Archive for October, 2010

NCBI ROFL: How dark is Obama's skin? Depends on whether you voted for him.

By ncbi rofl | October 26, 2010 7:00 pm

obana

Political partisanship influences perception of biracial candidates’ skin tone.

“People tend to view members of their own political group more positively than members of a competing political group. In this article, we demonstrate that political partisanship influences people’s visual representations of a biracial political candidate’s skin tone. In three studies, participants rated the representativeness of photographs of a hypothetical (Study 1) or real (Barack Obama; Studies 2 and 3) biracial political candidate. Unbeknownst to participants, some of the photographs had been altered to make the candidate’s skin tone either lighter or darker than it was in the original photograph. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: election week, NCBI ROFL

Halloween Costume Idea: Pretend You Have a Portal in Your Torso

By Eliza Strickland | October 26, 2010 4:09 pm

There are still a few days before Halloween costume frenzy will reach its peak, but we think we have a winner. Forget all those Lady Gaga and Chilean miner costumes: We’re taken with Ben Heck‘s ingenious see-through portal t-shirt.

portal2This high-tech costume makes it look like the wearer has a hole in his torso, thanks to a tiny camera on his back, and an LCD screen on his chest that shows the image captured by the camera. Want your own? Here’s a blow-by-blow video of how to build it. There are a few digressions into other projects, but we encourage you to watch through and get all the info you need to avoid the fate of being just another Gaga.

Related Content:
Discoblog: The Best Reader Science Halloween Costume, Revealed!
Discoblog: DISCOVER’s Top Ten Science Halloween Costumes, Part II
Discoblog: DISCOVER’s Top Ten Science Halloween Costumes, Part I
DISCOVER: Wrong By Design: Why Our Brains Are Fooled by Illusions (image gallery)

Image: Ben Heck

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Events, Technology Attacks!

NCBI ROFL: Surprise! Men vote for the hotter female candidate.

By ncbi rofl | October 25, 2010 7:00 pm

mccainThe political gender gap: gender bias in facial inferences that predict voting behavior.

“BACKGROUND: Throughout human history, a disproportionate degree of political power around the world has been held by men. Even in democracies where the opportunity to serve in top political positions is available to any individual elected by the majority of their constituents, most of the highest political offices are occupied by male leaders. What psychological factors underlie this political gender gap? Contrary to the notion that people use deliberate, rational strategies when deciding whom to vote for in major political elections, research indicates that people use shallow decision heuristics, such as impressions of competence solely from a candidate’s facial appearance, when deciding whom to vote for. Because gender has previously been shown to affect a number of inferences made from the face, here we investigated the hypothesis that gender of both voter and candidate affects the kinds of facial impressions that predict voting behavior. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: election week, NCBI ROFL

To Animate a Drunken Mess, Use New Algorithms for Wrinkled Clothing and Flushed Faces

By Jennifer Welsh | October 25, 2010 12:27 pm

wow-girlThe virtual world is getting more realistic. New animation advancements in true-to-reality rumpling of clothes and face reddening are pushing us closer to the event horizon of the Uncanny Valley.

The first advancement is an algorithm designed to give animated clothes life-like wrinkling and crumpling while you are besting that orc. While more realistically rendered clothing won’t increase your manna, it may make digital effects in the next Matrix movie even better, New Scientist reports:

“This is exactly what people like me want,” says Andy Lomas, a software developer who produced digital effects for the film The Matrix and is based at computer graphics firm The Foundry in London. “I want to be able to capture the fundamental nature of an actor’s clothing, but also have the freedom to change the way he or she moves.”

The algorithm was created from footage of people IRL. The researchers, lead by Carsten Stoll at the Max Plank Institute, mapped the actor’s movements (and how their clothes moved in reaction) onto a skeleton, which they could animate. Animations of new movements of the skeleton were able to recreate how clothing would move in real life, Stoll told New Scientist:

“If the double is wearing a chiffon skirt in the original sequence, it will swish realistically in all of the new sequences too,” says Stoll.

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Einstein & Air Miles: Do Frequent Fliers Age at a Different Rate?

By Eliza Strickland | October 25, 2010 11:21 am

airplaneBy Valerie Ross

You’re squeezed into a middle seat, two rows from the back of the plane. It’s barely two hours into your cross-country flight, though you’d swear it’s been longer. Does it just seem like the minutes of your trip are crawling by — or does time actually pass more slowly for people who are mid-flight than for people on the ground?

