Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Science

24-Year-Old With PhD is Crowned Miss Virginia in 2019

Camille Schrier, a 24-year-old with a  Ph.D. was crowned Miss Virginia. Against pageant norms, she wore a lab coat and safety glasses to perform the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide during the talent section of the competition.

She has 2 Bachelor of Science degrees from Virginia Tech in Biochemistry and Systems Biology. She is currently working to get a Doctorate Pharmacy Degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. Using the talent section for a science experiment was a perfect way to get others excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). You can check out her blog post by Clicking Here

Paraphrasing, she said the evolution of the Miss America Competition that reflects comprehensiveness and the opportunity to make a difference and win scholarships inspired her to come forward in the competition which was her statement she emailed to IFL Science.

She added that she is more than Miss Virginia, she is Miss Biochemist, Miss Systems Biologist, Miss Future PharmD, looking forward to a career in the pharmaceutical industry. She believes it’s time to create her mind-set about bringing her passion for STEM to the stage.  Talent is not a passion alone, it’s a skill which is perfected over time.

Cool Scientific Experiment

Catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide is an experiment that many students probably remember from school.  It’s very similar to applying hydrogen peroxide to a wound that is a bubbling foam.

The process is caused by a catalase (an enzyme found in almost all living organisms exposed to oxygen),  that is found in the blood and attacks the hydrogen peroxide putting off oxygen in the form of white gurgling bubbles.

Camille was the 24th contestant at the 2019 pageant and won more than $21,000 out of $75,000 in scholarship money.  Over the next year, she will travel around the state and share her platform of STEM awareness along with drug safety and the prevention of drug abuse.

Sadly, every day more than 130 Americans die from Opioid abuse and every eight minutes a caregiver makes a medical mistake that impacts a child’s life.  It’s time we do more about safety and abuse prevention.  She will go to represent the Commonwealth at Virginia at eh Miss America Pageant later this year.

I say Bravo Camille for your intelligence and desire to share the world of science to young people in hopes they will find careers they never knew existed.

Camille Schrier, a 24-year-old with a  Ph.D. was crowned Miss Virginia. Against pageant norms, she wore a lab coat and safety glasses to perform the...

Earth Inspiring Stories

The World is at Your Command with Google’s Earth Creation Tools

If you have lived in different states or countries or just moved from one home to another in your town, you know homes and even apartments come with their own special sights and sounds along with different smells and changes in taste.

Well now, you can get added help from Google’s Earth Creation Tools to help you collect and share your favorite memories.

People have used Google Earth to view our wonderful planet for almost 15 years.  According to Gopal Shah, product manager, their mission is not about showing people the same old pictures of our planet, they want to bring the entire planet to life!

Google Earth’s placemarks are for storing points to access information for now or later and share with others. Be sure to draw your own placemarks, add shapes or anything else you wish. Attach custom text, images, and videos then organize your own very unique story.  By all means, collaborate with others!

When you are done, you will be ready to share it with the world.  Click on the “Present” button to take your chosen audience on a tour of someone’s excellent journey, a forest coming to life, or a fictional road adventure.

Story-telling Maps

It’s been 2 years since Google introduced Voyager which showed guided tours to the world with added stories. With the launch of the next and best step toward taking the power of map-making and story-telling and handing it over to you.

Their new creation tools are now available on the internet for Google Earth. At this time, there is no word when they will be available for mobile devices which currently only support viewing projects.

You can turn your digital world into your very own story and create a map or story about the places that are so important to you. After all, the world is at your command with Google Earth Creation Tools!

If you have lived in different states or countries or just moved from one home to another in your town, you know homes and even apartments come with...

Cool Stories Earth

2,000 Feet Wide Asteroid Whizzes Past the Planet

The rather unimaginatively named 481392 (2006) SF9 asteroid measuring around 2,034 feet rushed past the Earth at an incredible 17,800 miles /hour on 20th November 2019.

