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The Southwestern Arms (upstairs room) , 36 Adelaide Rd, St Denys, SO17 2HW
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Monday 11 September 2017, Joy Richardson, Soton uni : The Future of Automated Driving
There will be 3 of us speaking; I will do a brief introduction to our team and the research we are currently doing. Jed Clark will talk about trust in driving automation and James Brown will talk about the development of SUDS Southampton University Driving Simulator. We will aim for 15 minutes each.
44 people, 1.7 hours
We're a mulyidisciplinary team within the transportation research
group . We work under Prof Neville Scanton. We have a range of
backgrounds including psychology , engineering, computer science,
software , neuro science and design.
Human Factors Design is to improve human performance and
systems, especially with the introduction of new tech and
automation. We also analyse accidents and make recomendations for
accident reduction in the future. Our research encompasses
aviation, defence , energy distribution , maritime, medical , nuclear
, road and rail transportation and oil and gas production.
Human interaction with tech , transect all these domains.
Human Factors methods can be used to analyse and make
predictions about the performance of individuals , teams and
systems in any domain. The inputs gained from people interacting
with tech , can be used to design better systems and ways of
working in the future. Our research helps inform the human/
machine interfaces in things like cars planes, nelicopters,
submarines , also the design of control-rooms such as
production or military control rooms. The organisation of teams
can be informed by our work. The information flow within teams can
be informed by our work. The ultimate overall aim is to improve
safety. We work with industry and other institutions. Our work has
many practical applications, not just research , they do end up
in cars or control rooms etc in the real world.
One piece of kit in our dept is SUDS the Soton Uni driving Simulator.
A high fidelity simulator, based around a LandRover Discovery.
This simulator allows us to test new tech in vehicles , in a safe
environment , rather than on real roads , which is dangerous.
We can try it all out in the lab , where its very safe.
The simulation software allows us to build different types of routes
for different studies . We've recently developed a route that goes
from Bolderwood (dept base) down the M27 , back on the
A27 , to Mansbridge by the Fleming Arms.
In a current project we are developing systems to reduce
traffic accidents in the developing world. So we're mapping
areas of Hannoi, Bangladesch to build into the simultor
software . The hardware and the software around the
driver allows us to collect loads of data. An eye-tracker which
records the gaze of the driver. We can test response times ,
via a variety of cues . Standard vehicle telemetry , audio and
video recording of the driver and driving.
Another project is an eco-driving project , targetting
significant reduction in fuel consumptoin and emissions
in passenger and light road vehicles. So looking at interfaces that
may encourage people to drive more efficently .
Human behaviour during highly automated driving,
human/machine interface, driver state monitoring
in highly automated driving, predicting real
world effects of such driving and looking at the legal
and marketing perspectives.
So myself and colleages here James Brown and Jeb Clarke
we all work for a highways ? project. In colaboration with a team
at Cambridge Uni and funded by Jaguar LandRover.
So we are researching problems with interfacing drivers
with automated vehicles, above level 3 automation.
There are 7 levels of this automation. In level3
the car can drive itself a lot of the time and when it is doing so,
the driver does not have to pay attention. The next stage , the
driver can do something like read the newspaper , play games
or watch a film. However the car will have some
limitation situations and would require the driver to
take control, at roundabouts or sharp turns, and it knows in
advance that it will have to hand over to the driver.
So we are developing soultions as to how the car gets the
attention back to the driver, in a safe and timely manner, who is doing something immersive. Hopefully JLR will have a clear set of models , methods
and guidelines, involving prototypes.
We have a cycle of establishing the problem , designing a solution
and testing. Currently we are using SUDS , 4 different ways for the
automated vehicle to hand over to the driver.
58 participants seen at the moment, probably 75 in total.
Testing out the different scenarios on them, seeing how they react
and finding out what people think of them. The results will then
be transfered to the JLR test track at Gaydon? leading to a test vehicle
for testing on public roads. Hopefully progressing to JLR production
I'm a senior research assitant at the uni , my main role is running the
driving simulator lab. The Discovery was lent to us by JLR, and we needed
a high performance simulator for human factors research.
It needs to be realistic, the testee needs to feel he is inside a real
vehicle . It needs to be adaptable and configurable. We need to specify the
kind of driving environment and be able to record a lot of information.
So we record control useage , eye-tracking data, video footage.
The software will output a lot of data.
We log all the driver interactions , all the controls are logged, anything they
do in the simulator. The software we use is called ?3 , it allows us to
customise scenarios . We can design the roads that we are driving along.
We can set up different things like somebody jumping out
in front, different on-road scenarios all of which are customisable.
The data is logged as CSV files, so can be inputted straight
to spreadsheets and do calculations. The environment is augmented
by creating 3D objects from the Southampton routes, to increase
the realism effect. The parameters are set for the discovery model
but we can simulate pretty much anything ouside of
articulalted vehicles. We have the open module , a DLL dynamic link library
in DB6 t o extend the functionality , by writing new code that can
then be integrated with other software.
Some of the customised 3D models, the City Gate building at Swaythling
for instance. Starting in Linkscape? applied to a 3D model , Blended?
software. We export those and place them whereever we want ,
scaling and position , so all very customisable.
The car is a 2015 Discovery Sport, with 4 projectors in total
3 at the front gives a good wide-field view . Customisable LCD display rear-view
mirrors . Also turntables under the wheels, as we don't have rollers
as not actually moving. So when you steer it would otherwise wear
the tyres and floor. We have apneumatic system for the brakes as the
engine must not be run in the lab environment. The brake master-servo
would not be running , as no suction from the manifold.
Using the lab pneumatic system we run that through a venturi
to provide the pressure.
Q: Normally there ar ea lot of signals that would be flying around the
car , not there as no running engine. How are you getting
complete behaviour .
You are refering to spoofing. The fact the engine is not running causes errors ,
a section later I'll cover on CanBus.
We have some webcams recording video data, pedal actions
and if the driver is doing deliberate secondary tasks , something other
than driving . So we need to look at the driver while he's doing that ,
to give us more info. So CAN and CanBus, CAN stands for Control
Area Network. This is the system that we plug into,
to get the control data from the car.
It was developed by Bosch in the 1980s and is now pretty well
in all modern cars. Since 2008 it has been mandatory in the USA
to have a CAN in their vehicles.
It allows multiple electronic components to be connected together
, in the same bus, so saving a lot of wiring in the wiring loom.
Accessed by the OB2 ? socket , normally under the
dashboard used for diagnostics and more, often seen in
garages to plug into a laptop.
CAN is fundamentally 2 wires , white and green as a twisted
pair. Messages are sent by changes in voltage, 5V represents 1 and making a
step change it transmits a 0. Combined in a frame which has
2 parts, the ID specifying the priority of the message and also the
component involved. 8 bytes of data and can contain multiple pieces of
data , maybe 8 pieces of info ,16 or 64 bits of information.
This variability makes it a bit difficult to interpret. We raised some
software to do this.
With CAN all components can comunicate with all other.
So why connect lots of different systems together, say, the ABS
system to the AirCon system. THey don't need to talk to each
other but as all are connected to the same bus , if they need to talk
they will listen. A relevant message on the bu an individual
component will respond , if not relevant it is ignored.
High priority messages will over-ride any low priority messages.
So if the wheel system is sending out to the ABS system , that is
a high priority message. Something to the aircon would just be overwritten.
How do we use this data feed. We use an Efad? to CAD interface,
and Arduino microcontrollers, with appropriate shields that allows us
to interpret the data. So 2 CAN nodes and a Windows interface allows us
to test the sytem and software. The data comes out as Hexadecimal
strings and input data in the same format.
When we want to get the control data from the car , steering data,
throttle , brakes, all that is on the CAN, but we need to know
where that dat ais. If you plug into a car's AB2 to read CAN dat a
there is a lot of HEX and you need to know where it is.
So the CAN look-up database, that is usually proprietary
information , not something car companies would release to the
general public, we've been given it for research purposes.
In amongst that data is the ID of the component node, the start
bit , the number of bits , endianess which is the byte order
for scaling in offsets. So from Hex convert to Binary start bit ,
count of fthe number of bits , taking the endianess into account
an integre value , then scale it by a fine offset. Scaling is sometimes necessary
if the value is slightly larger or smaller than it nedds to be.
If something is not zero, then can apply that offset.
I wrote some software that does all this, data in from the
arduinos or from the ?? , interprets it and gives an integre value
for steering ,throttle and brake and any other relevant controls
in the car. We send that to as an open source and we have essentially
a 2 ton , 40,000GBP joystick. The software reads the output from
Spoofing. If you have a car thats not running, it will be throwing out a lot
of errors, even the instrument cluster saying the ABS is not working, tyre
pressures are wrong. Because it defaults to thinking everything is disconnected, which of course it is. I thought about sending individual
bits of data saying everything is fine. But a colleague suggested why not
record data from a normal car, with its engine running, and send that
in . So we save it as a CSV and stream it in and it works brilliantly.
Its all now fully functional and being used for research.
A post-grad researcher looking at how we interact with
automated tech. At the end of the day , when we create these
systems , we're the ones using it and find the weak areas of our systems.
Joy touched on levels of automation .
So bare-bones vehicle lvel 00, with no automation at all.
level1 is where 1 thing is functioning , that could be automatic breaking
or cruise control.
level2 is where there is more than 1 system that can work together and
work for you . Our interest is level3 and 4, when a car can drive itself
, but in the near future we still need a human in that system,
to take over if the situation goes outside its comfort zone
and we have to take back control. An incredibly difficult
problem to solve . How close to actuality it all is.
A couple of strategies that manufacturers are taking currently.
Skipping this human control element completely
and going straight for full automation . Because a human having to
drive with a robot is very difficult. Google and Tesla
are doing this. We and JLR are interested in level 3 and 4.
Self driving on the highway 2020 in the UK, one company looking at 2018
for automated on the roadway. It is legislation that stops us
, the Vienna Convention allows us test the tech 2014 onwards.
I don't know how this represents us as consumers at the moment.
Volvo is about 1 year behind or so. Renault Nissan looking at
2020 for urban conditions. Highway is quite simple , lateral
positioning, longitudinal posiitioning , braking and
overtaking. But urban environments there are pedestrians,
crossings and junctions, 2010 I'm not convinced.
When we talk of humans working with tech , how much
do we trust this tech and how much can we work as a team
with our driverless vehicles .
[Audience participation / group discussion section, involving
5 sorts of tech and our trust of it]
GPS crossings change to roundabouts or vice versa or something is not right.
Isn't it unreasonable to expect 100% accuracy. If i go on a 100 mile drive
and 1 of the junctions it gets wrong. I'm not going to say its unreliable
based on just 1 error. If a system is designed to avoid pedestrians
and only hit one of them on the way, then that might not be aceptable.
I will assume it is 100% reliable , for this philosophical discussion.
You are in control of a runaway train, lets say. It is definitely going to
hit 5 people, if I don't do anything. But if I pull a lever , it will
hit 1 person, what do you do. By extension, lets get to the
stage where all cars communicate with each other. And they can perform
a desent simulation of what is going to hsppen. Lets say that your car knows
that by ploughing into the truck ahead , it will save the lives of 5
people , but sacrifice you.
You will want the tech that you've bought to look after you , but these
decisions are made so quickly , that there is a n element of philosophy
behind the point.
With anything that gives prediction rather than certainties, you will
always have philosophy involved. The lesser of 2 evils , there wil lalways
be this question. For science it is hard to give clear cut answeres on that.
Does my automated car need a morality dial .
The Smart Phone, we trust that it works but its loaded with
apps. How much do you trust them. Loads of different systems in one piece,
not necessarily of known and trusted provenance. A lot to do with
the reputation of the supplier of apps , not just the tech itself.
A lot of the behaviour of any software system is intangible.
So more generally, how do you trust something , whose operation
you cannot sense or see. Cars are a bit like that.
Airline pilots. Well trained, using proven concepts . They are already
assisted by computers, but still a hman element.
Airlines had automation trialled in the 1970s at the forefront of
automation , it is still integrated with a human.
Still big problems , when handing over from the automation
back to the pilot , lots of accidents happen at that point.
With aviation studies, as you have to sense everything , through something
else, you cant just look out the cockpit window to determine height
over ground say. You always have an instrument to go through.
Autonomous cars are a bit easier on that front, but it is something that
has been bugging us for decades. The pilots are not continually
monitoring the automation and when the automation kicks out, and
hands over to the pilot, he has to gather all that data quickly,
and not always quick enough. Exactly this with driverless vehicles
and hand over. We learn a lot from aviation studies , a lot
of my work is how to apply such principles from other sectors,
to autonomous drivers.
Smart toaster. Do you trust your toaster. How does it know
about different types of bread. No one who has had a toaster
catch fire, will ever trust a toaster again.
Driverless vehicles. I'd trust it on the motorway as not too many
variables. Tricky in the urban environment. Its very true as to where the
tech is at the moment.
Loads of reasons why you trust and don't trust various tech.
Trust , in terms of technology, we talk about it in a specific way.
You and the tech achieving a common goal. Trust is whether you think that
common goal wil be achieved within the constraints of uncertainty
Taking the airline pilot, we have a lot of empathy , we know exactly
how humans work. Even if our trust shouldn't be placed i na human ,
per se, because they do make errors, if not more than autonomous
systems. (why we are pushing forward this tech). But we find it
so easy to trust humans. That is characterised by being certain about
his/its actions and whether he/it will take care of us .
We are more likely to trust things that are less likely to harm us.
So the toaster. I trust my toaster to do its job , because not many
varialbles involved , and its unlikely to kill me unless I'm stupid,
it could only burn your bread.
But autonomous vehicles could kill other people .
That is the bare bones arguments around trust.
Trust via the following factors.
Natural tendency to trust or mistrust tech or even other humans
Its something that integrates with tech and its about you as an
Then organistional trust. Built around reputation
of a product, like the apps on the smart phone. Fears concerning
data, are brought about in a very organisational sense ,
or social sense. We fear tech, based on the reputation its getting
and gossip. The culture we live in has a massive impact on this
trust . The norms and expectations. eg as scientists we are certain
autonomous vehicles will eleminate the human error elemt
of road-traffic collisions. At the moment that is 95% of RTA
is down to the human driver. If we can eliminate 95% ,that will
be great . So if we want to push this tech into the future
our expections eventually will be if we don't use AVs , you are
unethical. Society as a whole will make you want to trust it,
even automatically trust it. A strange collection of all these things
come together to give a level of trust in AV tech.
A model comes in on the trust element, whether you intervene or you
trust it to go its own way. Leave it to do its job, there is a chance
an error will emerge in the system and you are over-trusting it.
Conversely if you dont use AV when you really should, again ,
you as the human user, may bring about an RTA yourself.
On x axis , how much you SHOULD trust your tech, on the y
axis how much you ACTUALLY trust it.
We expect AVs to equal the other amount, on the diagonal line,
that is called Calibration of Trust. Tht is the ultimate
sweet spot that we wnt as then you are working as a team
with the automation , intervening when you think it will
crash, leaving it do its job when yopu should.
Q: Your definition oif trust includes vulnerability, you don't
have a value in there that concerns hackers and the converse , I
don't want to run over too many people. A terrorist hacke rwants to
run over as many people as possible.?
The way I'm discussing trust at the moment is , how we use it,
as we're driving. This is personal trust in its capabilities.
The trust you are referring to is, how much would we trust it
as a whole. They are both interlinked , unfortunately this model
excludes that. It does get more complicated getting out to that level.
