Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:43 and 3:43 a.m.

Holiday Snaps


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What now?  Family vacation photos . . . for science?

    This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Time-lapse videos that span years or decades can tell us a lot about the world.  They show cities growing, ecosystems drying, and even geologic changes.  But who's going to maintain a camera for years?

Maybe we don’t need a dedicated camera at all.  Researchers from the University of Washington and Google have found a resource that has been hiding in plain sight – tourist photos!  There are millions of pictures on the internet, many of the same landmarks.  They just needed to be organized.

To do that, the team mined eighty-six-million photos from Flickr and other sites.  They grouped them by location, time stamp, and other markers.  Then they used crazy-sophisticated algorithms to do several things: remove people, equalize lighting, and create a single point of view.

Their work provides stunning, multiyear time videos.  Things like: a glacier receding, new buildings under construction, and a waterfall shifting course. 

I’m just glad, for purposes of weight gain, that they took the people out.  That’s one glacier-like process I don’t need to look at!