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THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 10, 2012

Explore

Fiesty festivals Every culture has its customs and traditions. And sometimes they can range from quirky and colourful to downright bizarre. They may not be to everyone’s taste, but here is a selection of some of the unusual festivals find around the world that will certainly leave you amused if not shocked!

Maze

El colacho: the baby-jumping festival (Spain)

Monkey buffet festival (Thailand)

SOURCE: AGINCLASSROOM.ORG

Grown men dressed as the Devil leap over a row of babies lying in street as a part of the celebration of the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi. And this is done with full parental consent. Wielding whips and truncheons, these men attempt to “cleanse” the babies of evil. Evidently, recklessly leaping over them is the best way to achieve this. The town has observed the strange practice (called El Colacho) since 1620, and onlookers who seem to be in need of a quick exorcism are pulled into the event, as well — so if you happen to be in Spain in June, please leave your babies with the sitter!

More than 3,000 kg of grilled sausages, fresh fruits, vegetables, ice cream, milk and jelly is laid out for over 1,000 very hairy and somewhat ill mannered guests. This is done in the town of Lopburi in Thailand to celebrate its Monkey Festival every year for its local population of monkeys! The locals feel that monkeys bring good fortune and prosperity to the town (probably mostly in the form of the tourists who come to see their antics) and the feast is therefore a “thank you” to the hungry monkeys who are free to wreak havoc wherever they go. Nobody seems to mind! The annual feast is also in honour of Rama, the hero of the epic legend Ramayana (Rama’s Journey), who rewarded his good friend and ally, Hanuman the Monkey King, with the town of Lopburi.

Cheese rolling festival (England) It may sound benign (and kind of goofy), running full-tilt down a very steep hill behind a madly spinning 7-pound wheel of cheese can be, well, dangerous of not lethal. In fact, police have attempted to ban the event, but men and their cheese wheels cannot be separated easily, it seems! So what happens during a cheese roll? Simple: the cheese is set to rolling, and racers zoom down the hill after the cheese. However, as the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 mph, it rarely happens that someone catches the cheese. First to the bottom wins the cheese.

Tunarama: the tuna tossing festival (Australia) ha ha ha

What did the traffic light say to the tomato crossing? “Don’t look now, I’m changing”. How do you fix a broken tomato? Tomato paste! What did the father tomato say to the baby tomato whilst on a family walk? Ketchup. Why is a pea small and green? Because if it was large and red it would be a tomato! What is red and blushes?

The Tunarama festival is held in Port Lincoln, on the tip of Eyre Peninsula, over the Australia Day (26 January) long weekend. When the festival began in 1962, it was intended to promote the emerging tuna fishing industry in Port Lincoln. Tuna fishing is now one of the town’s biggest industries and Australia’s largest tuna cannery is located there. Both men and women can participate. Each competitor has to throw a fish weighing between eight and ten kilograms as far as he or she can. A plastic model is used in the preliminaries but actual frozen fish in the finals. Ex-Olympic hammer thrower, Sean Carlin, holds the record for the longest toss at 37.23 metres set in 1998.

La tomatina (Spain) La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Bunol near Valencia in Spain. Thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to fight in this ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight’ where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets. Anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people come to partake in this huge hour long tomato fight, which, by the way is governed by strict rules! These include squishing the tomatoes before throwing as well as avoiding items like glass bottles that can be dangerous. And once the water cannons are fired to signal the end, no more tomatoes can be thrown!

An embarrassed tomato! What is red and goes up and down? A tomato in an elevator! Why did the Tomato go out with a prune? Because he couldn’t find a date!

How to make

Neat lion craft Follow these instructions and make an adorable lion’s face using a paper plate.

