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Pl@ntNet

This App Can Identify the Types of Plants You Photograph

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Pl@ntNet

Ever wonder what species you’re looking at as you admire wildflowers (or a stranger’s garden)? Pl@ntNet—an app developed by several French research institutions and a network for botanists called Tela Botanica—uses technology similar to facial recognition software to identify species of plants from user-uploaded photographs. It’s Shazam for plants, as Modern Farmer dubs it.

Because the app was designed for French users, it was originally geared toward the native flora of Western Europe. It can currently identify more than 6000 European plants, but plant-savvy users can also contribute to the app and help identify different species that aren’t already in the database. Since its release, users have established databases for almost 900 South American plants as well as more than 1000 plants native to the areas around the Indian Ocean. 

Here’s how it works: You upload a picture of that mysterious wildflower. Then, you indicate that it’s a flower, rather than a leaf or stem. Much like Google’s reverse image search, it combs through similar images in its archives to help you identify the species. Visual image technology isn’t very sophisticated right now, and it may not give you the exact plant you’re looking for—especially with North American plants. But over time, as more people add identified images, the network promises to become more and more capable. 

Get it for iOS or Android.

[h/t Modern Farmer]

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iStock
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infographics
All the Plastic Ever Produced, Visualized
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iStock

Humanity has a plastic problem. The cheap, durable material has become a vital part of our vehicles, food packaging, and even the inner structures of our homes. We’ve already produced 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, and most of it is sitting in landfills where it could take centuries to break down.

In early 2017, a study published in the journal Science Advances highlighted the literal weight of this growing issue. Researchers calculated that the bulk of all the plastic that’s been made by humans is equivalent to that of 25,000 Empire State Buildings or 80 million blue whales. Of that, only 9 percent has been recycled. The amount of plastic waste currently trashing our planet adds up to 6.3 billion metric tons, and the researchers don’t see our plastic addiction getting any less severe in the near future. By 2050, the plastic in our landfills is expected to hit 12 billion metric tons. You can see more alarming statistics from the study in the infographic below.

Infographic showing plastic production statistics.
University of Georgia, Janet A Beckley

Of all the trash we produce, plastic is some of the toughest to get rid of [PDF]. Scientists are looking into solutions, such as plastic-chomping caterpillars and germs, but for now consumers can do the planet a favor by investing in more reusable goods.

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Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
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Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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