New AI-Powered Farming Robot Trundles About Inspecting 50 Acres of Crops per Day for Pests and Disease:
SentiV robot – credit: Meropy
A new innovative spoke-wheeled robot can act as a long-distance plant nurse that can inspect 50 acres of row crops for disease, pests, or other issues. Planting is a seriously stressful time for farmers, as all the input costs stack up while profit lies far away in the distant months. Furthermore, many things can go wrong between planting and harvest time, whether that’s a sudden outbreak of disease, pests moving into the area or the proliferation of weeds. That’s why a new 33-pound robot called the SentiV moves about on spokes rather than wheels or treads which crush plants and could be ideal for farmers looking to reduce labor costs and hours. Placing the GPS coordinates of the field’s boundaries, the SentiV then uses these boundaries as a guide to map the whole field—up to 50 acres in a day, scanning both the underside and topside of plants with a pair of cameras. Smart algorithms then look for threats, monitor the plants’ growth, and identify signs that the plant might need more or less water or nutrients. The SentiV scouting robot is currently just a prototype, but its designers hope that the high unit cost can be offset with savings on pesticides and fertilizer.
These chemists cracked the code to long-lasting Roman concrete:
Built from concrete around 126 A.D., the Pantheon in Rome still stands, including its soaring dome (shown). STEPHEN KNOWLES PHOTOGRAPHY/MOMENT/GETTY IMAGES PLUS
Scientists have discovered that the secret to roman concrete is calcium-rich rocks formed from the lack of full mixing. MIT chemist Admir Masic and his colleagues were trying to re-create an ancient Roman technique for making concrete, a mix of cement, gravel, sand, and water. The researchers suspected that the key was a process called “hot mixing,” in which dry granules of calcium oxide, also called quicklime, are mixed with volcanic ash to make the cement. Then water is added. Hot mixing, they thought, would ultimately produce cement that wasn’t completely smooth and mixed, but instead contained small calcium-rich rocks. These calcium rocks are found in all roman concrete structures and chemical analysis of them reveals they may be serving to rejuvenate them after weathering or other damages. When putting the mixture to the test, cracks formed in the hot mixed compound healed in 2-3 weeks from calcium rocks weathering and recrystallizing. While this is a great discovery there is resistance in the concrete business due to high competition and slightly higher costs associated with making the mixture. However, The researchers hope that reintroducing this technique that has stood the test of time, and while that could involve a little added cost to manufacture, would ultimately make better structures that stand the test of time.
Nearly 50-meter laser experiment sets record in University of Maryland hallway:
A laser is sent down a UMD hallway in an experiment to corral light as it makes a 45-meter journey. Credit: Intense Laser-Matter Interactions Lab, UMD
Records were set at the University of Maryland when a laser was sent over 50 meters down a hallway at their Energy Research Facility. While this was like any ordinary hallway in the facility, Physics Professor Howard Milchberg and his colleagues transformed it into a laboratory, with caution tape and protective equipment to ensure the safety of the area. Their efforts were to temporarily transfigure thin air into a fiber optic cable or more specifically an air waveguide that would guide light for tens of meters. These air waveguides have many potential applications related to collecting or transmitting light, such as detecting light emitted by atmospheric pollution, long-range laser communication, or even laser weaponry. The team had set a record before of 45 meters in the hallway but were presented with the challenge of reaching the 50-meter mark. To achieve this, the team used a technique that makes the laser come out in short pulses, allowing the light to not disperse (making the laser’s heat stronger) and reach a longer distance of almost 50 meters. The laser was strong and reached the very end of the hallway and left a small hole and burn in the wall, a mark of the achievement.