A New Weapon in the Fight Against ISIS’ Archeological Destruction: 3D Cameras

The Million Image Database Project wants to give citizen photographers around the world the power to digitally preserve their national treasures.

image via wikimedia commons

Researchers, historians, and archeologists have come up with a unique plan to help save a number of the priceless antiquities at risk for destruction at the hands of looters and militants, such as what’s been seen recently by members of the Islamic State. Actually, “save” isn’t quite the right word to use–“preserve” is a much more accurate term to describe what these experts have in mind: The digital, rather than physical preservation of threatened and at-risk pieces of art and architecture.

Called the “Million Image Database Project,” the initiative comes from a team comprised of experts from Oxford, Harvard, New York University and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. At its center is an inexpensive, consumer-available 3D camera (albeit one which the project has heavily modified) which can be distributed to ordinary citizens around the world, and used to snap “archival quality scans” of buildings and objects for which traditional preservation isn’t an option.

On their website, the project explains:

It is our intention to deploy up to five-thousand of these low-cost 3D cameras in conflict zones throughout the world by the end of 2015. Each camera contains an automated tutorial package that will help field users – local museum affiliates, imbedded military, NGO employees and volunteers – both to identify appropriate subject matters and to capture useable images.

image via wikimedia commons

Given the recent destruction of the Syria’s Temple of Baalshamin at the hands of Islamic State militants, the Million Image Database Project’s mission of digital preservation has become all the more urgent. To that end, the group has reportedly distributed 3D cameras to photographers on the ground in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, and Yemen. The goal, they explain, is to collect one million digital images by the end of 2016. What’s more, they hope that the initiative, should it prove successful, will be used as a basis for future, expanded efforts along the same lines. With that in mind, both the technology and software used in the Million Image Database Project will be open source.

Roger Michel, director for the Institute for Digital Archeology, the Oxford-based organization hosting the initiative, spoke with Britain’s The Times, saying: “By placing the record of our past in the digital realm, it will lie for ever beyond the reach of vandals and terrorists.” In another interview, this time with the BBC, he explained: “This is a race against time. We’ve changed our timetable in recognition of the places being destroyed.”

The Million Image Database Project is just one of many ways preservationists are looking into stemming the tide of archeological destruction and profiteering by ISIS militants. “Project Mosul,” a somewhat similar initiative, uses 2D photographs to reconstruct 3D scans of the items in Iraq’s Mosul Museum, following looting by Islamic State members in early 2015.

[via curbed]

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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