If you ever create a slideshow of portraits, you might want to avoid showing them aligned side-by-side with a gap in between. The video above shows a crazy optical illusion that researchers have dubbed the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect”. By flashing ordinary portraits aligned at the eyes, the human brain begins to compare and exaggerate the differences, causing the faces to seem hideous and ogre-like. Researcher Matthew Thompson writes,
Like many interesting scientific discoveries, this one was an accident. Sean Murphy, an undergraduate student, was working alone in the lab on a set of faces for one of his experiments. He aligned a set of faces at the eyes and started to skim through them. After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque. He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive.
If you’ve always felt that you look more attractive in videos than you do in photographs, you’re not alone. A recent study done by researchers at UC Davis and Harvard has found that subjects generally find video footage of people more attractive than stills showing the same face. It turns out that looking attractive in photos is no easy feat due to what the researchers are calling the “frozen face effect.” Read more…
Typically, augmented reality falls somewhere between technological breakthrough and really cool thing to show your friends; but in the Science Museum in London’s Making of the Modern World exhibit, augmented reality also takes up the mantle of education.
Using the $3 Science Stories app, visitors to the museum can point their iOS or Android devices at markers set in front of particular exhibits, and prompt a 3-dimensional James May (one of the hosts of BBC’s Top Gear) to appear and explain the particulars of the display. Read more…
Everybody has had pictures taken that they can hardly stand to look at. Even professional portraits that eliminate blemishes and show you in attractive poses sometimes look strained, or emotionless. Well, a recent study published in Experimental Brain Research seems to say that the remedy could be as easy as turning the other cheek. Read more…
YouTube user Roy Prol created this fascinating animation that imagines what Earth would be like if our planet had Saturn-like rings. In addition to views from space, he show us beautiful renderings of what the rings would look like in landscape photos captured at famous landmarks (e.g. the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro) around the world.
Back in 2010 we shared that MIT was developing a special camera that uses echoes of light to see around corners. Now, two years later, the researchers are finally showing off the camera in action. It works by firing 50 “femtosecond” (quadrillionth of a second) laser pulses 60 times at various spots at an angled wall. A special imaging sensor then collects the scattered light that’s reflected back and uses complex algorithms to piece together the scene based on how long the photons take to return. The process currently takes several minutes, but researchers hope to reduce it to less than 10 seconds, which would make it more useful for military and industrial applications.
Researchers have created the first comprehensive image of the entire 3×5-mile debris field around the sinking of the Titanic:
Compiled from more than 100,000 photos taken by underwater robots, the composite image shows the world’s best remembered shipwreck in strikingly sharp detail. Although much of the debris is hidden, you can see how the ship split apart and tell by the debris that they hit the ground violently. In just over a month — April 15 — it will have been a century since the ship hit an iceberg and sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic.
German scientists have been awarded a Guinness World Record for “fastest movie” after successfully capturing two images of an X-ray laser beam 50 femtoseconds apart. One femtosecond is equal to one quadrillionth (or one millionth of one billionth) of a second. Here’s some science talk explaining it:
[...] the scientists split the X-ray laser beam into two flashes and sent one of them via a detour of only 0.015 millimetres, making it arrive 50 femtoseconds later than the first one. Since no detector can be read out so fast, the scientists stored both images as superimposed holograms, allowing the subsequent reconstruction of the single images.
With these experiments, the scientists showed that this record slow motion is achievable. However, they did not only take the world’s fastest but probably also the shortest film – with just two images. Thus, additional development work is necessary for the use of this method in practice. [#]
In a paper published in Science this week, Japanese researchers reported on a discovery that jumping spiders use a method for gauging distance called “image defocus”, which no other living organism is known to use. Rather than use focusing and stereoscopic vision like humans or head-wobbling motion parallax like birds, the spiders have two green-detecting layers in their eyes — one in focus and one not. By comparing the two, the spiders can determine the distance from objects. Scientists discovered that bathing spiders in pure red light “breaks” their distance measuring ability. Read more…