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.”

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.”

Brazilian man dies after cow falls through his roof on top of him: TRUE STORY


A Brazilian man died after a cow fell through his roof on top of him as he was in bed.

“I didn’t bring my son up to be killed by a falling cow.”

 

The cow fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza's bed

The cow fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza’s bed

By Matt Roper

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, had been in bed with his wife Leni when the animal fell through the ceiling of their home in Caratinga, southeast Brazil.

The cow is believed to have escaped from a nearby farm and climbed onto the roof of the couple’s house, which backs onto a steep hill on Wednesday night.

The corrugated roof immediately gave way and the one-and-a-half-ton animal fell eight feet onto Mr de Souza’s side of the bed.

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family (SUPER CANAL TV )

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family (SUPER CANAL TV )

 

Rescuers took Mr de Souza to hospital with a fractured left leg but no other obvious injuries, reporting that he was conscious and talking normally.

Hours later however he died from internal bleeding while still waiting to be seen by doctors, according to his family.

Mr de Souza’s brother-in-law Carlos Correa told Brazil’s Hoje em Dia newspaper: “Being crushed by a cow in your bed is the last way you expect to leave this earth.

“But in my view it wasn’t the cow that killed our Joao, it was the unacceptable time he spent waiting to be examined.”

The damaged roof

The damaged roof

 

His grieving mother, Maria de Souza, told Brazil’s SuperCanal TV channel: “I didn’t bring my son up to be killed by a falling cow.”

Police in Caratinga, Minas Gerais state, have launched an inquiry into the bizarre death.

The owner of the cow could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Trees: our life savers are dying


For centuries we’ve treated forests poorly. Yet we’re only just learning how crucial trees are to our survival

Scientists admit trees and forests are poorly studied.’ Photograph: Alamy

Scientists admit trees and forests are poorly studied.’ Photograph: Alamy

Originally posted by:

Several years ago a few trees in my 15 acres of pine forest in Montana turned from green to a rusty brown, killed by swarms of bark beetles. Four years later virtually all of my centuries-old forest was dead. It wasn’t just the beetles that did in my trees, but much warmer winters here in the Rocky mountains that no longer killed the bugs, allowing them to expand exponentially.

Since then, as a science journalist for the New York Times, I have written many stories about the dying of the trees – and the news is not good. Many forests across the length and breadth of the Rockies have died in the last decade. Most of the mature forests of British Columbia are gone, from a combination of climate and insects.

The bristlecone pines of the US – the most ancient trees in the world, with some more than 4,000 years old – will die in the coming years because of a combination of bark beetles and a fungal disease, enabled by a warmer climate. Tree-ring studies on the bristlecone show that the last 50 years are the warmest half century in the last 3,700 years.

All this is to say that the fungus killing ash trees in Britain is unlikely to be a one-off. Trees across the world are dying. It’s not only the changes brought by a warmer world. We’ve treated the world’s trees poorly for centuries, without regard to ecological principles. We’ve fragmented forests into tiny slivers, and selected out the best genetics again and again with no regard to the fitness of those that remain. Air pollution and soil abuse has taken a toll. And scientists admit trees and forests are poorly studied. “It’s embarrassing how little we know,” a leading redwood expert told me.

Yet the little that is known indicates trees are essential. They are the planet’s heat shield, cooling temperatures beneath them by 10C and blocking cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. They are robust filters of our air and water, and soak up climate-warming carbon dioxide. Forests slow the runoff of rainfall. Many of the world’s damaging floods are really caused by deforestation.

These functions are well known. But trees play many other critical roles that we know little about. Katsuhiko Matsunaga, a marine chemist at Hokkaido University in Japan, discovered that as the leaves from trees decompose, humic acid leaches into the ocean and helps fertilise plankton, critical food for many other forms of sea life. Japanese fisherman began an award-winning campaign called Forests Are the Lovers of the Sea, and planted trees along the coasts and rivers that rejuvenated fish and oyster stocks.

