Month: August 2019

Software transforms digital photos into oldfashioned paintings

first_img Explore further Brooks is a computer scientist at Dalhousie University, and also has a background in traditional drawing. The method he recently developed can transform digital photos taken with an ordinary camera into mixed-media paintings and portraits, making him a pioneer in a subject area that is largely unexplored. While the system requires very little input from the user, the results can be tweaked if desired, and produce realistic compositions of “nonphotorealistic renderings” (NPR).“Mixed media compositions incorporate two or more traditional visual media such as oil, watercolor, tempera, ink, or pencil,” Brooks explained. “By mixing materials, the artist is able to explore new channels of artistic expression or rejuvenate existing ones.”As Brooks explains, mixed media is often used by artists when a single medium is insufficient to fully develop an artistic idea. From ancient Egyptians to Rembrandt and Picasso, and even contemporary cartoonists such as Dave McKean, mixed media has been used to give variety to work and emphasize certain details.To give the appearance of mixed media to photos, Brooks’ system analyzes the input image and computes a measure of detail at each pixel. The areas of the image with different levels of detail are separated into distinct regions, and then each region is processed independently with a different NPR filter chosen by the user. Examples of filters can be “paint daubs,” “soft glow,” “crystallize,” “ink outlines,” “cartoon,” etc. Choosing the filters is the only step that requires user input.Finally, the different areas of the image are smoothly fused. Here, the user has the option of determining the gradient level of blended areas, but Brooks notes that all the samples he presents in his research are created automatically by the system. The system performs the blending process in separate stages to allow the user to see the intermediate processing. Brooks explains that this step-by-step process resembles how an artist produces a mixed media work in stages.One of the most challenging types of images to transform is facial portraits, as people are highly sensitive to the treatment of faces. Using Brooks’ standard technique, the facial areas around the cheeks and forehead are perceived as low detail areas, while the eyes and mouth have more detail, which produces undesirable results. Brooks approached this special case by developing systems for skin filtering, face point detection, and face point clustering to create a more satisfactory mixed media portrait.“The most advanced component of my system is the module that handles portraits,” Brooks said. “Automatic face detection and processing is quite tricky if one wants to make the system robust. I use a combination of skin detection, cascaded weak detectors, and Gaussian mixture model clustering.”Brooks is currently exploring more advanced features and improvements, including integrating 2.5-dimensional physical materials such as felts and cardboards, as well as the possibility of adapting the technique to video. “We have recently begun collaborating with the film school at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design,” he said. “We are looking at developing a new kind of digital film production system which could involve extending mixed media processing to video. So, it may be released as part of a larger film processing package.”Citation: Brooks, Stephen. “Mixed-Media Painting and Portraiture.” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 13, no. 5, September/October 2007. While today’s most cutting-edge digital imaging technology strives for high-res and high focus, Stephen Brooks is interested in distorting photos and deliberately making them unfocused. His system can produce a unique piece of artwork that looks hand-made, whether by oil painting, watercolors, ink drawing, or a mixture of many media types. (1) (Left) Picture of lion. (Right) Mixed media rendering using a composite of paint daubs, watercolor, and colored pencil. (2) (Left) Picture of a face. (Right) Mixed media portrait. Credit: Stephen Brooks. Copyright 2007 IEEE. Small indoor greenhouses let apartment dwellers grow veggies Citation: Software transforms digital photos into old-fashioned paintings (2007, September 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Llama dung contributed to Inca success in the Andes

first_imgImage: Johann Dréo/Wikipedia Ancient Peruvian site forces experts to re-think past Alex Chepstow-Lusty from the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima has spent the last few years analyzing mud samples from a small lake located between the jungle and Machu Picchu. By analyzing a 6.3 meter long core sample taken from the lake bottom, Chepstow-Lusty and his team discovered a correlation between a spike in the number of mites and maize pollen 2700 years ago. These mites feed on animal excrement and the researchers believe that the use of llama dung as a fertilizer was what enabled the Incas to grow corn in their high altitude location.Llamas were used as a source of meat and wool, as well as used to carry items. Llamas defecate communally, so it was an easily collectable source of natural fertilizer. This use of natural fertilizer aided in the maize crops thriving and allowed the Incas to move away from their dependence on wild quinoa and increase their caloric intake with maize.Other researchers, such as Christine Hastorf from the University of California, Berkeley argue that the argument for fertilization has not yet been proven. While this new research does show an increase in mites and llama dung, there is no evidence to show it was used as a fertilizer. She points out that plants that are fertilized with animal manure have a higher nitrogen isotopic signature. In order to show a connection between the two, she believes there needs to be studies done on ancient plant remains and the bones from the ancient Inca people in the area. ( — The famous Inca city of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in July 1911 and the area plans to hold a special 100 year celebration this year. However, the famous city and the Inca civilization have already hit the spotlight in a new study published in Antiquity that links the use of llama dung to the Inca success in high altitude agriculture. Citation: Llama dung contributed to Inca success in the Andes (2011, May 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Agro-pastoralism and social change in the Cuzco heartland of Peru: a brief history using environmental proxies, by Alex Chepstow‑Lusty, Volume: 85  Number: 328  Page: 570–582. © 2010 PhysOrg.comlast_img read more

