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Are human-like robots a good business?

Over the past few decades, countless companies are now into the human-like robot race. However, none of these companies have recorded any good success. One has to wonder if it is a good business in the end. The first-ever human-like robot, Herbert Televox, was built in 1927 by Ron Wensley of the WestingHouse Company. This robot is essentially just a circuit board. Originally, the board, called Herbert Televox, could operate specific switches according to different sound codes.

The birth of Herbert Televox brought Ron Wensley to the attention of the company. In 1929, he was transferred to the electrical department in Ohio. With the help of the department’s engineers, Wensley began the development of the next-generation robotics project, and Elektro was launched. Unlike the single-function Herbert Televox, Elektro has a more practical voice control function. Technically, we can consider this as the “the first human-like robot in history”.

How far did Elektro progress

21st century human-like robots

In the 21st century, human-like robots seem to have become different. In 2000, Honda launched Asimo, the first-generation real humanoid robot. The robot has human-like mobility and can walk, run and jump. After the official debut, Honda started the research and development of the second-generation robot. At the same time, Asimo has been on a nationwide tour, attracting the attention of the Japanese people. Gradually, Asimo also began to engage in formal work such as reception and performances. For example, companies such as IBM rented Asimo as a receptionist. However, it is important to note that Asimo’s intelligence is not high. This robot does more for display and teaching, and it can’t replace real people in actual work.

NASA Robonaut 2

In 2013, Boston Dynamics released the humanoid robot Atlas. It took several years to develop this robot into a parkour robot with extremely high body coordination. However, it adds the AI system to allow Atlas to continuously learn and evolve. The goal is to help humans complete various tasks, especially high-risk exploratory work.

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In 2023, the French team under Softbank launched the robot with human shape, Pepper. This robot takes another dimension in the social field. Pepper has speech recognition technology and emotion recognition capabilities to communicate like a human. Pepper has access to industries such as finance, retail, education, nursing, and more. It can do a wide variety of jobs like a humans.

AI technology and robot development

The development of AI technology has made robots with human shape a qualitative leap. However, since the slow down of AI technological progress, there is also a slow down of human-like robot development. The huge research and development costs have put many robot companies into a financial crisis.

Due to the lack of commercial value, Honda gradually stopped the research and development of robots in 2023. In fact, even the once-popular Asimo robot also began to slowly retire. It no longer performs the exhibitions. The main reason for stopping research and development is that human-like robots lack commercialism. Also, their huge research and development costs prevent them from making enough profits. For most people, the performances of robots with human appearance have lost their freshness. Watching the robot performances is not even as interesting as watching virtual idol performances.

Boston Dynamics also changed hands several times because of the dismal sales of robots. SoftBank also announced in June this year that Pepper would be discontinued. The company is already laying of the robot development teams in France and Japan. From a commercial point of view, robots wth human shape are more like a sci-fi dream by humans.

Alien robots emerge

Robots with human appearance have been mired in a technical quagmire. However, alien robots is making great great strides and have even gone commercial. Boston Dynamics’ Spot has begun mass production. It is now in use in fields such as freight, mountain transportation, and disaster relief. Sony’s assistant robot dog AIBO is now in active service in Japan. It now provides assistant services to the crowd as well as in the medical and other industries.

These alien robots are also comes with an operating system with a high degree of AI. They can accept commands from users and complete charges on their own. At the same time, in different applications, these alien robots can also arbitrarily transform into different shapes. They are more adaptable to different environments than robots with human shape. Various bionic parts allow them to travel in different scenes like animals in the air, mountains, oceans, etc.

Alien robots exist in various styles, including robotic arms. When chúng tôi was listed in Hong Kong last year, there was a robotic arm that participated in the bell-ringing ceremony. And such robotic arms have been placed in many different positions by chúng tôi These robots can sort, transport and perform inventory management. They can also use their AI capabilities in various positions to cooperate with employees to complete various tasks.

With the help of AI, some tools have even completely replaced human workers. Xiaomi announced its own unmanned factory in 2023. This 18,600-square-meter black light factory is only equipped with more than 100 maintenance personnel. The usual production work is done by various robotic arms. The annual output is as high as millions of mobile phones.

Robotic arms with AI capabilities are increasingly being put into actual production work. Although they don’t have the same appearance as humans, they are practically indistinguishable from robots.


For robots with human appearance, the most important areas of application is the medical and education fields. They can provide  education and assistant services and eventually reduce human work. This type of assistant robot can take care of the old or young children. Their mobility has limits and they help to reduce the work of the guardians. The design of the robots that look like humans makes it easier for people to accept them as assistants. With AI technology, these robots can adapt wo users and meet their needs like real people. In fact, with the current pace of development, robots with human appearance will be able to meet humans emotional needs.