Materials needed: • Paper plate • Paint ( brown or orange colour is great, but any color can be used) • Paintbrush • Craft glue • Pom-poms • Wiggle eyes • Black chart paper • Scissors

Instructions: Start out by painting the top of the paper plate. You may

want to lay some newspaper down under your project to protect your work surface. Let the paint dry. Once the paint is completely dry, use a pair of scissors to cut slits, about 3/4 of an inch thick all the way around the plate edge. Cut down into the plate about 2-inches. Most plates have a small ridge that you can use as a guide. You can easily ‘fluff’ up your lion’s mane by gently folding alternate strips up and down. This gives the mane a nice dimensional look. Give your lion cheeks and a

nose by gluing on pom-poms. Use two brown 1 1/2-inch pom-poms for the cheeks and a 3/4-inch pom-pom for the nose. No lion would be complete without whiskers! Start out by cutting 6 — 8 strips of black chart paper, each about 6-inches long. Put a generous amount of glue on one end of each strip and poke 3 into the bottom side of each cheek. Add a pair of fun, wiggle eyes using craft glue, and your lion is done! SOURCE: FAMILYCRAFTS.ABOUT.COM


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THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 10, 2012

Teen spirit

health tips

The sour truth about your sweet tooth GOHAR WARRAICH

Our grandparents usually possess a gamut of medications, for various health issues that come with age — small pink tablets to sleep at night, drops for constipation and balms for aches and pains and insulin to counter diabetes. But did you know that diabetes, usually associated with grand parents, is rapidly transcending generations and now afflicting grandchildren. One would think that with progression in the wealth of scientific and medical knowledge, younger generations are less vulnerable but this is hardly the case. And while medical science is progressing rapidly, our sedentary modern lifestyles have predisposed young people to the disease. Diabetes mellitus is impairment in the way the body utilises carbohydrates due to decreased effectiveness or inadequate production of the hormone insulin. Diabetes mellitus type II, the form which was formerly mostly seen in adults, is now becoming more prevalent in the youth. The glucose extracted from the diet runs rampant in the blood, unable to enter the cells without the help of insulin. It’s a disease that spans the entire lifetime with progressive increase in the strength of medications administered to achieve adequate blood glucose control. Factors, which predispose one to the disease, are basically dependent on the interplay of genetic and environmental influences. Though the primary reason why diabetes is striking earlier on in life is because of our eating habits and a less than active lifestyle. Countering these two alone can have a huge role in averting diabetes all together. Living with diabetes is difficult, more so if the patient is young. Doctors specializing in the care of diabetes are endocrinologists. As diabetes is a chronic condition, choose your doctors wisely. There will be frequent follow up visits initially along with various blood tests. Blood sugars will need to be monitored at home and a chart will need to be maintained. The first and foremost measure diabetics are advised to take is control their diet and exercise. Meals should contain a minimal portion of fats, processed and fast food. Fruits, vegetables with complex carbohydrates, like starch and whole grains, should form the major component of dietary intake. The body takes longer to metabolize these and hence a steady level of glucose can be kept up. Learning to count calories will be of assistance especially when eating out. Meal timings will need to be fixed or alternatively can be substituted by multiple small meals throughout the day. Oral tablets might be added if the diabetes is not well managed. These might be given in addition to insulin shots which are added at a later stage. Weight loss surgery is also gaining popularity in the country, though it is a measure undertaken by only a handful. Chronic diabetes can affect a number of organs including heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. It increases the risk of comorbid conditions regardless of the fact that the patient is young. Feet can be damaged and oral health imperiled. As the cliché goes, prevention is better than cure in the case of diabetes. Half an hour of daily exercise, healthier meal plans and weight loss can actually have a positive impact in mitigating the disease.

The lost era Looking at old pictures refreshed my memories of the ‘90s ZOYA NAZIR

It sounds highly clichéd when we hear someone say that the digital age has revolutionized our lives. But this rather commonplace fact struck me, when I was going through an assortment of old family photo albums from the 90s. “You were that kid! Look at you,” shrieked my sister Sawera in disbelief, as she pointed to a picture of a girl with a bald head and mischievous eyes, smiling at the camera. She would not let me hear the end of the fact that my parents would get my head shaved till the age of ten. We were sorting old photo albums—not Facebook ones, but actually a tangible collection of family pictures. And as I stared at smiling faces from yesteryears, a wave of nostalgia swept over me and I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed by the faded, dog-eared photographs, which captured the essence of life in the 1990s.

