Somerton Man brought back to life in new animation by Star Trek special effects artist

The mysterious Somerton Man has been given a Hollywood makeover in the hope forensic facial reconstruction will help solve the perplexing 72-year-old cold case.

A cross-continental collaboration involving a virtual reality artist and two researchers has resulted in new images of the man whose body was found on Adelaide’s Somerton beach.

His identity and cause of death have remained unsolved ever since he was spotted by passers-by propped against the seawall on December 1, 1948.

The case has baffled police and sparked theories about who he was, including speculation he was a Cold War spy or a jilted lover, and that he could have been poisoned.

Images of the mystery man are scarce, with unflattering black-and-white post-mortem photographs — and a death mask of his face and upper torso — all that remain.

Images of the plaster bust of the Somerton Man were used to create the animation.(Supplied: Daniel Voshart)

But virtual reality specialist Daniel Voshart, whose credits include work on US television show Star Trek: Discovery, recently joined forces with University of Adelaide Somerton Man researcher Derek Abbott and US genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick to fix that problem.

The result is an animation, and several striking new images, showing what the Somerton Man could well have looked like when he was alive.

Black-and-white portrait photo of cinematographer Daniel Voshart.
Canadian cinematographer Daniel Voshart developed the new images.(Supplied)

“I drew on all of Derek Abbott’s research and list of things of what to pay attention to,” Canada-based Voshart told ABC News.

“I was given a list of his hair colour, what his teeth were like, what his eye colour was, his skin tone.”

Using artificial intelligence software, Voshart combined the physical descriptions of the Somerton Man with the autopsy photos and images of the plaster bust.

“A large part of it was curiosity on my own end just to figure out what this man did look like.

“Another part of it was, ‘Can it jog someone’s memory?'”

Missing tags and cryptic words

The Somerton Man is believed to have been aged about 40, had an athletic build and was found neatly dressed.

But the suit he was wearing had its tags cut off, and it did not take long for the mystery to deepen.

Some of the contents of the suitcase believed to belong to the Somerton Man.
Items believed to belong to the Somerton Man were found in a suitcase.(Supplied: Derek Abbott)

In January 1949, a suitcase believed to belong to the mystery man was found at Adelaide Railway Station.

It contained an odd assortment of items including clothes which also had their tags removed.

Tamam Shud
A scrap of paper marked “Tamam Shud” was found in the man’s pocket.(Supplied: Professor Derek Abbott)

Several months later, a tiny rolled-up piece of paper inscribed with the words “Tamam Shud” was found hidden deep in the fob pocket of the man’s trousers.

The torn paper was later traced back to a book of ancient Persian poetry, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which had been left in the back seat of a car near where the body was found.

The words roughly translate as “the end” or “the finish”, and the poems touch on themes including the need to live life to the fullest, and having no regrets when it ends.

Pandemic sparks new opportunity

When Star Trek: Discovery stopped filming during the coronavirus pandemic, the pause gave Voshart a chance to dabble in other projects, including the facial reconstruction of the Somerton Man.

A restored and colourised image of the Somerton Man.
The Somerton Man was found wearing a striped tie.(Supplied: Daniel Voshart)

“I had a lot of spare time and I learned a new software — you can mix faces and introduce human-like characteristics,” he said.

“One of the things I’ve been doing while I had this time off during this lay-off was to test this software, and I was testing it for forensic uses.

“Can you accurately de-age someone? Can you accurately take two parents, mix them together, de-age that and try to come up with what their child might look like?”

Another of his projects involved creating life-like images of Roman emperors, using the same software he would later employ on his Somerton Man images.

“[It’s] a bit of a circular process, but essentially the software allows you to introduce features from other images,” he said.

Using AI to ‘bring him to life’

Professor Abbott, who grew up a fan of Star Trek in the 1960s, said working with Voshart was “very cool” and was delighted with the results.

“This photograph is amazing — it just smacks you in the face because it looks so real and so engaging,” he said.