Of course, with the current AI technology, these robots cannot completely replace humans for communication. However, they still need to upgrade as well as learn more to be better. There is still a long way to go before assistant robots can truly provide assistant services like humans.

At the moment, robots with human shape are still a product in the early stage of development for the market. They cannot help humans to complete various services. For the market at the moment, robots with special shapes are still far better than those with human shape. The value of robots is to help humans complete various difficult tasks.

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How Do We Know That Birds Are Real?

What’s the weirdest thing you learned this week? Well, whatever it is, we promise you’ll have an even weirder answer if you listen to PopSci’s hit podcast. The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week hits Apple, Anchor, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts every-other Wednesday morning. It’s your new favorite source for the strangest science-adjacent facts, figures, and Wikipedia spirals the editors of Popular Science can muster. If you like the stories in this post, we guarantee you’ll love the show.

FACT: Birds are real

By Purbita Saha

This fact might be blatantly obvious to listeners of a famous science podcast, but it’s important to clear the air with all the misinformation flying around the internet. In 2023, a student from Tennessee launched a national campaign called Birds Aren’t Real. He claimed that the CIA replaced every feathered creature, starting with rock pigeons, with drones during the Cold War. Apparently, these well-disguised machines are still used to surveil Americans today.

In recent interviews, the founder of Birds Aren’t Real says his movement calls attention to the harms and pervasiveness of real conspiracy theories, like QAnon. But whether it’s counterprogramming, clever marketing, or a big, fat joke, it’s raised the hackles of people who love and study birds. Avian evolution dates back hundreds of millions of years to a prominent group of dinosaurs that included T. rex, velociraptors, and the possibly flighted Archaeopteryx. Over time, the survivors have taken on diverse forms, shown stunning intelligence, and illuminated many natural phenomena. 

But the best part about birds is that they’re accessible to everyone, everywhere. You don’t have to hike up mountains or paddle out to islands to experience their uniqueness—they will come to you. Giant flocks of passerines, raptors, and more migrate through the US and Eurasia in fall and spring. A tiny ruby-crowned kinglet might stop by on your windowsill (as one did while I was recording this podcast), reminding you that not only are birds real: They’re basically perfect.

FACT: There’s way too much poop on Mount Everest

By Rachel Feltman

Let’s start with some basic stats to put things in perspective. Mount Everest, which sits on the border between Nepal and Tibet, is the highest point on Earth—its summit is 29,031 feet above sea level. That doesn’t actually make it the world’s tallest mountain, to be clear: Mauna Kea on Hawai’i is about three quarters of a mile taller than Everest from tail to snout, as it were, but a big portion of that sits below the surface of the pacific ocean. To make things even more confusing, there’s another mountain that, by certain definitions, could be considered the world’s tallest. Because Earth isn’t a perfect sphere, Ecuador’s Chimborazo mountain happens to sit at just the right bulgy spot below the equator to be particularly far from the planet’s core. The summit measures more than 3,900 miles from the center of the Earth, which is 6,798 feet farther than Everest. But Chimborazo isn’t even the tallest mountain in the Andes by more traditional measurements! But I digress. 

As of July of 2023, around 6,100 people had summited Everest some 11,000 times since the first known success in 1953. It’s also one of just 14 peaks in the world that stretches into what’s known as the “death zone.” At around 26,000 feet, it’s no longer possible for the human body to acclimatize. 

In a 2023 article by Weirdest Thing alum Eleanor Cummins, Pulmonary expert Peter Hackett put it this way: “You’re slowly dying at 18,000 feet, but when you get above 26,000 feet, you start dying much more quickly.” Over the last three decades, the researchers found, success rates among climbers have actually doubled, while the death rate has stayed pretty level. But it’s still super dangerous to climb, and at least 310 people have died trying to make it to the top. Their bodies are still there. 

In addition to the bodies we’ve left on Everest, we’ve left a lot of trash—and poop. Like, a really problematic amount. Every year the Nepali government and an NGO run by the Sherpa people of Tibet work on clearing up the worst of the trash left by 700 or so climbers and the people that support them. It’s difficult to know exactly how much garbage there is, because some of it is basically impossible to get to due to hazardous conditions. One 2023 estimate suggested there’s more than 26,000 pounds of poop left behind each year in total, which says nothing of the ripped-up tents and empty oxygen tanks and all the rest of it. And in January of 2023, groups estimated that at Base Camp 2, there had been more than 17,000 pounds of human poop left behind in just the previous climbing season. 

