The Average Woman Revealed

Study Blends Thousands of Faces To Find What World’s Women Look Like


  • Pictures of hundreds of women were used to create an average
  • Images of women from 41 different ethnicities were laid over one another before a computer programme deduced the common look
  • Study by experimental psychologists at the University of Glasgow in Scotland

If you were described as average-looking, you probably wouldn’t see it as a compliment. But perhaps you would be happy if you looked like any of these computer-generated depictions of the ‘average woman’. With flawless skin, youthful faces and bright eyes – these average faces of women from around the world are nothing short of beautiful.


The face of the average woman from a variety of countries including England, China and Central Africa has been deduced by scientists.


Hundreds of images of women’s faces were laid on top of each other before a computer programme created the average around a focal point of their eyes.

They were created by scientists, who used hundreds of pictures of women from all over the world. Experimental psychologists at the University of Glasgow photographed women from 41 different nationalities and ethnicities for the experiment. Using a modern version of the technique that anthropologist Sir Francis Galton pioneered in the late 19th century, multiple images were carefully laid over one another using a computer technology.

Using the eyes of the women as a focus, it then worked out the average look of each woman from every region but analyzing their faces. The method – called ‘composite portraiture’ – and was first used in the 1880s by Sir Francis Galton. The social scientist and cousin of Charles Darwin first created the image of the average face by superimposing multiple portraits of individuals.


Some have been critical of the average images, saying – as the results all appear to be around 20 years old – they do not reflect any age range within a country.


Those behind the project say that the method averages the shape of the features before blending the images together – hence why there are no blemishes or imperfections.

The technique has been used ever since, particularly in the study of ‘attractiveness’ – which studies people’s perception of beauty. However, the results have attracted some controversy – with many saying the results do not reflect reality especially as the ‘common’ faces are all beautiful.

While many agree that it does make sense the women are all pretty – because averages rule out blemishes – many are perplexed that the women all seem to be in her early twenties –  not the average age of any nationality. Those behind the project say that many of the criticisms are explained by the process.

Instead of having a lot of blurry images with undefined features, they say the method averages the shape of the features before blending the images together. Some anomalies can be explained by how the pictures were compiled. The prevalence of mousy hair is a result of blondeness being easily ‘diluted’. Other results also suggest that the study has a few imperfections. The average South African, for example, should not be pale-skinned as only 9.2 per cent of the population define themselves as white.


The project was inspired by South African photographer Mike Mike’s project called The Face of Tomorrow and used techniques developed by social scientist Francis Galton.

The project was inspired by the work of South African photographer Mike Mike – who created a web project several years ago called The Face of Tomorrow. The project saw the photographer compile a collection of people’s faces from various cities for a final project while he was studying at Goldsmith’s University in London:

‘Sitting on the underground train, I was intrigued by the sheer diversity of the place – Somalis, Indians, Americans, Zimbabweans, Scandinavians and a hundred other nationalities vying for their place in the metropolis.  I thought: What is this place, what is a Londoner? If one could merge all the people in a place like London one would be looking at the future of that place – one would have some notion of what a Londoner is or will become.’


Anthropologist Sir Francis Galton – who was also the cousin of Charles Darwin – pioneered the method of ‘composite portraiture’ in the 1880s. He superimposed multiple portraits of individuals’ faces together to create an average. All of the portraits were registered on the subject’s eyes and the rest of the face was created around them.

The faces have been the topic of fierce debate over the last hundred years, with much psychological research focusing on the attractiveness of the face and why different people find one more attractive than the other. Other psychologists, including Sigmund Freud in his work On Dreams, picked up Galton’s suggestion that these composites might represent a useful metaphor for an ideal type or a concept of a ‘natural kind’.

To this day, the method is still used by scientists studying attractiveness and beauty – although computer programs have replaced much of the original methods used at the turn of the 19th century.

If you ask me, I think most of the women pictured bear a striking resemblance to Ashley Judd.


