‘Unique and Perfect’

first_imgIt might be over now but it was definitely a weekend Christmas Extravaganza, with spectacular performances that touched the soul of the audience, making it difficult for anyone in the full-house auditorium to hold back their excitement.The crowd described the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) Choir’s live performance as “unique and perfect.”Though the choir did not sing their own songs, they had great chemistry performing traditional Christmas songs. “The kind of performance that the choir displayed here proved that the university has a great extracurricular activity program. It is the best we have ever seen since this program was initiated a few months ago,” a member of the audience told Lib Life.“This is a turning point in the university’s activities and we hope that more investments will be made to improve it in some areas.”Also performing a drama entitled “Paradise Lost,” the Anyenkon (AMEU Dance and Drama Troupe) never utter a word throughout the performance, but their silence spoke volumes, and was epic.The drama opened with five actors on stage in a state of bliss. Their leaders seemed kind and generous. Food is plentiful and children laugh and play. But eventually their leaders became corrupt with greed and sold them into slavery.As the plot thickened, the slaves are treated with unspeakable cruelty. But they never forgot about returning home one day.The slaves were eventually freed by their slave master. They embraced each other in silence, fighting to hold back their emotions.The former slaves returned home and forgetting their past treatment under bondage, they forcefully established dominance over their own people, and at last conflict escalated until everything was destroyed. In the end, they came together to rebuild.Paradise Lost ends as the people pledged to never allow greed to make them carry out such wanton acts of destruction against each other. In a nutshell, Paradise Lost is the story of Liberia.“I am elated by the wonderful response that our Christmas Extravaganza received. I hope this will become an annual event. There is so much talent in Liberia and within the AMEU student population in particular,” said Dr. Dawn Barnes, Associate Vice President for Academic Support Services at the university said.“We hope to explore these talents and showcase them at cultural events throughout the year. Our community, too, has said that they look forward to having occasions like these to relax and enjoy the spirit of the holiday. Music, dance and live drama are universal. I am honored to serve as a facilitator for this service to our students and our community.”Dr. Barnes also said that art and culture, like sports, are aspects of lives that unite and bring people together to laugh, share fun and jointly celebrate humanity. “As an institution of higher education, it is part of our mandate to enrich the lives of the community,” she added.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

