New camera system inspired by animal vision

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

New camera system inspired by animal vision

Science X network

Scientists have taken inspiration from how animals’ eyes work to create a new way for computer-controlled cameras to ‘see’.

In a new paper published today in the journal Science Advances, University of Glasgow researchers describe a new method for creating video using single- cameras. They have found a way to instruct cameras to prioritise objects in images using a method similar to the way brains make the same decisions.

The eyes and brains of humans, and many animals, work in tandem to prioritise specific areas of their field of view. During a conversation, for example, visual attention is focused primarily on the other speaker, with less of the brain’s ‘processing time’ given over to peripheral details. The vision of some hunting animals also works along similar lines.

The team’s sensor uses just one light-sensitive pixel to build up moving images of objects placed in front of it. Single-pixel sensors are much cheaper than dedicated megapixel sensors found in digital cameras, and are capable of building images at wavelengths where conventional cameras are expensive or simply don’t exist, such as at the infrared or terahertz frequencies.

The images the system outputs are square, with an overall resolution of 1,000 pixels. In conventional cameras, those thousand pixels would be evenly spread in a grid across the image. The team’s new system instead can choose to allocate its ‘pixel budget’ to prioritise the most important areas within the frame, placing more higher resolution pixels in these locations and so sharpening the detail of some sections while sacrificing detail in others. This pixel distribution can be changed from one frame to the next, similar to the way biological vision systems work, for example when human gaze is redirected from one person to another.

Dr David Phillips, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, led the research.

Dr Phillips said: “Initially, the problem I was trying to solve was how to maximise the frame rate of the single-pixel system to make the video output as smooth as possible.

“However, I started to think a bit about how vision works in living things and I realised that building a programme which could interpret the data from our single-pixel sensor along similar lines could solve the problem. By channelling our pixel budget into areas where high resolutions were beneficial, such as where an object is moving, we could instruct the system to pay less attention to the other areas of the frame.

“By prioritising the information from the sensor in this way, we’ve managed to produce images at an improved frame rate but we’ve also taught the system a valuable new skill.

“We’re keen to continue improving the and explore the opportunities for industrial and commercial use, for example in medical imaging.”

The research is the latest in a string of single-pixel-imaging breakthroughs from the University’s Optics Group, led by Professor Miles Padgett, which include creating 3D images, imaging gas leaks, and ‘seeing’ through opaque surfaces.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-camera-animal-vision.html#jCp

Best of Last Week—Creating negative mass, consequences of drinking soda and isolating a higher state of consciousness

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Physicists create 'negative mass'

(ScienceX)—It was another good week for physics as a team at Washington State University announced that they had created ‘negative mass’—a fluid that accelerates in the opposite direction of a force pushed against it. And a European team demonstrated a new way to violate local causality using a new type of Bell inequality that takes into account two state sources that are independent. Also, another team created time crystals, suggesting a new form of matter may hold the key to developing quantum machines. And a team working on the Large Hadron Collider b project reported on finding new hints of possible deviations from the Standard Model regarding the manner in which some particles were found to decay—though of limited statistical significance, it adds credence to other recent findings.

In other news, an international team of researchers reported on the discovery of a science fiction horror that wriggled into reality with the discovery of a giant sulfur-powered shipworm—in a lagoon rife with rotting wood. Also, a team with the Australian National University announced that the origins of Indonesian hobbits had finally been revealed—they found that the diminutive Homo floresiensis likely evolved from ancestors in Africa. Also, two teams of researchers made headlines by asking if soda bad is for your brain, and whether diet soda is worse.

The first, led by a professor at Boston University, found that sugary drinks might be causing a decrease in the size of the hippocampus in people who consume them. The second team, also affiliated with Boston University, found evidence suggesting that people who drink may be putting themselves at risk of developing dementia. And officials in Iceland expressed concern that the Icelandic language is at risk because robots and computers can’t grasp it—and because English has become so pervasive. Also, a team with members from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Princeton University announced that they have found a way to harness the mysterious Casimir force for tiny devices—in a silicon chip.

And finally, if you are someone who takes LSD or other hallucinogenic drugs, you might be interested in a study conducted by a team at the University of Sussex. They claim to have found the first evidence for a higher state of consciousness —brain scans of people consuming psychedelic drugs showed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity, indicating a higher degree of complexity of brain activity.

More Top Execs Fired at Financially Troubled Target Corp.