Once thought impossible scientists demonstrate that liquid water can generate THz waves

first_img Citation: Once thought impossible, scientists demonstrate that liquid water can generate THz waves (2017, August 24) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2017 Journal information: Applied Physics Letters More information: Qi Jin et al. “Observation of broadband terahertz wave generation from liquid water.” Applied Physics Letters. DOI: 10.1063/1.4990824 First ‘water-wave’ laser created The researchers, led by Xi-Cheng Zhang, the M. Parker Givens Professor at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics in New York, as well as at Capital Normal University in Beijing and ITMO University in Saint Petersburg, Russia, have published a paper on the generation of THz waves from water in a recent issue of Applied Physics Letters.The result is surprising because bulk water is a strong absorber of light in the THz frequency range, and so for a long time it seemed very unlikely that liquid water could serve as a source of THz radiation. Researchers have previously shown, however, that water can emit light at other frequencies, including white light, and that water vapor can emit THz waves. The key to getting liquid water to generate THz waves, as the scientists show in the new study, is to use a very thin (less than 200 μm-thick) free-flowing film of water. “Although it might be too early to predict any industrial or commercial applications for our work at this moment, I think it provides the last piece of the puzzle,” Zhang told “Solid, gas, and plasma have been used to generate THz waves already, but not liquid. With liquid, especially water, four states of matter have now been used as THz sources.”In their experiments, the researchers focused femtosecond laser pulses (which have a duration on the order of one picosecond, or 10-12 seconds) inside the water film. The laser pulses create a plasma in the water film, which ionizes the water molecules, generating free electrons, and eventually emitting THz radiation.Previous research has shown that THz waves can be generated from several other sources, including air plasma. However, the scientists in the new study found that the THz radiation from water exhibits very different characteristics compared to the THz radiation from air plasma. For example, a longer laser pulse duration increases the amount of THz radiation energy generated from water, but for air plasma the opposite is true: a shorter pulse increases the THz radiation. The scientists also found that, when positioned away from the normal incident angle of optical excitation, the strength of the THz radiation from water depends on the polarization of the laser beam, whereas the THz radiation from the air plasma is polarization-independent.The researchers explain that these observations cannot be fully explained by physicists’ current understanding of the mechanisms involved in THz wave generation. They expect that further investigation of laser-water interactions will lead to a better understanding of the physics behind the new observations, and possibly to new applications.”Water is the most important element in the human body and on our earth,” Zhang said. “Using water to generate THz waves is one step toward understanding the role of water in this frequency range. Previously, we tried to avoid water in most THz applications. Now we will likely use water for the generation of intense THz waves.”center_img (—By illuminating a thin film of water with ultrashort laser pulses, physicists have demonstrated that liquid water can generate terahertz (THz) waves, which are currently being researched for applications such as wireless data transmission, industrial quality control, and high-resolution imaging with the capability for penetration. Explore further Experimental setup for generating THz waves by focusing a laser beam onto a free-flowing water film. Credit: Jin et al. ©2017 American Institute of Physics This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Material made from single molecule selfforms into a lattice that can selfheal

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 The researchers note that most porous materials are made from linkers and connecting units—metal organic frameworks are one example. Such frameworks are often custom-developed to allow for storing other material, such as hydrogen, in the pores. The downside to such an approach is the multitude of options available, which requires researchers to spend time screening for the optimal structure. In this new effort, the researchers report on the development of a new porous material made from a single synthesized molecule. They claim it is possible to create a complex, useful type of material without a complex set of building blocks.The molecule the team made had a symmetrical outer shell, giving it a shape akin to a propeller. It consisted of three polar dipyridylphenyl parts hooked to a middle non-polar mesitylene. In the presence of isopropanol or acetonitrile, it assembled automatically into a network that was held together by hydrogen bonds (non-classical). The researchers note that the bonds were weaker than normal hydrogen bonds but were stable up to 202°C. They further note that other similar-purpose crystals begin to degrade at temperatures of 130°C. Above the stable point, the pores in the crystal started to collapse causing the material to become non-porous—suggesting a means for delivering a material that it has been holding. Interestingly, the researchers found that the pores could be regenerated by cooling the material and treating it with acetonitrile vapor—a form of self-healing.The researchers note that the oddly shaped molecule serves as a linker and connector allowing for the creation of a simple porous network in a material. They note also that the arms of the propeller serve different functions—from walls, to roof to floor—all around 6Å wide pores that offer a size capable of harboring nitrogen gas or solvents. Explore further Porous salts for fuel cells More information: Hiroshi Yamagishi et al. Self-assembly of lattices with high structural complexity from a geometrically simple molecule, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6394center_img Citation: Material made from single molecule self-forms into a lattice that can self-heal, store gases (2018, September 24) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Modes of C–H···N bonds in Pyopen⊃MeCN and crystal-packing diagrams of Pyopen⊃MeCN. (A) Drawings representing the modes of C–H···N bonds in Pyopen⊃MeCN. (B to E) CPK representations of the crystal-packing diagrams of Pyopen⊃MeCN. Orange outlines indicate the C–H···N-bonded roofs and floors in Pyopen⊃MeCN [(B) and (C)], and dashed purple outlines indicate the wall connected to the roof and floor [(B), (C), and (E)]. Credit: (c) Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aat6394 A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Japan has developed a material made from just a single molecule that self-forms into a lattice that can self-heal and store gases. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes synthesizing the aromatic molecule, which bears a symmetrical outer shell. Journal information: Sciencelast_img read more

Petrol price cut by Rs 1 per litre

first_imgPetrol price was cut on Tuesday by Re 1 a litre, but the first reduction in diesel rates in over five years will have to wait till completion of assembly polls. State-owned oil firms, which cut petrol price by 54 paisa on October 1, reduced rates by another Re 1 per litre, excluding local sales tax or VAT, with effect from midnight tonight, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) announced. After accounting for the incidence of local sales tax, petrol rate in Delhi was reduced by Rs 1.21 a litre to Rs 66.65 per litre, according to IOC.last_img