Q: Are you concerned about someone who behaves as if he trusts it
, they are coerced into that behaviour , in that they would be penalised
otherwise, and actual trust , their inner conviction?
We are very different in our trusts. You are worried about the
Q: You talked earlier of the modalities that society would
become to have. None-the -less as a n individual I might be
behaving as though I trusted it, but its a grudging attitude?
One of those things that us as designers , especially human
factors researchers, we have to consider people like that.
We all have these deep concerns and they're all valid and I
feel as though , if we can create a system in our lives that
has the right level of trust and also where your level of tust
should be accommodated for . How we design that in , I think we
could design it to factor in all our levels of trust.
Q: My take on what you have said is, you are assuming you
could persuade me ?
Yes, as an engineer I like to think I can create something that
is suitable to the masses and beneficial to society atr the same
time. Its my goal to at least persude you .
Q: Almost 50 years ago I was doing a motorcycling course ,
half the course is about what you should be doing bu tit was instilled
into us, how vulnerable we were as road users. So approaching
any situation you have to almost forget what the driver
ought to be doing and reflect on what they might do.
In any transistion situation where you both computer and human
driven cars on the road. The computer has no way of telling
whether the car approaching you at a junction is driven by
a human who might come straight out without looking or a
computer that will automatically stop. Is that one of the
problems of the interface between .?
This opens up a massive can of worms. Different categories
of automation having to react to human or a robot.
There is modelling that says that it doesn't work. it makes things a lot
worse. You want an idea where you have full automation or
full human control. All very difficult , in between.
What we are trying to do is creating an interconnection of
all AVs so they can talk to each other and to road signals,
that is the idea. So theoretically we should know whethe rthe
approaching is an AV. Whether that will go ahead, I'm not sure,
in a research perspective. The cross-over will be very difficult.
We're not certain how it will be done yet, an area we are
definitely looking into. Loads of ethical questions come in there.
Q: Assuming everyone does trust , and reduce the 95% of RTA.
I had one of my lodgers check some site management systems and
found 1291 errors in it. How much are we likely to have AV accidents
due to software errors?
I read a handy paper about the errors that happen at ech stage of design.
From a design perspective a hell of a lot of errors does go on,
so you have to factor in this. So you are saying, we may eliminate 95%
but we will add on others. The way I've delivered this, yes it sounds
great, but you are right a valid concern.
Our AV guys are looking at the learning sofware, treating it as a
system that can learn , DeepMind/ heuristic maybe the terms , I
think that wil lbe the solution. You need to allow it to learn .
Q: With cameras involved on AVs and you have severe weather ,
such as slush and ice , what happens?
The tech we have now, we have poblems with the weather and is
one of the biggest factors that we can't overcome yet. We have researchers
looking at different ways of sensing the environment. All these things
are difficult to solve. I cannot stand here and say the answers are there
or even we can do things in the near future . If we have AVs cming out
in 2018 or 2010 I'd want the technology to be above that.
We as a research group are not concentrating on the physical aspects
of AV driving.
Q: The legal system might put limits on the driver, such as you're
responsible no matter whether you ar eusing a robot system or not
and these are the consequences if you are not responsible.?
Many manufacturers of above level3 have said that the technology will be their fault
if there is a crash and they will tae liability. With level3 , I really should
find out about that one as it is part of my research compass.
Q: There are 2 modes posible in urban AV driving. The car decided its senses ar ecompromised , it cant make safe predictions and so the user musrt
assume control. And also the user may independently drive , because they
wish to assume control, because they don't trust it in some particular
circumstance. So juggling those 2 different modes. ?
The calibration of trust essentially. With 2 humans working you can
share responsibility, taking the blame for things, but can tech take the
blame for things, based on the interaction you've got with it, much more
complicated. A couple of examples where our trust falls out of line with
automation. Most automation failures come from aviation , just becauyse
they've been there longer. The automated throttle from the San Fransisco
landing- they came over a mountain, not taking into account
how much their velocity would change coming in to landing. The
auto throttle did what it was supposed to do but a human did not
understand it, but also you trust it too much. Anothe r sector, railway -
speed restrictions and drivers like to think they can push speed
limits based on their own experiences. But automation does know
better in this scenario, and many railway accidents have occured due to
over-riding of warnings of sppeed. In the 80s it got to the point where
operators would tape over buzzers , just because it was annoying ,
and not having enough trust in the system even though it was preventing
them creating errors.
Q: The pilot error example , was it genuinly the error of that
particular pilot or would all other pilots validly say , that could
just as easily have been us? was it really error in the sense of
someone doing something they should not?
There were 2 pilots in this event. Humans however they come to their
error , it should be ,as designers, our responsibility letting that
Q: Pilots doing thier training should have a thorough understanding
of the tech in front of them. Its not the designers fault if the pilot
has not read your instructions?
Not per se, but can we do something better, is the way I'd
Q: The point of this event was that in different modes the system
behaved differently. Sometimes the auto-throttles did maintain
speed but in the one mode they unfortunately selected, didn't
and doesn't. They asked Boing to change it.
So another misunderstanding about its capabality and a
training issue. Not recognising that they picked the one mode where
the auto-throttle stopped working.
How does this relate to driverless vehicles. We must calibrate our
trust when we are in level3. It will happen in hte next few years
and w eneed to get ready for this. An example of how our
designs can work with humans. A study done on how we can better
relations between autonomous systems and humans. 2 groups,
one would have an automated system that would go as normal,
the other group a symbol would flash up on the dash when the
autonomous system wasn't shure about what was going to happen.
It could not precisely predict what would happen in the future.
This mediated the way that us as humans interact with tech .
You found that,task performance, reacting to a future incident, got
better when this was presented. Also the levels of trust were
rated as better. I think if we can create a system that is honest
with the human and then back again . It is a 2way process, its not the
AV talking to you , you can also interact with it.
It wants to learn from you. We have face recognition tech , to figure
out whether you are aware of your surroundings and we have step
by step processes , how the AV can decide whether it wants to interact
with you or how it should interact with you. THere is anew model
of Audi being released , that if it noticed you were not aware,
for taking over control , it would start to give you loads of cues,
audio, visual and then it would tighten the seatbelt a bit and perhaps
tapped the brakes, if it should become a dire situation.
But its learning from you as well. The designs , in the future , i'd like
to look at , from your perspective, what you want the automation to get
and to do in these scenarios.
Q: If the vehicle is learning from you, what happens when
someone else drives it?
I'd like to think there were settings to either learn your face
or voice, so it can treat different humans . Personalisation is a big
thing for us at the moment.
If we use automation too much , we have areduced situation
awareness , so when you take back control , you have no idea
of what has been going on in the environment. In a problematic
scenario , if you take control , you don't know how to react to
it. That is what my thesis is on, how can we interact with the
human to solve that problem, the environmental
awareness to take over.
Another biggy is skills degradations. How will we teach 16yearolds
to drive eg when automated parking is the norm . Over reliance
on automation can lead to these things.
We must work together with robots , the message I'm here to tell
and I'm here trying to figure out how we can work better with
robots, systems design to treat you as a human but also the
autonomous system as the same system. Trying to solve as a common
goal, we are all in this together and we must design for that.
Very thought provoking on elements of trust. There is something about
our driving and trust. We all trust our washing machines , we
trust taxis driven by other humans, but we are suspect about cars
programmed to drive by other humans. When cars are fully AV,
you will be including old people , young people, who cant
take over control. They will be far more in favour of AVs I'm sure. ?
That is the goal. Level3 at the moment is more of a trialling stage.
We cant just unveil this tech on its own , we must think about
society , build the trust very slowly. We've been automating
things for a very long time. Is there something unique about
driving, in having to trust others, yes. This is the first time
we've seen something so complicated being automated. The driving
task, in our research , shows something like 2000 things you have to
monitor at one time. Some are things that have happened in the past you
need to remember or things you need to project into the future,
its incredibly complex.
Q: Will w etrust AVs only when they become moral agents. Essentially
we have to believe that they have our best interests at heart, before we
trust them. In consequence there is this moral agent where w ethink the
car is going to act on our behalf. Do robots have to be moral
agents before we can interact with them.?
We may have morality as humans . If you have a scenario of potentially
running over someone, your instinct will be to swerve. I would
liken a morality in vehicles to a risk analysis, something that
a human cannot do himself. The response an automation would take
is not necessarily what I would think as being the rational one.
Whereas I'd argue the human would not be that rational in that scenario.
Q: As a human who is not entirely rational, am I not always going to be
wary of something that is purely rational and does not behave in the
way that I would behave. There is also the element of
selfishness, in that if you have an ethical decision that needs to be made ,
say children in the car, you could make AI algorithms that
would give an ethical decision but would be selfish.
A certain proportion of people in the population who are psycopaths
, their view of everyone else is they are just objects. Would you want control
of a vehicle to a completely moral-less individual?
To AI, everything is just data. You have to tell it what to do with that data.
Perhaps the driverless car will forbid you to err.
Are these AVs using the same systems as our Sat-Navs to navigate? and what happens when it drops out.
Present level3 reponses are based on known hand-overs, but we are
also loking at unknown handovers. So if atrocious weather
and the car could not see the road as in fog, or the system/s went down , it would hand back to the driver, in a safe way
Q:There is an argument put forward that humans have made a really
bad job of driving cars ,so automating the process can't be any worse.
I know its a limited number of AVs allowed on
the roads currently in Germany and the USA, bu tthere has been a fatality.
Where the system mistook the blank white side of a lorry , as sky,
and killed the driver plus a few roll-overs etc. What is the statistics so
far of AV compared to human accidents ?
How many accidents per million miles sort of statistic. They do skew that
somewhat as highway only.
Q: I think that statistic would be the best proof of security v insecurity
of AVs. When you cannot prove mathematically that a robot
beats a smart toaster .
Q;There is allied proof in terms of policy making, and insurance , and
when you are trying to sell the car to someone. Statistical measures are
surprisingly difficult for people to get their heads around and
motivate. I think you will find that car manufacturers won't
be jumping to thrust stats in front of you as a potential buyer,
as stats don't sell cars to people. Stats can inform policy makers
and inform the engineering community but its not the thing that will
Q : A bet, in 10 years time , half of the cars sold in the UK will
have a self-driving capacity , for this instance defined as legally
take you home from the pub? My friend who works for Google thinks it will
, but I think the l;aw will not have caught up. ?
Its because you've added the half element to it, sold not exist in that year.
I would say yes. The targets at the moment are 2030 for fully AVs on the
road. To get there you have to do it when peoplke want to get rid of their
cars. So in 2026 ,if you are still selling unautomated cars , then that car will
be on the road for say another 10 years. I think legislation will
take a long time. Also people do like driving and the automated element
of driving is going to be top-end only to start with , as all new innovations
are. People drive MG midgets or clapped out camper vans because they
Q: I've read that a lot of people in driving , like to retain some control. ?
If you're doing long , regular car journeys and you would like to get
some work done, along the way and cannot go by train, it will be used first
in that sort of situation. I think it will be work-driven rather than
Answering a "break" question. Why do we want AVs in the
first place. One is emissions, if you can produce the perfect way
of moving cars. Eg moving away from a junction, the staggering effect,
one person moves away , then another and all the way back.
That is a massive emissions contributor. Imagine eliminating
traffic . Imagine a system where AVs drop you off in a city
centre , then drive home or find a parking space itself perhaps outside the city. You open
up a city with no parking, opening up the spaces otherwise wasted on
car parking. The centre of towns essentially is not there fro
parking , shops, leisure etc. perhaps 1/3 of city spaces could be so
Q: So lets consider out-of-town supermarkets. Consider a future where only 1/10
of the earlier car parking space would be required. This cuts 2 ways , often
car parking raises revenue for the municipality,taxes associated with offering
the public free-carparping. Therre is a loose there as well as a win.
There is the concept of shared vehicles, mobility of service? ,due to this change to parking
requirements, and lower number of vehicles on the road. These carriers
will become , not what we know them currently. They will be a space or even a
Q: The taxi conundrum . If you are at home and want to go to the
supermarket , do you rely on an empty vehicle , coming to you, it is a
negative , having to trverse the road network, using resources just to get
to you, to provide this mobility. Factor that sort of thing in, how much benefit is
there overall? Would half the vehicles on the roads be empty?
At the moment while those cars are in transit, someone will
be in them. But with a sharing policy, any given vehicle
would have greater occupance, assuming an inteligent notification
system for nearest pick-up distances.
Q : A point I heard recently . In the half way stage wher esome of the
vehicles on the roads are AVs and some are continuous human controlled.
Situations say at a roundabout , where you are driving as a human
onto the roundabout, you recognise an AV already on the roundabout.
You just pull out in front of them , knowing that the AV will
stop. And a great number of people will start doing that, until the
leagle eagles can come down on it . Same with a pedestrian deliberately
crossing in front of any AV.
Q: In the interim situation , with some people just like driving
ancient vehicles etc, how do you see it working?
Probably end up with 2 road systems. Maybe you will not be allowed to take
a manual car onto the motorway, and perhaps unable to take
AVs into some urban areas. Governments will have to come to
agreements concerning AVs moving from left-hand drive countries , to right
and vice versa.
Q: I'm a software systems architect and I've worked with JLR ,
not on AVs . Future feature guys are working 5 years ahead, tha tis the
product lifecycle. You don't get a vehicle onto the road without 5 years
of work. So they are engaging with hte likes of insurance companies
via appropriate official bodies. The auto makers know that
what they will be producing in 7 or 8 years time , their ability to
sell that , very much depends on legal and insurance frameworks and
what their stances will be on novel technology. So a lot
of backchat around these sort of challenges. Certainly there is a
task force within the insurance industry has been working on this.
They have a stance on this, how fast it gets into government
policy and law , is an open question.
Q: Thinking of Stuxnet and if a bad-guy gets in control of a distributed
Q: my belief Autonomous trucks wil lhappen first , because the payback
mechanisms are easier to see.
We're currently discussing automatic platooning in a group, vehicles so close together they
are in each other's slipstream.
Human users trying to exit at a junction , while there is a massive
platoon of lorries, how large can they become.
Q:I had a go on your SUDS AV and I'm not sure if I commented
in the process and running audio record. I could see myself
in a level3 structure , I'd absent mindedly forget which
mode I and the car was in. I could see myself thinking the car was
in AV mode and its not.
I do a lot of research on that area. Looking at ambient systems
, so lights up the whole space in automated mode.
Q: I was reading that if you have a vehicle that is in autonomous
mode and it wants to hand over, it can take 15 seconds for the
user to understand the situation that is happening, until they
are in a postion where they can actually take over.
In 15 seconds you've travelled a long way.
Or multiple occupants in an AV, chattering away , could easily
be 15 seconds.
In our research , 47 seconds . Normal scientists track the mean ,
but in engineering , if you have that person who takes 47 seconds
to react to the system, that is a problem. We cant solve that.
There are systems in place that would stop them, whether
an emergency or a routine hand-over , 2 differnt types of
hand-over. We're approaching those 2 prongs at the moment.
The maximum you are allowed in emergency hand over is 5 seconds.
15 seconds is too much.
Q: surely in that situation an AV could mitigate , like reduce its
speed , ie it has general knowledge about things that are
dangerous and things that are not. Slowing down is always a good thing
in an emergency. So not quite ablack and white issue. You may want the
user to take control , because it is aware of an emergency, but
none-the-less there are some mitigational processes before.
