Military Develop New and Targetted Eye in the Sky

Military Develop New and Targetted Eye in the Sky

A new motion tracking system could improve the efficiency of security and military surveillance.

The system, a collaboration between the Naval Research Laboratory and Space Dynamics Laboratory, has been shown in testing to accurately recognise, geographically pin point and take high quality images of moving objects, without any human input.

In the tests, carried out in March of this year, the system was able to track vehicles and also showed the possibility of being able to identify humans. “The demonstration was a complete success,” said Dr. Michael Duncan, Office of Naval Research program manager.

In these tests the researchers used a camera known as the Eyepod, developed by the Space Dynamics Laboratory. This camera, when operated from a height of 5000 feet, can identify objects on the ground from 17-80 cm across, depending on the set up. The camera was able to accurately track objects on the ground and relay high quality images and information to  a communications centre, via a high-speed data-link.

A representation of the new system (Click to Enlarge)

“These tests display how a single imaging sensor can be used to provide imagery of multiple tracked objects,” said Dr. Brian Daniel, a research physicist who worked on the project, “A job typically requiring multiple sensors.”

There are many different potential applications for this research, ranging from the more obvious military uses to high-end private security. With the UK containing more CCTV cameras per person than any other country interest in this technology is likely to be high.

Both military and security surveillance generates a huge quantity of footage, which is time and money consuming for humans to observe in entirety.  It is believed that this new technology could help make surveillance more efficient and to improve the speed with which intelligence reports can be produced.

Viral Science: Cymbal At 1000 Frames Per Second

Viral Science: Cymbal At 1000 Frames Per Second

Science can produce some amazing sounds. But sometimes, the visuals behind the sounds are more impressive. In the above you can see the vibrations and waves travelling through a cymbal.

I chose to share this today as a bit of a sneak preview to a sound focussed post on the Inside Knowledge Blog we are currently  producing. Once it is up online I will share it here…so watch this space.

Viral Science: The “Most Beautiful” Science Experiment

Viral Science: The “Most Beautiful” Science Experiment

I often think that science doesn’t fully take advantage of what can be achieved with the viral video platform. However, this video by NatSciDemos has succeeded in going well and truly  viral and has achieved over 2.3 million views. Professor Richard Wiseman described it as one of “the most beautiful videos”. Check it out and prepare to be memorised:

What do you think, is there a more visually stunning experiment? If so drop me a comment below, would be cool to generate a bit of a list of beauty within science.

Check it out here

Scientists show the evolution of the Amphitheatre

Scientists show the evolution of the Amphitheatre

This post was chosen as an Editor's Selection for ResearchBlogging.org

Back before the internet, twitter and megaphones it was a great deal more difficult to get your voice heard. However, those clever Greeks and Romans had a way of using the science of acoustics to get their message out.

They constructed great amphitheatres which seated thousands. An example of which is the image below I took when exploring an ancient Roman site in rural Turkey.

Click for High Def version

Scientists have continued to do research the way the acoustics worked to propel the voice of those ‘on stage’. A study by K. Chourmouziadou & J. Kang, published in the Journal of Applied Acoustics showed that amphitheatres evolved and changes in materials as well as design resulted in acoustic improvements. They simulated 6 different theatre types: Minoan, Pre-Aeschylean, Early Classic, Classic, Hellenistic and Roman.  Each of these had different characteristics (figure 1)

Figure 1: A breakdown of the different theatre types

Figure 2: Over time the amount of reverberation in an occupied theatre is seen to increase

The researchers then used acoustic simulation software to examine the theaters. They monitored the absorption and scattering conditions in each incarnation of the theatre. Their results indicated that there was increased reverberation time as the theatres evolved (figure 2) and the speech transmission increased in occupied theatres. They concluded that overall the evolution of the theatres brought about an improved listening experience.

ResearchBlogging.org
CHOURMOUZIADOU, K., & KANG, J. (2008). Acoustic evolution of ancient Greek and Roman theatres Applied Acoustics, 69 (6), 514-529 DOI: 10.1016/j.apacoust.2006.12.009

Viral Science: Slow Motion Bouncing Water Droplet

Viral Science: Slow Motion Bouncing Water Droplet

Some things when you drop them you expect them to bounce. A water droplet is not one of them. The following video however, shows just what does happen if a drop of water falls on a hydrophobic surface.

