Sure, your life is pretty green. You bike to work, recycle, and use energy-saver light bulbs. But what about after you are done all that living? How can you turn your green lifestyle into a green deathstyle?
Two words: liquid nitrogen. A sweedish company, called Promessa Organic Burial says they’ve discovered the greenest possible way to bury your loved ones: freeze them in liquid nitrogen and then use sonic waves to shatter their body, a la T-1000 in Terminator 2.
Within a week and a half after death, the corpse is frozen to minus 18 degrees Celsius and then submerged in liquid nitrogen. This makes the body very brittle, and vibration of a specific amplitude transforms it into an organic powder that is then introduced into a vacuum chamber where the water is evaporated away.
The powdered, dehydrated remains of your body are then packaged neatly into a small cornstarch box and buried to rot away and be reabsorbed into the earth within 12 months.
Even the best-planned documentaries can go wrong, especially when there are curious polar bears involved.
In this case, the BBC was spying on the polar bears of the Arctic islands of Svalbard for a documentary called “Polar Bear: Spy on The Ice,” but their spy-tactics could have used a bit of help. The cameras were “camouflaged” as icebergs and snow drifts, but that didn’t fool these curious bears, who caught on pretty quickly that snow and ice aren’t supposed to move that quickly.
The cameras worked just fine in in the -40 Fahrenheit weather–it was the bears who ripped the cameras to pieces, destroying about $200,000 worth of equipment. The documentary, directed by John Downer, aired on BBC One on December 29th, but you can see it here at the BBC’s iPlayer (sadly, UK only).
Discoblog: Ape Auteurs: BBC to Premiere Documentary Shot Entirely by Chimps
Not Exactly Rocket Science: For polar bears, the price of rapid evolution is a weaker skull
80beats: Study: We Still Have a Chance to Save the Polar Bears
80beats: Bear Fight! Grizzlies Are Creeping Into Polar Bears’ Canadian Turf
DISCOVER: 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Movie Scientists
You might not be able to pick them out, but in the hectic noisiness of a movie’s battle scene there are a few primordial sounds of distressed animals. These types of sounds are used by audio engineers, knowingly or not, to elicit emotional reactions from viewers, researchers have found.
The research, published in Biology Letters, studied the films for the presence of “nonlinear” sounds, which are frequently found in the animal kingdom as cries for help or warning signals. Our ears are tuned to pick out these types of sounds and our brains are primed to respond to them, which made Daniel Blumstein wonder if they were also being used to evoke emotion. Wired’s Brandon Keim explains:
The harshness and unpredictability of these sounds is thought to be a vocal adaptation fine-tuned for quickly capturing a listener’s attention. And if that’s true, then “we might expect them to be also used by film score composers and audio engineers to manipulate the emotions of those watching a film,” hypothesized University of California, Los Angeles biologist Daniel Blumstein and his Biology Letters co-authors.
MovieReshape is a program created by Christian Theobalt at the Max Plank Institute in Germany. The program will digitally alter your appearance (including height, weight, and muscle tone) in any movie clip. Women can even get a digital boob job or liposuction to automatically enhance body size and shape on the fly.
Earlier approaches to body manipulation on film required retouching of every frame, a very laborious process when you’re talking about 30 frames per second. But this approach is different–it works from a 3D body plan made from the scans of 120 different men and women of different shapes and sizes, and in many different positions.
Using off-the-shelf software the team then identifies the person to be manipulated, and tweaks parameters like height, waist girth, leg length, muscularity, and breast girth. Check out a video explanation (with some creepy demonstrations) after the jump:
At “Star Wars Celebration V” this past Saturday, George Lucas announced that LucasFlims will release Blu-ray versions of all six Star Wars films in fall of 2011. He told The New York Times that he was waiting to see if Blu-ray really would catch on.
To some fans’ chagrin, the set will include the “Special Edition” versions of New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi–you know, the version which features Hayden Christensen superimposed over Anakin’s ghost and killed that awesome Ewok song. Lucas said to The New York Times that releasing the originals would be “kind of an oxymoron because the quality of the original is not very good.”
If you can’t wait for 2011, it seems some other very special editions are making the Internets rounds. Oh, and a deleted scene.
