Wall-Ye Wine Robot

Meet Wall-Ye: The French grape-picking robot which can work day and night - and may well put vineyard workers out of a job | Mail Online

It takes on chores such as pruning and de-suckering - removing unproductive young shoots - while collecting valuable data on the health and vigour of the soil, fruit and vine stocks.

Watch a French Vineyard-Tending Robot in Action - Video Interlude - Eater National

[...] Wall-Ye, a vineyard-tending robot being developed in France. Wall-Ye costs a hefty €25,000 (US $32,000), but for that price, according to the AFP, it can "move from vine to vine, recognise plant features, capture and record data, memorise each vine, synchronise six cameras and guide its arms to wield tools." The solar-powered Wall-Ye can prune 600 vines per day and even collect data on soil and fruit. It even has an anti-theft device that causes the hard drive to self-destruct if the GPS detects it's been removed from the vineyard.

Wall-Ye wine robot takes bow in Burgundy | My Sinchew

Christophe Millot (R) and Guy Julien pose in vineyards with the Wall-Ye V.I.N. robot that they created on September 13, 2012 near Chalon-sur-Saone. Photo courtesy: AFP

Sales demonstrations are about to begin, and big name French vintners like Bordeaux's First Growth Chateau Mouton-Rothschild have offered their vineyards as a venue for the 20-kilogramme (44-pound) robot to put on its show.

Wall-Ye draws on tracking technology, artificial intelligence and mapping to move from vine to vine, recognise plant features, capture and record data, memorise each vine, synchronise six cameras and guide its arms to wield tools.

White with red trim, 50 centimetres (20 inches) tall and 60 wide, it also has an in-built security mechanism is designed to thwart would-be robot snatchers.

"It has a GPS, and if it finds itself in a non-designated vineyard, it won't start. It also has a gyroscope so it knows if it's been lifted off the ground," Millot said.


Face-Shaping Genes Identified

Five genes found to determine face shape | TG Daily

DNA evidence could soon be enough to help law enforcement draw up photofits of criminal suspects, thanks to a new genetic discovery.

Five genes have been found to determine human facial shapes, says an international team.

"These are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology," says professor Manfred Kayser from the Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

BBC News - Genes for face shape identified

MRI images were used to quantify the metrics of face shape ahead of the genetic study
Lead author Manfred Kayser from the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, said: "These are exciting first results that mark the beginning of the genetic understanding of human facial morphology.
"Perhaps some time it will be possible to draw a phantom portrait of a person solely from his or her DNA left behind, which provides interesting applications such as in forensics."

Facial Shapes Outlined With Five Genes - Science News - redOrbit

In the study, published in the Public Library of Science’s journal PLoS Genetics, Kayser and colleagues studied nearly 10,000 individuals, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their heads together with portrait photographs to map facial features, from which facial distances were estimated. They then conducted a genome-wide association (GWA) study designed to search for small genetic variances that occur more frequently in people with particular facial types.

Using these methods, the team was able to discern five separate genes associated with facial shapes: PRDM16, PAX3, TP63, C5orf50, and COL17A1.

PLOS Genetics: A Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Five Loci Influencing Facial Morphology in Europeans

Figure 1. Nine facial landmarks extracted via image registration tools from 3D MRIs.

Figure 2. Facial landmarks from 3D MRI in all 5,388 individuals from the discovery cohorts RS1, RS2, QTIMS, SHIP, and SHIP-TREND.
Figure 5. Facial landmarks from 2D portrait photos.


Loss of Arctic Sea Ice Could Mean Extreme Weather

Arctic sea ice melt 'may bring harsh winter to Europe' | Environment | guardian.co.uk

The unprecedented loss of polar sea ice may lead to 'wild extremes' in the UK and northern Europe, say researchers

The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer may mean a cold winter for the UK and northern Europe. The region has been prone to bad winters after summers with very low sea ice, such as 2011 and 2007, said Jennifer Francis, a researcher at Rutgers University.

"We can't make predictions yet … [but] I wouldn't be surprised to see wild extremes this winter," Francis told the Guardian.

Record loss of Arctic ice may trigger extreme weather - latimes.com

Icebergs float in a bay off Ammassalik Island, Greenland. Ice melt could result in extreme weather this winter in North America and Europe, according to climate scientists. (John McConnico / Associated Press)
The loss of Arctic ice has several effects. Ice reflects heat and solar energy back into space. With less ice cover, that heat energy is instead absorbed by the ocean, which warms and melts more ice. Currently, the Arctic region is the fastest-warming region on the planet, and the change in temperature will probably influence weather patterns here and in Europe, according to Francis.

The heating and cooling of Arctic seawater has been affecting the jet stream -- the river of air that flows from west to east high above the Earth’s surface -- and has slowed it down, Francis said. The jet stream controls the formation and movement of storm systems, so when its movement slows, weather conditions persist for longer periods of time over the same area. They get “stuck.”