While examining other older photos, I shifted my focus from the subject of the picture to the background. I saw VHS tapes crammed inside the shelves in the backdrop. The arrangement of the furniture in the backdrop captured the distinctiveness and style of the decade I was born in — the lost era of Ainak wala jinn, Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and high-waisted pants. But fast forward to 2012, digital pictures have replaced printed pictures, which are solely taken for the purpose of posting on Facebook and ostentatiously informing others of the excitement and happiness in our lives. Gone are the days when pictures were taken for the simple purpose of documenting memories for reminiscing later. For someone like me, who was born during the 1990s, advancement in technology and lifestyles in the new millennium has been a bit too rapid. However, it has still not

overshadowed the memories of the bygone age. I still vividly remember carrying plastic lunch boxes to school and posing for analogue cameras. It seems like yesterday when I would endlessly chew on Ding Dong gum, while watching Popeye the Sailor and Pink Panther on PTV. While today’s kids are hooked on to their play stations, I grew up in a time when games were simpler and more physically challenging. Surely acing a stage of angry birds does not give one the kind of adrenaline rush that playing hide and seek, musical chairs and baraf pani does. With the flood of technological applications and gadgets invading our lives — Facebook, PS3, Iphones and Ipads—simpler ways of having fun are now history. Call me cynical, but I feel that the ‘90s were a more tranquil period. There were no flood of emails, Facebook updates and constant Tweets to distract us

from connecting meaningfully with friends and family in real life. Listen to a song from the ‘90s and you will know what I mean; it is bound to revive pleasant memories of a troublefree time. But much to my dismay, I know that I am also part of the digital revolution. I, too, am lost in the world of virtual networks and visuals. While sifting, through scores of old photos, I just felt a tad guilty for not having printed any of my recent photographs which have been taken, predictably so, by a digital camera. My thoughts were interrupted when my sister excitedly declared that she will be scanning our best childhood pictures and putting them up on Facebook. I immediately raised an eyebrow at her idea, but still I couldn’t help feeling, quite sheepishly so, excited about the number of Facebook ‘likes’ it would get.

Enterteenment!

The cool cribs of teen stars You might just have enough pocket money for organizing a picnic with friends, but these teen stars have enough to buy expensive mansions. Check out how these young stars splurge millions on fancy manors.

The Bieber mansion Pop star Justin Bieber has recently spent $10.8 million on a mansion in the Hollywood Hills which he plans to share with girlfriend Selena Gomez. The “never say never” hitmaker, who turned 18 on March 1, has treated himself to the lavish five-bedroom, 9,400-squarefeet home overlooking Lake Hollywood. The home features 5 bedrooms, set across 9,400 square feet. Looking over Lake Hollywood, the large living room has walls of glass, allowing the couple to have a perfect view of the beautiful scenery.

Demi’s plush home Disney must pay well, because Demi Lovato, who starred in Disney’s Camp Rock series, purchased her very own home at the tender age of 16! The plush house, worth $1.88 million, is located in the Toluca Lake area of Los Angeles. Actor Jason Presley lives right across the street, and Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgen, and Hilary Duff are just a few blocks away.


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THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 10, 2012

Smart cart follows you around in a shopping mall

Geek Guide

Internet freedom, now!