Q: On the integrity of GPS etc. There have been instances
in the shipping industry, in piracy situations, the GPS structure
is hacked/over-ridden so the ships think they are in a differnt
Q: Could there be anti-terrorism measures built in,? I'm thinking of the
vehicles driven down pedestrian routes, for multiple murder?
There are systems in place for identifying objects . THe way systems work out
what is in the environment are worked out from general
concepts and teaching computers to recognise . They are becoming very
good at object recognition, eg Google DeepMind learning whether something
is a dog or not. So moving on to whether a human or not is there.
Q: A company in Leicester, that ARM has taken over,
makes incredibly smart cameras. It can look at a crowd, identify
individuals and produce a metric of the interelatedness of
differnt people , dependendent on the direction they are looking, whether inside
personal comfort zones etc. In built processing of this, no cloud
computing required for it. ?
If there is a computer vision question, then it will happen.
Monday 9 October 2017 , Dr Brian King, National Oceanography Centre:
Argo: a fleet of unattended instruments that measure global warming.
Since the year 2000, a coordinated international effort has deployed
more than 10,000 automatic instruments to measure the rate of the
earth's warming, 95% of which occurs in the oceans. The talk will
describe how the system works, discuss the engineering and scientific
challenges, and what the measurements have revealed so far.
2 hours, 25 people
In my early career we were starting to deploy these yellow tubes, floats in the
Argo programme. The name came from a means of measring the
ocean that corresponded to a satellite measurement system that was
called Jason. So Argo a fleet of unattended instruments to measure
global warming. We are interested in global change and
measuring global change. For the measurements we want, we can't have
the right number of people in the right places all the time.
We have to do it with instruments when we are not there. A pic of a
Spitzbergen glacier , in the Arctic, as it was in 1906 , the same view in 2005
, lake the same, mountains the same, the glacier is completely gone.
Even if you said it was a bit of a cycle when it didn't snow very
much, the original glacier thickness would take several thousand
years to build up again, even if it started tomorrow.
We think things are changing because of the greenhouse effect. Its always
been ewith us , an important role in making this planet habitable.
Without it, we'd be a frozen waste with no people. Sunlight comes into the
atmosphere, and passes through quite easily , when it gets mixed up and
reabsorbed as heat, the heat does not get out as easily as the sunlight
comes in. So because of the atmos ,the Earth is a lot warmer than if there
was no atmos. Go to the Moon, with no atmos, then at nightime
its about -70 or thereabouts. As more CO2 has been put into the atmos ,
its made that GE a bit more effective, that is hat is causing the
warming. The GE effect was well understood the first half of C19, light passed
thru gas , more or less easily . By 1859 John Tyndal , interested in climate,
had measured the properties of specific Greenhouse gases, CO2, methane.
It was known then , that these were important for maintaining the
planet at a habitable temp. The first realisation that industrialisation,
the burning to CO2 , might start causing problems was the Swede
Arhenius , gaining the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1903.
In 1896 he considered, if you doubled the amount of CO2 in the
atmos, in 100 years he figured mankind could do that, he predicted a
4 degree rise. It was just a theoretical suggestion at that stage.
One of those occasions where the theory preceeded the ability
to measure it. When you add CO2 to the atmos , a lot of things change.
There are changes in hte cryosphere , the ice-system such as snow,
frozen ground, sea-ice, ice-sheets all those start changing.
Changes in the oceans, in its currents, the sealevel, the plants and
animals living there, changes i nthe atmos and changes in the
hydrological cycle the process of water evaporating from the
sea and falls back over land. Where it falls, how fast it cycles through is the
hydrological cycle. Clouds will change, lots of changes in complex ways,
as we start tinkering with the planet.
The famous plot of CO2 in the atmos, measured at the top of Mauna Lowr
mountain in Hawaii. It started in about 1960, by someone who wanted to know
how it varied over the course of 1 year. He measured each day for ayear , and it went up and down over that year, as the temp changed, the amount of CO2
went up anddown. He repeated for another year, but he could tell it had gone up over those 2 years. He decided to stay and the funders provided for him
staying for 5 years. The series has now gone on for 60 years.
There is a seasonal cycle each year but for each month on the next year the
CO2 level has gone up from before. Its recently passed the 400 number.
Keep burning coal and oil and the number keeps going up.
So is 400 a high number. A series estimated from about the last
10,000 years. Ice-ages have come and gone, CO2 has come and gone.
The estimates for back 5 or 10,000 years ago, from drilling ice-cores.
In Greenland and Antartica, the ice has bubbles of air trapped it,
extract air from the tiny bubbles and measure the amount of CO2
there used to be. It used to be about 250 to 270 , going up and down, but get
to about 1800 it strarts going up seriously. The last 50 years the increase is really seriously.
There have been ice-ages every million years or so. Main CO2 contribution
is the burning of oil,wood and coal, an increasing proportion comes from
deforestation. In terms of global warming, an about equal contribution
comes from methane, less in proportion but its much more effective
at trapping heat. There is nitrous oxides and othe rgases.
In different countries the energy use is different. Across the world, about
1/4 is energy supply to homes, the second is to industry, then to
agriculture, forestry etc. In different countries those proportions
would be different. In Australia 90% of the CO2 is related to
stationary power, a lot of industry , a lot of air conditioning
but not many vehicles. Solving transport in Oz is not that
big a deal .
A graph of global mean temp , usually meaning average air temp.
Everyone measures air temp where they are and then average it all
together. This is not a very good way to measure global warming , but for 200
years thats the best we had.
Look over different periods and the trend lines are different. The rate at
which warming is happening is getting faster and faster. The first 100
years of industrialisation was slow. Now much faster, about 1 degree
every 6 decades or so. From IPCC, what s happening to the climate,
the best evidence. Then the best theoreticians to say wha tis going
to happen. 3 possible scenarios for how emissions of CO2 might
change. If we carry on emitting at the rate we are, in 100 years time it
will be a couple of degrees warmer than now. The other is vcurb our
emissions and the atmos stays about where it is now . What if you
stopped emitting altogether, we all go clean power tomorrow.
Curiously there is a sharp increase in that scenario, to begin with and then
over 200 years it recovers. The initial anomaly is because if you have
chimneys burning coal, not only do you put CO2 into the air
which traps the heat, it also puts a lot of soot into the high atmos , that acts as a biot of a shield, it stops some of the heat getting through. Go to zero emissions the first thing you'd see would be some warming then it would tail
off. Continue as we are then we'll damage the climate very profoundly.
does 2 degrees in 100 years matter much. That is a glovbal average, but the
computer simulation and prediction people can say where that warming will
happen. Nearly all the warming will happen over the continents.
The oceans will keep themselves relatively cool. The continents might have
4 or 5 deg of warming as there is nothing there t keep them cool.
THe oceans have absorbed about 25% of all the anthropogenic CO2
released to the atmos is already in hte oceans. If we didn't have that then
we'd really have runaway warming. So we study C in hte oceans, that is anpther
of research. 90% of the heat trapped by atmos CO2 is also in the
oceans. The oceans are incredibly important
for capturing that CO2 and heat and burying it away.
The Argo project is measuring things in the ocean and trying to account
for that 90% of heat in the oceans. Oceanography started in about 1870
. To measure the ocean you have to be there on a ship. The first seriously
planned and organised expedition was on HMS Challenger
a 60m vessel , adapted naval ship, about 2300 ton ship, about
200 crew of which 5 were researchers , the rest were naval crew.
They were at sea for 2.5 years and they collected 263 measurements
of temp . About every 3 days they'd stop the ship and lower , with
steam driven winches, instrumentation.
In the 1990 we had the World's Oceans Circulation Experiment, we
had purpose built research vessels, typically 3500 tons , 25 crew and
25 scientists and over 10 years we got 10,000 profiles of temp.
The Argo prgramme since 2004 , its length is 2metres its weight is
about 0.03 tons and zero crew and we've collected 1.3 million
measurements in about 12 million days of operation.
With these measurements we can do what was simply impossible with
ships. I hoped to bring along a float but they are all packed up and
deployed at sea. Its a 2m long tube that drifts around taking
measurements. Such floats were developed mid1950s by a US
oceanographer. He could park it at a particular depth , what was otherwise
understood to be impossible , the engineering of the time did not permit it.
A Michael Conswallow? a British marine scientist , came in from othe r
fields of engineering . He'd not heard that it could not be done, so he did
it. His first was in the earlier labs, in Surrey, the pressure cases were
aluminium scaffolding tubes , 3.5m long. Bunged up the ends, put in some
batteries and some sensors. They contained a sound source , so it could be
tracked. No satellite tracking then. A matter of sailing out and listening
for the homing signal, and triangulating in.
The argo network ,at any one time is about 4000 of these floats ,
deployed since 2000 . By 2004 we had some everywhere on the globe.
By 2007 we'd reached our initial target of 3000 floats operating
worldwide. Each one stands alone, measures ocaen temp , salinity
which is important for ocean density and the current, the ocean circulation.
About 30 contributing countries UK,France and Germany, Canada,
USA, Japan , Oz, Korea India and about 25 other country small
These floats by having a small bladder at the bottom . Anyone familiar
with Scuba, you have a bouyancy jacket, pump air in and the diver comes up,
let the air out and the diver sinks. There is a rubber bladder, we use
hydraulic oil, rather than air as it must work at very high pressures.
When it is 2km down in hte ocean , 200 atmos pressure and air
won't do it. A long lead screw as an hydraulic pump , pumps oil
out into the bladder. There are batteries sandwiched around the side
and instrument payload at the top. Out the top is a satellite
antena, using satellite coms to get our data back. The float weighs about
30 Kg with about 280gm of reserve bouyancy, to move
between surface and 2Km depth. Quite some engineering, the batteries must give
5 to 8 years life, for bouyancy change, payload instrument running
and comms. About 30 D cells for that energy.
At the moment, argos are measuring temp and salinity. In the future
dissolved oxygen, nutrients, ocean acifdification , biological
parameters . Each dot on the shown plot represents as of yesterday,
an operational float around the globe, taking and reporting data.
Every 10 days the float , starting at the surface for reporting, will sink
to pre-determined depth usually 1km. It will drift for 9 days, dive
to 2km then rise to the surface and send its data. Repeating the
process each 10 days. Each one of the dots , a float was built
and someone had to take it on a ship to deploy it. 3,787 active
floats as of yesterday. Its been as high as 4,000. The instruments
have about a 5 year lifetime. Thy die off and we keep replenishing them
as fast as they are dying to keep the numbers up. There are different
designs but all are rather similar.
All the 2km floats are tubes, with antennas at the top. The differnt
engineering companies have solver problems in slightly different ways.
But all have the bouyancy control at the bottom and sensors
at the top. Up to 2007 we were deploying them faster than they were
dying. Its tailed off to a certain extent since then.
In the movie of dots around the globe, each new dot is a deployment,
and a row of dots is a ship deploying numbers of them perhaps once
a day. The tails indicate where the float is going. The clock time is
per year. 2002 a row of dots in the Indian Ocean for the early ones.
2003 there were floats all over the Pacific. Starting to get a global
temp profile. By 2007 the array was up to strength, consistent global
measurements and could make serious statements as to global
ocean temps. All the dots near Antartica are going to the right, as that is the
prevailing currents. At the eqator ,currents going back and forth,
Doing things autonomously allowed us to do things previously impossible.
Each profile costs about 7000 GBP taking the cost of ship and divide by
the measurements. In one month of our float program we've collected
10,000 more measurements at a cost of about 200 GBP each, as no
research ship costs. As the costs have come crashing down it
makes it possible to do this every month rather than every 10
years as before. A plot of the whole ocean observing up to about 2010.
Each 1 degree square box of the globe, counting how many observations
there were in that box, and a coloured dot for each obs.
AQ white square means that for all time up to 2010 there was never
an obs there. so majority had less than 5 observations in the first
150 years, not bvery good for determining how the planet is
changing. North Atlantic numbers good, north Pacific not bad
certainly near land. The southern hemisphere , huge gaps.
For the first 10 years of the float program , except for ice covered
high latitudes where our instruments don't go, a large number
per square almost everywhere. So now we can see what is going on.
Our floats don't mind bad weather . The ships we operate out of
the NOC, are tremendously expensive and so are only sent
where there is a good chance of doing any work, so never the
southern hemisphere in winter, as likely to do 2 days work in a month ,
sitting out a storm otherwise.
A plot of 50 years of August measurements in hte southern hemisphere
and almost no dots. Compared to 5 years of August measurements
with the floats and now plenty of obs. We can address these
critical scientific questions of how the planet is changing.
Its not just evolution but a revolutuon in our capability.
There is free exchange of data within the research community. Taking
of measurements and publishing them , was not commonly done before
Argo came along. Researchers previously made measurements and they'd sit
there in filing cabinets or laptops and simply not be instantly available.
Maybe 6 months or a year later, previously. All our data becomes freely
available within 24 hours. Comes in by satellite and goes out
on the internet within 24 hours. We're making salinity measurements.
The argo structure agreed to access to 200-mile exclusive economic zones,
thru international brokering. A lot of important ocean is within
200 miles of countries. Argo got permission for measurements to be
made unless a country opted out. This was absolutely revolutionary.
The engineering issues. Anyone could design a float that would work
once and it migh tcost 1million GBP. The challenge is designing a
robst one that could be mass-produced for about 15,000 GBP .
They have to operate about 4 to 8 years without maintainence.
There is no getting them back, its hard enough getting the ships to
plavce them in the water and no chance of ships going to
retrieve them , if its faulty. The mechanics and sensor payload has
to work for 4-8years without maintenence. You have to decide
what sort of batteries, lithium or alkaline. These days usually lithium,
they are more expensive and harder to work with but they extend
float lifetime a lot. So lithium primary batteries as higher energy
density , more MJ on board per battery Kg. The energy budget
has to be split between bouynacy changes , data telemetry and running the
sensor payload. The sensors have to be low power, you cant just
take laboratory kit , that can wastefully use the mains. You
can't really use acoustics, barely use optics because they both use
too much energy. So lots of passive sensor payloads. The sensors have to
remain operational thru the float life, place them in the factory and remain
in-spec , in-calibration working for 5 to 8 years. The data telemetry
must be capable in all-weather and all latitudes, so ordinary mobile phone
is out. These days we usually use Iridium phones , but you have to be able to
do that from about one foot above sea level in a force 8 and all times of the
year. Take readings at 10 to 15m spacings down to the pressure at 2000
metres is about 200 times atmos pressure. People say outer space isa
harsh environment. Outer space has cosmic rays and it is difficult to
get there but once you're there, its a relitively benign environment.
The deep ocean is hundreds of atmos pressure in a highly corrossive
liquid , a tough environment to place your kit.
Our floats are typicaly about 300 km apart, around the planet.
They operate on about a 10 day cycle. Measuring temp, salinity,
sometimes oxygen , other payloads are possible but very constrained by
the energy budget and engineering constraints and no control
over their location. They just go where the currents take them , some are
displaced by hundreds or even thousands of km.
Systematic global coverage means global problems can be studied,
a high data volume, downloaded 1.3 million profiles. Deeper penetration
than previous measurements. Before floats came along the options were
temp only for 750m , no seasonal bias ie not biased by being
taken in winter or summer. We can get there year round, so measure
monthly , seasonal annual or even longer.
The CO2 graph, the corresponding pic of increasing planetary heat .
From 1970 to the present, the increase in heat, measured in ZetaJoules.
ie times 10 to the 21. The heat absorbed into the planetary system , the
atmos component is barely visible. In terms of the physics of the
Earth's energy system, the atmos is irrelevant almost.
