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6/30/12

"White Peacocks" can be beautiful in their own ways.












6/29/12

Elena Frolova - Don Solidon (Fado).mp4 Russian singer, poet and composer.

The Valley of Flowers


“High in the Himalayan ranges of Garhwal hills of Uttaranchal lies an enchanted Valley.” About 600 kilometers from Delhi, in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal can be found The Valley of Flowers, a breathtaking array of over 500 different species of wild flowers spread over an area of 87.5 km².  It is situated a height of 11,000 feet to 14,000 feet above the sea level in the Western Himalayas.

This mysterious valley was hidden from the outside world, with only locals frequenting the place. Initially, it was avoided by the shepherds who believed this magical valley to be the celestial playground of the Gods, nymphs and fairies.
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The Valley was discovered by Frank Smith, a mountaineer, botanist and an explorer who came across it quite accidentally in 1931. He was so captivated by its outstanding beauty, which was in its full bloom at the time that he wrote a book about it called “Valley of Flowers”. Thus, the Valley remained a secret no more much to the delight of nature enthusiasts all over the world.
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The Valley itself is flanked on either side by imposing peaks, capped with snow. It is divided into two sections due to the Pushpawati River which cuts through the valley. The major portion of this valley is on its right bank and is every trekker’s dream come true. The entire trek from Govindghat to the valley via Ghangharia is a feast to the eyes. The Valley of flowers changes color almost every day, as it blooms with hundreds of new different flowers along with the changing shades of the old flowers as time passes by. It has been acknowledged by botanists, mountaineers and nature lovers as one of the most picturesque high altitude valleys in the world.
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It was only in 1982 that an area of 8,950 hectares of the valley was declared a National Park. In July 2005, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is mainly due to the fact that the valley contains so much rich diversified fauna within its area especially as it is a meeting point of Zanskar, Himalayan ranges and Eastern and Western Himalayas. The importance of this beautiful valley is furthered as many endangered flower species and medicinal plants can be found here.
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From November to May, the valley is covered in a bed of snow but the flora here is well adapted to the harsh climatic conditions. The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is in the months of July and August after the snow has melted. The flowers are in full bloom during this time, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy the never ending charm of this place.