The giant rock has a diameter of 2,034 feet and came to within 2.7million miles of the planet we call home. According to NASA, this is a distance 11 times greater than the distance between the Earth and the Moon.  This is likely to be the closest the asteroid will get to our planet for at least for the next 200 years.

The giant asteroid was first seen by astronomers near Tucson, Arizona back in 2006.  The Catalina Sky Survey is run by scientists based in the Steward Observatory and aims to look for asteroids, comets, and meteors.

How Far is “Near” in Space Terms?

Despite the huge distances involved this giant asteroid is known as a NEO (Near-Earth Object) because it came within 121 million miles of the sun and 30 million miles of our own planet’s path around the star.

There are numerous other types of NEOs but asteroids are the most common and are only considered “potentially hazardous” in certain circumstances.  NASA would start to become concerned about an asteroid if it came to within 4.6million miles of Earth and had a size over 460 feet.  This is about 19 times the distance between the moon and the earth.

It seems then that 481394 (2006 SF6) is seen as a potential hazard and certainly if it did hit the Earth there would be devastating results.  That said, it is not considered likely to hit the Earth within at least the next 200 years and, despite its size, the asteroid is still too small to cause the sort of extinction-level event that wiped out the dinosaurs even if a collision occurred.

There are around a quarter of a million NEOs larger than 460 feet at present, yet, according to NASA this probably represents only 35% of the total figure of asteroids in circulation.  Once you start looking at the smaller objects, those with a diameter of under 33 feet, you start to see figures shoot up to the 100 million range.

There are likely around 5,000 asteroids that could prove to be a hazard.

An asteroid consists of debris that was leftover for the early formation of the solar system. Most of the material joined together to form planets but some are still floating around out there. These asteroids give us valuable insights into how our solar system originated and shows that even now, around 4.5 billion years later, it is still changing and evolving.

The rather unimaginatively named 481392 (2006) SF9 asteroid measuring around 2,034 feet rushed past the Earth at an incredible 17,800 miles /hour on...

Category - Nature & Tech

Earth Nature & Tech Tech News

US Scientists Develop Sunflower That Can Collect Solar Energy

A new artificial sunflower has been created by US Scientists.

The tiny flower is under 0.04” wide and their ability to turn towards the light source makes them 400% more effective than their stationary counterparts.  This is a development that shows much promise in the sphere of solar power, potentially being used to power spaceships.

Researchers based in the University of California, Los Angeles, led the research which was aiming to raise the amount of energy that could be collected using a similar movement as that used by plants that move towards the sun.  This phenomenon, known as phototropism, enables the plant to optimize the amount of solar energy it gets.

Flower Power

The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, and indicated that the team had encountered significant challenges trying to replicate the behavior artificially which they overcame by developing a special type of polymer.

This material is responsive to light and the system has been called the SunBOT, a slightly catchier abbreviation of the full technical name:  sunflower-like bio-mimetic omnidirectional tracker.  The SunBOT works in multiple temperature ranges and does not need a power supply or human intervention.

The ‘stem’ of the plant was created using the polymer and topped with the ‘flower’ which is comprised of solar cells.  As the light shone at the SunBOT, the polymer stem got hotter and shrank.  This is what makes the flower turn towards the light.

These tiny sunflowers were then tested for efficiency and it was found that, compared with materials that remained stationary (non-phototropic materials), they were up to 400% more efficient.

There are likely to be numerous ways that the SunBOTs can be used, however, for it to make commercial sense the technology still has a way to go.  Once it does move forward, the research team are confident that it could be of use across multiple industries.Things like smart windows, solar sails, and intelligent energy generation have been highlighted and the study does show that the concept is sound.  We will likely see a lot more of these tiny flowers in the future.

A new artificial sunflower has been created by US Scientists.

The tiny flower is under 0.04” wide and their ability to turn towards the light source makes them 400% more effective than their stationary counterparts.  This is a development that shows much...

Cool Stories Earth

Rare Photos of Atmospheric Gravity Waves

Life is often full of amazing little treats that, to the untrained eye, would go entirely unseen. Phenomena are commonly found in all walks of life, and this can give us some of the most truly life-changing sights and scenes. However, one phenomenon that has so far been invisible to humans is known as atmospheric gravity waves.

These are ripples that you would not be able to see in the sky, but definitely have taken place. Such waves can take place in various locations but are often most commonly found during thunderstorms.

Indeed, it’s apparently not too dissimilar to what happens when you throw a rock across the water – you see that little ripple, that change. That is also a gravity wave; what is happening in the sky is similar.

Our Atmosphere is Liquid

Any disturbance to fluid can make these waves take place. Given that our atmosphere is a liquid, too, though, it can contribute to the development of similar wave effects later on in time. It’s a big reason why this kind of atmospheric wave has long been sought after by scientists looking to see it happen in real-time.

The person behind making this happen was Adam Morgan, a meteorologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Speaking to ABC News, Morgan said: “Essentially gravity waves are disturbances in any sort of fluid, so we see them often in water, but the atmosphere is a fluid as well, so any sort of disturbance in there can generate waves.”

Asked why this has taken place to begin with, Morgan said: “There was a big thunderstorm over the northwest of Western Australia and the disturbance, in this case, was the cold air falling out of the thunderstorm and into the warmer air near the surface,” Morgan said.

“The difference in density there causes the disturbance and then the gravity wave can travel out as the cold air spreads out,”

Indeed, he also noted that such waves can travel exceptionally large distances before they begin to dissipate and return to normal. Speaking further about the experience, Morgan said: “The disturbance will exist until everything rebalances itself, that’s why they can travel a long way,

“If you’ve ever been to the swimming pool and someone jumps in and does a dive bomb at one end of the pool, you might get the wave right at the other end of the pool after a bit of time.”

The main reason why we cannot normally see these, though, is due to the fact that they must produce some kind of cloud. Otherwise, there is not enough moisture in the air to try and give us an insight into what is going on in the background.

Still, we can now finally say that we have visual proof of an atmospheric gravity wave taking place. For many in the science community, this will be seen as a hugely impressive level of progress.

Life is often full of amazing little treats that, to the untrained eye, would go entirely unseen. Phenomena are commonly found in all walks of life, and this can give us some of the most truly life-changing sights and scenes. However, one phenomenon that has...

City Life Tech News

Alphabet’s Wing Begins First Commercial Drone Delivery

For some time now, the talk of drone delivery services has been a growing phenomenon. Seen as the future of automation as well as the beginning of the end for working people, there’s a massive amount of disparity on this topic.

Many people simply don’t know where such technology will eventually stop. if automation keeps coming, what will the already struggling populace do for a living?

With that in mind, it’s important to note that Alphabet, the company behind Google, has released its first commercial drone delivery service. This is known as Wing, and it’s going to become the leading name in the industry.

Having beaten the likes of Uber to the release of such a project, this is going to become a major part of the process for delivery in the near future. Indeed, it’s already been out delivering packages to people around the United States.

Wing has managed to beat the competition by being able to get access to Federal Aviation Authority approval. This means that they could be using their drones to fly door-to-door, dropping off deliveries in the same way that a normal delivery driver would.

It’s already beat the major competitor, Amazon Prime Air, to the punch. Prime Air is expected to start on December 7th, but it’s already a service that Alphabet has put into practice.

The aim is to use these drones instead of having to use delivery drivers in dense living areas. If you are trying to make deliveries in an urban area, you can find it hard to make the speedy delivery necessary. These drones would put an end to that, making sure that people can get items dropped off to them in ways and in places that was simply not possible pre-drone.

The Ideal Solution to Delivery

Wing will be able to see their drones fly out from North Christiansburg, and then start delivering parcels given to them by local retailers. While it can’t exactly chap on the door and ask the recipient how their day is going, it will allow for much faster, simpler delivery. It will improve the speed of delivery, too, and will most likely change the future of delivery for customers.

Deliveries are rapid, too, with some companies seeing deliveries to local buyers in as little as eight minutes – you’d be lucky to get ‘fast food’ delivered in that kind of timeframe. Therefore, it’s very much become the go-to option already for local firms looking to try and speed up and streamline their own delivery process.

