The Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on earth. One of them, carried home recently by a group from Yale University, appears to be quite happy eating plastic in airless landfills.
Augmented reality can do some really creepy things to mirrors. This new concept displays a 3-D animal avatar as your reflection, mimicking your facial expressions in a horrifying, mocking way.
New York artist Karolina Sobecka calls the system "All the Universe is Full of the Lives of Perfect Creatures," and says it is meant to evoke inquiry into self-awareness, empathy and non-verbal communication. She built it using the FaceTracker library from Jason Saragih, a FaceTracker add-on, and Unity3d and Blender3d. Other face-morphing apps we have seen just change a human face into a different-looking human face — this goes another step entirely.
You get a different animal every time you walk in front of the mirror, and the animal's facial expressions mirror and play off your own. Step back and the ghostly wolf flattens its ears; curl your lip and watch it bare its teeth; laugh and an evil, evil goat laughs with you. The person looking at his or her reflection would see the animal head instead of her own head. But a viewer at an angle would see a disembodied animal head like the one here.
"The familiar is transformed into the uncanny, prompting us to see the mechanics of perception, interaction, and relationships with others anew," Sobecka explains.
Does this make you see the world in a new light?
Broken bones in humans and animals are painful and often take months to heal. Studies conducted in part by University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center researchers show promise to significantly shorten the healing time and revolutionize the course of fracture treatment.
"Complex fractures are a major cause of amputation of limbs for U.S. military men and women," said Steve Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, animal and dairy scientist in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and director of the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center.
"For many young soldiers, their mental health becomes a real issue when they are confined to a bed for three to six months after an injury," he said. "This discovery may allow them to be up and moving as fast as days afterward."
Stice is working with Dr. John Peroni to develop a fast bone healing process. "This process addresses both human and veterinary orthopedic needs," said Peroni, an associate professor of large animal surgery in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the RBC.
Peroni and Stice are leading a large animal research project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. The project includes scientists and surgeons from the Baylor University College of Medicine, Rice University and the University of Texas, who conducted the early studies.
Engineering new bone
"Healing of critical-size defects is a major challenge to the orthopedic research community," Peroni said. "Large-bone defects must be stabilized and necessitate technologies that induce rapid bone formation in order to replace the missing tissue and allow the individual to return to rapid function. To date, no single material can suffice."
The group they lead is a multidiscipline and multi-institutional group actively working on bone tissue engineering.
"Our group has been working productively together on numerous projects through the last several years," Stice said, "So, a collegial relationship and successful collaborative working relationship is already established."
Between 2009 and 2011, the collaborations received a $1.4 million grant from the DOD for the use of stem cells in fracture healing to be tested in sheep.
"In our experiences with large animal models, following the guidelines established by our animal care and use committee," Stice said, "we have been successful in formulating a product that contains mesenchymal stem cells and allows them to survive in the environment of the fracture long enough to elicit the rapid formation of new bone."
This year, the group showed bone can be generated in sheep in less than four weeks. The speed in which bone is formed is one of the truly unique features of this study.
To start the bone regeneration process, the RBC used adult stem cells that produce a protein involved in bone healing and generation. They then incorporated them into a gel, combining the healing properties into something Stice calls "fracture putty."
With Peroni's assistance, the Houston-based team used a stabilizing device and inserted putty into fractures in rats. Video of the healed animals at two weeks shows the rats running around and standing on their hind legs with no evidence of injury. The RBC researchers are testing the material in pigs and sheep, too.
"The small-animal work has progressed, and we are making good progress in large animals," he said.
More work is needed to get to human medical trials, but the threat of losing federal funding for biomedical work through the DOD means they will have to find new ways to fund the project.
"The next step is to show that we can rapidly and consistently heal fractures in a large animal," Peroni said, "then to convert it to clinical cases in the UGA [College of Veterinary Medicine] clinics where clinicians treat animals with complex fractures all the time."
Once they have something that works for animals, it will be passed over to the DOD for human use.
Peroni, who is chairman of the North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Association, is hopeful this material will be promoted to the veterinary and human medical fields through the educational efforts of NAVRMA and the RBC.
However, the RBC isn't the only group working on a faster fix for broken bones.
"Our approach is biological with the putty," Stice said. "Other groups are looking at polymers and engineering approaches like implants and replacements which may eventually be combined with our approach. We are looking at other applications, too, using this gel, or putty, to improve spinal fusion outcomes."
One of the best hopes for the fracture putty is in possible facial cranial replacements, an injury often seen on the battlefield.
The project ends in mid-2012. "By then we are to deliver the system to the DOD," Stice said.
Even though space is a vacuum where the lack of oxygen prevents fire from lasting more than a second, there are some images of massive fiery objects flying throughout the universe. Some of them are so massive and scary looking that if early astronomers spotted them before astronauts tried to beat each other to the moon, NASA would have packed a lot more urine bags for the trip.
The European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission satellite picked up just such an image. Back in 2006, the satellite came across a large “comet-like ball of gas” that moved at a rapid pace through another distant galaxy. And before you try and sound smart by asking sarcastically “Don’t you mean ‘the Sun?’”, you should know that this giant fiery object is a “thousand million times” bigger than the mass of the Sun, making it the largest object in the galaxy.
