CND slams use of nuclear weapons on anniversary of Hiroshima bomb – ‘Outrage’

On August 6 and 9, the world will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. This comes at a moment when a majority of governments around the world are preparing to sign the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Further tension is being felt around the world as Russian state media continue to toy with the idea of using a hypersonic nuclear weapon on London and New York turning the cities into wastelands. This week, in line with the anniversary of the use of nuclear bombs in Japan during World War 2, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned a “simple miscalculation” could result in a global catastrophe.

Although difficult to calculate, the US bombs were said to have killed 135,000 people in Hiroshima and 64,000 in Nagasaki, leaving a deep dark scar on human history in the process.

Speaking of the importance to remember the event, and look back on the devastation caused, CND Chair Tom Unterrainer spoke to Express.co.uk.

He said: “The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was an outrage and a human catastrophe.

“The same is true for the subsequent atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

“These cities were obliterated, thousands were killed in an instant: vaporised in the initial blast.

“By 1950, over 340,000 people had died as a result and generations were poisoned by radiation.

“These bombings are the only time that such weapons have been used against a civilian population.

“They resulted in mass death.

“If we are to retain any sense of humanity, it is vital that we remember those who perished.

“It is also vital that we understand and remember the terrifying destructive power of atomic and nuclear weapons.”

Speaking of why a nuclear bomb should never be used in conflict again, Mr Unterrainer added: “If any one of the nuclear-armed states uses a nuclear weapon, others will do likewise.

“There will be a reaction and this reaction could lead to full and widespread nuclear war.

“This will spell the end of humanity as we know it.

“Even if you could imagine a situation where no response arose, the detonation of a single modern nuclear warhead over a populated area would cause death and destruction beyond imagining: it would constitute a crime against humanity.

“The possession of nuclear weapons, the drawing up of target lists, the investment in new such weapons and the planes, submarines and missile systems that go with them amount to the planning of a crime against humanity.

“Any rational society would arrest and imprison an individual known to be planning mass murder, yet the nuclear-armed states parade themselves as defending a rules-based order.

“The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an unnecessary decision. Japan was on the verge of surrender.

“America dropped these bombs as a signal of their military power, not to end the war with Japan.

“The main lesson we should draw from this experience is that atomic and nuclear weapons – and the power that comes with them – are a deadly threat.

“There are now more than 13,000 nuclear weapons.

“The UK’s nuclear warheads alone are around 8 times more powerful than the bomb used against Hiroshima.

“The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is the threat of mass extermination.

“How much longer can we tolerate such threats?”

Speaking of the work CND is doing to raise awareness surrounding nuclear proliferation, the campaigner said: “CND robustly supports all international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

“We only wish the same could be said for the British Government, which is in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“The states parties to the NPT are currently meeting at the United Nations in New York for a Review Conference.

“Prime Minister Johnson’s ‘Integrated Review’ announced an increase in the UK’s nuclear weapon stockpile and a change in nuclear use posture – now reserving the right to use nuclear weapons not only against nuclear threats but against supposedly comparable threats, such as chemical and biological weapons or ‘emerging technologies’.

“An additional change is an end to the UK’s much-vaunted transparency on nuclear weapons – an extension of the policy of deliberate ambiguity and an end to giving public figures for the ‘operational stockpile, deployed warhead or deployed missile numbers.’

“Lawyers commissioned by CND concluded that these announcements amounted to a breach.”

Finally, when asked about whether nuclear-armed states should reveal their stocks of weapons openly, Mr Unterrainer ended by saying: “All states should, of course, declare their stocks of nuclear weapons.

“How they can be forced to do so in a situation where the UK refuses to be transparent about the actual number of warheads it possesses is another question.

“Who can force the UK to be transparent?

“Similarly, why would North Korea accept such accountability when Israel – which clearly has nuclear weapons but which maintains ‘ambiguity’ over its nuclear status – refuses to sign the NPT and yet receives significant military aid from the US and elsewhere?”

According to the Ministry of Defence, (MOD): “The threat of nuclear conflict did not end with the Cold War.

“The truth is that the security situation has worsened in recent years, with some states significantly increasing and diversifying their nuclear capabilities and behaving more aggressively.