While some people worry that such technology could one day become problematic for society, today we can appreciate having our goods dropped off to us by our friendly neighborhood drone.

For some time now, the talk of drone delivery services has been a growing phenomenon. Seen as the future of automation as well as the beginning of the end for working people, there’s a massive amount of disparity on this topic.

Many people simply don’t...

City Life Lifestyle Tech News

Hidden Online Shopping Threats: e-skimming & ‘Magecart Attacks’

The internet is obviously a great place, giving us all the opportunity to learn, to invest, and to buy like we never could in our own communities. That being said, if there is one issue with the online industry, it’s just how easy it is for hidden threats to your personal data, and even your income, through hidden online shopping attacks.

This has become a sadly common practice, so much so that the FBI in Portland has already stepped out to raise awareness. With October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it’s important that you do a bit of reading into what you could be running into when trying to buy items online.

Indeed, a common issue for many people when shopping online comes from “e-skimming”. This technique has become very commonplace in the online e-commerce industry and has seen many people impacted.

This hacking technique is used by criminals to try and get in line with third-party vendors who provide credit card payments online. However, even government agencies have been impacted in the past.

The main issue, though, is cost. The big companies and agencies often have the funds to put in place solid preventative measures to stop this problem from getting any worse. They can also then work together with others to try and reinforce their own security. But what about the small and independent companies that you might choose to buy from?

Beware of Magecart attacks

Another common problem that has become a major blight on online shopping is known as ‘Magecart’ attacks. These are part of the wider e-skimming industry, but they are used to attack everyone from the little to the large. While some warning signs on a Magecart attack, it’s often something that could slip through the net.

From a new company domain name appearing to edited JavaScript codes, there are many telltale signs of a potential e-skimming attack. The most common FBI tips included updating all of your systems and software, segregate your network systems and avoid running them all on one platform and make sure that all of your login credentials are advanced as well as regularly changed.

Of course, it’s also essential that any staff who are working with an e-shopping facility are trained and educated on the challenge of cybersecurity. This is becoming a major issue across the internet; the more that can be done to tackle the problem and minimize the risk, the better.

The internet is obviously a great place, giving us all the opportunity to learn, to invest, and to buy like we never could in our own communities. That being said, if there is one issue with the online industry, it’s just how easy it is for hidden threats...

Cool Stories Tech News

SpaceX Looks at 2020 for First Internet Coverage From Space

SpaceX is looking at mid-2020 to start offering broadband services via Starlink – a huge internet-from-space project.  To get the project up and running 60 satellites must be deployed which requires 6-8 launches.

Starlink constellation will consist of thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth at low altitudes.  These satellites will be used to provide internet coverage.

The Federal Communications Commission has licensed Space X to launch 12,000 satellites as part of the project and last week the company contacted the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) to request radio frequencies it needs to communicate with another 30,000 satellites.  In total SpaceX intends to launch around 42,000 satellites into low orbit.

The World Wants to Connect

The initiative stems from the increased demand for reliable and fast internet globally, and to reach areas where connectivity has been patchy, non-existent or too expensive.  SpaceX will likely be working to make Starlink Constellation scalable to meet anticipated future needs.

To date, 60 Starlink satellites have been launched by SpaceX and 3 of these failed when they reached orbit.  Two further satellites were removed from orbit which indicates that the company can do this if they need to.  However, the other satellites have accessed the correct orbit and are functioning normally.  This was announced by Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX via the system.

The project is still very much in its infancy with a lot of work still to complete before the general public can access the internet via Starlink.  As well as getting the satellites into orbit, Space X is still developing the user terminal that receives the signal from space.

The eventual roll-out may mean direct launch to customers in some areas, whereas in others it will be accessed via a telecom company.  This, along with pricing, has yet to be established.

With its venture into the Starlink Constellation SpaceX moves into the realms of space technology being utilized in commerce.

