+
Science

People are baffled over this machine that sorts out green tomatoes in a mere second

The automated sorter technology is fascinating, as is watching it work in slow motion.

tomato sorting machine

An automated green tomato sorting machine is mesmerizing in slow motion.

For thousands of years, people around the world have been honing the art of agriculture. For the vast majority of human history, people planted and harvested and sorted produce largely by hand, gradually developing tools and machines over time that would make farming more efficient.

Many crops still have to be harvested and/or sorted by hand, but thanks to a rather mind-blowing machine, tomatoes aren't one of them. A machine that harvests tomatoes saves a ton of time and labor, but as tomatoes don't all ripen at the same time, pulling up an entire tomato plant results in a good number of green ones getting into the mix.

One solution to this problem would be to have the tomatoes transported down a conveyor belt in a factory while workers spot and remove the green ones by hand. However, an automated green tomato sorter does it right in the field as the tomatoes are being harvested, and a whole lot faster than any person ever could.


How many humans would it take to separate 32 green tomatoes from red ones in a single second? Um, a lot.

We'll get to the technology of how it works in a minute, but first you have to see the sorter work in slow motion. The machine is so fast you can't even really see what it's doing until you slow it down, but when you do, the wow factor is awesome. There are occasional misses, of course, but for how fast it's going, the accuracy is remarkable—and impressive to watch.

As James Vincent put it in The Verge, "It’s sorting tomatoes, but it looks like the fingers of God flicking damned souls straight into hell." Check this out:

So many immediate questions:

What?!?

How?!?

How does it know which tomatoes are green?

How does it work so precisely and freakishly fast to flick them away?

Am I the only one with a sudden urge to play Fruit Ninja?

The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation dove into a few of those questions with Don Douglas, president of Weco, a company that builds the optical technology behind the sorter. Douglas explained that light is used to create a reflection off the tomatoes and a sensor connected to software determines which tomatoes are green using that reflection.

It's actually tech that's been used for decades, but it's obviously been perfected and optimized over the years. Watch the machine at work and hear Douglas explain how it does what it does:

It's not always better to have machines do work humans can do, and there's certainly plenty of reason to be concerned about human labor being replaced by machines. But when that labor is back-breaking and tedious, technology can be a big help. Some inventions are also such prime examples of human innovation and ingenuity, you just have to marvel at them—even if they're just sorting green tomatoes from red ones.


Can we bring back some 50s fridge features, please?

There are very few things that would make people nostalgic for the 1950s. Sure, they had cool cars and pearl necklaces were a staple, but that time frame had its fair share of problems, even if "Grease" made it look dreamy. Whether you believe your life would've been way more interesting if you were Danny Zuko or not, most would agree their technology was...lacking.

All eras are "advanced" for their time, but imagine being dropped off in the 50s as someone from the year 2023. A recent post by Historic Vids on Twitter of a 1956 commercial advertising a refrigerator, however, has some people thinking that when it came to fridges, maybe they were living in the year 2056. I don't typically swoon over appliances, yet this one has me wondering where I can purchase a refrigerator like this.

Of course, there's no fancy touch screen that tells you the weather and asks how you'd like your ice cubed. It's got more important features that are actually practical.

Keep ReadingShow less

Couple investigating noises accidentally awaken a bear.

It's not uncommon to hear something outside of your house, especially if it's close to trash pick-up day. Raccoons and stray cats treat an overflowing trashcan like a holiday dinner, and even if you weren't sure if you heard something or not, the torn trash bags confirm your suspicion.

This is a pretty universal experience in America, so hearing a rustle under your house typically conjures images of a trash panda that got stuck. But for one family, the noises weren't coming from a raccoon at all. In a viral video on TikTok that has over 10 million views, a couple is outside looking for the source of the noises they've been hearing. The woman is filming at a fairly safe distance, while the guy investigates their crawl space.

Everything is going well. They hear what sounds like a hiss and with relief exclaim that it's a raccoon.

They were wrong. Like pee your pants, everyone for themselves, wrong.

Keep ReadingShow less

Australian comedy group Axis Of Awesome

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was found not liable on April 4 in a lawsuit where he was accused of stealing elements of the Marvin Gaye classic "Let's Get It On" for his 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud."

The case called attention to the fact that there are motifs and musical structures common in pop music that no one owns, and all are free to use. When it comes to chord progressions, the 12-bar blues and basic I, IV, V, I progressions you hear in country and folk have been used and reused since people first picked up the guitar.

In the wrong hands, the progressions can result in music that is boring and formulaic, but in the right hands, they can be a springboard for fresh ideas.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

What Hollywood gets wrong about corsets, and how the Victorians actually got a tiny waist

Bernadette Banner, a content creator focused of fashion history, breaks down how Victorians were "masters of illusion."

Bernadette Banner/Youtube

You'll never look at a corset with disdain again.

Usually when we think of corsets, the words suffocation, fainting and shifting organs probably come to mind.

This is certainly what Bernadette Banner has come across in the comments section of her Youtube channel, where she shares all kinds of fashion history education. The general consensus is that Victorian women were either all incredibly tiny or that they went to extremely dangerous lengths to achieve the highly exaggerated signature silhouette of the era, which was to have the bust 10 inches larger than the waist, with the hips 15 inches larger. 34-26-36, for example.

This notion is certainly backed by Hollywood, where we normally see women of that time period being laced up so tightly they can barely breathe, suffering under the crushing weight of whalebone and the patriarchy.

Keep ReadingShow less
Ted-Ed/Youtube

Technology isn't everything.

Crooked teeth is a very, very common occurrence in our modern world. Nine out of ten people have at least some misalignment going on in their mouths. Over 4 million people wear braces in the United States alone. I don’t know about you, but I can still feel the utter sticker shock from my own teeth-straightening journey. (I call it a “journey” so it feels a little more whimsical and less devastating.)

And yet, this is not something our ancestors dealt with. Like…at all. How could it be that no one experienced this normal modern-day conundrum in a time when we had exponentially less technological advancement?

As it turns out, technology might be the culprit, and a video from Ted-Ed explains it all.
Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy

Lots of joy and laughter in this week's list

Hey ho, happy humans!

Whether you're feeling stressed over end-of-the-school-year chaos, depressed over the challenges our world faces or refreshed by the beautiful spring blossoms blooming everywhere, you can surely use some extra doses of joy.

In this week's list, we have some delightful interactions between parents and young adult children, a hilarious take on millennials getting older, some helpful and entertaining animals, a throwback to one of the most iconic (and earwormy) jingles of all time, a photo that has been blowing people's minds and of course, some utterly adorable toddlers.

We hope these little nuggets brighten your day! Enjoy!

Keep ReadingShow less