What is Calico?

The launch last week of Google's Calico - California Life Company - is an important step in the battle against ageing.  But we still don't know whether it is a head-on charge against death itself, or an incremental approach, tackling individual diseases with Big Data.  The distinction is, well, a matter of life and death. Aubrey de Grey is Chief Science Officer of SENS, which stands for Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence.  He thinks that by repairing seven types of molecular and cellular damage to the body which are caused by our basic metabolic processes, we can halt the ageing...

Robots in agriculture

This cute little chap is Harvey, a robotic shifter of pot plants.  Pot plants need to be moved around a lot within nurseries as they grow, for instance to allow the right spacing between them.  It is tedious, time-consuming work, but Harvey doesn't mind.  Using sophisticated on-board sensors and simple programming, he can reliably shuffle his charges from here to there and back again.  And again...  And with a price tag of $30,000, the manufacturers are confident he will be cost-effective for many growers. The management of pot plants is not the most obvious application of the emerging robotics industry...