Pre-Halloween Spookiness: Alaska’s Kennecott Mine


It’s an old gold and copper mine complete with ghost town – allegedly with one of the highest amounts of paranormal activity in America

Ghosts of the old territorial days are with us everywhere. Alaska is littered with abandoned Russian settlements, deserted prospecting sites and the wreckage of so many doomed expeditions into the cold, dark and mysterious Far North. Spirits of the ancients are even said to be trapped in the great animals roaming the Great Land, ferrying souls from this realm to the next.
kenn2It’s somehow fitting that perhaps the greatest concentration of paranormal activity in Alaska’s vast lands has been reported near one of the world’s richest-known gold and copper strikes. The old railroad that serviced the Kennecott copper mines in the Valdez and Chitina mining districts is said to be so haunted, so spooky, that to this day — 73 years after the final lode was hauled — phantoms plague repeated attempts by locals and even state officials to redevelop the area.
kenn3The Kennecott mill town and mines are an extraordinary relic from America’s past. The impressive structures and artifacts that remain, represent an ambitious time of exploration, discovery, and technological innovation. They tell stories of westward expansion, World War I politics and economy, the lives of men, women, and children who lived there, and the rise of a multinational corporation. Each link in the historical chain connects to another until we realize that this remote, Alaska mining venture was intricately connected to the world around it.
kenn4The Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark includes the land and mining claims that formed the foundation for the Kennecott Copper Corporation, later the Kennecott Minerals Company. The operation had two components: the mines where ore was extracted from the mountains, and the mill town where the ore was processed. From 1911 to 1938, nearly $200 million worth of copper was processed. At the peak of operation, approximately 300 people worked in the mill town and 200-300 in the mines. Kennecott was a self-contained company town that included a hospital, general store, school, skating rink, tennis court, recreation hall, and dairy.
kenn5By the late 1920s, the supply of high-grade ore was diminishing, and Kennecott Copper Corporation was diversifying into other North American and Chilean mines. Declining profits and increasing costs of railroad repairs led to the eventual closure of the Kennecott operation by 1938. By that time, the corporation was well on the way to becoming a multinational giant.

Many of the buildings in Kennecott have been abandoned for sixty years. Some are in need of immediate stabilization to keep them standing, while some have deteriorated beyond the point of saving.

Abandoned Kennecott Mine

On the Web: Kennecott


New Cycling President Promises More Transparency

Brian Cookson

Brian Cookson, of Britain, poses for photographers just after being elected president of the UCI, International Cycling Union, in Florence, Friday.
(Photo Fabrizio Giovannozzi)


FLORENCE, Italy — Brian Cookson vowed to usher cycling into a more transparent era Friday after winning a heated vote to become president of the UCI, defeating incumbent Pat McQuaid after a contentious election in the wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

The result was hailed as a victory for the sport by many of McQuaid’s outspoken critics — including the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which said it was “a monumental moment” for cycling and showed that its governing body was now dedicated to eradicating drug use.

Cookson, who had been president of British Cycling, beat McQuaid 24-18 in a secret ballot after a bold move to call for a vote despite an ongoing debate over whether McQuaid was even an eligible candidate. McQuaid’s home country, Ireland, and Switzerland, where he lives, withdrew support in the wake of the Armstrong affair and he ran with nominations from Thailand and Morocco instead.

After hours of debate over McQuaid’s status inside the historic Palazzo Vecchio, Cookson stood up and said: “We’ve had enough of this. I’m going to propose that we go straight to the vote between the two candidates.”

Cookson needed a simple majority of the 42 grand electors but a victory was hardly assured.

“I wasn’t confident,” Cookson said after the congress. “But I felt I owed it to the cycling community to end the misery that we were all going through, whether I won or lost.”

An earlier vote linked to McQuaid’s status had finished dead even, 21-21.

“I think people respected that and that’s the way I like to operate, the way I like to do business,” Cookson said. “We had heard all of the arguments, we were going around in circles and it was clearly time to just put the matter to the vote.”

Even McQuaid appreciated the way Cookson ended the debate.

“I think it was a good thing to do,” the outgoing president said. “We gave an election and we got a result.”

McQuaid was first elected in 2005 and was seeking a third-four year term despite accusations that the UCI covered up Armstrong’s doping during his tenure in charge. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year and banned from the sport for life after acknowledging that he doped.

“That’s life, that’s the way it goes. Congress has decided,” McQuaid said. “They’ve elected a new president so good luck to the new president, good luck to the new management committee and let them go. … I’m looking forward to a good holiday, which I badly need.”

Armstrong issued a one-word tweet that said, “Hallelujah.”

“Well I’m always pleased to hear that anyone is happy about my being elected, whoever it may be, Lance Armstrong or any other cycling fan around the world,” said Cookson, who wants to set up a so-called “truth and reconciliation” commission to encourage riders, team officials and others with knowledge of cycling’s doping past to come forward.

