Archive for November 16th, 2008

CSI: History

Sometimes, a grassy knoll is just a grassy knoll:

A team of experts assembled by the Discovery Channel has recreated the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Using modern blood spatter analysis, new artificial human body surrogates, and 3-D computer simulations, the team determined that the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository was the most likely origin of the shot that killed the 35th president of the United States.

(…)

A mock-up of the Dallas, Texas crime scene was set up, including the depository, the “grassy knoll,” and other nearby landmarks. Artificial surrogates of Kennedy were placed in a car. Sharpshooters then shot the surrogates from the model depository, the grassy knoll, and four other plausible locations.

Schliebe, along with Tom Bevel, an independent expert forensic investigator, were brought in to examine the simulated crime scene. Both scientists had no idea what the experiment was for or that it was a reenactment of the JFK assassination.

The two experts found a simulated gunshot would to the head that closely matched the wound Kennedy suffered. Most of the simulated body material had spattered forward into the car, consistent with a shot that entered the back of the head and exited toward the front. There was some back-spatter — material that flew back in the opposite direction of the bullet’s trajectory — but not much.

The general lack of back spatter and the preponderance of spatter in another direction are two of the clues, among others, that the investigators used to pinpoint the origin of the shots.

“After Tom and I looked at the scene, we pointed up and back away from the vehicle,” said Schliebe. “Apparently that lined up perfectly with where the sharpshooter had hit the model head.”

(…)

The team used some of the most advanced artificial human heads in the world for the ballistic tests. Made from a proprietary mixture by Australia-based Adelaide T&E Systems, the heads have three different materials which simulate the brain, skull and external soft tissue (skin) — that together respond to the trauma the same way a human head would.

The simulated brain material was made from a pig-skin-derived gelatin, dyed green. The skull surrogate is made from a special vinyl ester resin filled with calcium and proprietary fibers. The artificial skin uses a polyurethane and plasticizers to mimic human skin’s physical properties. The head was even custom-fitted, based on Kennedy’s hat size.

(…)

“We might never know if Oswald pulled the trigger, but when you look at the wind pattern, the spread of the debris, the angles and distances involved, it’s consistent with a shot from the sixth floor depository,” said Martin.

…Or maybe that’s just what they want us to think.

1 comment November 16th, 2008 at 07:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

Still More Random Philly Photoblogging

Once again, I’m too cheap to have a theme…

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November 16th, 2008 at 06:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

You Will Be Assimilated.

Not that I would ever try to do this…

A one-eyed San Francisco artist wants to replace her missing eye with a Web cam – and tech experts say it’s possible.

“I’d always given thought to using cameras to restore sight to the blind,” said Dr. William Danz, whose patient, Tanya Vlach, wants the groundbreaking device. “This is a little different, more like James Bond stuff.”

Vlach, who lost her eye in a 2005 car accident, wears a realistic acrylic prosthesis, but she’s issued a challenge to engineers on her blog: build an “eye cam” for her prosthesis that can dilate with changes of light and allow her to blink to control its zoom, focus, and on/off switch.

“There have been all sorts of cyborgs in science fiction for a long time, and I’m sort of a sci-fi geek,” said Vlach, 35. “With the advancement of technology, I thought, ‘Why not?'”

The eye cam could allow her to record her entire life or even shoot a reality TV show from her eye’s perspective. Vlach said she will let inspiration strike once she has the device.

“There are a lot of ideas floating around…nothing too exploitative,” said Vlach. “I don’t want to be a spy and infringe on people’s rights, and at the same time, there are amazing possibilities.”

(…)

“It is possible to build a wireless camera with the dimensions of the eyeball,” said [Roy] Want, a senior principal engineer at Intel. “You can find spy cams or nanny cams designed to fit into inconspicuous places in the home.”

Want said the camera, which would be encased in Vlach’s prosthesis to avoid moisture, could link wirelessly to a smart phone.

The smart phone could send power to the camera wirelessly and relay the camera’s video feed by cell phone network to another person, a TV studio or a computer.

In a world where eye cams are common, they might serve as a kind of computerized backup to people’s memories, Want said.

“You’d never need to forget anything again,” he said. “You’d never lose anything. You could ask it, ‘Where was the last time I saw my keys?'”

Pretty cool, but my standards are a little more… exacting:

I would like to add the following to my happy fantasy dream world: A professional-quality 20-megapixel thought-controlled eye camera, with a zoom lens that can instantly go from ultra-wide fisheye to ultrasupermegazoom (so much for wearing glasses). Also, it would have to be wireless so I wouldn’t have to stick USB cables up my nose.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

November 16th, 2008 at 02:52pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Technology,Weirdness

Cavett Vs. Palin

It is just so much fun to watch Dick Cavett take someone apart in that genteel, musing, half-baffled way of his…

What will ambitious politicos learn from this? That frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits?

And how much more of all that lies in our future if God points her to those open-a-crack doors she refers to? The ones she resolves to splinter and bulldoze her way through upon glimpsing the opportunities, revealed from on high.

What on earth are our underpaid teachers, laboring in the vineyards of education, supposed to tell students about the following sentence, committed by the serial syntax-killer from Wasilla High and gleaned by my colleague Maureen Dowd for preservation for those who ask, “How was it she talked?”

My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.

And, she concluded, “never, ever did I talk about, well, gee, is it a country or a continent, I just don’t know about this issue.”

It’s admittedly a rare gift to produce a paragraph in which whole clumps of words could be removed without noticeably affecting the sense, if any.

(…)

Matt Lauer asked her about her daughter’s pregnancy and what went into the decision about how to handle it. Her “answer” did not contain the words “daughter,” “pregnancy,” “what to do about it” or, in fact, any two consecutive words related to Lauer’s query.

….If it happens again, Matt, I bequeath you what I heard myself say once to an elusive guest who stiffed me that way: “Were you able to hear any part of my question?”

At the risk of offending, well, you, for example, I worry about just what it is her hollering fans see in her that makes her the ideal choice to deal with the world’s problems: collapsed economies, global warming, hostile enemies and our current and far-flung twin battlefronts, either of which may prove to be the world’s second “30 Years’ War.”

(…)

A woman in one of Palin’s crowds praised her for being “a mom like me … who thinks the way I do” and added, for ill measure, “That’s what I want in the White House.” Fine, but in what capacity?

Do this lady’s like-minded folk wonder how, say, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, et al (add your own favorites) managed so well without being soccer moms? Without being whizzes in the kitchen, whipping up moose soufflés? Without executing and wounding wolves from the air and without promoting that sad, threadbare hoax — sexual abstinence — as the answer to the sizzling loins of the young?

(In passing, has anyone observed that hunting animals with high-powered guns could only be defined as sport if both sides were equally armed?)

(…)

Could the willingness to crown one who seems to have no first language have anything to do with the oft-lamented fact that we seem to be alone among nations in having made the word “intellectual” an insult?

I can’t really add anything to that, other than to share Dick Cavett’s amazement that Stupid has become the new Smart, and Smart the new Stupid.  I mean, it’s not like Stupid has a very good track record.

4 comments November 16th, 2008 at 11:58am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Palin


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