SpaceX is looking at mid-2020 to start offering broadband services via Starlink – a huge internet-from-space project.  To get the project up and running 60 satellites must be deployed which requires 6-8 launches.

Starlink constellation will consist of...

Cool Stories Nature & Tech

Hiker Saved by Apple Watch

A hiker from New Jersey has credited his Apple Watch for saving his life by dialing 911 after he and his date fell down a cliff.

The Apple Watch has several emergency response features including the ability to detect a fall and notify first responders.  Its location services send the coordinates of the wearer directly to emergency services.

James Prudenciano certainly believes that but for his Apple Watch he would not be alive.  He said that he and his date, Paige Paruso, had lost visibility as the sun went down when they were out hiking and had fallen down a cliff.

They had tried to slide down the drop believing it to be a lot lower than it was.  At the bottom, they were shocked to find they were going to fall directly into the Navesink River below.

The Watch Dialed 911

Paruso landed in the river sustaining minor injuries but Prudenciano landed hard on some rock, causing 3 spinal fractures.  At this stage, he believed he was going to die but the Apple Watch had already dialed 911.

All Apple Watch models after the Series 4 are fitted with this automatic SOS feature.  It can detect if a user falls and will ask if they require 911.  If there is no response or the wearer is immobile for longer than 60 seconds it automatically calls first responders and sends coordinates.

The couple were rescued by boat and were treated at the Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

A hiker from New Jersey has credited his Apple Watch for saving his life by dialing 911 after he and his date fell down a cliff.

The Apple Watch has several emergency response features including the ability to detect a fall and notify first responders.  Its...

Humans Are Awesome Tech News

Google Confirms ‘Quantum Supremacy’ Breakthrough

Google has now confirmed that it has achieved quantum supremacy with its 54-qubit Sycamore processor. The announcement comes in an article in Nature. The news was unofficially leaked a month ago but now all of the research is public and being scrutinized by the scientific community.

According to Google, Sycamore took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that would take an existing supercomputer around 10,000 years. This is said to indicate that the way the machine made the calculation would not be possible using a non-quantum machine.

The supercomputer that Sycamore has been said to have beaten is operated by IBM which, not surprisingly, has disputed Google’s claim. IBM states that its computer could do the task in 2.5 days and not 10,000 years as stated.

Extraordinary Achievement

Although IBM is keen to play down Google’s achievements researchers have welcomed the news. Likely, our ability to produce quantum computers that are suitable and practical for common usage is years down the line but Sycamore does indicate that it is indeed possible.

Scientists have been so enamored with the new machine that they have compared it to the first plane flight undertaken by the Wright Brothers in 1903.

Google has now confirmed that it has achieved quantum supremacy with its 54-qubit Sycamore processor. The announcement comes in an article in Nature. The news was unofficially leaked a month ago but now all of the research is public and being scrutinized by...

Animals Nature & Tech Science

Armour Plated – The Fish With the Toughest Scales on Earth

The Arapaima fish lives in Amazonian lakes have evolved armor-like scales to protect itself. The fish is huge – growing up to 4 meters in length and weighing in at around 200kg and is likely to be the largest freshwater fish on the planet. Scientists are hoping that the scales can help them build more efficient armor to protect human beings.

The hardened scales are heavily mineralized and act to protect the fish from predators including the piranhas that infest the waters in which it lives. The scales remain flexible because of the existence of protrusions and ridges and there is a collagen layer underneath which binds the scales to the body without losing flexibility.

The layer appears as a series of twisting layers known as a Bouligand structure which is also seen in beetle, lobster and crab shells.

Test of Strength

A series of tests were conducted on the scales designed to see exactly how much stress they could resist.

Having soaked crushed scales in water for 48 hours the scientists exerted central pressure and pulled the edges apart. This causes the outer layer to increase in size, eventually cracking and peeling away. However, the fractures did not spread and this has been attributed to the way they are structured: The inner and outer layers of the scales work in unison to provide a light and tough barrier.

When looking to engineer armor there needs to be a combination of strength and flexibility and this is what the structure of the fish’s scales seems to achieve. If scientists can develop similarly lightweight but tough materials it could have wide-reaching impacts on industry, including aerospace engineering.