Cookson also wants to set up an independent anti-doping commission. And he has warned that team managers who have been tied to or admitted doping during their careers as athletes could no longer have a place in the sport.

“We need to have a structure in place as quickly as possible,” Cookson said. “Lance Armstrong is obviously one of those people who will be invited to contribute to the process once we’ve established that, and I’ll certainly be seeking to do that as quickly as possible.”

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which issued the key report on Armstrong’s doping operation, hailed Cookson’s victory.

“The outcome of the UCI election sends a powerful message that sport leaders who fail to fully protect the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of their sport will be held accountable,” USADA said in a statement. “The UCI tried to obstruct our investigation into doping in cycling at every turn, and then after the release of our reasoned decision the previous leadership failed to take necessary and decisive action to fully clean up the sport.”

USADA added that “the election of a new UCI President who is committed to transparency and a new direction, is a monumental moment for the sport and demonstrates that when clean athletes stand up for their rights they will be heard.”

The 62-year-old Cookson announced that as a result of the vote he was stepping down as president of British Cycling, which he has led since 1997. And he acknowledged the bitter moments of the campaign but thanked McQuaid “for the contribution he has made to cycling during his long career.”

“I wish him well in whatever he goes on to do,” Cookson said.

However, Cookson also indicated that McQuaid may be called in to an eventual inquiry into cycling’s past.

“Yes I would ask Pat and anyone else to fully cooperate in any investigation that is put underway,” he said. “And I’m sure that Pat will want to cooperate as fully as possible.”


Cycling: Music on My MP3


I’m often asked about bicycles, nutrition, clothing and everything in between, including music. I use a 14GB Sony Walkman (I stopped using EVERYTHING Apple a few years ago). My musical tastes are eclectic by many standards and archaic to others, but it works for me in a 50 to 100 miles road cycle training jaunts. I listen only when I am not in the midst of traffic, the city, etc. so I don’t advise being plugged in while cycling in the city.

Of the 800 tunes on my Sony, these are my constant favorites. Some inspire, others motivate me, while others are just good music and/or lyrics to keep me company.


What’s My Age Again?


Goodbye, Nice To Know You


How Soon Is Now (Charmed Theme)
They are often confused with The Smiths who earlier recorded the song

Michelle_Branch everywhere



Are You Happy Now?


Baby I’m Ready To Go




Six Underground


Anything and everything from “Songs From The Big Chair”
Got the CD when I was 10!

the cult

She Sells Santuary

The Verve

Bittersweet Symphony.
I recently used this song on a time lapse music video on my YouTube Channel.


The whole CD is great but really like “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You” – I often quote it in my tweets.


Open Up Your Eyes


TubThumping. Chumbawanba is a Brit band from the 80s and I consider them them friends after they bought me a pint on several occasions. According to a Pop-Up Video on VH1, the name “Chumbawamba” is derived from a dream that one of the members had, wherein men were called “chumbas” and women “wambas”.

veruca salt

Cannonball & Jawbreaker


Pre-Halloween Spookiness: Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Munecas)

I always wondered what happened to the Gerber baby.  Now I know.

I always wondered what happened to the Gerber baby. Now I know.

Legend says the lone inhabitant of this long-abandoned island was killed by the dolls he strung along its shores

Adventurers who row their boats to this abandoned island will find themselves surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands, of creepy doll parts hung from trees, scattered through the forest, and generally watching from every corner.

For quite some time, the eerie secret of the island’s dolls went unnoticed.

doll2It was later discovered that the bizarre island attraction was created by a man named Julián Santana Barrera, a native of the La Asunción neighborhood.

Santana Barrera was a loner, who was rarely seen in most of Xochimilco. He came to fame because he would collect the old broken bodies of dolls from the canals and rubbish tips, and then hang them from branches and tie them to tree trunks to keep away evil spirits and appease the spirit of a dead girl he had found. He would state that he believed that the dolls were somehow still “alive” but “forgotten” by their owners and at night, these dolls are said to walk around the island killing animals, and other places were “discovered” in the early 1990s, when the area was being cleared of excessive water lillies.

Before this, it was thought that no one lived on this chinampa, but Santana Barrera was there, living in a hut with no services and generally did not receive visitors, other than family. The display of dolls and parts attracted attention of the press. Eventually, he stated to them that the dolls were there to keep away evil spirits and to help with the harvests in his gardens. His favorite was called La Moneca and he frequently moved the dolls around among the tree branches. He began to receive more visitors to see the dolls, which eventually included local political figures.

