Louisiana chimpanzee wins first prize in art contest


NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A painting by a 37-year-old Louisiana primate who applies color with his tongue instead of a brush has been deemed the finest chimpanzee art in the land.

Brent, a retired laboratory animal, was the top vote-getter in an online chimp art contest organized by the Humane Society of the United States, which announced the results Thursday. He won $10,000 for the Chimp Haven sanctuary in northwest Louisiana.

A Chimp Haven spokeswoman said Brent was unavailable for comment Thursday. “I think he’s asleep,” Ashley Gordon said.

But as the society said on its website, “The votes are in, so let the pant hooting begin!” – pant hooting being the characteristic call of an excited chimp.

Five other sanctuaries around the country competed, using paintings created during “enrichment sessions,” which can include any of a wide variety of activities and playthings.

Chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall chose her favorite from photographs she was sent. That painting, by Cheetah, a male at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Fla., won $5,000 as Goodall’s choice and another $5,000 for winning second place in online voting, Humane Society spokeswoman Nicole Ianni said.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

This undated image provided by Chimp Haven, Inc. shows Brent, a chimpanzee at its shelter in Keithville.

 

Ripley from the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Fla., won third place and $2,500.

More than 27,000 people voted, Ianni said in a news release. The organization is not giving vote totals “to keep the focus on the positive work of the sanctuaries and not necessarily the ‘winner,'” she said in an email. The sanctuaries care for chimpanzees retired from research, entertainment and the pet trade. Chimp Haven is the national sanctuary for those retired from federal research.

Other submitted paintings were by Jamie, a female at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Wash.; Jenny, a female at Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.; and Patti, a female at Chimps Inc. in Bend, Ore.

A profile of Brent on the Humane Society’s website says he has lived at Chimp Haven since 2006, is protective of an even older chimp at the sanctuary and “loves to laugh and play.” It continues, “Brent paints only with his tongue. His unique approach and style, while a little unorthodox, results in beautiful pieces of art.”

Cathy Willis Spraetz, Chimp Haven’s president and CEO, said she chose a painting by Brent partly because of that unusual method. She said she later held a canvas up to the mesh of his indoor cage so she could watch him at work.

Some other chimps use brushes or point to the colors they want on the canvas, but Brent comes up to smush pre-applied blobs of child-safe tempera paints with his tongue, she said.

“If we handed the canvas to them where it was on the inside, they might not want to hand it back,” she said. “They might throw it around and step on it.”

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D’oh! American tourist accidentally snaps finger off medieval Italian statue


broken_statue-finger-museum-tourist

D’oh!

An American tourist who was visiting a museum in Italy accidentally snapped the pinky finger off a medieval statue, authorities in Florence say.

The statue, believed to be from the 14th or 15th century, is thought to be the work of sculptor Giovanni D’Ambrogio. Security guards at Museo dell’Opera del Duomo say they spotted the unidentified, middle-aged man touching the statue but were unable to stop him before he damaged the work. He reportedly told the guards he was trying to measure it.

“In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten,” museum head Timothy Verdon told MSN U.K. “That is, ‘Do not touch the works.’”

It’s unclear how much repairs to the statue would cost. Verdon said the man, who was visiting from Missouri, apologized.

“It is a fairly simple restoration,” the museum told the Daily News, adding that the incident was reported to police.

It’s apparently not the first time the statue had been damaged.

“This was already a very fragile piece of art,” Ambra Nepi, head of communications for the museum, told ABC News. “But every year throughout the Duomo we have many items that are damaged and broken.”

Tomb with a View


A new virtual-reality project at the Vatican Museums allows visitors to wander through a 2,600-year-old Etruscan burial vault

Virtual reconstruction of the exterior of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, 7th century B.C. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Virtual reconstruction of the exterior of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, 7th century B.C.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Originally posted on artnews.com

By

For the first time in history, visitors to the Vatican Museums are playing an Etruscan video game. That is, a pan-European team has created a walk-in, virtual-reality replica of the famous 7th-century B.C. Etruscan tomb known as the Regolini-Galassi. Located at seaside Cerveteri (ancient Caere), north of Rome, the tomb is otherwise off limits to the public.

