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Archive for 'Research News'

Stretched faces remarkably easy to recognize [study]

Monday, October 18th, 2021

It can be difficult to recognize someone from a photo of their face if it’s turned upside-down, or presented as a negative. But what if the photos are distorted – fairground-mirror style? Or deliberately blurred?

To find out, Dr Graham Hole and colleagues at the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex, UK, performed a set of experiments.

Finding (amongst other things) that :

Global linear transformations seem to affect recognition remarkably little, considering the extent to which they distort the spatial relationships within a face, which are presumed to be critical for recognition. Recognition was impaired, however, when vertical stretching was applied nonglobally (ie to only half of the face).

See: Effects of Geometric Distortions on Face-Recognition Performance, Volume: 31, issue: 10, pages 1221-1240. (A full copy of which may be found here)

Data poetry: Ode to The General Index

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

In this six-minute-long impassioned video, Carl Malamud draws on his considerable poetical and performance skills to introduce The General Index:

What is The General Index, and how can it benefit you? The answer, some of it in the form of questions, is in the video.

Here, to whet your appetite for viewing the video, are some passionate phrases from it, and from the documentation about it:

Topics—Access to Knowledge, Text and Data Mining, Temples of Knowledge, General Index
Language—Science is our universal language.

Public Resource, a registered nonprofit organization based in California, has created a General Index to scientific journals. The General Index consists of a listing of n-grams, from unigrams to five-grams, extracted from 107 million journal articles.

The General Index is non-consumptive, in that the underlying articles are not released, and it is transformative in that the release consists of the extraction of facts that are derived from that underlying corpus. The General Index is available for free download with no restrictions on use. This is an initial release, and the hope is to improve the quality of text extraction, broaden the scope of the underlying corpus, provide more sophisticated metrics associated with terms, and other enhancements.

Access to the full corpus of scholarly journals is an essential facility to the practice of science in our modern world. The General Index is an invaluable utility for researchers who wish to search for articles about plants, chemicals, genes, proteins, materials, geographical locations, and other entities of interest. The General Index allows scholars and students all over the world to perform specialized and customized searches within the scope of their disciplines and research over the full corpus.

Access to knowledge is a human right and the increase and diffusion of knowledge depends on our ability to stand on the shoulders of giants.



Headline writing is for the birds?

Tuesday, October 12th, 2021

Ambiguity comes easily when one writes headlines, sometimes. Here’s an example:

An inexpensive, 3D‐printable breast muscle meter for field ornithologists,” Luke L. Powell, Adam Metallo, Crinan Jarrett, Nathan W. Cooper, Peter P. Marra, Scott R. McWilliams, Ulf Bauchinger, and Bryant C. Dossman, Journal of Field Ornithology, vol. 92, no. 1, March 1, 2021, pp. 67-76. (Thanks to Walter Berry for bringing this to our attention.)

The special Ducks issue of the Improbable magazine

Friday, October 8th, 2021

The special Ducks issue (volume 27, number 4) of the magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, has flown its way to subscribers. This special issue, like many other special issues of the magazine, is also available for purchase. All the issues are in the form of downloadable PDFs.

Are you a Duck?

Unless you yourself are a duck, and an unusual duck at that, you are likely to discover many surprising things about ducks, if you read the issue, an activity which, the educational system being what it is in 2021, is probably more likely if you are not a duck than if you are a duck. The previous sentence was a long, multi-part sentence.

Research About Ducks

The special Ducks issue includes these articles about duck research (and includes many other articles, about research about other things):

Uranium for Ducks, Please
Ducks and Walking
Steaming and Dabbling
Ducks and Water
May We Recommend: Duck Death by Spaghetti
The Turducken Experiment
Duck or Not Duck?
Ducks’ Body Parts
Duck Droppings

Walk Like a Duck?

The special Ducks issue begins, as some of our issues do, with an article called “Ways to Use This Magazine“. One of those ways is to write a limerick about one of the cited studies. To get you started, the article assaults you with this limerick about the study “Higher Heritabilities for Gait Components than for Overall Gait Scores May Improve Mobility in Ducks,” which is featured in the magazine:


A Boost for Recycling USED Disposable Diapers

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

The future is increasingly shiny for used disposable diapers, suggests this November 5, 2020 press release from the Nippon Shokubai company of Fukuoka, Japan. It says:

“The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) [is] aiming to establish a guideline for the acceptance of used disposable diapers into the sewage system based on the New Sewerage Vision Acceleration Strategy. Recycling of used disposable diapers, the amount of which continues to increase, is thus expected to be promoted.”

(Thanks to Ryoma Komiyama for bringing this to our attention.)

Improbable Research