of the study, Rodrigo Leiva, also of SwRI, says the two TNOs are