Rising temperatures mean that there are fewer deep ice crevasses to dump excrement into, by the way, which means it’s more and more likely for feces to contaminate the melting snow that people who live around base camp rely on for drinking water. 

Consider this your friendly reminder that you really shouldn’t leave your poop behind on any mountain, even a chill one. Yes, you can dig a deep hole if you’re not close to a water source, but if you’re on a rocky trail or one that’s really populated, you need to admit to yourself that there simply isn’t room for everyone’s poop. Pack that crap out! 

Fact: In the 1970s, inventors tried to make a Ford Pinto fly

By Corinne Iozzio

In the 150 years Popular Science has been around, few concepts have gotten as much airtime as the flying car. Almost immediately after terrestrial autos hit the roadways, inventors began dreaming of them taking flight—and they never quite stopped. Some ideas seemed better grounded than others. Take, for example, the Mizar: Invented in the early 1970s by a pair of career aerospace engineers, it screamed practicality. At least on the surface. The car, which debuted to much press fanfare, married together a compact model of Ford and a Cessna plane. The driver, the concept went, would simply need to back his car into the tail-end of the craft, lock the two parts together, and get ready to take off. 

Workout Earbuds And Headphones: These Are The Features You Really Need

1. Waterproofing


I’ve been a gym-goer for a long time, and it’s not uncommon to see people exercising with whatever buds or headphones they would use elsewhere. That could be a cheap set bundled with their phone, or a high-end pair clearly designed for home or travel listening only. I’m looking at you, Beats Studio Wireless owners.

The main reason this is a mistake is sweat. If you’re putting in enough effort, sweat is inevitable, especially around your ears. If buds or headphones aren’t specifically water-resistant, you risk breaking them or even shocking yourself. I’ve had this happen with review units — it hurts, and the pain is undoubtedly compounded if you spent a lot of money.

Dig deeper: Everything you need to know about IP and ATM ratings

2. Wireless connectivity


Wireless is quickly becoming the default for audio. The tech takes on special importance in fitness, however. Assuming your workout clothes even have a phone-sized pocket, it’s possible to accidentally yank a cable out of a phone’s 3.5mm or USB-C/Lightning port, particularly if the cable is barely long enough to reach your head. In the past, I’ve had cables catch on weight machines or pop out when running.

Going wireless also makes it possible to leave your phone behind by pairing with a music-capable smartwatch or fitness tracker instead. And some exercises can be uncomfortable or impossible with wired headphones — try doing hanging upside-down crunches without an armband to keep your phone from plummeting to the floor.

Related: The best fitness trackers you can buy

If you’re shopping for workout earbuds, insist on something with fins or hooks.

With on- or over-the-ear headphones, matters get tricky. It can be hard to keep any headband in place unless you’re always upright, but keep an eye out for products that offer a tight-fitting band and grippy material, such as rubber or fabric. One of the few choices that meet these criteria is JBL’s UA Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones.

See also: Why aren’t more wireless earbud makers concerned about keeping them in our ears

Read more: The best general-purpose wireless earbuds

The good news is that many products top six hours and then some nowadays, even if buds should be stashed in their battery cases between workouts. Things can get dicey if you use a product outside of the gym too, but in that scenario, you’re likely expecting to charge more often anyway.

If you know you’re bound to forget charging occasionally, you’ll want to hunt for models with USB-C ports and other rapid charging features. The Beats Fit Pro, for instance, can recover an hour of playback after just five minutes of case time, so as long as your case has some juice, you’re fine.

6. Active noise cancellation (or strong isolation)

Lily Katz / Android Authority

Gyms and city streets can get loud. Some gyms insist on playing their own soundtracks over the PA, which is only an improvement if you enjoy their taste. Not everyone is in the mood for Taylor Swift when they’re deadlifting 400 pounds, say, or Slayer when they’re running on a treadmill.

A quality pair of buds or headphones should keep unwanted sounds under control. It’s important to distinguish between noise isolation and cancellation, however. Isolation simply refers to a good seal, whether over the ear or in your ear canal. While it’s not perfect, this can go a long way toward shutting out the world  — and anything you buy should have this at a minimum, not the least because it improves bass response. With earbuds, you may have to switch tips to find a tight seal.

See also: The best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds

What should I prioritize when buying workout headphones?


Many products check all of these boxes, but it’s rare to find something that excels in every category. The Jabra Elite 85t might have great ANC for example, yet it doesn’t have the best noise isolation, and its design is fin-like rather than equipped with full hooks.