Also in Japan, researchers have long studied what they call “forest bathing“. Hiking through the forest has been shown to reduce stress chemicals in the body and to increase NK or natural killer cells in the immune system, that fight tumours and viruses. Elsewhere researchers have demonstrated that anxiety, depression and even crime are lower in neighbourhoods with trees in the picture.

Hundreds of different kinds of chemicals are emitted by trees and forests, many beneficial. Taxane from the Pacific yew tree is a powerful anti-cancer drug. Many other tree compounds are proven to be antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and even to prevent cancer. The active ingredient of aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, for example, comes from willows. Recommended by doctors to prevent a range of cancers, as well as heart attack and stroke, some believe this chemical in the wild has a medicinal impact on the health of all creatures as it is aerosolised into the air and water, and breathed in and drunk. Yet, it hasn’t been researched.

Trees are greatly underused as an eco-technology – “working trees” – to make natural systems, as well as the world’s cities and rural areas, more resilient. They are used here in the US to prevent soil erosion and shade crops. In a neat bit of alchemy, trees can be used to clean up the most toxic of wastes, including explosives, solvents and organic wastes, because of a dense community of microbes as thick as a finger around the tree’s roots, a process known as phytoremediation.

The question is what to plant to withstand the challenges of a changing world to assure a world with trees. In the UK a group called Future Trees Trust is breeding more resilient trees. And a shade-tree farmer from the US named David Milarch, a co-founder of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, and whom I have written about, is making copies of some of the world’s oldest and largest trees, from California redwoods to the oaks of Ireland – with proven survivor genetics – to be part of a future forest mix. “These are the supertrees,” he says, “and they have stood the test of time.”

Before I began this journey I felt planting trees was a feeble response to the planet’s problems. No longer. As the proverb asks: “When is the best time to plant a tree?” Twenty years ago. “The second-best time?” Today.

 

Secret move keeps bin Laden records out of sight


Osama Bin Laden records destroyed

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s top special operations commander ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public.

The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the Freedom of Information Act.

An acknowledgement by Adm. William McRaven of his actions was quietly removed from the final version of an inspector general’s report published weeks ago. A spokesman for the admiral declined to comment. The CIA, noting that the bin Laden mission was overseen by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta before he became defense secretary, said that the SEALs were effectively assigned to work temporarily for the CIA, which has presidential authority to conduct covert operations.

“Documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director,” agency spokesman Preston Golson said in an emailed statement. “Records of a CIA operation such as the (bin Laden) raid, which were created during the conduct of the operation by persons acting under the authority of the CIA Director, are CIA records.”

Golson said it is “absolutely false” that records were moved to the CIA to avoid the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

The records transfer was part of an effort by McRaven to protect the names of the personnel involved in the raid, according to the inspector general’s draft report.

But secretly moving the records allowed the Pentagon to tell The Associated Press that it couldn’t find any documents inside the Defense Department that AP had requested more than two years ago, and could represent a new strategy for the U.S. government to shield even its most sensitive activities from public scrutiny.

“Welcome to the shell game in place of open government,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a private research institute at George Washington University. “Guess which shell the records are under. If you guess the right shell, we might show them to you. It’s ridiculous.”

McRaven’s directive sent the only copies of the military’s records about its daring raid to the CIA, which has special authority to prevent the release of “operational files” in ways that can’t effectively be challenged in federal court. The Defense Department can prevent the release of its own military files, too, citing risks to national security. But that can be contested in court, and a judge can compel the Pentagon to turn over non-sensitive portions of records.

Under federal rules, transferring government records from one executive agency to another must be approved in writing by the National Archives and Records Administration. There are limited circumstances when prior approval is not required, such as when the records are moved between two components of the same executive department. The CIA and Special Operations Command are not part of the same department.

The Archives was not aware of any request from the U.S. Special Operations Command to transfer its records to the CIA, spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said. She said it was the Archives’ understanding that the military records belonged to the CIA, so transferring them wouldn’t have required permission under U.S. rules.

