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tv   Tomorrow Today - The Science Magazine  Deutsche Welle  October 17, 2017 2:30pm-3:01pm CEST

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and india. going where it's uncomfortable global news that matters w made for mines. why are forty million people in east africa threatened by starvation what are the causes of the situation. we focus on five specific problem areas. this huge journalistic project tries to find answers why africa goes green our topic this week on d w news online. welcome to tomorrow today the science show. coming up. how scientists are developing a robot to harvest fruits and vegetables. a conservationist is fighting to bring back a dwindling species of butterfly. and a dizzying project to build
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a new cable car on germany's highest mountain. but first in more and more regions of the world agriculture is becoming automated highly specialized machines are being developed to help down on the farm. but human dexterity is hard to beat it's likely to be a while yet before robots replace people at harvest time. this is a greenhouse laboratory on the outskirts of munich researchers at munich's technical university are testing a technology that could revolutionize vegetable farming they're harvesting bell peppers using a robot. the main criterion is that the peppers must not be damaged.
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and initial prototype was built in collaboration with partners in several european countries along with israel and chile. for now tobias' beringer and his colleagues are practicing with it in a laboratory setting the. robot has its grip are on in front and its vision system above it recognizes the path as where the meant to be located in the vision system plans the way the robot is supposed to approach the pettus and then pick them up and at the done. but can the robot actually compete with human workers behringer says it can at least under ideal conditions. the conditions in the lab are optimal we have these nice plastic bell peppers that
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are all of same color with identical lighting there are no leaves honey in the way and all the peppers grow the same way. in a real greenhouse it's very different. the thickness of the stem this and color of the peppers various and the lighting can be diffuse and variable. isn't that the food. at the moment there is no visual recognition system that can function reliably under the difficult conditions in an actual greenhouse so all the robot still has to be controlled manually. to los it to you just a bit. yeah that's it but. it took just under a minute to pick the pepper and it wasn't damaged that's a good result but it doesn't work so well with every bell pepper. but why do we need crop harvesting robots anyway for one thing it's getting increasingly
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difficult to find workers for the tough job of picking fruit and vegetables and automation would make harvesting cheaper in the long run and easier to plant the first crop harvesting robots are ready for production this one uses moisture sensors to detect asparagus shoots in the ground and pick them it could replace up to seventy five workers a manufacturer in the netherlands plans to bring it to the market next year but the scientists in munich haven't gotten that far that's. what makes fruit picking difficult is the leaves hanging in the way we humans can even see. i have to push away the leaves and the stems a very thick. even as a human i find it hard to figure out a good strategy and communicate it. i can imagine that both of our roles will be automated at some point in the future. the vision system will take of the my part of it and the algorithm that calculates it will take his pot
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and. ok ok a bit closer. after about four minutes it finally worked. ok go to. it worked out in the end but the fruit was damaged twice by the knife because we had to make several attempts to get in the so it was actually unsuccessful. four minutes for one bell pepper the robot is a long way from being cost effective in addition the fruit was damaged what are the consequences of that that's a job for already caught and stopped are since the experiment began three weeks ago he's been inspecting the bell peppers at the robotics on a daily basis and comparing them with peppers picked by human workers he weighs them and measures their temperature and sugar content.
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what are the most obvious differences and then he hung while the stem of the hand picked pepper is actually intact the robot harvested pepper shows traces of mildew which primarily results from the kind of cut. this is with a knife by hand in this is with the robot scissors when the stems get squeezed mildew can grow quickly. and mildew is something that fruit growers want to avoid at all cost. at this point the experiment has another few weeks to go but it's already clear that more work needs to be done you know the scientists like negative results we can learn from them. currently or late at project is running in the netherlands no matter which one is successful it could take up to ten years before robots will really be out there picking peppers. on facebook
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we asked you to tell us what kind of robots you'd like scientists to develop. says we need special design or robots for space missions. says he'd like to see robots that clean up r.c.s. filtering out plastics and micro plastics. and. has a suggestion for us t.v. folks a robot that's movable and not fixed in one spot and one that can even fly for science programs it would also be able to go underwater. about us says that would be epic because you could capture the motion on the ground above the ground and underwater . for centuries griffen vultures were widespread in germany but the bird was eventually driven out the victim of hunting and environmental pollution.