Etruscanning 3D, as the project is known, won the top award at the international Archeovirtual exhibition in Paestum, Italy, last November. Its creators wanted to explore the possibilities of applying “new visualization techniques” to complex archeological and historical sites. Another goal was to re-create, on a scientific basis, the original context of the Regolini-Galassi tomb as it likely looked more than 2,600 years ago. Motion sensors allow visitors to wander through the site while standing in front of a three-meter-wide, high-resolution screen, and a menu lets them choose nearby artifacts to examine more closely, from Egyptian-style sarcophagi to a black ceramic inkpot to a large golden fibula, or brooch, decorated with lions.

Demonstration of Etruscanning 3-D, which allows users to virtually explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Demonstration of Etruscanning 3-D, which allows users to virtually explore the Regolini-Galassi tomb.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

A richly endowed, subterranean burial vault with multiple chambers, the Regolini-Galassi was discovered intact in 1836 by local priest Alessandro Regolini and retired general Vincenzo Galassi, who were excavating a hillside necropolis at Caere. At the time, the territory on the Tyrrhenian coast belonged to the papal state, which had passed Europe’s second-oldest heritage law in 1822. As a result, after two years of negotiations, the rich trove of burial objects became Vatican property.
The findings—and particularly the elegant gold items that once belonged to a princess—caused a sensation. “It was the discovery of a lost world, known until then solely through ancient literature,” says Maurizio Sannibale, director of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, a smaller museum within the Vatican Museums.

Real-time rendering of the inner chamber of the tomb, showing the sarcophagus of an Etruscan princess and her funerary goods. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Real-time rendering of the inner chamber of the tomb, showing the sarcophagus of an Etruscan princess and her funerary goods.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Virtual construction of a bronze six-headed lebes (pot) in the tomb. COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

Virtual construction of a bronze six-headed lebes (pot) in the tomb.
COURTESY CNR-ITABC, ROME.

“Most unusually, experts arrived to make drawings of the objects,” Sannibale continues. “However, their descriptions were often contradictory and gave no indication of where the precious objects were found.” The designers of Etruscanning 3D attempted to remedy this omission by placing the treasures in what is thought to be their rightful places within the tomb. And through photogrammetry and computer imaging, many existing artifacts have been “digitally restored” to revive worn-out or missing details.

In addition to the Vatican Museums, the project involved the Allard Pierson Museum at the University of Amsterdam; the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden; the Gallo-Romeins Museum in Tongeren, Belgium; the National Research Council of Rome; the Belgian architecture and heritage firm Visual Dimension; and the Archeological Superintendency of Southern Etruria.
Remarkably, the new virtual-reality tour had a precursor in 1837 London. One year after the uncovering of the Regolini-Galassi tomb, three brothers named Campanari, who had been excavating at Vulci, reconstructed an Etruscan tomb for an exhibition at Pall Mall, thus spurring an English fad for collecting Etruscan objects.

Judith Harris is the author of Pompeii Awakened: A Story of Rediscovery.

 

 

 

Russian tycoon wants to move mind to machine


Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov speaks at the Global Future 2045 Congress, Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Lincoln Center in New York. Some of humanity’s best brains are gathering in New York to discuss how our minds can outlive our bodies. The conference is funded by a Russian billionaire with an aggressive time schedule: immortality by 2045. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov speaks at the Global Future 2045 Congress, Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Lincoln Center in New York. Some of humanity’s best brains are gathering in New York to discuss how our minds can outlive our bodies. The conference is funded by a Russian billionaire with an aggressive time schedule: immortality by 2045. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Can the City That Never Sleeps become the City That Never Dies? A Russian multimillionaire thinks so.

Dmitry Itskov gathered some of humanity’s best brains — and a few robots — in New York City on Saturday to discuss how humans can get their minds to outlive their bodies. Itskov, who looks younger than his 32 years, has an aggressive timetable in which he’d like to see milestones toward that goal met:

— By 2020, robots we can control remotely with our brains.

— By 2025, a scenario familiar to watchers of sci-fi cartoon show “Futurama:” the capability to transplant the brain into a life-support system, which could be a robot body. Essentially, a robot prosthesis that can replace an ailing, perhaps dying body.

