Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blurring the Passport


Josh Gerstein of POLITICO.com has the picture above in his post: Don't look, birthers: Obama's passport:
Here's something new for the birthers to chew over: President Barack Obama's passport. Says he was born in Hawaii! But the White House has strategically fuzzed out certain data, so the mystery continues.
This took me back to the good ol' days of Numerical Analysis during my junior year of college. You see, it turns out that you can un-blur a picture if you know how blurred it is. Typically you wouldn't have to do this, but if your government had deployed a cutting edge satellite for imaging the remotest parts of space, it might be cheaper to do a lot of hard math than go fix it (at least for a little while). Or, if you had a blurred picture of a known pedophile, you might be glad to learn that Interpol had un-blurred it.

I don't have the time or inclination to clarify this image, but I do have a hypothesis about how to go about doing so. First, what a blur does is distribute the color of one pixel to the neighboring pixels. Second, you'll need a complete version of the passport's background image—the flag and seal. With those two inputs, several cups of coffee, and a clue about graphics programming, you should be able to figure out the obscured dates.

2 comments:

spikestl said...

I Love the Red Star in the middle of his forehead!

dsm said...

@spikestl, Too funny! I hadn't even noticed until you mentioned it.