Special Operations Command also is required to comply with rules established by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that dictate how long records must be retained. Its July 2012 manual requires that records about military operations and planning are to be considered permanent and after 25 years, following a declassification review, transferred to the Archives.

Also, the Federal Records Act would not permit agencies “to purge records just on a whim,” said Dan Metcalfe, who oversaw the U.S. government’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act as former director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy. “I don’t think there’s an exception allowing an agency to say, ‘Well, we didn’t destroy it. We just deleted it here after transmitting it over there.’ High-level officials ought to know better.”

It was not immediately clear exactly which Defense Department records were purged and transferred, when it happened or under what authority, if any, they were sent to the CIA. No government agencies the AP contacted would discuss details of the transfer. The timing may be significant: The Freedom of Information Act generally applies to records under an agency’s control when a request for them is received. The AP asked for files about the mission in more than 20 separate requests, mostly submitted in May 2011 — several were sent a day after President Barack Obama announced that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been killed in a firefight. Obama has pledged to make his administration the most transparent in U.S. history.

The AP asked the Defense Department and CIA separately for files that included copies of the death certificate and autopsy report for bin Laden as well as the results of tests to identify the body. While the Pentagon said it could not locate the files, the CIA, with its special power to prevent the release of records, has never responded. The CIA also has not responded to a separate request for other records, including documents identifying and describing the forces and supplies required to execute the assault on bin Laden’s compound.

The CIA did tell the AP it could not locate any emails from or to Panetta and two other top agency officials discussing the bin Laden mission.

McRaven’s unusual order would have remained secret had it not been mentioned in a single sentence on the final page in the inspector general’s draft report that examined whether the Obama administration gave special access to Hollywood executives planning a film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the raid. The draft report was obtained and posted online last month by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group in Washington.

McRaven, who oversaw the bin Laden raid, expressed concerns in the report about possible disclosure of the identities of the SEALs. The Pentagon “provided the operators and their families an inordinate level of security,” the report said. McRaven also directed that the names and photographs associated with the raid not be released.

“This effort included purging the combatant command’s systems of all records related to the operation and providing these records to another government agency,” according to the draft report. The sentence was dropped from the report’s final version.

Since the raid, one of the SEALs published a book about the raid under a pseudonym but was subsequently identified by his actual name. And earlier this year the SEAL credited with shooting bin Laden granted a tell-all, anonymous interview with Esquire about the raid and the challenges of his retiring from the military after 16 years without a pension.

Current and former Defense Department officials knowledgeable about McRaven’s directive and the inspector general’s report told AP the description of the order in the draft report was accurate. The reference to “another government agency” was code for the CIA, they said. These individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

There is no indication the inspector general’s office or anyone else in the U.S. government is investigating the legality of transferring the military records. Bridget Serchak, a spokeswoman for the inspector general, would not explain why the reference was left out of the final report and what, if any, actions the office might be taking.

“Our general statement is that any draft is pre-decisional and that drafts go through many reviews before the final version, including editing or changing language,” Serchak wrote in an email.

The unexplained decision to remove the reference to the purge and transfer of the records “smells of bad faith,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “How should one understand that? That adds insult to injury. It essentially covers up the action.”

McRaven oversaw the raid while serving as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, the secretive outfit in charge of SEAL Team Six and the military’s other specialized counterterrorism units. McRaven was nominated by Obama to lead Special Operations Command, JSOC’s parent organization, a month before the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He replaced Adm. Eric Olson as the command’s top officer in August 2011.

Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command, referred questions to the inspector general’s office.

The refusal to make available authoritative or contemporaneous records about the bin Laden mission means that the only official accounts of the mission come from U.S. officials who have described details of the raid in speeches, interviews and television appearances. In the days after bin Laden’s death, the White House provided conflicting versions of events, falsely saying bin Laden was armed and even firing at the SEALs, misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and incorrectly saying bin Laden’s wife died in the shootout. Obama’s press secretary attributed the errors to the “fog of combat.”