ACTA, like its predecessors SOPA and PIPA, has sparked massive dissent in the developed world NOMAN ANSARI

Another multinational treaty to control internet activity has gone down the drain. The controversial treaty, which critics argued deprives internet users of basic rights to freedom of expression and privacy, had seen active protests in over 20 European countries not a week before. Huge strikes were carried out on February 11, called the ‘Anti-ACTA’ day. Organisers claimed that in Germany alone, over 100,000 people had gathered, where the treaty had only been postponed a day earlier by the Justice Ministry. Not only that, but outraged citizens of other European countries such as Estonia, Malta, Bulgaria, Britain, and France also took part in the demonstrations, with many symbolically sporting masks of the fictional freedom fighting character ‘V’, from the graphic novel, V for Vendetta. The protests were greater in ferocity to the ones that had taken place against SOPA and PIPA, anti-piracy bills introduced in the US Congress, which were stopped dead in their tracks earlier in the year. ACTA, which has more detailed language than SOPA, was an even greater threat to internet freedom, according to critics. It has been partially signed by many developed nations, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, Singapore, South Korea, United States, as well as most countries in Europe. The treaty, which had been under secret development

Tech Society

since 2006, only captured public attention by chance, thanks to the publication of a secret discussion paper on whistleblowing website Wikileaks. Critics immediately noted that the agreement not only threatened freedom on the internet, but undermined access to basic things like food and medicine for even those countries that weren’t on board. This of course infuriated powerful developing nations such as India, China, and Brazil. According to the newspaper Times of India, an anonymous Indian official vowed organized government action, “We will hold talks with like-minded countries and may oppose the ACTA proposal jointly, as well as individually, by holding talks with countries involved.” What also bothered opponents was that aside from sidestepping developing nations, the treaty also failed to take input from non-governmental organizations and civil rights groups. Peter Bradwell, a campaigner at ‘Open Rights Group’ and the writer of ‘Private Lives’, called ACTA an “unacceptable insult to democracy” while giving an interview to Russian news website RT.com. “You are creating a system that can be abused and where mistakes can happen. That’s why it’s such a dangerous agreement,” he said. However, the final battleground for ACTA was Europe. After the bill had already been signed by countries like the US, it still required ratification in the EU parliament in

order to take effect. After 22 of the 27 European Member States signed the bill, appointed chief investigator, EU official rapporteur Kader Arif, resigned in protest, saying, “I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.” Poland, where over 20,000 had protested against the agreement a week before Arif’s resignation, was one of the first European countries to drop support for the bill. Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, who admitted that his government’s supporting stance of ACTA had been ‘reckless’, announced the he had written to leaders in the EU, asking them to follow suit, “It would be a sin to maintain a mistaken belief … the agreement does not correspond to the reality of the 21st century. The battle for the right to property should also respect the right to freedom.” As things currently stand, ACTA is still far from the six ratifications it needs to become active. While the agreement has the signatures of 31 countries, none have ‘ratified’ it so far. And according to popular tech website Wired.com, it now seems unlikely that the agreement will come into force. An article on the website said, “At this point many countries in Europe that have signed the treaty have set aside ratification in response to public outcry, effectively hampering the ratification and implementation of the treaty.”

Tired of pushing around a shopping cart in a huge mall? Here’s a solution for you. Recently, grocery store chain, Whole Foods, gave a demonstration of Chaotic Moon’s latest device, which uses the same technology in a self-propelled shopping cart. The “Smarter Cart,” as it’s been aptly named, can actually detect what items are placed in it, match those to a shopping list, and even follow shoppers around the store on its own. Like Chaotic Moon’s Board of Awesomeness project, the Smarter Cart uses a Kinect sensor synced with a Windows 8 tablet to control its motion, but with one key difference. Instead of having someone actively directing where the device moves, the cart monitors the user and follows them like a lost puppy as they move about the store and pick out their items. The Kinect’s voice recognition is also implemented this time around, so a user can ask the cart for more information — like where specific items are located in the store — or tell it when they are done shopping. The cart can also track the items placed in it by scanning their bar codes, match them to a pre-made shopping list, and give the total cost of all the items in the basket. It can even detect if the wrong type of item is grabbed and verbally inform the shopper. With some voice commands, the cart could then tell the rep in what aisle and section the gluten-free spaghetti was located. A shopper could also link the cart to a billing account to pay for everything instantly, and then bag up their groceries and walk right out of the store. The project is still quite early in development, but Whole Foods has already tested single carts in some stores. The company plans to begin testing multiple carts at one store in Texas, US, starting next month.

