Oldster's View

Fight Against Maturity

Try and explain this to your insurance agent

Reuters.co.uk
squirrelhead.jpgA squirrel scampered into the bicycle wheel of an unlucky Finnish opera singer, causing him to fall, knock himself out and break his nose just ahead of the world premiere of a new opera.

Esa Ruuttunen was pedalling his way to the Helsinki Opera House last month when the squirrel ran into his spokes. The singer ended up concussed and in a local hospital, rather than at his rehearsals for the Finnish opera Kaarmeen hetki (Hour of the Serpent), which opens on September 15.

“He is not yet singing in rehearsals, but thinks he will be able to perform at the world premiere,” Finnish National Opera spokeswoman Heidi Almi told Reuters.

The squirrel died in the accident.

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September 4, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Try and explain this to your insurance agent

Today’s “awwwww”

dog.jpg

Ananova
A Jack Russell dog is stunning visitors to a farm by showing off his horse riding skills. Freddie leaps on the back of his neighbours Shetland pony Daisy for a trot around the paddock in Flaxley, Gloucestershire. Owner Patricia Swinley said the dog was a “natural” jockey whose equestrian skills have blossomed.

“When he first saw Daisy he rushed across the yard and just jumped straight on her back,” she told the BBC.

Freddie, who has been nicknamed the Flaxley Flier, is often to be seen riding round the 25-acre farm and Daisy, who stands at just 37 inches tall provides the perfect taxi, for her pal.

September 4, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Robo-taster—when you’re too lazy to taste the wine

Link

The ability to discern good wine from bad, name the specific brand from a tiny sip and recommend a complementary cheese would seem to be about as human a skill as there is. In Japan, robots are doing it.

Researchers at NEC System Technologies and Mie University have designed a robot that can taste — an electromechanical sommelier able to identify dozens of different wines, cheeses and hors d’oeuvres.

“There are all kinds of robots out there doing many different things,” said Hideo Shimazu, director of the NEC System Technology Research Laboratory and a joint-leader of the robot project. “But we decided to focus on wine because that seemed like a real challenge.”

Last month, they unveiled the fruits of their two-year effort — a green-and-white prototype with eyes, a head that swivels and a mouth that lights up whenever the robot talks.

The “tasting” is done elsewhere, however. At the end of the robot’s left arm is an infrared spectrometer. When objects are placed against the sensor, the robot fires off a beam of infrared light. The reflected light is then analyzed in real time to determine the object’s chemical composition.

“All foods have a unique fingerprint,” Shimazu said. “The robot uses that data to identify what it is inspecting right there on the spot.”

When it has identified a wine, the robot speaks up in a childlike voice. It names the brand and adds a comment or two on the taste, such as whether it is a buttery chardonnay or a full-bodied shiraz, and what kind of foods might go well on the side.

Shimazu said the robots could be “personalized,” or programmed to recognize the kinds of wines its owner prefers and recommend new varieties to fit its owner’s taste. Because it is analyzing the chemical composition of the wine or food placed before it, it can also alert its owner to possible health issues, gently warning against fatty or salty products.

September 4, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Robo-taster—when you’re too lazy to taste the wine