“The UK must have the ability to protect itself and our NATO Allies.

“Our independent nuclear deterrent remains an important part of our national security strategy and it is wrong to say it is never used.

“The reality is that our deterrent protects us every hour of every day.

“By providing a credible and effective response option to extreme aggression, the deterrent reduces the likelihood of such an attack taking place.”

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  • 1 час, 30 минут назад 17.08.2022Science
    Elon Musk says Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot will eventually cost ‘less than a car’

    Elon Musk shared new details about Tesla’s Optimus humanoid robot – including information about the cost and likely uses for it – in an essay published online.

    The robot, which is intended for industrial and domestic uses, will debut at AI Day September 30 after first being announced at AI Day in August 2021.

    ‘Tesla Bots are initially positioned to replace people in repetitive, boring, and dangerous tasks. But the vision is for them to serve millions of households, such as cooking, mowing lawns, and caring for the elderly,’ Musk wrote in the essay published in China Cyberspace magazine.

    Scroll down for video

    The mogul explained that the android, which will have human-like limbs and features, was deliberately designed that way.

    ‘The Tesla Bot is close to the height and weight of an adult, can carry or pick up heavy objects, walk fast in small steps, and the screen on its face is an interactive interface for communication with people.

    ‘You may wonder why we designed this robot with legs. Because human society is based on the interaction of a bipedal humanoid with two arms and ten fingers.

    ‘So if we want a robot to adapt to its environment and be able to do what humans do, it has to be roughly the same size, shape, and capabilities as a human,’ Musk explained.

    The CEO confirmed that he’s planning to focus on improving the bot’s intelligence and solving the problem of large-scale production after revealing a prototype next month.

    ‘Thereafter, humanoid robots’ usefulness will increase yearly as production scales up and costs fall. In the future, a home robot may be cheaper than a car. Perhaps in less than a decade, people will be able to buy a robot for their parents as a birthday gift,’ he said.

    The Tesla bot, which would be 5’8 and weigh 125 pounds, is set to include the Autopilot computer used in the company’s electric cars, which will allow the humanoid to recognize real-world objects, although the robot will have its own customized sensors and actuators.

    It will also be able to ‘deadlift’ up to 150 pounds, carry 45 pounds, walk 5 miles per hour and have human-like hands plus visual sensors giving it the ability to ‘see.’

    Tesla’s Autopilot cameras will be fitted in the front of the bot’s head and its inner-workings will be powered by the company’s Full Self-Driving computer. The bots will be apparently operate through Tesla’s Full Self-Driving computer interface, which is what’s in the Tesla Model 3, X, S, Y and Roadster.

    Previously released renderings have shown that it could end up looking like the ‘NS5’ robots in the 2004 film I, Robot. But for anyone worried about a Terminator-style situation, Musk tried to set those fears to rest as well.

    ‘It’s intended to be friendly, of course,’ Musk said during the initial Tesla Bot announcement last year. ‘And navigate through a world built for humans.’

    The tech leader said at the initial presentation that humans would be able to outrun and overpower the Tesla Optimus if they needed to.

    During a question period following Tesla’s AI Day last year, Musk said: ‘We should be worried about AI. What we’re trying to do here at Tesla is make useful AI that people love and is … unequivocally good.’

    Robots are already being used for a wide range of tasks in industrial settings by companies including Amazon and Walmart.

  • 5 часов, 18 минут назад 16.08.2022Science
    UK urged to access ‘untapped potential’ of geothermal energy for cheap, reliable power

    Russian gas cuts have raised the alarm across Europe as tightened supplies threaten to further push up the already staggeringly high bills seen across the continent. While Britain only gets four percent of its gas from Russia, the supply squeezes are having a knock-on effect on UK consumers due to the integrated nature of the gas market, threatening to push millions of households into fuel poverty.

    And with horror price cap warnings revealing that Britons may have to fork out around £4,200 to pay off the maximum annual tariff on their energy bills by January, the situation appears dire.

    This has prompted experts and ministers to call for a rapid boost to the UK’s supplies of homegrown energy to shield it from the volatile international gas markets which are worsening the cost-of-living crisis.