Getting a Feel for the Terrain


MARSDAILY
by Michael Schirber for Astrobiology Magazine


It's a hot summer day, and your eyes spot an ice cream cart up ahead. Without even really thinking, you start walking that direction. Planetary scientists would like to give robots that kind of visual recognition - not for getting ice cream, but for finding scientifically interesting targets. Currently, rovers and other space vehicles are still largely dependent on commands from their human controllers back on Earth.
But to decide what commands to send, operators must wait to receive images and other pertinent information from the spacecraft. Because rovers don't have powerful antennas, this so-called downlink usually takes a lot of time. The data bottleneck means rovers often "twiddle their thumbs" between subsequent commands.
"Our goal is to make smart instruments that can do more within each command cycle," says David Thompson of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Thompson is heading a project called TextureCam, which involves creating a computer vision package that can map a surface by identifying geological features. It is primarily envisioned for a rover, but it could also benefit a spacecraft visiting an asteroid or an aerobot hovering in the atmosphere of a distant world.
With funds from NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP), Thompson's team is currently refining their computer algorithm, with an eventual plan to build a prototype instrument that can map an astrobiologically-relevant field site. Roam rover, roam rover
Rovers have already made great advances in autonomy. Current prototypes can travel as much as a kilometer on their own using on-board navigation software. This allows these vehicles to cover a much larger territory.
But one concern is that a rover may literally drive over a potentially valuable piece of scientific real estate and not even realize it. Giving a rover some rudimentary visual identification capabilities could help avoid missing "the needle in the haystack," as Thompson refers to the hidden clues that astrobiologists hope to uncover on other planets.
"If the rover can make simple distinctions, we can speed up the reconnaissance," he says. As it drives along, the rover could snap several images and use on-board software to prioritize which images to downlink to Earth.
And while waiting for its next set of commands, it could pick a potentially interesting geological feature and then drive up close to take a detailed picture or even perform some simple chemical analysis. "You could start the next day with the instrument sitting in front of a prime location," Thompson says.
Instead of spending time trying to get the rover from point A to point B, mission controllers could concentrate on doing the higher level scientific investigation that the rover can't do. At least, not yet.
"The field being investigated by David Thomson is vital to cope with the flood of remote sensing data returned from spacecraft," says Anthony Cook of Aberystwyth University in the UK, who is not involved with TextureCam.
There are a other projects working on computer vision for rovers. In 2010, the Mars rover Opportunity received a software upgrade called AEGIS that can identify scientifically interesting rocks. A project in the Atacama desert in Chile used a similar rock detector system on its rover called Zoe. And ESA's ExoMars mission is developing computer vision that can detect objects in the rover's vicinity.
TextureCam is unique from these other efforts in that it is mapping the surface, rather than trying to isolate particular objects. It's a more general strategy that can identify terrain characteristics, such as weathering or fracturing. Recognizing a rock face
The new approach by Thompson's group focuses on the "texture" of an image, which is computer vision terminology for the statistical patterns that exist in an array of pixels. The same kind of image analysis is being used in more common day-to-day applications.
For example, the web is inundated with huge photo archives that haven't been sorted in any systematic way. Several companies are developing "search engines" that can identify objects in digital images. If you were looking for, say, an image with a "blue dog" or a "telephone booth," these programs could sift through a collection of photos to find those that match the particular criteria.
Additionally, many digital cameras detect faces in the camera frame and automatically adjust the focus depending on how far away the faces are. And some new video game consoles have sensors to detect the bodily pose of a game player.
What all these technologies have in common is a sophisticated analysis of image pixels. The relevant software programs typically look for signals in the variations of brightness or the shades of color that are characteristic of a telephone or a face or a rock.
These signals often have little to do with the way we might describe these objects.
"The software identifies statistical properties that might not be obvious to the human eye," Thompson says.
Let the computer do the guesswork
In the case of TextureCam, the computer program takes a small patch, or thumbnail, inside the image and performs a number of different pixel-to-pixel comparisons. Which comparisons? Actually, the computer decides.
"We train the system from examples," Thompson explains. They take images that were previously analyzed by a geologist as having an outcrop or a sediment or a rock of a particular variety. The computer program compares its pixel analysis to these labels and builds a decision tree (or a more elaborate "decision forest") that best discriminates between the different possibilities.
"These decision trees can be quite efficient even after just a few branches," Thompson says.
This so-called "machine learning" has advantages over other techniques that construct a visual model of what the computer should be looking for. "The disadvantage with visual models is that you have to build a new rule for every new thing you want to identify," Thompson says. It can be hard for humans to find reliable distinctions that can help a computer. It makes more sense to let the computer go out and explore the possibilities with trial and error.
"The system trains itself, so we don't have to anticipate," Thompson says.
The "training regimen" for TextureCam began with a set of images from Mars and is now moving onto photos from the Mojave Desert.
The team plans to integrate their algorithm into a field programmable gate array (FPGA), which is basically a special purpose computer that would connect directly to a rover camera. This would allow TextureCam to work faster, without relying on the rover's main computer. "Computers and software are not ready to take over the interpretation tasks of human geologists, but they will help to pre-sort and pre-identify regions of interest, thus reducing the amount of remote sensing data that geologists must examine," Cook says.

2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto


2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto - Front Angle Wheelsandmore reveals his sunny disposition and completes their 458-program with finest carbon elements entitled “Perfetto”. Now Wheelsandmore offers an armada of perfectly fitting and weight reducing carbon components for the Ferrari 458 Italia.
2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto - Gauges 2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto - Interior 2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto - Rear Angle For the exterior the German cartuner provides only 100% full carbon fibre parts as rear diffusor, fuel cap, rear fog lamp frames, mirrors and spoiler fins. The interior, trunk and engine compartment is refined with side panels, a custom-fit trunk tray and a final panel for the rear window trim. Even the wheelhousings and the entire under-floor can be refined by replacing the autoclave produced high-performance carbon-fibre components with a matte finish. Using all elements of the “Perfetto program” will reduce the vehicle´s weight around 30 kgs.
2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto - Rear Section Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto by Wheelsandmore 2012 - Rear Side 2012 Wheelsandmore Ferrari 458 Italia Spider Perfetto - Wheel Even with the previously offered, maximum power increasement up to 621hp, the company now offers a newly developed Carbonairbox. Many years of knowledge from the racing and motor sport gained in the realization of the larger and throughput-optimized box, which results in the new performance stage III and a significant power increase in the amount of additional 26 hp / 19 nm up to a final 647hp / 635 nm of output. This increasement is achieved by installation of manifolds, valve-controlled exhaust system, a software upgrade and the described carbon-airbox.
The „Perfetto“ creation is completed due customizable forged rims of the type 6Sporz², which are finished sizing 9.0×21″ with 245/30/21″ tires on the front and 12.5×21″ with 345/25/21“ Hankook S1Evo tires at the rear axle.