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researchers are now trying to help vultures resettle in places like the highlands of the swabian in germany south. a griffin vulture has recently taken up residence here beside the danube in southwestern germany. last year the young bird badly damaged its wings when it collided with the blade of a wind turbine as it was heading north. it was rescued and taken to a bird sanctuary to recuperate experts believe the main reason for the accident was the birds weakened condition germany doesn't provide rich pickings for scavengers. when vultures come to germany they like it here and instinctively have a feeling they can live here but i have their carry on as always cleared away before they can get to right after three or four weeks they're seriously weakened
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lose altitude end up getting crab or just die somewhere in. this particular bird got lucky and was nursed back to health it was found skinny and starving since then it's packed on the pounds it's going to be released back into the wild in an excellent habitat this way be an out where there are rocky outcrops and up when storeyed. in the run up to its release the bird still has a few hurdles to clear. its wings have grown back now and the ornithologists from the max planck institute are keen to take a photographic record of its impressive plumage. dr haas is also fitting the vulture with a g.p.s. transmitter so they can track its movements this could be of scientific value.
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this is the transmitter will send us data twice a day that way we'll know its coordinates exactly where it is even when we can't get up close to the bird and he's. after thirteen months in captivity and care the vulture takes its first tentative steps into freedom. griffin vultures used to breed in this area for thousands of years until they died out two centuries ago because of human intervention. perhaps this bird will be a pioneer helping to recolonize germany for his species. such attempts to resettle rare species can work out as you can see in the next
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report. there one man is fighting to bring back a butterfly that has completely disappeared from some parts of germany. for almost thirty is the maastricht hillary that disappeared from the one in germany now it's back. but can the butterfly species survive a long. biologist detlef colleagues certainly hope so four years ago he began bringing back specimens from denmark to breed them. for me that was my first encounter with a species i've never seen them flying around here in this area of germany so of course it's a really special thing for you to reintroduce them here for war. the marsh for it to learn is a picky it needs
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a particular plant to survive the devil's bits k.b.'s it's virtually the only thing the cassopolis will feed on. once a common plant the devil's bit scabious. it is now sketch in this region. only here in the greenhouse is it found in abundance. this year it helped three hundred butterflies to develop. but how will they fare in nature. to test that the butterfly research it is taking fifty females and fifty males on a journey. they travel ninety kilometers through lots of greenery but the butterfly couldn't survive here. as this it's just green there's nothing emblems
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desolate the fields are like desert for insects now we have to take this butterfly into the few suitable habitats that remain because like most other butterfly species it doesn't stand a chance in this environment. it should stand more of a chance here in the nordo haida nature is of. the butterflies a bit of that dark age they just need to soak up a bit of sunshine get warm so they can fly they all open their wings of once it's really an amazing sight.
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plants and insects now thrive military tanks used to roll. no i don't want to believe it but the areas biodiversity is thanks to its former military use for one thing it's huge for a conservation area four hundred hectares plus they never used fertilizer because the military ground existed before the invention of chemical fertilizers so the ground's never been plowed from the area would have been overgrown long ago if that left colleagues and his team hadn't turned up. they brought grazing animals here like wreck small ponies cows and goats to keep the grass short. that makes the perfect home for a mouse treated every. the butterfly needs open country the devil's bit scabious also can't germinate in dense vegetation many
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animals that like warmth need open space to the goat's wood and stripped tree bark which makes the trees die and keeps the area exposed. the former military site was originally deemed too small for the successful reintroduction of the marsh for tillery so an entire wood was removed using funds from the european union that sparked protests. are workers often misunderstood you have to imagine it's a bit like redecorating a living room. and there are foreign species here like the american while black caring is that the american sickest for us these plants species aren't native they don't belong here now we've removed them to furnish the living room for the marsh working larry and many other species and they need light and warmth on a dark damp forest. for. so
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has the butterfly settled into his new living room. that left colleagues find some devil's bit scabious in the ditch and even the next to plants eaten by the adults. and then on and on a flower he discovers the offspring of a butterfly he released here last year. proof that the butterfly can survive and mate. now for our question of the week but this time we're looking at the stuff that dreams are made of. whom are from wants to know do blind people see in their dreams. for people with normal
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vision dreams tend to be visual. they're like movies that recall and express our experiences fears and longings. but how do people dream who have been blind from birth. most studies suggest their dreams reflect how they experience the waking world. so they dream and sound smell touch and taste. their dreams are just as rich in sensory information and emotion as a sighted person is. but one study seems to have called this into question. a team of researchers asked people who had been born blind to draw what they'd experienced in their dreams. the results were surprising.