For us and agriculture etc, we feel that heat and it is critical
to us and have to understand the atmos. But as a physics problem
of energy in and out and where it is stored, its all in the oceans.
There was a big uncertainty back in the 1970s because the
data was very sparse. From about 2000 the uncertainty band
is much narrower. Because we've been measuring the ocean temp
directly. In earlier times to the question about whether or not
there was global warming , we could not be sure.
About 50ZJ but it could be anything from -20 to +100ZJ.
Now, there is no doubt , absolutely unequivicable, that the Earth
is warming up and we know at exactly what rate.
The remaining uncertainty, most of that comes from the deep
ocean that we are not measuing very well as yet. We're expanding our
tech, to measure the deep oceans.
I refereed to 1.3 million measurements.
A pic of one
Surfece and 2km down , temp and salinity profile.
Quite a lot of variability at the surface and a slow trend as descending.
So low down we don't have to measure too often but towards the
top , then a lot of measurements. One measurement , made once, of the 1,3 million.
Build together perhaps a hundred profiles and colour it according to
temp or salinity. Build up from those collections, then complete maps
eg one from the UK Met office using data from the floats, of the
southern Hemisphere, the temp at 1km depth. So possible to
build up pics of very remote places, from such data assemblages.
Operational uses for such data, in Oz, France , Japan , UK etc
assemble these data to assist forecasting. They are beginning to use it
for trying seasonal forecasting. Like how good will the coming
monsoon be. Using it for the research into climate change, global
sea heat content, sea level rise due to thermal expansion of the
90% of global warming takes place in the oceans. The air
does not weigh much, so it cant take up much heat, land is very
solid so hard for heat to penetrate. Oceans can move and mix and extra
heat can penetrate deep into the ocean easily.
An example of ocean forecasting. A vertical slice along the equator, in the
Pacific , the top few hundred metres, coloured according totemp.
Warm colours and cold colours, 2 plots in Jan and 2 plots in Feb
of 2014. A warm blob is moving to the right and by april
it is well over to the right and all the cool blue colours are displaced,
a big warming anomaly in the Pacific. This enables a forecast that
for that year that would be a significant El Nino event.
These are huge climatic events that result in flooding in
some places, droughts in othe rplaces, etc. Data from these
floats were able to forecast this , and governments could
plan for it.
The argo system makes changes for climate change detection much more
robust. So if you7 want to say how the world has changed from
1950 - 1960 , to 2000-2010. A grat change in the number of
measuremnts in those 2 decades and hence the sharp reduction in
uncertainty. In the earlier decade there were huge swathes where we simply
were not sure. Now we are sure, we've measured everywhere.
In 10,20 ,30 years time we will be absolutely sure and precise.
We know the global sea are getting warming and also know there ar e
distinct salinity changes as well.
Warming of the atmos is not a good estimate of global warming.
For a couple of hundred years, that was the best we had, as they were
the only measurements made. The atmos is a sort of indicator of what is going
on . A time series from 1880 to 2010 of global average air temp.
In the last 10 years it was not going up much and there was much talk
in hte press of a hiatus, global-warming was not happening.
The air temp goes up and down , but then only 10% snapshot of the
global warming pic. No wthe ocean record from 1960 to the
present. In those "suspect" 10 years of air temp, the period we were
getting the peak number of float profiles, the global sea temp was going
up still at the same rate as before. You simply cannot beat the
physics of the cO2 in the atmos trapping the heat. Where air and ocean
temperatures do sometimes go out of kilter is after a major volcano event.
So Pinatibo, El Chichon, big events that put so much dust in hte
atmos, that it acted as a barrier, like painting your greenhouse windows
white. In such events everything can cool down, but its just a blip
on the underlying trend.
What we'd really like to know about is ocean rainfall. We have the
hydrological cycle. 95% of water evaporation is over the sea and most
falls back over the sea. Some evaporates over land and some
falls back over land. What we whant to know is the net result of
the amount coming out of the sea and falling on the land as that is
what is significant for floods , droughts and agriculture etc.
Its hard to measure everywhere the amount of rainfall and the
amount of evaporation. But where water evaporates, the ocean left
behind is a bit saltier, and where it rains , the ocean becomes a bit
less salty. So measuring the salt concentration you can discover
where there is lots of evaporation and where there is lots of rainfall.
Map of average ocean surface forcing, 33 to 37 parts per thousand.
The surface atlantic is a bit saltier than the surface of the Pacific.
A map showing where the ocean tends to evaporate , like the
north and south Atlantic , and so are relatively salty compared to most
of the world's oceans. Now a map of changes, the trend in saltiness.
As measured long term, where its salty its getting saltier and where less
salty its getting less salty. That means the process of evaporation and
rainfall is speeding up , thats how we interpret this.
That means , for the land, the wettest bits will flood more
and the dry bits will have more droughts, becuae of the speed up of the
The Argo system allows us to determine changes and sooner and with
greater confidence. Autonomous platforms are now the dominant source of
data for describing the oceans. We will now extend into the deep
ocean and taking other measurements.
The Discovery ship based in Soton , set off to the southern ocean a few weeks back.
To get to the ocean deep, the tube design will not work down to
600 atmos. The walls would have to be so thick, it would be too heavy to float.
You have to go for a sphere design and the material is glass. Counter-intuitively
a glass sphere about 1 inch thick , if perfectly made , can withstand
600 atmos of ressure. If you could mill them out of metal that would be
fabulous , titanium say, but milling out of a block titanium would
be a couple of million dollars per float. Wheras glass spheres are about
2000 dollars. Made in 2 hemispheres and pushed togethere with
So Deep-Argo getting to the lowest half of the ocean . They are currently
being made and tested by several groups. A new instrument package is
undewr parallel developement. This also has to survive higher
pressure and hte demands and accuracy are about tenfold increase
over upper half floats. We need to measure ocean temp to
about 3millidegrees accuracy and unattended for 10 years without
any drift . We've been recently tasked by the G7 science ministers
to come up with a proposal for a deep measurement programme.
It would cost about 25 million USD a year. The existing programme
costs about the same. It sounds a lot but divide it between 7 or 8
major nations to answer the fundamental question, how much
glogal warming is happening. How much is it worth to our nation
to know exactly how global warming is working , worth 2 million
dollars to the UK?
Oceanography like a lot of technologies , follows on from new
technologies, when suddenly you could do things that
you could not do before. Over 40 years the Argo system has
much improved our data gathering and is the only technology
to provide global coverage. In the next 10 years its likely
to move to deep , involving biochemical measurements, oxygen
, ocean acidification and things like that. Its the key data-set for global
change studies . The current NOC scientists will be the first
generation who will actually be able to describe human
impact on climate , completely and without doubt.
Our generation has made the tech to make comprehensive
measurements, but w eneed to do that for 30 years , and the
next generation will be able to describe with very narrow uncertainty
what is going on.
CO2 amount is still going up. It is worse than I thought it was?
Arhenius in 1896 said , what if it doubled, that would make a big
difference, the Earth would warm 4 degrees. He worked thsat out
as a theoretical construct, no one them dreamed that CO2
could double. The concentration was then about 280 .
By 1960 up to 320, so even by 1960 CO2 concentration had only
gone up 20%. So people then were still saying how could it
double and get 4 degrees warming, how could mankind burn that much C.
We're no at 400 so mankind has added 50%, so halfway to Arhenius's doubling.
Its getting steeper and steeper. With the curve as it was in 1960s ,
people said it would take 200 years before we'd have a problem.
The population has doubled so the amount of energy required has doubled.
There must be an interesting correlation with hte type of energy
being used. Since I was at uni , coal use has changed and gas use increeased. ?
Coal use has not declined globally , in the UK yes. China is
digging up coal as fast as it can to make steel. The US wants to revive its
So the UK use is irrelevant really.?
When you as an individual goes out and votes, your vote is
irrelevant. Unless the margin was 1, then your vote is irrelevant.
If everyone says that then , no votes. We're relevant in hte
sense we are 1 of 10 or 20 countries that contribute to this
problem. You only solve it, if everybody agrees to solve it.
The proportion of energy from coal is probably just as high
as it ever was.
Yo mentioned that dust was ironically , was favourable, as at ground
level you don't see it that way?
There has been a lot of talk about what is called geo-engineering.
Would it be possible to do things to the planet, to reduce global
warming. So perhaps giant turbines in the ocean to pump
heat quicker into the great absorber that is the oceans. Or
great carbon extractors from the air. Another one was an experiment to
spray dust into the upper atmosphere. So creating a shield, the advantage of doing that
, is that its utterly reversible. If it fails to work it will just fall out as rain.
Thats been an active experiment with a couple of big volcanoes.
The global temp record noticeably cooled then. Pumping 2 cubic kilometres of
earth into the upper air as dust, cooled the earth down for a cople
of years, but temporary.
Surely if that was allowed then isn't it just enabling the carry-on-as-usual
people just to carry on their errant ways?
Absolutely. The primary problem is fixed so we can carry on as we were.
Some geo-engineering concepts do appeal as something worth
Something thats come in at the same time as redustion of coal use, is
scrubbing S out of emissions and also low-S coal to start with.
Ironically , is that part of your little blip , going the other way,
removing the S aerosols in the upper atmos.?
No that has had no effect. The CO2 level is still going up as fast
as it ever was. It maybe after a period of getting steeper and steeper ,
it might just be a bit less.
I was thinking of the volcano effect, if you put this S particulates up
into the upper atmos , it is like the dust effect?
I don't think its been done on a big enough scale for that effect
to be noticable. When people talk of emissions controls, they mean
freezing emissions at the present level. The curve would suddenly become horizontal.
Its not even tailing off , its still rising inexorably. The idea was
that by 2020 our emissions would not be going up any more.
While on CO2 there is absolutely no dispute or arguments
about any changes in the way CO2 was measured having changed over the
decades and so can quiblle about the validity of that graph?
No. Inorganic chemistry was all stitched up in about 1920.
I'm thinking about comparison with global sea level rise , there is an Indian
system that relies on tide-gauges and other satellite systems and the 2 don't
really agree that well?
Because of disputed zeroes. But inorganic gas chemistry , Tyndall
in 1850 , was able to say I will measure the radiative properties of
various gases, there ability to transmit energy at different wavelengths.
He did that in 1850 perfectly satisfactorily. That sort of mechanical
stuff they coud do. They would calibrate their then sensors by making
mixtres of gases , pure N2 and pure O2 that they knew how to
make , pure CO2. So make different ratios, place the sensor in those that
they'd made , then compare it with out in the air.
If they were uncertain measurements , they'd be very noisy, they'd be
all over the place but get better and better, 0ver time.
But no such change as this was 18th century , not even 19th century
But the annual ups and downs look so precise that they look a bit bogus?
That may be governed by just the seasonal change at the observatory .
Not due to the northern hemisphere bias , with the more extensive forest growth there?
It could be. South and North hemispheres are not identical , but doing
it on Hawaii , its very well mixed, you are not down stream of Los Angeles.
Its on a mountain well up in the atmos , 2000 miles from intensive industry.
Thats why its so regular , as its a big average measurement.
Ice cover disappears and apparently methane is given off,
even permo-frost melting ??? ?
The problem with the methane is that , as a molecule it is so much more
effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Of all greenhouse gas contributors
methane gets about 1/8th. Its only a tiny proportion of the gas mix but it is
so much more effective. At the moment a lot of methane is frozen
into the permafrost and tundra . The risk is you only have to heat it up
a little bit . It doesn't take much heat to melt it out, then its greenhouse
effect becomes hugely out of proportion in comparison to the amount of
energy to melt it out.
During the Cambrian period the ppm of CO2 was 400, so where did that
The amount of CO2 has always fluctuated, from forests to atmos CO2,
it can get buried in the ocean, and all the stuff that turns into oil.
So stuff that grew as marine life. As crustacians groe in seawater ,they
take CO2 out the water and so out of the air, because the seawater is
below saturated and is taken in at the surface and is drawn down.
They die, fall into the sediments , where it has sat for the last
couple of hundred million years , when we come along and turn
it back into atmospherics. So fluctuating between 200 and 400
during which we've had most of the globe being frozen and most
of the globe being tropical. Those fluctuations have taken hundreds of millenia
to grow slowly and this happening in 100 years is not a natural
cycle. o people have said we need to get it back into sediments.
If we can make the oceans grow plants quicker , then crustacea
will grow quicker , and take the C down with them when they die.
Large areas of the Great Barrier Reef are being destroyed?
Thats a separate thing. Things that upset marine life are either warming
or acidification and corals are suscreptaible to both of those.
Anything that makes calcified shells , containing calcium carbonate,
where the C gets buried. Oceans are naturally alkaline , more than
pure water. So acidification means ,add CO2 and they become less
alkaline than they used to be. In Ph terms where 7 is neutral, oceans
are naturally about 8, on th e alkaline side. But they'll go from
8 to about 7.5, so still a bit alkaline , so favourable to
making carbonates but in order to grow a good carbonate shell
you need it to be definitely alkaline and if its only a bit
alkaline , you grow damaged or softer shells. The tem pchanges
and the Crown of Thorns star fish comes along and eats all the
polyps out of th ecoral, slaughtering the coral which don't do too well
when its warmer anyway. See the Barrier Reef while you can,
it will soon be gone.
How do you stabilise floats in rough seas, make sure they are the
right way up . And how do you calibrate the instruments and
how do you know whether the operational ones have been damaged?
How many get eaten by boats and how many get hit by ships?
If one was hit by a boat we would not necessarily know, we would come off
worst, we're small and light.
For stability we have a plastic disc, basically a plastic dinner
plate around the tube. When a wave comes along it rides over the
wave . If the wave tends to lift then it drags the disc and the float
goes up and down. For uprightness, we put the batteries at the
bottom, because they are the heaviest bit. The top has a bit of
air space in , around the circuit boards etc. The batteries act as
With a massive wave , would it self-right?
Yes, because all the heavy stuff is at the bottom.
Have you a record of how many have disappeared?
Over the programme we've deployed just over 13,000
and there are 4000 still active. Mostly, of those 9000, they
will simply exhaust their batteries. Some disappear for no apparent reason.
Along with the ocean measurement data , they send engineering data,
battery voltages, instrument diagnostics . So you can watch the voltage drop
off and soon after no more data. When you don't get the object
back its frustrating and not being able to diagnose othe rfailures.
Some wash up on beaches about 5 a year . We try and get thse
back although they are damafged beyond repair and re-use.
There is alittle label on them , they all have a number. We have
a clearing house via a website. Send a picture to us , even if
its in Indonesia , along with its number, and I will be contacted.
On the data transfer, how much does a single squirt of data ,
via the Iridium system cost?
That depends on who you are . If you are the US float programme ,
then very cheap. They don't worry about the telemetry cost, it all
goes thru their dept of defense. We pay about 50 GBP per
month for each float and the UK maintains 160 floats in the
water , so several thousand a month for the telephone bill.
Each squirt is just a couple of seconds?
Its a couple of minutes, about 30kbytes of data back
each time it returns to the surface, about 3 times a month.
If the weather is bad , with a lot of waves washing over the antenna
, the connection may drop and have to start again.
So its a low datrate but its fairly reliable?
Yes, the connection speed is perhaps 9600 on the modem once its
made the link. The Iridium people are always trying to increase the
Could you tell us about the Jason system?
In the 1990s there wer esatellites built to measure sea-level.
