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

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.
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