Saturday, 22 December 2007

Counting Chimps

It has been known for a while that chimps are more evolved than humans - well, their genome has changed more than ours since our common ancestor - but recent studies have shown that chimps have outstanding numeracy abilities that outstrip our own in some cases.

Sponsor for this week's show - GotoMeeting: Try GotoMeeting free for 30 days! For this special offer, visit www.gotomeeting.com/techpodcast.

This week in the last Mr Science Show for 2007, we take a look at these special chimp abilities. Listen to the show here.

You can find more info on Plus and if you are not convinced, take a look at these videos:



Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Let's have a ramble about quantum physics

Sponsor for this week's show - GotoMeeting: Try GotoMeeting free for 30 days! For this special offer, visit www.gotomeeting.com/techpodcast.

Quantum Physics is a confusing topic for many. One person who makes a living out of understanding and explaining it is Professor Tony Sudbery.

I spoke to Professor Sudbery at the York Science Festival about all things quantum and his talk at the Festival entitled Alice and Bob in the Quantum Wonderland. Frankly, I was baffled by much of this conversation, although it was a thoroughly enjoyable chat!

You can listen to this show here

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Changing the Face of Science

One of my favourite sites on the web is called Face of the Future.

Face of the Future is an EPSRC funded public engagement project aimed at exploring the latest advances in facial computer vision and graphics, and what they mean for society. The project has developed a number of standalone interactive exhibits, online demos and a lecture presentation aimed at engaging the public with the technology and the social implications of the technology.

The face transformer is a very cool little applet that can change your face so that it looks older, younger, like a different ethnic group or into a particular art style.

The concept behind it is fairly simple, although I'm sure it's quite difficult to implement. People of different ages and races have slightly different facial features. The team behind the face transformer has collected this information and created "average faces" for the different groups of people. When you upload a photo of yourself, you tell the program where your eyes and mouth are, and it morphs your face towards the average face of the group into which you are transforming. Your skin colour, eye shape, hair line and general facial shape will change depending on what you are morphing into.

Here is me at the start of the process - a very cheesy Movember shot, as Afro-Caribbean, as an older gentleman (hi Dad, spot the family resemblance!), a chimp, a child (with a bit too much facial hair), a Modigliani painting, a Bottelcelli and an East Asian.

More photos can be found on my photo site here