In my opinion, two things are non-negotiable for gym earphones: waterproofing, and some sort of design feature to keep things locked in place. The world’s best sound hardly matters if your workouts are interrupted by a bud falling out or a headband flailing around, never mind electric shocks.

What Do You Need To Start Playing Esports

Last Updated on October 14, 2023

When it comes to video games most people take it as far as a beloved hobby and leave it there. Sure, there are some incredible home gaming setups out there, and even some dedicated casual gamers who produce some incredible videos – but there is only one place to take your gaming skills if you feel like you can’t be beaten: The world of esports.

Esports is where gamers go to compete on a professional level in the games that they love. Both online and face to face matches where two gamers (or two teams of gamers) pit their skills against each other in the hopes of winning glory, validation, and of course the prize pot for whatever tournament they are competing in.

The thing is, you can’t just jump into esports on your 5-year-old gaming rig and expect to be at a level with gamers already in the esports scene. You are going to need some modern kit to stand a chance at bringing home the prize money, but what could that mean?

We’re here to help you out. Find out what kind of PC, what kind of monitor, and even what kind of mouse you need to play esports.

Your Graphics Card

We know that a lot of people reading this article are just going to skip to this point anyway, so I’m going to put it at the top. Before you finish this point and stop reading though, just know that a graphics card is only as good as the PC you build around it – don’t think you can buy yourself a 2080ti and slap it into a 10-year-old PC case with an 8-year-old motherboard and CPU and expect good things to happen.

With that last paragraph in mind then, let’s talk about budget. If you are going to be building a whole PC for your esports career then keep in mind that it’s a rule of thumb to allow half of your budget for the GPU. So keep in mind, if you have $1000 saved up for your esports PC, then maybe $500 of that should go onto your GPU.

And, if we are talking about professional gaming for prize money, then you need a decent amount of cash to buy a well-performing graphics card. You need to make sure that you can achieve at least 144 FPS, as that is the bare minimum that most pro gamers get as they compete. That being said, 240 FPS is what to aim for – but that will require some serious processing power, and take a good chunk out of your wallet.

So, if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford any GPU that you could want, then we are going to recommend the top of the line, obviously. The RTX 2080Ti is the top of the line at the moment, offering a consistent 240 FPS with superior graphics to boot. You probably already heard of this graphics card before you even starting reading this article, but the truth is it’s impossible to top by modern standards as far as performance is concerned. 

For those who are coming into the world of esports with a set budget on the mind, then there are some great budget graphics cards for esports that won’t let you down. The RTX 2070 Super, for example, is an extremely reliable graphics card that will offer you a consistent 144+ FPS, with enough power in it to keep up with modern games and their updates for a long time to come. Plus, it comes a lot cheaper than the 2080Ti, which is brilliant if you are conscious of your spending.

If you want to run through some different options when it comes to graphics cards, then just check out our page on the best GPUs available currently. Lots of good options there, and if you are dedicated to the cause of entering the esports world, then a decent GPU from that list should help you on your way,

Your CPU

When it comes to esports you cannot allow for the chance of a lowered or reduced processing power. This could severely impact the state of your gameplay, something that is unthinkable if you are going to be playing for high stakes.

In fact, we would argue that the i7-8700K is still the best Intel CPU on the market for gaming today and that if you are looking to buy Intel when it comes to your CPU then this should be the ship you go for, as the 9000K only offers maybe 5FPS more in terms of performance for its higher price.

If its AMD you want in your PC though, then you should consider the Ryzen 5 2600X. very balanced in terms of its price and its core performance, this is the best AMD CPU for gaming by far. The thing is though, AMD has always been better CPUs for multi-tasking rather than gaming, and if you are only concerned with building a machine primed to play games rather than anything else, then we cannot recommend using Intel CPUs enough.

Check out our full list of the best CPUs available today for a comprehensive list of options, but for a truly esports ready PC then we can’t recommend the Intel i7-8700K enough.

Your Ram

Just like everything else on an esports specification PC, you need to make sure that your RAM is speedy, capable and dependable.

That means not cheaping out when it comes to different hardware that affects the running of your PC in general – including the RAM. RAM is going to have a direct impact on your in-game performance, especially its FPS.

So, you are going to want good RAM, and if you want the best then we recommend the G.Skill TridentZ RGB Series DDR4-4266 – a great bit of kit that is DDR4 compatible, meaning that it is running the most current version of RAM available and is capable of achieving greater speeds.