These dolls are NOT on the island. This is called comic relief.

These dolls are NOT on the island. This is called comic relief.

Santana Barrera died in 2001; there were many ideas on how he was killed, some say he drowned himself in the river because he was driven insane, others say the dolls came alive and killed him. The dolls, however, are still on the island, accessible by boat.

Some of the dolls like have their photo taken - others do not and frequently get pissed.

Some of the dolls like have their photo taken – others do not and frequently get pissed.

Never has a Cabbage Patch Doll ever looked so creepy.

Okay, they LOOK creepy ANYWAY.

THIS doesn’t help.


Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Munecas)
Xochimilco, DIF MX

On the Web: Xochimilco


Just Because…

calm no hell yeah

Just because I have a residence in Scotland doesn’t mean I have to act British.

I’d much rather act like a Highlander.

Just because I’m a American doesn’t mean I’m materialistic.

I’d much rather be cycling all day.

Just because I’m a North American doesn’t mean I completely understand Canada.

But a visit there always clears my head, heart, mind & soul.

Just because I’m a Journalist doesn’t mean I write about everything.

But I do write what interests me and for no one else.

Just because I’m a photographer doesn’t mean I manipulate every photo.

I think many photos are great just the way they are.

Just because I design on a computer doesn’t mean I have an artistic temperament.

There is such a thing as being too artsy to the point of being eccentric.

Just because I’m mad at my government & don’t trust it doesn’t mean I don’t love my country.

I’m ready to throw the tea overboard, just give me the word.

Sempre Fi!


Sept 1944: Medal Of Honor — PFC John D. New, USMC

John D. New

Private First Class John D. New, USMC. Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication “Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy”, page 230. John D. New was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” while serving with the Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division in action against Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group on 25 September 1944. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 106312.

On 25 September 1944, Private First Class John D. New served with the 1st Marines against the Japanese on Peleliu Island. When an enemy soldier hurled a grenade in the area where two Marines were directing mortar fire, PFC New threw himself on the grenade and absorbed the full impact of the explosion, sacrificing his life to save his comrades. For his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity”, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.


Wounded Marines being removed from the lines by their buddies. They are passing through a draw leading to suicide ridge on Peleliu. U.S. Marine Corps Photograph. NHHC Photograph Collection, L-File, Wars and Events.

Palau Operations

Palau Operations, September-October 1944. First Division Marines move into a valley on Peleliu after blasting the Japanese from caves in the hillside. One of the caves from which the enemy was blasted is in the center background. U.S. Marine Corps Photograph. NHHC Photograph Collection, L-File, Wars & Events.

Medal of Honor citation of Private First Class John D. New, USMC (as printed in the official publication “Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy”, page 230):

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu Island, Palau Group, 25 September 1944. When a sudden Japanese soldier emerged from a cave in a cliff directly below an observation post and suddenly hurled a grenade into the position from which two of our men were directing mortar fire against enemy emplacements, Private First Class New instantly perceived the dire peril to the other Marines and, with utter disregard for his own safety, unhesitatingly flung himself upon the grenade and absorbed the full impact of the explosion, thus saving the lives of the two observers. Private First Class New’s great personal valor and selfless conduct in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”



Throwback Thursday: Retro Photo – 1902 Wright Brothers’ Glider Tests

The Wright Brothers launch their third test glider at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. Credit: NASA

The Wright Brothers launch their third test glider at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902.
Credit: NASA

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Wright brothers’ third test glider is being launched at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on October 10, 1902. Wilbur Wright is at the controls, Orville Wright is at left, and Dan Tate (a local resident and friend of the Wright brothers) is at right.

The 1902 test gliders were extremely important to the development of the first powered airplane. The new glider design was based on the wind tunnel tests performed by the Wrights in 1901. The improvements to the glider included a new rudder that helped provide three-dimensional control of the aircraft.

They gained the mechanical skills essential for their success by working for years in their shop with printing presses, bicycles, motors, and other machinery. Their work with bicycles in particular influenced their belief that an unstable vehicle like a flying machine could be controlled and balanced with practice. From 1900 until their first powered flights in late 1903, they conducted extensive glider tests that also developed their skills as pilots.

Who says cyclists, aviators, designers and engineers have nothing in common?

