SIGN of the times at an event in the House of Commons...

The Daily Express says that a 'robot' called Pepper gave evidence to a Commons education select committee.

Pepper is a "culturally aware" automaton based at Middlesex University as part of an EU-Japanese project to develop robots to help care for older people.

“She” appeared before the committee to discuss how such technology can help in schools.

The robot stood and moved its arms and head as it gave pre-programmed answers to questions which had been sent in advance,.

Pepper bowed before introducing itself and explaining how Middlesex students had programmed its interfaces to work with primary school children and those with special need.

MPs applauded at the end of the session and committee member Lucy Allan told it: “You're better than some of the ministers we have had before us.”

 

 

Fancy your own island with an historic past?

Well The Guardian informs us that Drake's Island in Plymouth South, which was named after the seafarer Sir Francis Drake, is up for sale for £6m.

The fortress island includes 16th-century barracks, a series of tunnels and planning permission for a luxury hotel and spa complex.

Drake set sail from the island in 1577 to circumnavigate the globe and it played a crucial role in defending Plymouth from French and Spanish invasions.

It has also been used as a prison, a religious centre, a refuge and, most recently, an adventure training facility, which closed in 1989.

 

 

Football fans were subjected to a 'sausage string' according to an article in The Independent.

Supermarket chain Sainsburys' wanted to promote a new range of vegetarian food and fans attending the Crystal Palace versus Wolves Premier League match in London ordered burgers and hot dogs from a burger van but were not told they contained meat alternatives.

The Independent said that several fans expressed their surprise after being told what they had eaten but praised the 'nice taste.'

Tony Arch is quoted as saying: “Very nice, it’s not meat but it tastes like meat.”

 

The Daily Express warns readers that massive hornets “the size of MICE” have been spotted flying around Kent for the first time.

Apparently the Asian hornets – real name vespa velutina - can grow to around an inch long and have sparked fears for native species because only a couple of hornets could kill an entire hive of bees.
They were spotted foraging on ivy in Dungeness and chief plant health officer Nicola Spence, from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, commented: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

“While they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.”

 

 

Westminster Abbey is to dedicate a memorial to the author PG Wodehouse 43 years after his death reports The Guardian.

Wodehouse was author of almost 100 books, and the creator of characters including Jeeves and Wooster.

The abbey said the plans, which were at a very early stage, will see Wodehouse honoured with a stone. More than 100 poets and writers are buried or have memorials in the abbey’s Poets’ Corner, from Jane Austen to CS Lewis.

Reference list:

The Express (www.express.co.uk)

The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)

The Independent (www.independent.co.uk)