Vinyl Goes Wirelesss

Designer Kőrös Benedek noticed that 99% of today’s vinyl players were designed for DJs and were really more suitable for mixing or scratching than playing music. His response was this compact player, designed for serious music junkies. While the Golden Era is minimal, it utilizes advanced technologies like DLNA and Airplay to bridge the gap between the MP3 generation and the golden era of music.
Designer: Kőrös Benedek


Eye Candy Camera

I love the Iris concept camera for its utilitarian functionality and simplicity. The camera works at the command of your blinks, yes and its so amazing. Its almost as if you gaze into a crystal ball and capture moments that you think are precious and then share it with the world. The concept uses biometric technology to identify people by recognizing their unique iris signatures. Once it identifies the iris, it automatically uploads that users preferred setting. It even recognizes subjects using the same technology and even tags them.
The camera is capable of storing user info like aperture, ISO and screen display. The beautiful video below goes on to explain how you can gesture control the photography process by simply using your eyes. It looks to be as natural as us taking to the computer mouse as our virtual hand onscreen.
Features:
  • Zoom in or out by narrowing or widening you eyes.
  • To take a photo, hold your gaze and double blink.
  • Once a photograph is clicked, biometric technology activates to recognize the subject’s iris and can tag them.
  • Photographers and subjects have to register their biometric information to access these features.
  • The camera works for both stills and moving images.
  • It uploads files via WiFi or can store them on an SD card.
Designer: Mimi Zou




The beauty of pollination

6/28/12

The population of the planet weighs 287 million tonnes


The population of the planet weighs 287 million tonnes
How much weigh humanity? We know how much weighs the planet, the globe, but how much weigh the human beings who populate the Earth? In total, 287 million tonnes. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (United Kingdom) have done the calculation.
The results of his work, which publishes the journal BMC Public Health, indicate that the total weight of the world’s population is of 287 million tonnes. Thus, the average weight of adults inhabiting the planet is 62 kilos.
In the words of one of the authors of the study, Professor Ian Roberts, to the BBC, “increasingly are more fat.” The expert says that in view of the data is necessary to address the growth of the world’s population because, in his view, it poses a threat to food security and the environment.


6/24/12

The Deadliest Creatures (Most Easy to Miss)


The deadliest (and easy to miss) critters lurk in dark silence, ready to strike with either the barest of warnings or none at all - and with absolutely fatal venom.

1. The Cone Snail: can kill you in less than 4 minutes

Say, for instance, you happen to be happily walking through the low surf merrily picking up and discarding shells, looking for just the right one to decorate your desk back at the office.

With no warning at all, however, you feel a sharp sting from one of those pretty shells -- a sting that quickly flares into a crawling agony. With that quick sting, the cone snail's barbed spear has insidiously injected you with one of the most potent neurotoxins in existence.


(image credit: Richard Ling)


(image credit: Kerry Matz)

2. Poison Arrow Frog: Lethal Touch


(image credit: mofmann)

That frog over there, for instance: that tiny, brilliantly colored tree frog. Doesn't he look like some kind of Faberge ornament, there against that vermilion leaf? Wouldn't such a natural jewel look just gorgeous in a terrarium back home?


(image credit: Edward Noble)

Pick him and you'll be dead in a matter of minutes. One second frolicking in the undergrowth, the next spasming and foaming on the jungle floor. No stinger, no bite, no venom: just the shimmering slime covering his brilliant body.

(image credit: Adrian Pingstone)

"They are the only animal in the world known to be able to kill a human by touch alone. They can jump as far as 2 inches."

 3. The lazy clown of the insect world.


(image credit: Diego Gonçalves)

The adult moth is just a moth, but the hairs of the caterpillar are juicy with nasty stuff, so nasty that dozens of people die every year from just touching them. By the way, it’s not a good way to go, either: their venom is a extremely powerful anticoagulant, death happening as the blood itself breaks down. Not fun. Very not fun.


(image credit: Ronai Rocha)

4. Beaked Sea Snake

Another creature of nightmares that doesn’t come with a theme song is a strange import to the world aquatica. When you think snake you usually think of dry land. But if you go paddling around the Persian Gulf (or coastal islands of India) keep a wary eye out for the gently undulating wave of Enhydrina Schistosa.


(image credit: insatiable dreams)


(image credit: Kozy & Dan Kitchens)

5. Stone Fish waits for you to step on it

But it’s not time to leave the sea quite yet. There are two nasty things in the blue depths you should spend many a sleepless night frightened of. For the big one you’ll have to wait a bit, for the one right below it in terrifying lethality you just have to watch your step when you’re walking along the bottom of the ocean.


(image credit: island life)

(image credit: Letho)

6. Box Jellyfish should really be called the "coffin" jellyfish

Chironex fleckeri: a tiny jellyfish found off the coast of Australia and southeastern Asia. Only about sixteen inches long, it has four eye-clusters with twenty-four eyes, its tentacles carry thousands of nematocysts, microscopic stingers activated not by ill-will but by a simple brush against shell, or skin. Do this and they fire, injecting anyone and anything with the most powerful neurotoxin known.


(image credit: Zoltan Takacs)

As you can see on the top left of the image below, it's pretty hard to notice Chironex Fleckeri in the wild:


(image credit: reefed)