Is sea-level rising was the question. If you do it with just coastal
tide gauges , you can se the sea levels rising at the coast but it may
be dropping somewhere else . So they put radar altimeters on satellites
. Very precise instruments, the satellite would fly over , measuring the
transit time of down and up from the sea surface. If you know where the
satellite was to a few cm , and accurately measure the transit time
, then you know what the sea level was to a few cm. Those 1990s
satellites typically lasted about 10 years. So when Argo started about 2000
the next satellite coming along was to be called Jason, so w ethough t
Argo would be a good marine counterpart . Because Jason and Argo
were tackling much the same question, of how much and fast is sea-level
rising. We are iterested in sea temp because of the gloabal warming
problem, but about 1/3 of all sea level rise comes from simple expanding
of the ocean, by warming it. So you hav emelting glaciers adding to
sea level volume , but about 1/3 of the rise is simply warming what is
already there. Warming water does not increase very much but take
a 4km pile of water , and warm it by 0.5 degree , then it expands by 0.1%
and that is 4m of rise. So our programme is geared to that problem as
well as is global warming happening and where has the heat gone.
So we work closely with the satellite sea-level people.
How do you cope with marine growth on these floats?
They spend most of their life submerged, deliberately so.
We don't need measurements every day, every 10 days is fine.
They park at 1000m where its cool and dark ,and marine growth
is not a problem there. But when they visit the surface then
growths is a problem. Inside our sensor payload, there is a pump
and a duct with sensors in the duct. If you get growth in that duct then
a real problem , as it contaminates the measurements badly.
So ther is a tiny pill of biocide in the duct , that slowly dissolves
over a period. The biocide is TBTO, tributyl tin oxide.
This is what the hulls of ships were painted with , but its now
banned . If you paint a ships hul lwith 25 tons of such TBT paint ,
it dissolves everywhere, that is a problem.
We have about 3gm in each float , but it is banned and we had to
apply for an exemption all the way up thru the various departments.
I wrote a letter of support saying this was critical for climate science,
and the amount of TBT in any single float is minuiscule, its not
near land or near coasts . For a while you could not import TBT
into the EU. Fortunately there was a 10 year supply stack of these pills
that wer ein Germany. You could move them around the EU
and you could deploy them on instruments you alreadyt had,
but you could not import any new ones. So we're good for 10 years,
and hope negotiations for exemption will be complete by then.
Its just one of those engineering aspects, how to make somethin glast
5 to 10 years, in-spec , without maintainence.
I think the manufactures have sorted all this out but it was thought
they'd have to ship the instruments without the biocide
and then we'd have to sort out the biocide.
I've been told a lot of the big ships still have TBT on their hulls?
Its probably the case, they've not had to scrape it off , just they
won't be allowed to repaint it with TBT, next time around.
A coastal state probably has the right to deny entry to a ship
that does not conform to some regulation. With such
regulations it usually comes in first with new build ships
, then existing ships get a period of grace of 10 years or so
to catch up.
Do you collect the ones that hav efailed batteries?
We don't surprising to many who ask that. The most likely
time a float will fail is when the controller says inflate the bladder
and rise to the surface , as that is the biggest energy use.
So if we were to pick them up, then they'd have to abort operation, go into
a fixed surface mode, something like 80% thru their life.
We did think about doing that ,but the financial and environmental
costs of picking them up would be enormous.
For original placement then via a merchant ship or a research ship doing
other projects . They all go out in one straight line but very soon
they are essentially randomly sited. If you knew a float was
on its last legs, then to go out and pick it up would be at
least a day of ship time. If 300 miles apart and ship goes 300
mile sa day , then every float picked up would cost a day of
ship-time. The sort of ships that can go to the south Pacific
cost 20 or 30,000 USD a day, much the same cost as a new one.
Environmentally that ship burns about 6 to 8 tons of fuel
in that day, so environmentally pointless. The floats are mainly
aluminium which is very abundant in seawater anyway. THere is some
plastic , yes. Even the lithium of the batteries is fairly common in
seawater , by the time 1 battery is dissolved in a cubic kilometer
, its fine. Its only the plastic bits we have concerns about, as plastics
don't dissolve, they simply break up into smaller and smaller
pieces. There is even gold in there , that will dissolve away.
The Challlenger expedition was near enough the first organised
marine science expedition i nthe 1870s. The next one was a German
expedition in the 20s, on a ship called the Meteor. They wanted to survey
the south atlantic, better than the Challenger had done. They asked the
German govt to give them a ship , we will survey the south
atlantic, the temp and the chemistry. The govt wanted a reason for
putting money into such a project. The chief scientist told them that the
south Atlantic has 2000 tons in the ?? and we should go and survey
the gold concentration . It is only 1 part per billion but they will
find where all the gold is, in the souht atlantic , and off they went.
There is thousands of tons of gold in the oceans , absolutely true,
just not easy to recover, but they got a good expedition out of the ruse.
Monday 13 November 2017, Prof Alistair Pike, Soton uni : The origins of European cave art. Did Neanderthals paint?
26 people, 1.5 hours
Did Neanderthals (N) paint, did N paint. When did human/hominim
sysbolic form use start. 4mya Austropythenin, early African
species of hominims. 2 hominimum made it out of Africa, H Erectus and
H Heidelbergensis, the current thinking is that outside Africa
, probablty in Europe or Eurasia H H evolved into N and in Africa
they continued evolving and ended up as humans, so an isolation
of populations in Africa and in Eurasia . One of them led to us,
the other left what we might style an archaic human population
behind. You can see they are f=different, in stature, robustness
, lack of a chin, wider nasal passages . Current thinking is this
was for cold adaption. So warm Savannah adapted modern H
and cold adapted tundra N.
Sites with N remains or N toolkiyts , a specific type of tool
is really Europe and Eurasia , the near east. A few good sites
in hte UK , one in Norfolk , Linford a quarry near Brandon ,
with a N butchery site. A mammoth probably bogged down
in a river value and whole skeleton of the mammoth found,
along with the tools that looked that were made on the spot.
We've known of N for nearly 200 years , the first in 1829
in the Netherlands , a very fragmentary set of bones , mostly
post-cranial, lower skeleton. No one thought much of it, then
another was found, with more of the skull intact, in
Gorhams cave Gibralter. Started paying attention to Ns.
Originally though to be just pathological conditions of humans,
some sort of illness that made thicker bones and odd faces.
Then the famous type-site was found in the Neander valley .
That drew the attention of William King who compared it with
other discoveries like Chapelle Leusande, which is much more
complete. He realised that this pathology could not express itself
, distributed, so frequently in the same way. He decided it was a
new species of human, giving it the name H N, the human from the
neander valley. He decided it was backward , stupid and the quote
"incapable of moral and theistic conceptions". His German
counterpart was less kind, preferring the term Homo Stupidus.
So from the outset there was this idea that Ns were brutish, using the
gorilla as the base mof=del. That perception lasted a long time and if you
ask questions like could Ns paint, today a lot of respected archaeologists
will say, of course not. Slightly later non-gorilla , toolmaking
version of the N. So painting in caves. We are interested in how,why and when
symbolic behaviour starts, using symbols to express language or
meaning. They start decorating their own bodies to portray an
identity. Did it start with modern humans, and when humans started to look
like modern humans, when they became anatomically modern.
Or is it a uniquly modern human trait, or did it happen earlier with
perhaps even different species.
We have something we call anatomical modernity. Amongst fossil
populations, particularly in Africa, human fossils that look like us.
They don't lok like earlier and don't look like other species of hominims.
We sense this occured between 150,000 and 250,000 ya. Based on
genetic clocks , fssils we can date relatively well such as this
one from Aywash, Ethiopa with Argon-Argon dates between 150 and 160,000 ya.
Also from Ethiopa Homo Kabish dayted by Ar-Ar and U-Thorium dating
to about 190,000ya. So our cronologies of anatomical modern humans
is matching what the geneticists have been saying for a number of years.
We think modern humans appeared in Africa around 200,000 ya.
We don't get anything in the architectural record for what we might
call behavioural modernity at 200,tya, that appears later in the
archaeological record. Is the behavioural change driven by
something else, at a later stage. Wnen did BM appear, depends on
who you ask. We have no consencus on what BM is, when people
started behaving like modrrns, as opposed to just looking like modern ones.
A number of parameters used, and don't always use all of them.
eg paintings, decorating your body , structured use of space such as living
space and working space, the use of standardised and specialised tools,
requiring planning ahead in what tool best fits a purpose, long
distance exchange networks. Some people require all of those
parameters, some say 1 is enough. Dating fist appearance of BM
from 40 tya back to 300 tya. There is one parameter they
all use to define BM, symbolic behaviour, it is considered
quintessentially modern. Within symbolic behavious we have cave
painting. It is fairly sparse evidence. Hom Kabeesh, in Ethiopia
200 tya and by 100 tya at Echskabul Israel we find
perforated shells, interpreted as necklaces or body adornment.
85 tya at Dikluth rock shelter in South Africa, engraved ostrich
eggshells , probably used as water carriers, rudementary
decoration. In Morocco Tapperaltz, 75-80 tya, red ochre,
also perforated shells. The earliest African paiintaings are
Apollo 11, an animal on a painted plaque,found at the same time as the Apollo landings, about 27tya. But in Europe we find cave paintings maybe as old
as 40tya, Chauvais the cave of forgotten dreams. In Europe we find
lots of symbolic objects, musical instruments such as bird bone flutes,
firstly in Europe. We also get the first 3D representation of animals
and sort of mythical creatures like lion-man, head of a lion body of a
human. So why in Europe before Africa. It looks like painting came late in
the history of symbolic behaviour, but its hard to date paintings.
It seems to have appeared in Europe before Africa which is
counter to the other evolutionary trends and behaviours.
So is it a real differnce or a problem with our cronology,
that we struggle to find the earliest painting in Europe.
For dating paintings it is possible to use relative dating, how about
99% of all cave paintings are attributed. Someone who knows his stuff
looks at it and says that is 40tya as thats how they painted thn.
So some idea of the relative age of paintings , by the superimposition ,
a paitning is done, then someone overpaints it, you know hte order even
if you don't know the times. Occcassionaly there is stratographic association
,say a cave fills up with sediments with good archaeology in it.
You know the painting has to prevede the later archaeology.
Some people think they can age paintings by the amount
of weathering, pristine paintings are younger than weathered ones.
The trouble there , a lot of conjecture in the relative sense,
stylistic interpretation . We need to get some cronological evidence
associating what is on a wall to what is under the ground.
We can use absolute dating like radio-C , if they had used
charcoal pigments. Some people think there is a change occurs in the
chemistry of rock engravings. Desert varnish , and then changes over time and then
with cathion ratio dating . You can date the time that quartz grains
were last exposed to sunlight , using a technique called OSL dating.
Cave paintings aren't done with quartz but mud-wasps sometimes
build their nests on top of them in the likes of Oz.
The dating I use is Uranium series dating, that dates Calcium Carbonate
deposits , stalegmites and stalegtites that grow in caves and sometimes
thin veneers or a crust that form on top of paintings. Dating those
deposits , you get a minimum age for the painting.
Stylistic dating has been around for a long time, before scientific
dating methods came along. In some cases they could compare the things drawn
on the wall with examples of portable art , such as engraved bone or
carved bone that they found in relatively well dated archaeological
deposits. As we go back in time, we start losing the portable art
objects and end up with conjecture. Based o nthe first art is going to
be more primitive than later more evolved art. So any not so
good horse , will be arlier than the better horse. There is no
evidence for this.
A test of the stylistic dating method , set out graphically as a flow-chart.
VonPartiger and Knowle went to France and asked a dating
expert , how old is that painting , 18500 years . Why do you know that,
because its the same as the horse in the cave over there.
They went to that cave and asked an expert for the date and he said
18500. How do you know that, because its the same date as
the cave over there. They kept on doing this until they
kept coming back to the base that they started. The whole
dating model was completely self-referential. If you changed the
dat e of one of them , you'd have to cascade that date change thru
all of them, yet none of them had been dated.
There is a long history of cave painting experts who would say
of a painting , it must be this date. I'm not saying don't use use style as
concept in studying cave paintings as there are styles of horse drawing,
ways of drawing seem to change either regionally or cronologically.
But to use it for dating without any reference points , makes no sense.
Their conclusion was, where there was well dated examples ,
they were avoided by the experts. Almost an active desire to keep
their self-referential wheel going. Incorporate science-based
dates and it will rock the boat too much.
Why not radioC dating as its the most common archaeological
dating method. Tens of thousands of RadioC dates measured and
published every year. Firstly you need something organic i nthe
painting. Some of ths art is made with clays like red ochres, with
no organic matrix in them. If they do, then the organic material is not
related to the painting , its related to the formation of the clay, leading to
spuriously old dates. In caves there are engravings as well, and nothing
in an engraving for radioC. There ar emany potential sources of
contamination within a cave. So a piece of burnt wood ground down
to a powder , contains C, slapped on a wall, that formed 125 mya
that is calcium carbonate, with very old C in it. Coat cave walls with
organic materials and the bugs will get in there. Those bugs can
metabolise CO2 fro mteh environment. Some of them
can even metabolise the C from the Calcium Carbonate from the cave wall.
So can be a mixture of modern contamination and old.
This is not a new problem, it can occur with all archaeological
samples . The solution often, is to take a really big sample, and you
can then give it lots of chemical pre-treatments. But
cave painting are so precious , if they let you take a sample , it
will be really tiny. Much less than ideal for C14 dating and this
magnifies the effect of contamination.
So looking at publishe d C14 dates , samples have been taken , 2 or 3
from the same painting , and the results differ by perhaps 10000 years.
So we chose not to use C14 dating. A method used by earth scientists and
spieliologists , Uranium Series or Uranium -Thorium dating.
Uranium238 decays very slowly 4.5 billion years through
some very short lived isotopes , ignore as only 3 or 4 days, to a long-lived
isotope U234 , which decays to Thorium230 with half-life of 76,000 years.
Eventually the decay product is a stable isotope of lead. Somewhere inthat
chain is Polonium210, that poisoned Mr Litvinyenko.
for a sample many millions of years old, it reaches a radioactive equillibrium,
the rate of decay of every member of that chain , is the same.
If we disrupt that equillibrium then it will go back to that equilibrium and its
tht we're using for dating. This disruption occurs naturally
in ground waters because U is soluble and Thorium is not soluble .
So anything that precipitates out of groundwater such as stalegmites and stalgtites
will contain U but no thorium. Gradually over time the Th to U activity
will grow back, until it reestablishes the equilibrium is returned and rates of
decay equal to each other. That takes about 500,000 years, so that is the
limit of our dating method. An awful llot archaeology is contained within
the last 500,000 years. Its been used for dating cave calcites for 50
years now. Earth scientists use it because stalegmites grow incrementally,
if not annully necessarily. So they get a time series of Calcium Carbonate
and includes othe risotopes like oxygen , C . From the organic inclusions as well,
it tells them somethng o fthe environment and the climate.
Occassionaly they grow on top of Archaeological deposits, or in our
case grow on top of cave paintings.
So a cave wall, with no calcite on there to start with say. Someone places a
hand on , spits red pigment at it , then layers of flow-stone growing
over it. In most cases we are removing those layers of flowstone .
If we get down to pigment at the bottom , that gives a minimum age
for the painting. Sometimes we get an opportunity to get underneath
the art, and take a sample, and that gives us a maximum age.
A piece of calcite "curtain" and at some point an earthquake
or someone broke a piece , then the calcite continued to grow.