    According to Dr Corinna Abesser, from the British Geological Survey, one solution could be boosting the UK’s capacity for geothermal energy.

    Geothermal energy is heat created and stored in the ground and is a source of low-carbon, renewable energy.

    Available throughout the UK, Express.co.uk has previously reported on the abundance of the energy source that Britain could tap into to unleash this cheap and clean energy source.

    Karl Williams, Director for the Centre of Waste Management at the University of Central Lancashire told Express.co.uk back in July: “The UK has excellent potential for geothermal energy.

    “We are fortunate that we can utilise all the different types of geothermal energy recovery.

    “We are fortunate that we can utilise all the different types of geothermal energy recovery.

    “From ground source heat pumps providing low-level heat, to recovery of mine water energy – a legacy of our industrial heritage – all the way up to granite infusion and temperatures in excess of 130C.”

    But according to Dr Abesser, regulatory systems, licensing and management are urgently needed for the UK’s geothermal sector to take off.Dr Abesser also argues that Government support is needed to help develop the sector, which could provide heat or power all year long, no matter the weather.

    Currently, geothermal technologies deliver less than 0.3 percent of the UK’s annual heat demand, Dr Abesser notes in an opinion piece for Energy Voice.

    She adds that Britain is only using a fraction of the estimated available geothermal heat resources available.

    Dr Abesser writes that the issues lies with, according to some stakeholders, “the absence of long-term targets and policies that support the development of skills, supply chains and a service industry”.

    She claims these are some of the “main reasons why geothermal energy in the UK has fallen behind that of other, similar countries”.

    She adds that there is a lack of information about the “application of geothermal technologies in the UK”, which may require “long-term Government support to develop pilot projects and expand the industry”.

    Dr Abesser concludes: “Developing the geothermal sector and realising this untapped potential, could provide considerable economic stimulus and employment opportunities.

    “This might include the redeployment of technologies and workers from the oil and gas industry, the latter having many transferable skills and experiences in risk assessment and mitigation, deep-drilling, reservoir development and management.”

    This comes as after Mr Williams pinpointed three locations which would be perfect for harnessing geothermal energy in the UK.

    The best areas where geothermal energy can be extracted are reportedly areas where “hot rocks” granite is close to the surface.

    He told Express.co.uk: “Cornwall is one of the best areas in the UK and has always been the main focus for geothermal energy.

    “For example, the Eden project is investing in geothermal energy at its site.

    “The other obvious area would be Aberdeen, which is rich in granite.

    “This area has the advantage that it is the centre for oil and gas exploitation and much of the processes and technologies are the same so Aberdeen already has the skills and know-how.

    “The old coal mine areas of the North East could also be good contenders, but mine water is a lower temperature and lends itself more to large scale applications similar to ground source heat pumps.”

  • 5 часов, 28 минут назад 16.08.2022Science
    ‘Cannibal’ explosion on the sun is hurling to Earth that could trigger radio blackouts

    A ‘cannibal’ coronal mass ejection (CME) is barreling toward Earth that has a 10 percent chance of producing X-class flares, major events that can trigger radio blackouts, when it hits our planet Thursday.

    CMEs are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona – the outermost layer of a star’s atmosphere.

    This week’s CMEs, released Monday from sunspot AR3078, gobbled up a previous ejection from Sunday and is now a ‘mish mash of the two’ with tangled magnetic fields and compressed plasma that are known to cause strong geomagnetic storms.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts are expecting G1- (minor) to G2-class (moderate) geomagnetic storms, which will likely produce auroras as far south as New York and Idaho.

    In addition to an X-class warning, space weather forecasters say there is a 30 percent chance the shockwaves could result in M-class flares -medium-sized events that cause brief radio blackouts.

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    AR3078 is one of five sunspots currently located on the sun’s surface and are dark regions where it is cooler than other parts of the surface.

    NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) captured a M5 solar flare from AR3078 at around 5:30am ET Tuesday that was associated with a temporary moderate-strength radio blackout over parts of the Middle East and East Africa.

    And in the past 24 hours, the sun produced a total of four M-class flares and a whopping 13 C-class – but these are minor solar flares that have little to no effect on Earth.