The G.Skill Trident comes with 16gb of capacity and a speed of 4266MHz as standard – and it’s still cheaper than the closest Corsair counterpart – all good stuff. With RAM like this you are never going to have to worry about it holding back your FPS in-game, meaning that you should be able to enjoy uninterrupted high-quality gaming – leading to a properly fair esports experience.

If you are looking to spend a little less on the RAM for your PC, then check out the Patriot Viper 4 16gb RAM kit. It offers a speed of 3000 MHz at the same 16gb capacity and is less expensive than the TridentZ. A great option if you still need the performance of DDR4 RAM, but don’t want to bust the bank.

There are of course other options when it comes to the buying the best RAM available, and there are choices available if you want DDR3 RAM in your machine – but really for esports competition, you should be looking at getting yourself DDR4 compatible RAM for the smoothest and most cutting edge gameplay.

Your Internal Storage

SSD. You want an SSD. They operate so much faster and more consistently than the traditional HDD, and if you are playing esports then that quicker loading time could add a hell of a difference when it comes to in-game performance.

That being said, let’s assume that you want the best that a reasonable amount of money can buy, and luckily Western Digital’s WD Black SN750 is the perfect internal SSD to put in your esports computer.

It offers 1TB of storage, which is a lot and will certainly go a long way in helping you store the games you want to play easily, whilst allowing them to load seamlessly.

Basically, an SSD is the only way to go if you are looking for gameplay that isn’t hindered by load times or an unreliable hard drive in your computer – in fact, they are fast becoming the industry standard for PCs on the whole. Check out our list of the best SSDs available today for a more comprehensive look into what’s possible with SSDs at the moment – but for esports, we recommend the WD SN750.

Your Case

When it comes to your PC case, there is a lot to consider when it comes to esports. Obviously, everyone wants a great looking case, but when you are looking to play games competitively you also need to consider the airflow of your case as well as how easily portable your PC is, especially if you are going to be traveling for tournaments.

With that in mind, a great case for portable gaming would be the Lian Li Tu150 Mini ITX case, as it is

 sturdy, offers good cooling, and even comes with a retractable handle to help you out when you are on the go.

Of course, if you are looking to most of your gaming over the web then you aren’t going to be restrained by keeping your PC easy to transport, in which case we would recommend something like the Corsair Carbide Air 540, a great case for airflow that is going to help your gaming rig keep cool even when you are playing intense games.

And really, that’s what’s important when it comes to your PC case with an esports focussed gaming PC. Be sure that your PC doesn’t only look good, but that it can support the cooling you need to keep your PC performance-ready at all times.

Your Mouse

Ok, so when it comes to actual gameplay your mouse is going to be playing a key role in how you perform. Luckily there are plenty of options out there when it comes to choosing the right gaming mouse for you, so let’s start by talking about the Razer Deathadder Elite.

A wired mouse that allows for low latency gameplay, alongside a high DPI and seven programmable buttons. The mouse is already used by some pro gamers in the Counter Strike and Fortnite spheres thanks to its insanely accurate tracking abilities and its reliability.

The thing is though, lots of esports players tend to travel to a number of their events, and if you have that in mind for your esports career, then you will probably want something that’s a little easier to transport. That’s where the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum comes in.

A top of the line wireless gaming mouse perfect for esports, the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum is almost as sensitive as the Deathadder Elite, with an impressive 12000 DPI, seven programmable buttons and a battery life of around 30 hours that all make this the perfect mouse for esports gaming on the go.

If these don’t suit you that well, then check out our list of the best gaming mice on the market today. You want to look for high sensitivity and reliability – which you will definitely get from the Razer and Logitech mice, but if you are looking for a different design lets say, then our list is a good place to start.

Your Keyboard

The keyboard of an esports gamer is just as important as the choice of mouse, and just like gaming mice, there are a lot of different options to choose from.

But this article is here to help you decide where to start, and to that end we would recommend the Razer Huntsman Elite. Not only does it have one of the fastest actuation times of all the gaming keyboards on the market today, but it uses Opto-Mechanical Switches, meaning that you get an even faster reaction time than you would using a regular mechanical keyboard.

Why is a quick response time vital when your playing esports? That should be obvious because you want to be able to react as quickly as possible, just as fast or even faster than your opponent is able to.

The Huntsman Elite by Razer is just the keyboard for that, and it’s fully RGB with a wrist wrest to boot. If you are looking for something a bit more specific when it comes to your keyboard then check out our list of the best keyboards out now, which includes some tips on the best keyboard for FPS games specifically.

Your Monitor

Just like your mouse and keyboard, your monitor is going to have a direct impact on your in-game performance when it comes to esports.

