This scientific paper about black holes includes a 1:1 image of a black hole

I can't speak to the scientific value of the paper--actual quote:

We focus on a more exciting possibility: if the OGLE events are due to a population of PBHs then it is possible that the orbital anomalies of TNOs are also due to one of these PBHs that was captured by the Solar System.

But the writers of "What if Planet 9 is a Primordial Black Hole?" get an A for showmanship. Page 5 includes an "exact scale image" of the black hole discussed:

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Adapting a 100-year-old lens to shoot video on a new camera

Mathieu Stern is curator of the Weird Lenses Museum.

This lens spent 100 years in the dark, the last think it captured must have been the horrors of the World War I ... i think it was time to use it for something more light and positive. I took this Kodak Vest Pocket camera lens with me for a short trip to Vienna (Austria) to shoot some test footage. I must say i was pretty amazed by the sharpness and the quality of the image i saw on my screen.

It does look great. The go-to practical glass for getting this old-timey look is Soviet M42-mount Zeiss Biotar knockoffs, especially the Mir 1-B 37mm and the Helios 44-2 58mm.

I figure that the magic happens because old uncoated glass offers poor contrast, effectively compressing light and shadow into a thinner range: a bug in 1960 but a useful feature in 2020, where the resulting flat, grayish image can graded in real-time on pocket computers. The upside is capturing a filmlike range of light on everday video sensors. The downside is the loss of information in general--push too hard in the lab and it'll just look nasty. Which is good. Read the rest

How to easily identify your dominant eye

"Ocular dominance" is defined as "the priority of one eye over the other as regards preference of use or acuity of vision." Awareness of your dominant eye is important for photography, golf, baseball, and archery. The above video explains how to conduct the Miles test to determine your dominant eye.

(via Weird Universe) Read the rest

How to make your own camera lens from sand and rocks

Andy George made his own camera lens with borax, river sand, and soda ash. From PetaPixel:

“It has been one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done,” George says after completing his lens. “Every single step in the project has been a huge pain.”

Making clear glass took over a dozen tries, annealing the glass pucks took at least four attempts, and grinding the lenses themselves took at least 30 hours of continuous grinding.

Sure, the lens is cloudy and, er, imperfect, but HE MADE HIS OWN DAMN CAMERA LENS FROM SCRATCH!

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Bronze masks coated in Vantablack produce trippy illusions

The fine folks who created the world's blackest black now have a sprayable version that adheres to most stable surfaces. To demonstrate, they sprayed two bronze masks, one on the inside and one on the outside, producing an interesting optical illusion. Read the rest

Watch how machine learning can enhance low-light images

At this year's Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researcher Chen Chen presented a cool project that vastly improves the quality of images captured in low-light conditions.

Via his presentation:

Imaging in low light is challenging due to low photon count and low SNR. Short-exposure images suffer from noise, while long exposure can induce blur and is often impractical. A variety of denoising, deblurring, and enhancement techniques have been proposed, but their effectiveness is limited in extreme conditions, such as video-rate imaging at night. To support the development of learning-based pipelines for low-light image processing, we introduce a dataset of raw short-exposure low-light images, with corresponding long-exposure reference images. Using the presented dataset, we develop a pipeline for processing low-light images, based on end-to-end training of a fully-convolutional network. The network operates directly on raw sensor data and replaces much of the traditional image processing pipeline, which tends to perform poorly on such data. We report promising results on the new dataset, analyze factors that affect performance, and highlight opportunities for future work.

Here's the full project page for more information.

Let's enhance!

CVPR 2018: Learning to See in the Dark (YouTube / Chen Chen) Read the rest

Watch the world's brightest flashlight burn stuff

What happens when a 32,000-lumen flashlight gets concentrated through a magnifying glass or a fresnel lens? Some cool optics, but not a lot of burning. Read the rest

Weather phenomenon of light pillars vs. northern lights

YouTuber and photographer Timmy Joe saw spectacular light pillars on an arctic January night from his northern Ontario home. He thought they were northern lights until he went to investigate. It's a totally different phenomenon, as he helpfully explains. Read the rest

XKCD reveals your visual perception quirks

Today's XKCD, "Visual Field," is a terrific mind-bender: a series of optical experiments to try with your computer's screen and a rolled-up piece of paper that demonstrate the quirks of your visual field: your blind-spots, your ability to perceive detail, night vision, the ability to perceive polarization, sprites and floaters, color perception and so on.

Visual Field Read the rest

Optical illusion tees look different depending on your perspective

Answersquestions sez, "These shirts designed by an Architecture professor friend of mine at Carnegie Mellon depend on perspective and distance in order to be seen. Check out that SKULL!"

Most tees are the same: splashy graphic or logo centered on a shirt for others to read. Vantage Tees are site-specific art pieces using optical illusions and body-specific effects to change everything about how people interact with their attire. Some shirts look different if you are looking at them or wearing them. Some ask you to be really close or really far. Others take time to see them. Vantage Tees will look different to everyone—it all depends on your vantage point.

Vantage Tees — Home

(Thanks, Answersquestions!) Read the rest

What we don't understand about the speed of light

Last June, researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology published the results of an experiment that proved that light does not move faster than light—specifically, that single photons can't move faster than the official speed of light under certain conditions.

Today, Skulls in the Stars—the nom de Internet of a UNC Charlotte physics professor—has a really great blog post up about this paper. It's very much worth a read. After all, this was basically a test to double check something we were already pretty sure was true. And what's the benefit to proving something you already knew?

A big part of why I'm recommending this post is because Skulls in the Stars does a good job of explaining some tangly optical physics in a way that is quite clear and should make good sense even if you don't have a deep background in this stuff. If you follow along, you'll come away with a good idea of why this particular study matters, and with a deeper understanding of the speed of light itself.

Let’s talk about how we measure the speed of an object first. If we’re looking at the motion of a rigid object, like a speeding car or a thrown baseball, the speed can be determined simply by measuring how much time it takes for an object to travel a distance. The speed is simply the distance divided by the time

There’s a small subtlety to this definition: cars and baseballs are extended objects!

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