On the Web:

Wright Brothers National Memorial – National Park Service

The Wright Brothers – National Air and Space Museum

Home Page for the Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company


Jupiter’s Moon Io Much Like Earth’s Past


This global view of Jupiter’s moon, Io, was obtained during the tenth orbit of Jupiter by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft on 19 September 1997 at a range of more than 500,000 km (310,000 miles). Io (which is slightly larger than Earth’s moon) is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Colors are enhanced.


Anybody wondering what Earth was like 4 billion years ago should cast an eye toward Jupiter’s hypervolcanic moon Io, a new study suggests.

Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system, dissipating its massive stores of internal heat via intense eruptions that cover the entire moon with about 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) of lava every year. Earth probably went through a similar phase in its youth, back before the planet cooled enough for plate tectonics to start up, researchers reported yesterday (Sept. 25) in the journal Nature.

Earth formed from the fusion of many small, rocky “planetesimals” about 4.5 billion years ago. These collisions generated lots of heat, as did the subsequent separation of Earth’s metallic core and the decay of radioactive elements. As a result, the ancient Earth harbored far more internal heat than it does today — perhaps five to 10 times more, scientists think.

However, the planet’s lithosphere — its rigid outer shell, composed of the crust and upper mantle — was relatively thick and cool in those early days. That shouldn’t be the case if plate tectonics were the main means of dissipating interior heat back then, as it is now, researchers said.

Instead, the early Earth may have worked more like Io, where heat flows to the surface through volcanic “pipes” in huge quantities. The moon is tugged so hard by Jupiter’s powerful gravity that it currently transports about 40 times more internal heat than Earth does despite being just 30 percent as wide as our planet.

“The heat pipe [idea] explains that, by allowing heat through the lithosphere in particular places — the pipes — which allows the rest of the lithosphere to be thick and cold and strong,” said study lead author William Moore, of Hampton University in Virginia. “So you can resolve the paradox by proposing this different mechanism of heat transport.”

The chief alternative to the heat-pipe model developed by Moore and study co-author Alexander Webb of Lousiana State University is a souped-up version of plate tectonics, in which Earth’s enormous lithospheric plates simply moved faster and transported more heat long ago.

But a hotter interior would likely have generated more molten rock, producing thicker, more buoyant plates that would have taken longer to cool down enough to dive back into Earth’s mantle, Moore said.

“Somewhat counterintuitively, the hotter things get, it seems like the slower plate tectonics should run, and actually the worse it is at transporting heat,” Moore said. “So there are geophysical problems with just making plate tectonics run faster.”

Further, rocks that formed about 3.5 billion years ago preserve evidence of periods of intense continuous volcanism on Earth lasting several hundred million years. That’s another knock against the ancient tectonics argument, Moore added.

“You do not see that anywhere today at the surface of the Earth, because plate tectonics does not let anything sit around for 100 million years before it starts beating up on it,” he said.

The heat-pipe system was likely in effect from the time Earth’s surface solidified until about 3.1 billion years ago, when the planet switched over to plate tectonics relatively quickly, Moore said. (As Earth cooled, the amount of volcanism dropped off dramatically, the idea goes; the lithosphere then got thinner and thinner until it finally broke, forming plates.)

Life is thought to have arisen on our planet about 3.8 billion years ago, so it may have bloomed into existence on an incredibly volcanic planet. And that would make perfect sense, Moore said.

“This interaction between hot rocks and water is really good for life,” he said. “It liberates both thermal energy and chemical energy from the rocks, as well as pulling essential nutrients like phosphorus and sulfur out of the rock phase and putting them into the water.”

The new hypothesis could have applications far beyond Earth. Moore suspects that every rocky planet goes through a heat-pipe phase during its evolution, the duration of which depends on its size (because larger worlds take longer to cool down than smaller planets).

If this is indeed the case, then plate tectonics may not play much of a role on so-called “super-Earth” planets, which are roughly two to 10 times as massive as Earth. In the last few years, astronomers have discovered a number of super-Earths that may be capable of supporting life.

If our planet was in heat-pipe phase for 1 billion or 1.5 billion years, a super-Earth “might be in heat-pipe mode for 5 billion years, or even 10 billion years, which is comparable to the lifetime of its star,” Moore said.

“We should probably not expect to find these large terrestrial [alien] planets in plate-tectonic mode, but to find them in a much more long-lived heat-pipe mode,” he added. “So they’d be much more like super-Io rather than super-Earth.”

On the Web: Heat-Pipe Earth – Nature