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

(Breitbart) Over the last few months, retail giant Target Corp. has been desperately cutting costs and canceling long-planned growth programs to regain profitability. As part of its scrambling to finally get into the black, the chain has also been firing top executives, and last week yet another top officer’s scalp was taken.

Target Boycott Cost More Than Anyone Expected; CEO Was BlindsidedOn Thursday Target announced that chief innovation and strategy officer Casey Carl was leaving the company after 20 years on the job. Casey is at least the fifth top executive to leave the company recently, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Despite firing its top innovation officer, Target CEO Brian Cornell released a statementinsisting that “Innovation is alive and well at Target.”

The move might not be a complete shock considering that as its stock price and profits tumbled, early this year the company abruptly canceled two once highly touted innovation and growth projects aimed at bringing Target into the future of retail. Despite these moves, Cornell still claims that “Innovation must be a mind-set, an essential component of every business, every strategy and every team.”

Carl joins a growing list of top officers shown the door at the nationwide retailer. Also fired in the last two years has been Target’s head of stores, head of marketing, its human resources boss, and its chief digital officer.

The scrambling comes after Target suffered three disastrous quarters of sales declines in a row and a loss of over $15 billion this year. The losses came after its April of 2016 announcement that it intended to allow men pretending to be women to use any bathroom or changing room they want to use at any given time.

The announcement sparked millions of people to boycott the company. In one particular case a #BoycottTarget petition organized by the American Family Association has surpassed 1.5 million signatures….

Original Source

11 Ways Trump Has Rolled Back Government Regulations in His First 100 Days

April 25, 2017 1 comment

(The Daily Signal) As President Donald Trump reaches his 100th day in the White House on April 29, he will have worked with Congress to rescind more regulations using the Congressional Review Act than any other president.

Trump Cites Stock Pond While Signing Waters of the U.S. Order“We’re excited about what we’re doing so far. We’ve done more than that’s ever been done in the history of Congress with the CRA,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., told The Daily Signal in an interview, referring to the law called the Congressional Review Act.

The Congressional Review Act, the tool Trump and lawmakers are using, allows Congress to repeal executive branch regulations. Once the House and Senate pass a joint resolution disapproving of a particular regulation, the president signs the measure.

Passed in 1996 in concert with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America reform agenda, the Congressional Review Act is what the Congressional Research Service calls “an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency.”

The law also prevents agencies from creating similar rules with similar language.

Until this year, the law had been used successfully only once—in 2001, when Congress and President George W. Bush rescinded a regulation regarding workplace injuries promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration.

Here’s a look at the 11 regulatory rollbacks Congress has passed and Trump has signed:

  1. Regulations governing the coal mining industry (H.J. Res 41).

Mandated by President Barack Obama and finalized in  2016, these regulations “threatened to put domestic extraction companies and their employees at an unfair disadvantage,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The resolution, signed by Trump in February, repealed the rule and “could save American businesses as much as $600 million annually,” Spicer said.

  1. Regulations defining streams in the coal industry (H.J. Res 38).

“Complying with the regulation would have put an unsustainable financial burden on small mines,” Spicer said.

The so-called Stream Protection Rule included “vague definitions of what classifies as a stream,” Nick Loris, a fellow in energy and environmental policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email, and undoing it does away with ambiguities:

For many regulations promulgated by the Obama administration, they fundamentally disregarded the nature of the federal-state relationship when it comes to energy production and environmental protection.

The Stream Protection Rule … removed flexibility from mining steps and simply ignored that states have regulations in place to protect water quality. State and local environmental agencies’ specific knowledge of their region enables them to tailor regulations to promote economic activity while protecting the habitat and environment….

The Russians Hacked Democrats’ Plans to Cheat in the General Election, Too

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

(Breitbart) New York Times report on Saturday claimed that FBI Director James Comey decided to reveal last year that he was re-opening the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because he suspected Attorney General Loretta Lynch was covering up for her — and because an email found by Russian hackers seemed to support those suspicions.

Judicial Watch Sues DOJ for Records of Bill Clinton's Powwow with Loretta Lynch

The Times’ investigative report suggests that a U.S. intelligence agency managed to intercept some of what Russian hackers were stealing — and that one document, “described as both a memo and an email, was written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far.”

According to the Times, Comey feared that Lynch — who had insisted the Clinton probe be referred to as a “matter” and not as an “investigation,” and who suggested it the investigation was not criminal when, in fact, it was — would declare the case closed, and then Russian hackers would leak the document to undermine the FBI’s image of independence.