So a painting, then stalegmite formed after the painting, then some
time later someone came along and broke a piece. That gives us the
opportunity to drill under the pigment and so get a maximum age.
So we can start sandwiching our dates between min and max
ages, constraining the ages. We got a grant from the NERC , and went
to Spain to several caves mainly north Spain and got as many
dates as we could. Dirk Hoffman and I worked on this at Bristol Uni
, i came here, he moved to the Max Plankh Institute for evolutionary
Anthropology in Leipzig . We realised the samples we took were just too
big, limiting the number of samples we could date. Because we are
a victim of geology . They don't necessarily form immediatley after a
paintingwas created, 10 to 30,000 years after is possible. The only
way we could constrain the dating , was to blanket-bomb it.
So accidentally collect the sample that nails it. I was taking 100 to 200mg
samples. But you could expand the number of paintings able to date, if
you took 10mg. We managed to reduce it down to between 1 and 10mg
about half a grain of rice. The initial project we tok
about 50 samples, a sort of pathfinder mission. For 4 years now
we've been working almostt exclusively in Spain and dated about
400 samples . Moved out to East Timor to sample they're cave art
this summer and been to Italy and the bits of France they
let us in.
When we set out to do this, the oldest cave art, in France, was claimed to
be Gros Cheauvais 35,000 calibrated years. Subsequently one published at
40,000 and claiming this was the birth of cave painting. Only a few
hundred miles away, in Spain, th eoldest dated cave art is 10,000
years younger. Is it taking the artists that long to get from France
to Spain or is it a problemin our chronology.
The calcite results are a minimum age for the art. Most are Holocene
, younger than 10,000 years. Not a problem, as they are minimum ages for
cave paintings, lots of calcite formed in the Holocene, forming in
warm wet conditions. When cold and dry the production of calcite
slows right down. So we get lots of post-glacial
dates for calcite formation. We do have some dates older than 20,000
years, even 25,000 years. This shows cave painting was going on in
Spain before the oldest previous cave paintings.
Tito Bustillo a cave site in Asturias has thousands of cave paintings.
We were most interested in an anthropomorph of a lion man figurine
form. Under a draped stalagmite, it had been broken in
atiquity , so we could get a maximum and minimum ages. It gave
a date between 29.6 and 35.5 thousand years. There was an
excavation close by and they found some pigments and some
charcoal from a hearth that was C-14 dated , showing human
activity from about 36 to 39,000 years, so looking at very early
activity and very early cavve art. Elsewhere in the cave there are cave
paintings that are much younger, including horses about 3m long .
The black pigments there have been C14 dated to no more than 14,000 years.
One mistake people have been making is assuming that caves get painted in a
single episode. What we're finding , with highly decorated caves,
there's been multiple episodes of painting.
We went to Altimera, the famous polychrome ceiling , in Cantabria.
The bison are about 18tyo , beautifully painted to follow the
contours of the ceiling , which is sort of rippled. It would seem the
shape of the rock was suggesting the art to the artist. Those had been dated
many times by C14 dating. We were interested in the redness underneath,
that is largely neglected. A bison's back leg has been painted on top
of it, an earlier phase of painting. Since Altamera was discovered
a long argument about whether a short or a long chronology.
Most had gone on the short, based upon stylistic interpretation
but also when they excavated , they found no archaeology older than
22tyo. So another hope for myth-busting , that underground
archaeology reflects the paintings on the walls.
Generally we find , caves that were never painted and paint3d caves
that don't have archaeology. They wern't living there, lighting fires
and doing the things that leave a long archaeological record.
Several possible phases from the styles. The red horse outline was
stylistically attributed to an earlier period than the polychrome bison.
We focus on small samples from thin carbonate crusts, that overlay
th e pigment. We got a date older there older than 22tyo. Still supports
the short chronology , though a minimum age. It does show it
predates the Magdelanian polychrome bison. More exciting were
the odd shapes that didn't sem to be figurative. People have
referred to them as claviform, shaped like a key. We have ages for these ,
and they underlie the painted bison at 36tyo, much older than the
bison. Back to the period of the arrival of the very first modern humans
At El Casrillo cave, near Santander, you as the public can go right into the cave
not a low stifling corridor place. It has the Panel of Hands, negative
hand stencils, made by placing hand on the wall and blowing
pigment at them. Something like 80 of them. Most are obscured,
barely see them because of a thin layer of calcite . We love that as
everything is covered with stuff we can date.
Inside the hand stencils, there are lines of red dots, dating a hand and a
dot, they come out as the red dot older than 40,800 years old and the
hand stencil older than 37,300. Currently the olded dated
cave art in the world. We can put all this on a timeline.
Bearing in mind most are minimum ages, something older than 22tyo
does not mean it could not be 50tyo, this isa weakness in our technique.
We rarely get max and min ages. It is showing that the oldest cave
paintings are at least as old as the arrival of modern humans in that
part of Spain.
We've taken a lot of criticism from people who like to look
at art. also ended up i na journal spat with the people of
Grot Chauvais who want their paintings to be the oldest in the
world. They've challenged us , saying things can go wrong with
uranium/thorium dating. It can behave as an open system ,the U
starts there and loose some of it over time, sort of washed out.
That artificially makes the age look older. We've found ways around that
and are now dating long sequences of samples. We take a sample, then another
sample from the same spot, a bit closer to the pigment, so a bit older,
and so on. Its then hard to think of a mechanism that is going
to remove U equally from every one of those layers.
When they come out in stratographic order , the dates in the
right order, then we're happy we are getting the right answer.
A pic of the lowest sample taken just showing the pigment poking
through in a few places. Thats where we stop, we don't touch
the pigment at all. The pigment would only contaminate our last sample
anyway , if we went deeper, and be unusable as a result.
So we have dates older than 40,800 years, how do we interpret that.
Jual Duyall ? chronology for the Iberian peninsular. He has in
northern Spain about 42tya, he's got what we call Chapperonian
, an industry that includes a lot of art objects, and people are
arguing as to whether it was made by N or by modern humans.
Letrs say it was made by modern humans. In the south of Spain,
N persist a bit later . It seems modern humans didn't cross the
Ebro river. So if our dates had come out ,in sites of southern
Spain of 40tya , we'd have to conclude that it was Ns who
were making them. But they're not, they're in northern Spain ,
but they are minimum ages and at 41tya it would seem we have
evidence of only modern humans. Bu tthese are minimum
ages, so we have to come up with a number of interpretations of this.
Painting in Europe 41tya at least, the earliest painting in
Africa 27tya, whats going on. Either there's an earlier painting
in Africa but we've not fouind it yet, or found but not dated yet.
Or the employment of painting caves , even painting at all ,
was an innovation after humans had left africa.
We have paintings about 40tya in Sulawesi , so maybe there
is an origin somewhere between Africa, Europe and Sulawesi
where we'll find the earliest paintings. Then the very first modern
humans arrived between 45 and 42tya, in Europe, they were already
bringing with them a tradition of painting caves. Or painting
arose in Europe , if thats the case why here and not Africa.
Nick Connard associates painting withthe rise of the
otherwise unique firsts in symbolic behaviour in Europe.
The difference between Europe and africa was that in Europe,
when modern humans arrived, there were N around, but in Africa there
was just modern humans. There was no competition with another
human species. If you're in competition , not necesarily
fighting them, but you might want to organise yourself into different
groups , the way your social structures work , to survie in a more
complex environment, than just one species of humans roaming
the savannahs of Africa. Conard sees the rise of things like musical
instruments asa manifestation of this, caused by competition with
Ns. The third interpretation is, could it be that Ns made these.
These are minimum ages, they could be older, perhaps significantly
older than 41tya. How much older do they have to be for us to
conclude they were done by N.
Someone comes along in the past, puts their hand on a wall ,
sprays it with paint, and leaves a mark. Then an unknown amount
of time passes and we get the formation of stalagmites and this forms
over time. They may not be building up continuously , stopping and
starting perhaps. Then we come along and take a chunk out
of it. We don't go to the very bottom for a sample, also the
layers are very thin , that we sample. So we mix them up and
take the average of all those layers and that will be our
minimum age for the painting. But we've not accounted for all the
time back near the beginning. It turns out, from what we know of the
arrival of modern humans and the disappearance of Ns , that the age
underestimation , only has to be 2,000 years . It only has to take
2000 years for all of that stalagmite to have grown , for the painting to
fall into the time range in which there was only Ns in northern Spain.
Our argument here , with more samples yet to be taken,
On th ebalance of probability , this age estimation gap is so small
that we believe when we look at those hand stencils in El Castillo
cave , that you are looking at handprints made by a N.
But if you look elsewhere, evidence of symbolic behaviours
among Ns , its everywhere, its just been overlooked.
400tya to 200tya they are collecting and hoarding pigments, they're
not necessarily painting with them , bu tthey like a red stone.
We find thousands of them in N contexts, we have the deliberate
burial of the dead . They've interpreted specific butchery marks
on raptors such as eagles as the deliberate collection of feathers and
talons, not for meat , you would not cut talons or feet off , for meat consumption.
They are probably collecting feathers, and talismans of these powerful
birds. There is one example of an engraved bone, loads of black
pigment, perforated shells also with traces of pigment inside ,
interpreted as make-up containers, somethin to do with
body paint. We don't have cave paintings there, but we do
have elaborate decoration of the body. If you had 150,000
years of exploiting shells and pigments, then its conceivable that
in that long time span they would start putting paint on walls
rather than themselves. If this is true, after the next phase of
our project , we can twll you if its true or not, then w emust
stop thinking of N in the early 19C way, knuckle-dragging brutish
individuals. But as a painter, a thinker, as far more
sophisticated individual, far more related to us ,
beyond what we know from DNA studies, but also in our
I've been to a cave in France and there is obviously 2 different
phases of paintings at 2 different locations within
that cave. Just from the stylistic approach because they are very
different. Not only was there cave art in there but also
evidence of animal activity in there. Bears had been active in the
cave , sedimentary evidence of that, bear claw marks within
clay deposits , where a bear had falllen in and got stuck
and died. Obviously caves weren't safe havens when they were
doing this. Venturing in, in the dark, with marginal torch light
and yet they produce great artworks, so much more goes into it
, the creation of the dyes and the paint, preparation and potential
That might be the reason. Lots of art examples that is put in
inaccessible places. THere are some examples where even the
artist could not see what they were doing. They'd put a hand up
a preattic tube and paint a perfect horse. It was only discovered
because someone put an optical fibre camera up there.
There was no way you could see what you were doing. So
an element of performance about some of this, not public
performance. Its about being in the other world, I think.
The fact there might be dangerous animals fown there
might make it more appealing, to go and paint there.
We get a sense of that from, not necesarily the context of painted
caves but the Seema de los Quesos in Attapuerca , Spain, there is a very
long drop. At the bottom there was remains of about 45 young
men, only young men. They were all pre-Ns, about the time of the
split between N and modern humans. Why would you have that
unusual age and sex profile , probably something about
the act of going into that cave, exciting perhaps.
Or a religious elemement, or they were all chucked down there
or a right-of-passage thing. Thank goodness, if people didn't
go and do stupid things in caves half the archaeology we rely on would
I looked into going to northern Spain thus year, but when I
started to look into it, it seemed there was hardly anything open to the
All the sites I've shown tonight are open to the public.
Even AltaMeira ?
No , you get to go into a replica, then your name gets put into a
hat and if you are 1 in unremembered number , there is one tour of the
real cave a day. But the original is a horrible cave . Go to El Castillo
, there are 4 caves there, they are all painted and 3 are open to the
public. But you need to know their opening times because differnt
in winter to summer, and they do tours in English. And only a
couple of Euros for entry, for a world heritage site, if it was in the
UK it would be 25GBP to get in. Tito Bustillo is only 1 hour
drive from Bilbao, yes , go.
Were you saying the earliest paintings were the handprints and the red
Those are the ones more likely by Ns?
Yes the stylistics also said they would be the earliest .
So its a question of evolution of painting , to more realistic images?
What we can't determine . Lets assume for the sake of argument
all red stencils i nnorthern Spain and all the red dots,
were made by Ns, what we cant work out is who made the horses
and the figurative art. So far all our very earliest art
seems to be non-figurative, but thats not to say they are
not symbolic. They were made deliberately. The hand stencils were
very carefully placed on specific bits of the wall. Some ar eon
ceilings htat you had to crawl into, they're not mucking about with
some paint. They go into a cave to make a painting.
In Lascaux and some other vaves there are patterns of dots?
We get some of those as well.
Not able to date those?
Not diagnostic dates, they are older than 12tyo, thats all we can tell.
.... , was it just the floor level was higher or had equipment like ladders?
Some of them , not even we could get to with our best ladder.
So they've clearly built some structure to get up there. We got
very excited in Ardales cave, because in one of the stalagmites
was a piece of rope , looked like mother-of-pearl , turned to rock.
Thinking of a 40tyo piece of rope . We took a sample, C14 dated it
and came out to 1650 . I think they were using ropes , standing on
each other's backs or perhaps even building scaffold to access some of their
With the hand outlines, is there not sufficient anatomical difference
between a N hand and a modern hand?
Even if you had the bones, you couldn't. There is a difference
but its at a population level. The average thickness of the
bone , the average length of fingers is different. But there is
sufficient overlap , if given just one finger. Also there is a parallax
effect , the width of the fingers change , if blow from one angle
com[ared ot another angel . They have been able to measure
the difference between males and females, something like
70% of the hand stencils were made by females.
And some made by children?
Yes, not very many though. Thats been a bit overblown.
Is there any evidence that any were painted by children, stylistically even?
With the small hands it could be children or the child's hand placed
against the rock and someone else did the stencil. I don't think
we can clarify, which. What we can say is there very few practise ones.
They tens to be all brilliant . You'd expect people doing this, there would be
horses that didn't really look like horses.
I was thinking the ones interpreted as early could be kids?
I think they were artists and almost were famous for being artists.
Do we think of it as cave painting, just because that is where they
have survived, wheras they were painting elsewhere and thousands of years earlier
but they have not survived?
Absolutely and I suspect body painting was reallly important,
thats why we find hoardes of pigments everywhere , even though we have
no paintings. Bark paintings would not survive . We do get a sense of
non-cave art context where we see portable art, the lionman 35tyo,
thats quite early in the art context. Places like the Coeur Valley in
Portugal, with very low errosion rates of the rocks, every flat
surface is engraved, in fact over-engraved, that was 20tya.
So maybe the whole landscape was decorated but most has
worn away, especially if limestone. Calcite over painting protects it, but
paint the outside of a cave it probably won;t last 10 years.
I'm assuming an ablating process to take the samples, to get
10 or 12 pretty accurate equal thicknesses of samples for testing. ?
Its me with a scalpel , some practise and some very large glasses.
Some of it is really hard and may take 3 hours to remove one sample.
Another observation , I suppose, is the Uffington White Horse is
supposed to be only 2,000 BC , if that. But stylistically
it is very minimal , but from the simple style you could say
it was very much older, but its not?
I think they have archaeological reasons to think it is neolithic/bronzr
age. I think artists call it the line, a sense of how you can
sumarise a thing just with a single brush stroke. You see it all the
time . A line just swirls and you can see its a mamoth, but really its
about 30cms of a single stroke of the brush. You also find areas of the
cave , where the wall suggests the shsape. The famous one is the Pechmell
horse , a rock that looks like a horse, all they've done is put a face
on it and dots and a couple of legs. You start to see that sort of thing
everywhere. Some of the bosses on the roof of Altamera look
like sleeping bison . In Al Cassio cave there is a stalgmite
that looks like a bison and all they've done is put an eye on it.
