In the video above, Penn State geoscientist Peter Wilf describes a computer program he and colleagues developed that learns, and can classify modern and fossil leaves over 70 percent of the time and place them in the appropriate biological family. By comparison, he says, it can take a carefully trained human two hours to classify just one leaf.
The software actually taught itself botany, learning from a large number of already classified leaves, but developed its own methods for classifying a leaf. It creates heat maps that place a red marked square onto the image grid to signify features of the leaf that are critical for identification. The problem is, often trained humans can’t figure out exactly why that particular feature is important.
Wilf and collaborators spent nine years refining the program. He hopes eventually to use it to create a more accurate picture of plant evolution.
Members of the news media interested in talking to Wilf should contact Patty Craig at 814-863-4663 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An ice sheet model that includes previously under-appreciated processes indicates that sea level may rise almost 50 feet by the year 2500 due to Antarctic ice sheet melting if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. Penn State senior scientist David Pollard and colleagues reported the model in the journal Nature earlier this year.
Continue reading Sea level will rise as Antarctica melts
Everyone wants a house to live in. More and more, people around the world want the kinds of houses seen in Europe and North America, rather than those they grew up in. However, industrial building materials can be scarce and expensive — alternative, locally sourced, sustainable materials are often a better choice.
Continue reading Old-fashioned sustainable houses
Sitting in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv (on points) and watching all the American tourists, it strikes me that they are probably looking at me as well, because I’ve been here for more than two hours already and will probably sit here for another three before I head to the airport. Flights to the U.S. typically leave at 11:00 p.m. or midnight and I had to check out at noon. But the reality is, I’m not wearing plaid or Bermuda shorts or a fanny pack logoed Hard Rock Café. I look like a local in a skirt and blouse and so I look out of place. Continue reading Season’s End
Today, students and staff placed 2,500 sandbags around the excavations at Tel Akko to protect them over the winter. All the pottery is washed, although not all is catalogued and recorded. The field season for Total Archaeology @ Tel Akko is over. Well, at least in the field. Some staff will remain next week to finish up paperwork and a few more the following week in Haifa to tie up loose ends and complete some of the computer work.
I did not have to place sandbags today, which is a good thing as it is hot and very dirty work. Instead, I was editing some student blog posts and creating a video of some of the students. While all admit that sometimes this is really hard work, most of them loved it, even if they wouldn’t do it again.