Harry Potter in the sky? Bid to inspire young stargazers

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In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR/HO)
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In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation to celebrate British astronaut Tim Peake. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation based on and created to celebrate JK Rowling's fictional boy wizard Harry Potter. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today.(AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation based on and created to celebrate classic fictional character Paddington Bear. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today. (AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR)
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A new constellation based on and created to celebrate Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. In a campaign to get more young people interested in the universe, The Big Bang Fair in partnership with astronomers at University of Birmingham created ‘Look Up To The Stars’: a new set of constellations representing icons from sport, entertainment, science and activism that children are inspired by today.(AFP PHOTO/UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM/THE BIG BANG FAIR/HO)
Updated 13 December 2017
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Harry Potter in the sky? Bid to inspire young stargazers

LONDON: British astronomers have come up with a new set of constellations inspired by modern-day figures such as Harry Potter and Usain Bolt in an attempt to teach children about the layout of the universe.
The eight new constellations in the “Look Up to The Stars” project are the brainchild of The Big Bang Fair, a science education event for young people and astronomers at the University of Birmingham.
The proposals include Harry Potter’s glasses, a tennis racket for Serena Williams, a spaceship for astronaut Tim Peak, a blue whale for naturist David Attenborough and a book in honor of Nobel-winner Malala Yousafzai.
The eight constellations invented are a bid “to get more young people interested in the universe,” The Big Bang Fair said in a statement.
Existing constellations are based on the zodiac and figures from ancient Greek and Roman mythology which “aren’t necessarily proving successful in enticing children today to look up at the stars,” it said.
A survey quoted by The Big Bang Fair found 29 percent of seven to 19-year-olds admitted they would not be able to recognize a single classical constellation.
The survey also found 72 percent of children admitted they had never looked for a constellation at night.
“We really hope these new creations will help people of all ages develop their interest in space and astronomy,” Emma Willett, who led the University of Birmingham research team, said in the statement.


Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

Updated 15 July 2018
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Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

  • Microsoft and other tech companies have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs
  • While the technology can be used for good, perhaps finding missing children or known terrorists, it can also be abused

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft’s chief legal officer on Friday called for regulation of facial recognition technology due to the risk to privacy and human rights.
Brad Smith made a case for a government initiative to lay out rules for proper use of facial recognition technology, with input from a bipartisan and expert commission.
Facial recognition technology raises significant human rights and privacy concerns, Smith said in a blog post.
“Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge,” he said.
“Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech.”
It could become possible for businesses to track visitors or customers, using what they see for decisions regarding credit scores, lending decisions, or employment opportunities without telling people.
He said scenarios portrayed in fictional films such as “Minority Report,” “Enemy of the State,” and even the George Orwell dystopian classic “1984” are “on the verge of becoming possible.”
“These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products,” Smith said.
“In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses.”
Microsoft and other tech companies have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs.
But the ability of computers to recognize people’s faces is improving rapidly, along with the ubiquity of cameras and the power of computing hosted in the Internet cloud to figure out identities in real time.
While the technology can be used for good, perhaps finding missing children or known terrorists, it can also be abused.
“It may seem unusual for a company to ask for government regulation of its products, but there are many markets where thoughtful regulation contributes to a healthier dynamic for consumers and producers alike,” Smith said.
“It seems especially important to pursue thoughtful government regulation of facial recognition technology, given its broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse.”
Concerns about misuse prompted Microsoft to “move deliberately” with facial recognition consulting or contracting, according to Smith.
“This has led us to turn down some customer requests for deployments of this service where we’ve concluded that there are greater human rights risks,” Smith said.