The Times notes: “Mr. Comey’s defenders regard this as one of the untold stories of the Clinton investigation, one they say helps explain his decision-making.” And if a local news reporter in Phoenix had not caught Lynch meeting with former President Bill Clinton, she might have succeeded in sheltering the Clintons even more effectively than she had….

Original Source

Climate Scientist Urges President Trump not to Cave to Ivanka’s ‘Climate Change Madness’

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

In an open letter to Donald Trump, climate expert Dr. Duane Thresher has urged the President not to give in to his daughter Ivanka’s misguided views on global warming and her insistence that the U.S. remain in the Paris climate agreement ratified by Barack Obama last August.

“Climate treaties like the Paris Agreement have little to do with climate,” Thresher notes in his letter, which he made available to Breitbart News. “They are about economic competition. As the greatest economy in the history of the world, other countries will do anything to cripple the United States.”

Thresher, who has a PhD in Earth & Environmental Sciences from Columbia University and NASA GISS and worked for years in climate monitoring, says he understands the President’s temptation to listen to his daughter’s advice, but begs him not to give in to that temptation.

“Countries like China will agree to anything in these treaties and simply ignore their obligations while demanding the United States fulfill theirs,” Thresher said, calling belief in global warming a “popular delusion.”

In his letter, Dr. Thresher also reminded President Trump of his campaign promises that led many Americans to vote for him.

“We who voted for you consider stopping this climate change madness one of your key promises,” Thresher said. “If you renege on it you will lose me and many others as supporters.”

After Trump’s election, in fact, a number of climate change skeptics were emboldened to take more public stands against the politically imposed “scientific consensus” of global warming, welcoming a new era of free debate about a hotly contested issue.

Scientists unconvinced by the party line on climate change applauded Trump’s appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency as an important step away from climate alarmism.

Even if Trump caves and stays in the Paris climate agreement, Thresher says, it won’t win him any friends. “Your opponents are not going to support you; they’ll just taunt you as being a flip-flopper,” he said.

“Climate science is one of the most fascinating sciences there is. To turn it into a lie for political purposes is a crime,” he stated, before urging the President to stand strong in his convictions.

“Make climate science great again,” he wrote.

Euro Surges as France’s Macron Makes It Through to Second Round

April 25, 2017 Leave a comment

HONG KONG (AFP) — The euro surged Monday after moderate Emmanuel Macron won the first round in France’s presidential election and looked set to triumph in the run-off against right wing candidate Marine Le Pen next month.

Investors globally had been watching the vote fearing that a wave of populism, which swept Donald Trump to the White House and saw Britain leave the EU, could lead to a win for the anti-European Le Pen and put the future of the bloc in doubt.

However, Macron is widely expected to gallop to victory over the divisive Front National leader and traders gave a huge thumbs-up, sending the euro flying above $1.09 at one point before paring the gains to $1.0846 from $1.0726 in New York on Friday. It also jumped to 119.40 yen from 117.07 yen.

“Markets are happy to buy what they see as the fact — that 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron will be confirmed as the next president of the French republic in two weeks’ time,” Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank, said in a commentary.

The boost in optimism also hit the yen — considered a safe bet in times of uncertainty — which in turn lifted Japanese exporters.

– US tax reform –

Tokyo’s Nikkei rose 1.3 percent, Sydney and Seoul each added 0.2 percent, and Wellington put on 0.4 percent.

However, Hong Kong gave up early gains and ended the morning session 0.1 percent down, while Shanghai sank almost 1.6 percent, extending a recent sell-off fuelled by profit-taking, liquidity and regulatory plans.

“Given that pre-vote polling shows that Macron should trounce Le Pen on May 7, markets are already celebrating as though Macron is already the president of The Republic,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, in a note.

The gains in Asia extended Friday’s rally that was built on comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who promised a tax reform plan would be unveiled soon.

That was followed by Trump saying Friday that there would be “a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform”.

Eyes are now on Washington where lawmakers have just four days to agree a funding bill to avoid a painful government shutdown that would cost the economy billions of dollars.

There are fears Trump will refuse to sign anything that does not contain spending for his controversial Mexican border wall, with Democrats saying they will not back anything that includes provisions for the plan.

– Key figures at 0430 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 18,854.97

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 24,016.23 (break)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.6 percent at 3,123.80 (break)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0846 from $1.0726 at 2100 GMT Friday

Euro/yen: UP at 119.40 yen from 117.07 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2790 from $1.2810

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.05 yen from 109.15 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 25 cents at $49.87 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 30 cents at $52.26

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 20,547.76 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,114.55 (close)

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