NTAL’s Response to Min. Werner Comments on “Partnership Schools…

first_imgHis Excellency Honorable Education Minister George K. Werner in his “Partnership Schools for Liberia: Building a Better Future for our Children” attempts to make the case that outsourcing the education system of Liberia to private actors will produce better outcomes for especially the poorest children. Liberia’s plan is to outsource all primary and pre-primary schools over the next five years. It is a deeply unsettling policy that Minister Werner proposes. Outsourcing education would have consequences for future generations of children, parents, educators and society as a whole. Therefore, it is imperative and a matter of public accountability to be mindful of the potential effects of such a policy and examine the evidence from elsewhere. Minister Werner asserts that the new policy, to be launched in September this year, aims to bring lessons to Liberia from South Africa, Kenya, the US and UK.Unfortunately, Minister Werner has got it wrong. It is unclear what Liberia could be learning from those lessons, except how not to design a policy with the objective of providing quality education for all students. The recent critique from Kishore Singh, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, is completely justified. Abandoning one of the core functions of the state to the commercial benefit of a private company violates Liberia’s legal and moral obligations, including international obligations under the right to education and the fourth UN Sustainable Development Goal. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion; however, everyone is not entitled to his or her own facts. The facts are that there is no evidence whatsoever from anywhere in the world to support the claim that outsourcing education would be in the interests of our children. Indeed the poorest children would be worse off. Minister Werner writes that the first inspiration for the policy came from New Orleans, in Louisiana, USA, and the non-government charter school system installed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In particular, the Minister argues that the poorest children have benefited most. However, the facts about the New Orleans experiment are quite clear. It failed.Research by the renowned Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education found thatunder the charter model, the organization of schools in New Orleans is highly stratified. Schools sort students by race, income, and special education status, with the most advantaged students at the top tiers and the least advantaged at the bottom tiers. This takeover of the system without public dialogue or consent, combined with the resulting high levels of stratification currently in place, illustrate that turning a school system over to non-governmental or private actors has not, in the case of New Orleans, helped students.Furthermore, the experience from Sweden, one of the global reference countries for private sector involvement, also offers several lessons for the Liberian government about what not to do. As part of a decentralization overhaul of the education system, school provision in privately run for-profit “free schools” was introduced in 1992. In recent years, the effects of that policy have become clear with increased educational inequality, variation of academic performance, social and cultural segregation. It took several scandals, including the collapse of a prominent provider, related to the short-term time horizon of private education suppliers, (many of which are owned by private equity firms), and a slide in PISA results, before Swedish government realized that it had no choice but to reverse its course and abolish the profit motive.So, why is it that the purveyors of these types of governance reforms advocate a losing formula? Kishore Singh, the UN Special Rapporteur points out that it is ironic that Liberia does not have resources to meet its core obligations to provide a free education to every child, but the government can find huge sums of money to subcontract private actors to do so on its behalf.Minister Werner concludes his argument for outsourcing education by stating that “To not act would be an injustice.” The truth is that Liberia faces vast challenges in provision of quality education for all. However, to put into action a programme of outsourcing of education in Liberia is likely to prove an act of injustice that will haunt the country for decades. Andrea Gabor of the New York Times reviewed all the research and evaluations of the schools around Katrina and concluded that “For outsiders, the biggest lesson of New Orleans is this: It is wiser to invest in improving existing education systems than to start from scratch.”Liberia needs to strengthen their education system, build capacity and invest in the professional capital of the people who will lead Liberia into a better, wiser and more prosperous future. Now, that’s a fact I think we all can agree with.We call upon the Government of Liberia to suspend any further action and commit to a national consultative process so that every citizen can contribute towards the development and implementation of sound policy aimed at improving educational opportunity and outcomes for all children.Samuel Y. Johnson, Sr.Secretary General-NTALShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

FIND Begins New Post-Ebola Project in Nimba

first_imgFIND’s Executive Director Roosevelt WoodsThe Foundation for International Dignity (FIND), with support from the Government of Japan through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has started a new project in Nimba County.“FIND will conduct situational analyses of the socioeconomic and cultural status, as well as local economic development opportunities and challenges, in Nimba County.  It will make recommendations on how the local economies can be stimulated for growth and development,” according to a press release signed by FIND’s Executive Director, Roosevelt A.K. Woods.FIND is a pro-democracy and human rights organization working to promote peace, good governance, the rule of law and access to justice in Liberia.Woods said a series of focus group discussions, awareness activities and training in peace building as well as conflict prevention mechanisms will also take place.The project, which is titled: ‘Supporting and Strengthening Sub-regional Post-Ebola Medical Surveillance and Socio-Economic Recovery Initiatives in West Africa,’ is designed to provide technical assistance and support at sub-regional, national and grassroots level to the three Ebola affected countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), and Côte d’Ivoire.The project will also assist the countries to address urgent needs in health, social and economic recovery, and conflict prevention and peace building in common border areas.“In addition, the project will strengthen coherence and coordination between the UNDP Country Offices on cross-border recovery and resilience initiatives in order to assist border communities to better respond to disasters,” said Woods.“Under the initiative, FIND will work alongside six strategic border towns in Nimba County, including Dubuzon, Buutuo, Gborplay, Luguato, Kissiplay and Duoplay,” he added.FIND was established in 2002 to respond to the growing human rights concerns of Liberian refugees. In response to the Liberian government’s decentralization call, FIND constructed its new headquarters in Gbarnga, Bong County in June 2011 and subsequently moved there from Monrovia in December the same year.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Chonixx visits UG, promises a grand show tonight

