The Salmon Cannon: Easier Than Shooting Fish Out Of A Barrel by MARTHA ANN OVERLAND and NPR STAFF August 31, 2014 5:23 AM ET

Ever since rivers have been dammed, destroying the migration routes of salmon, humans have worked to create ways to help the fish return to their spawning grounds. We’ve built ladders and elevators; we’ve carried them by hand and transported them in trucks. Even helicopters have been used to fly fish upstream.

But all of those methods are expensive and none of them are efficient.

Enter the salmon cannon.


The device uses a pressure differential to suck up a fish, send it through a tube at up to 22 mph and then shoot it out the other side, reaching heights of up to 30 feet. This weekend, it will be used to move hatchery fish up a tributary of the Columbia River in Washington.

The device was developed by Whooshh Innovations in Bellevue, Wash. CEO Vince Bryan tells NPR’s Linda Wertheimer that the word “cannon” is a bit of a misnomer: the device looks like a cannon, and shoots fish out like a cannon, but unlike the weapon, this device is designed to move items gently.

Bryan says that despite their journey — which takes them out of the water for the duration of their flight — the fish don’t seem worse for the wear.

“From the very beginning of the test that was a concern,” Bryan says. “It may be just ten seconds to go as much as 250 feet … [but] there seems to be no effect. The fish enter the water and swim away.”

Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New App, Is Like a $15,000 Video Setup in Your Hand – BY CLIFF KUANG 08.26.14 | 10:00 AM

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at Aug 31, 2014 2.48

Today at 10am PST, Instagram is lifting the veil on Hyperlapse, one of the company’s first apps outside of Instagram itself. Using clever algorithm processing, the app makes it easy to use your phone to create tracking shots and fast, time-lapse videos that look as if they’re shot by Scorsese or Michael Mann. What was once only possible with a Steadicam or a $15,000 tracking rig is now possible on your iPhone, for free. (Instagram hopes to develop an Android version soon, but that will require changes to the camera and gyroscope APIs on Android phones.) And that’s all thanks to some clever engineering and an elegantly pared-down interaction design. The product team shared their story with WIRED.

The Inspirations

By day, Thomas Dimson quietly works on Instagram’s data, trying to understand how people connect and spread content using the service. Like a lot of people working at the company, he’s also a photo and movie geek—and one of his longest-held affections has been for Baraka, an art-house ode to humanity that features epic tracking shots of peoples all across the world. “It was my senior year, and my friend who was an architect said, ‘You have to see it, it will blow you away,’” says Dimson. He wasn’t entirely convinced. The movie, after all, was famous for lacking any narration or plot. But watching the film in his basement, Dimson was awestruck. “Ever since, it’s always been the back of my mind,” he says.

A sample shot from BarakaA sample shot from Baraka

By 2013, Dimson was at Instagram. That put him back in touch with Alex Karpenko, a friend from Stanford who had sold his start-up to Instagram in 2013. Karpenko and his firm, Luma, had created the first-ever image-stabilization technology for smartphone videos. That was obviously useful to Instagram, and the company quickly deployed it to improve video capture within the app. But Dimson realized that it had far greater creative potential. Karpenko’s technology could be used to shoot videos akin to all those shots in Baraka. “It would have hurt me not to work on this,” says Dimson.

Clever Tech

The insight that powered Karpenko’s algorithms began, like so many other startup ideas, as a phD thesis at Stanford. This was 2010, and the iPhone 4 had come out: one of the first phones that could capture HD video. That sounded terrific, in theory, but cramming such a great video camera onto a handheld device meant that the videos themselves were often shaky to the point of being unwatchable. “They were all just crappy,” Karpenko says.

He knew that image stabilization was the answer, but the technologies of that time, which you’d find in Final Cut and myriad other video editing programs, were simply unworkable for smartphones. Why? Imagine a video clip, taken from a moving car. To even the juddering camera motion, image stabilization algorithms typically analyze a movie frame by frame, identifying image fragments common to each. By recording how those shared points jump around across frames, algorithms can then infer how the camera has been moving. By reverse engineering that motion data, software can recreate a new, steadier version of a film clip. Yet every step in that process requires processing muscle. That’s fine for a movie studio, which has massive computers that crank overnight to re-render a scene. It’s ridiculous for a smartphone.

