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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Mallon

“There is one thing which gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner”*…

 

around corners

 

While vacationing on the coast of Spain in 2012, the computer vision scientist Antonio Torralba noticed stray shadows on the wall of his hotel room that didn’t seem to have been cast by anything. Torralba eventually realized that the discolored patches of wall weren’t shadows at all, but rather a faint, upside-down image of the patio outside his window. The window was acting as a pinhole camera — the simplest kind of camera, in which light rays pass through a small opening and form an inverted image on the other side. The resulting image was barely perceptible on the light-drenched wall. But it struck Torralba that the world is suffused with visual information that our eyes fail to see.

“These images are hidden to us,” he said, “but they are all around us, all the time.”

The experience alerted him and his colleague, Bill Freeman, both professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to the ubiquity of “accidental cameras,” as they call them: windows, corners, houseplants and other common objects that create subtle images of their surroundings. These images, as much as 1,000 times dimmer than everything else, are typically invisible to the naked eye. “We figured out ways to pull out those images and make them visible,” Freeman explained.

The pair discovered just how much visual information is hiding in plain sight. In their first paper, Freeman and Torralba showed that the changing light on the wall of a room, filmed with nothing fancier than an iPhone, can be processed to reveal the scene outside the window. Last fall, they and their collaborators reported that they can spot someone moving on the other side of a corner by filming the ground near the corner. This summer, they demonstrated that they can film a houseplant and then reconstruct a three-dimensional image of the rest of the room from the disparate shadows cast by the plant’s leaves. Or they can turn the leaves into a “visual microphone,” magnifying their vibrations to listen to what’s being said…

Computer vision researchers have uncovered a world of visual signals hiding in our midst, including subtle motions that betray what’s being said and faint images of what’s around a corner: “The New Science of Seeing Around Corners.”

* G. K. Chesterton

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As we crane our necks, we might send infectious birthday greetings to Mary Mallon; she was born on this date in 1869.  Better known by the nickname given her by the press, “Typhoid Mary,” she was the first person in the United States identified (in 1915) as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever… before which, she inadvertently spread typhus for years while working as a cook in the New York area.  From 1915 to 1938, when she died of s stroke, she was quarantined on North Brother Island (in the East River, between Riker’s Island and the Bronx).

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Written by LW

September 23, 2018 at 1:01 am

“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men”*…

 

In 2015, more than 1.5 million people were killed by animals. That’s a startling figure. To put it in perspective, that’s about the same number of people who died from HIV/AIDS or diabetes last year.

Some of the culprits are the usual suspects of the animal kingdom. Lions, for instance, with their incredible ability to stalk prey, are responsible for the deaths of about 100 people. Hippos, very territorial, are more dangerous, claiming about 500 lives. Crocodiles are even more deadly, killing 1,000 people.

But take a look at this interactive chart [a portion of which is excerpted above] and you might be surprised to learn that the heavyweights of the animal kingdom do the least damage. Pound for pound, a shark isn’t that scary compared with many smaller creatures on the list…

The relative numbers of people killed by different animals:  Bill Gates explains “Why I’d Rather Cuddle with a Shark than a Kissing Bug.”

* Alice Walker

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As we slather on the DEET, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Mary Mallon– “Typhoid Mary”– died of a stroke on North Brother Island, where she he had been quarantined since 1915.  She was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever… before which, she inadvertently spread typhus for years while working as a cook in the New York area.

source

Written by LW

November 11, 2016 at 1:01 am

The Joys of Knowing History, Illustrated…

 

from “Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse at the Circus” (click here to view)

Animated drawings were introduced to film a full decade after George Méliès had demonstrated in 1896 that objects could be set in motion through single-frame exposures. J. Stuart Blackton’s 1906 animated chalk experiment Humorous Phases of Funny Faces was followed by the imaginative works of Winsor McCay, who made between four thousand and ten thousand separate line drawings for each of his three one-reel films released between 1911 and 1914. Only in the half-dozen years after 1914, with the technical simplifications (and patent wars) involving tracing, printing, and celluloid sheets, did animated cartoons become a thriving commercial enterprise. This period–upon which this collection concentrates–brought assembly-line standardization but also some surprisingly surreal wit to American animation. The twenty-one films (and two Winsor McCay fragments) in this collection, all from the Library of Congress holdings, include clay, puppet, and cut-out animation as well as pen drawings. Beyond their artistic interest, these tiny, often satiric, films tell much about the social fabric of World War I-era America.

See these and other important– and enormously entertaining– animated films from 1900-1921 at the Library of Congress’ “Origins of American Animation“– Krazy Kat, Keeping Up With the Joneses, The Katzenjammer Kids, and more than a dozen other joys (that don’t start with “K”).

 

As we debate whether Windsor McCay or George Herriman was the greater genius, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Mary Mallon– “Typhoid Mary”– died of a stroke on North Brother Island, where she he had been quarantined since 1915.  She was the first person in the United States identified as an asymptomatic carrier of the pathogen associated with typhoid fever… before which, she inadvertently spread typhus for years while working as a cook in the New York area.

source

 

 

Written by LW

November 11, 2011 at 1:01 am

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