    ‘When the CME approaches Earth, NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite will be among the first spacecraft to detect the real-time solar wind changes and SWPC forecasters will issue any appropriate warnings. Impacts to our technology from a G2 storm are generally nominal,’ NOAA shared in a statement.

    ‘However, a G2 storm has the potential to drive the aurora further away from its normal polar residence, and if other factors come together, the aurora might be seen over the far Northeast, to the far upper Midwest, across portions of the north-central states, and perhaps over the northwest section of Washington state.’

    Auroras were witnessed July 19 after a solar storm hit Earth, producing electric greens and purples across the northern US and Canada.

    Shortly after, on August 3, there was another solar storm warning.

    There was also a C9.3 flare that shot out of the sun that Sunday, but it did not erupt on the sun’s side facing Earth.

    It did, however, cause enough commotion to be captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – a craft that has been investigating our massive star since launching in 2010.

    Mike Cook, who works in space weather operations, told DailyMail.com that there was a coronal hole in the southwest region of the sun’s face that was spewing ‘gaseous material.’

    This enhanced solar wind speeds by shooting solar winds out in a stream.

    The recent increase in activity from the Sun is the result of it coming towards the most active phase in its 11-year solar cycle – hitting peak activity in 2024.

    Studies have shown that the level of solar activity currently happening, is about the same as it was 11 years ago, during the same point in the last cycle.

  • 5 часов, 28 минут назад 16.08.2022Science
    Amazon accuses FTC of harassing execs as agency probes if firm uses ‘deceptive tactics’ with Prime

    Amazon has accused the Federal Trade Commission of harassing its top executives as the regulator’s pushes forward with its probe into whether the company uses ‘deceptive practices’ to lure customers into signing up for Prime memberships and then makes it very difficult to quit the program.

    In a filing dated August 5 that was made public on Monday, Amazon claimed the FTC’s investigation had become ‘unduly burdensome’ on executives and employees after 19 were served with subpoenas in order to give evidence.

    The tech giant called on the agency to ‘quash or limit’ its demands – which it claimed served no purpose other than to ‘harass Amazon’s highest-ranking executives and disrupt its business operations,’ according to the filing.

    Scroll down for video

    For almost a year and a half, the agency led by Big Tech critic Lina Khan has been slowly deepening its investigation of how Amazon allegedly uses ambiguous language and design features in its Prime sign-up and cancellation processes.

    Internal documents obtained by Business Insider in March revealed that Amazon has been concerned since 2017 that the user interface designs on Amazon.com have made customers feel manipulated into signing up for Prime – the perks-filled subscription service had 200 million members as of last year and costs $139 per year in the U.S. – generating $8.7 billion in revenue in the second quarter.

    For instance, if a user clicks on ‘Get FREE Two-Day Delivery with Prime’ at checkout – without any additional confirmation step – they are automatically enrolled into a 30-day free trial of Prime and that later converts into a paid membership unless the user cancels it.

    Amazon was aware of the concerns about manipulation for years and did not take serious action, according to the internal documents and six current or former employees who spoke with Insider. Anyone wishing to cancel their Prime subscription will also face a series of challenging hurdles.

    ‘Amazon Prime’s subscription model is a ‘roach motel,’ where getting in is almost effortless, but escape is an ordeal,’ a letter from seven groups led by Public Citizen states. ‘As a general rule, it should not be more difficult to unsubscribe than to subscribe from a digital service.’

    In order to cancel, consumers must click through multiple pages, where each page has other links that ‘create confusion’ or try to nudge users back into the subscription, according to the January 2021 letter from Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

    Meanwhile, Amazon is pushing back on the FTC’s demands in the latest filing.

    ‘Staff’s handling of this investigation has been unusual and perplexing,’ Amazon says in the petition.

    Readying founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify on ‘granular’ details would be a ‘tremendous burden’ on the company – which asked regulators for more time to provide the required information.

    The FTC, which has multiple tech firms in its sights, has extended its probe of Amazon to its ebook service Kindle Unlimited and music streaming platform Amazon Music. This probe is being led by the consumer-protection division and is separate from the antitrust probe of Amazon. In June 2021, the Seattle-based company called on Khan to recuse herself from the investigation because of her previous academic work on antitrust matters and criticism of the ecommerce giant.

    Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, said in a previous statement to Insider: ‘Customer transparency and trust are top priorities for us. By design we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership. We continually listen to customer feedback and look for ways to improve the customer experience.’

    Executives in addition to Bezos and Jassy who were served with subpoenas included Doug Herrington, Amazon’s head of retail, Russell Grandinetti, head of international consumer, as well as former executives Dave Clark, who had been head of worldwide consumer, and Greg Greeley, ex-head of Prime.

    DailyMail.com reached out to Amazon for comment.

  • 5 часов, 28 минут назад 16.08.2022Science
    Shell and BP’s plans to reduce carbon emissions will overshoot Paris Agreement targets, study says

    Fossil fuel companies’ plans to reduce carbon emissions will still overshoot the 1.5°C warming limit in the Paris Agreement by a ‘significant margin’, a new study warns.

    Researchers have studied the ‘decarbonisation scenarios’ outlined by vast energy companies Shell, BP and Equinor.

    These scenarios are intended to project what future energy requirements, and resultant emissions, would look like.

    Researchers claim that all the energy firms’ decarbonisation scenarios show ‘delayed reductions in fossil fuel consumption’ and run the risk of ‘overshooting vital climate goals’ laid out by the Paris Agreement

    Adopted in 2016, the Paris Agreement aims to hold an increase in global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6°F) and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

    But BP, Shell and Equinor are ‘incompatible’ with Paris Agreement goals for a safe and habitable planet, and could lead to ‘catastrophic impacts’, according to the researchers.

    Hitting the Paris Agreement targets is seen as key to averting a planetary catastrophe, leading to devastation in the form of frequent climate disasters and millions of deaths.

    The study was led by researchers at Climate Analytics and Imperial College London, and published today in Nature Communications.

    ‘Most of the scenarios we evaluated would be classified as inconsistent with the Paris Agreement,’ said study author Dr Robert Brecha at Climate Analytics.

    ‘They fail to limit warming to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C, and would exceed the 1.5°C warming limit by a significant margin.’

    Fossil fuel companies have produced their own scenarios for future global energy consumption for decades, but the underlying assumptions of the scenarios to back up their claims that they’re consistent with the Paris Agreement are ‘not always clear’, the researchers say.

    For example, in 2020, BP detailed multiple decarbonisation scenarios in a report, including ‘Net Zero’ and ‘Rapid’.

    And in 2021, Shell released its emissions reduction plan, called ‘Sky 1.5’, that outlined how the world could meet the ‘well-below 2°C’ goal.

    For the study, the experts analysed a total of six decarbonisation scenarios published between 2020 and mid-2021.

    Four were from the energy firms (two from BP, one from Royal Dutch Shell and one from Equinor), while another two were developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organisation based in France.

    Researchers calculated what the temperature outcomes for the six scenarios are and how they compare with temperature outcomes to the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

    They found that five of the six scenarios assessed overshoot the 1.5°C (2.7°F) warming limit by a significant margin.

    Only the IEA’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ scenario is aligned with the Paris Agreement target of limiting warming to 1.5°C, they found.

    Equinor’s ‘Rebalance’ scenario peaks at a median warming of 1.73°C above pre-industrial levels in 2060, BP’s ‘Rapid’ at 1.73°C in 2058, Shell’s ‘Sky’ at 1.81°C in 2069, and the IEA’s sustainable development scenario (SDS) at 1.78°C in 2056.

    BP’s Net Zero scenario results in a median peak warming of 1.65°C, not quite low enough to be consistent with the Paris Agreement criteria.

    Results show that it’s crucial fossil fuel companies aren’t allowed to ‘mark their own work’, according to co-author Dr Robin Lamboll at Imperial.

    ‘It’s good that traditionally fossil-based institutions are planning for the upcoming transition to clean energy,’ he said.

    ‘However, it’s important that we don’t allow oil companies to mark their own work when providing suggestions for how the world can transition away from fossil fuels in a way that meets the Paris Agreement.