— By 2035, the ability to move the mind into a computer, eliminating the need for the robot bodies to carry around wet, messy brains.

— By 2045, technology nirvana in the form of artificial brains controlling insubstantial, hologram bodies.

The testimony of the neuroscience experts invited to Itskov’s Global Future 2045 conference at Lincoln Center in the New York City’s Manhattan borough indicate that Itskov’s timetable is ambitious to the point of being unrealistic. But the gathering was a rare public airing of questions that will face us as technology progresses.

Is immortality desirable, and if so, what’s the best way to get there? Do we leave behind something essentially human if we leave our bodies behind? If you send your robot copy to work, do you get paid?

Japanese robotics researcher Hiroshi Ishiguro‘s presentation started out with a life-size, like-like robot representation of himself on stage.

The robot moved its lips, nodded and moved it eyes while a hidden loudspeaker played up Ishiguro’s voice. Apart from a stiff posture and a curious splay of the hands, the robot could be mistaken for a human, at least 10 rows from the stage.

Ishiguro uses this android or “Geminoid” (after the Latin word for “twin”) to meet with students at a research institute two hours away from the laboratory where he also has an appointment. He controls it through the Internet, and sees his students through a webcam.

“The problem is, if I use this android, the research institute says it cannot pay for me,” Ishiguro said, to laughter from the audience of hundreds of journalists, academics, Buddhist monks and futurism enthusiasts.

Ishiguro flew to the U.S. with his robotic twin’s head, the most valuable part, in the carry-on luggage. The body rode below, in the luggage compartment.

To Itskov, who made his money in the Russian Internet media business, the isolated achievements of inventors like Ishiguro are not enough. He wants to create a movement, involving governments and the United Nations, to work toward a common goal.

“We shouldn’t just observe the wonderful entrepreneurs â€1/8 we need to move ahead systematically,” Itskov said in an interview. “We are really at the time when technology can affect human evolution. I want us to shape the future, bring it up for public discussion, and avoid any scenario that could damage humanity.”

Itskov says he tries to eliminate his “selfishness” day by day, and has spent about $3 million promoting his vision. He organized the first conference on the theme in Russia last year.

But in bringing the idea to the U.S., a cultural difference is apparent: Itskov’s desire for a shared, guiding vision for humanity does not mesh well with the spirit of the American high-tech industry, which despises government involvement and prizes its freedom to pursue whatever projects it wants.

Space entrepreneur and X-Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis articulated that spirit at the conference; the freewheeling capitalist system, he said, is one of the strongest engines for effecting change.

“The rate of change is going so fast â€1/8 I do not believe any of our existing government systems can handle it,” he said.

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of the Orthodox Church in America, who has a background in neurobiology and physics, offered another critique at the conference.

“A lot of this stuff can’t be done,” he said.

If it can be done, that’s not necessarily a good thing either, the robed and bearded patriarch believes.

“I’m not too fond of the idea of immortality, because I think it will be deathly boring,” he said, with a twinkle in his eyes. Giving up our bodies could also be problematic, he said.

“There’s a lot of stuff in them that makes us human. I’m not sure they can be built into machines,” Puhalo said.

Itskov acknowledges that his vision would leave part of the human experience behind. But he believes it would be worth it.

“We’re always losing something for what we’re doing. We’re always paying,” Itskov said.

Parkour


“The object of parkour is to get from one place to another in the most efficient way possible using only the human body and the objects in the environment”(wikipedia).

7 runs by LeVietnamienVolant, in Marseille, Martigues, and Saint-Mitre (south of France).Recorded in May 2010.

A film by L’1consolable.
Tracer: Le Vietnamien Volant
Filming & editing: L’1consolable
Original soundtrack by Bonobo.

 

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House built on a rock


Photo Credit:

 MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS

Balancing on a rock in the middle of the Drina River in Serbia, the tiny one-room home was built in 1968. Pounded by floods and high winds, it continues to stand strong against the elements of time. The structure, located near the town of Bajina Basta, has become a well-known attraction for visitors to the area.

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