first_imgJamaican reggae superstar, Jamar Mc Naughton, more popularly known as “Chronixx”, arrived in Guyana one day ahead of the GTT’s Smile Guyana Concert billed for the Guyana National Stadium this evening.A section of the GWLT on FridayThe reggae artiste, upon arrival, visited several radio stations in promotion of the show and received the most hospitable welcome. This was no different when he turned up at the University of Guyana to have an interactive session with students there.Screams and shouts for the artiste were thunderous in the George Walcott Lecture Theatre (GWLT) as the reggae singer made his way to the stage in the presence of heavy security.The initiative was planned by the telephone company, which saw over 800 students purchasing tickets for the show at discounted prices. The monies from the sale will go towards the Guyana Artists in Residence programme (AIR).However, at the educational institution on Friday, the artiste reminisced on his life growing up and the about turn it took. He started his career with huge challenges but added that with the inspiration he received from God, he was able to stay on the right path and face those hurdles.The Jamaican artiste interacting with the student of UG on FridayHe explained that while growing up, he learnt to share from the little resources that were available at the time. Further, he started that as an artiste, he performs out of love for mankind and trust in God at the same time.Chronixx went on to say that when he started his musical career, he dreamt big and never thought that he would have been one of the most loved reggae artistes.“I was born in a musical environment… I found that a lot of people were giving their opinions… for me I have learnt to overcome the fear of not having people approval and that was the first step of me releasing the music I really love.”He added that an artiste should not do something that he or she does not love. He noted that the youths of the world must find a way to rise above the opinion of the people. The Jamaican artiste encouraged the youths to stay positive and focused but more so live their dreams.Chronixx will headline the GTT’s Smile Guyana Concert this evening and he promises patrons a grand time. Also sharing the stage will be the Heatwaves Band and Guyana’s own Alabama. The most exciting part of the evening, however, is expected to be that time when the telephone giant gives away $1 million to one lucky patron.Two persons have already walked away with $1 million each, with a third was expected to be named in Linden last evening. Tickets for the GTT’s Smile Guyana Concert will be available at the venue at a cost of $3500 each for the general admission, $10,000 for stage front and $15,000 for the VVIP experience.last_img read more

Tree falls on trailer and kills sleeping man; brother survives

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EL MONTE – A man was crushed to death Tuesday when a tree fell on his trailer while he was sleeping, family members said. Raul Ayala, 48, a former U.S. Marine, was killed when a 35-foot-tall Siberian elm fell on his trailer at 11949 Magnolia St., according to Miguel Aguila, his brother-in-law, and city officials. Ayala’s brother, Ernesto, was also sleeping in the unit at the Magnolia Trailer Park, but escaped with scratches, Aguila said. Trailer park resident Clarinda Sanchez said she heard a loud bang at 5:56 a.m. and saw a nearby trailer smashed by a tree. Firefighters arrived moments later and asked everyone to exit the park as quickly as possible, she said. Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Ron Haralson said Ayala was dead when paramedics arrived. “They tried to search for survivors,” he said. “But, as far as when they got there, he was DOA.” It was the second time a tree had destroyed a trailer at the park within the past few years, Sanchez said. A falling tree smashed a trailer about a year ago but did not injure anyone, she said. Gary Powers, a 65-year El Monte resident whose brother lives at the park, said the trees had recently been trimmed, but the tree that fell Tuesday seemed to have a very small root structure. He said the park was generally well-cared for, but, in his opinion, a few other trees also looked dead and should be removed. Dorothy Stauch, who said she was the owner of the park, declined to comment. Matt Weintraub, a spokesman for the city, said the tree that fell was not dead but seemed to have a smaller root structure than normal. He said it was up to Stauch to decide whether to cut down the other Siberian elms on the property, but that city officials would look into the matter. Weintraub said the park was established in April 1946, but that he did not know the age of the tree that fell. “There was no warning this was coming,” he said. As Aguila piled Ayala’s belongings into a pickup truck Tuesday, he described his brother-in-law as “a regular guy.” He said Ayala worked at a warehouse that distributed computer components. “A normal man, one with no enemies,” Aguila said of Ayala. ben.baeder@sgvn.com (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2703last_img read more

