VIRTUAL TEACHERS: UK university to trial ‘hologram’ lecturers

London – VIJAY SHAH via LEO KELION and BBC News

A university in the United Kingdom will become the first in the world to introduce ‘holographic’ teaching staff for its students, according to a report by national broadcaster BBC News. 

Imperial College London is bringing in 3D projection technology that will emit ‘holograms’ of lecturers who are unable to attend their lectures in person. While the teacher will not be physically present, the futuristic technology will carry across their voice and body movements. Similar technology was used for a Tupac Shakur music concert at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2010, and has also been adopted by airports and train stations.


The new technology, which was launched officially this past Thursday, will be at first used solely for students learning at Imperial’s Business School, but the university expects the technology to become more commonplace, perhaps eventually superseding video conferencing and Skype. The technology also means lecturers can broadcast to several halls, holding the same lecture simultaneously, which will cut down on teaching hours.

“The alternative is to use video-conferencing software but we believe these holograms have a much greater sense of presence,” Dr David Lefevre, director of Imperial’s Edtech Lab, told the BBC.

“The lecturers have a high-definition monitor in front of them which is calibrated so they can point at people and look them in the eye. They can really interact.”

Unlike previous such projections, more than one person can be included in Imperial’s ‘holograms’. Projected users also do not have to be even in the same country as the lecture hall for the technology to ‘beam’ their image in front of scholars.

The Imperial technology was developed with the Canadian firm, Arht Media. Lecturers using the technology must stand in a special ‘capture studio’ in front of a black background. The university will be able to make use of two such studios in Los Angeles, USA and Toronto in Canada, alongside a portable projection kit for visiting guest speakers.


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“‘Hologram’ lecturers to teach students at Imperial College London” – Leo Kelion, BBC News/BBC (1 November 2018)


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PHOTO MOMENT: Canadian elf coin


A 25-dollar pure silver coloured coin issued by Canada in 2016. The coin, part of a popular and recent tradition of countries issuing coinage with full-colour scenery and even holographic elements, shows a mythological ‘woodland elf’ on the reverse. The elf, dressed in green hat and suit, is busy at work building a wooden birdhouse amidst typical northern Canadian forest scenery. The obverse features a unique profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

The coin was recently launched by the Royal Canadian Mint, based on a design by local artist Jesse Koreck, and is being sold at face value in Canada and the United States.


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“2016 $25 Woodland Elf Silver Coin for $25” – via NUMISMATICS (14 October 2016)

CALGARY STABBING: Man attacked on Friday night; hospitalised

Calgary, CANADA
Chinook arch over the city of Calgary, Alberta...
Chinook arch over the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An unidentified man was viciously attacked and stabbed in the southwest of the Canadian city of Calgary on Friday night, according to a brief report by online regional news site yesteday.

The man sustained serious stab wounds and was found at around 11:30 pm local time on Friday night. He was taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition, the site reports.

Calgary police officers were called out to a car park close to a pub on 11 Avenue and 8 Street South-West in a touristy part of the city, near the MEC sports shops and restaurants.

Police have yet to determine how the incident unfolded. They are currently investigating and searching for the assailants.

The man’s age and details have not yet been released.

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“Man stabbed Friday night in Calgary’s southwest” – via (11 June 2016)
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“File:Chinook Arch-Calgary.JPG” – Qyd, Wikimedia Commons (9 March 2007)


CANADA SAVING TIME: Clocks go forward this weekend

Montreal, CANADA
VIJAY SHAH via Montreal Gazette and

Residents in most parts of Canada are being notified that they will need to change their clocks an hour forward as much of the country switches from standard time to daylight saving time this weekend, meaning they will technically lose an hour of sleep, the Montreal Gazette reports via

The time change kicked in on yesterday night towards this morning and those who have not yet made the change are being encouraged to reset their watches and clocks to avoid arriving an hour late for work tomorrow, the Gazette advises.


While most Canadian provinces such as Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, which operate on different timezones anyway, will observe daylight savings time, this does not apply to every part of Canada. The province of Sasketchewan remains on Central Standard Time year-round. Other regions that will not be changing their clocks are a part of north-east British Columbia, as well as that province’s East Kootenay region; three villages in the Central Time Zone covering north-west Ontario, the eastern tip of Quebec and Southampton Island in the northern Arctic province of Nunavut.

Everyone outside those areas will be observing DST until it finishes on November 6, 2016, in which case they will return their clocks an hour back to winter time.

The Montreal Gazette is also warning drivers to take extra care on roads over fears that the lost hour of sleep will impair their motoring ability on Canada’s highways. The newspaper cited a 1996 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed car accidents shot up by 8 per cent on the first Monday after the clocks change.

