Infographic Highlights the Issues That Cost Countries the Most Money_

What’s costing your country the most money? A graphic recently published by The Washington Post’s “Know More” blog attempts to quantify the total economic cost of different human-created social burdens like alcoholism, air pollution, workplace risks, and more. The numbers rank the fiscal impact on a scale of one to 14, with a lower number indicating a higher financial strain. This chart was drawn from a recent report about combating obesity by consultancy McKinsey & Company, and it includes data from the World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease database.

The graphic is an eye-opening look at what issues have different-yet-considerable effects around the world. In the United States, armed conflict requires the most capital while obesity ranks second. Japan, in contrast, has significant problems with smoking and literacy, and China spends a lot of money trying to combat outdoor air pollution.

Though this chart displays some undeniably discouraging facts, its data highlights the areas that need work. You could look at this graphic and think about how to improve policies, develop social innovations, or volunteer your time to worthwhile causes. It’s an opportunity to learn and make the world a better place to live.

(Link)

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Samsung’s Eye Mouse Lets the Disabled Use Computers More Easily_

Using a computer can be difficult or even impossible for some people with disabilities. Now, Samsung’s eye-tracking technology allows people who would struggle to use a mouse to navigate their computer with relative ease.

Developed by a team of Samsung engineers, it builds on previous technology called EYECAN, which required the user to wear glasses in order to interact with a computer. The update, called EYECAN+, allows the user to simply point with a look and then click with a deliberate blink. In demonstrations, users are able to type, as well as performing drag-and-stop commands — meaning that, yes, they can play Angry Birds. Praise be.

It’s not first example of eye-tracking for use in controlling tech, nor necessarily the best — but it is perhaps one of the most compelling. Why? Well, Samsung isn’t commercialising the device: instead it has plans to make the design freely available so that other companies can use it in an open source agreement, to help people around the world. The hope is that a device could cost as little as £100, making it a very affordable prospect compared to other computing solutions for those with disabilities.

(Link)

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Computer Simulated Hummingbird_

A study to understand the controlled flight of a hummingbird discovered that the physics are similar to insects – via Nerdist:

The team who simulated the wing beats of the birds — a pair of mechanical engineers from Vanderbilt University and a biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — first needed data. So they placed nine dabs of non-toxic paint on a female ruby-throated hummingbird’s wing and tracked their motion as the bird hovered with four cameras running at 1,00 frames per second.

Then the team produced the most detailed simulation to date of hummingbird flight. Using super-computers at the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and Vanderbilt’s Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education, they simulated the thousands of tiny vortices in the air around the hummingbird’s wing to find out how it was keeping itself in the air. The result is mesmerizing, and informative.

… This lift-generating upstroke is why the hummingbird flies more like an insect. Many larger birds only use a downstroke to generate lift. On the upstroke they retract their wings to minimize drag. Dragonflies and other insects that hover, dart from place to place, and annoyingly dodge your hands use the same technique as the hummingbird. And though the hummingbirds are typically larger than these insects, the birds are able to keep their upstrokes surprisingly efficient — hummingbird upstrokes produce 30 percent less lift but use 30 percent less energy, making it as efficient as the downstroke, the team estimates.

(Link)

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Kurt Cobain Authorized Documentary ‘Montage of Heck’ Coming to HBO_

HBO has announced that filmmaker Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck will premiere on the premium cable channel next year. Though Montage of Heck is the latest in a long line of Nirvana/Cobain films—most notably, AJ Schnack and Michael Azerrad’s About a Son—the film is being billed as the first “fully authorized” one. It was made with participation from Kurt Cobain’s family. In fact, Frances Bean Cobain, Cobain’s daughter with Courtney Love, is attached as executive producer. (There is no mention of Love in the press release, however.)
Montage of Heck takes its name from a mixtape Cobain made in the late 80s. The documentary features “dozens of Nirvana songs and performances as well as perviously unheard Cobain originals,” according to a press release, in addition to “no-holds-barred access to Kurt Cobain’s archives, home to his never-before-seen home movies, recordings, artwork, photography, journals, demos, personal archives, family archives and songbooks.”

In the press release, Morgen said:

I started work on this project eight years ago. Like most people, when I started, I figured there would be limited amounts of fresh material to unearth. However, once I stepped into Kurt’s archive, I discovered over 200 hours of unreleased music and audio, a vast array of art projects (oil paintings, sculptures), countless hours of never-before-seen home movies, and over 4000 pages of writings that together help paint an intimate portrait of an artist who rarely revealed himself to the media.

HBO currently airs the miniseries Sonic Highways, directed by Cobain’s former bandmate Dave Grohl.

(Link)

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Astronauts Levitate Molten Orb Of Metal In Space_

fireball

Aboard the International Space Station, scientists have an electromagnetic levitator that lets them suspend a sphere of liquid metal in place. Why? To observe how it cools when it’s free of a container or constraints like the strong gravity on Earth.