Youth shot dead in broad daylight

first_imgKolkata: A middle-aged man was shot dead by some unidentified miscreants. The incident occurred near Mollapara area of Chakdah in Nadia in broad daylight when the deceased was going to work.The victim, Pradip Kumar Sikdar, a resident of Sri Krishnapur area of Chakdah, was a local businessman. He was riding his motor cycle when some miscreants on another bike stopped his way near Mollapara. The incident sparked tension in the area.According to the preliminary investigation, police came to know that there were three miscreants on the other motorcycle. One of the miscreants took out a gun and shot at the victim from the close quarter. The victim received a bullet in his head. The miscreants fled the spot before locals could arrive. Locals rushed to the spot after hearing the sound of a gun shot. The victim was found lying in a pool of blood. He was then rushed to a nearby hospital where the doctors declared pronounced him brought dead. Police rushed the spot and started a detailed probe in this regard.last_img read more

Halls plexes must show at least one Bengali film WB govt

first_imgKolkata: Cinema halls and multiplexes in West Bengal will now have to mandatorily screen one Bengali film for a minimum of 120 days in a year, a state government notification said on Saturday. The notification, issued by order of Governor K N Tripathi, said, “In every cinema hall and in at least one screen of every multiplex situated in the state, 120 prime time show/screenings of Bengali films shall mandatorily be held throughout the year… with at least one show per day for minumum of 120 days in aggregate during the year.” Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life “… The Governor is hereby pleased to issue the following directive to all licensees of the State, except the licensees of the GTA areas, with immediate effect…” the notification signed by Principal Secretary, Information and Cultural Affairs Department, said. Kumar told PTI the notification was issued on Friday and will be applicable on immediate basis and aimed at encouraging the Bengali film industry. He said prime-time shows are those held between 12 noon to 9 pm. Necessary amendments to the West Bengal Cinema (Regulation of Public Exhibitions) Rules, 1956 will be made in due course, Kumar said. Welcoming the decision, director Aniket Chattopadhyay wrote on Facebook, “It is big news. In every multiplex of West Bengal, a Bengali film has to be screened from 12 noon to 9 pm in minimum one screen… Thank you Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.”last_img read more

Acknowledging future art icons

first_imgLalit Kala Akademi, India’s National Academy of Art recently announced its 58th National Exhibition of Art, which is being held at National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru from February 24 and will continue for a month. The current exhibition has 111 exhibits chosen from 6000 works through a competitive process, of these 15 have been conferred the Academy’s National Award. The award is much coveted among artists as it earmarks the future potential of an individual artist in the art community. Many of the earlier awardees, such as MF Husain and SH Raza, are today’s icons of Indian art. Aisharjya Paramita Konar, Akhil Mohan, Ananya Dalal, Anil Kumar Bodwal, D.Saravana Deivasegamani, Gukanraj Kothandaraman, Harish Kumar Ojha, Kavita Mehrotra, Lakshman Prasad, Madan Lal, Nilmoni Raha, Sajeesh PA, Satish Hanumanthappa, Suresh K and Vijay Bhagat are the 15 artists who were conferred with the Academy awards. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe award presentation held at Hotel Shangri La, Bengaluru had Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala conferring the National Academy Award to the 15 Awardees. To reflect its truly national character the National Exhibition of Art is customarily held in various cities of the country so as to give the interested people in these cities a chance to savor quality production. It has returned to Bengaluru after a lapse of 16 years, as the last time it was held here was in 2001, at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Bengaluru. The works for the 58th National Exhibition of Art have been chosen on grounds of their artistic merit. They reflect innovative use of mediums, diversity and relevance of subject matter as also a high level of creativity. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveCS Krishna Setty, Administrator, Lalit Kala Akademi remarked, “Besides upholding and steering forth a great tradition of giving Indian art its due importance, the National Exhibition of Art is also a window view into future trends in Indian art. The works of the awardees have expressed a spectacular range of subjects to express their creative abilities and carry in them an unwritten history of development, emerging trends and even influences that have pivoted the art movement of the country.” The Award ceremony coincides with the opening of a month-long National Exhibition of Art being held at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru. The display is open to the public on all working days, except Mondays. The Awardees have been chosen by a two tier Jury system of eminent artists and art personalities who in the first stage had selected 111 artworks which are now on display at the 58th National Exhibition of Art. Each of the Awardees will receive a plaque and a cash award of Rs one lakh.last_img read more

Matua matriarch Boro Mas last rites to be held on Wednesday

first_imgKolkata: The last rites of Matua community matriarch Binapani Devi, popularly known as ‘Boro Ma’, will be held on Wednesday at Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas district, where her body would shortly arrive from Kolkata. Boro Ma, 100, passed away at a state-run hospital here on Tuesday evening after prolonged illness. The body was taken in a flower-bedecked hearse from S S K M Hospital in presence of West Bengal minister Jyotipriyo Mallick and Trinamool Congress MP Mamata Bala Thakur, a family member of Boro Ma. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata Bose Thakurnagar is the headquarters of the Matua Mahasangh, an organisation of the community. Many members of the scheduled caste community visited the hospital throughout the night to pay their last respects to Boro Ma, who breathed her last at 8.52 pm, after being on ventilator support at the hospital since Sunday. Her body is expected to reach Thakurnagar by 11 am, as thousands of followers await to catch a last glimpse of their beloved Boro Ma. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: Mamata Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Tuesday condoled the death of Binapani Devi, considered a significant political force in the state. Modi had met Boro Ma this February during his visit to Thakurnagar, where he had addressed a rally. Banerjee has announced that Boro Ma will be accorded a state-funeral with gun salute. The Matuas originally hail from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and began migrating to West Bengal at the beginning of the 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution. With an estimated population of 30 lakh in the state, Matuas can influence results in at least five Lok Sabha seats in North and South 24 Parganas districts.last_img read more