Passivhaus Design in Minnesota

first_imgAs net-zero energy and Passivhaus-certified houses become more commonplace, it’s not at all unusual to hear of exterior walls rated at R-40 or R-50. But that’s not going to be nearly good enough for Tom Schmidt, who’s building a 3,800-square-foot house in Minnesota.R-80 is more like it, and the walls need to be “cost-effective” as well as not too thick.Schmidt’s quest has apparently been prompted by a design that places living space over a garage. According to Schmidt’s Passivhaus consultant, this configuration brings with it some energy penalties and results in the need for additional insulation.“We have already gone through a couple passes to make it as efficient as possible and are at the point where the only change left that would have a big impact would be to take the garage out from under the living area and have it separate,” Schmidt explains in a post at GBA’s Q&A forum.“I like the current design (it took us two years to get to this point between the back and forth with my wife) and I want to have the house certified. I could pass on the certification and still have a very high-performing house, but honestly I think it’s cool and want it.” RELATED ARTICLES A Passivhaus Design for Alaska’s Frigid ClimateMeet the Tightest House in the WorldPayback Calculations for Energy-Efficiency Improvements From Building Science Corp: High R-Value Enclosures for High Performance Residential Buildings in All Climate Zones From the Cold Climate Housing Research Center: Subarctic Passive House Case Study Passivhaus Homes are Extremely Tight and Energy-Efficient Are Passivhaus Requirements Logical or Arbitrary?Can Foam Insulation Be Too Thick? But if you insist, there are ways to get thereOne way of accomplishing the R-80 wall, says Jerry Liebler, is to use a double 2×4 wall filled with mineral wood or blown-in fiberglass. With an overall wall thickness of 19 1/2 inches (plus drywall and sheathing), Schmidt would get to R-82. And, Liebler adds, the added cost over an R-40 wall would be about $2 a square foot.Whatever you do, writes Jason Hyde, you’re going to need a multi-layered assembly, and no matter what wall assembly eventually wins, it will be thick.“Build a SIP home and clad it with outstation,” Hyde continues. “Basically a double-stud wall but the inner wall is [a] SIP. This outsulation could be [dense-packed cellulose], blown fiberglass, mineral wool, whatever. The main advantage here is that you get SIPs up quickly (weathered in) and then can proceed with the outsulation. The drawbacks here, in addition to the standard SIP drawbacks, are that you still must frame an outer wall.“I would have suggested doing what Go Logic has been doing (successfully) and do a stick frame clad with SIPs,” he says, “but to hit R-80, your inner wall would need to be made out of 2x10s or 2x12s.”If the problem is the garage below the conditioned space, adds AJ Builder, possibly the solution would be to beef up the garage doors. “So, maybe install two garage doors, one behind the other — superinsulated custom doors,” he says. “Be kind of cool to have a stack of doors opening with about a foot of lift delay each… Watching the babies go up and down would make hanging out in front of them in your Tesla a great place to be. Pop a cold IPA.”Our expert’s opinionHere’s what GBA technical director Peter Yost has to say:There are two questions posed here: Can Schmidt’s goals be achieved? And are they reasonable? These two questions may seem mutually exclusive, given the design and the requirements of the Passivhaus standard. But I would argue that Schmidt’s goal of Passivhaus certification is clearly attainable, and that he simply needs to convince his lender and/or the next owner of his home that what he did is reasonable. (Translation: valuable to the next owner).I have argued before that selecting the interest rate for payback analysis is pretty much a Ouija board exercise for even relatively short-lived goods but completely speculative for long-lived durable goods like buildings. (For more information on payback calculations, see this BuildingGreen blog, or this article by Martin Holladay: Payback Calculations for Energy-Efficiency Improvements.) If the energy performance improvements that Schmidt is considering last beyond his ownership, he just needs to find someone willing to pay for the features he has selected. This is true regardless of whether the feature is an R-80 wall or a granite