Image of the Week: Simulations Reveal Unusual Death for Stars
Massive primordial stars, between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our Sun, may have died unusually. In death, these objects — among the universe’s first generation of stars — would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind.
Astrophysicists at the UC Santa Cruz and the Univ. of Minnesota came to this conclusion after running a number of supercomputer simulations at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. They relied extensively on CASTRO, a compressible astrophysics code developed at the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab’s) Computational Research Division (CRD). Their findings were recently published in the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ).
A Univ. of Central Florida research team has developed a facial recognition tool that promises to be useful in rapidly matching pictures of children with their biological parents and in potentially identifying photos of missing children as they age.
The work verifies that a computer is capable of matching pictures of parents and their children. The study will be presented at the nation’s premier event for the science of computer vision – the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Columbus, Ohio, which begins Monday, June 23.
Image of the Week: Science Yields Beautiful Images
A fantastical umbrella, a flowing robe of snowflakes and a nanoworld from a galaxy far, far away were the top winners in the sixth annual CHANL Scientific Art Competition.
The Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory sponsors the competition. Departments from across campus submitted images, and a vote by attendees at the UNC Science Expo resulted in the selection of the top three as People’s Choice Award winners.
In today’s digitally driven world, access to information appears limitless. But, when you have something specific in mind that you don’t know, like the name of that niche kitchen tool you saw at a friend’s house, it can be surprisingly hard to sift through the volume of information online and know how to search for it. Or, the opposite problem can occur – we can look up anything on the Internet, but how can we be sure we are finding everything about the topic without spending hours in front of the computer?
Computer scientists from the Univ. of Washington and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept. Called Learning Everything about Anything, or LEVAN, the program searches millions of books and images on the Web to learn all possible variations of a concept, then displays the results to users as a comprehensive, browsable list of images, helping them explore and understand topics quickly in great detail.
Celebrated portrait photographers like Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Martin Schoeller made their reputations with distinctive visual styles that sometimes required the careful control of lighting possible only in the studio.
Now, MIT researchers, and their colleagues at Adobe Systems and the Univ. of Virginia, have developed an algorithm that could allow you to transfer those distinctive styles to your own cellphone photos. They’ll present their findings in August at Siggraph, the premier graphics conference.
Image of the Week: Researcher Captures Invisible Networks in Photos
Invisible wireless networks are transformed into beautiful beams of color in a series of photographs. The images, created by Newcastle Univ. researcher Luis Hernan, show the “specters” of wireless networks sweeping, swirling and swooping around a ghostly figure.
They were produced as part of Luis’s Digital Ethereal project, which aims to bring the invisible world around us to life. Luis Hernan, who is studying for a PhD in Architecture and Interaction Design, became fascinated with the idea of being able to see the hidden wireless networks which surround us.
Glasses-free 3-D Projector Also Improves 2-D Video
Over the past three years, researchers in the Camera Culture group at the MIT Media Lab have steadily refined a design for a glasses-free, multiperspective, 3-D video screen, which they hope could provide a cheaper, more practical alternative to holographic video in the short term.
Now, they’ve designed a projector that exploits the same technology, which they’ll unveil at this year’s Siggraph, the major conference in computer graphics. The projector can also improve the resolution and contrast of conventional video, which could make it an attractive transitional technology as content producers gradually learn to harness the potential of multiperspective 3-D.
With the commodification of digital cameras, digital video has become so easy to produce that human beings can have trouble keeping up with it. Among the tools that computer scientists are developing to make the profusion of video more useful are algorithms for activity recognition — or determining what the people on camera are doing.
At the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in June, Hamed Pirsiavash, a postdoc at MIT, and his former thesis advisor, Deva Ramanan of UC Irvine, will present a new activity-recognition algorithm that has several advantages over its predecessors.
Research Bridges Smartphones, Digital Cameras Divide
Despite an addiction to taking pictures everywhere they go, cellphone junkies have not been able to ditch their stand-alone cameras quite yet. Smartphones still don’t possess the sharp zoom capabilities of digital still cameras, so the resulting pictures can be messy and out-of-focus.
That won’t be the case for long, however. Prof. David Mendlovic of Tel Aviv Univ.’s School of Electrical Engineering and his former doctoral student, Gal Shabtay, who together established the startup Corephotonics, have now successfully bridged the gap between the cellphone camera and the digital still camera, developing a smartphone camera with high-quality zoom capabilities. The solution is based on a cutting-edge lightweight cellular camera that uses a two-lens approach to produce sharper images.
Paleontologists Present Online Showcase of 3-D Fossils
More than two decades ago, Univ. of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fisher and some of his students began the laborious task of digitally scanning the bones of mastodons, mammoths and other prehistoric creatures so the images could be displayed on computers.
Fisher hoped to someday create a digital showcase where 3-D images of specimens from the U-M Museum of Paleontology’s vast collection could be shared with other researchers and with the general public. Sadly, the technology needed to make that dream a reality just didn’t exist at the time.
This photo, taken by Julien Carnot, shows Table Mountain as seen from Cape Town harbor’s jetty. Table Mountain, or Tafelberg in Afrikaans, is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa, and is featured in the Flag of Cape Town and other local government insignia.
Image of the Week: There is No Biodiversity Crisis
A Univ. of St Andrews study has found that — despite fears of a biodiversity crisis — there has, in fact, not been a consistent drop in numbers of species found locally around the world.
Instead, in a study of 100 communities and a total of 35,000 species that span from trees to starfish, scientists found a consistent change in which species are found in any one place. The researchers, who were surprised by the findings, say that the study should not detract from the threat many of the world’s species are under, but that policy-makers should focus on changes in biodiversity composition as well as loss.