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How an MIT professor’s children helped build a more touch-sensitive robot

By watching his children play, Edward Adelson got the idea for a new kind of robot. “I expected to be fascinated by watching how they used their visual systems, but I was actually more fascinated by how they used their fingers,” the MIT professor of vision science said. “But since I’m a vision guy, the most sensible thing, if you wanted to look at the signals coming into the finger, was to figure out a way to transform the mechanical, tactile signal into a visual signal.” So Adelson developed the GelSight sensor, which is basically metallic paint on transparent rubber.

As Sarkozy returns to politics, let’s remind ourselves how he fared as France’s president

The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, announced his return to politics on Friday. Two years after being defeated by Francois Hollande and vowing to leave public life, Sarkozy said on his Facebook page (in French) that he will run for head of his rightist UMP party in November.

Neal Stephenson’s failed $500,000 video game and the perils of using Kickstarter

Neal Stephenson, the celebrated author of sci-fi classics Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, began working on a sword-fighting video game called Clang in 2012 and raised $526,000 on Kickstarter.

Liberia needs more than just a serum to defeat Ebola

Liberia is fighting a war, which has already killed hundreds and is showing no signs of relenting. We health workers are in the front line of this war, and count for over 8% of the victims Ebola in West Africa.

What we learned from mapping the fashion Instagram universe

In the midst of Fashion Month around the world, Quartz created an interactive chart of the Instagram fashion universe, based on an analysis of 1.8 million accounts.

Is your dog a pessimist or an optimist?

It turns out that man’s tail-wagging, ear-flopping, salivating best friend is quite a complex fellow.

Quartz Weekend Brief—Scotland’s consolation, atheist spiritualism, Alibaba’s Achilles heel, Syria’s good guys

“This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics.” Praising the record-setting 85% turnout in Scotland’s referendum on independence was bittersweet for Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party.

Markets clearly focused on a British breakaway this week, just not Scotland

At times, the prospect of Scottish independence turned investors skittish in recent weeks. But the Scots’ decision to stay in the UK didn’t affect investors much. Instead, the large stock markets all seemed to take their cues from the sturdy economic growth of an actual breakaway from the British: the US.

Gordon Brown did more for the UK in these 13 minutes than in three years as prime minister

After a survey predicted (wrongly, it turns out) that the majority of Scots would vote for independence, the Better Together campaign resorted to disturbing former prime minister (and Scotsman) Gordon Brown’s state of quasi-retirement and enrolled him as a representative of the No front.

ExxonMobil gets a short reprieve on Russia sanctions that may allow it to finish its Arctic well

ExxonMobil today said it received permission from the US government to miss next week’s deadline for halting work in the Russian Arctic, so that it can wind down its drilling work safely before falling in line with punitive sanctions related to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The ridiculously long iPhone line in Manhattan is even worse than you think

The line for an iPhone 6 at Apple’s flagship store in Midtown Manhattan did not disappoint this year.

How the final hours of Scotland’s failed independence bid played out on Twitter

Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom, and by a surprisingly wide margin. If you were watching social media as the vote came to a close, however, that outcome didn’t look likely.

People are pretty sure Alibaba’s blockbuster IPO has changed the world—but they don’t agree on how

It was clear to reporters, traders, and Alibaba fans who gathered at the New York Stock Exchange this morning that the e-commerce giant’s public listing was a unique moment in time, signifying something huge.

The week’s 17 most important economic charts

US median incomes remain stuck where they were nearly 25 years ago… Share Tap image to zoom …and US inflation remains quite muted Share Tap image to zoom The outlook among US homebuilders is brightening… Share Tap image to zoom …even though housing starts disappointed in August, due to weak multifam

Here are the defense industry dollars behind the votes to arm Syria’s rebels

This week, US lawmakers voted to arm and train “vetted” Syrian rebels as part of the US efforts to fight the extremist group ISIL.

For voters on the losing side, Scotland’s “No” is more like “No for now”

As you were. The United Kingdom remains united, with Scots rejecting independence by an unexpectedly large margin of 55% to 45%.

Working as an Apple salesperson is a lot like being a therapist

“I found myself counseling or consoling people twice my age in a way I never thought I would.” That’s what Peter, a former Apple “specialist,” told me about his years working the floor of an Apple store in Manhattan.

Alibaba is worth 563 Dreamliners and more than two Bill Gates

The Chinese internet giant Alibaba’s opening share price of $68 a share gives the Chinese e-commerce company an initial market value of $167.6 billion, larger than Boeing or Walt Disney. It may be worth a lot more than that after the stock starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where floor traders tell Quartz that a very strong opening could push the stock to $88 a share or higher.

Here’s how ridiculously big the Alibaba IPO is

There are have been no IPOs this year, and few ever that can match Alibaba’s. The e-commerce giant is a mashup of some of Silicon Valley’s best ideas transported to China, its founder is a quirky English teacher turned multi-billionaire, and the cash generated will be essential to the ongoing saga of Marissa Mayer and Yahoo.

Bitcoin is plunging again

We’re in the midst of another sharp sell-off for everyone’s favorite crypto-currency, with the price of bitcoin falling by more than 9%—to less than $400 at moments—this morning, according to the bitcoin data site BlockChain.