The Arapaima fish lives in Amazonian lakes have evolved armor-like scales to protect itself. The fish is huge – growing up to 4 meters in length and weighing in at around 200kg and is likely to be the largest freshwater fish on the planet. Scientists are...

Cool Stories Humans Are Awesome Science

NASA: New Spacesuit for First Woman on the Moon Revealed

NASA has just released details of two new spacesuits and one of these prototypes is set to make history when worn by the first female astronaut to land on the moon.

The two suits each have a unique purpose.

The xEMU suite (Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit is intended to be used on the Artemis program which aims to launch the first woman to walk on the surface of the moon in 2024. The long term aim is to establish a presence there and there are hopes that it will help pave the way to future missions to Mars.

The xEMU suit has several new features that have been incorporated based on the experience of spacewalks. Specifically, the suit has been made more resistant to dust – essential because of the makeup of the moon’s soil. It can also withstand huge changes in temperature from -25oF to 25oF in light of the temperatures that exist on the dark and light sides of the moon.

The backpack of the suit has been altered to include miniature versions of life-support equipment, allowing a back-up to be carried in case of a system failure or for use on longer walks on the surface. New materials and technology have been utilized to make the suit more flexible, allowing easier movement. Communication improvement includes a microphone directly embedded within the suit.

Modular and Personalized

The xEMU suit has a wide range of interchangeable parts and the module design lends well to full customization; it can be set up according to the specific needs of the astronaut and where the suit will be used. It is possible to add extra layers in cases of extreme cold and the visor can now be easily replaced and repaired with no need to return it to Earth.

The Orion suit is a flight suit – used by the astronauts on the Artemis and Orion during launch and re-entry, during an emergency or in a high-risk situation. This has been improved on since the Space Shuttle missions and the helmet is no longer one-size-fits-all; it is fire resistant, can adjust to varying temperatures, is stronger, more comfortable and helps reduce noise levels to assist communication.

The Orion suit has been designed in a bright orange to make it easier to find astronauts when they must leave the capsule after re-entry and landing. The suits also have a built-in emergency survival kit. The Orion can sustain life for up to 6 days enabling an astronaut a better chance of returning to Earth if cabin pressure is lost.

Like the xEMU the Orion is also more mobile, it is custom-built to the astronaut and can be put on or taken off more quickly. The gloves are specially designed for protection and strength while taking into account the need to be flexible enough to use touch screen technology.

The next stage is that the suits will be subjected to testing in spaceflight conditions to ensure they perform before they are officially commissioned

NASA has just released details of two new spacesuits and one of these prototypes is set to make history when worn by the first female astronaut to land on the moon.
The two suits each have a unique purpose.

The xEMU suite (Exploration Extravehicular Mobility...

Health Lifestyle

Do You Know What Carries the Most Germs in Your Wallet?

It’s really amazing how little we think about items we use every day and not even realize we are getting germs and bacteria on our hands, our faces, and passing them on to other people and things.

You probably use it every day and No, it’s not dollar bills or coins. Though that would be a good guess considering how many other people have put their hands on these bills and coins. If you think about it, you would be washing your hands almost all day long. Give up? It’s your credit and debit cards!

Recent research has shown that the level of germs on credit and debit cards is really quite high.

There is a sanitation monitoring device that actually measures the level of bacteria on the surface in order to calculate the germ rate. As a matter of fact, credit and debit cards have more germs and bacteria then dollar bills and coins put together.

What’s even more disgusting, credit cards rank higher in germs than public bathrooms or subway poles. In perspective, surfaces in a restaurant’s kitchen should have a germ score that’s lower than 10 to be considered sanitary.

Credit cards rank in at 285 which is 20 times dirtier than any of the above and is sitting in your wallet or pocketbook!

Granted, you don’t eat food using your credit or debit card but you should learn how to clean them. After all, you clean your hands and even your phone to get rid of dirt and germs, so why not your credit and debit cards that you probably handle every day? On top of that, you are passing those germs and bacteria on to absolutely everything you touch!