2. An Exploded Star’s “Stripes”
Stars may not look like much with the naked eye from the tiny speck of dust that the universe calls “Earth,” assuming that it can remember our name at all. Of course, if you managed to see them up-close, your jaw would drop at the awesome majesty of this giant gassy object, along with the rest of your face since the heat could melt it right off the bone.
So just imagine how one would look if it exploded. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory caught their very image with its mighty telescope and not only does it look cool, but it may also help scientists unlock some of the universe’s biggest mysteries. The remnants of the supernova emitted some low and high-energy X-rays in a surprising pattern that can “rocket particles to energies 100 times higher than those achieved by Earth’s most powerful accelerators.”
3. The “Point of no Return” in a Black Hole
No other celestial body in the universe can create as much fear and awesome power as a black hole. The very thought of being sucked into one of these mass munching heavenly bodies can make even the strongest man’s skin crawl, which probably makes for good preparation for accidentally being sucked into one since that’s probably what it feels like. NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer found a colorful but very dangerous images of suspected neutron stars and black holes and by comparing the two, they discovered the “theoretical border” where mass enters but can no longer return to the universe. The actual “event horizon” can’t be seen even with advanced technology, but the discovery of X-Ray bursts or the absence thereof were able to confirm their existence.
4. The birth and death of an Andromeda star
The Andromeda galaxy has been our neighbors for a long time and we really don’t hear much from them. When astronomers caught images of what’s going on next door with their X-ray tech, it really makes me glad that we’re not accomplices to whatever destructive stuff is going on over there.
NASA’s Newton telescope caught some very colorful and vibrant images of an Andromeda star becoming a new formation in its galaxy and almost in the same frame, the same star dying off as it shines X-rays into the coldness of space. It gets even more awe-inspiring/disturbing when you realize that the dying star is actually sucking gases out of its still-living counterpart like some kind of celestial zombie.
5. “The Hand of God”
The image capture by this X-ray satellite isn’t meant to be what it looks like but it’s awesome mass and creepy size couldn’t leave you in less awe if it was what it name describes. At least this way, it won’t convince you to completely give up “personal sinning,” if you know what I mean.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray observatory captured the rare image of an exploded star that created a “rapidly-spinning 12-mile-wide star” also known as a pulsar. This pulsar puked out a large amount of electromagnetic energy that formed into what appears to be a large hand reaching out in space, earning it its celestial nickname.
6. A black hole eating another black hole
Black holes, as we already know, are the mass murdering psychopath of the celestial universe. They are the ultimate destroyer of everything that exists anywhere. They are rock, paper and scissors COMBINED.
So what happens when one black hole meets another black hole? According to an image captured by a NASA X-ray satellite, they engage in a battle to the death until one engulfs the other. The larger one swallows the other one whole the way any other object would that encounters a black hole and the merger creates a beautiful image of galactic destruction.
Last edited by Anti Hero : 02-16-2012 at 11:59 PM.
People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.
According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.
The people familiar with the Google glasses said they would be Android-based, and will include a small screen that will sit a few inches from someone’s eye. They will also have a 3G or 4G data connection and a number of sensors including motion and GPS.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the project.
Seth Weintraub, a blogger for 9 to 5 Google, who first wrote about the glasses project in December, and then discovered more information about them this month, also said the glasses would be Android-based and cited a source that described their look as that of a pair of Oakley Thumps.
They will also have a unique navigation system. “The navigation system currently used is a head tilting to scroll and click,” Mr. Weintraub wrote this month. “We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.”
The glasses will have a low-resolution built-in camera that will be able to monitor the world in real time and overlay information about locations, surrounding buildings and friends who might be nearby, according to the Google employees. The glasses are not designed to be worn constantly — although Google expects some of the nerdiest users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed.
Internally, the Google X team has been actively discussing the privacy implications of the glasses and the company wants to ensure that people know if they are being recorded by someone wearing a pair of glasses with a built-in camera.
The project is currently being built in the Google X offices, a secretive laboratory near Google’s main campus that is charged with working on robots, space elevators and dozens of other futuristic projects.
One of the key people involved with the glasses is Steve Lee, a Google engineer and creator of the Google mapping software, Latitude. As a result of Mr. Lee’s involvement, location information will be paramount in the first version released to the public, several people who have seen the glasses said. The other key leader on the glasses project is Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, who is currently spending most of his time in the Google X labs.
One Google employee said the glasses would tap into a number of Google software products that are currently available and in use today, but will display the information in an augmented reality view, rather than as a Web browser page like those that people see on smartphones.
The glasses will send data to the cloud and then use things like Google Latitude to share location, Google Goggles to search images and figure out what is being looked at, and Google Maps to show other things nearby, the Google employee said. “You will be able to check in to locations with your friends through the glasses,” they added.
Everyone I spoke with who was familiar with the project repeatedly said that Google was not thinking about potential business models with the new glasses. Instead, they said, Google sees the project as an experiment that anyone will be able to join. If consumers take to the glasses when they are released later this year, then Google will explore possible revenue streams.
As I noted in a Disruptions column last year, Apple engineers are also exploring wearable computing, but the company is taking a different route, focusing on computers that strap around someone’s wrist.
Last week The San Jose Mercury News discovered plans by Google to build a $120 million electronics testing facility that will be involved in testing “precision optical technology.”