'Astonishing' Ice Melt May Lead to More Extreme Winters | Climate Central

The extent of Arctic sea ice on Aug. 26, 2012, the day the sea ice dipped to its smallest extent ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements. The line on the image shows the average minimum extent from the period covering 1979-2010. Click on the image for a larger version. Credit: NASA/JPL.

During the fall, when the sun sets once again and the Arctic Ocean begins to refreeze, the heat in the ocean gets released back into the atmosphere. Since the jet stream, which is a corridor of strong winds at upper levels of the atmosphere that generally blows from west to east across the northern mid-latitudes, is powered by the temperature difference between the Arctic and areas farther south, any alteration of that temperature difference is bound to alter the jet stream — with potentially profound implications. It just so happens that the jet stream steers day-to-day weather systems.

Arctic Paradox: Warmer Arctic May Mean Cold Blasts for Some | Climate Central

Recent scientific studies have shown that the dramatic warming that has been occurring in the Arctic during the past few decades, along with the associated loss of sea ice cover, may be changing atmospheric circulation patterns throughout the northern hemisphere. This could be contributing to the recent outbreaks of unusually cold and snowy weather. Sea ice loss during the spring and summer melt season, which leaves a thinner and more sparse ice cover throughout the fall and early winter, is a key suspect in influencing winter weather patterns. When the ice melts, it allows incoming solar radiation to warm water and air temperatures, which in turn has an influence on atmospheric pressure and circulation, and may help shift Arctic air southward, while the Arctic remains unusually warm.

One meteorologist has described the pattern this way: "This pattern is kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar — the refrigerator warm up, but all the cold air spills out into the house."


DARPA's Legged Squad Support System (LS3)

LS3 - Legged Squad Support System - YouTube

The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) is a rough-terrain robot developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from DARPA and the US Marine Corps. It is designed to carry 400 lbs of payload and travel 20 miles without refueling. LS3 has sensors that let it follow a human leader while avoiding obstacles in the terrain. For more information visit www.BostonDynamics.com.

Legged Squad Support System (LS3)

LS3 seeks to demonstrate that a highly mobile, semi-autonomous legged robot can carry 400 lbs of a squad’s load, follow squad members through rugged terrain and interact with troops in a natural way, similar to a trained animal and its handler.

The LS3 program goal is to develop a robot that will go through the same terrain the squad goes through without hindering the squad’s mission. The robot could also serve as a mobile auxiliary power source to the squad, so troops can recharge batteries for radios and handheld devices while on patrol.

Related Programs

Boston Dynamics: Dedicated to the Science and Art of How Things Move.

Boston Dynamics builds advanced robots with remarkable behavior: mobility, agility, dexterity and speed. We use sensor-based controls and computation to unlock the capabilities of complex mechanisms. Our world-class development teams take projects from initial concept to proof-of-principle prototyping to build-test-build engineering, to field testing and low-rate production.

Boston Dynamics has assembled an extraordinary team to develop the LS3, including engineers and scientists from Boston Dynamics, Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation, Carnegie Mellon, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Woodward HRT.


Early Mars not Hospitable?

New Mars theory cast doubt on planet's habitability - latimes.com

A study of clays suggests they might have been formed in hot magma rich in water — too hot to support microbial life. A Caltech planetary geologist is coauthor.

A standing theory about water on Mars is linked to blueberry-shaped formations in the Martian soil, such as this one in an image captured by the rover Opportunity and released in 2004. An alternate theory published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience argues, however, that Martian water's source water would have been far too hot to support microbial life. (NASA/JPL/U.S. Geological Survey/AFP/Getty Images)

Early Mars Maybe Not So Wet : Discovery News

In 2008, NASA's Phoenix Mars lander landed in the Martian arctic region and uncovered evidence for water ice.

A new study presents an alternative explanation for the prevalence of Mars' ancient clay minerals, which on Earth most often result from water chemically reacting with rock over long periods of time. The process is believed to be a starting point for life.

The clays, also known as phyllosilocates, are among the strongest pieces of evidence for a Mars that once was warmer, wetter and much more like Earth than the cold, dry, acidic desert which appears today.

Data collected by orbiting spacecraft show Mars' clay minerals may instead trace their origin to water-rich volcanic magma, similar to how clays formed on the Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia and in the Parana basin in Brazil. That process doesn't need standing bodies of liquid water.

Early Mars may not have been hospitable after all: study

Alain Meunier of France's Universite de Poitiers and a team studied clay minerals at Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia that seem similar to martian examples, and showed they were formed from precipitation of lava.

The same process has also occurred at other locations on Earth, including the Parana basin in Brazil, said the study in Nature Geoscience.

"To crystallise, clays need water but not necessarily liquid water. In other words, clays are not exclusively typical of soils or altered rocks; they may crystallise also directly from magmas," Meunier told AFP by email.

"Magmatic clays have no climatic significance. Consequently, they cannot be used to prove that the planet was habitable or not during its early history."

If the theory is correct, it "would imply that early Mars may not have been as habitable as previously thought at the time when Earth's life was taking hold," University of Colorado geologist Brian Hynek wrote in a comment.

