19 June 2008

In stunning 3-D!

    "Ha! Is it come to this?" thundered the Stranger: "then meet your fate: out of your Plane you go. Once, twice, thrice! 'Tis done!"
      A Romance of Many Dimensions

      Edwin A. Abbott

A friend of mine is seriously into stereo photography, and he has begun posting his work online. You can see it for yourself here. His galleries utilize a Java stereo viewer that offers several different viewing options, and he has some viewing instructions on his site. I ended up using using the "cross-eyed" method that requires no special glasses and, if you can do it, offeres the clearest viewing options. His viewing instructions have a link to a really good explanation of the "cross-eyed" method.

His site doesn't tell you how he takes the pictures, but I got to see it first hand. He built his own stereo camera array out of a pair of fairly low-end Canon point-and-shoot cameras. Apparently these cameras offer a wide array of undocumented features if you know how to enable them. Luckily there are plenty of camera hackers online to show you how. I my friend's case, he was able to rig a custom remote that connects the the USB port on each camera, allowing him to trigger both cameras in unison.

The results are really cool. Check them out!

Ice on Mars!

    Salt can't do that.
      Peter Smith
      Principal investigator for the Phoenix mission

It's official. There is ice on Mars! Little chunks of material dug up by the lander have since disappeared. The only explanation is that the chunks are water ice that sublimated when exposed to the thin Martian atmosphere. That's cool.

Of course, other possible explanations were considered: