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Sam Stevenson


Walmart File Patent for Robot Bees

Robot bees used to be the stuff of science fiction—but not any more.

No, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror, US retail giant Walmart has filed for a patent for autonomous robotic bees.

Walmart’s patent was filed on March 8 with the US Patent Office, awaiting approval.

Technically called pollination drones, the robots could potentially pollinate crops like real bees by carrying pollen from one plant to another, using sensors and cameras to detect the locations of the crops.

The drones would also be fitted with ‘sticky bristles’, enabling them to draw out the pollen and retain it until they fly to another flower.

A secondary drone would be programmed to follow along ensuring the pollen had been properly distributed.

This would provide an ingenious solution to the worrying decline in bees and other insects, which fertilize the crops that make much of the food Walmart sells.

It makes sense for the retailer to protect its interests in this way—especially considering its recent push to invest in its supply change because of increased competition from online retailer Amazon.

In an apparent effort to branch into agriculture, Walmart’s robot bee patent appears alongside five other patents for farming drones.

The other patents include a drone that would identify pests and another that would monitor crop health.

But Walmart is not the first organisation to create a robot bee.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have already created drones that act like bees.

These ‘Robobees’, as they call them, are about half the size of a paper clip and weigh less than one-tenth of a gram.

They use artificial muscles to fly, and some can swim underwater and perch on surfaces thanks to static electricity.

In 2017, a team at Japan’s Institute of Industrial Science and Technology demonstrated a 1.5-inch drone that was used to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies.

But these models proved too expensive and inefficient to suitably tackle the concern of the declining bee population.

Perhaps Walmart has the solution.

Trump's America

Trump’s America: The Story So Far

His presidency has been without doubt one of the most bizarre and erratic in America’s 241-year history—whether you love or loathe him, Trump is here to stay.

Donald J Trump, self-styled ‘stable genius’ and billionaire businessman, hardly sleeps, loves cable TV’s Fox & Friends, lives in perpetual campaign mode, dines on the finest American fast-food and uses Twitter as the strangest form of diplomacy. He also thrives on controversy, relentlessly seeking out his next target—be it the ‘fake news’ media or his Democratic foes.

College News takes a look at Trump’s America, his administration so far and the legacy it’s likely to leave.

A nation divided?

For his supporters, president Trump is the best thing to happen to the USA for years. He is the standard-bearer of American business, he stands up for the nation and champions the “America first” mantra. Indeed, support from his loyal base is staunch; thousands turn up to his rallies, worshipping their idol with pseudo-religious enthusiasm.

But millions of Americans regard Trump with dismay. For them, he is a divisive figurean egotist who stokes tensions over race, the media and the environment. His approval ratings are low—they linger at around 40 percent, according to Gallupyet if Trump has taught us anything, it’s that he repeatedly defies the pollsters and disproves the naysayers.

In an administration plagued by allegations of Russian collusion, accusations of racism and serial sacking of senior staff, Trump seems invincible. What’s more, the divisions he instils serve only to make him more defiant and eager to remain in power.

The predictability of Trump’s unpredictability

One thing is certain. The most predictable thing about Trump is his unpredictability—making it nigh on impossible for political commentators to foresee his next move. From his inauguration to his state of the nation address, Trump’s tone has fluctuated. He now seems more conciliatory, offering something of an olive branch to the Democrats, though this could change at any time, as appeasement certainly isn’t his style.

What we will see of the president over the next years is anyone’s guess. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the show—because that’s what Trump does best: he entertains. (Though some may question the sustainability of an entertainer at the political helm of the free world.)

A businessman in the White House

Trump is not a politician. Rather, he is a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to get the job done. As such, his cutthroat approach to business has permeated the White House, with the hiring and firing of senior staff as commonplace as his scolding of the mainstream media.

Perhaps this is what the American political system needs: someone who takes no prisoners to push an agenda through. Trump has signed 33 percent more executive orders than Obama in his first year. Which is awkward, given he criticised Obama on at least six occasions for making them. In January 2016, he said: “We have a president who can’t get things done so he keeps signing executive orders all over the place.” Nonetheless, you can’t deny Trump’s got guts; and this appeals to his unswerving devotees. They love the fact that, finally, someone is strong for America, asserting the country’s place on the capricious world stage.

The ‘Trump Bump’

Much has been made of the so-called Trump Bumpthe positive the effect the president has supposedly had on the U.S. economy since his election in 2016. However, the real question is how much of this positive sentiment can be rightly attributed to the policy plans of the new administration?

Since Trump’s election, the S&P 500 is up 20.4 percent. Only George H.W. Bush (23.7 percent), Lyndon Johnson (22.4 percent), John F Kennedy (24 percent) and Franklin D Roosevelt (23.8 percent) have beaten Trump. Yet, we must be careful not to take this arbitrary yardstick as gospel. Indeed, there are warning signs markets may be in imminent decline. The alleged ‘Trump Bump’, it seems, may well be short lived.


The successor of Obama, America’s first ever black commander-in-chief, has proved to be one of the most contentious figures in U.S. history and, more often than not, race is at the center of the controversy.

From his refusal to condemn white supremacists after a march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a civil rights activist was killed, to which he said: “I think there is blame on both sides”, to the condemnation of American football players who “take the knee” during the national anthem to make a statement against racial injustice, Trump has done little to heal America’s endemic during social malaise around race.

The majority of Americans (60 percent) say Trump’s election has led to worse race relations in the U.S., while just eight percent say it has led to better relations, according to a national survey by Pew Research Center.

If African American turnout at the next general election is high, the Republicans could pay the price.


Trump’s first year in office has been dogged by charges of collusion between his election campaign and Russia. The steady drip of revelations may hit fever pitch in 2018, with Robert Mueller’s appointment last May threatening to bring matters to a climax.

Should Mueller accuse Trump of collusion, there will be calls for impeachment, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are unlikely to heed them. Meanwhile the world waits for Trump to utter anything vaguely critical about Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s legacy

While most people have vehement feelings about Trump, a few inevitably haven’t made up their minds, preferring to let the results of his administration speak for themselves. Regardless of your opinion, Trump will go down in history as one of the most colourful, yet deeply notorious, presidents of all time. He is the product of an era of political populism and has ridden the wave spectacularly well.

Trump—a deft maneuverer—may not be a bona fide politician, but he has read and played America’s political pulse with enviable skill. For this, he will always be remembered.

Further reading: Donald Trump’s First Days as President

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking Dies Aged 76

Stephen Hawking, the visionary physicist, has died aged 76.

His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning confirming his death at his Cambridge home in England.

The statement was released by his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim.

It said: ‘We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.

‘He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.

‘His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world.

‘He once said, “It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.”

‘We will miss him forever.’

The family are asking for privacy at this difficult time but added their thanks to ‘everyone who has been by Professor Hawking’s side and supported him—throughout his life.’

Hawking was a pioneer of science who inspired generations of young scientists.

After he was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neuron disease at age 22 in 1964, Hawking was given just a few years to live.

But the determined young man defied his debilitating illness to far outlive those doctors’ gloomy predictions.

Known for his work on black holes, Hawking contributed to the academic community for years.

He brought his unparalleled expertise and unique insight to offer solutions to some of the world’s most complex scientific conundrums.

His extraordinary life and work inspired the 2014 film The Theory of Everything for which Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of the English professor.

In a display of his humoristic spirit, Hawking performed cameos in the US sitcom The Big Bang Theory as well as The Simpsons.

But in between those acting stints, his incredible mind continued to tackle everything from the universe’s origins, the possibility of time travel and the enigma of the solar system’s black holes.

Chicago Bears

Allen Robinson Set to Join Chicago Bears

Robinson: one of the most desirable receivers on the market; Chicago: one of the most receiver-needy teams.