The following video is pretty amazing, it is shot at about 5400 frames per second and was taken in the Nanotechnology lab of the University of Missouri. Enjoy 🙂

ScIPhone: Science in the world of Apps

ScIPhone: Science in the world of Apps

Science is everywhere, nowhere more so that the smartphone arena. But along with the high-tech that makes up the devices, science has also invaded the App market. Whether it be the, pseudoscientific apps which tell you when you are going to die or apps for peer-reviewed research. In this post I will review some of the science Apps that are out there:

NEJM Image Challenge (download here)

It is an interesting App idea, showing pictures medical conditions and then quizzing you on what it could be. It made me feel a little bit like I was House and I can see the app being useful for med students (I was rubbish at it!). However, there was one slight draw back to the app, when you are on the tube you don’t particularly want a big photo of deformed or diseased genitalia appearing on your phone…it tends to make people look at you like you are a crazy person!

Pros: Scientifically accurate and informative

Cons: Very difficult without a trained medical background, costs money, awkward commuting experiences.

Physics Box

This is an App claiming to contain a series of physics games. In one game “Ragdoll Shooter” you fire manikins at a target and the other you fire bombs. The physics claim is only due to them using a physics engine to power the dolls movements. The ragdoll game is quite fun, but there is really no difference between it and the bomb game.

Pros: Quite fun, free

Cons: No actual science, no variation in Game play

Merk – PSE HD (download here)

This is a periodic table app made by Merk pharmaceuticals. It looks very nice and polished and by clicking on the elements it contains lots more information about them.

Pros: Very informative, scientifically accurate.

Cons: Doesn’t do anything extraordinary with the app format

Genetic Code (download here)

Now this may be quite a geeky admission but I think this is a very cool little app. It let’s you enter three DNA bases and it will tell you what it codes for. I imagine this would be pretty useful for researchers.

Pros: Free, science geek novelty factor, could be useful for actual research.

Cons: Little practical use for most people.

So there we have a quick sample I am aware that there are many more science apps out there. If you have any good suggestions for apps to be reviewed drop me a comment below. This potentially may become a regular feature.

Viral Science: Einstein or Monroe Optical Illusion

Viral Science: Einstein or Monroe Optical Illusion

I am now free from exams, so aim to get my writing back on track. As a way of easing myself back into this post features a very cool scientific optical illusion. Now who do you see if you look at the image below? The father of modern physics or Hollywood’s most iconic sex symbol?

At normal distance from the screen you should see the face  Albert Einstein. However, if you  squint your eyes or move away from the screen. Marylin Monroe should be visible in the image instead. It is also said that those with short sightedness will see Monroe instead of Einstein initially. However, not having short sightedness I am unable to vouch for this!

So now you have successfully changed Einstein into Marilyn. Here is her famous performance of ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ from Some Like it Hot (1959), if you were able to switch between the two in this I image Einstein would give a rather different performance…. 

The image was originally created for a 2007 issue of New Scientist

Beer Bottle Full or Empty: Which is Best as a Weapon?

Beer Bottle Full or Empty: Which is Best as a Weapon?

It’s a question that I am sure many of you have asked yourself. If that angry looking person over there decided to hit me over the head with a bottle, would it be better if it were finished or full? Well thankfully a research paper has the answer and contains my ‘Research Quote of the Week’!

“Fights are commonly carried out with fists, feet, furniture and drinking vessels”

So, why would you want to research this? Well, Dr Bolliger and his Switzerland based team wanted to see “if the amount of energy exceeds the energy necessary to inflict serious injuries to a victim”, with the goal of aiding forensic science.

Figure 1: The 'Weapon of Choice'

Now, its difficult enough making a choice what to drink when in your local pub, let alone to think about its potential use for research/weaponry. The researchers selected Feldschösschen in half litre bottles, the reasons for this choice were not made clear in the article (Figure 1). It was a small study, with 10 bottles used (4 full and 6 empty).

The strength of the bottles was then tested using a drop-tower (apparatus in which weights are dropped onto materials to test their properties. The bottles were place on their sides and had a wooden board attached to them (to cause a more dispersed impact similar to what the cranium would experience) and soft clay used to represent the brain soft tissue (As seen in Figure 2). A 1 kg heavy steel ball was dropped from different heights (minimum 2 m, maximum 4 m) onto the bottles.

They observed that full beer bottles tolerated energies of up to 25 J, but burst at 30 J. Whereas, empty shattered at 40J. Again, it is worth pointing out that this is a small study. But, the results are interesting ( especially for those with alcohol induced anger issues) as it indicates that the bottles make a much more suitable “club” than the traditional UK pint glass (shatters at 1.7 J). But, why does this difference occur, and which bottle would hurt more to get hit by!?

