Benefits of blackberries

Despite its name, the blackberry is not a berry, but an aggregate fruit; just like raspberries and boysenberries, they're made up of lots of tiny seeds encased by fleshy fruit called drupelets.

The berries are plump with the protective antioxidants ellagic acid, quercetin, and anthocyanin (the compound responsible for their deep purple hue).

A one-cup serving of blackberries provides half the recommended daily value of the antioxidant vitamin C and is a good source of dietary fiber, manganese and vitamin K - all in just 62 calories.

Blackberries top the list of foods highest in antioxidant phytochemicals, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Several other studies also have shown that blackberries' health-promoting compounds - ellagic acid, quercetin, and several anthocyanins - inhibit tumors in esophageal cancer cells.

Blackberry anthocyanins may also help protect against sun damage to the skin.

Jogging companion

Joggers who find it hard to set a steady pace could soon have a robot companion to help - a small, quad-rotor helicopter drone. The system, called Joggobot, is being developed by Floyd Mueller and Eberhard Grather at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

The duo plan to allow users to enter their preferred running speed into a smartphone app that controls the drone so it flies ahead of a jogger at just the right pace. Or it could be set to maintain a distance of a few meters no matter what pace a runner is going, just for fun.

They tested their idea using the foam-fendered AR Drone made by Parrot of Paris, France, programming it using custom software to follow a bright blue and orange pattern painted on a runner's T-shirt. As soon as an on-board camera sees the shirt, the craft takes off and hovers about a meter off the ground. If it loses sight of the pattern, the drone lands automatically.

Mueller says he and Grather are tinkering with settings to test what motivates runners. "Should the robot be more like a coach or more like a pet?" he asks. "One might make the exercise more effective, but the other might make it more fun. Which one is 'better'? And is there a 'better'?"