It casts a shadow like a bison. They might have been tracing things that
already existed .
You mentioned that modern humans were the only hominem in Africa
at one point, how lon g had that been so?
Probably for always , or very shortly after modern humans evolved.
THe uncertainty on some of our dates may 30ty to 200ty, so we
don't know whether or not 1 only prior to humans evolving,
the genetic mixing was enough so everyone became humans or
whether lots of little branches that only lasted 10ty and wer e
dead ends. But it does look you have to go back 350ty before
you start seeing something much different to the modern human.
But in northern latitudes we've probably got 4 species, N,
Denisovans only known from the genetics of a single fingerbone
but seem to have interbred with the human popultations
that became Se Asian and Australasian, and a residual homo erectus
in Java but everyone is arguing over the dates of that.
In this country we have Paviland , using red ochre, but you
think there was red ochre art such as Creswell , but it has not
I have a piece excavated at Creswell that is a big chunk of red ochre.
We were excavating outside it. The reason we have little on
Creswell is because the Victorians dynamited it all, the fossil
hunters were collecting large faunal bones. In the crypt outside
church? ho? , we have 2 or 3 pieces of red ochre.
We spent 3 years going thru Victorian spoil heaps , washing
every single piece of stone, in case it was engraved, because they
would have missed it, but no engravings. Then underneath
we found Pleisocene sediments and in that were bits of red ochre.
So they could have been ? ?
Its such an open site, you can see the weathering on engraving.
Creswell Crags in Derbyshire , its Britains only authentic bit
of paleolithic cave art, 4 or 5 engravings , but they are in a
cave thats been open for ever, and you can see its weathered.
One might imagine they were painted , like lots of cases in France and
Spain where there was engraving followed up by painting.
Could have been the samne at Creswell , but weathered away.
I assume somewhere along the way, you've cross-correlated
between the stalagtite/stalagmite people and their deposition rate of growth
and your U/Thorium process.?
Its totally variable . It can vary from metre to metre. It would be great
if all the stalagmites in a ca=ve behaved in the same way , then you could
use one not associated with art and use that to calibrate the age of the art.
So you cant even do it within one cave?
No because the wate ris trickling through cracks and it moves ,
and thinfgs change in the way of vegetation above the cave, all
sprts of things change.
For public access to these caves , do they have to wear surgical masks,
to reduce lichen and fungal growth, like the Egyptian problem.
Some closed are closed to the public or only a very small number
of people allowed in.
With forensic examiner type suits?
Yes, but others have been partially open to the elements for their
entire history and so the action of humans is irrelevant.
But caves like altamira have remained largely sealed . Or people
breathiing and especially their lights is creating all kinds of
problems, bacterial colonies and algae. Lascaux has been shut now
for years because they never could get rid of the algae brought
there by the humans and their lights.
If you looked at the style change, from 40 to 20ty, where would the earliest African,
the 27tya. Where would that fit into .?
It would probably fit more with Magdelanian art , which in Europe
is 18tya or younger. So you could argue that that sort of art is earlier
in Africa than it is in Europe. Therre are no proxies for earlier stuff.
What African art that has been dated is late Holocene, perhaps 7tyo.
It kind of fits. It can be partly defined by the fauna as well.
You said some of the caves have other archaeological stuff in there,
would suggest they were lived in as well. So sometimes there
would be art in someone's home and other times seem to be sacred
People really only lived in cave mouths, its really dark back there ,
and also poor ventilation and it would soon fill up with smoke
from fires. There probasbly were pictures and symbols at the
mouth s of caves but tend to have eroded away. We've found a few
bu tthe main stuff is in deep caves. Every so often a cave
appears where the roof has collapsed, and people think its a
deep cave but usually the entrance was somewhere else.
So most are where people are taking quite perilous journeys
into very dark places , with only little oil lamps, not like
our powerful spotlamps. Shadows seem to pay a part, the
throw of shadows , animation of some of the bas-relief
carvings are almost like animations with a flickering light source,
the horse legs seem to move. Almost anothe rworld for these
Any audio effects found in the caves?
Acoustic people have been down and done all that. They treated all
the art as one phase and didn't realise the spatial
distribution is chronologically determined. There are phases when
deep caves are painted and phases when only shallower
caves ar epainted, and they each have different acoustic properties.
I think they were seeing patterns defined by the behaviour of
individuals , rather than by the acoustics.
There are some interesting performances on the web, with people playing
flutes made from Ibex bones and the like.
... any cross-over , one teaching the other to paint?
I mentioned the Chapelperonian , a thorn in the side
of all archaeologists. Its a layer of cultural material
that lies between something we definitely know is N and
something we definitely know was made by moderns. We've found them
in the sites of those species. Most archaeological sites, we don't find
any human remains, so we go by the shape of tools . The Chappeperonians
had elements of N flint technology with lots of beads , shells and
pigments etc. So made by which species. So the people who say they
were made by modern humans, say perhaps they were made by Ns
but were just copying modern humans. So they are arguing
culturisation. All we have to do is show Ns painted caves
before humans got anywhere near Europe. Maybe it could be
culturisation, but they already had their traditions of painting
caves and being symbolic, so no need to invoke moderns arriving.
I suppose when both where around there would be stylistic
changes. There was a period of quire rapid climate change in that
period, so there would be changes in how fauna move around ,
even some goig extinct. You'd consequentially have to change the
way you hunt. If you go from eating only bison , to eating ibex
then you might find ibex appearing on cave walls.
... other examples?
Some in Russia , we would have gone to but there is a group
in Copnhagen working on them. There is Sulawesi and the
whole of Australasia , covered in cave apintings. Thats the next
big thing. Humans arrived in oz about 55tya, so I expect to find
55tyo cave apintings there.
Is there any new upcoming dating process, thats currently in yhe
A method thats been around for some time, but its really hard.
Called cosmogenic isotope dating , come over from geology.
The reason geologists use it , because they can take half a kilo
of sample . These are isotopes formed by the exposure of
silicate material to cosmic radiation. You can have a rock thats sat under
5m of rock , wont have been exposed to that radiation.
A glacier comes along , scrapes that off and is now exposed to
cosmic radiation. Very slowly over time, these isotopes buid up
by nuclear reaction. About 100 atoms per gram being produced
so a big sample is needed. I can iagine if they are getting their samples
from clay deposits that are exposed, then taken into ta cave , some of
those cosmogenic isotopes atre radioctive and start to decay,
isolating them from the source of production. They've done that
with flint, flint from shallow flint quarries . In earlier days instead
of mining deep in chalk , they were using river cobbles.
So it gets exposed , then moved to a cave, that shields it,
but again you destroy the whole artifact. Then the uncertainty
is massive, one day they will enhance the precision on such
measurements , where we could a little fleck of
pigment , and age it.
Generally speaking the owners of these caves, don't mind you
taking samples of calcite deposits, as long as you don't touch the paintings?
We've been banned from France. One of the French officials
misrepresented the size of a 12x12mm sample we'd taken in Spain .
Even the conservators put the wall up , saying if you take even a little bit
of this calcite area off, in 10 years the cave art would be gone.
A coda. We're in the middle of our project thats been going now
for about 9 years. There is a very good chance that we'll be able to reveal
the results of many hundreds of dates , when we talk to the Southampton
Archaeological Society, St Joseph's Hall in March 2018.
Monday 11 December 2017, Prof Bob Grimble :Well we've made it so far:-
nutrition, genetics, immune function and health.
24 people, 1.5 hours
In my teaching and research career I've been very involved in
how nutrition influences the way our immune systems (IS) function.
Read a packet of cereals or a pack of pills and you'll read how your
immune system needs to be "boosted" all the time.
Then you come to realise that someone with rheumatoid arthritis
is having their IS boosted in the wrong way. I'm not an expert on
immunology , coming into the area largely by having a Chinese
medical student, whose father owned a Chinese restaurant in
Gosport. We would work on pregnancy and lactation , but she wanted
to work on immunology. I listened to all Prof Stevenson's lectures at the
uni . What impressed me then , was what a dangerous friende the IS
is, full of potent molecules. Put it all together then its a tissue as large
as your liver, scattered throughout body in the skin , lungs ,
blood stream etc. It tackles bugs in a number of complex ways.
I will talk about one of those ways tonight, inflammation.
That is increasing the blood flow , increasing bofy temp ,
creating molecules that will start to break down tissues to feed
the IS. And molecules that will zap bugs, free radicals FR.
All that together is what I call inflammation . Also nutrition, our
genetics , their influences and how there is a knock on
effect on our longevity and other aspects of healthy life.
A pic of a cut on my thumb in the 1970s but I'm still
here , talking to you tonight. Also a pic of apples that were
mouldy in 1975 and they never survived. I have an IS, the
apples don't. The IS is essential for survival in a world surrounded
by microorganisms that are trying to gain access to our body.
My gut is full of them. We try to keep the bugs out of our
inner mechanisms. Wipe any surfsce here and transfer to an
agar plate, most interesting moulds and stuff will grow. Their in the
air , every breath takes in microbes.
Yet we manage to repel them in a way that doesn't damage our
health, most of the time. You know when you've picked up a bug.
Sore throat, headache , sweaty etc. Thats your IS swinging into
action. So why does the body go through these paiful processes to
repel bugs from our system. Why do we loose our appetite, it seems
non-sensical. When you have a bug on board, you want to
figth it, needing fuel to do that. Go the RCS and a statue inside the
door , of John Hunter. He was surgeon to Charles II. He notices something
interesting about people who were injured or infected. They all
produced a similar type of response, what he called an inflammation.
Loos of appetite, raised temp, fatigue ,ma;aise etc. A common respons eto
a wide range of things attacking the body.
About 1960-70 we started to know why this was. Our body as a lamb,
and the IS as a lion very powerful. But it has the ability to kill us if
it over responds. Woody allen quote " And the lamb and the lion
shall lie down together but the lamb won't get much sleep".
When the ISdetects something wrong i nthe body , say an e-coli germ.
An immune cell in the body, a macrophage ,once it contacts that
bug, it will lead to the release of a whole range of molecules
called cytokines, from Greek meaning cell exciters.
The result is the usual symptoms, fever, appetite loss. If ill for a
long time, you loose your muscle. If you look in hte blood stream,
there i a lot of FR and oxidant molecules being produced.
The reason for raising your temp is that most germs don't like
high temps. They used to treat syphilus patients in steam baths,
because there was a certain amount of success in raising body temp
and fighting the infection that way.
Oxidants are very important , germs don't like their surface being
attacked by FR. A wide range of cells in the body that will
release FRs and oxidant molecules, like bleach hydrogen
peroxide, hypochlorous acid , all will damage cell membranes
and in particular targetting invading organisms.
Oxidant production is an important part of the response .
The IS must be fed, fed with the right things. Someone with a severe
infection , the IS doesn't want you to walk to the shops and get a
donah kebab , a food not important to the IS. It wants to
feed on yourself, it starts to break down your muscles, creates
glucose from molecules in your body. These are amino acids
released from the muscles, will help to provide food for the IS.
THe IS An " organ" the size of your liver needs a lot of nutrition,
so by loosing appetite the body has made sure , the food for the IS
comes from the right source, which is from muscles rather than what you're eating.
The ideal response to an invading organism. First there is the IS
which is activated. The IS is made of white blood-cells T and B
cells, also the cytokines which will stimulate a whole range of
processes in the body. Like bleach, oxidants are very good at
killing bugs. We're producing these where the bug is, the bug will
die. So we're creating a hostile environment in the body.
We have to ensure we don't damage our own tissues. In our
bdies are anti-oxidant systems. We eat antioxidants AO in our diet
, things like vitamin E , vitamin C, the katakins found in tea.
We also create in our bodies glutothione an important AO.
There are also AO enzymes in our body which help to
dismantle oxidant molecules.
So we release oxidants and we increase our AO defences. Our ability
to do that depends on whether we are well nourished or not.
Poor diet and we won't maintain our glutothione levels, and not good
levels, at the tissue level, of vitamins E and C. So that parrt of the
system can break down if ill nourished.
The nutrients from our tissues will be processed , some
will ?glucose , which is a favoured fuel for B and T cells.
Glutamine and sulphur-amino acids ar eimportant for
making glutothione , a key part of our AO defences.
So a well coordinated series of events, triggered bythe
cytokines. To further help release this burst of nutrients
, from our host tissues, our appetite is lost, so we start to
feed ourselves from within. There is a limit to that, if the
fever is self limiting, lasting only a week or 2 , it doesn't
matter as you can always eat again after recovery.
But if a long chronic disease, where this is constantly being
stimulated, this will lead to malnutrition . Malnutrition leads to a poor
immune system and leads to a poor Immune response, and subsequent
infections. So can enter a downward spiral by this series of events,
if unable to recover and feed yourself properly. How come this seemingly
perfect biological response , designed to ensure survival.
This action is not designed to ensure the survival of the individual ,
but survival of the species. S osome individuals , within the species ,
will pay a price for certain biological systems working in their body
. The IS is a bit like agression . 2 contexts where agression
is being applied - a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia telling some nasty
peole ot keep away, backed up by a tank, so the security of the
population is maintained, the species is maintained.
An aggressive football supporter, inappropriate agression .
The actions of the IS are only appropriate in the right context ,
the context of life in general.
ook at a general young population, made up of all sorts
of individual characteristics , different stages of developement,
different general health, different genotypes etc. There is thr
population in which the IS operates. Some people will be able to use the
IS very effectively , others will have problems with the IS.
So some factors that influence the strength of inflammatory response IR.
Some have a direct or indirect nutritional background to them.
So obesity, type of fat in the diet, AO intake . And aging , not nutrition
but has a direct effect on IR. Other things, we cant do anything about
our genetics , nothing about our gender, or aging.
Obesity , I'm fat as I'm suffering from chronic inflamation.
Everyone overweight or obese is suffering from low-level inflammation.
The cells that make up the fat stores of the body, odiphocytes?.
A sequence of events, starting with someone who is lean , someone getting
a bit fatter and someone who is obese.
The adiphocytes, the cells that hold the fat under the skin, around the
liver , the kidneys etc . They store fat and release fatty acids into the
circulation when needed . As the cells get fatter, the cell walls get
stretched and start to emit molecules which attract in
immune cells from outside . A macrophage being attracted into the
adipose tissue. The cells start to produce cytokines , TNFalpha
is being produced . As the individual gets bigger , with stretching
cells, more macrophages coming in and a greater number of kinds of
cytokines being released. The adipose tissue becomes an inflammatory
tissue as a consequence. If the individual slims down and the
adipose tissue shrinks , it gets turned off. Anyone a bit tubby
is undergoing inflamation to varying extents.
The Jericho picture, the raft of the Medusa. A big political
disaster at the time. A steamer called the Medusa went down
, a lot of people hang onto a raft . It was largely ignored by
passing ships and the artist Jericho drew a pic of it.
A take-off of that , a raft full of fat people . A lady from the Department
of Health , waving a flag saying, Eat More Fruit. While the raft of
obesity is sinking. The extent of obesity across the industrialised world
is getting bigger and bigger , leading on to all sorts of other
health problems . Like diabetes mialitis linked to inflammation ,
arthritis linked to inflammation , athro-schlerosis also linlked
The type of fat in our diet. Polyunsaturated fatty acids , everyone very
keen on these. Called poopers sometimes. There are 2 types omega 6
and omega 3 . You get them in margarines and things like that,
as added. Various health effects, omega6s they lower cholesterol
, important yes, but don't have any effect on triglyceride which is
another form of fat in the blood. There is growing evidence they are
pro-inflammatory, increasing inflammation is certain circumstances.
