Sunday Things - Seattle LiDAR edition

posted in 3D by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 23 2012

What to do on long train journeys with no intertubes and no books to read? Instead of succumbing to tedious modern media consumption with a Kindle or iPad, why not break out the high-end modelling and rendering packages, combine them with geographical data conversion utilities and visualise some previously-downloaded LiDAR heightfield data of significant Pacific Northwestern cities?

Seattle LiDAR 1 Seattle LiDAR 2 Seattle LiDAR 3 (this was supposed to be low-lying morning mist, but didn't turn out too well)
Rendering data from the Puget Sound Lidar Consortium, converted to GeoTIFF format with a recent GDAL installation, then rendered into glorious globally-illuminated worlds using one's own personal copy of Modo. Convert the funny ASCII .e00 files with something like 'gdal_translate -of gtiff -ot uint16 -scale 0 1000 0 65535 q47122e31ff.e00 q47122e31ff.tiff' - the resulting 16-bit TIFF can then be opened in Photoshop for checking and tweaking, then rendered as a displacement map in Modo. Surprisingly, it eats through my laptop's battery like you wouldn't believe.

Sunday Things - underground edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 16 2012

Quick subterranean edition, assembled while waiting to board a plane...

Yet more real-life Minecraft. Given the opportunity to dig, people will dig.
Caves of Nottingham - the mighty BLDGBLOG goes exploring in somewhere I thought I knew, and sees many things I haven't. The longest article I've ever seen on Nottingham's many artificial caves, and it's all thanks to...

sv_cheats 1; noclip

Nottingham Caves Survey - going underground?

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The Nottingham Caves Survey - surveying and scanning the caves using LiDAR, producing a huge dataset of point-cloud geometry. I do hope they release some of that data!


posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

Beady little spider-eyes?

That Martian robot has gained sentience, and is looking at us. It can see itself, and it knows we can see it. Forget the cute, cuddly and anthropomorphic mastcam self-portrait, it is now showing its true nature - a monstrous space-robot bristling with cameras and scientific instrumentation.

In other words, MSL Curiosity's MAHLI camera is fully activated, the lens cover is open and it's busy inspecting itself. Calibration targets, wheels, hazcams - this is rather fancy. SPAAAACE! Ahem.

Sunday Things - biological edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

This week, only one mention of a particular Martian robot! Instead, an attempt at a biological theme. I found lots of things in my bookmarks, but mostly vomit-inducing anatomy...

Close relations: trilobites, headcrabs and facehuggers.
Horseshoe crab anatomy - from Recherches sur l'anatomie des Limules, Paris, 1873. They're fascinating buggers, vaguely related to spiders - heavily armoured, swimming upside down, and with blue blood that's harvested by the medical industry for its bacterium-detecting properties. Extra: more on their anatomy, and some close-up macro shots.

Morbid Anatomy - a vast collection of anatomical waxworks and pickled specimens. Persons in the 18th and 19th centuries had strong stomachs, and sick imaginations. Warning: may contain depictions of syphilitic nether regions. Extra: more anatomy to expel your lunch over.

Also beware: Shelob. Also also beware: Sumatran rat-monkeys.
Waitomo Glow Worm Cave - a New Zealand cave colonised by strange glowing invertebrate larvae, dangling sticky threads in the hope of catching a passing tourist or a David Attenborough...

Bonus Inevitable Robots corner:


posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Friday September 7 2012


Telemetry indicates that the robot naming itself 'MSL Curiosity' has gained self-awareness and is now observing itself using its own imaging hardware.

Fortunately it has yet to figure out that its camera is upside-down, and with the dust-covered lens-cover in place. And, if it starts randomly shooting things with its laser, it's a very long way away. Phew.

Edit 2012-11-03: much clearer (and newer) imagery here!