It also means that, in space, the scientists might be able to unlock ancient steelmaking techniques that have eluded humans since antiquity. One of these, Damascus steel, has intrigued Popular Science readers since at least the 1930s, through the 1990s, and well into this century. If molten metal in space can replicate ancient Damascus blades, it may give humans insight into rediscovering how to do it again on Earth.

(Link)

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North Korea: Ferguson was a ‘disgrace’ and the United States are now ‘laughingstock of the world’_

jongun

The shooting of Michael Brown and subsequent standoff between protesters and police in Ferguson made headlines around the world, with allies treating it like a war-zone and despots using it to voice their considerable schadenfreude about America’s place in the world.

North Korea, however, had remained silent on the subject – until today.

In an article titled “DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman Terms U.S. Human Rights Abuser,” North Korea state news agency KCNA has taken the U.S. to task for the problems that led to Ferguson and the police response to it. Here’s how KCNA describes the case:

Some days ago, a black teenager was shot to death by a white policeman in Ferguson City, Missouri State, the U.S. and police ruthlessly cracked down on protesters, leveling their rifles at them and firing tear gas and smoke shells. Against this backdrop, there occurred a shuddering incident in another city in which a policeman shot another young black man to death.

The U.S. is, indeed, a country wantonly violating the human rights where people are subject to discrimination and humiliation due to their races and they are seized with such horror that they do not know when they are shot to death.

After the initial criticism of the Ferguson situation, KCNA pulls back to a make a broader point about the United States: You have your own human rights problems, so stop criticizing us. The U.S. has “suffered disgrace” from Ferguson, KCNA says, and become a “a laughing stock of the world.”

KCNA writes:

The U.S. had better honestly accept the unanimous accusations of the broad international community and mind its own business, instead of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
It’s a damning statement, but not an entirely unique one: China, for instance, made similar comments regarding the U.S. in an editorial published by state news agency Xinhua.

Nor is it unexpected. In February, a United Nations report on human rights in North Korea concluded that the country was committing human rights violations “without any parallel in the contemporary world.” Months later (as with the Ferguson coverage, there was a significant lag), KCNA released its own list of “human rights abuses” by the United States.

Many of those abuses listed by KCNA also dealt with U.S. race issues. For example, it clearly referred to the 2013 death of Trayvon Martin, though the details appeared to be slightly off:

The U.S. true colors as a kingdom of racial discrimination was fully revealed by last year’s case that the Florida Court gave a verdict of not guilty to a white policeman who shot to death an innocent black boy.
Other critiques were more broad:

The U.S. is a living hell as elementary rights to existence are ruthlessly violated.

Of course, this all seems like a big case of “whataboutism” – an appeal to hypocrisy designed to undercut a critic’s argument by pointing out that they have too done things they should be criticized for. It’s a “Tu quoque” or “you, too” argument, and ultimately a logical fallacy, designed not to address the criticism but distract from it. Pointing to Ferguson clearly doesn’t negate the allegations about North Korea’s notorious political prison system, for example.

Still, that doesn’t mean that the criticisms of America’s human rights record are without merit. This may be one rare instance where many people in the U.S. actually agree with North Korea.

(Link)

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Figure Sculpt-Timelapse_

3D sculpture demonstration from kutaycengil highlights the aesthetics of organic modelling of ZBrush without interface layouts.

(Link)

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Production Design | The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)_

“One thing that helped was that everybody knew what we meant to do. We hired just enough people, and we did it. I worked with Eric, my brother, before we started the movie, and he drew everything for the house. We had everything kind of done, and I gave the work to David Wasco and Sandy Wasco, the production designers, and they knew — they had a lot of information that wasn’t just my notes; they had pictures of all these things. Eric did very good pictures.” – Director Wes Anderson

(Link)

production design | The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

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Colorful Abstract Illustrations Animated in Mesmerizing Loops_

Colorful abstract illustrations transform and evolve in endless loops in the mesmerizing and beautiful animations of artist Drew Tyndell. Tyndell bases the animations on his abstract wood paintings. Each animation is created in Photoshop (the first of the series, however, was painted by hand.)

(Link)

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Psychedelic Paint and Poured Resin Artworks by Bruce Riley_

Chicago-based artist Bruce Riley fills canvases with abstract organic forms made from layer after layer of dripped paint and poured resin. While looking at images of his work online, it’s difficult to grasp the depth and scale of each piece which can be penetrated by light from multiple angles, casting shadows deep into the artwork. Riley works using a number of experimental techniques, frequently incorporating mistakes and unexpected occurrences into the thick paintings that appear almost sculptural in nature. Filmmaker Jason Stanfield recently stopped by Riley’s studio and shot this brief studio visit.

(Link)

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