Back in the late 1980s, I would sometimes amuse myself by running a microphone through a digital audio effects processor and twiddle the knobs to transform my voice in very weird ways while listening in headphones. It provided hours of mindbending entertainment. Ah, the good ol' daze. Léo Chéron's WebGL particles experiment, called "Sand Ghost," gives me a similar feeling but it's visual and uses a webcam. Freak yourself out.
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Unity 3D game-engine lies at the heart of Glass Brain, data visualization of real-time brain function. Read the rest
The striking enhanced color image of blue-hued sand dunes on Mars led some readers to ask what that means. Above is a side-by-side image in what scientists call "true color" on the left and enhanced on the right. The color humans would perceive is probably somewhere between the two, depending on conditions. Here's the difference: Read the rest
The Klencke Atlas is a massive 350-year old bound book that has graced the entrance of the British Library maps room. Now it's being digitized with the latest technology, and the process is remarkable. Read the rest
One of Pablo Picasso's most famous works, The Blue Room, was painted over an earlier work now revealed by infrared imaging. The hidden image, of a large man in formal attire resting on his hand, would have been created early in the artist's career, reports The Associated Press.
Though the existence of an earlier work beneath The Blue Room was long-suspected, it took years to develop techniques to expose it in detail. Earlier X-rays showed an image so "fuzzy" it wasn't even clear that it was a portrait. Now there's a new mystery: The identity of the subject himself.
Picasso's The Blue Room
Scholars are researching who the man might be and why Picasso painted him. They have ruled out the possibility that it was a self-portrait. One candidate is Paris art dealer Ambrose Villard, who hosted Picasso’s first show in 1901. But there is no documentation and no clues left on the canvas, so the research continues.
Ms Favero has been collaborating with other experts to scan the painting with multi-spectral imaging technology and X-ray fluorescence intensity mapping to try to identify and map the colours of the hidden painting. They would like to recreate a digital image approximating the colours Picasso used.
Curators are planning the first exhibit focused on The Blue Room as a seminal work in Picasso’s career for 2017. It will examine the revelation of the man’s portrait beneath the painting, as well as other Picasso works and his engagement with other artists.
We covered multispectral imaging ourselves in a trip to the Library of Congress. Read the rest
A team from Oxford University has launched a $75,000 Kickstarter to go into production on a point-and-shoot 3D scanner called Fuel3D that will retail for about $1000 (though there are a limited number of $750 beta-run devices). The scanner uses a calibrated pair of cameras and some on-board software to produce 3D images suitable for post-processing, animation and 3D printing. The team started off developing this for medical imaging, and has some experience in this sort of manufacturing, but as with all Kickstarters, there are no guarantees that you'll ever get anything if you stump up for a pre-order -- caveat emptor. Read the rest
The New York Times has an op-ed out today, which claims that fMRI studies show that, when people are exposed to a pretty, shiny, ringing iPhone, the experience lights up the part of their brains that signifies a deep, compassionate love for something. iPhones trigger the same brain activity that your parents and loved ones trigger, writes branding strategist Martin Lindstrom.
Clearly, this was going to turn out to wildly misleading. You love your iPhone like you love your mother is just not the kind of statement that passes a cursory bullshit inspection. And lots of people have handily debunked it, including a couple of actual nueroimaging specialists, Russ Poldrack and Tal Yarkoni.
So, how wrong was the NYT op-ed? Pretty damn wrong. Turns out, the part of the brain Martin Lindstrom identifies with lovey-dovey emotions is a lot more complicated than that. Here's Russ Poldrack:
Insular cortex may well be associated with feelings of love and compassion, but this hardly proves that we are in love with our iPhones. In Tal Yarkoni's recent paper in Nature Methods, we found that the anterior insula was one of the most highly activated part of the brain, showing activation in nearly 1/3 of all imaging studies! Further, the well-known studies of love by Helen Fisher and colleagues don't even show activation in the insula related to love, but instead in classic reward system areas.
And Tal Yarkoni adds a lot more to this:
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... the insula (or at least the anterior part of the insula) plays a very broad role in goal-directed cognition.