Japanese team invents device that silences chatterboxes

Fantastic bots

Intelligent robots are now performing all sorts of interesting operations Multitasking machine Honda in Japan has its very humanoid robot ASIMO ( A dva n c e d Step in Innovation Mobility), which performs a number of tasks. ASIMO has had different versions unveiled over the years, and has been in development by the company for more than 20 years. The robot stands 4 feet 3 inches tall and can walk, run, and climb stairs, among other several other talks.

Musclebot RI-MAN was designed to look after the growing number of elderly in Japan. It’s the world’s first robot that was specifically engineered to lift and carry humans. The 5-foot tall 220 pound RI-MAN includes a variety of built-in sensors, which allow it to see, hear, touch, and smell.

Agile android

Femmebot

We all know that the cheetah is the fastest running animal, but do you know the name of the fastest running robot? Yes, scientists have created a robot which does not just run fast, it can also climb mountains! Runbot is a twolegged robot developed by researchers from Germany and Scotland — claimed to be the fastest for its size, with a 3.5 leg-lengths per second stride. The intelligent machine has the ability to dynamically alter its gait in response to changes in terrain. The robot’s walk cycle is controlled by neuron mimicking software. The software for the system represents a unique and successful attempt at modeling the architecture of the human brain. If you were fascinated by the cyborgs in the Terminator series, wait till you see Saya — the human-like robot employed at the front desk of Tokyo University. But unlike the robots in the Terminator series, Saya does not kill people and destroy property. Instead, she performs the rather harmless job of a receptionist. First developed in 2004, Saya has also been tested in a real Tokyo classroom among a handful of fifth and sixth graders, although the ‘teacher’ can only take roll call and shout orders such as “be quiet.” Saya can express six basic emotions — surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, and sadness — because her rubber skin is pulled from the back with motors and the wiring around the eyes and the mouth.

For those who don’t like chatterboxes, a pair of Japanese researchers may have come up with just the thing — a portable device that can painlessly jam a person’s speech from up to 30 meters (98 ft) away. Ingeniously dubbed the “SpeechJammer,” you aim it like a gun and it apparently works quite effectively. The inventors, Kazutaka Kurihara with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Ochanomizu University’s Koji Tsukada, explained that their prototype creation works by recording the offending speech with a directional microphone, adding a 0.2-second delay, and firing it right back at the run-on talker with a directional speaker. Our brains need instant feedback to continue governing speech properly and if someone messes with that synchrony and the jabbering soon stammers to a halt. “We live in the twenty-first century, when it is said that communication is the most important means of resolving conflicts,” Kurihara and Tsukuda diplomatically explained in a recent paper describing their work. “However, there are still many cases in which the negative aspects of speech become a barrier to peaceful resolution of conflicts, sometimes further harming society.” While the need for such an effective muting machine is indisputable, the fact remains that the SpeechJammer is too conspicuous a device. The latest version looks like a large mutant phaser from Star Trek, so chances are good that many chatterboxes will go silent the moment they see the huge thing pointed at them, regardless of whether it’s turned on! Ultimately, it could also lead to more noise than it was initially trying to suppress by sparking arguments and verbal disagreements. SOURCE: GIZMAG.COM


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THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, MARCH 10, 2012

offbeat

Itsy bitsy spider goes musical A Japanese researcher has brought the applications of spider silk to an entirely different register, using thousands upon thousands of strands of spider silk to create a set of violin strings. Most impressive of all, however, isn’t that these strings are functional — it’s that they actually sound incredible. Nara Medical University’s Shigeyoshi Osaki (who has made a name for himself by mastering the art of coaxing silk from spiders) used over 300 captive female nephila maculata spiders. According to Osaki, these spiders generate the so-called “dragline silk” necessary to create bundles with a tensile strength sufficient for mounting on a violin. Each string was assembled from anywhere between 9,000 and 15,000 individual strands, twisted together in tightly wound trios of bundled silk. According to the BBC, each string was capable of withstanding even more tension than popular aluminum coated nylon-core violin strings (although they were not as strong as traditional gut string). “Several professional violinists reported that spider strings... generated a preferable timbre, being able to create a new music,” Osaki told the BBC. “The violin strings are a novel practical use for spider silk as a kind of high value-added product, and offer a distinctive type of timbre for both violin players and music lovers worldwide.” The researchers’ findings will be described in greater detail in a forthcoming issue of Physical Review Letters.