Left to right: product designer Chris Connolly, and software engineers Thomas Dimson and Alex Karpenko. Left to right: product designer Chris Connolly, and software engineers Thomas Dimson and Alex Karpenko.  Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Inspired by a demo in which he saw gyroscopes attached to cameras to de-blur their images, Karpenko had an aha moment: Smartphones didn’t have nearly enough power to replicate video-editing software, but they did have built-in gyroscopes. On a smartphone, instead of using power-hungry algorithms to model the camera’s movement, he could measure it directly. And he could funnel those measurements through a simpler algorithm that could map one frame to the next, giving the illusion that the camera was being held steady. He mocked up a simple demo, and filmed a dot on his wall, while making his hand shake. “The images in the test matched up almost exactly, and that’s when I knew this was doable,” Karpenko says.

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Big changes to Power 5: NCAA sports could see accelerated wealth gap – August 30, 2014 5:00AM ET by Ray Glier

ATLANTA, Georgia — The middle and lower-tier schools of college athletics — Fresno State, Brigham Young and Memphis, among others — are supposed to be bum-rushed out of big-time football and basketball any month now.

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at Aug 31, 2014 2.42

They are not among the 65 schools in the Power 5 conferences that will now make their own rules on student-athlete welfare, and allocation of funds, as per a vote by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Directors on August 7.

The thinking is the bigger conferences — Pac-12, Southeastern, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 — could use their vast television money from regional sports networks and the new College Football Playoff to expand coaching staffs, throw money at recruits with stipends, pay for disability insurance for athletes, and on and on. Smaller revenue schools like Boise State in the Mountain West, UConn in the American Athletic, and other colleges in Conference-USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American would fall further and further behind.

Under this scenario, the big schools could offer full cost of attendance to athletes, a sum between $2,000 and $5,000 that meets expenses outside the athletic scholarship. The smaller schools, with budgets less than 50 percent the $100 million at big schools, would find their finances stressed.

There was even an ESPN survey of the several dozen football coaches in the major conferences in which almost half of respondents said they did not want to play football against schools outside the 65. That would deny significant revenue to the other schools. Ominous news of the Power 65 “breaking away” hovers over the start of the 2014 college football season, with a doomsday split scenario beckoning for the smaller programs.

Conflicting opinions

But a funny thing may happen on the way to the feared demise of those Cinderella schools. Not all of the 65 relatively high-resource schools want to go along with the plan pushed by their brethren from Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and other behemoths with deep pockets. Schools like Wake Forest, Indiana, Syracuse and Pitt may not want to start pumping vast sums into athletics.

“I have talked to athletic directors across the country and they have the same concerns we have,” said Mark Coyle, the athletic director at Boise State, whose football team was in Atlanta on Thursday night to play Mississippi State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. “There are just a handful of [big] schools who want to make some of these changes. Not everybody does.”

There will be 80 voting members (which includes 15 current players) for the Power 5, but there could be voting blocs organized to keep the high-wealth schools from controlling the room. One of the other things the big schools might do is expand the four-team playoff to eight teams at the behest of television moguls, and further erode the mission of the colleges. Yet they cannot do that without support in the room.

Think about the vote strategy. Indiana, in the Big Ten, has an athletic budget of approximately $76 million. Ohio State’s is approximately $140 million. Are the Hoosiers going to allow the Buckeyes, a conference rival, to use superior funds to get further ahead? Suppose a vote comes to the floor about expanding coaching staffs to 12, or allowing additional recruiting staff. Will Minnesota and Illinois side with Ohio State? Doubtful.

Here is one more thing to consider about the demise of schools like Boise State. The Broncos’ wide receiver Matt Miller is a senior from Helena, Montana. He was offered scholarships by Stanford, Arizona State, Arkansas, and Oregon State. Those schools are in conferences with plenty of television money. With a federal judge ruling that schools can give athletes at least $5,000 for every year of eligibility (to be paid when they leave school) and also money to meet full cost of attendance (which could be $2,000 to $5,000 a year), Miller could pocket an extra $40,000 by going to an SEC or Pac-12 school. Boise might not be able to match that.

“I’d still go to Boise,” Miller said. “I can go and work as much as I can, as a ranch hand, to get money. The atmosphere around our program and school makes a lot of difference. Going to another school just for the money would not be for me.”

The atmosphere around our program and school makes a lot of difference. Going to another school just for the money would not be for me.

6 extreme weather events that pummeled America this summer – JOANNA ROTHKOPF SATURDAY, AUG 30, 2014 9:30 PM UTC

Research says that extreme weather is becoming more common. Here were the most devastating events this summer

6 extreme weather events that pummeled America this summer

A structure burns along Highway 41 in Oakhurst, Calif., Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. One of several wildfires burning across California prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people in a central California foothill community near Yosemite National Park, authorities said. (Credit: AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora)

In journalism school, my class received lecture after lecture on the dangers of rushing to relate extreme weather with climate change. There is no way of knowing the precise forces at play with certain meteorological events, and it is even harder to say that whatever forces were involved were caused by our warming planet. Still, extreme weather events happen and we are seeing more of them as time passes.