There are two main theories as to why the difference occurs:

  1. Beer is an almost “incompressible fluid” and even a slight deformation could lead to an increase of the pressure within the bottle and its destruction.
  2. As beer is carbonated. The gas pressure, and may assist in the destruction of the bottle.

Figure 2: The bottle in position

And the ouch factor? Well, as the study looked at impacts on the bottle and not made by the bottle as little mathematical recalculation is required to calculate the amount of work needed to swing the bottle and its imapact force. The researchers conclude the following:

“full bottle will strike a target with almost 70% more energy than an empty bottle. In other words, it takes less muscle work to achieve a greater striking energy when fighting with a full bottle, even though lifting the bottle requires slightly more energy.”

In terms of damage to the skull electrohydraulic experiments using human cadaver heads had previously shown that the skull is fractured by 14.1 – 68.5 J depending on the area hit. Implying, that both full and empty bottles could fracture areas of the skull.

So, there we have it. If you are a bit weak and want to cause harm an enemy with a beer bottle, either will do the job. But, choose a full bottle for that extra force in your hit.

ResearchBlogging.org

Bolliger, S., Ross, S., Oesterhelweg, L., Thali, M., & Kneubuehl, B. (2009). Are full or empty beer bottles sturdier and does their fracture-threshold suffice to break the human skull? Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 16 (3), 138-142 DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2008.07.013

Viral Science: Perpetual Motion Waterfall

Viral Science: Perpetual Motion Waterfall

As scientists continue to search for alternatives to fossil fuels, one guy in a garage in Germany has the solution.

Step aside bio-fuels and cold fusion because perpetual motion is here! 

Or is it, check out a production version of Escher´s waterfall below:

Ok, so it’s an optical illusion. But, if that isn’t enough to placate your optical desires here a bit of gravity breaking too:

p.s. Will get back to some proper posts soon once I have emerged from my exams/revision cocoon 🙂

Neuroscience Cases: The Man Who Put His Head in a Particle Accelerator

Neuroscience Cases: The Man Who Put His Head in a Particle Accelerator

Images of his injury

“Have you been injured at work in an accident that wasn’t your fault?” The terrible adverts, for companies like ‘lawyers4u’,  characterise work injuries as falling off laders or slipping on a wet floor. Well for one man, his work related accident was a great deal more spectacular. Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski accidentally put his head in a particle accelerator.

He remains to this day the only person to have done so and, perhaps most shockingly, survived and is still around today. But, how does one go about accidentally putting your head in a particle accelerator? Well, on July 13, 1978, Bugorski was working on the U-70 synchrotron at the Institute for High Energy Physics in Protvino. A small piece of equipment was malfunctioning and in the process of fixing it he leaned in too far and came into contact with the proton beam. When later asked to describe what it was like, he said he saw a flash of light that was “brighter than a thousand suns”. But, amazingly felt no pain.

Very quickly after the incident occurred the left side of his face swelled beyond all recognition. The beam entered his skull at the back of his head, with the exit wound close to his nose. After a few days the skin at the entry and exit points peeled away showing the path the beam took through the skin, skull and brain. His prognosis was extremely poor and was taken to a clinic in Moscow where they expected to observe him die over a period of two to three weeks.

The proton beam was about 200,000 rads. Previous data indicated that 1000 rads would be enough to kill a human (even the famously radioactively robust cockroach will die after 20,000). However, the specific effects of a proton beam travelling at the speed of light were not known.

After the initial incident the path of the beam began to burn through his brain. This continued for 2 years until the left-hand side of his face was completely paralysed. Apparently, this has had an almost botox like effect on his face. The left side of his face has been described as not having aged and being “frozen in time”, whilst the right side of his face has aged normally. Other than this, Anatoli has had surprisingly few neurological symptoms. Over the initial 12 years after the incident he had occasional petit mal seizures. More recently he has had an increased number grand mal seizures.

Anatoli continued his life after it became apparent he was not at risk of immediate death. He completed his PhD and worked as a researcher for many years  (Google Scholar lists some of his research). Not long ago he decided to make himself available to Western researchers, but he did not have the money to relocate from Protvino. He thinks he would make a brilliant research subject: “This is, in effect, an unintended test of proton warfare,” he claims. More to the point, he believes, “I am being tested. The human capacity for survival is being tested.”

Previous posts in this series:

The Man Who Could Not Forget

Musical Brain Surgery

Leborgne & Lelong