Cleaning your credit and debit cards is actually a lot easier than you might think and never affects the operation of the cards.

Cleaning Your Credit & Debit Cards:

You can use cleaning wipes used for your phones without damaging the cards. Another alternative is using anti-bacterial wipes that kill 99.9% of bacteria on surfaces.

As a matter of fact, you should go through your pockets or pocketbook and find other items that are collecting germs and bacteria and give them a good cleaning as well.

After wiping down your cards with an anti-bacterial wipe, give the card a little time to just sit and make sure the cards are totally dry before slipping them back into your wallet or swiping them in a machine. You have several items that could use a good cleaning including membership cards, ID cards, drivers’ licenses, etc.

So the next time you use your credit or debit card just remember they carry all sorts of germs and bacteria that you are now passing on to someone else. If you can, carry wipes around with you and clean your hands to keep germs from making you sick. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s so incredibly sanitary!

It’s really amazing how little we think about items we use every day and not even realize we are getting germs and bacteria on our hands, our faces, and passing them on to other people and things.

You probably use it every day and No, it’s not...

Cool Stories Tech News

Picasso, Reconstructed by an A.I.

It’s rare for artists to spring up surprises long after their demise, but some occasions are noteworthy. Think Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso.

Beneath the Old Guitarist (1903-04), Pablo Picasso’s popular Blue Period painting is the figure of a woman in faint markings. She was originally noticed in 1998 when X-rays and infrared light were used by conservators of the Art Institute of Chicago to peep behind the top layer of the paint.

She sits with her right arm tucked onto her lap and her left arm reaching toward the viewer.  Strangely enough, she resembles a sketch Picasso sent to a colleague at the same time the painting was made.

Enter A.I. Conservation

The foundation for the neural network was a technique created in 2015 by Leon Gatys at the University of Tübingen, Germany, called neural style transfer. The machine vision technique can indicate the style of a painting and convert it to match another.

For example, it can convert a Paul Cézanne to the style of Michelangelo. This technique has been used on videos as well, so it is possible to watch clips of Ice Age in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

All that could be recognized of the woman in the painting until now was the slightest trace of her outline. Other intricate details like style and color were lost.

Nevertheless, with the use of a neural network trained to differentiate the style of one artist from the other or one period from the other, researchers at University College London have given her a new life, even if it is not true to the original of Picasso.

Researchers George Cann and Anthony Bourached published their paper titled “Raiders of the Lost Art,” on the arXiv preprint server. The paper was also featured in a recent article in the MIT Technology Review.

The X-rayed images of the woman’s outlines were plugged into a neural network built to convert images into the style of La Vie (1903), another exceptional piece of Picasso’s Blue Period. In as much as the result cannot be a perfect match of Picasso’s painting which was also pained over 10 decades ago, it is at least conforming to the style he used at that period.

In Picasso’s The Crouching Beggar, the same technique was also used. It was painted over a landscape thought to have been made by a Spanish painter, Santiago Rusiñol, using Rusiñol’s Parc del Laberint d’Horta.

Cann and Bourached said that they hope the results help projects on other lost works of art and also challenge the popular doubt that “algorithm can be creative, or innovate.”

“We argue that the use of machine learning as an artistic tool can ultimately broaden creative insight and widen the landscape of inspirational ingenuity by human-AI collaboration,” wrote Cann and Bourached.

The Crouching Beggar and Old Guitarist are not the only Picasso works that cover hidden paintings. Earlier pieces are usually painted over by artists, especially when a fresh canvas is hard to come by due to inadequate funds. A portrait of a man resting his hand on his head underneath Picasso’s The Blue Room (1901) was found by researchers in 2014.

It’s rare for artists to spring up surprises long after their demise, but some occasions are noteworthy. Think Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso.

Beneath the Old Guitarist (1903-04), Pablo Picasso’s popular Blue Period painting is...

