Smithsonian Channel: Is it the greatest prank ever pulled?

imageThe Smithsonian Channel has started marketing it’s Secrets series with Season 1, Episode 1: The Turin Shroud. They describe it this way:

The Shroud of Turin. Is it the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? A work of art? Or the greatest prank ever pulled? The Vatican itself refuses to take an official position on its authenticity, and with limited access to the cloth for testing, there’s seemingly no way for scientists to end the debate. Or is there? Join four experts as they explore four radically different theories, using groundbreaking research and archeological expertise. Their one goal: to decode a treasure that has been revered, rejected, and argued about for more than 600 years.

It is available through iTunes, Amazon Videos or Google Play.  At Amazon, for instance, you can buy and download an HD version for $2.99 or an SD version for $1.99 if you have a supported device such as TIVO, Kindle Fire, Xbox, PlayStation, iPad or a smart TV. Or you can watch it for free on your desktop or laptop computer, with advertising.

A short preview is available.

Creative Ideas That Work

imageShanun Palus in Smithsonian magazine has an interesting article, Astronomers Are Doing Real Science With Space Photos They Found on Flickr. I’m not saying it is applicable. I’m sure it is not. But it demonstrates the idea that there may be new ways to study images that we have not thought of:

To get detailed images of deep space, astronomers have a couple of options, says Technology Review. They can either use a long exposure to capture one really detailed image, or stack multiple less-detailed images together. Lang and colleagues opted for the second approach. But rather than using multiple photos taken with the same telescope, they looked to the web.

The team used a new alogorithm to stack nearly 300* images of the Galaxy NGC 5907 that they found on Flickr, Bing, and Google. They did this by "[l]iterally searching for ‘NGC 5907’ and ‘NGC5907’," explains Astrobites.

Picture from Smithsonian:  An amateur photograph of galaxy NGC 5907 by Flickr user korborh. On its own it doesn’t look like much, but combined with hundreds more it can reveal new secrets about the universe. (korborh)