Archive for July, 2019

The Robots Who May Feed The Future

The United Kingdom based start up, Small Robot Company, has come up with three robots called Tom, Dick and Harry who may be just what the future of farming need. Let’s take a look at each of the robots in this science project.

Tom is a buggy based robot that lives on a “kennel” in your farm. It monitors the soil and the crop, literally providing feedback on every single plant. Based on it’s data collection and analysis, Tom will suggest chemicals and fertilizers that you should use to maximize your crop harvest.

Then we get to Dick, which is a robot used for precision micro-spraying and weeding of your fields. Dick will not waste excessive chemicals, but will spray the leaves to protect them against pests and put in fertilizers in the roots. Very efficient and ruthless when crushing weeds that compete with your crop.

That leaves us with Harry, who offers precision drilling and seed planting. Harry gives you driverless, super accurate drilling with minimal soil disturbance. It records every individual seed that it has planted and keeps track of it’s germination, helping the farmer know just what percentage of seeds make it to plants.

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Singapore’s Friendly Bots

Robots can clean homes and cook, but can they be used to keep a full city clean? The city nation of Singapore is about to demonstrate how. Called “Friendly Bots” because they can speak in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, they also speak the local lingo of Singlish, which incorporates many words into English from these other languages. You can actually have a limited conversation with them.

The friendly bots are currently being used to clean out the hotels, shopping malls and government buildings in Singapore. There are four bots in operation at present and by next March the locals hope to have almost 300 bots working around the city state. They can scrub, mop, vacuum, and sweep autonomously. This will eventually free up many cleaning jobs that humans are currently performing.

In addition they can rap in English and entertain people close by. These hi tech cleaning bots have oval shaped heads with red lights to resemble the humanoid face. They also have wheels that allow them to roll around where they are required. This is one science project that’s making a sweeping statement across the city right now.

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Alexa and the NHS

Alexa, the smart speaker from Amazon has been helping make life easier for a number of people. From reminders to stock up the depleted milk carton in the fridge to reading out messages that have been received, Alexa has been doing a number of tasks like a virtual assistant. Now the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has decided to make Alexa even more useful.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists. The people in Britain will soon have the option to say, “Alexa, what are the symptoms of the flu?” To be answered from a data base that will be populated by the doctors in the NHS.

Of course there are concerns about Alexa being used like this by Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs. The doctor says that it is vital that independent research is done to ensure that the advice given is safe. Otherwise it could prevent people seeking proper medial help. Will this science project be successful? Only time and Alexa will tell.

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How Far Do Animals Travel?

Human beings know that wild animals tend to roam the Earth, but till now we didn’t have the requisite technology to figure out just how vast the distances these animals traverse. The frozen Arctic region offers sea ice that animals can cross often leaving one country for another. The Polar Research Institute has been keeping tabs on a few animals that they have been able to tag.

A young arctic fox set off from the Svalbard Archipelago in Norway last year and has been trekking across the sea ice to hit northern Nunavut in Canada this year. The journey took the little blue fox about 76 days and covered a distance of 2175 miles. That’s almost three thousand kilometers. The fox passed through Greenland on his trek and data shows that he moved quickly past areas covered in ice sheets where food was scarce.

The initial records of the feat had incited disbelief. Who could imagine that a tiny fox could be hardy enough to undertake such a long journey over one of the harshest climates known to man. This science project proves that while man may claim the apex position on the planet, he is still to discover what feats his other co-creatures on the planet can do.

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New Hangout Zone

Places to go and visit are always interesting. People love to travel to discover new markets, old buildings, historical landmarks and fun amusement centers. It’s all about hanging out and enjoying yourself with a group of friends. Of late safety has become a concern in areas of public gathering. So where would you go to hang out, if you wanted some place safe with great restaurants and enough shops to keep you occupied?

For many people it’s the airport terminal in their town. Terminal Tourism, as it’s been tagged, is all the new rage these days. People get through the security line at the airport and then don’t catch a flight. Instead they sit in a cafe and catch up with their friends. They people watch as travelers come and go with their luggage. They relax in front of the big picture window with a coffee in their hands and spot the airplanes.

Pittsburgh was the first to open up their airport to non travelers in 2017. Since then airports at Tampa, Seattle-Tacoma, and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, have all followed suit. It would make an interesting science project to just sit at an airport and collect statistics on planes and travelers as you figure out how to make terminal tourism work for you!

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Germs from the Moon

There is a lot out in space that could be dangerous to human beings. Extra terrestrial germs could either die in the atmosphere on Earth, or flourish and cause illnesses previously unheard of. This is why when the Apollo II astronauts came back to the planet after the moon landing, there was a scare of germs from the moon accompanying them.

In order to counter the threat of these possible Lunar Germs, the astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were put into special clothing after being scrubbed down to be disinfected. The three of them were then taken to a quarantine facility to ensure that no germs could contaminate the Earth. At the time these were the most stringent measures that they could think of based on existing scientific norms.

The real question is that were they enough? Did NASA ensure that no lunar germs got to Earth on the return journey of the Apollo II astronauts? A new documentary on seems to think that it was not. That bugs from space did manage to get into Earth’s atmosphere despite the best efforts made by NASA. Thankfully they were not super bugs that decided to multiply and destroy all known life forms on Earth.

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