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The Wet Look

Computer monitors give us eye-popping displays in which the light areas look as much as 800 times lighter than the dark ones. But these images are born inside a computer; a cam-era gazing at a scene cannot capture contrast anywhere near that high. The reason: Light reflecting off the air-glass surfaces produces “lens flare.” As a result, whites don’t look as white as they do in reality; blacks don’t look as black.

Physicist Edward F. Kelley of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., has come up with a novel way to rectify this shortcoming-by emulating Mother Nature. Our eyes don’t suffer from lens flare, Kelley says, because they are liquid-filled. His logical solution: inject oil into the space between a camera’s lens and the sensors that convert the image into an electronic signal. In preliminary work, addition of liquid to a camera hiked contrast-capturing capability seventyfold. While a consumer-grade eye-ball camera is possible, the technology will probably appear first in scientific instruments that need to detect contrast with high precision.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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