Posts from the ‘news’ category

Fade to ‘Vantablack’: Scientists Invent a Material So Black Your Eyes Can’t See It

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Black leather jacket, Eerie black, Outer space, Licorice, Onyx and plain old Black. These are the names of Crayola’s blackest of black crayons. Sure, they’re all jet black, but none of them have anything on “Vantablack,” an extraordinary new nanofiber believed to be the darkest black on Earth, even darker than NASA’s “super-black.”

Not to beat this unusually dark horse dead, but Vantablack is actually so deeply black that your eyes can’t really see it at all, only the area surrounding it. And we’re not kidding when we say looking at this “strange, alien” stuff is like gazing into a black hole. Not a deep, dark cave kind of hole. Think darker. The kind of black hole found in outer space. Continue reading…

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Movie Theaters Hope To Add Another Dimension To Their Profits

Theaters that call themselves 4-D use lights, moving seats, fog and even sprays of water and air to give moviegoers a unique experience — one they hope audiences will consider worthy of higher ticket prices.

Theaters that call themselves 4-D use lights, moving seats, fog and even sprays of water and air to give moviegoers a unique experience — one they hope audiences will consider worthy of higher ticket prices.

Some experimental features have been popping up in movie theaters lately. One of them is a so-called 4-D experience. It’s hard to describe in words exactly what a 4-D movie experience feels like, but here’s one attempt: it is intense. Continue reading…

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Scientists Recover Audio by Analyzing Tiny Vibrations in a Bag of Chips

Sheer crazy coolness.

Using a high-speed camera, scientists at MIT have been able to passively recover audio by analyzing minute vibrations, effectively turning everyday objects into ‘Visual Microphones’. You can read more about this fascinating work by Abe Davis, Michael Rubinstein, Neal Wadhwa, Gautham J. Mysore, Fredo Durand and William T. Freeman at the MIT project page. Continue reading…

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How to heal our smartphone-addled, overworked brains

The biggest casualty of everyone being so connected is productivity. No one is getting much done at the office. A few ways you can maintain a healthy brain at work.

FORTUNE — When cars first became popular 100 years ago, there were no road rules or speed limits to begin with. Inspired by the freedom of their speedy new toys, drivers zoomed around as fast as they could. Crashes were a constant.

Today’s speedy new toys, the smartphone and tablet, help people work when, where, and how they want. Excited by their newfound freedom, people are staying connected 24/7, working as fast as they can. The crashes this time are less obvious but still producing pain.

A creative team that used to debrief with their client by video once a week from the office is now on video daily from their tablets. A software project that took six people a few months to complete is now broken into hundreds of parts for micro developers to finish in a week. While these ideas may sound enticing, there are implications to moving this fast, as HP HPQ -0.87% discovered with tablets and Apple aapl 0.10% with maps. Continue reading…

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We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome

“…the Strong Female Character With Nothing To Do—is becoming more and more common.” Interesting read.

DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2 considerably expands the world introduced in the first film, and that expansion includes a significant new presence: Valka, the long-lost mother of dragon-riding protagonist Hiccup, voiced by Cate Blanchett. The film devotes much of its sweet, sensitive middle act to introducing her, and building her up into a complicated, nuanced character. She’s mysterious and formidable, capable of taking Hiccup and his dragon partner Toothless out of the sky with casual ease. She’s knowledgable: Two decades of studying dragons means she knows Toothless’ anatomy better than he does. She’s wise. She’s principled. She’s joyous. She’s divided. She’s damaged. She’s vulnerable. She’s something female characters so often aren’t in action/adventure films with male protagonists: She’s interesting.

Too bad the story gives her absolutely nothing to do.

Continue reading…

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Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did.

Pearls Before Swine

Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning.

He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence. 

Few in the cartooning world have ever spoken to him. Even fewer have ever met him.

In fact, legend has it that when Steven Spielberg called to see if he wanted to make a movie, Bill wouldn’t even take the call.

So it was with little hope of success that I set out to try and meet him last April.

I was traveling through Cleveland on a book tour, and I knew that he lived somewhere in the area. I also knew that he was working with Washington Post cartoonist Nick Galifianakis on a book about Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson’s art.

So I took a shot and wrote to Nick. And Nick in turn wrote to Watterson.

And the meeting…

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Leonardo da Vinci may have invented 3-D image with ‘Mona Lisa’

A copy of the Mona Lisa in the Prado Museum (left) is painted from a slightly different perspective than the original in the Louvre (right). Together, the paintings make a stereoscopic image — whether da Vinci knew that or not.

C.-C. CARBON ET AL/PERCEPTION 2013

Leonardo da Vinci was, to put it mildly, a smart guy. He was an inventor and scientist as well as an artist, and he took a special interest in finding ways to realistically render three-dimensional forms on a flat canvas. And now, a pair of researchers say that in the early 1500s he might have created the world’s first 3-D image.

Continue reading…

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Scientists Uncover Invisible Motion in Video

Just saw this and thought it was so cool I had to share!
By ERIK OLSEN @ New York Times

A 30-second video of a newborn baby shows the infant silently snoozing in its crib, his breathing barely perceptible. But when the video is run through an algorithm that can amplify both movement and color, the baby’s face blinks crimson with each tiny heartbeat.

The amplification process is called Eulerian Video Magnification, and is the brainchild of a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Continue reading…

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Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

Scientists have known for some time that the human brain’s ability to stay calm and focused is limited and can be overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic, jangling demands of city living, sometimes resulting in a condition informally known as brain fatigue.

With brain fatigue, you are easily distracted, forgetful and mentally flighty — or, in other words, me.

But an innovative new study from Scotland suggests that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park. Continue reading…

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Color-Enhancing Glasses Let Doctors See Disease and Emotion

The ability to see the world in a broad spectrum of colors is more than just a wonderful gift—it’s a survival mechanism that humans evolved in order to identify both threats and food. But color vision also helps us read each other. Research by evolutionary neurobiologist Dr. Mark Changizi’s traces the development of color vision to the need among primates to understand changes in skin hue associated with different states of emotion or health. Flushed cheeks, for example, correspond to embarassment, exhaustion, illness, or anger associated with different levels of oxygenation in the blood. The ability to detect those states makes you more likely to survive. It’s an evolutionary advantage. Continue reading…

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Science, Storytelling, and “Gut Churn”: Jad Abumrad on the Secrets of Creative Success

On diving head-first into the unknown.

Since 2004, Radiolab has been sparking a singular kind of magic at the intersection of science and storytelling, redefining not only public radio but also the “role of scientific culture in modern society,” to borrow Richard Feynman’s words.

In this fantastic talk from The 99% ConferenceRadiolab mastermind and MacArthur genius Jad Abumrad takes us behind the scenes to explore the tribulations and triumphs of building a novel paradigm from the ground up. Continue reading…

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