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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Dundee University helps bring King Richard III back from the dead

February 6 2013

Dundee University’s Professor Caroline Wilkinson played a key role in the search to discover the true likeness of Richard III, whose remains were discovered under a Leicester car park. On Monday it became official after months of painstaking research the Leicester University, in collaboration with the Richard III society, confirmed that a grave discovered beneath the Greyfriars council car park contained the remains of Richard III, who perished in battle 528 years ago. A day later, the official facial reconstruction of the human remains was unveiled to the world showing the King, who died in 1485 aged 32, had a slightly arched nose and prominent chin, similar to features shown in portraits painted after his death. Caroline Wilkinson, Professor of Cranio-facial Identification at Dundee University , spearheaded the reconstruction project, which was commissioned and funded by the Richard III Society. Professor Wilkinson’s colleague Janice Aitken, a lecturer at the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) painted the 3D model replica of the head created. https://www.youtube.com/embed/h7hceYDkDZA?rel=0 The journey was the subject of a Channel 4 television programme aired on Monday evening. During the programme, Professor Wilkinson could be seen using 3D computer software to transform the skull into the lifelike head of a man. She employed the same scientific procedures that would normally be used to put faces to unidentified victims of crime. Traditionally, Richard III has been depicted in portraiture and literature as a murderous tyrant who had deformities such as a hunched back and withered arm. This, the Richard III society argues, was the result of Tudor dynasty propaganda. Professor Wilkinson explained: “Richard III is someone I am familiar with as a historical figure and I am from Yorkshire myself so I understand the significance of him. There was a lot of information about this recent archaeological investigation I did not know about so there was a lot of confidentiality surrounding the investigation and they only told us what we needed to know.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/QwrIka8x9_w?rel=0 She said she was aware of the skeleton’s scoliosis (the medical term for curvature of the spine) because that was relative to what she was doing. The reconstruction was therefore done with one shoulder higher than the other. “I saw the anthropology report when I was told about the scoliosis and I knew there were wounds to the skeleton, but they weren’t relevant to me. I only looked at what was relevant to me.” Although much of Professor Wilkinson’s work is forensic, this is not the first time she has worked on historical projects: “We do a lot of archaeological work as well we have done quite a bit with Egyptian mummies, so we are no strangers to working with ancient remains. A lot of the techniques we end up using in forensic investigations we often experiment with in these archaeological investigations as well.” https://www.youtube.com/embed/mfi6gOX0Nf4?rel=0 Using images from a CT scan of the skeleton, Professor Wilkinson was able to look at a 360-degree image of the skull and begin the process of reconstruction. In the programme, one of her first observations was that the skull was “gracile” and not strongly masculine: “He’s not a typical macho man, I wouldn’t say he looks feminine but he is on the feminine end of the male spectrum. He has more delicate features and doesn’t have a strong brow, his jawline is much more angular. The reconstruction process begins with the attaching of virtual pegs to the surface of the skull so it gives a contour and each peg represents the distance from the surface of the skull to the surface of the face. They are also guides to the amount of skin and fat that would be above the muscle. The next step is to begin adding the anatomical structure, starting with the eyeballs and slowly building up the muscle structure, fat tissue and skin. The whole process is carried out in a 3D computer system using pre-modelled, pre-scanned data to speed up the process. “We have a database of pre-modelled muscles and scanned facial features and we import them for each skull and alter them to fit,” Prof-essorWilkinson said. https://www.youtube.com/embed/rRwU6Gcj_nE?rel=0 The virtual skin is placed on top of the muscle structure in a similar way to real clay, building it up roughly at first until it becomes smoother and more detailed. Professor Wilkinson said they would choose a nose from the database that is similar to the one they want and then they alter that to fit the skull. “Traditionally it was one of the most difficult facial features because it is mostly cartilage it’s not bone but because of clinical imaging we have actually done quite a lot of research in the last 10 years.” She will travel to Leicester next month to appear at a Richard III Society conference focusing on the dig and its aftermath.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Angus & The Mearns

