Even if you don’t share your DNA data, your relatives might still be making you searchable

General

As we debate whether our Facebook friends have the right to share information about us with the apps they use, how about this new question: Can your relatives share fragments of your DNA with 3rd parties and public databases?

“The fact that detectives used commercial DNA and genealogy websites to catch a suspected serial killer from 42 years ago — after the federal criminal DNA database failed to yield results — is revelatory, said Ruth Dickover, director of UC Davis’ forensic science program.

“This was a shot in the dark, definitely,” Dickover said, “If that’s what they did, that approach is very new and innovative and explains how they were able to crack a case when the more traditional types of DNA testing couldn’t.”

“GEDmatch is a crowdsourcing website where the public can submit DNA and genealogy screening results they may have received from other sites such as 23AndMe and Ancestry and cross-reference those findings with other collected data for a more complete picture of their genetic background.

A relative of the suspected killer must have submitted their DNA to one of the sites at some point for authorities to have been able to use it and find him, Dickover said.”

— Read on www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-golden-state-killer-genealogy-20180427-story.html

A peek view of the Bandra Worli Sea Link

General, Photo

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge with pre-stressed concrete-steel viaducts on either side that links Bandra in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai with Worli in South Mumbai. It has a total length of 5.6 km (3.5 miles). In this pic you see the largest pylon towers which are 128 m (420 ft) high. At the base of the bridge, in the water, you see fishing boats that are not too different from the original ones used by the Koli fisherman who, less than 200yrs ago, originally inhabited this marshy region of seven islands. Most buildings in this frame are under construction, even the one with the glass windows. Enjoy this view, it’s going to disappear soon – see the slabs piling on down below? Love how the setting sun hit the skyline so selectively!

Testing binaural audio

Travel

I am trying out a new technique for capturing audio in the field. This involves putting one microphone inside each one of my own ears. These two microphones then capture independent audio tracks which is an exact reproduction of the sound waves hitting each individual ear.

The shape of the ear coupled with the fact that my own head gets in the way of some of the sound waves, results in a very unique audio signature that my brain then uses to recreate a spatial interpretation of the scene around me.

I tried uploading to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube but the audio channel was not being reproduced. Turns out it was getting re-encoded as a mono sound track, and just being repeated on each channel rather than preserving the original independent tracks.

So here is the raw file on my own server. Put on some headphones and play this video. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Breakfast in India at a highway stop

Photo, Travel

1. Gaathiya (yellow fried dough things)

2. Jalebi (orange/yellow sugary syrupy thingy)

3. Mircha (fried hot peppers with salt)

4. Cha (hot tea)

With two sides:

A) raw onions

B) pickled carrots

The flavors work so well together, at many different levels, despite the simplicity. The hotness of the peppers is accentuated by the heat of the tea, and the salt somehow blends with that intensity while the gaathiya creates the neutral grounding and the jalebi keeps bringing a glimpse of the sweet.

Versova Beach in Mumbai is hospitable to Turtles again

General

I grew up right next to this beach in Mumbai, on the Arabian Sea. Between slums, sewage, and littering, the beach had turned into an eyesore and the pollutants had made the water inhabitable. I last visited this beach 5yrs ago and can’t believe how much it seems to have changed today. The beach has been cleaned up and is actually hospitable to marine life again. The significance of this may be hard to notice for some, but I never in my wildest imagination could have ever expected this to happen in a city that’s bursting on its seams and barely keeping it together. This shows how people *can* make a difference if they work hard and don’t give up.

Check out this news story for the full rundown.

Kīlauea: spending the night next to a lava flow!

Feature, General, Photo

🌋 Kīlauea is a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaiʻi, also called the Big Island. Located along the southern shore, the volcano is between 300,000 and 600,000 years old and emerged above sea level about 100,000 years ago. The currently active lava flow is called the 61g flow. Until October 2017, it was flowing all the way to the ocean. Now the flow ends higher uphill on the slopes.

We started the hike at night, near the ocean, walking uphill on the recently solidified lava. It was a surreal terrain: shiny, silver and brittle with fabric-like textures and folds – but this was solid rock! We made it to the flow and decided to spend the night there. We settled for a spot right under the lava flow as it was close enough without being scorching hot.

We slept under the stars on the clear moonless night, with fresh lava crackling and turning a mere 20 ft from us. About 7hrs in, we heard a loud sound as the lava cracked out of a spot much closer to us. Then we noticed steam bursting out from the rock we were sleeping on! I placed my hand on the rock and could feel a strong rumbling vibration underneath.

Within seconds we collected our sleeping bags and gear and were off that rock and onto safer ground. That’s when I took this picture!

It was a very humbling experience to spend this time with Tūtū Pele, the Fire Goddess, and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.

Disclaimer: we had done a lot of research, knew what we were doing, and made sure we were safe at all times.

Hiking up Mission Peak in Fremont, CA

General

I was hiking up early morning on Mission Peak, in Fremont, when the Sun began to break through. It started casting very long shadows on the grassy plains, accentuating their waviness. After I took this picture I noticed that solitary, red post at the bottom, valiantly contrasting itself against the otherwise green terrain. It was an ephemeral, magical moment, when everything seemed super quiet and in harmony. In the summer, this entire terrain turns yellow and brown.

Super Moon Lunar Eclipse in San Francisco

Feature, Photo

We just experienced a once in a lifetime super-moon eclipse here in California. I was trying to capture the maximum dynamic range in a single frame and this is what I got. At the brightest, on the left, we can see the sliver of the moon that has begun to emerge from the Earth’s shadow. Moving to the right we can see how the rest of the Moon continues to fade into the darkness of Earth’s shadow. The “red” comes from the light that leaks around the Earth’s atmosphere to mildly illuminate the moon. And finally, in the background we can see the faint stars, making this such a celestial view. This was all in a single capture, using RAW. I had tried exposure bracketing but ended up with too many artifacts so chose this simple, clean image instead.