University of Adelaide's Professor Derek Abbott.
Professor Derek Abbott would like the Somerton Man’s remains to be exhumed.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

Professor Abbott, who is a specialist in biomedical engineering at the University of Adelaide, was put in touch with Voshart by Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick, a pioneer in forensic genealogy in the United States.

Dr Fitzpatrick first became involved in the Somerton Man case after reading about it online, before coming to Australia and meeting Professor Abbott in 2012.

“It’s one of these mysteries you have to solve and I think it’s amazing that so much has been done and we still don’t know who he is,” she said.

Portrait photo of forensic genealogist Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick.
Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick has been a pioneer in the field of forensic genealogy.(Supplied)

She said the key to solving the mystery was DNA and would involve exhuming his body, which has the support of Attorney-General Vickie Chapman on the condition it is privately funded.

As for the speculation surrounding his bizarre death, Dr Fitzpatrick said she suspects the Somerton Man was neither a spy nor poisoned, but a normal man who suffered a burst blood vessel.

But Voshart is still clinging to the spy theory, and hopes his work could trigger new discoveries in unexpected places.

“If the Cold War [theory] is true that means there’s a file somewhere, maybe in Russia, with an image of the actual guy.”

The Somerton Man's autopsy photo and a colourised, digital illustration of him
The post-mortem photos were used to develop the new images of the Somerton Man.(Supplied: Daniel Voshart)

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On Appeal, ‘Star Trek Discovery’ Still Doesn’t Infringe On Video Game’s Copyright

from the making-the-tardigrade dept

As one of the most beloved science fiction series in history, it’s no surprise that the Star Trek franchise has seen its share of intellectual property flare ups. With Viacom manning the IP enforcement guns, it only makes sense that the series has been the subject of the company’s failed attempt to pretend Fair Use doesn’t exist, the company’s failed attempts at copyright enforcement taking down an authorized Star Trek panel, and the company’s failed attempt to actually be good humans to the series’ adoring fans.

But this is not a story of Viacom failing at yet another thing. Instead, Viacom/CBS, along with Netflix, won in court, defeating an appeal by a video game maker that tried to claim that one episode of Star Trek Discovery infringed on the copyrights for a video game.

CBS and Netflix re-affirmed an earlier win in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit over a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against both companies due to a plotline in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery that a video game creator alleged infringed upon the plot of his unreleased game. The video game was about a giant tardigrade who traveled through outer space and a similar creature played a key role in Star Trek Discover Season 1.

After the Second Circuit lower court had already dismissed the claims, the Court of Appeals agreed in upholding the lower court ruling that both the video game and the TV show were relying on uncopyrightable scientific facts about tardigrades and their ability to survive in outer space.

While it’s a wonder the lawsuit was ever filed in the first place, why in the world Anas Osama Ibrahim Abdin went on to appeal that initial ruling is a complete mystery. The issue at hand was a story arch in the first season of Discovery which dealt with a giant tardigrade. Tardigrades are real life, tiny creatures that typically survive within water droplets. The most interesting aspect of tardigrades is that they have been shown to have been able to survive in the vacuum of outer space. Abdin’s video game also dealt with tardigrades that survived the outer reaches of space. On essentially this basis alone, Abdin filed both his original suit and the appeal.

This is yet another instance where the idea/expression dichotomy of copyright law comes into play. This dichotomy dictates that copyright can be afforded to specific expression, but not to a general idea. And certainly not to an idea comprised essentially of real life scientific discovery. So, if Discovery told the same story about the same tardigrade creature, merely having a tardigrade in its plot is not somehow infringement just because both works are set in space.

While “[t]he distinction between an idea and its expression is an elusive one,” Crichton, 84 F.3d at 587-88, Abdin’s space-traveling tardigrade is an unprotectible idea because it is a generalized expression of a scientific fact -namely, the known ability of a tardigrade to survive in space.

While the court’s opinion is 40 pages long, that one paragraph does all of its work in affirming the lower court’s ruling.

