Apr 29, 2016

German city designs traffic lights for oblivious pedestrians

posted by Larra Morris

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The German city of Augsburg has taken a novel approach to dealing with pedestrians too buried in their smartphone screens to notice traffic signals. By embedding flashing red LEDs in the sidewalks at busy pedestrian crossings, the city has moved those signals right into their line of sight.
via Engadget

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Apr 29, 2016

Why do we forget what we’re doing the minute we enter a room?

posted by Larra Morris

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Left your keys on the kitchen counter again? No problem. Just go and get them. Walk through the house, into the kitchen, and—what was it you needed to do again? Why are you in here? In less than 30 seconds, you’ve managed to forget the entire purpose of your errand. But don’t worry. It’s not just you, and you’re not losing your marbles. It’s called the Doorway Effect, and it’s actually a sign that your brain is in fine working order. 

Scientists used to believe that memory was like a filing cabinet. You have an experience, and it gets its own little file in your brain. Then, later, you can go back and open the file, which is unchanged and where it should be. It’s a nice, tidy image—but it’s wrong. Your brain is much more complicated and sophisticated than that. It’s more like a super-high-powered computer, with dozens of tasks and applications running at once.
via Mental Floss

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Apr 28, 2016

These old black-and-white photos were colorized by artificial intelligence

posted by Larra Morris

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Researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo have created a way to realistically colorize black-and-white photos without any human intervention for the first time ever. The team's approach is based on convolutional neural networks — a type of machine learning originally inspired by the visual cortex of a cat.
via The Verge

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Apr 28, 2016

This musical time machine lets you become an aural world traveler

posted by Larra Morris

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If you’re someone who laments losing the days of radio past, you can now surf the dial of history in countries all around the world with a website called Radiooooo.

The service is as simple as this: Click on a country and a decade, and Radiooooo transports you sonically to that particular place and time.
via Mental Floss

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Apr 28, 2016

Stanford's humanoid robot diver explores its first shipwreck

posted by Larra Morris

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A group of underwater archaeologists exploring the sunken remains of King Louis XIV's flagship La Lune added a very special member to their dive team recently. OceanOne, a Stanford-developed humanoid diving robot with "human vision, haptic force feedback and an artificial brain," made its maiden voyage alongside human divers to recover 17th-century treasures from bottom of the Mediterranean.

Stanford's five-foot "virtual diver" was originally built for studying coral reefs in the Red Sea where a delicate touch is necessary, but the depths go well beyond the range of meat-based divers. The "tail" section contains the merbot's onboard batteries, computers and array of eight thrusters, but it is the front half that looks distinctly humanoid with two eyes for stereoscopic vision and two nimble, articulated arms.
via Engadget

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Apr 27, 2016

Researchers are using the vibration of your skull to identify you

posted by Larra Morris

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Conventional passwords are marching to their death, and biometric authentication might be the future, especially with the possibility of widespread fingerprint scanning or facial-recognition technology. And now, researchers in Germany have a new way to give users access to their devices. Their technique, which they call "SkullConduct," relies on the unique way sound passes through each person's skull. Every skull modifies sound differently, and the researchers measured those minute differences to use as an authentication system.
via The Verge

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Image: Stefan Schneegass, Youssef Oualil, Andreas Bulling

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Apr 27, 2016

Audubon made up at least 28 fake species to prank a rival

posted by Larra Morris

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Rafinesque was an extremely enthusiastic namer of species: during his career as a naturalist, he named 2,700 plant genera and 6,700 species, approximately. He was self-taught, and the letter of introduction he handed to Audubon described him as “an odd fish.” When they met, Audubon noted, Rafinesque was wearing a “long loose coat...stained all over with the juice of plants,” a waistcoat “with enormous pockets” and a very long beard. Rafinesque was not known for his social graces; as John Jeremiah Sullivan writes, Audubon is the "only person on record" as actually liked him.

During their visit, though, Audubon fed Rafinesque descriptions of American creatures, including 11 species of fish that never really existed. Rafinesque duly jotted them down in his notebook and later proffered those descriptions as evidence of new species. For 50 or so years, those 11 fish remained in the scientific record as real species, despite their very unusual features, including bulletproof (!) scales.
via Neatorama

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Image credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives/SIA2012-6095


 

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