Bengal number 1 in credit linkage of selfhelp groups says Mamata

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday that in the year 2018-2019, the state’s performance of credit linkage of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in the Cooperative Sector is the highest in India.”I am very happy to share with all of you that during 2018-2019, West Bengal’s performance of credit linkage of Self-Help Groups in the Cooperative Sector is highest in the country. “As per report of NABARD, West Bengal provided credit to 97, 535 Self Help Groups in the Cooperative Sector, leading to huge creation of employment and income generation, mostly among women,” Banerjee posted on her Facebook page. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataThe Chief Minister has recently announced a yearly aid of Rs 5,000 for the empowerment of the SHGs in the state. The SHGs registered for a period of one year or more will be entitled to the benefit. The government will spend Rs 500 crore for this purpose. “We are committed to empower and make the poor womenfolk self-reliant both in the urban and rural areas,” a senior official of the SHG department said. It may be mentioned that the bank loan disbursed for the SHGs in the state have gone up noticeably during the Trinamool Congress government. The loan amount that was Rs 553 crore in 2010-11 that went up to Rs 7,000 crore in 2018-19. The state government is also providing a subsidy so that the SHGs have to pay only 2 percent of their bank loan. The number of SHGs which was 4.72 lakh in 2010-11 has more than doubled with an emphasis from the Mamata Banerjee government.last_img read more

TV actor molested near Bijoygarh

first_imgKolkata: A television actor was allegedly molested by a biker while she was going to a cafe on Sunday evening. The incident occurred near Bijoygarh area under Jadavpur police station. The actor has narrated the entire incident by posting a video on her Facebook page.According to her complaint, she had returned from a shoot late in the afternoon and after taking rest for a while at her residence, she was going to a café when a person riding a motorcycle passed by her and allegedly touched her private parts. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataShe immediately raised a cry but the offender managed to flee. She has stated that the youth was wearing a white t-shirt with green stripes, while the colour of the motorcycle was black with red stripes. The victim, however, has not been able to inform the police about the exact number of the motorcycle. The actor is presently acting in a popular TV serial named Mahapith Tarapith, which is aired on a Bengali entertainment channel. She further said that some local youths rushed to her aid soon after she raised a cry and took her to Jadavpur police station, where she lodged an official complaint. “We have started an investigation and have already fixed up 250 such motorcycles on the basis of the description of colour provided by the complainant. We hope to fix up the offender soon,” said Murlidhar Sharma, Joint Commissioner (Crime), Kolkata Police.last_img read more

Counselling camps to stop malnutrition in children

first_imgBALURGHAT: District health department has taken initiative to reduce the percentage of those children who are suffering from malnutrition.According to an official source, realising the severity of malnutrition among children belonging to backward class, district Health and Family Welfare department has initiated measures to decrease the percentage of children who are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). “Maximum stress has been given on ensuring hygienic and quality care to the malnourished children from specific information provided by doctors, nutritionists, social-workers, associated nurses or sahayikas. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataThe mothers are constantly being benefitted direct or given wage-compensation on per day basis and also facilitated with free rationing for the kids for one year,” said a source. In view of growing percentage of severe malnutrition among children particularly belonging to lower class community, two NRCs (Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres), one at Balurghat district hospital and other at Gangarampur sub-divisional hospital, have already started functioning. The number of beds is increased to 15 instead of 10 in each NRC. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in state”A NRC team comprising nutritionists and social-workers will visit the Anganwadi centres and sub-centres on a weekly basis for identifying SAM children with specific tools like weighing machines and length board,” said an official. Notably, the district administration has extended support in arranging special identification camps where trained staffs are directly involved to communicate with the affected families for necessary screening and further admission. “In 2018, two such camps were organised in July and December. In July, 537 children were screened while 357 were found severely malnourished. In December, 443 kids were screened while of them 196 were identified as SAM children. Since inception, there are 1710 SAM children were admitted in both NRCs in Balurghat and Gangarampur while among them 1044 were discharged as cure after gaining targeted weight,” the official said. It may be mentioned that the parents of the malnourished children are also counselled and trained thoroughly about health, hygiene, proper diet and family planning while discharging from NRCs. They are being instructed to follow a particular routine. Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) of South Dinajpur Dr Sukumar Dey said: “What is most striking to mention that mothers are greatly motivated through such camps and they willingly try to persuade other mothers having SAM children for admission at NRC. We are confident to eradicate the curse of malnourished children from the district.”last_img read more

