Tag Archives: London

This Man Is Able to Reproduce Meticulously Accurate Cityscapes After A Single Fly-Over (Video)

They call him the human camera.

Stephen Wiltshire was born in London in 1974. As a child, Stephen was a mute. At the age of three he was diagnosed as autistic, and in that same year his father died in a motorcycle accident.

At five he was sent to the Queensmill School for the autistic in London. The instructors there discovered that Stephen had an intense passion for art. Even as a child, his skill and attention to detail was exceptional.

A drawing Stephen did of St. Paul’s Cathedral when he was 9. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery)

They used this passion to help teach him to talk. Stephen was a mute, and avoided communication with others as much as possible.

So his instructors at Queensmill would take away his art supplies when he wasn’t using them so that he was forced to communicate with them when he wanted to draw again. He started with just sounds, but eventually he said his first word: “paper”.

He learned to speak fully at the age of nine. By that time, his passion for art was already extremely developed. His favorite subjects were American cars (he’s said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of them) and the buildings of London.

A young Stephen Wiltshire thoroughly enjoying a catalog of architecture. Click to enlarge (Courtesy of the Stephen Wiltshire Gallery)

During his time at Queensmill, Stephen’s instructors discovered that he had an extraordinary gift: he was able to reproduce extremely intricate sketches after seeing an image only once.

As an adult, Stephen used this skill to jump-start his career as an architectural artist by flying over massive cities and then reproducing huge, elaborate sketches of the cities, down to the number of windows in each building and the clothes on clothing lines.

I’ve gathered a few videos showcasing his mind-blowing talent. Enjoy!

Stephen draws New York City for UBS’s “We Will Not Rest” campaign in 2011:

Stephen draws Rome after flying over it for the first time:

Stephen draws Singapore after a helicopter fly-over (time-lapse):

Stephen takes on his largest ever panoramic drawing: a nearly 360 degree image of Tokyo:

Stephen is what is known as an autistic savant. Autistic savants have damage to the left anterior lobe of the brain, which plays a key role in processing sensory input and forming memories.

Because of this, they are able to access lower-level information like the extremely intricate details of buildings in Stephen’s works of art.

This information actually exists in all of our brains, but it’s normally unavailable to our conscious awareness because our brains classify this information as superfluous or non-essential.

However, studies and controversial experiments have proved that we can tap into these same talents by using transcranial magnetic stimulation: temporarily shutting down parts of the left anterior lobe using magnets.

Check out the video below to see how it effected creativity and other brain functions in the fascinating video below:

To view more of Stephen’s work and learn more about his life, you can visit his website, The Stephen Wiltshire Gallery.

How Scientists Predicted With 70% Accuracy Which 14-Year-Olds Would Be Binge Drinkers By 16

Five years ago, Robert Whelan, a former postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry at University of Vermont (UVM) and current lecturer at University College in Dublin, joined forces with Hugh Garavan, associate professor of psychiatry at UVM.

The pair of psychiatric researchers wanted to see if they could determine the factors that predicted binge drinking in teens.

In the largest longitudinal (long-term) adolescent brain imaging study to date, they gathered 2,400 14-year-olds from 8 regions across Europe, putting each of them through 10 hours of assessments. These tests included, “neuroimaging to assess brain activity and brain structure, along with other measures such as IQ, cognitive task performance, personality and blood tests”.

The amount of reported drinking in high school has actually been slowly decreasing in recent years

Here’s Robert Whelan describing the researchers’ hopes for the study:

“Our goal was to develop a model to better understand the relative roles of brain structure and function, personality, environmental influences and genetics in the development of adolescent abuse of alcohol… This multidimensional risk profile of genes, brain function and environmental influences can help in the prediction of binge drinking at age 16 years.”

They have kept up with the teens since the initial tests 5 years ago, keeping track of which teens developed habits of binge drinking.

Whelan and Garavan’s study, recently published in the journal Nature, attempted to predict which teens would be binge drinking by the age of 16 using only the data collected when the teens were 14.

By examining around 40 different variables, including factors like brain function, genetics and family history, the researchers were able to design a unique analytical method to predict binge drinking in the test subjects. Here’s Hugh Garavan:

“Notably, it’s not the case that there’s a single one or two or three variables that are critical… The final model was very broad — it suggests that a wide mixture of reasons underlie teenage drinking.”

Hugh Garavan, professor of psychiatry at UVM

As Garavan points out, there weren’t a few major factors that were primarily responsible for putting teens at risk- rather, it was the combination of a number of different, seemingly unrelated factors that predisposed a teen to binge drinking.

The best predictors of binge drinking, according to Garavan, were personality, thrill-seeking tendencies, lack of conscientiousness, and a history of drug use in the family. Teens who had experienced stressful life events, like a divorce or family death, were also more likely to binge drink.

But there was another somewhat surprising find: bigger brains predicted higher chances of binge drinking. As our brains mature during adolescence, they destroy rarely-used neural connections to increase efficiency. This can actually shrink the brain.

Here’s Garavan again:

“There’s refining and sculpting of the brain, and most of the gray matter — the neurons and the connections between them, are getting smaller and the white matter is getting larger… Kids with more immature brains — those that are still larger — are more likely to drink.”

The brain is made up of millions of neurons- the connections or pathways between these neurons are what allow us to function. Pathways that we stop using (like that year of Icelandic you took for a foreign language credit) will eventually disappear

Putting all of these factors together, Whelan and Garavan created a model that predicted with 70% accuracy which 14-year-olds in the study would become binge drinkers by the age of 16.