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the drawings were very similar to what a sighted person might produce. but how can that be researchers suspect that the brains of people who are born blind convert tactile sensations into visual representations. that's because in most blind people the visual cortex in their brain is intact it's just not receiving the visual signals. so blind people can see images in their mind's eye but it's not what's usually called vision. got a science question of your own then send it in if we answer it on the show you'll receive a copy of our animated einstein chain d.v.d. with clips that explain many of the great scientists most important theories the most important thing is to never stop asking questions.
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our view of the world has certainly been expanded by the cable car and there are real boon for skiers. you don't need to be a mountain near to enjoy a wonderful mountain panoramas but to actually get the system in place requires some dizzying acrobatics a new high tech cable car is now being installed in the far south of germany. conditions are harsh on top of the suv bitsa germany's highest mountain and soon to be the site of a new record breaking cable car. back at the beginning of april the system its replies its final trip almost fifty years after. it started operating. the dismantling and demolition work began soon afterwards the new system will burst cars with three times the passenger
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capacity of the retired version and has been designed to meet the latest safety standards. and key to that safety are the cables themselves which passengers lives literally hang on the job of making those critical hauling and supporting cables was given to specialists in switzerland supporting cables a subjected to enormous strain from the weight of the cars and also have to withstand temperature fluctuations and extreme winds. can ops even on each of the cables can take a lot almost seven hundred times and there are four of them missing a few respond to. this still ropes are all made from specially manufactured while. there's a lot of work to be done before it's real down to the cable making machine.
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it's a complicated process securing the ends and then winding the while onto industrial scale spools. in total over five million mate is of this wire are required to create the five kilometer long cable. once wound together the main supporting table is now run through a huge spinning machine this cable will bear the principle low during the system's operation and therefore has to be extremely secure. the cable manufacturers weave and number of steel wires around that core the resulting sheath will serve to protect the core from inclement weather and also ensure the car and its passengers have a nice smooth ride. the cable is now finished the next job is to transport it to. it's a no mean feat. the original cable
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car built in the early one nine hundred sixty s. was also a pioneering piece of engineering in its day it had to ascend almost two thousand meters in total a greater altitude than any other cable car on the planet had managed. its maiden voyage in nine hundred sixty two however was overshadowed by a near disaster when the cables became entangled and the car had to be slowly lowered back down to the base but in the half a century since the cars ran up and down without major mishap back to twenty seventeen and the new cable is being transported up to the base of the cable car named dr the leg at the foot of the mountain it takes two trucks hitch together to slowly carry the one hundred fifty tons of steel wire rope to its first destination breaking another record for the heaviest load ever transported on the roads of bavaria the journey from neighboring switzerland took several days finally at the
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end of july everything is in place for the next stage pulling the cable to the summit ironically it's to be carried out there using the pulling cable from the old cable car. even for the seasoned experts who made the cables it's a first. and. the only enormous difference in elevation two kilometers and the forces involved and we're inching the cable out of the top of the highest we've ever had. visits. and once the cables in place they'll be more world records in store although hardly for the place of installation a special winch hoists the metal right up the mountain at two hundred meters per hour. the one kilometer mark poses the first serious obstacle the cable has to be pulled
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over the new support tower at one hundred twenty seven mages the tallest in the world. it will replace the two older and smaller tower as. a man from the engineering team has to check that the cable is threaded precisely on to the rollers and the only way to get that close is via a series of loud as. the first section is done and. the second section constitutes not one but two world records a difference in altitude of almost two thousand mages and an unsupported span of over three kilometers. two days later and the project has been delayed by technical problems and inconvenient weather. but despite the fog the team resumed
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their work. when will the end of the cable finally come into view. then as the fog clear. is the farrel holding the cables emerges from the abyss. just a few meters to go now. and finally the teen can relax. it's a big relief to see the first drop and place it fits together well as. the manufacturer says the new cable will last at least fifty or sixty is if all goes to show jewel it will be taking the first passengers up and down germany's highest mountain come december. for more stories from the
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world of research on technology visit our website dot com slash science and if you want to get in touch go to our twitter and facebook pages we love hearing from you . that was it for today show next week we'll be hurtling into the future with the hyperloop the inventors say it's the way to go the idea is to transport passengers to their destination at supersonic speeds join us next time to see how it works until then good bye.
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