Viking Berserkers Force for Evil or Sacred Warriors

first_imgWhen we think of Vikings, what often comes to mind are images of men in horned helmets and long cloaks, sailing off to conquer and pillage various parts of Europe. Well… that, and berserkers. The idea of the berserker is fairly well known in many parts of the world, if only imperfectly understood. What was a berserker? Berserkers were a particular subset of warriors in pre-Christian Scandinavia. They were a traveling brotherhood who would take service with different chiefs, according to History Extra.Torslunda helmet a one-eyed weapon dancer followed by a berserker.They usually were used in small groups, often about 12, in addition to the regular guard or army. What set them apart from other warriors was that they had bears or wolves as totem animals, and wore their skins into battle. They believed that when they were fighting, they took on the attributes of their totem animals.Berserkers were elite shock troops, highly coveted, but difficult to control, since they fought in a state of battle rage which made them both nearly supernaturally strong and fierce, but also dangerous.In battles, they were placed at the front of a phalanx, either to launch an attack or resist the main weight of an attacking force. In sea battles, they were usually put in the prow of the ship to be the first force meeting the enemy.Ulfhednar. Photo by KaOokami – Own work CC BY-SA 3.0Berserkers, were, however, poorly suited to formation warfare, since when they were in their battle frenzy, they were nearly impossible to control and could attack the enemy, but would also attack trees, rocks, or each other.It was said that they went into battle wearing little but loincloths and the skins of their totems, to show disdain of wounds, and carried only light shields for protection. The Norse saga, The Ynglinga Saga, says these were Odin’s warriors and that his men “rushed forwards without armour, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild bulls, and killed people at a blow, but neither fire nor iron told upon themselves. These were called Berserker.”The dancing figures, berserkers, wear a helmet whose horns terminate in birds heads & his companion wears the mask of a wolf or bear. Photo by HAF 932 CC BY-SA 2.0 deIn other sagas berserkers are often painted as being violent and out of control, and as being evildoers in their frenzy.Is this a fair and accurate portrayal? Norse Mythology suggests that berserkers should be considered as shamanic warriors or warrior-priests. During the Viking Age, all warriors looked to Odin for strength and courage in battle, but the berserkers were much more tightly bound to the cult of Odin.Woodcut of the image on the Vendel era helmet plate found on Öland, Sweden, depicting a weapon dancer followed by a berserker.They used a set of ritual practices, such as wearing the skins of their totem animals, in order to help remove their humanity and become a divine predator. They might have had an initiation process where they would go into the woods to live like their totem animals, hunting, gathering, and raiding the nearest towns. Such practices were to help induce an altered state where they could take on the characteristics of their totems.Check out 10 interesting things you may not know about the Vikings here:In such an altered, dissociative state the berserkers would experience battle-rage to the extent that, while it continued, they simply wouldn’t feel any injuries that they suffered (fire and iron won’t bite them).A rook piece from the Lewis chessmen, depicted as a warrior biting his shield. Photo by Rob Roy CC BY 2.0The biting or casting away of their shields can be viewed as an act of further stepping away from their normal social personae, since, for a regular warrior, his weapons and shield were literal signs of his status and social standing, given to him as a young man when he came of age.In 1784 a priest named Odmann theorized that the “going berserk” was brought on by consumption of fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushrooms. His theory gained popularity over time, and remains common today. Other toxic mushrooms have also been suggested as the source of the battle rage, but usually, the side effects of such plants are depressive symptoms, not rage and euphoria.Sculpture of a berserker. Photo by Erkaha CC BY SA 4.0It seems far more likely that the warriors worked themselves up by ritual acts – war dances, or other rituals – along with the wearing of their totem’s skins, to put themselves into the self-induced hypnotic state that allowed them to disassociate from their human identities and bond more tightly to their totem animals.In that state, they could easily have increased strength and reduced sensations of pain, as well as a certain lack of awareness of their immediate environments. Critical thinking and social inhibitions would weaken, and more primitive responses come to the fore.Under these conditions, it seems unfair, somehow, to judge berserkers in full battle-rage by the same standards as ordinary mortals, and much easier to see them as acting in communion with Odin.Read another story from us: It’s Hammer Time! The Viking Method of Rap BattlingThe Old Norse society and religion had room for this sort of behavior, but Christianity didn’t. As Scandinavia became increasingly Christian, and the old religion faded away, so too did the berserkers retreat into shadow and myth.last_img read more

New Findings Suggest Vlad the Impaler was Imprisoned Beneath this Castle

first_imgAttempting to imprison Vlad the Impaler might seem an awfully risky move, but in the 15th century that is exactly what one Hungarian leader is believed to have done, keeping Vlad in the chambers beneath his palace. Or at least that’s what new research using radar scans of the ground beneath Castelul Corvinilor suggest.The scan findings were presented on December 12th at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.Ambras Castle portrait of Vlad III (c. 1560), reputedly a copy of an original made during his lifetime.Castelul Corvinilor — also called Corvin Castle as well as Hunedoara Castle and Hunyadi Castle — began as an outpost built in what was then Transylvania, now Romania.The structure’s oldest mill fortifications date to the 14th century, and a shift from outpost to palace was taking place in the 15th century, according to lead researcher Isabel Morris, a doctoral claimant with a Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University.Illustration of a John Hunyadi, Hatzeg Castle, Hunedoara, Transylvania, Romania.Corvin Castle is now considered one of the seven wonders of Romania and one of the largest castles in Europe.In the 15th century, Vlad III, king of Wallachia, aka Vlad the Impaler, was reportedly detained in Castle Corvin by a leading Hungarian noble, John Hunyadi (Ioan de Hunedoara). The powerful Hungarian had tangled with Vlad’s family. Vlad’s father and eldest brother were murdered after Hunyadi, regent-governor of Hungary, invaded Wallachia in 1447.During this time Hunyadi installed Vlad’s second cousin, Vladislav II, as the new ruler. It is thought probable that Vlad was held in the castle’s underground chambers, and there is even a legend that he went insane while captive. (He was also a hostage in Turkey while he was young.)Little is known about Vlad III’s whereabouts between 1448 and 1456, and this could have been the time when he was held underground in the castle.Hunedoara, Romania – June 1, 2014: Towers of the Hunedoara Castle in Romania.Later Vlad was freed from the castle and was able to hold control of his father’s domains; he had many people murdered who he believed were his enemies. He was also a fierce opponent of the Ottoman sultan. His actions would be called genocide, or war crimes, by today’s standards.Vlad the Impaler is sometimes referred to as the real-life inspiration for Count Dracula, invented by Bram Stoker in his 1897 novel and depicted countless times since.Hunedoara, Transylvania/Romania – October 02 2018: Corvin Castle or Corvinilor or Hunyad Castle in Hunedoara, town in beautiful Transylvania, Romania.The connection between Vlad and Dracula comes from the word “dracul.” Vlad’s father was inducted into a knightly order, the Order of the Dragon. This designation earned him a new surname: Dracul. The name came from the old Romanian word for dragon, “drac.”His son, Vlad III the Impaler, would later be known as the “son of Dracul,” or in old Romanian, Drăculea, hence Dracula. In modern Romanian, the word “drac” refers to the devil too.Hunyad or Corvin Castle seen at the golden hour, in Hunedoara, Transylvania, Romania. Photo taken on October 20, 2018.It is possible that Vlad’s first wife was the illegitimate daughter of the man who imprisoned him, John Hunyadi.Bram Stoker never explicitly said that his vampire creation was Vlad the Impaler, only that he was from an old noble family. The connection was made more directly in Francis Ford Coppola’s film Dracula and in such novels as Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian.Because of centuries of rebuilding and additions, archaeologists weren’t certain where Corvin Castle’s substructure was located. Radar scans have helped them pinpoint rooms that were in use during that time. Hard evidence of Vlad’s presence is lacking, however.Read another story from us: New Findings Reveal the Books that Inspired Bram Stoker’s Creation of Dracula“The research has uncovered a previously unknown torture chamber but no evidence – physical or paranormal – of whether Vlad spent time there in it during an alleged 7-year imprisonment at the castle in the 1400s,” according to Mysterious Universe.Vlad III died in battle in 1476 or 1477. His body was cut into pieces and his head was sent to Mehmed II, the Ottoman sultan.Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.comlast_img read more

