Archive for June 23rd, 2011

June 23, 2011

Cyber-Homeless

net addict by Osmani Simanca

Net cafe refugees (also known as cyber-homeless) is a term for a growing class of homeless people in Japan who do not own or rent a residence and thus have no permanent address and sleep in 24 hour Internet cafés or manga cafés. Some internet cafes offer free showers and sell underwear and other personal items, enabling net cafe refugees to use the internet cafes like a hotel or hostel.

A Japanese government study estimated that over 5,400 people are spending at least half of their week staying in net cafes. It has been alleged that this phenomenon is part of an increasing wealth gap in Japan, which has historically been a very economically equal society. Another word for Net cafe refugees is Cyber-homeless, a Japanese word based on English. Typically, the cyber-homeless are unemployed or underemployed and cannot afford to rent even the cheapest apartment, which is more than the cost per month to rent an internet booth daily. The cyber-homeless may use the address of the internet cafe on resumes.

June 23, 2011

Dolly Zoom

la haine

The dolly zoom effect is an unsettling in-camera special effect that appears to undermine normal visual perception in film. In its classic form, the camera is pulled away from a subject while the lens zooms in, or vice-versa.

Thus, during the zoom, there is a continuous perspective distortion, the most directly noticeable feature being that the background appears to change size relative to the subject.

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June 23, 2011

Ken Burns Effect

ken burns effect

The Ken Burns effect is a popular name for a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production from still imagery. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns. The technique predates his use of it, but his name has become associated with the effect in much the same way as Alfred Hitchcock is associated with the Hitchcock zoom.

The name ‘The Ken Burns Effect’ was used by Apple in 2003 for a feature in its iMovie 3 software. The feature enables a widely used technique of embedding still photographs in motion pictures, displayed with slow zooming and panning effects, and fading transitions between frames.

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June 23, 2011

Pickover Stalk

biomorphs

Pickover stalks are certain kinds of details to be found empirically in the Mandelbrot set, in the study of fractal geometry. They are so named after the researcher Clifford Pickover, whose ‘epsilon cross’ method was instrumental in their discovery. An ‘epsilon cross’ is a cross-shaped orbit trap, which is a method of coloring fractal images based upon how close an iterative function, used to create the fractal, approaches a geometric shape, called a ‘trap.’ Pickover hit on the novel concept of looking to see how closely the orbits of interior points come to the x and y axes. In these pictures, the closer that the point approaches, the higher up the color scale, with red denoting the closest approach. The logarithm of the distance is taken to accentuate the details.

Biomorphs are biological-looking Pickover Stalks. At the end of the 1980s, Pickover developed biological feedback organisms similar to Julia sets and the fractal Mandelbrot set. He described an algorithm which could be used for the creation of diverse and complicated forms resembling invertebrate organisms. The shapes are complicated and difficult to predict before actually experimenting with the mappings. He hoped these techniques would encourage others to explore further and discover new forms, by accident, that are on the edge of science and art. Pickover’s biomorphs show a self-similarity at different scales and illustrate a significant feature of feedback in dynamical systems. Real systems, such as human beings and mountain ranges, also show self-similarity at different scales.

June 23, 2011

Hansa Carrier

hansa

The Hansa Carrier is a container ship. In 1990, en route from Korea to the United States, the ship encountered a storm which caused the loss of several 40-foot cargo containers south of the Alaska Peninsula. Five of these cargo containers contained 61,000 Nike shoes, all of which carried a unique serial number which later made it possible to clearly identify them as part of the spilled cargo.

The ‘Great Shoe Spill of 1990’ was one of the several occasions when shipping accidents have contributed to the knowledge of ocean currents and aided scientists and amateur researchers in their endeavours. After hearing of the accident, oceanic scientist Curtis Ebbesmeyer seized the opportunity: He established links with beachcombers and formed a network of people reporting the landfall of the contents of this and other spills.

June 23, 2011

Inverted Spectrum

qualia

Inverted spectrum is the apparent possibility of two people sharing their color vocabulary and discriminations, although the colors one sees — their qualia — are systematically different from the colors the other person sees.

The argument dates back to John Locke. It invites us to imagine that we wake up one morning, and find that for some unknown reason all the colors in the world have been inverted. Furthermore, we discover that no physical changes have occurred in our brains or bodies that would explain this phenomenon. Supporters of the existence of qualia argue that, since we can imagine this happening without contradiction, it follows that we are imagining a change in a property that determines the way things look to us, but that has no physical basis.

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June 23, 2011

Philosophical Zombie

philosophical zombie by mark hauge

A philosophical zombie or p-zombie in the philosophy of mind and perception is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except in that it lacks conscious experience, qualia, or sentience.

When a zombie is poked with a sharp object, for example, it does not feel any pain though it behaves exactly as if it does feel pain (it may say ‘ouch’ and recoil from the stimulus, or tell us that it is in intense pain).

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June 23, 2011

Helmholtz Resonator

Helmholtz

Helmholtz [helm-hohlts] resonance is the phenomenon of air resonance in a cavity, such as when one blows across the top of an empty bottle. The name comes from a device created in the 1850s by Hermann von Helmholtz, the ‘Helmholtz resonator,’ which he, the author of the classic study of acoustic science, used to identify the various frequencies or musical pitches present in music and other complex sounds.

When air is forced into a cavity, the pressure inside increases. When the external force pushing the air into the cavity is removed, the higher-pressure air inside will flow out. However, this surge of air flowing out will tend to over-compensate, due to the inertia of the air in the neck, and the cavity will be left at a pressure slightly lower than the outside, causing air to be drawn back in. This process repeats with the magnitude of the pressure changes decreasing each time.

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June 23, 2011

Sugar Substitute

truvia

splenda

A sugar substitute is a food additive that duplicates the effect of sugar in taste, usually with less food energy. Some sugar substitutes are natural and some are synthetic. Those that are not natural are, in general, called artificial sweeteners.

Animal studies have indicated that a sweet taste induces an insulin response in rats. The release of insulin causes blood sugar to be stored in tissues (including fat). In the case of a response to artificial sweeteners, because blood sugar does not increase there can be increased hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and increased food intake the next time there is a meal. Rats given sweeteners have steadily increased calorie intake, increased body weight, and increased adiposity (fatness).

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June 23, 2011

Siafu

siafu

The army ant genus Dorylus, also known as driver ants, safari ants, or siafu, is found primarily in central and east Africa, although the range also extends to tropical Asia. The term siafu is a loanword from Swahili. All Dorylus species are blind, though they, like most varieties of ants, communicate primarily through pheromones. As with their New World counterparts, there is a soldier class among the workers, which is larger, with a very large head and pincer-like mandibles. They are capable of stinging, but very rarely do so, relying instead on their powerful shearing jaws.

Such is the strength of the ant’s jaws, in East Africa they are used as natural, emergency sutures. Various East African indigenous tribal peoples (e.g. Maasai moran), when they suffer a gash in the bush, will use the soldiers to stitch the wound by getting the ants to bite on both sides of the gash, then breaking off the body. This seal can hold for days at a time, and if necessary, the procedure repeated – allowing sufficient time for natural healing to commence.

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