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“Don”t forget to set clocks ahead an hour tonight and drive carefully Monday” – Montreal Gazette via – Canada (13 March 2016)
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HUMOUR MOMENT: Snow-shovelling – There’s no app for that?!!

with Vipul Bhundia (image contributor)

(c) V. Bhundia

Those of you who are currently living or visiting the United States and Canada, or do not live there but have been following the news this past week, are presumably very much aware of the weird weather phenomenon that is gripping the north American continent. A body of extremely bitter cold air from the Arctic tundra has meandered its way down south and has enveloped the continent in very cold temperatures close to -40 to -50 degrees Celsius, coupled with heavy snow drifts. This phenomenon has been referred to by both meteorologists and the news media as a ‘polar vortex’. It may sound like something falling out of the pages of a sci-fi novel, but it is very real. By Wednesday, temperatures of -12 C were reported in New York and -8 in nearby Boston, Massachusetts. Ironically, a town in Michigan state called Hell, reported air temperatures of -37 degrees Celsius or so. So Hell really did freeze over….. The Niagara falls on the border of the two countries turned into ice on the spot, a spectacle last observed in the 19th century. Lake Michigan also froze over. Extremely low temps were even reported near the summit of Mauna Kea, in tropical Hawai’i state far out in the mid Pacific Ocean.

This combined Humour/Photo Moment comes from my cousin Vipul via a mobile upload on Facebook and it’s a now rather ironic cartoon of a boy having to help his dad clear the snow from their driveway. I can guess this kid is not used to hard work and likes the company of his phone but there’s no escaping some back-breaking labour with a hefty dose of elbow grease and a dash of frostbite to keep daddy dearest from spending all winter at home snowed in with his beers. Poor kid. While shovelling snow from the front yards of houses is a common sight of US and Canadian localities during the winter months, it’s much rarer in Britain especially in the South, where it’s more likely to rain rather than snow. Most snow removal our way consists of scraping ice crystals off the car windscreen. My cousin happens to be a driving instructor so this must be a pain in the snowballs for him!! Sadly some of the twenty-one fatalities reported so far from the areas hit by the vortex have been of people who perished from heart attacks as they attempted to tackle the snow flurries in these abnormal conditions.

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PENNIES DOWN THE DRAIN: Canada bids farewell to 1 cent coins

Look after the pennies, and the pennies will look after the pounds” – traditional English proverb

This month, the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba state, will mint the last of Canada’s one-cent coins or ‘pennies’. Rapidly-rising costs of metal and production at the mint mean that it now costs 1.5 cents to produce each coin, so they are now a loss-making initiative. Inflation of the Canadian dollar has rendered the 1-cent nearly worthless and businesses and consumers do not see any point in the penny any longer. After a hundred years of history, the very last one-cent coin came off the press on the 4th of May, 2012, and was subsequently donated as a display piece for the Bank of Canada’s currency museum. Up till then, the Mint manufactured 7,000 tonnes of cents every year. The national treasury estimates it will save $11 million a year scrapping the penny.

The last of Canada’s pennies. (eBay photo)

The smallest value coin currently in circulation, the 1-cent piece is distinctive. Made from copper-plated steel for economic reasons, the money depicts a set of maple leaves on the front and the Queen’s head on the back. Designed by GE Kruger Gray, the Canadian cent is nearly the same as its cousin in the US dollar, as are the currency’s other denominations. Introduced in 1858, the penny was intended to bring order to the monetary system, which at that time consisted of British colonial coins, bank tokens, US dollars and Spanish pieces-of-eight. The first coins were much larger than they are now, and were distrusted by the public because of their relatively light weight and novelty. The penny did however spread all over Canada after the unity of its component states, or ‘Confederation’ in 1867.

Metal markets made things difficult for the humble coin. In 1920, the ‘large cents’ gave way to smaller versions as the price of copper shot through the roof. Then pure copper cents were supplanted by debased versions, simply a sandwich of zinc or steel encased in the red metal; a process also repeated in other world currencies as intrinsic prices made metal an expensive medium. They remained (and technically still are) legal tender.

By 2010, the Canadian government set up a report deciding the future of the penny, which was fast becoming useless. Only 37% of the population used pennies on a regular basis, most coins ending up stuffed in piggy banks or jars, or lost down the backs of sofas. People saw the extra pennies as deadweight in their wallets/purses. The Mint was still pressing 816 million pennies per year, equal to 25 per Canadian. The Senate subsequently recommended the penny be dropped.


  • In the French-speaking province of Quebec, 1-cent coins are known as ‘sou’ from an old French currency. Also referred to as ‘cenne noir’ (black penny).
  • While both the Canada and U.S. cents are traditionally round, from the years 1982-1996, the Canadian version has twelve sides to enable recognition by users with partial or no sight.
  • A cent from 1936, with a distinctive dot mintmark, were actually manufactured the following year, as the RCM was waiting for new dies (coin presses) due to the abdication of King Edward VIII. One fetched $400,000 at a 2010 collector’s auction.
  • The exact metal composition of a 1-cent piece is as follows: 94% steel, 1.5% nickel and only 4.5% copper.
  • Canadian cents often are used unofficially in neighbouring America, which has similar coinage. Toll booth operators see them as a pain. Interestingly enough, both country’s coins are also the bane of British shopkeepers, as they frequently turn up in small change in the UK.
  • Coins are highly susceptible to currency inflation. Many nations had even completely done away with small change, such as Vietnam, and rely solely on banknotes.