The mythology behind Game of Thrones White Walkers

first_imgThe eighth and last season of Game of Thrones appears poised for a final showdown among not only the main characters of the show — Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Jamie Lannister, and the surviving Stark siblings — but between the living and the dead: the White Walkers. In the fantasy world created by George R. R. Martin, the White Walkers are an ancient race of humanoid ice creatures who come from the Far North of Westeros. Some 8,000 years before the books begin, the longest winter in history descended and lasted an entire generation. It was only after a terrible war that humans ended the Long Winter.Season 8: Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOThe Wall and the Night Watch brothers were created to guard men from the return of the White Walkers. At Winterfell, the farthest north of the seven kingdoms, the Starks take the threat far more seriously than anyone else, as do those who serve them. “Winter Is Coming” is an apocalyptic warning.Nan, the Starks’ oldest servant, tells Bran Stark in Season One, “Fear is for the long night when the sun hides for years, and the children are born and live and die in darkness. That is the time for fear, my little lord, when the White Walkers move through the woods. Thousands of years ago there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings froze to death in their castles same as the shepherds in their huts.”Isaac Hempstead Wrigh as Bran Stark. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOFor those GOT fans who remember the HBO series’ beginning, the terrifying beings north of The Wall posed a threat since Episode One. In it, three Night’s Watch rangers discovered a group of dead north-of-the-wall humans called wildlings.Two of the rangers were ripped to pieces by the White Walkers who had killed the wildings, and the third fled south of The Wall — which led to his execution for desertion by Ned Stark (Sean Bean), the star of the first season.Some Game of Thrones insiders say the end of the series brings meaning to all of the many mysteries of Martin’s world.Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, told The Wrap last July that “all the pieces fit into this massive jigsaw puzzle. I mean, when I read it — I’ve spent so many years working on this and been guessing and trying to figure out how this will end — and when I read it, some of the parts of it I’d get, and other parts of it were just completely shocking and surprising.”Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOWhile there has been much written about the medieval origins of Game of Thrones, and how Martin made use of the Wars of the Roses to write the battle for power among the various families, the inspiration for the White Walkers is less certain.There is a strong zombie element to their creation since the dead are reanimated as foot soldiers for the White Walker army.But also Martin may have drawn on Celtic, Scandinavian, and Germanic myths to form this aspect of Game of Thrones. It is one of his strongest fantasy elements.Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOIn one of his few comments on the White Walkers, Martin said, “They are strange, beautiful … think of Sidhe made of ice, something like that … a different sort of life … inhuman, elegant, dangerous.”Picking up on this clue, Sidhe are an ancient supernatural race similar to fairies and elves that appear in Irish and Scottish mythology. “The belief in the Sidhe is part of the pre-Christian religion which survived for thousands of years and has never been completely wiped out from the minds of the people,” said The Celtic Society.According to the site Winter Is Coming, “The Sidhe are said to live in unknown lands across the sea, underground in fairy mounds (‘aos si’ means ‘people of the mounds’ in Irish) or an alternate world connected by various means to the world of humans. Martin’s White Walkers are similar in their distant origins (far North) and their movement between regular space and time, as when the Night King interacted with Bran Stark in the latter’s greensight visions.”Bran communicates with the Night King. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOIn Scottish mythology (where they are called the daoine sith), these folk are described as natural spirits but also as ancestors and gods.Some observers see elements of the Wild Hunt in the White Walkers, a motif appearing in much European folklore. It is a stormy procession of ghostly or supernatural huntsmen passing across the winter sky in pursuit of game.The leader (generally referred to as “The Hunter”) is believed to be associated with the Norse god Odin, the Devil, or a number of other mythological figures.“The Wild Horde appears in the deepest, darkest and coldest reaches of midwinter, and its single leader, like the Night King, has great supernatural powers,” says Winter Is Coming.Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOIn other mythology, riding down from the heavens, the Old Norse Valkyrie (from the Old Norse valkyrja for “chooser of the slain”) are a host of female warriors who descend to earth to resurrect half the dead human warriors from the battlefield and carry them to Valhalla. The fairest Valkyrie has white skin.No matter their origins, the White Walkers have a fearsome leader in the Night King. In the previous season, he killed one of Danny’s dragons, turning it into a zombie battle creature after its corpse was dredged from a deep lake. (And leading to dozens of memes asking how in a battlefield resembling Antarctica they managed to find the chains.)The Night King. Photo Courtesy of Helen Sloane/HBOThe theories about the White Walkers have become frenzied in the last several months, with speculation that the Stark family is connected by bloodline to the Night King. Bran Stark is a particular focus of this theory.Read another story from us: Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding is based on Scotland’s Black Dinner in 1440 and Glencoe Massacre of 1692Perhaps the wildest theory is that ultimately it will be revealed that the White Walkers are the good guys, which makes the humans … the bad guys.Game of Thrones’ eighth season premieres on April 14th.Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.comlast_img read more