Simply put, the higher the refresh rate and lower the input lag your gaming monitor gets, the better equipped you are going to be when it comes to playing esports themselves. A better refresh rate on a monitor means that your much less likely to come into contact with screen tearing in-game, and a lower input lag means that your actions in-game are going to happen on screen quicker – basically, you aren’t going to be hampered by slower visuals, that your opponent won’t be suffering.

So, we recommend the BenQ Zowie XL2540. A favorite amongst the esports competitive crowd, this BenQ monitor is solid, with a 24hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time, along with a 1080pHD display with FreeSync enabled.

Basically, if your serious about playing esports and you want to make sure that you are in with a fighting chance when it comes to competing in online tournaments then this monitor (or a similar one) is absolutely necessary.

When it comes to gaming online in esports tournaments, more often than not you will come into contact with similar players to yourself with shared goals, who you might team up with to dominate the leader boards. When that situation rolls around you want to make sure that you have the best available when it comes to communication.

And, for the most part, these are the key components you will need to get your hands on in order to start a proper career in esports, or at least hold a chance at ranking fairly. 

We Need More ‘Body Farms’ To Figure Out How Corpses Rot

On September 2, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, killing more than 200 people. When the time came to recover their bodies, a temporary morgue was set up, with yellow tape to mark spaces 3 feet by 6 feet for each person. There was little information about what happens to bodies that go into water, so investigators believed that the passengers would be completely intact.

“Everybody, including the army, thought that when the plane came to rest on the bottom of the ocean it would be there, with everybody inside, dead of course but sitting in their seats…strapped in just like they were in life,” says Gail Anderson, a forensic entomologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. However, “With the G-forces and the like going down into the water, nobody came out of that in bigger than a small GladWare bag. They were completely destroyed.”

Nearly 20 years later, we still don’t know much about how bodies break apart or decompose in water. It’s more difficult and expensive to place carcasses on the seafloor and study them than on land. “There’s been far more research on land than water, and even that research is lacking in many regards,” says Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist and director of the Institute for Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

But researchers are starting to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. Anderson lowers pig carcasses to the seafloor to film them as they decay. And Kimmerle and her team are planning to study how corpses decompose in the state’s uniquely moist conditions at a new facility in Florida. The Florida Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactical Training (FIRST) will be the seventh “body farm” in the United States. Slowly, researchers are piecing together how water can skew decomposition or batter a body.

Murky territory

There are many ways that water can interfere with an investigation. For one thing, water makes it more difficult to estimate how long a person has been dead. “Sometimes we see things are preserved a little bit more than we would expect and sometimes we see the opposite,” Kimmerle says.

Researchers do know that tissue may linger in water that is cold or low in oxygen, but predicting how a body will break down is rarely straightforward. There are many elements that may play a role, such as depth and whether the corpse comes to rest in fresh or saltwater. “It really, really varies,” Anderson says. “In some of my experiments we’ve had pig carcasses…last months and months with almost no change whatsoever, and in some cases they’ve been skeletonized in three days.”

On land, a body will bloat as bacteria break down its tissues and release gases. At great depths, the pressure is too great for this to happen. In shallower waters, however, trapped gas may form and cause a body to float up from the seafloor, and even dictate which scavengers can reach it. “In some of my carcasses it actually held the body…two or three feet off the ground, almost like a balloon, and that very much affected what kinds of animals colonized them and what didn’t,” Anderson says.

Moisture can also cause fats to transform into a waxy substance called adipocere that makes bodies difficult to identify. “It can make a person look a lot heavier than they were and distort features,” Kimmerle says. “We try to make facial reconstructions…and that can be particularly challenging because there may be features there, but they’re artifacts of the decomposition process, it’s not really what the person looked like.”

Moving water can knock a body about. “In many situations, the family are lucky in the end to get just a single bone,” Anderson says.

Even relatively intact bodies aren’t easy to decipher. “You can have remains hitting rocks and hitting pylons and things in the water. That can create a lot of trauma,” Kimmerle says. These marks may be indistinguishable from wounds inflicted at the time of death.

“Is that something that happened after the person died…did a motorboat come by and hit it versus something else? Sometimes that can be really obvious, but a lot of times it’s not,” Kimmerle says.

Feasting on flesh

Water’s inhabitants can also complicate matters. On land and even in fresh water, insects will devour a body. In the sea, you’re more likely to find other arthropods such as crabs and sea lice—or, less often, fish or sharks, Anderson says.

She has seen how oxygen-rich water can better host voracious scavengers. “In some areas…there were such thick levels of amphipods on them you couldn’t see the carcass,” Anderson says. “Even the cage bars were completely covered and the surrounding area for about a meter, just covered in them. And then when they fell away there was nothing left except bones.”