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Filed Under: anas osama ibrahim abdin, copyright, discovery, star trek, tardigrade, video game
Companies: cbs, netflix

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Camel trek operator Marcus Williams issues an emotional plea


August 01, 2020 15:56:43

Marcus Williams, who runs a camel trek on the outskirts of Alice Springs, issues an emotional plea after the reopening of NT borders mid-July.

ABC Alice Springs: Emma Haskin

Source: ABC News
Duration: 2min 43sec










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How Star Trek can explain the stockmarket’s wild swings

A short explanation for those who are not familiar with the Star Trek TV and film franchise: Mr. Spock is the science officer and second in command aboard the starship USS Enterprise; his mother was human while his father was a Vulcan, a race that managed to save itself from violence and war only by turning to hyper-rationalism. Spock’s human half, of course, is emotional and irrational and his logical side struggles to keep it under control.


Once you think of Mr. Market as Mr. Spock, the raging disconnect between the economy and equity prices becomes easier to grasp. Consider the following points:

Investors are rational

Much of the time, markets are understandable and make intuitive sense to investors. When the economy is expanding and profits are rising, so do stocks. If the economy tanks, shares plunge. There are long periods when stocks meander higher, reflecting positive developments in technology, taxes and inflation. This is the Vulcan logic of equities, reflecting investors’ rational, quantitative calculations of value.

Investors are irrational

Sometimes, markets seem to bounce from giddiness to panic almost overnight. It is especially obvious at turning points: Recall the March 2000 dot-com highs, when new companies were trading at 100 times earnings. Or the March 2009 financial-crisis lows, when prices were cut in half and selling was indiscriminate. The points where groupthink takes over the crowd, where emotions run rampant and greed and fear can overwhelm investors – that’s the human half at work.

It is rare to hear someone asked a question about a market move and not give a detailed after-the-fact explanation. Few are willing to admit that they really don’t know or that many market moves are simply random.

The Nobel Prize committee recognised these two opposite forces in 2013. [By awarding the Nobel Prize to both Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller, the committee acknowledged this schism. Fama’s thesis was that the pricing mechanism of markets were so efficient that they were difficult (if not impossible) to beat; Shiller’s data overwhelmingly showed that markets could be as irrational as the humans who traded in them. Bubbles form, prices detach from reality, then crash.

Most recently, we’ve seen this with day traders buying bankrupt companies because their prices are rising while others sell quality holdings at very low prices because others have also done so. Irrational investors create opportunities for those few who recognise this.

Markets are efficient

The volume of information is so enormous, it can never be fully grasped by one person. Yet prices reflect all of what is known, which gets communicated to all participants through the impact of buying and selling.

The Star Trek series has some lessons investors can heed.Credit:CBS

Price, in other words, is the most efficient collective probability bet about the future. Very rational, indeed.

Markets are very inefficient

Efficient, yes, except when those efficient expressions turn out to be wildly wrong. Note this is not when a trade turns out to be a money-loser. Rather, it’s when the analytical framework underlying the trade turns out to be completely unfounded.

This is where our emotional half sends the rational half off the rails. Rather than describing markets as efficient, it is more accurate to describe markets as efficient except when they’re not.

Most investors do not know they don’t know:

Most explanations of recent market behaviour reflect hindsight bias detailing what everyone now knows. It is rare to hear someone asked a question about a market move and not give a detailed after-the-fact explanation. Few are willing to admit that they really don’t know or that many market moves are simply random.

Here, Mr. Spock is quite different. He often notes his lack of understanding with a simple response of “fascinating.” His logic and ego control allow the admission of not knowing. He is subject to the Dunning-Kruger effect much less than most. Investors often get into trouble when they imagine they have an understanding about things they don’t.

Spock’s mixed human-Vulcan heritage was a great plot device that allowed Star Trek to subtly comment on the human condition, exploring the tension between logic and emotion, between our intellectual capacities and our baser drives.