We're supposed to eat about 1% of our calories as omega6.
That prevents us from getting fatty acids deficiency. The current level
of consumption in the UK is 8%, 8 times over.
The omega3s , no effect on cholesterol , but they lower
triglycerides , anpther risk factor for arthro-schlerosis.
These polyunsaturates are anti-inflammatory, they reduce the
levels of inflammation in the body. So not all polyunsaturates are
the same, as far as inflmmation is concerned. They may be roughly the
same in reducing the level of fat in the blood.
An american study looked at tumour necrosis factor TNF, an
inflammatory mediator in the blood stream of a a huge
number of USA women and men. They looked at their diets
and divided the intakes of omega6 and omega3 into quartiles.
The lowest intakes of omga3 to the highest, a large difference
in levels of TNF in the blood. Very high in the lowest quartile
of omega3 intake and in the highest quartile of omega6 .
Same is true in the men, similar pattern.
This is suggesting hte level o f fat in the diet of the population,
as a whole , has an effect on the level o f inflammation.
As for AO intake , why ar ethey important. THey are putting out
fires in the body, basically. How do AO control inflamation.
Inflamation is complex, it involves genes being turned on.
A cell membrane of an inflammatory cell, the oxidants on the
outside . On the inside , cell components becoming oxidised,
by hydrogen peroxide produced during an infection say.
Or the oxidents produced by cigarette smoking. In the cell
are transcription factors. One is nuclear-factor-kappaB, NFKB.
Many genes in the cells have a sensitive region on them for NFKB,
when attached to the gene , it gets turned on. Normally NFKB
is kept quiet by an inhibitory path. As soon as oxidents come
along , the inhibery path is removed and hte NFKB moves to the
nucleus and turns on the genes for production of inflammatory
mediators. Things like the cyto-kines, production up-regulated by
oxidant molecules in the cell. Within an infection, we produce
oxidents to kill the bug , bu tthose oxidants have the capacity for
further upregulating the immune response if they're not controlled.
AO can control them, stop the breakdown of NFKB
activation, reduce the degree to which cell components are
oxidised which is also a trigger for inflammation.
Omega3s help to tone down the prduction of cytokines, from
inflammatory cells and also stabilize NFKB and its
Now for genetics. My genetics is from the spin of the dice.
Which sperm hits which egg and produced my genotype.
You are stuck with it, and your ability to produce cytrokines
in any situation. In a gene there are polymorphisms ,
a single base change in the promoter region of the gene.
The promotor is the switch that turns the gene on, within that
region can be various combinations of various of AGTC.
I could be 2 "green", a red and a green, or 2 reds variations.
As you move across the poltmorphisms , the biological response
gets stronger. So someone with 2 As in the TNFalpha gene will tend
to produce more TNFA in a given context compared to someone
with one copy of it, or none. THese polymorphisms are hard-wired into our
genetics that will control the strength of our response , throughout
our lives. No matter the stimulus, whether cigarette smoke
or an infection, person A will have a bigger response than
person B. This was really looked at first in late 1980s ,
a whole new range of genes has been described .
The genotype associated with raised cyctokine profuction or poor
disease outcome a list of them. As far as TNA is concerend
if you have an A allele in your genetic makeup you will tend
experience a stronger inflamatory response, to a stimulusof infection
or injury or even just old age.
Our genetics and the amount of body fat we have may create a
time-bomb for future ill health or inflamation being above what it
should be. Men are not as tough as they think they are.
A study in 2000 in journal SHOCK, people who hacve developed
sepsis an overwhelming response to a hospital acquired infection.
Mortality rates of people with polymorphisms in lymphotoxin-alpha
gene , one of the drivers of inflamation. You either have a G
or an A. People with AA, from mum and dad as opposed to
GA only inherited from 1 parent, they have a higher mortality amongst
the men. Look at the women , not so high, women are protected against
this genetic effect. I did a study with an abdominal surgeon,
simply lookig at interluken6 production , post operatively.
Preoperativelt, with te 2 genotypes we could identify , either GG
or AG , A being the inflamatory allele. Those with an A had a bigger
response than those ith GG. So every time you had a challenge,
with that phenotype, tou would have larger response.
As you get old you get more inflamed. Biologically , inflamation
does increase as you get older.
The level of C-reactive protein in the bloodstream of healthy
volunteers at medical school. They're not infcted or obviously
inflamed in anyway.
18-29, 30 -49,50 - 84, the Creactive protein , increases steadily
across the age range, highly significant effect.
Raised blood fats are a risk factor for arthro-sclerosis also tested
across the agrs. Inflamation occurs naturally as you get older.
An Italian study looking at phenotype and longevity in a huge
range of Italian subjects. Ages 60 to 80 , 81 to 99 and over 100.
Genotype as far as Interluken6 is concerned, where you can
either have a C or a G. If CC you have lower inflamation
than GG, and in the middle if you just have one copy .
For the men 1/4 are CC, 1/2 CG and 1/4 GG.
The next age range the pattern stays the same, but go above 99
the number of GG has decreased , because they have died.
Wheras the proportion of CC increases because they've survived.
so for men if you have an inflamatory genotype you're less
likely to live to a ripe old age.
For women, clearly god is a woman.
There is no change in the pattern as you go across the age bands.
As you age, your leg arteries start to clog up , find it harder to
walk at a normal pace. With the grim reaper behind you,
if you smoke or are obese, you have to run faster.
Chronically raised blood glucose and a direct poor in AOs , let the grim
reaper catch you earlier. Good sources of AOs are fruit and veg.
Some examples of how fish-oil allows you to walk faster.
I met up with a vascular surgeon , working on peripheral vascular
disease. People who have difficulty walking without pain, walk
briskly and they get extreme pain in their legs. Because the arteries there
ar efull of artheroma plaques blocking the arteries. In his studies
he had a treadmill , gradually increasing the angle of the base.
Got people to walk on it at a certain speed , via metronome ,
for as long as they could, without pain. We fed his patients 6gm of
fish oil a day for 3 months. in that time they could double the walking
distance to go without pain. Then we went to the genetics , and thse
with inflamatory genotypes are the ones who benifited most from
having fish oil.
What is the effect of vitamin B12 on inflammation, as people get
older they tend to have their vitamin ? going down , is there a correlation?
I cant think of a reason why B12 would influence inflamation, either way, neg or pos. Its importany in cell growth , so it might influence some of the
cells in the IS, more work needs to be done.
Its vitamin A that is exceedingly important in immune function.
People keep going on about vit C being important in infection and IS,
but there is hardly any evidence at all that C does anything for the IS.
If you have scurvy , then your IS is shot to bits. Vit E is important because
its an AO. Trials in the third world involving vit A , where they've
improved the immune function in huge populations of children
just by giving them vit A.
For food products that have non-food in them , does that mean not enough
vitamins included, ??? and building up problems?
There is no evidence that vitamins cause obesity. Obesity is due to energy
intake exceeding energy expenditure. There is a little evidence that
obesity and genetics can be connected. As far as obesity is concerned. People
tend to think of energy in terms of running . I used to run marathons
it puts up your energy expenditure by a small amount, that is running 26
miles. The main part of your energy expenditure is your resting
metabolic rate, just staying alive, is about half your energy expenditure.
If you eat a lot its very difficult to exercise enough to get rid of
its effects. Studies have shown that every time you eat , you
get hotter. Have a meal and you waste about 15% of it just as increased
metabolism , absorbtion of amino acids, glucose etc. Eat a cold
meal and you get just as hot as eating a cold meal.
As you get older, that effect gets smaller. Your appetite stays the same
so it means you get fatter. When I was a student they were trying to find out
what made people fat, and the question is still not answered,
other than intake is greater than expenditure.
Is their psychology there?
Can I think myself thin perhaps.
A sort of evolutionary question, animals like us, very much requir e
oxygen , why should oxygen and therefore oxidants be such a problem ?
wouldn't evolution got rid of that problem along the way.
Within our bodies are very powerful AO systems. We talk about them
in our diet but in our body there are enzymes like superoxide-disputase
that gets rid of superoxide one of the free radicals. Glutothione is a very
important AO , made from 3 amino acids, that we get in our diet.
Levels of glutothione in the liver are very high indeed and in the blood
stream. so we already have AO defences. If you have a load of
vitamin C it doesn't really boost your defences , it simply makes you
make lots of oxalic acid, the end of the biological process.
I'm not sure there is a problem , why do we get old, why do we
fall apart. We're only supposed to be here so many years.
You can't live forever, whatever faddish diet you take up.
The fad thing now is very restricted calory intake?
In the USA there is a low calory society, living on just over 1000
calories a day. How miserable it must be. When one of them dies,
the rest must get very concerned, because of what they could have eaten all
Isn't part of the reasoning , to reverse some effects, such as diabetes,
have a low intake , and reverse the insulin resistance?
There is an argument for short periods of time of low intake.
But those people think they can increase their lifespan by
reducing their calory intake. We do correlations between metabolic rate
of animals and there is an inverse correlation , lower the heart rate,
the higher the survival. i wouldn't recommend it. The more you know about
science, the more complicated it is. The less you know about it, the simpler
it all is.
Would high doses of vitamin C help combat cancer , or help tissue
A lot of cancer treatments involve either generation within the body
free radicals or the administering of them in some form
of oxident stress. So there is probably an argument there
for increasing the level of Vit C , simply to compensate for that,
and protect the healthy tissues that are not being treated.
I've no evidence on tissue growth effect.
Do you have any take on epigentics as that came in after observations
of mass starvation in Holland?
Epigenetics is very big in Soton, a major promoter of it was
Prof David Barker. At the beginning i was very sceptical .
In 1944 Holland, prior to D-Day, the Dutch were very active in
one area of Holland. Then there was the Arnham landings , that got
defeated. The Nazis then punished that part of Holland by
cutting off the food supply. Within that area were women who were
pregnant on a calory intake per day of about 800 calories, vastly inferior
to requirement. The children survived and after the war , they were
studied in comparison to the children born in other areas of Holland , not so
affected. I did not believe him , unless in the 2 areas of Holland
have different disease patterns. But he said they do have different
patterns of disease. The same ethnic group, bu tthe ones who had a
period of starvation , during pregnancey, and carried that with them
later , higher diabetes, higher schizophrenia and another condition I
forget now what. They now know the mechanism in that post
fertilisation genes become methylated i ncertain posiyions,
that supresses the degree the gene can be activated or increases it.
Folic acid is quitre a powerful switcher on or reduces gene activity .
Thats why , most countries add folic acid to flour , but in the UK
its not. There are 2 forms of anaemia , one is pernicious which is fatal
and the other is folic-acid deficient anaemia. For the Uk they felt
supplementing the whole population with folic acid, they would not
be able to tell apart the 2 forms of anaemia, and a result people might
die unnesessarily. i thought that was a good move for another
reason. If you can increase the activity of genes or decrease it
by feeding folic acid, then you may be permanently switching on
certain genetic profiles in the population, and you won't be able
to counteract it.
Once the epigenetic traits have got into the standard genetics ,
then its there for succeeding generations?
I think it takes a long time for these effects to wear off. This is the latest
sexy area in genetic science.
Can you throw any light on the effect of immuno-suppressants on
Infamatory Bowel Disease?, how they work and also could diet
be benificial to people with IBD. ?
Second part first, studies have shown , that fish-oil supplements
reduces the symptoms of Chrone's disease and also cystic fibrosis.
Immuno-suppressants don't always work. The IS is made up of
antibody producing cells called B-cells and T-cells that go to where the
trouble is. Immuno-supressants tend to knock out the Tcells.
Immuno-suppressants for tissue implants is because new tissue is
treated as an invading organism and will be attacked by T-cells.
So if they stop the Tcells acting , then the graft is likely to take.
The down-side is the T-cells have othe rfunctions, they kill
viruses , kill bacteria ,kill cancer cells, so swings and
roundabouts here. People with suppressant treatment need monitoring
all the time.
I'll put fish-oil on my diet? ??? , I've never been advised of this ?
The only effective way is taking fish-oil capsules. The downside of
fish-oil consumption is you tend to smell of fish though.
With so-called cod-liver oil capsules, you look on the ingredients
list , yes there is cod-liver oil in there bu also a lot of other fish-oil.
Is there some sort of significant medical difference there?
Yes, people often confuse cod-liver oil with fish-oil. Cod liver oil
comes from the liver of cod. Fish oil comes from the bodies
of small fish and is totally different in its EPA and EPDHA
content, the 2 principal omega3 fatty acids. You get more of
those 2 components in fish-oil rather than cod-liver oil.
Cod-liver oil contains far less of the omega3 fatty acids than
Do you have to take anything along with these oils, to cross
the gut barrier process.?
No it gets absorbed in the duodenum nd the top bit of the
digestive system by being combined with bile acids , the same as
the other fats in your diet.
I read somewhere that if you don't take something , I forget what ,
with cod-liver oil capsules , it doesn't transfer?
Perhaps another product they sell , but not required.
If you want to increase your omega3s in your body tissues ,
your cell membranes, you should cut right down on your omega6
intake. Because omega3 and 6 compete for inclusion in the
cell membrane . So if you're taking loads of corn oil
as well as fish oil it may have no effect at all.
How do these oils know which bpart of the body to go to?
We're making cell membranes all the time and made from
whatever is passing.
I was thinking of fat collecting as spare-tyre rather than in your
toes or something?
I talked of the inflamatory nature of adipose tissue , the adipose
tissue as spare tyre produces far more cytokines than the adipose
tissue generally under the skin . This is why visceral obesity is
such bad news for diabetes etc.
There is the visceral fat around the liver etc and other body fat?
There are regional differences , subcutaneous fat is different.
So if you're looking at your spare tyre , that would be subcutaneous
fat overlying perhaps the visceral fat?
Yes you can't see the underlying bad fat.
That's what the BMI is supposed to point up?
Not so much BMI but waist-hip ratio is the important
ratio, whether you are a pear or an apple person.
Its better to be a pear than an apple. Women survive better than
men , nature is against men.
So why do women have it better?
Some have tried to poopoo this, by saying men are risk takers
and women aren't. Men are body abusers more than women,
men used to smoke more than women. Al lsuch factors come into
mortality rates , so may not be true. But from the cytokine data
we've seen there is a suggestion that women produce lower levels than men.
Cytokines have this ability to act against an individual, then that
may be part of the answer. Certainly women live longer than men, evening up
a bit with the proportion of women smoking these days.
Do you have any take on the Sardinia Island apparent longevity
anomaly, purely genetics or Meditteranean diet?
There is no such thing as the Mediterranean diet now because everone has
hamburgers these days. The true Med diet was a pint of olive
oil , grilled herrings or sardines and "good" crisp bread.
A question on inflamation and nutrition nd the nightshade plant
family, peppers, potatoes , tomatoes. Do they , via
a chemical in them , switch on inflamation or no .
I don't think so. Inflamation can only be turned on as a stimulus
to the IS.
When they talk about osteo-arthritis ???, if O-A is caused by chronic inflamation , and is caued by switching on some of these enzymes
, advice about not eating peppers and similar. I was just wondering
what the chemical was, or is it a myth?
A myth, perhaps put out by interested parties.