A U.S. judge and a federal appeals court previously sided with the CIA in a lawsuit over publishing more than 50 “post-mortem” photos and video recordings of bin Laden’s corpse. In the case, brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, the CIA did not say the images were operational files to keep them secret. It argued successfully that the photos and videos must be withheld from the public to avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.

The Defense Department told the AP in March 2012 it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier from which he was buried at sea. The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed. It said it searched files at the Pentagon, Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and the Navy command in San Diego that controls the Carl Vinson.

The Pentagon also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid. One of the stealth helicopters that carried the SEALs in Pakistan crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind.

The Defense Department also told the AP in February 2012 that it could not find any emails about the bin Laden mission or his “Geronimo” code name that were sent or received in the year before the raid by McRaven. The department did not say they had been moved to the CIA. It also said it could not find any emails from other senior officers who would have been involved in the mission’s planning. It found only three such emails written by or sent to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and these consisted of 12 pages sent to Gates summarizing news reports after the raid.

The Defense Department in November 2012 released copies of 10 emails totaling 31 pages found in the Carl Vinson’s computer systems. The messages were heavily censored and described how bin Laden’s body was prepared for burial.

These records were not among those purged and then moved to the CIA. Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. James Gregory said the messages from the Carl Vinson “were not relating to the mission itself and were the property of the Navy.”

___

AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.

___

Follow Richard Lardner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rplardner

Disgusting Video of Golden Corral Shows Meat Left Out by the Dumpster, Employee Warns “I Would Not Eat This Stuff”


Golden Corral dumpster video food

 

According to the employee making the video Golden Corral was getting ready for an inspection and left the raw meat out by the dumpster till the inspection was over. He also states that he may loose his job over making the video. Honesty is the policy but not in the business world unfortunately.

Decapitated referee: Graphic video of ref’s dismemberment used to net suspect


And I thought it was bad when the Lakers hit the playoffs! GEEZ!

A decapitated referee, whose head was staked in the middle of a soccer field by angry soccer fans, is the latest victim in violence around this sport in Brazil. The decapitated referee incident was video taped by several people at this amateur soccer game, in which the referee was first stoned and his limbs dismembered. This barbaric violence happening in a country preparing for Brazil’s World Cup, according to Yahoo News on July 7, 2013.

Referee Octavio de Silva expelled player Josenir dos Santos Abreu from the game. When Santos refused to leave, a fist fight started. This is when de Silva pulled out a knife and reportedly stabbed the player several times. Santos died on the way to the hospital from the stab wounds. This killing angered friends and family of Santos and they along with other soccer fans emerged into a uncontrollable mob.

The mob stormed the field tying up de Silva then torturing and stoning him to death. They dismembered his limbs and decapitated the referee. Someone took the severed head and placed it on a stake in the middle of the soccer field. This mob lynching was captured on cell phone videos by onlookers, those videos have started to surface online.

Police will use these videos to try to identify the people involved in the killing and beheading of the referee.The videos made their way to social networks, this is how police have identified one suspect so far, who was taken into police custody. Luis Sousa Moraes is just one of the suspects that police were able to identify by viewing the graphic videos. There are others, but so far it is just Moraes who’s been identified.

Videos: One of the cell phone videos, which is gruesomely graphic, has been released on LiveLeak.com. This video shows the blood soaked suspects who just finished dismembering the referee. The remains of the referee are also seen in this video, the video can be seen here.

The LiveLeak.com video offers a quick clip of the decapitated referee, who is shown with his dismembered limbs on the ground next to the torso. Another shot in this video shows the emergency attendants placing the decapitated head of the referee back onto the neck of the body as they transport the remains of the man. These are not videos for the faint of heart. Most people will find these very disturbing.

With the influx of people from around the world expected for Brazil’s World Cup, this incident must be very concerning for Brazil’s government. A statement released by Valter Costa, police chief in Maranhao reports this kind of behavior won’t be tolerated. Costa said:

“Reports of witnesses have indicated some people that were in place at the time of the fact. We will identify and hold accountable all those involved. A crime will never justify another. Actions like this do not collaborate with the legality of a state law.”

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.