Computer-generated camouflage for the physical world

MIT researchers have demonstrated an algorithm that analyzes photos of a real world scene and then generates an incredibly-effective camouflage pattern to wrap objects later placed in that location. From MIT News:

According to Andrew Owens, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science and lead author on the new paper, the problem of disguising objects in a scene is, to some degree, the inverse of the problem of object detection, a major area of research in computer vision.

"Often these algorithms work by searching for specific cues — for example they might look for the contours of the object, or for distinctive textures." Owens says. "With camouflage, you want to avoid these cues — you don't want the object's contours to be visible or for its texture to be very distinctive. Conceptually, a cue that would be good for detecting an object is something that you want to remove.”

"Custom Camouflage"

Can we ever model sociology like we model climate?

Earlier today, in a feature on the science behind gun policies, I told you about how difficult it is to get reliable answers that pinpoint exactly what helps society and what hurts it. Models — computer algorithms that help us understand how complex systems work — play a role in this, but the ones used for gun research aren't very good yet. In fact, that's true about a lot of sociology fields, write the editors of the Get Stats blog. In general, our knowledge of how society works lags far behind our knowledge of the natural world. Can that ever be fixed? Some scientists think so.

How to make the invisible visible

Even when your eyeballs look still, they aren't still. Every time your heart beats, it creates almost imperceptible changes in your skin tone as blood moves through your body. Tall buildings and construction cranes wobble slightly in the wind, even though our eyes can't usually catch them at it. Now, a team at MIT has figured out how to spot these small movements using a computer program that goes through video frame-by-frame and pixel-by-pixel, amplifying minute changes in color and motion and making them visible to us. The New York Times' Bits blog has a video with some awesome demonstrations of the system.

Pentametron

"With algorithms subtle and discrete, I seek iambic writings to retweet."