countertop.I think that a great way to design, market, or underwrite a “wildly” performing home is to link extraordinary performance with resilience: make the home self-sufficient in the face of extreme events or crises. The “payback” seems like a pretty silly singular rationale for super-high-performance in the face of the grid going down or a hurricane making every home in your neighborhood except yours uninhabitable. BuildingGreen founder Alex Wilson is spending most of this time now on this issue; see the Resilient Design Institute. In reality, Schmidt is chasing the wrong goalThere’s no real reason to design R-80 walls, writes Dana Dorsett, because it should be possible to win Passivhaus certification with walls in the R-50 neighborhood, even in Climate Zone 7. But having conditioned space over the garage probably won’t work.“The other way to go would be to shoot for net zero energy rather than Passive House, buying your thinner walls with a PV-clad roof,” Dorsett says “It’s probably less expensive overall, and you could probably keep the space over the garage.”With the cost of a photovoltaic (PV) system now under $4 a watt in Dorsett’s area (and $2 a watt in Germany), and the availability of high-efficiency ductless minisplit heat pumps, there are more appealing avenues that Schmidt might choose.“In 20 years, when it’s time to replace the heat pumps and/or PV,” he says, “the PV will cost less than half as much, and the heat pumps will have gained in efficiency. The full life cyle cost of heating with ductless heat pumps and $3/watt PV is on par with natural gas in some places, and in 20 years it will be dramatically cheaper than it is today, making the 50-, 75-, 100-year outlook even more favorable for site-produced power and heat pumps than over-the-top super insulation.“Methinks R-80 is only ‘cost-effective’ in terms of meeting your certification goals, but those certifications have little to do with breaking even on energy costs over the next 100 years, or what’s actually nice for the planet,” Dorsett says.center_img Return on investment is clearly not importantGBA senior editor Martin Holladay suggests that Schmidt might want to emulate the details used by Thorten Chlupp (a builder in Alaska who built R-75 walls insulated with cellulose) or the details used by Tom Marsik (a builder in Alaska who built 28-inch-thick R-103 walls insulated with cellulose).Holladay says that the least expensive way to get to the R-value that Schmidt is looking for is probably with a double-stud wall 22 inches thick that’s packed with cellulose insulation. “Of course,” he adds, “on the day that your insulation contractor comes to do the dense packing, you’ll need several tractor-trailer loads of cellulose.”What about dense-packing the walls with hundred dollar bills? (That was Stephen Sheehy’s suggestion.) Or, Jesse Thompson suggests, building two rigid geodesic domes, one inside the other, with a vacuum pump that evacuates the space between then.This is the kind of thing that gives Passivhaus construction a bad name, says Peter L. It’s really about bragging rights and seeing how much money a homeowner can use for construction.It’s all crazy talk, says Nick Welch. “Stuffing a 3,800-square-foot house with R-80 walls to get a [Passivhaus] certification is like putting five Prius engines in a Hummer so you can drive in the carpool lane,” he writes. “…However, it also piques my morbid curiosity, and I would love to see pics of it actually built this way.”Schmidt has no illusions about the quixotic nature of his pursuit. “I fully realize I am likely at a point where the [return on investment] is difficult to justify or ever pay itself back,” Schmidt replies. “I am essentially over-engineering something that doesn’t need it to meet the demands of a standard that doesn’t handle my particular design very well. All to satisfy my desire to have a piece of paper that says my house meets a particular standard.” Schmidt says he has investigated a number of options and is currently leaning toward structural insulated panels filled with expanded polystyrene (EPS).“Vacuum insulated panels sound interesting, but I don’t know if they are meant for an entire external envelope,” he adds. “The goal is to still keep it cost effective. I just don’t want a 3-foot wall to do it.”Are Schmidt’s goals achievable? And even if they are, are they reasonable? That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight.last_img read more