Hynek said only on-the-spot examination of Mars' clay minerals can provide conclusive proof of their origin.

Two rovers that humans have placed on Mars, Opportunity which landed in 2004 and Curiosity earlier this year, may contribute such evidence.

Mars Clays May Have Volcanic Source - Science News

The team says cooling lava can account for the most geographically abundant Noachian clay minerals. But that doesn’t mean water didn’t flow on the surface during brief episodes, as evidenced by the planet’s ancient river valleys, says coauthor Alain Meunier of the University of Poitiers in France.

Ehlmann says scientists need to find a spot on Mars where Nochian-aged clay is found so that all three proposed clay-forming mechanisms can be tested. Unfortunately, NASA’s Curiosity is not a good test location because the clays there are slightly younger and are clearly part of a sedimentary rather than volcanic deposit.


Amazing Memory



In the course of a day, there are many times when you need to keep some piece of information in your head for just a few seconds. Maybe it is a number that you are “carrying over” to do a subtraction, or a persuasive argument that you are going to make as soon as the other person finishes talking. Either way, you are using your short-term memory.


This ability to hold on to a piece of information temporarily in order to complete a task is specifically human. It causes certain regions of the brain to become very active, in particular the pre-frontal lobe.


Information is transferred from short-term memory (also known as working memory) to long-term memory through the hippocampus, so named because its shape resembles the curved tail of a seahorse (hippokampos in Greek). The hippocampus is a very old part of the cortex, evolutionarily, and is located in the inner fold of the temporal lobe.

Hyperthymesia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hyperthymesia, also known as piking[1] or hyperthymestic syndrome[2] is a condition in which an individual possesses a superior autobiographical memory, meaning he or she can recall the vast majority of personal experiences and events in his or her life. The term “hyperthymesia" is derived from the Greek words "thymesis," meaning "remembering," and "hyper," meaning "excessive."

Amazing Memory | Innovations

At last count, at least 33 people in the world could tell you what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, on February 20, 1998. Or who they talked to on October 28, 1986. Pick any date and they can pull from their memory the most prosaic details of that thin slice of their personal history.

Others, no doubt, have this remarkable ability, but so far only those 33 have been confirmed by scientific research. The most famous is probably actress Marilu Henner, who showed off her stunning recall of autobiographical minutiae on “60 Minutes” a few years ago.

What makes this condition, known as hyperthymesia, so fascinating is that it’s so selective. These are not savants who can rattle off long strings of numbers, Rainman-style, or effortlessly retrieve tidbits from a deep vault of historical facts. In fact, they generally perform no better on standard memory tests than the rest of us.

Unforgettable - The Documentary

UNFORGETTABLE tells the fascinating story of BRAD WILLIAMS. Featured on 60 Minutes and dubbed "the Human Google" by Good Morning America, Brad is only the second person ever studied for HYPERTHYMESIA (also known as superior autobiographical memory), an uncanny and detailed recall of his entire life.

Marilu Henner Has Hyperthymesia, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, Can Recall Every Day Of Her Life

Do you remember what happened on June 3rd, 1986? How about April 19th, 1994? If you’re Marilu Henner you do. The actress is one of 12 people in the world who has been diagnosed with hyperthymesia, which is also known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Basically, Henner can recall every single day of her life.


Geoengineering by Solar Radiation Management (SRM)

Geoengineering - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The concept of geoengineering (or climate engineering, climate remediation, and climate intervention[1]) refers to "the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming".[2][3] The discipline divides broadly into two categories, as described by the Royal Society:

"Carbon dioxide removal techniques [which] address the root cause of climate change by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Solar radiation management
techniques [which] attempt to offset effects of increased greenhouse gas concentrations by causing the Earth to absorb less solar radiation."[...]

Is Geoengineering the Answer to Climate Change? | Surprising Science

Geoengineering could replicate the cooling effects of a massive volcanic eruption as a tool to reduce climate change. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One proposed experiment would have used a balloon-tethered pipe to pump sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere and block a portion of solar radiation from reaching earth. Image via Wikimedia Commons/Hugh Hunt

Now, for the first time, a team of scientists has specifically analyzed the immediate financial costs of employing such a technique. Their results, published yesterday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, might be seen as encouraging by advocates of geoengineering—but depressing for everyone hoping to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Delivering solar geoengineering materials may be feasible and affordable

A cost analysis of the technologies needed to transport materials into the stratosphere to reduce the amount of sunlight hitting Earth and therefore reduce the effects of global climate change has shown that they are both feasible and affordable.Published today, 31 August 2012, in IOP

Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, the study has shown that the basic technology currently exists and could be assembled and implemented in a number of different forms for less than USD $5 billion a year.
Professor Apt continued: “We hope our study will help other scientists looking at more novel methods for dispersing particles and help them to explore methods with increased efficiency and reduced environmental risk.”

The researchers make it clear that they have not sought to address the science of aerosols in the stratosphere, nor issues of risk, effectiveness or governance that will add to the costs of solar radiation management geoengineering.