These crustaceans can hinder divers’ efforts to recover a body. “At certain times of year, the body might be so thickly covered in amphipods that they may no longer be recognizable as a cadaver,” Anderson and her colleague Lynne S. Bell wrote last month in the journal Insects. “They can be quite dangerous to divers when in close proximity as they are extremely irritating when they swarm over the divers’ face, biting and attempting to get under the mask and can cause a severe panic reaction.”

And a body that has been devoured by marine scavengers may not look like one that has been colonized by insects on land. “The sea lice in particular, they eat from the inside out so one minute it looks fine, then the next minute it just deflates, and then the last thing to go is the skin,” Anderson says. “Whereas on land you’re more likely to have maggot colonization, and…they’re going to remove the facial tissues first, or any wounded areas.”

And, of course, the marks left by sea critters also make it harder for investigators to figure out how a person died. “It’s very difficult to determine what is damage caused by an animal and what was caused by natural decomposition and what was caused by wounds before the carcass went into the water,” Anderson says.

Rarely, though, this damage is less mysterious that it might first appear. Such is the case with the sixteen sneaker-clad human feet that have washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest since 2007.

“The media got terribly excited about this and thought there was some serial killer running around,” Anderson says. “If you talk to people in New Zealand, Australia, any place with large coastlines, feet do wash ashore…what happens is entirely normal.”

When a body is carried through water and set upon by hungry animals, it’s normal for the feet to break free. And, when attached to buoyant running shoes, it’s not surprising that these feet would then float to the surface.

“We didn’t see any feet washing ashore in sandals or stilettos; they don’t float. So in these cases you’re looking at natural deaths or suicides or accidents and that sort of things, not homicide,” Anderson says. “I was able to show with videos exactly how the crabs disarticulate them.”

The path forward

In future, Anderson and her team want to examine how carcasses decay in tropical waters, or in the deep waters off of Vancouver Island. They keep cameras trained on their pig carcasses the whole time they are decaying. “So when we see a mark form on the carcass we can actually see what caused it,” she says.

It’s not so hard to understand why a body follows a particular pattern of decomposition in these carefully monitored waters, Anderson says. “But in areas where experiments have not been conducted, which is 99.9 percent of the world, then we don’t know what happens. We need to be doing experiments in each of these areas to find out.”

That’s also why it’s important to have body farms like FIRST in many different environments. Even on land, moisture can shape how a body decomposes. “In Tennessee at their facility…a body on the surface may take a year to fully skeletonize. A year later you may often have essentially mummified tissue, the skin is still on a lot of the bones,” Kimmerle says. “Whereas here in Florida, especially in the summer and fall months, we see complete skeletonization within weeks…when it’s arid things will mummify and tissues will desiccate more than if it’s wet.”

The variations in temperature, hungry animals, and even the type of soil can all contribute to how bodies rot in different parts of the country. “There’s a lot of different questions that make local studies really important,” Kimmerle says.

She’s hoping to create an atlas of how bodies decompose in Florida’s unique environment. And body farms can offer other benefits too, she says. FIRST will hold onto its donated skeletal remains in permanent, up-to-date collections to aid research on how best to identify people, among other projects.

She’s also eager to train divers on what to look for when scouting for human remains. “Very few if any of them have had a hands-on class in bone identification,” Kimmerle says. “So if you don’t even know one bone fragment from another that can really just add to the challenge.”

Kimmerle, Anderson, and other researchers are chipping away at the mystery of what water does to bodies. The more we understand what happens to bodies in water and moist terrain, the more answers there will be for the living. One day, their work may give everyone a better idea of what to expect—from divers sent to find a body, to investigators who will try to figure out what happened, to the relatives waiting for answers.

Becoming A Photography Gear Minimalist: What Do You Actually Need?

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

A common recent topic in the world of photography has been equipment minimalism. What is this movement all about? In this post, we’ll talk all about photography gear minimalism, give you reasons why you should adopt it, and even provide some recommendations to simplify your photography bag.

What is photography equipment minimalism?

Also: Photography tips that will take your images to the next level

Do I really need all of this camera gear, or is it simply weighing me down?

Edgar Cervantes

We’ve all heard time and again that a good photographer can take an amazing photo regardless of what equipment he is using. While I still believe this isn’t 100% accurate, I do think there is a lot of truth to it, especially as technology evolves. At the very least, I know I didn’t need as much as I had. I noticed I was using only a couple of lenses for over 90% of my photos. My lighting needs have also been much more minimal lately, as I generally stick with a couple of softboxes for most of my shoots. All these fancy accessories mostly took up space in my big bag, too. As I became a better photographer, my equipment needs were reduced. I’ve learned how to accomplish shots without over-complicating the setup because I had the fundamentals down.