    ‘It’s also important to be aware of these biases when databases of scenarios like this are used to frame what is possible and what is ‘radical’ in terms of climate goals.’

    According to the team, their study gives policymakers the tools to critically assess scenarios published by a number of public, commercial and academic institutions describing how they will meet the Paris Agreement goals.

    ‘Institutional assessments have historically been opaque on climate outcomes,’ said co-author Dr Matthew Gidden at Climate Analytics.

    ‘Our study provides a direct line of sight from pathways to temperature.

    ‘Governments should use these tools to carry out a robust assessment of the energy-system transformation to meet the Paris Agreement goals.’

    MailOnline contacted Shell, BP and Equinor for comment.

    Shell said it’s transparent on how it models its decarbonisation scenarios, which it said are assessed by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

  • 5 часов, 28 минут назад 16.08.2022Science
    Can YOU tell which are Photoshopped? Professional retoucher makes subtle changes to celebrity faces

    Whether it’s on Instagram or in Cosmopolitan magazine, most of us are regularly exposed to airbrushed or Photoshopped images.

    Amid the rise in the use of these technologies, MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee recently released a report, calling for the Government to make disclaimers on edited images mandatory.

    The report recommends that images that show a digitally altered body should be labelled with a logo, to help social media users know the real from the fake.

    Following the report, MailOnline enlisted the help of Stephen Davies, a professional photographer and image retoucher from South Wales, who has edited a series of red carpet photos of celebrities to show just how realistic the changes can look.

    The images show familiar faces including David Beckham, George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston with discreet changes, including smaller waists, reduced under-eye bags and smoother skin.

    But can you tell what the subtle changes are? Scroll down to see if you can spot the Photoshop.

    Will the ‘Photoshop Law’ work?

    While the MPs backing the proposal believe that labelling Photoshopped images will make them easier to spot, not everyone agrees.

    Speaking to MailOnline, Dr Sophie Nightingale, a psychology lecturer at Lancaster University, explained: ‘Although positive to see legislative movements to challenge the permeation of unrealistic standards of physical beauty, it is crucial to make such laws in line with scientific evidence.

    ‘Warning labels and videos have little effect on detection of manipulations.

    ‘In some cases, they make the situation worse by increasing negative thoughts, perhaps by drawing extra visual attention to commonly edited areas of a person’s body like waist and chest.’

    Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, Dr Robert Nash, a psychologist from Aston University, added: ‘When people see the doctored photo with a disclaimer attached, in the moment they might realise the photo is misleading and would resist being misled by it.

    ‘But after a few days or more, they might continue to remember the photo but forget that it was fake.

    ‘As a result, they might begin to believe it after a while even though the disclaimer had initially prevented them from believing it.’

    How many edited images of ourselves and others do we look at?

    Over 300 million photos are uploaded online every day to be scrolled through on social media, and there is a high likelihood that many of these have been tweaked.

    One study, published last year in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, found that 25 per cent of social media users edit more than 40 per cent of the total photos they post online.

    Ninety per cent of young women who participated in a separate City University London study said they used a filter or edited their photos before sharing them.

    The participants made alterations that smoothed their skin, reshaped their jaw, whitened their teeth or made them look slimmer.

    This is exacerbated by the accessibility of low-cost, or even free, photo and video editing applications like FaceApp, Facetune and TikTok.

    Being exposed to a huge influx of images with subtle alterations intended to look natural can make it difficult for social media users to know what is real and what isn’t.

    Dr Nightingale conducted studies in 2017 and 2022 to see how well we can tell the difference.

    She said: ‘People perform close to chance at distinguishing between real and manipulated images and in our study although performance varied by manipulation type.

    ‘On average people’s accuracy was lowest for airbrushing manipulations.

    ‘We also found that people tended to be overconfident in their decisions about whether an image was real or fake.’

    Furthermore, developments in artificial intelligence software have led to the generation of highly realistic media, like deepfake videos.

    Dr Nightingale’s team found these advances are increasing the difficulty of determining the real from the fake.

    What effect does looking at edited images have on our brains?

    According to Dr Nightingale, when we see something we deem ‘unusual’ for the first time, a strong emotional and physiological response is triggered.

