Rome Digitally Rebuilt in Hours


“Using a new computer algorithm, researchers were able to take 150,000 tourist photos tagged “Roma” or “Rome” downloaded from the photo sharing Web site Flickr and combine them into a single 3-D digital model in about 21 hours.

““How to match these massive collections of images to each other was a challenge,” says Sameer Agarwal, acting assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington.”

Careers in Humanitarian Science…from the American Association for the Advancement of Science…

“One way or the other, most scientists do work that benefits society, even those who don’t think about it quite that way. Some direct their efforts toward enriching the bank of knowledge. Others work to make new medicines, or to create technologies that make work more efficient and the economy richer. Some with a medical degree even directly alleviate pain, taking care of one patient after another.

“But only a few scientists work directly and explicitly to improve the human condition on a wide scale.

“Lars Bromley … got his first exposure to the struggles of the outside world through the books he was reading as a teenager. “I grew up in a very small town in the middle of the United States, so we were as far as you could be from anything related to international affairs,” says Bromley, leader of the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, publisher of Science Careers). But when, after 7 years working on international environmental and developmental policy, he began researching human-rights violations in remote countries, he “was immediately so consumed with the human rights” that no other work seemed more important.”

Study: Lack of Vegetation Heats Up Low-income Neighborhoods


“The wealth of a neighborhood could influence the outdoor temperature of the area, according to a study to be released in October by ASU researchers.

“The study, titled “Geospatial Contributions to Urban Hazard and Disaster Analysis,” is part of a project that began in September 2008 with a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Results from the study show that an abundance of vegetation in wealthier neighborhoods helps cool down the area, while a lack of vegetation in low-income neighborhoods creates “heat islands,” said Sharon Harlan, an associate professor with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change who contributed to the study.”

Measuring the Carbon Content of Forests: The Carbon Measurement Collaborative

clinton…from the William J. Clinton Foundation‘s Clinton Climate Initiative

“Most developing countries lack the technology and tools to track emissions and estimate forests’ carbon absorption and storage abilities. CCI is helping partner countries design and implement their own National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS), giving unprecedented accounting rigor to national forest inventories, as well as individual projects. By working on a national scale, our approach helps to create a globally accepted system for measuring, monitoring, and verifying the carbon content of forests. This in turn supports the development of international agreements on deforestation, and facilitates countries’ access to carbon markets as well as other sources of investment capital.

“To this end, we have convened the Carbon Measurement Collaborative (CMC), a network of leading scientists and technical experts in forest carbon modeling, land use change monitoring and measurement, and satellite imaging. The CMC has developed a prototype, based on a system originally developed in Australia, which currently is being demonstrated. In each partner country, we aim to build the local capacity – the software, computer hardware, and personnel training – to manage the NCAS independently.

“Partners and participants of the CMC include: the Australian government, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), the world’s leading geographical information systems organization, NASA, and other space agencies through the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations, the Woods Hole Research Center, the H. John Heinz III Center, World Resources Institute, and the Green Belt Movement. We also are engaging with Google and other important technology providers as well as with end users, including members of the financial investment community and negotiators of the post-Kyoto climate treaty, to determine what the system will be able to deliver for their purposes.”

Supercomputers Often Run Outdated Software

…from The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Supercomputers keep breaking records for processing speed, but software to operate them has not kept up with that increasingly zippy hardware. The often-rickety supercomputing computer code is becoming an obstacle to making better weather models, medical simulations, and other applications of high-performance computers, said experts at a conference here Wednesday on the future of academic supercomputing.

“”Codes are still being used from the 1960s,” said Ed Seidel, director of the National Science Foundation’s office of cyberinfrastructure, in an interview at the meeting. “Those have to be retooled or rethought” to take full advantage of the latest supercomputers, he said.

“Attendees at the meeting said one of the most popular computer languages used to create programs for supercomputers is Fortran, which went out of style among conventional programmers decades ago and is rarely even taught in college computer-science departments today. It’s as if your new laptop still ran MS-DOS, the operating system that predated Windows on personal computers.”