Gunter Schumann is a professor of biological psychiatry who heads the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Center at the King’s College (London) Institute of Psychiatry. He was the principal investigator for the study. He hopes that this new research will help identify and support at-risk teens early on in their adolescence:

“We aimed to develop a ‘gold standard’ model for predicting teenage behavior, which can be used as a benchmark for the development of simpler, widely applicable prediction models… This work will inform the development of specific early interventions in carriers of the risk profile to reduce the incidence of adolescent substance abuse.”

Schumann also adds that the data collected from this study will be used to further investigate how environmental factors affect the development of patterns of substance use.

Read more from Science Daily here.

Two Guys Swallowed Pieces of Film. The Images They Recovered Are Other-Worldly

Luke Evans and Josh Lake are graphic design students at Kingston University in London. At the end of their first year in 2012, they wanted to do something creative for their final project.

The subject brief for the project was “outdoor”, so the duo chose to take a creative approach to the concept. They would bring their “insides” to the outside by swallowing individual frames of 35mm film, recovering it (yes that means digging through their own poop), and seeing how their bodies’ chemical processes had affected the film.

They called the project, “I turn myself inside out”.

Click to enlarge

Evans explained,

“Wanting to bring something on the inside to the outside, we chose to investigate how we could use our bodies to alter materials. As the project evolved, we decided to use a material that is synonymous with image making, it was a very logical process. There is a physicality to film that we wanted to explore: the soft emulsion layer, its thickness, the way it reacts to touch and temperature. At this point we were really excited because there was absolutely no way to envision how the results would look, and that no two would be the same: would the film’s gelatin content be completely digested by enzymes? Would we ever get the film back?”

Click an image to enlarge.

Evans summed up it this way:

“This project isn’t ‘photography’ in the traditional sense, in some ways it’s image making about photography. Film has a huge history and set of rules surrounding it, but who is to say that it must be approached in such a way?”

Read more from Wired here.

New Discovery: The Black Death Was Not Spread By Rats, Must Have Been Airborne

In the autumn of 1348, The Black Death came to Britain from east Asia. By the next spring, it had killed 6 out of every 10 people in London.

It has long been thought that the plague spread via flea-infested rats, but a new discovery has prompted scientists to revise this theory.

Amidst pre-construction excavations for a train line in Charterhouse Square (to the north of the City of London) about a year ago, workers discovered 25 skeletons which were found to have been from the time of the plague.

Scientists were able to extract samples of the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, from the teeth of the skeletons, and compared it to a strain of the plague which recently killed about 60 people in Madagascar.

One of the skulls used to extract Black Death DNA (Photo: Philip Toscano/PA)

They expected that the strain from the 14th century would be far more virulent, because of how devastating it was when it hit London, but found instead that it was no more virulent than the strain from Madagascar (their DNA code was almost a perfect match).

The researchers realized that the only way the plague could have spread as fast as it did was for the disease to have been airborne, getting into the lungs and then being spread by coughs and sneezes.

Here’s Dr. Tim Brooks, who’s been leading the research:

“As an explanation [rat fleas] for the Black Death in its own right, it simply isn’t good enough. It cannot spread fast enough from one household to the next to cause the huge number of cases that we saw during the Black Death epidemics.”

Read the full story from The Guardian here.

Traveling London to Sydney in Just TWO HOURS Using Virgin Super Galactic Space Flight Technology (Video)

According to a recent article by Chris Pleasance

Futuristic planes based on spaceships which could allow passengers to travel from London to Sydney in two and a half hours are being developed.”

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactics space flight company says that a space tourism plane that it is currently working on could be modified and turned into a super jet. The “Concorde-like aircraft” would travel outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and enter into orbit, using the Earth’s gravitational forces to travel at incredible speeds.

The spacecraft/super jet would travel around 4,200 mph and cover the distance of 10,500 miles from London to Sydney in just 2.5 hours.

Virgin Galactic have so far succeeded in getting the craft outside the stratosphere, the second lowest layer of the atmosphere Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2467356/London-Sydney-TWO-hours-Virgin-Galactic-space-flight-technology-used-build-new-generation-super-jets-replace-Concorde.html#ixzz2qzNuq5NX  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Virgin Galactic have so far succeeded in getting the craft outside the stratosphere, the second lowest layer of the atmosphere

So far Virgin’s SS2 aircraft has only managed to exit the stratosphere, the second lowest part of Earth’s atmosphere, though the company still says it will launch its first flights next year. Its manned spacecraft has become the highest commercial winged vehicle to ever fly and used its shuttlecock-inspired ‘feather system’ to safely re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Eventually Virgin Galactic would like to create “Space Cruise Ships”, these cruise ships would take people away from earth and outside the atmosphere. Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough said they could serve as orbital hotels, and even allow tourists to travel to the Moon and back.

The company has already collected around $80million (£50m) in deposits from approx. 640 wealthy individuals interested in being some of the first space tourists. However Sir Richard himself and his family are due to take the first trip. Branson has also launched a TV competition show aimed at rewarding one winner with a ticket on board one of the SS2 craft (I’d gladly accept that victory).

Check Out the below video to see the aircraft in action and a description about the upcoming reality TV competition show.

 

"The spaceship is flown into the air while strapped into the carrying craft White Knight before detaching itself to launch into space"
“The spaceship is flown into the air while strapped into the carrying craft White Knight before detaching itself to launch into space”