Slate’s Phil Plait put it best when he wrote:

Tying extreme weather to climate change is tricky. It’s not so much “this event was due to the Earth warming, which is disrupting the climate” as it is “statistically speaking, we’re seeing more extreme weather events, getting even more extreme over time.” Think of it as playing craps with ever-so-slightly loaded dice. You can’t be sure that snake eyes you threw was due to the dice being weighted, but over time you’ll see a lot more of them than you’d expect, statistically, from fair dice.

New research indicates that certain kinds of extreme events are becoming more common, and the trend is due to something called “blocking patterns.” Blocking patterns occur where particularly hot or wet weather remains trapped over a certain region for weeks at a time, causing heat waves or floods. Dim Coumou, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and an author on the paper, said, “Since 2000, we have seen a cluster of these events. When these high-altitude waves become quasi-stationary, then we see more extreme weather at the surface… It is especially noticeable for heat extremes.” At this point, Coumou acknowledges that his study shows a correlation between blocking patterns in the summer and extreme events, rather than a direct causation.

This summer, we have witnessed a number of extreme meteorologic and geologic events. Here are some of the worst in the U.S.:

Click the link to see

At least 5 current Ferguson officers apart from Brown shooter figure in lawsuits – By Kimberly Kindy and Carol D. Leonnig August 30 at 7:02 PM

Federal investigators are focused on one Ferguson, Mo., police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, but at least five other police officers and one former officer in the town’s 53-member department have been named in civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.

In four federal lawsuits, including one that is on appeal, and more than a half-dozen investigations over the past decade, colleagues of Darren Wilson’s have separately contested a variety of allegations, including killing a mentally ill man with a Taser, pistol-whipping a child, choking and hog-tying a child and beating a man who was later charged with destroying city property because his blood spilled on officers’ clothes.

One officer has faced three internal affairs probes and two lawsuits over claims he violated civil rights and used excessive force while working at a previous police department in the mid-2000s. That department demoted him after finding credible evidence to support one of the complaints, and he subsequently was hired by the Ferguson force.

Police officials from outside Ferguson and plaintiffs’ lawyers say the nature of such cases suggests there is a systemic problem within the Ferguson police force. Department of Justice officials said they are considering a broader probe into whether there is a pattern of using excessive force that routinely violates people’s civil rights.

Counting Wilson, whose shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 set off a firestorm of protests and a national debate on race and policing, about 13 percent of Ferguson’s officers have faced ­excessive-force investigations. Comparable national data on excessive force probes is not available. But the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project, funded by the libertarian Cato Institute, estimated on the basis of 2010 data that about 1 percent of U.S. police officers — 9.8 out of every 1,000 — will be cited for or charged with misconduct. Half of those cases involve excessive force.

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Should Pro-Anorexia Sites Be Criminalized? – Carrie Arnold 08.30.14

Italy’s Parliament recently proposed a bill that would criminalize pro-anorexia site authors with a $67,000 fine and up to a year in jail. But health experts say this is a bad idea.

The Daily Beast

Look for online information about eating disorders, and you’ll be bombarded with material from the National Institutes of Mental Health, advocacy organizations and non-profits, treatment centers, academic researchers, and eating disorder sufferers and their loved ones. The quality and accuracy of information on these sites can vary widely, as can the virtual support that some of them provide.

Among this information, you may come across scary-sounding stories about pro-anorexia sites. Some eating disorder groups say the sites promote anorexia as a “lifestyle choice” and contain tips to help sufferers lose weight and conceal their disorder from loved ones.

Instagram and Pinterest have already banned users from sharing “thinspiration” and images that glorify eating disorders, and now Italy’s Parliament has proposed going one step further. In June 2014, legislators proposed a bill that would criminalize any author of a pro-anorexia site with a fine of €10,000 to 50,000 ($13,000 to 67,000) and up to a year in jail. Advocates of the bill say it will help send a powerful message about the need to take eating disorders seriously.

But some researchers who study pro-anorexia sites, clinicians who treat the disorder, and users of the sites themselves believe this is a dangerous step.

“This will only force these groups further underground and further to the fringe, placing users even more at risk,” says Antonio Caselli, a sociologist at the National Center for Scientific Research and lead researcher on the ANAMIA project.

It’s all too easy to peg pro-anorexia sites as a shocking, recent phenomenon. Although they only came on Rebecka Peebles’ radar in the early 2000s, the adolescent eating disorder physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says they’re likely as old as the Internet itself.

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