The man who dug his own grave!

A Sri Lankan man died while trying to set a record for the longest time spent buried alive. A lesson for all to think twice before digging a grave for themselves! Police said Janaka Basnayake, 24, buried himself over the weekend with the help of family and friends in a trench sealed with wood and soil in the town of Kantale, about 137 miles (220 kilometers) north of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. A local newspaper reported that the trench was 10 feet (3 metres) deep. Basnayake was buried at around 9:30am. Police said that when he was brought to the surface at 4pm, he was unconscious and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Dr D G Costa of the Kantale hospital said a post-mortem could not determine the cause of death and further medical investigations are being conducted. Basnayake’s mother, L D Leelawathi, said her son had enjoyed performing unusual acts since his childhood — a liking that grew after watching movies, the Lankadeepa newspaper reported. It quoted her as saying that her son had been buried alive on two previous occasions — for two and a half hours and six hours respectively. It was unclear whether there is an official world record for the longest time buried alive. SOURCE: HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

Stalker turkey

SOURCE: IO9.COM

So was your great great grand dad a worm? Humans have evolved from this two-inch worm, scientists claim. The extinct pikaia gracilens lived in the sea more than 500 million years ago. Now scientists have linked it to humans, saying that it is a primitive ancestor of animals with spinal cords. It gave rise to other backboned animals including fish, birds, reptiles and mammals. Although pikaia was first discovered in 1911, scientists assumed it was only related to leeches and earthworms. But the spinal cord, paired with zig-zag patterned blocks of muscle tissue known as myomeres, relates it to humans. Lead author Professor Simon Conway Morris, from Cambridge University, said: “The discovery of myomeres is the smoking gun that we have long been seeking. ”This study clearly places pikaia as the planet’s most primitive chordate. So, next time we put the family photograph on the mantle-piece, there in the background will be pikaia.” Using cutting-edge microscopes and imagery techniques, scientists revealed fine details in the pikaia fossils. Every specimen of pikaia discovered so far has come from the Burgess Shale fossil beds in Canada’s Yoho National Park. It is thought to have swum above the sea floor by bending its body from side to side. Dr Jean-Bernard Caron, from the University of Toronto in Canada, took part in the research. He said: “It’s very humbling to know that swans, snakes, bears, zebras and, incredibly, humans all share a deep history with this tiny creature no longer than my thumb.” SOURCE: THESUN.CO.UK

How tweet! IT consultant Nat Morris, 30, uses an electronic system to give his border terrier Toby a ‘tweet treat’ by sending him a Twitter message to @FeedToby. Mr Morris spends a lot of time working away from home and isn’t always able to feed fouryear-old Toby by hand but, by using his new invention, he can send his dog a treat from anywhere in the world. He said: ‘Toby absolutely loves it. At first, he didn’t know what was going on. Now he sits underneath, wagging his tail and waiting for the treats to drop.’ And Mr Morris has even rigged up an online camera so he can see Toby eating at his home in Milford Haven, west Wales. He is considering patenting his system but one problem is that friends and family have been sending tweets to Toby. ‘People have been sending him food at all hours of the day — so I had to limit it to between nine in the morning and nine in the evening,’ he added. When a tweet is sent, it is received by a mini-computer, and a buzzer sound alerting Toby. A motor from a small HP printer comes to life and pulls open a trap door which releases a serving of food down a tube and into Toby’s food bowl below. SOURCE: METRO.CO.UK

