Our brains are incredibly agile machines, and it's hard to think of anything they do more efficiently than recognize faces. Just hours after birth, the eyes of newborns are drawn to facelike patterns. An adult brain knows it’s seeing a face within 100 milliseconds, and it takes just over a second to realize that two different pictures of a face, even if they’re lit or rotated in very different ways, belong to the same person.
Perhaps the most vivid illustration of our gift for recognition is the magic of caricature -- the fact that the sparest cartoon of a familiar face, even a single line dashed off in two seconds, can be identified by our brains in an instant. It’s often said that a good caricature looks more like a person than the person himself. As it happens, this notion, counterintuitive though it may sound, is actually supported by research. In the field of vision science, there’s even a term for this seeming paradox -- the caricature effect -- a phrase that hints at how our brains misperceive faces as much as perceive them.
Read on ...
I found this a very interesting read. It's amazing how our brain is able to do, what we feel, is the most basic thing, but figuring out how to program a computer to do it is infinitely hard.
In the age of Google and Wikipedia, an almost unlimited amount of information is available at our fingertips, and with the rise of smartphones, many of us have nonstop access. The potential to find almost any piece of information in seconds is beneficial, but is this ability actually negatively impacting our memory? The authors of a paper that is being released by Science Express describe four experiments testing this. Based on their results, people are recalling information less, and instead can remember where to find the information they have forgotten.
Read on ...
In the event of a zombie apocalypse it will probably help to have: a baseball bat, a gun, a chainsaw and a plethora of blunt objects. Also, it helps to possess a strong grasp of neuroscience.
... 'Over time (and probably beers) we started talking about what a zombie brain would have to look like.'
Read on ...
A $27,500 camera plus 240 hours of filming plus 27 drenched animals equals the code for dynamic water repellency.
... I'm an excellent hose holder!
SETI has set up a website -- SETIStars -- to help fund their dedicated telescopes that they had to shut down a couple months ago. SETI is looking to collect $200,000 in 40 days to get the ATA back up and running. This is far short of what they need per year, $2.5 million, but they are also looking for other funding. They are taking donations of $5 to $500.
Read more here.
Source: This Wired article
History of water availability in the Rockies shows trouble ahead -- Ars Technica
Communities in the Rocky Mountain region of North America rely on snowmelt to provide water for drinking, sanitation, irrigation, and industry. Snow, which falls in the mountains during the winter, acts like a massive frozen water tower, providing a steady supply of water throughout the drier summer months. Water usage in many cities is growing rapidly, and some are already encountering the limits of water availability. The threat of climate change looms large -- warming temperatures would push the snowline to higher elevations, decreasing the capacity of that frozen water tower.
Two recent papers shed some light on the long-term history of water availability in the region to provide insights into the current situation, as well as a future outlook.
Read on ...
Newly-released portraits show the International Space Station together with the space shuttle, the vehicle that helped build the complex during the last decade. The pictures are the first taken of a shuttle docked to the station from the perspective of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
On May 23, the Soyuz was carrying Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli back to Earth. Once their vehicle was about 600 feet from the station, Mission Control Moscow, outside the Russian capital, commanded the orbiting laboratory to rotate 130 degrees. This move allowed Nespoli to capture digital photographs and high definition video of shuttle Endeavour docked to the station.
The Soyuz landed in Kazakhstan and was taken to Moscow for routine post-landing analysis. NASA and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, then processed the imagery as part of the standard disposition of spacecraft cargo.
Visit http://go.nasa.gov/stationportrait to view the images.
A transmission that will end on Wednesday, May 25, will be the last in a series of attempts. Extensive communications activities during the past 10 months also have explored the possibility that Spirit might reawaken as the solar energy available to it increased after a stressful Martian winter without much sunlight. With inadequate energy to run its survival heaters, the rover likely experienced colder internal temperatures last year than in any of its prior six years on Mars. Many critical components and connections would have been susceptible to damage from the cold.
Read on ...
This is a good read by the LA Times on the Spirit Rover and the rovers in general.
NASA rover Spirit 'revolutionized' how we see Mars,
Ever since Japan’s battered Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex began emitting radiation in March, calls to abandon nuclear power have risen in the U.S. and Germany, among other countries. If only it were so simple. Nuclear contributes 20 percent of the U.S. power supply and a significant share in other developed countries. If we gave it up, what would replace it? Pollution from fossil-fueled power plants shortens the life span of as many as 30,000 Americans a year. Coal companies lop off mountaintops, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas threatens water supplies, and oil dependence undermines the nation’s energy security. Then there is the small matter of greenhouse gas emissions. Clean renewable technologies will take years to reach the scale needed to replace the power we get from splitting atoms.
Read on ...