cue a samuel l. jackson joke

That's a snake from CMU on Jimmy Fallon's leg

A robot from Carnegie Mellon University that looks and moves like a snake was on Jimmy Fallon this week.

Literally on Fallon.

Howie Choset, a robotics professor at CMU, brought Snakebot to "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" for an episode that aired Tuesday.

Choset told Fallon the robot could be a tool for search and rescue workers, could inspect nuclear power plants or could perform minimally invasive surgery, if it was smaller, of course. He said the robot is great because it can go places humans and conventional machines can't.

Read more about the invention from the Tribune-Review.

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Almost like riding a coaster

Kennywood prepping Sky Rocket for VR experience

The news isn't so new: It was reported back in December — via Coaster Hub — that Kennywood would be adding a virtual reality experience to its Sky Rocket coaster.

Then today, this appeared on Kennywood's Instagram:

The comments took a few people by surprise. They had no idea.

Looks like what is already a very popular ride could get even busier.

Of course, not everyone is behind the concept. Here's a comment from Coaster Hub:

If you want to know what's in store for VR riders on the Sky Rocket, check out this very similar experience at Six Flags:

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not the sharpest crayon in the box

Facebook Live video helps Pittsburgh police crack case

From WTAE: Investigators said a Facebook Live video helped them get the break they needed to file charges against a suspect in the murder of a 25-year-old woman in December.

Myanne Redman, 25, was shot and killed in Pittsburgh's East Hills neighborhood on Dec. 19.

According to a criminal complaint, police developed Isaiah Booker, 23, as a potential suspect in the case very early in their investigation.

In February, Booker had posted a Facebook Live video in which gunshots are heard along with what sounds like a police officer saying "Stop, get your hands up. Stop." The video goes off after a police siren is heard.

Read more about how police solved the case at WTAE.

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on display

Pittsburgh cybersecurity bot creating Mayhem in D.C.

Museums are often catalogues of the past.

But a new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will showcase the possible future of cyber security.

Mayhem, a cyber security bot that uses artificial intelligence to detect and defend against attacks, was put on display Tuesday on the first floor of the Washington museum's innovation wing. Mayhem was built and designed by Pittsburgh-based ForAllSecure.

"It's an amazing piece of technology by itself," said Arthur Daemmrich, director of the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation , a think tank inside and geared toward innovation. Mayhem represents not only an innovative approach to cyber security, he said, but it's also a symbol of the advancements in artificial intelligence.

Mayhem won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's first-ever Cyber Grand Challenge in August.

Read more about Mayhem from the Tribune-Review.

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soaring ambition

National Aviary will let you fly like an eagle — virtually

People typically visit The National Aviary in Pittsburgh's North Side to watch birds fly.

But starting Thursday, visitors can join them.

The National Aviary will open Birdly, a virtual reality flying experience that lets people soar over New York City, to the public on April 20. The bird zoo showed off the system at a news conference Tuesday.

"Ah, look at that church," said Rich Hudic, executive director of the Allegheny Regional Asset District and one of the first to try Birdly.

"I was soaring. I had cars beeping at me. It was awesome," Hudic said after his flight. "That's a lifetime dream to try to fly."

Read more about Birdly in the Tribune-Review.

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Falling for it

Lyrid Meteor Shower is coming: When Pittsburghers can watch

Seeing a shooting star is just about the coolest thing ever.

Aren't they supposed to bring good luck?

OK, maybe that's a myth.

But Pittsburghers will have a shot at seeing some shooting stars this week through April 23 when the Lyrid Meteor Shower will be in full swing.

According the the website Time and Date, "The Lyrid Meteor Shower is usually active between April 16 and April 25 every year. It tends to peak around April 22 or April 23. The best time to watch it is after midnight and before dawn."

Tonight's as good a night as any. Here's Time and Date's grid for watching the show: (An azimuth is the horizontal direction — basically true north; the altitude is how far up from the horizon you should be looking)


The Lyrids are created by debris from comet Thatcher, which takes about 415 years to orbit around the Sun.

Get the full details from Time and Date.

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here to stay?

A victory for Mt. Washington 'eyesore'

Lamar Advertising has won a round in its battle with the city over the Sprint banner fastened to the former Bayer sign atop Mt. Washington.

At a hearing last week, District Judge James Motznik dismissed a citation filed by the city claiming that Lamar had increased the size of the sign by affixing the black and yellow banner to it.

Judge Motznik ruled that was not the case. He found the banner did not change the physical size of the historic Bayer sign, which is 32 feet tall and 225 feet long.

"We think that this is a good victory for everyone who has a legal [nonconforming use] and recognizes that Lamar's property rights mean something," said Jonathan Kamin, Lamar's attorney.

The decision, he asserted, creates an "important precedent" that could have implications for pending Allegheny County Common Pleas Court cases involving the yellow banner with black lettering proclaiming "Pittsburgh WINS with Black & Yellow."

Read more about the dispute from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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And now, clear coffee. Because white teeth

Imagine all the benefits of coffee without the worry of stains.

Well, check this one off your list: We now have the world's first colorless coffee beverage.

(And you didn't think technology was moving fast enough.)

The beverage, CLR CFF, was developed by Slovakian brothers David and Adam Nagy while they were living in London.

"We are heavy coffee drinkers," Adam tells London's Evening Standard. "Like many other people we struggled with the teeth stains caused by it. There was nothing on the market that would suit our needs so we decided to create our own recipe.

"Because of the hectic lifestyle we lead, we wanted to make a refreshing ready-to-drink coffee which provides the boost but is low in calories."

Of course, just as important as keeping up their caffeine intake — the colorless drink will help a lot of us not waste the money we spend on keeping our pearly whites bright.

The brothers are keeping their production methods a secret, but Adam will say, "The production method is based on physical processing and doesn't include any chemicals."

They use high-quality Arabica coffee beans.

Among the other benefits of CLR CFF: No preservatives, no artificial flavors, no stabilizers, no sugar or any other sweeteners.

The cost is about $7.50 for a 2-pack and about $19 for a 5-pack.