    But as we are continually exposed to this incidence, we notice it less and less, and its impact is reduced.

    ‘One suggestion for this is desensitisation,’ the psychologist said.

    ‘The plasticity of the human brain allows us to continue to learn throughout life as neural pathways are more or less frequently activated.’

    The same desensitisation could occur as we view edited images on social media.

    Dr Nightingale added: ‘In the case of seeing manipulated images of ourselves and others, it’s feasible that the more we see them the more “normal” these edited appearances become.

    ‘On social media platforms, people are continually exposed to portrayals of the “ideal appearance”- for example impossibly thin, athletic, wrinkle – and blemish-free people.

    ‘As such, we come to expect people to look a certain way, a way that much of the time is physically impossible. These expectations can become internalised, influencing perceptions of self even when offline.

    ‘Ultimately, then, people are judging themselves against something that is not real, against a digitally created ideal.’

    This discrepancy between expectation and reality can have a negative impact on body image, and lead to psychological problems like depression and anxiety or even eating disorders.

    How can edited photos alter our memories?

    Studies have shown that being exposed to doctored images can change what we remember of the past.

    This includes childhood memories and political events, and they can even cause us to accuse others of something they didn’t do.

    ‘When we try to remember something, it’s not as simple as picking a book off the shelf, finding a link to a YouTube video,’ said psychologist Professor Maryanne Garry.

    ‘Instead, remembering is more like a process of construction and reconstruction, in which we piece together information and call it a memory.

    ‘First, your brain brings to mind thoughts, images, and feelings about an event, and second, your brain decides how real this information is.’

    While this process is usually effortless, sometimes we do decide that things we learned elsewhere or dreamt really happened if they ‘feel’ like they did.

    Professor Garry, from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, said: ‘That’s how we wind up with memory distortions, or even false memories.

    ‘One way to make this decision-making process go wrong is by showing people photographs of things they’ve never done, with people who are never really there, or even public events that never really happened.

    ‘Photographs make it easy to imagine things that just aren’t true.’

    Even taking a photo itself has been proven to impair our memory of the event, as we are too focused on getting the right shot and are taken out the moment.

    Could we forget what we really look like?

    As a result of our flawed memory-keeping process and increasing bombardment with edited imagery, some psychologists believe we could lose our perception of what we look like.

    ‘It’s possible, but probably only in quite specific circumstances and so I’d hesitate to suggest that this is a large risk,’ said Dr Nash.

    ‘Doctored images, by definition, include visual imagery, and this imagery makes it easier for us to mentally picture things that might not be accurate.

    ‘We’re more likely to mistakenly remember false things as true when we can imagine them vividly.

    ‘So by handing this vivid imagery to us on a plate, doctored photos can increase the likelihood of memory confusions.’

    He added: ‘When we see doctored images, the false ideas and images they contain can come to feel very familiar to us.

    ‘For example, if I’ve seen a photo of a celebrity that’s been doctored to make them appear stick-thin, then the idea that they are very thin may feel familiar to me if I’m ever prompted in future to think about or question that celebrity’s appearance.

    ‘We tend to believe things that feel familiar, especially because we’re pretty bad at remembering why they feel familiar.’

    Thankfully Dr Nash says we are unlikely to completely lose our grip on the reality of what we and other people look like, as we still have many real-world reminders.

    Dr Nash said: ‘For example, if I see a doctored photo of a celebrity, then it’s highly likely that before and afterwards I’ll also see plenty of other, undoctored, photos of that same celebrity, which will reduce the impact of the single misleading photo.

    ‘If the celebrity or person is already well-known to me, then I probably already have a well-established mental image of that person, such that a single doctored photo won’t have as much impact on my visual imagery.

    ‘So I think the likelihood of misremembering a person’s appearance would be much less likely in scenarios where the person is already highly familiar and/or where exposure to other images of that person is more common, such as with a celebrity.

    ‘But if I met a new person on one occasion or a handful of occasions, and then you showed me a doctored photo that falsely suggested the person had a big scar on their cheek, or suchlike, then there’s definitely a possibility the scar could filter its way into my original memories of my interactions with the person.’

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