The big one

A US woman says she’s become a prisoner on her own property — because she’s being stalked by a huge turkey. Edna Geisler, 69, of Commerce Township, Michigan, has nicknamed the bird Godzilla, reports the Detroit Free Press. She says the wild turkey wanders onto her property each day from nearby woods. He lurks in her front yard, screeching at her constantly, jumping out and attacking her whenever she dares wander outside. “I’m afraid to go out of my house,” she added. “I have to go to the post office at 6 o’clock in the morning to avoid him.” SOURCE: WEB.ORANGE.CO.UK

Reason enough to not litter

Robo — 007 Tiny flying ‘quadrobots’, or mini helicopters designed by engineering students in the US have been programmed to play the James Bond theme tune. The agile robots have been developed by the students at Pennsylvania University, who are helping to create a new breed of smarter, faster, and more flexible robots that mimic the swarming behaviours of birds, fish and insects, The Telegraph reported. In the demonstration video, which has become an Internet sensation, the nanobots are fitted with wireless cameras and infrared lights that help their pilots plot their exact position in a precise way. One of the university’s robotics laboratory members, Vijay Kumar, presented the groundbreaking work at the TED2012 conference, an international gathering of people and ideas from technology, entertainment and design. The team said that building robots that can move in unison without crashing into obstacles or one another is a critical skill for robot teams to develop, especially as they may one day be used to survey landscapes, build structures, or even play music.

An obsession with everything big has lead Australian farmer Phillip McCauley to grow a massive 385.1 kilogram pumpkin in his farm. The dairy farmer from Cora Lynn, Victoria, says he has given up on gourds now after growing a piffling metre-long one, and quit with the huge tomatoes too. In the extreme vegetable world, the Atlantic Giant pumpkin stands tallest. It is Phillip’s best shot at glory. And after growing Victoria’s biggest ever pumpkin, a 385.1kg monolith that has smashed the old record by 130kg, the Cora Lynn dairy farmer is ready to take on the world. “The Australian record is 518kg, a guy from New South Wales. I’m breathing down his neck,’’ Phillip says. “I never thought I could get that until I grew this one.’’ A 200mm rain dump three weeks ago forced Phillip to pull up his pumpkin, dubbed “The Big One’’. It was a third under water. “This was still growing. I reckon it would have gone close to 450kg,’’ he said. “I know if I put all the effort into it I can get the Australian record.’’ SOURCE: HERALDSUN.COM.AU

A male giraffe that died in an Indonesian zoo was found to have 20 kilograms of plastic in its stomach, officials said. Kliwon, 30, was born at Surabaya Zoo, the biggest in the country, and was its last remaining giraffe, living alone in its pen for 13 years. “We got the autopsy results last night. They found a plastic lump weighing around 20 kilograms and 60 centimetres in diameter in his stomach,” zoo spokesman Anthan Warsito said. The giraffe was also found to be infected with tuberculosis. The plastic probably came from food wrappers the animal ingested after visitors tossed them into its pen over several years, Warsito said. The incident comes after a spate of suspicious animal deaths at the zoo, including a critically endangered Sumatran tiger, and the disappearance of three baby Komodo dragons believed to have been stolen for the black market. AFP

Valley of the dolls

SOURCE: ORANGE.CO.UK

A girl who can’t have kids has spent £20,000 (Rs2.86 million) on a hoard of 97 plastic babies. At least they don’t cry and wake you up at night. Vikki Andrews, 19, began buying them three years ago after doctors diagnosed her with a condition that doesn’t allow her to have children. Now her bedroom is filled with “reborn dolls” — made with handmoulded plastic and human hair. Vikki — a student and part-time barmaid — said: “My first, Charlotte, cost £200 (Rs 28,603). I used money I had been saving since I was 14. Within a week I had bought her a brother. It was then I realised I wanted lots of them.” Her fiance Warren Bone, 19, is not keen on them. And her parents have banned them from their living room in Newbury, Berks. Vikki added: “If I take them outside I get funny looks. But I sometimes take them to work for bonding time.” SOURCE: THESUN.CO.UK


The Express Tribune T2 - March 10