 The Chicago Bears are reportedly expected to land Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson when the free agency opens to coincide with the new league’s kick-off on Wednesday.

Robinson intends to sign with Chicago Bears on Wednesday when free agency opens, barring any last minute snags, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Bears fans expect the three-year $42 million deal to help to solve their prior receiver deficit.

Robinson, who the Jaguars drafted in 2014, has 202 catches for 2,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games.

Returning after a torn ACL injury, sustained in week one of the 2017 season, the 24-year-old’s most explosive season to date was 2015, when he caught 80 passes for 1,400 yards and scored 14 touchdowns.

He saw the same number of targets (151) the next year, but saw his overall numbers decline (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns).

Robinson made just one catch in 2017 before suffering his torn ACL.

Speaking on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio on Monday, Robinson singled out the Chicago Bears as a potential fit.

He said: ‘For me, it’s a lot of teams out there who not only have interest in me, but who I have interest in.

‘It comes down to some other variables as far as kind of narrowing that down.

‘But from what I’ve heard about Chicago, it’s an amazing city and football town.’

The Bears, who haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014, struggled to replace former cornerstone Alshon Jeffery following his departure in free agency.

Their troubles in the passing game were compounded further by leading receiver Cameron Meredith’s 2016 ACL injury before the start of the season.

Kendall Wright led the team’s receiving game last season, with just 614 yards on 59 catches, and no other player could beat Tarik Cohen’s 353 receiving yards.

The Chicago Bears are hoping for a turnaround in their fortunes with Robinson, who now steps in as their immediate number one choice.

Further reading: NBA Star Derrick Rose to Sign with Timberwolves

School Shootings

When Will Horrific Scourge of School Shootings in America End?

We’re hardly two full months into 2018 and there have already been 18 school shootings—that’s roughly double the amount of the same time last year.

College News asks: when, if ever, will the horrific scourge of school shootings in America end?

Yesterday’s traumatic images from Parkland, Florida, are igniting once more the divisive debate of U.S. gun control.

Since 2013, there have been almost 300 school shootings in America—an average of about one a week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy organisation.

While these figures may be shocking, the right to bear arms is enshrined in the American constitution.

For many Americans, tightening up on gun laws won’t change anything.

They’d ask: what would stricter gun laws do to stop mentally unwell people from committing heinous acts?

In fact, a recent study, published in the Harvard  of Law & Public Policy, concluded nations with strict gun laws had higher murder rates than those who did not in general.

“For instance, Denmark has roughly half the gun ownership rate of Norway, but a 50 percent higher murder rate, while Russia has only one‐ninth Norway’s gun ownership rate but a murder rate 2500 percent higher.

“There is not insubstantial evidence that in the United States widespread gun availability has helped reduce murder and other violent crime rates,” the study said.

Still, this doesn’t hide the fact gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and injuries annually; or that several of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history have taken place in schools.

In 2007, 32 victims were killed at Virginia Tech. The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre left 26 dead.

Wednesday’s mass shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas is the deadliest since Sandy Hook.

Michael Irwin, a parent whose son attended the school, told the Guardian newspaper: “All the regulation in the world wouldn’t have prevented necessarily what happened today. It’s something that’s tragic, but what regulation can you pass that takes away the guns already out there?”

John Crescitelli, a family doctor and parent whose 15-year-old child was caught up in the shooting, said: “These school shootings have to stop. This is crazy. My son’s football coach died. It’s horrible. It’s like Columbine across the street from my house.”

 Sarah Tofte, director of research and implementation at Everytown, told CNBC: “We really do deserve to live in a place where children are free from gun violence in their homes, schools and communities.”

She added: “When you look at all the ways children are impacted by gun violence, you realize what a tremendous problem we have as a country.”

President Trump is a strong advocate of every American’s right to bear arms.

So where does this leave the nation? Will these school shootings ever stop?

Share your views with us.

Further reading: Do Millennials Trust Trump with Gun Control?