SCIENTISTS RECONSTRUCT AN OBJECT BY PHOTOGRAPHING ITS SHADOW

Vivek Goyal isn’t a professional photographer, but he and his colleagues have developed an intriguing party trick: They can capture the image of an object completely out of sight.

They demonstrated the trick in a windowless room on the Boston University campus, where Goyal works as an electrical engineering professor. In the room, a flatscreen monitor displayed a series of crude drawings created by Goyal’s graduate student, Charles Saunders. Among them were several masterpieces: A mushroom that resembles Toad from Mario Kart, a Simpsons-yellow dude wearing a sideways red baseball cap, the red letters “BU” for school pride. These are the images that Goyal and his team wanted to capture while pointing the camera lens in a completely different direction.

In the darkened room, the flickering of the screen produced a dim, blobby blur on the opposite wall. Using a camera mounted on a tripod, Saunders took 20 quick snaps of the blob, for a total exposure time of three seconds, and fed it all into a computer program. A few minutes later—voilà: A blurred image of Toad, slightly askew, popped up on their screen.

“This is not magic,” Goyal tells me, in case anyone was confused.

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Source: Wired

Source: Wired


The FBI Says Its Photo Analysis Is Scientific Evidence. Scientists Disagree.

At the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, a team of about a half-dozen technicians analyzes pictures down to their pixels, trying to determine if the faces, hands, clothes or cars of suspects match images collected by investigators from cameras at crime scenes.

The unit specializes in visual evidence and facial identification, and its examiners can aid investigations by making images sharper, revealing key details in a crime or ruling out potential suspects.

But the work of image examiners has never had a strong scientific foundation, and the FBI’s endorsement of the unit’s findings as trial evidence troubles many experts and raises anew questions about the role of the FBI Laboratory as a standard-setter in forensic science.

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Source: ProPublica.org

Source: ProPublica.org


Recording of "sonic attacks" on U.S. diplomats in Cuba spectrally matches the echoing call of a Caribbean cricket

Beginning in late 2016, diplomats posted to the United States embassy in Cuba began to experience unexplained health problems including ear pain, tinnitus, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties which reportedly began after they heard strange noises in their homes or hotel rooms. In response, the U.S. government dramatically reduced the number of diplomats posted at the U.S. embassy in Havana. U.S. officials initially believed a sonic attack might be responsible for their ailments. The sound linked to these attacks, which has been described as a high-pitched beam of sound, was recorded by U.S. personnel in Cuba and released by the Associated Press (AP). Because these recordings are the only available non-medical evidence of the sonic attacks, much attention has focused on identifying health problems and the origin of the acoustic signal. As shown here, the calling song of the Indies short-tailed cricket (Anurogryllus celerinictus) matches, in nuanced detail, the AP recording in duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse. 

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Source: Biorxiv.org

Source: Biorxiv.org