Angus and Mearns Matters: The wee beastie that left a lasting impression

March 5 2018

It’s been the only talk on chapped lips for days. The beast from the east brought the country to a standstill, caused social media meltdown and left hardworking colleagues trudging through the white hell of snowmaggedon, encountering unsung heroes and dodgy drivers in equal measure along the blizzard-hit way. So we’ll swerve that and focus instead on a lower level of horsepower than that which led many to grief in a blur of zero grip. As the first flakes began to blow in, a sad tale slipped by virtually unnoticed — the death, at the age of 30, of Cruachan III, the Shetland pony which became the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s first mascot on its formation a dozen years ago. The wee character met the Queen in the stately surroundings of Balmoral, served on operational tours and had been in the clover of retirement at barracks in Edinburgh before vets took the decision to end the misery of his painful arthritis. Of the many saddened by the loss – from squaddie to Sergeant Major and above – none felt it more keenly than Corporal Mark Wilkinson, the Dundee lad I had the privilege of meeting in Forfar in his role as the Pony Major of 3 SCOTS. Preparing his equine companion to lead a Black Watch homecoming parade before the Duke of Rothesay, the bond between man and mascot I briefly witnessed in the grounds of the old Chapelpark primary that day makes it easy to understand Cpl Wilkinson’s farewell of few words: “Goodnight Wee Man. Rest easy”. At the time of our 2012 encounter, Cruchan III was preparing to trot off gently into retirement, his successor Cruachan IV already being groomed for the important role. According to Cpl Wilkinson, the "wee man" demonstrated to his successor a “calming influence, stern demeanour and occasional nip” – a trait passed down, as Prince Harry found out when the military mascot tried a friendly wee nibble of Royal fingers in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago. So, farewell Cruachan — a wee beastie from the eastie who will also live long in the memory for all the right reasons.


Mary Logie murder trial: Grandmother suffered 31 head and neck injuries as she “tried to defend herself”

December 6 2016

A paramedic told a court tragic Fife grandmother Mary Logie had "defensive injuries" which left her hands  "swollen like boxing gloves". Giving evidence on the second day of a murder trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, Alan McIntyre said he arrived at Mrs Logie's home on January 5 to find her dying on her living room floor. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, which the court later heard was consistent with having been hit with a rolling pin. The court also heard that Mrs Logie had suffered a total of 31 head and neck injuries. "Her hands were swollen like boxing gloves," said Mr McIntyre, 60. He added: "These are defensive injuries." He was giving evidence at the trial of Sandra Weir, 41, who is accused of murdering Mrs Logie at the pensioner’s home in Green Gates on January 5 this year. When questioned by Alex Prentice QC, for the prosecution, Mr McIntyre said Mrs Logie's injuries were "incompatible with life" and efforts to resuscitate her were futile. She was pronounced dead by Mr McIntyre at 8.51pm. The paramedic told Mr Prentice that a stain on the carpet suggested that there had been an attempt to clean up blood. He said: "I could see, like a circle of blood that looked as if it had been cleaned." Mr McIntyre said there was fresh blood on top of the stain. Forensic pathologist Ian Wilkinson was next to give evidence. In his report, he stated that Mrs Logie had sustained 31 injuries to her head and neck. She had suffered "extensive fracturing to the skull", which Dr Wilkinson said was consistent with having been hit by something with curved and straight surfaces, such as a heavy rolling pin. Mr Prentice asked the witness if the injuries could have been caused some hours before death was pronounced, and if they could have been caused close to the time of death. Dr Wilkinson said he could not rule out either scenario. Defence QC Murray Macara asked if Mrs Logie's brain had been weighed as part of the post mortem. Dr Wilkinson said the weight "might be regarded as the lower end of normal". He also said there were signs of Alzheimer's. "She had pathological features which are seen in individuals with Alzheimer's disease but to tell you how significant these were in life it would need to be correlated with her behaviour," said Dr Wilkinson. Prosecutors claim Weir, of Leven, stole from Mrs Logie on various occasions over a near six-year period. The indictment alleges she took a bank card or cards in the pensioner’s name. She is also said to have stolen greeting cards containing money, cash, two rings as well as what is described as “correspondence”. The charge states this occurred between April 2010 and the day of the alleged murder. She faces another charge of using a bank card in Mrs Logie’s name to steal a total of £4,460. A further allegation claims Weir fraudulently used a debit card to buy £314 of goods at a shop in Leven. A separate fraud charge then claims she pretended to be authorised by the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity to collect cash for them. Prosecutors also accuse her of possessing drugs and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Weir — also known as Gaughan — has lodged a special defence of alibi in connection with the murder charge. The trial before Judge Michael O'Grady QC continues.