Many of us have heard the idea that time doesn’t pass at the same rate for everyone. It’s a common narrative in science fiction, one that has its roots in Einstein’s theory of relativity. The story starts, let’s say, with two twins, one of whom stays on Earth while the other clambers aboard a rocket that’s making a round-trip journey, at a substantial fraction of the speed of light, to a planet in a not-too-distant solar system. When the traveling twin returns to earth, he’s aged more slowly, and now he’s younger than the twin who stayed behind.

This familiar — and paradoxical — plotline comes from a particular tenet of relativity theory known as time dilation. It predicts that a fast-moving clock will tick at a slower rate than a stationary one — or, a man on an interstellar voyage will age more slowly than his twin back on Earth. But time dilation also says that velocity isn’t the only thing that affects the rate at which clocks tick, or people age; gravity does, too. A clock in a stronger gravitational field (the Earth’s surface, let’s say) will have a slower tick rate than a clock subject to weaker gravity (such as a few miles up into the atmosphere).

Read More

NCBI ROFL: Accidental condom inhalation.

By ncbi rofl | October 22, 2010 7:00 pm

condom headIt’s case study flashback week on NCBI ROFL! All this week we’ll be featuring some of our favorite medical case studies from the archives. Enjoy!

“A 27-year-old lady presented with persistent cough, sputum and fever for the preceding six months. In spite of trials with antibiotics and anti-tuberculosis treatment for the preceeding four months, her symptoms did not improve. Read More

The Guggenheim/YouTube Art Experiment: See Winning Videos Here

By Jennifer Welsh | October 22, 2010 1:17 pm

In June, the Guggenheim Museum announced a collaborative video contest with none other than YouTube. Yes, you read that right: YouTube, the video website overrun with videos of cats and each tween’s latest shopping spree.

The contest was open to anyone and everyone who has made a video in the last two years. A total of 23,000 videos were submitted and judged by a panel of artists and curators, and the competition’s 25 winners were announced last night. These 25 videos will be on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through the weekend, and all the shortlisted videos will stay online indefinitely. While there was some excitement about the prospects of such a venture, the New York Times isn’t impressed by the final product:

At the time of the announcement, there was much talk about originality and discovery, which sounds rather hollow now, compared with the low quality of the 25 finally selected.

Ouch! When the competition was announced, some feared that it would dumb down the video art world, while others dreamed that it would break the community open to embrace YouTube’s DIY creativity and modern folk art stylings. The critics over at the New York Times seem to think the winning videos did neither, and fell somewhere between sophisticated video art and YouTube folk art:

One way to explain the lackluster quality of the first incarnation of “YouTube Play” is that almost none of the final 25 works, which are being screened in a gallery at the museum this weekend, fit either of those categories…. They seem to occupy a third sphere of slick and pointless professionalism, where too much technique serves relatively skimpy, generic ideas.

You can take a look a the 25 finalists and the additional 100 “shortlisted” videos online. In addition to the “Birds on the Wires” video above, here are some of my other favorites from the top 25:

Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Events, Technology Attacks!, Top Posts

Video: The Physics of How a Wet Dog Shakes

By Eliza Strickland | October 22, 2010 12:25 pm

“Many furry mammals engage in oscillatory shaking when wet.” Translation: When a dog comes in from the rain, it engages in a body-twisting, jowl-flapping shake that sprays water over the living room. But exactly what kinds of oscillations are required to make the water droplets scatter? Thankfully a team of curious researchers decided to study the physics of that motion.

In the abstract posted on ArXiv, Andrew Dickerson of the Georgia Institute of Technology and some colleagues explain that they attacked the question via high-speed video and fur-particle tracking:

Read More

NCBI ROFL: Morphing into Michael Jackson.

By ncbi rofl | October 21, 2010 7:00 pm

2973994306_fd1a5860f2It’s case study flashback week on NCBI ROFL! All this week we’ll be featuring some of our favorite medical case studies from the archives. Enjoy!

Mandibular angle augmentation with the use of distraction and homologous lyophilized cartilage in a case of morphing to Michael Jackson surgery.

“Correction of an ill-defined mandibular angle is not an easy task, whether it is requested by the “congenital, orthognathic or cosmetic” patient. Read More

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