January 4, 2012

Last night marked the first caucus of the 2012 election with a very close race between candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Romney eventually winning by eight votes. In the days leading up to the event, TIME had been tracking the Iowa caucus through reporting—and of course—photographs, as photographer Brendan Hoffman worked tirelessly to document the process in Iowa, which is well known for its corn and the home state of candidate Michele Bachmann, who finished sixth.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego and the University of Toronto have designed a sophisticated computer that can tell when someone is faking facial expressions of pain with 85% accuracy, outmatching humans' ability to do so. To test the computer, the research team had 25 volunteers record two videos each. The first video recorded the volunteers' expressions while one of their arms was in ice water for a minute, and the second video recorded the subjects pretending to be in pain while their arm was actually in warm water. The researchers then had 170 people watch the videos and asked them to guess which video showed real pain and which video showed a fake response. The participants did no better than random chance. Even when they were trained on how to spot real and fake emotion in the videos, they only reached 55% accuracy. But the computer guessed correctly 85% of the time. "In highly social species such as humans, faces have evolved to convey rich information, including expressions of emotion and pain. And, because of the way our brains are built, people can simulate emotions they're not actually experiencing – so successfully that they fool other people. The computer is much better at spotting the subtle differences between involuntary and voluntary facial movements," said study author Kang Lee, a professor at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto in a statement. The researchers, whose work is published in the journal Current Biology, hope their technology could one day be applied in fields such as homeland security, job screening and law.
Pain, that is

“Iowa’s first-to-vote-status dates to 1972,” TIME’s own Michael Crowley cited in a recent post on Swampland, “when a quirk in Democratic Party rules scheduled its caucuses ahead of the New Hampshire primary, which had opened the presidential nominating process since 1920. Republicans followed suit four years later. Iowa’s political establishment quickly found that it enjoyed all the attention and economic activity that came with going first, and enshrined into state law a mandate that Iowa vote at least eight days before any other state.”

Still, most of us have never been to the Iowa caucus, which is why we’d like to take you inside to see what happens on the night. On Tuesday, LightBox set up at a busy location inside Summit Middle School located in Johnston, Iowa, where Hoffman put his camera on a tripod and intervalometer to automatically record the scene every few seconds. Hoffman also covered the room, shooting short vignettes and recording audio. All this to create a series of photos that we present here in a time lapse showing one caucus in two minutes and four seconds.

Brendan Hoffman is a D.C. based photographer with Prime Collective. You can see the best of Brendan Hoffman’s work from Iowa on Swampland: Battle for Iowa: The Final Days of the Caucus Campaign in Photos.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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