I realized I was a photography equipment hoarder. Much of the stuff I thought was helpful, could be replaced with much more affordable products, just by adding a little touch of knowledge to the equation. What made my photos great (if I can say so myself) wasn’t all the expensive gear. It was the knowledge I had acquired over the years. The intangibles make most of the difference, such as composition, color theory, lighting effects, and that extra touch of style each photographer imprints on images.

Related: What a pro photographer can do with a cheap smartphone camera

Knowledge and practice

The old recommendation to invest in yourself is also valid in the world of photography. Learn the fundamentals of photography and practice as much as possible. Get to know your equipment until using it is second nature. This will help you be a much more efficient photographer in the long run.

We have plenty of photography education content here at Android Authority. We also recommend you check out other YouTubers, photographers, and courses for extra learning. Just soak in as much information as possible, and then put it into practice.

Get started: Photography terms you should know

Quality lenses

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

This is where you’ll likely spend the most money, and for good reason. Lenses are what make the most difference in image quality. Outstanding glass elements and sound engineering make images crisper and cleaner. They also determine other factors like aperture, which can affect the depth of field.

A true photography equipment minimalist will want to get as few lenses as possible. A good rule of thumb is to stick with three to four, at the most. This will offer plenty of versatility while keeping your options simple and light. Let’s talk about some of the options we recommend. You can then prioritize what matters to you most and make your choices. All of these are available from multiple manufacturers, but we’ll focus on the general lenses for each purpose for the sake of simplicity.

50mm f/1.8 prime

A 50mm f/1.8 lens could become your best investment. I have likely used mine for most of my photos.

The 50mm range produces the closest to what the human eye can see. Of course, this is given the lens is paired with a full-frame sensor; smaller sensors will see a zoomed-in perspective.

Prime lenses can’t zoom in or out. They are stuck with the focal length they were built with. The lack of moving parts usually makes them smaller and much more affordable. They tend to have excellent quality, and the wider aperture helps produce beautiful bokeh.

Related: What is macro photography?

Other options

Of course, there are plenty of other lenses you can get for more specialized shots. You can get wider-angle lenses (14-24mm) to cover a very ample space in a single shot. Fisheye lenses add an effect many love, and also take wide angles to the next level. You could also look into tilt-shifts for fun effects. Those types of lenses tend to be secondary, though. We didn’t recommend them because we’re trying to do the most we can with as few lenses as possible. It makes no sense for a minimalist to get lenses they might rarely use. Depending on your style and needs, you might deem them much more necessary, though.

What if you do need more? Consider renting

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Depending on the type of photography you do, becoming an equipment minimalist might be more challenging. This is especially the case for general photographers who shoot many types of sessions. Or very specialized shooters who depend on a bunch of lighting, accessories, and other elements. The trick here is to determine how often you really need that extra equipment.

If you only need a specific lens once every couple of months, do you need to purchase it? There are plenty of photo and video equipment rental services out there that might become a better alternative to owning certain products. Indeed, you won’t mind the rental price if the gig you use it for is paid, not to mention it will likely be more affordable, especially for high-ticket items like professional bodies or expensive glass.

We’ll recommend some popular websites for renting camera equipment below, and check if you have any local options. I know of at least two in my area.

Popular camera equipment rental websites: 

If you decide to buy some quality equipment, you might want to consider renting it out too! Websites like ShareGrid allow you to rent your equipment to fellow creatives. ShareGrid even offers insurance, in case someone damages your equipment. It’s a great way to make up for some of your expenses.

My camera gear

I wanted to end this post with my plans on what will soon be in my camera bag and extra gear. My focus is primarily on tech product photography and some general shooting, so I’m keeping things relatively simple. I am trying to optimize my space and spending where it truly matters, so some of this equipment is on the pricier side, but I make up for that by reducing the amount of gear I’ll be purchasing.

Camera body

Lenses I definitely want Lenses I’m not sure about

Other gear Anything else?

I’ll often need some backdrops, but I don’t want to overload myself with them. I’ve been using paper for most backdrops, and I usually throw it away after I’m done with it. Paper is pretty cheap, so I find that better than keeping a bunch of cloth backdrops around. It also keeps my home studio clutter-free.

I might get some smaller LED panels for additional lighting, too. But other than that, I’ll try to keep gear to a minimum and stick to what I mentioned above.

Your turn

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