Now that the publication is up, we would like some feedback if you have found the time to read through the e-zine. Your feedback is invaluable for us to figure out which sorts of Features and Departments the second issue should include. Thank you for your time! If you need time to go through the e-zine, this poll will be placed on the Publication page soon. (Writers and editors, please do not vote for yourselves).
To view The Box Move e-zine, click here.
UPDATE: After much hoo-ha, The Box Move has in fact seen it's first issue in print and you can grab your copy by contacting us or visiting us at LUMS. We're going to keep the online version up in the hopes that it does not dampen your enthusiasm for the print version.
The Box Move began as a blog, but since October 2010, has had plans to expand (ambitiously) into Pakistan’s first popular science magazine. It’s been a year since we started planning the magazine, and even though the team, the articles, the design and the local photography contributions have been ready since April 2011, it’s taken a while to get The Box Move out.
Unfortunately for Pakistan’s first popular science magazine, The Box Move will not be able to see the first issue in print. Given the amount of financial constraints that societies in LUMS are facing and the relative stinginess of private corporations who regularly sponsor fashion magazines, The Box Move has been released (on the Publication page of this website here) in online form. Think of it as a e-zine which required superhuman effort to produce. We hope you like it as much as we do.
If there is one thing I am proud of in The Box Move publication, it is the amount of local photography we feature. To all the photographers who contributed generously to our magazine, I hope you find that we did your photographs justice. I expect that all your readers will find your work absolutely phenomenal and will continue to track your marvelous work. The Box Move team does not consist merely of SSE students, even though there are a lot of them. All the Senior Editors whose intelligent ideas about what a popular science magazine should feature, show more scholarly promise than I have seen in any undergraduates I have ever met (but what would I know). I hope everybody on the team, even though they were promised a print edition, feels that I have done justice to their work.
I hope personally that you enjoy what you see. For the 2012 issue which should be complete by April 2012, we have already lined up a great number of opportunities that will ensure that the second issue will be released in print as well as online. The new Chief Editors, Maryam Asghar and Ovais Rasheed will make this bigger and better than I ever could and I highly suggest that you keep looking out for their work.
Lastly, we would love comments below about which articles you enjoyed particularly or if you feel some of our analysis was not apt. One of the problems we faced was keeping up with the science world, and we will be sure to fix this for the second issue. If you have any ideas for how the magazine can improve, please let us know. Enjoy!
The Box Move (Vol.1, Issue 1)
Note: This blog post is about Maheen's Senior Project. Since she graduated a year before the rest of the us (who are '12 students), her Project was completed earlier this year.
When a camera takes a picture, it’s “flattening” the world it’s viewing. So while it might be pretty obvious to us looking at this picture that the building is upright, and the ground is not, it is not that obvious to a computer. It does not know what buildings are, what trees are, what the ground is, what the sky is, and how all of these usually relate to one another. To your computer, this picture on the left is a two dimensional matrix. Without knowing anything about the three dimensional scene this picture captured, it would not be possible for your computer to infer anything about the nature of that scene. That information has been lost in the flattening.
Now, given certain constraints on the scene that has been flattened, it’s possible to recover the information your picture “flattened” out. Here are some examples of “unflattening” I really like.
There is research being done on this problem of “unflattening” a picture– more commonly known as single view 2D to 3D reconstruction - in the LUMS Computer Vision Lab. The constraints placed on the scene to be rectified were two. First, that the scene comprised of planes that were not discontinuous – so natural objects such as animals, mountains, plants, etc, are out ruled. Secondly, that each of these planes had some orthogonal lines on it, for example, a house with windows on each side. Using these two constraints (and some user input), single view reconstruction is possible.
Our senior year project was about doing the same thing, 3D reconstruction, but using information obtained from multiple images as opposed to a single image. By using multiple images we could create reconstructions that were more complete and real to life, since we can know what the object looks like from multiple angles and not just one. At the same time, we would also need to know how these photographs relate to one another so that we could join their respective three dimensional reconstructions together; there would have to be some kind of overlap between the images we use.
Now, we’ve assumed that our individual single view reconstructions work. Hence, we know that the constraints under which single view reconstruction is successful hold: we know that the scene we’re reconstructing comprises of planes that are not discontinuous, and that each of these planes has some orthogonal lines on them. By knowing this, we know that bringing two models together is just a matter of fusing together the two planes that are common between these two models. By common I mean both these planes are separate reconstructions of the same plane in the real world (that’s the one we live in I think).
It turns out that the minimum number of point correspondences you need to fuse together two planes is three. And that’s how much overlap you need in your photographs: three points. That’s it.
Of course, once you’ve fused together your planes, you will not get a reconstruction that’s perfect. Your single view reconstructions (SVR) were not perfect to begin with, so your multi-view reconstruction (MVR) will also be imperfect, and it will only get more imperfect with every additional SVR you use.
Conversely, the more SVRs we use, the more information we have about the structure we’re reconstructing. So, shouldn’t our MVR get better, and not worse? Well, yes. But only if we use this extra information.