Video shows what Steph Curry said to Kendrick Perkins during Game 2

first_img Advertisement Steph Curry spontaneously combusted in the 4th quarter to turn a mostly competitive Game 2 into a blowout. Many fans have pointed out that Cavs part time power forward  – and full-time bouncer – Kendrick Perkins might have lit Steph’s fire when the two went nose-to-nose at the end of the third quarter. The beef arose from Perkins refusing to move his feet while Curry stumbled backwards into the Cavs bench after shooting a three.Steph and Perk exchange words after the 3rd quarter 👀— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 4, 2018 It was impossible to see exactly what was said when it happened, but another angle from last night’s broadcast appears to reveal what Steph said to Perk that pissed him off. There is no audio, but using less than novice lipreading skills you can see Curry looks Perkins – dressed in a suit – up and down before saying, “You ain’t playing tonight?”Perkins didn’t have a good comeback for this, because there isn’t one. What can you really say to the probable Finals MVP when you’re sitting on the bench in a suit? Pretty impressive Curry had a Finals record 9 threes but still found time to drop the mic.“You ain’t playing tonight?”last_img read more

Kawhis Decision Could Make All Other FA Moves Irrelevant

first_imgGuests:Chris Broussard, Arash Markazi, Charles Barkley, and Ric Bucher <span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>Kawhi to the Lakers would make other free agency moves irrelevantNBA free agency has already seen a host of moves that could potentially re-shape the NBa landscape, but all those gains by other teams could be rendered irrelevant if Kawhi Leonard signs with the Lakers.Leonard’s decision will dictate the power structure of the NBA for the near future, and potentially wipe out the league’s post-Warriors shift toward parity, along with a disastrous last year for L.A. Kawhi controls the league right now, much like LeBron when he left for the Heat.  There’s no other way to look at it.Also:-KD and Kyrie aren’t title contenders in Brooklyn-Sky is not falling in golden State-Charles Barkley talks free agencylast_img read more

Less Ramble on the Road

first_imgSeptember 16, 2009 Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. This story appears in the October 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Rejoice: Planning business trips is about to become less of a headache. With the launch of its new Business Travel Center, TripAdvisor is reaching out to the road warriors who want to know where to stay, what to eat and how to entertain themselves between meetings and conferences. The popular travel review website has re-indexed more than 20 million hotel reviews with business travelers in mind, taking into account factors such as amenities, the number of existing reviews and overall ratings. You can also post questions in a discussion forum, check the weather and map meeting locations and nearby services in more than 750 cities around the world. Let’s take it for a spin.Book it. Enter your destination city and you’ll be taken to a list of hotels ranked by business travel popularity. You can check room rates, photos, amenities and reviews.The nabe. A new map feature lets you pinpoint the nearest coffeehouse or Kinkos. Or type in your meeting location to find the closest hotel.Pack up. Check the Weather Essentials feature to help plan what to pack, especially if you’ll be in different cities during the week.Read up. Research your destination under Business Traveler Info, including advice on public transportation, entertainment and shuttling to and from the airport.Picky, picky. Use the filter function to narrow your search options, based on amenities, hotel class or hotel brand–in case you want to make full use of your traveler’s points. 2 min read Enroll Now for Freelast_img read more

A Community of Ones Own

first_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. February 16, 2010 Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals While the herd mentality drives many entrepreneurs to stake their claims in the Facebook community, it is important to consider whether it makes sense to build your own customer community–independent of Facebook and integrated with your company’s website and customer relationship management system.Online community software and servicesBuilding your own customer community is not cost prohibitive, and plenty of tools and services are available to help companies large and small get started. Check out the following platforms:. Lithium. Ning. Jive SBS. BuddyPress. Liveworld. Leverage Software. KickApps. Pluck. BlueKiwiYes, Facebook represents a huge potential market and offers several free community-building features, including Groups, Fan Pages, Targeted Advertising and Facebook Connect. But relying solely on Facebook or other third-party social networking platforms for community building and word-of-mouth could be a mistake. After all, you don’t own Facebook. What’s free today may not be free tomorrow. And everything you build on Facebook stays on Facebook, drawing traffic there instead of to your website.Launching your own online community initiative offers several potential advantages that may help you attain your customer-engagement goals more efficiently while providing you with more control over the community you build, as well as a better way of establishing and tracking ROI:Branding autonomy. It’s your community, so you have complete freedom to brand however you like.Improved ability to identify top influencers. You have more freedom to implement analytics to identify top influencers and target them in the future.CRM optimization. By tying community user accounts to your CRM system, you gain access to valuable customer data that helps with customer service, support and retention.Scalability. You set the engineering road map for your business’s online community, choosing which features to include.Reduced support costs. Customers love helping one another solve problems. This reduces customer service costs and creates a ton of evergreen content for customers to reference in the future.Customer-driven innovation. The open forum of an online community often sparks debate that can lead to innovative new products and services along with improvements throughout the company, particularly in sales and customer service.I don’t recommend ignoring Facebook entirely. Having access to a 350-million-plus (and growing) market is nothing to disregard. However, just as I recommend maintaining a separate business blog of your own, building an independent community on your website may be vital in establishing the community you desire.Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. When he is not working or ghosting blog entries for clients, Belicove can be found musing about the world on and can be reached at 3 min read This story appears in the March 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Register Now »last_img read more