Lando Calrissian, Blaxploitation-style:
Online piracy has plagued the music and movie industry for years, with copyright infringement causing millions of dollars in loss each year. So when the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (the copyright czar) asked the entertainment industry to submit proposals to the government for ways to protect intellectual property, the industry came out all guns blazing.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) came out with a set of proposals (pdf) that would combat piracy by invading the privacy of consumers and putting the federal government to work for the entertainment industry.
For example, the trade groups suggest that spyware could be installed on home computers across the land. This special software would identify and block content that violates fair use, block certain keywords that might lead to sites with illegally obtained content, and monitor social networks for the promotion of infringing Web sites.
The industry also wants border authorities to educate everyone entering the United States about piracy issues, suggesting that customs forms should be amended to require the disclosure of pirate or counterfeit items being brought into the United States. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:
Does that iPod in your hand luggage contain copies of songs extracted from friends’ CDs? Is your computer storing movies ripped from DVD (handy for conserving battery life on long trips)? Was that book you bought overseas “licensed” for use in the United States? These are the kinds of questions the industry would like you to answer on your customs form when you cross borders or return home from abroad.
Wondering which Hollywood movie will be this weekend’s smash hit? Head straight to Twitter, as a new study (pdf) suggests the microblogging service offers the most accurate predictions of a movie’s success.
In a new paper about Twitter’s success at gauging a film’s fortunes, Sitaram Asur and Bernando Huberman from HP devised a simple model that tracks people’s tweets about a certain movie (for their study, they collected almost 3 million tweets). The researchers found that compared to the industry’s gold standard for movie success prediction, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, tweets were far more accurate in predicting how much money a movie would make.
The researchers’ system tracks the rate and frequency of movie mentions, and also categorizes the tweet reviews as either positive or negative. The Twitter findings reflect marketing realities, the researchers note: While movie studios can push people to the theaters with hype and pre-release marketing, it’s usually positive reviews and word-of-mouth that sustains people’s interest after a movie has been released.
Pandora on Earth
If you’re a big Avatar fan, then James Cameron’s Oscar loss may have left your eyes swollen and your popcorn soggy. But if Avatar grabbed your attention with its story of greedy humans ravaging the alien moon Pandora for a mineral that Earth needs, then here are a handful of real-life stories, from good ol’ planet Earth, that might make the plight of Pandora’s native Na’vi seem eerily familiar.
First we have members of the Dongria Kondh tribe from Orissa, India, talking to the tribal-rights group Survival International about their quest to save their sacred mountain from a large mining company. The company wants to raze a huge part of their lush, bountiful, holy mountain to mine not “unobtanium,” but bauxite. Wait, James… are you getting this down?
Survival International took out an ad in the film industry magazine Variety to appeal directly to Cameron for help. Says Survival International director Stephen Corry: “Just as the Na’vi describe the forest of Pandora as ‘their everything,’ for the Dongria Kondh, life and land have always been deeply connected. The fundamental story of Avatar – if you take away the multi-coloured lemurs, the long-trunked horses and warring androids – is being played out today in the hills of Niyamgiri in Orissa, India.”
Last week, Paramount Pictures transferred a copy of the movie to NASA’s Houston center, which then uploaded the blockbuster to the International Space Station. Astronaut Michael Barratt then used a laptop to watch it inside the Unity module.
Still no word on whether he found it as uniformly “meh” as we did (well, not all of us).
Bad Astronomy: BA Review: Star Trek
Image: Flickr / culture.culte
Put on Paul Lemmens’ made-to-vibrate jacket while you’re watching Slumdog Millionaire, and you’ll feel Jamal’s anxiety as he struggles to find the correct answers. While this jacket won’t mimic the hits in The Wrestler or, thankfully, the bullets in The Matrix, it purports to physically connect viewers to movies by literally sending shivers up their spines.
Philips Electronics unveiled the “motor-studded” jacket at the World Haptics Conference in Salt Lake City in March. It consists of a vibrating device that will let movie buffs empathize with onscreen characters, by letting viewers feel the tense situations when neuroimpulses are sent from their skin to their brains.
The jacket works like this: It’s powered with an array of small motors that send vibrations to 64 actuators spaced throughout the jacket. Controlled by four microprocessors, vibrations are sent to eight actuators spaced evenly down each sleeve and four placed on the front and back of the torso to give the person an illusion that he is being touched all over.