Earth Humans Are Awesome Inspiring Stories

Swedish Teen Sailed Across The Atlantic to Defend Mother Earth

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in her carbon-free yacht, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has already received recognition for her stance on protecting our planet from climate change.

Greta Thunberg

She sailed from England to New York to join a climate-change conference which took her 13 days to complete. She chose a solar-powered, carbon-free yacht to avoid potential damage from carbon-emissions that have already damaged our planet through air travel.

Her 13-day voyage has drawn the attention of skeptics and supporters alike. She strongly feels it’s her duty to be an activist to guarantee that our planet will be taken care of.

Even though she is only 16, Greta knows it’s critical that people understand how their actions are harming Earth. Nothing can stop her from finding new ways to take care of our planet while encouraging others to realize how they are impacting our environment and climate.

Even though she is not a scientist, she believes her vessel is a scientific testimonial to raise awareness about the long-term issues that are affecting the Earth.

Thunberg’s passion for climate-change is nothing new. When she was 15, she organized an environmentally-friendly strike outside the Swedish Parliament building during school hours to encourage others to take action to save the planet.

Although most adults did not condone her actions, she held firmly to her convictions for three solid weeks! She handed out information and encouragement to others who passed by her. Eventually, her strike was published online and her efforts touched many people across the world.

Her plea for help went absolutely viral. Since then, her face has become the symbol of advocacy surrounding climate change.

Science in Action:

Her actions have caught the attention of people across the world. She has decided to throw herself into her cause as a full-time activist. She has taken time off from school to make activism her life’s goal. She has attended universities, conferences, events about climate-change, scientific events, and various political assemblies to spread the word.

Greta Thunberg UN

To travel from one event to another, she has chosen to use transportation that reduces CO2 emissions including by train even though it takes longer to get to her destination.

Greta has made many sacrifices to get the word out about the impending doom facing us in the future if climate change is not taken seriously. She said that we live in a strange world where children are literally sacrificing their own education to protect the planet against ruination.

Her outspoken attitude has drawn criticism from many, mostly due to her age, who do not believe the planet is in harm’s way. Meanwhile, others have come to her defense claiming that those who are against her are just ignorant.

Thunberg has remained focused and motivated to keep her climate change actions before the entire world. She planned on attending the climate-change conference held in the United States on September 2019. She decided to sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to New York in her yacht that left no carbon footprints.

Greta’s Latest Missions:

On August 14, 2019, Greta sailed from Plymouth on the first-of-its-kind carbon-free yacht named Malizia 2. She sailed with her father who is an experienced sailor along with two other people. The 6-foot solar-powered yacht has technology on board that measures carbon emissions.

During the trip, she was able to observe how beautiful the ocean is with its many inhabitants including dolphins. As she traveled, she came to realize the importance of a pollutant-free ocean.

Although her journey was admired, many people who are in denial of climate change took to Twitter to leave negative comments about the young activist. One Twitter user, Julia Hartley-Brewer, left a message “Hi Greta, I’ve just booked some flights for my family to enjoy the winter sun on a beach over Christmas. Level Of Guilt – Zero!”

While there were negative remarks left behind, there were many others who came to her defense. Paraphrasing author Philip Pullman who said that most people have never done nor ever will one-hundredth as valuable and important as what Greta has accomplished.

Many others stressed their concerns about people who have nothing better to say about this young women’s passion to address climate change.

There is no doubt that planes do take their toll on the environment causing those who are conscientious to choose alternative forms of transportation. Her supporters definitely outweigh her critics. She said that even though there are people who will remain in denial and not accept what’s going on, she will remain focused on the crisis of climate change and do what she has to do.

There will probably be a line drawn in the sand, separating believers and non-believers regarding climate change. Each individual will have to make their own decision about the health and well-being of our planet. In the meantime, there are countless wild animals being slaughtered for game or to sell their ivory or fur.

These animals are becoming extinct and, believe it or not, they play an important role in the protection of our climate. I wonder if anyone thinks about them?

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in her carbon-free yacht, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has already received recognition for her stance on protecting our planet from climate change.

She sailed from England to New York to join a climate-change conference which...