7 Ways to Keep Hackers From Destroying Your Startup

first_img 7 min read Enroll Now for Free In all fairness, startups have a lot on its plates.From raising capital to product development to marketing and public relations to just plain keeping sane, startups are typically very busy places. So while your startup may be struggling to balance key elements, like leadership, staffing, product development, market differentiation and customer acquisition, please understand that its only with the best intentions that we add one more item to your lengthy to-do list – security.Related: 4 Foolish Cybersecurity Mistakes Robert Herjavec Is Shocked People Still MakeWhile many factors, including cost, technical awareness and first-to-market races may make security look like an impediment to growth, it is most assuredly anything but. Some may even argue that by virtue of even claiming an InfoSec department or employee, your company is no longer a startup.From the earliest stages, firms need to prioritize cybersecurity to ensure it organically evolves in tandem with business, splicing it into the cultural DNA, if you will. In order to develop and promote an organizationally comprehensive understanding of risk as well as policies that will grow with your business, here is a list of seven key security elements that any developing company and its leadership team should adopt.1. Insist on access management from the start.No matter how horizontal or egalitarian an environment you strive to create, not everyone needs to be an admin for everything. The security rule most-oft recommended to startups is to thoughtfully assign services, and then individual logins, instead of sharing the same username and password across an entire company.Why? Because all companies – no matter how generous your flex-time policy or innovative your technology — experience turnover. Founders should never be forced to scramble to change access for all personnel each time an individual departs, particularly in the case of a disgruntled employee – or soon to be ex-employee — who has access to your proprietary and critical IT, IP and other key data. When properly applied, access management allows startups to tailor permission levels, and our recommendation is to dole them out sparingly.2. Enforce two-factor authentication (2FA).Two-factor authentication is exactly what it sounds like – the requirement of a second level of authentication in addition to a username and password — usually in the form of a token with a numerical code, a smart card, a text message to a phone or even a biometric (think thumbprint) scan.2FA is especially for critical systems like email, Git repos, databases and cloud providers. Requiring a password and a device – what you know and what you have — can halt a bad actor before they can break in, and let you know something is wrong early on. Imagine being able to thwart the damage caused by credential theft from a spear-phishing attack or malware — that’s the beauty of 2FA.3. Use a password manager like 1Password.It’s 2016. No two passwords should be the same, and there’s no reason to have a password with fewer than 25 characters – letters, numbers and characters. So in addition to 2FA, insert a password management system into your company’s security policy. Password managers are software services that generate and securely store long, complex passwords in an encrypted virtual container. Its beauty is that employees need to remember only one – hopefully robust — password to unlock the manager, from which they can then cut-and-paste or auto-fill into individual sites and services. Password managers solve the problem of complex passwords for all the sites you use on a daily basis. Make sure everyone in the company uses one.Related: Cybersecurity Planning is Finally Demystified (Infographic)4. Use your phone.Train employees to call whenever a request for sensitive data or materials, like wire transfers, passwords or personnel data, are requested from another party. It doesn’t matter if the request is coming from the email address of someone you share a cubicle wall with. When someone actually does need access to a service – say, they need your 2FA code to get into Twitter — and they send a note to you asking for those credentials, call and speak to them. Especially at a small startup, where you know everyone’s voice, verbal confirmation is the most effective way to avoid getting phished.5. Use GPG encryption for sharing sensitive information.GPG Tools works great for Mac, and you should be using encryption for more than just your emails. Even if your company communications are happening behind 2FA, and logins with complex unique passwords, bad things can still happen. If you’re sharing any sensitive information, encrypt it because if another party is phishing you, they get nothing without the intended recipient’s private key. And if the communications service provider – email, Slack, etc. — gets hacked, you don’t have to worry about your critical keys being stolen.6. Use full-disk encryption.Modern operating systems, such as macOS, Windows 10, iOS and Android, come with full disk encryption. Use it, and make sure everyone else in your company is using it.iPhones get lost. People leave laptops alone on coffee shop tables. Tablets are stuffed into airplane seat pockets and forgotten. Stuff happens.These machines have your company’s intellectual property, strategic plans and access to email, keys and communications, essentially the lifeblood of a tech company. Likewise, make sure your devices require passwords to turn on and wake from sleep. I’d encourage you to encrypt backups too. This comes as a feature on modern operating systems too so someone can’t pick up your external hard drive and wander off, or make a copy while you’re away from your desk.7. Don’t lose your IP over a latte.Startups, with their flex-time and work-from-wherever attitudes are awesome at giving employees the freedom to do their jobs from wherever they want. And hey, why not, since there’s free wi-fi practically on every corner – for a price.Ever hear of Firesheep? It’s a free program that lets hackers grab cookies from non-encrypted code, and gain access to your private information. That means anyone in proximity to an employee on public wi-fi can potentially access that individual’s – or even their company’s — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.Worse, hackers will set up rogue-yet-legit-looking wi-fi hotspots – i.e. beware anything called “Free Public Wi-Fi” — so when you connect to the company VPN over a skim double-macchiato, they can see any data you share and receive over this connection. The solution – read the list above, paying close attention to 2FA, encryption and even tethering to your phone as a hotspot, if your data plan and battery can support it.Better yet, subscribe to a Privacy-as-a-Service platform, like Dispel, which encrypts both data and connections for all employee daily browsing, email, file transfers, messaging and social media, segmenting and isolating each device from neighboring users.And here’s a bonus tip. Not to be Captain Obvious, but please: Don’t click sketchy links or download weird things from the Internet, and do study up on your anti-virus software.Related: Expert Hacker Shares 3 Ways Small Businesses Can Minimize Cybersecurity ThreatsThis one should almost go without saying, but it’s really important so I’ll put it here anyway. The Internet is full of nasty stuff, and people with bad intentions. Practicing good digital and device hygiene is essential for keeping your data safe. Train all employees to cultivate a healthy amount of skepticism when downloading software. Keep an eye out to make sure website SSL certificates are valid. And install a high quality anti-virus scanner, even Mac users. You never know. This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now October 12, 2016 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.last_img read more