Investors who recognise and take account of the Spock market will better understand what is going on, and – one can hope – use it to guide their actions for better results.

Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”


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TREK Protein Flapjack Review | Gymnasium Post

This is a TREK Flapjack review, a unique recipe flapjack made by Natural Balance Foods – a British company that specialises in natural and healthy snacks.

For those who don’t know, a flapjack is a traditional British snack that is made from oats, with the original recipe dating back centuries. Today there are many so brands offering a variety of high protein flapjacks, however the TREK Flapjack brings something new and unique to the mix.

The team at Natural Balance Foods have taken the traditional British flapjack recipe and revolutionised it. The TREK Flapjack is made with gluten-free oats, making it suitable for people with certain dietary requirements.

Similar to the TREK Energy Bar, this 50g bar contains 9-10 grams of quality soy protein, depending on the flavour. With a 2:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, TREK Flapjacks are especially good for exercise recovery and replenishing your body’s energy stores.

These flapjacks are a true blessing for people with busy schedules, as they are filling enough and convenient as a breakfast on the go and will keep you fuller for longer. The TREK Flapjacks are also vegan, a good source of fibre and most importantly, they taste really good!

They are currently available in 5 different flavours. These are Cocoa Oat, Cocoa Coconut, Morning Berry, Original Oat and a recent addition of Salted Caramel.


The Cocoa flavours are really delicious and work really well to satisfy your chocolate cravings, without all the sugar. They consist of a thin layer of chocolate coating with a base of gluten-free oats, resulting in a tasty combination of flavour and texture. The Morning Berry flavour has a soft crunch to it with some tasty subtle sweetness to it. They are especially great in the morning and deliver that “fix” to start your day right.


The thin layer of chocolate coating is great. Cocoa Coconut flavour has little bits of coconut, which adds to its rich texture and flavor. If you’re a fan of coconut, you should love the taste of this one! For fruit lovers, definitely try the Morning Berry flavour. The mix of raspberries and oats is not too sweet and does not leave an artificial taste in your mouth. With that one, you can expect the flavorful and juicy taste of a traditional British flapjack, infused with the goodness of fruit.


TREK Flapjacks are a great snack that can serve as a “bridge” between meals. They also work great as a post-workout recovery aid, due to their 2:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio. This allows your body to maintain optimal blood sugar and replenish your muscle energy stores. With 10 grams of protein, these flapjacks can help you to maintain and build new muscle as well.

TREK Protein Flapjacks can be a good source of fiber in your diet. They are plant-based, wheat and gluten-free, GM free and suitable for vegans. Let’s take a look at the ingredients and nutrition below based on the Cocoa Oat flavour:


Gluten-Free Oats (25%), Rice Syrup, SOYA Protein Crunchies (SOYA Protein, Tapioca Starch, Salt) (15%), Vegetable Oils (Palm*, Sunflower, Rapeseed), Dark Chocolate Flavour Coating (Sugar, Palm Oil*, Cocoa Powder, Emulsifier: Sunflower Lecithin) (13%), SOYA Flour, Raw Cane Sugar, Salt and Natural Flavourings. *sustainably sourced

Dietary Information

Vegan-friendly, contains natural ingredients, gluten-free, a source of fibre and with slow-release energy and plant-based protein.

Typical ValuesPer 50g Bar
Energy952 kJ
Energy227 kCal
(of which saturates)5.2g
(of which sugars)14.0g
Manganese* (mg) / % NRV0.6mg

TREK Protein Flapjack Review

If you’re looking to add a new tasty and nutritious snack to your diet, definitely give the TREK Protein Flapjack a try. It’s nowhere near as artificially processed as some of the other products available today. They are great for people with busy schedules and would benefit athletes in endurance activities, such as running, cycling, swimming and hiking.

TREK Flapjacks are also cheap compared to some of the other similar brands out there. At just £0.95 per bar, you can’t really go wrong!

This article first appeared on on 8th April, 2020.

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