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Relative attends ceremony for pioneering trade unionist Caroline Martyn

July 27 2010

A leading 19th century female trade unionist who died on a visit to Dundee has been commemorated at a ceremony attended by one of her relatives. Caroline Martyn died in July 1896, aged 29, after a short illness. She had been visiting the city to recruit female jute workers into the Dundee Textile Workers' Union. Her great niece Vivienne Flowers travelled from England to speak at the ceremony. It was held in Balgay Cemetery, where Caroline Martyn is buried. She said she was overwhelmed by the support and love from the Scottish community, and by how much her ancestor is appreciated. Ms Martyn's grave was rediscovered last year after inquiries by an English historian. A monument at the burial site has been restored, with its missing column reattached, after detective work by Dundee TUC secretary Mike Arnott. Mrs Flowers was alerted to the rediscovery after reading an online article in The Courier. She said, "I did a lot of reading about her and we're terribly proud. We're still quite amazed we didn't know anything about her." The ceremony, which was attended by around 25 people, was addressed by Lord Provost John Letford. It closed with a rendition of Mary Brookbank's Jute Mill Song.


260-year-old murder suspect’s face reconstructed

September 5 2013

The face of a suspect in a 260-year-old murder case has been painstakingly reconstructed by a Dundee University professor. Ailean Breac Stewart has long thought to have been responsible for the 1752 Appin murder of Colin Campbell. Professor Caroline Wilkinson an expert in facial reconstruction, has recreated his looks using verbal descriptions of his distinctive facial features. She joined other leading forensic science, legal and academic figures on a visit to the scene of the famous Highlands murder. They were the guests of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which has organised a two-day event to re-examine the murder, taking account of modern methods of detection and scientific forensic techniques. James Stewart of the Glen, a Jacobite who had fought at Culloden, was convicted and hanged for the crime but Ailean Breac Stewart is thought to have been involved.


Mary, Queen of Scots, takes on striking look

June 28 2013

Experts have recreated a “striking” image of Mary, Queen of Scots, at the time of her reign. A team from Dundee University was commissioned to recreate a 3D virtual sculpture of Mary’s face for a new exhibition opening today in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. The results show not a classic beauty but someone with a large nose and strong chin. However, the paleness of her skin, her red hair and strong features meant she did have a very striking appearance, according to Professor Caroline Wilkinson from the Forensic and Medical Art Research Group. As there are no portraits from the time of her reign, the Professor worked from earlier and later images. Digital artist Janice Aitken sculpted clothing and hair, then added textures and lighting. Normally, the process of craniofacial reconstruction would start by examining skeletal remains but the circumstances meant the team had a different challenge, with the model being more of an artistic than scientific representation. Professor Wilkinson said: “This was a difficult time for her, so we wanted to show the stresses and strains of life on her face.”

New Robert Burns animation revealed

January 25 2018

A new animated facial reconstruction of Robert Burns reciting one of his own poems has been created to mark the anniversary of his birth.Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) Face Lab, the University of Dundee and Dimensional Imaging (DI4D) in Glasgow worked with Scottish poet Rab Wilson to create an animation of Burns performing To a Mouse.The initial work began in 2010 Wilson worked with Professor of Craniofacial Identification Caroline Wilkinson to depict ‘the living face’ of Robert Burns.Face Lab at LJMU revisited the depiction in 2016 and recreated the face using the latest 3D digital technology from a partial cast of Burns’ skull, along with documentation of the Bard, portraits, silhouettes and written descriptions.Wilson was recorded reciting To a Mouse using DI4D’s Facial Motion Capture System and was then transferred to the 3D digital model of Burns. Wilson’s voice was then added to the final animation.The animation will be screened at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh on Burns Day.Prof Wilkinson said: “This real-life animation of Robert Burns has brought the poetry of this Scots Bard back to life for generations to come. It will help to promote Scottish culture and to visualise his charismatic and creative personality.“To see Burns reciting his own poetry was a remarkable moment.”LJMU said the techniques have the potential to transform the way people interact with historical figures.Prof Wilkinson added: “Face Lab’s facial animation research is important as there is potential to apply facial animation techniques to animate faces of people from the past produced via facial reconstruction from human remains.“In the future you may be able to interact with people from history digitally, listen to them speak, recite literature or guide you around a museum exhibit as a virtual avatar.“There is potential to animate other high profile historical facial depictions including William Shakespeare, St Nicholas, King Richard III or Robert the Bruce.”