Is time moving forward or backward? Computers learn to spot the difference

first_imgPlay the video above, and it won’t take you long to notice there’s something off about it. Rather than drifting down toward the forest below, the snow is falling …up? Then it hits you: The video is running backward. Now, a computer watching the movie could arrive at that same realization. For the first time, scientists have taught computers to figure out the direction of time in videos, a result that could help researchers better understand our own perception of time.Computer vision—a field focused on how computers could learn to detect objects, motion, or even human emotions and intentions in photographs and video—has long fascinated computer scientists, with applications ranging from more realistic-looking video games to video surveillance and intelligence. At the same time, computer vision has attracted the interest of psychologists, who hope to use it to study how people turn raw visual data into an understanding of the world around them.The latter question led Lyndsey Pickup, now a human and computer vision researcher at Mirada Medical in Oxford, U.K., to wonder how we tell the difference between time running forward and backward in movies. After all, we only ever observe time running forward in the real world—a concept called time’s arrow. How do we pick up on it when a movie has put time arrow’s in reverse? And might she be able to teach computers to make the same observation?Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To find out, she and her collaborators broke down 180 YouTube videos into square patches of a few hundred pixels, which they further divided into four-by-four grids. Combining standard techniques for discovering objects in still photographs with motion detection algorithms, the researchers identified 4000 typical patterns of motion, or “flow words,” across a grid’s 16 cells. The gentle downward drifting of snowflakes, for example, would be one flow word. From those patterns, the team created flow word descriptions of each video along with three other versions—a time-reversed version, a mirror-image version, and a mirror-image and time-reversed version. Then, they made a computer program watch 120 of these clips, training it to identify which flow words best revealed whether a video ran forward or backward.When they tested their program on the remaining 60 videos, the trained computers could correctly determine whether a video ran forward or backward 80% of the time, the team reported this week at the IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Columbus, Ohio. A closer analysis found that flow words associated with divergence (water splashing outward as someone dives into a pool) or dissipation (a steam train’s exhaust spreading out in air) were especially good indicators of the direction in which time was moving.In principle, the work could provide clues about how humans, as well as computers, perceive time passing, Pickup says, and reverse-time videos could play a role akin to the optical illusions and reverse-color photographs psychologists have used to study visual perception in the past. Seeing time running backward is “really captivating,” and continuing the research might help her team figure out why, she says.Shai Avidan, an associate professor of engineering at Tel Aviv University in Israel who wasn’t involved with the work, says that the team is the first to ask, “Can we analyze and understand” what attributes distinguish backward from forward video? It’s an intriguing if largely academic question. Still, practical applications may be possible. Avidan compares the flow words approach to earlier work on identifying different kinds of texture in still images. Though studying image textures was considered “superficial” 15 years ago, he says, the tools developed to do so have since proved essential for engineers working on how to reduce noise in low-light digital photographs and other images. By identifying the subtle features that indicate time’s arrow and separating those from noise, flow words could play a similar role for improving otherwise fuzzy low-light video, Avidan ventures.Regardless of any possible applications, “we just thought it was a great problem,” says Pickup’s co-author and computer scientist William Freeman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Pickup agrees: Teaching computers to see the arrow of time combines computer science, physics, and human perception to get at the heart of the question, “How do we understand the visual world?”last_img read more

Govt Clarifies, Says Overseas Indian Investors Can Buy up to 5% in Any Security

first_imgOverseas investors of Indian origin are allowed to buy up to 5% in any security under current regulation, economic affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said on Tuesday, in a bid to calm markets after recent regulatory changes.Markets fell for the second straight day as fresh concerns emerged over a April circular issued by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) that said foreign investment rules for companies of Indian origin had been tightened.Read it at Live Mint Related Itemslast_img read more

Trump Taps 3 Indian-American Experts For Key Admin Posts

first_imgUS President Donald Trump has nominated three influential Indian-Americans including a woman nuclear expert to powerful administration positions.Rita Baranwal was nominated for the post of Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy), Aditya Bamzai for member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and Bimal Patel as the assistant secretary of Treasury. Read it at Economic TImes Related Itemslast_img

Pakistan team reaches home to hostile reception after flop World T20 campaign

first_imgThe Pakistan cricket team, sans captain Shahid Afridi, returned to a hostile reception in Lahore and Karachi after their disastrous World Twenty20 campaign which also included a loss to arch-foes India.The team returned home in batches in Lahore and Karachi last night. Afridi, on the other hand, has decided to stay back in Dubai for a few days.The flamboyant allrounder is expected to take a call on his future in the next few days after drawing massive criticism for his poor form in the tournament and the comment that he and his team get more love in India than Pakistan.A group of players including manager Intikhab Alam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Ahmed Shehzad and others had to face chants of “shame shame” when they landed at the Allama Iqbal international airport in Lahore.Taking a cue from the hostile reception the players faced in Lahore the security was than beefed up for those who reached the Quaid-e-Azam international airport in Karachi a few hours later.A heavy cordon of security personnel quickly took Sarfaraz Ahmed, Sharjeel Khan, Anwar Khan and others from the terminal building to their waiting cars. But even than some people at the airport gave the players a piece of their mind.The hostile reception was expected after Pakistan’s dismal show in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and in the World T20 where they lost to India, New Zealand and Australia.last_img read more