We used the three (or more) common points to make all six of the points lie on the same plane. However, just because these points now lie on the same plane does not mean that these points themselves have fused together. We had six points on two separate planes to begin with. We will now have six points on the same plane – where as ideally, since these points represent the same three points in the real world, we should have three. Therefore, we try to construct our SVRs in such a way that the distance between corresponding points after stitching is minimized, that our six points come as close as possible to becoming three points.
However, if we remodel our SVRs to minimize common points’ distance only, we are also running the risk of creating worse models. Why? Because we are no longer taking in to account the nature of the scene we were reconstructing in the first place. In other words, we are not making sure that each plane has some orthogonal lines, and that planes are continuous and intersect each other properly. It is the interplay of all three of these factors that would create an accurate and realistic multi view reconstruction of the scene we plan to reconstruct.
Turns out this interplay is not that easy to figure out. Determining which factors need to be given relatively more weight depends on the quality of our SVRs, which in turn depends on the pictures and what they are capturing – and that’s the problem in the first place: we don’t know what exactly we’re taking pictures of. So we need to change our solution so that the question of weights does not come up, and that is what I am working on right now. However, by the end of our senior year, we hadn’t discovered this problem. We were playing around with weights and generating models that made us happy to look at. Here’s an example. The first two images are of what we were trying to stitch together. We were being lazy, so we just stitched multiple SVRs from this picture rather than multiple SVRs from different pictures. The second two are what the results of stitching looked like when we stitched the models together without optimizing. And the last is what we got after we took common points’ distance in to account and tried to minimize it.
Whenever I tell people about my senior project, they ask me of what practical use it is. Frankly, I don’t know. I’m sure somewhere someone will find this work useful, and not just to make an iPhone or Android application. Maybe historians would use it, or architects would. What difference does it make? It’s an interesting problem, and we tried to solve it. If it has any practical value, that’s a bonus. Who knows what practical value anything will eventually have? Now here’s the video I wrote this paragraph for:
The Box Move blog is no longer active since the founding team has graduated. The archives will remain online.
The SPROJ Forum for the SSE 2012 batch. Discuss potential Senior Projects here.
Brain Talk is an online resource and forum for all things Psychology and Neuroscience.
MUSIC FOR GEEKS:
Featured: Art Tatum Three Letter Word
ON THE FRINGE:
The story of a how a YouTube video of a blind man biking down a mountain inspired good non-fiction writing on echolocation. You may find it useful for your own writing. Read here.
An awful waste of space?
Amidst NASA's budgetary cuts and scientists' renewed vigor in justifying Space Programs, it is important to shed some light on the background. Click here for a succinct overview of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence(SETI) project.
Manto ka Muqaddama
Pakistaniat.com publishes, on the anniversary of Saadat Hasan Manto's death, a sampling of his works, a tribute to him as well as articles chronicling the obscenity trial he was tried for. Read all three parts of the series here.
Not Another 2010 List
The folks over at The Last Word put up their list for the best non-fiction in the past year, including 'The Mind's Eye' which is very hard to find in bookstores, indeed! Read the full list here.
Leslie Kaufman at The New York Times tells us exactly why those birds flying above are dropping to their deaths. Click here to read the article.
Spontaneous Solar Growth!
Reported at MadScience, scientists at MIT have found a way to create solar cells that can regenerate themselves like living organisms. Read more here.
Lessons from Chernobyl
Decades after the radiation disaster at Chernobyl, scientists elucidate how plant life has been thriving in the highly radioactive environment. Read more here.
MIT Scientists revisit Galileo's famous inclined plane experiment, this time with polymer ribbons and discover complex results. Read here.
A Lifetime, Washed Away
Pakistani author Daniyal Mueenuddin writes in the NY Times about the aftermath of the flood and displaced people. Read more here of the article posted by 3QD.
On String theory and Materials Science
Click here to find out how physicists at MIT are using ideas of gauge/gravity duality to explain properties of superconductors.
That's why you're irrational!
Newsweek's Sharon Begley provides a fascinating argument for why evolution may favor irrationality. I particularly liked the examples she picked. Read here.
Just when you wanted a gene kit
The US Food and Drug Administration held hearings n the 19th and 20th of July to talk about the validity of tests which were sold directly to the public which gives consumers direct access to to their genomes. Should it be regulated? Read more here.
On Trees and Prisons
In a 6 minute talk on Ted.com, Nalini Nadkarni (shown above) talks about her ideas of incorporating conservation into prison programs. Watch the talk and read Nadkarni's fascinating biography here.
These Lungs are made in USA
Stem Cell Biology takes huge leaps forward with the new advances made in lung transplants based on using the lungs extracellular architecture. Read more from Nature here.
Economist Special Reports
Ten years after Craig Venter revealed the first working draft of the entire Human Genome, this special report demonstrates how Biology is now at the brink of something brilliant - just recently, the draft of the entire genome of the Neanderthal was revealed. Suck on that, sceptics!
Bobby Satcher, astronaut, the first orthopedic surgeon in space. Read all about his tales here on MITnews.
Craig Venter Creations
Researchers create world's first fully synthetic self replicating, living cell. Massive fuss about limitless monster potential possible. Read the NewScientist article here. Watch the Ted.com talk by Craig Venter here.