School’s looking at you, kid

This photograph was taken about a year ago and shows 15-year-old Blake Robbins asleep in his bedroom. The picture in itself is not that interesting. What is remarkable is that it was taken with the built-in iSight camera of his Apple MacBook laptop, remotely operated by technicians at Harriton High School in Rosemont, Pennsylvania in the United States.

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Pen and paper

At the start of my vacation I closed my laptop and went back to pen and paper. To get at the heart of things, nothing beats an empty sheet of paper and a clear schedule. I spent many weeks drawing objects and scenes, and deriving geometrical formulas with pen and paper. Don’t get me wrong, I am devoted to my computer and the internet. I would be totally lost without them. But each and every day, I spend my energetic and creative hours sketching and scribbling on paper.

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Three-quarter view

The three guys in the painting above are all depictions of King Charles I, painted from different viewpoints by Anthonis van Dyck in 1636. In the middle we see a frontal view (“en face”), on the left a side view (“en profile”), and the most intriguing is the one on the right: the three-quarter view (“en trois quarts”). So here is the question that has bugged me for some time. Why is it called three-quarter, or 3/4? Three quarters of what?

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Watching geometry on YouTube

I am not a mathematician. During my training as a physicist I developed some competence in fields like geometry, algebra, and calculus, but I do not have the ability to create mathematics. I even find it really hard to read the mathematical literature. So I am probably missing out on exciting methods that may be useful for my present research in computer vision.

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2 teams, 1 ball, and 78 cameras

One of my friends is a true soccer fan and he has probably watched every single game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. I only watch the occasional game, like yesterday when the Dutch team played Cameroon (2-1). And I have to admit I sometimes get distracted from the game itself and start studying the way it is filmed. Its truly amazing that we can now watch it from so many viewing angles, with slow-motion replays of crucial events.

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