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Settling the Controversy Over Photo of Lee Harvey Oswald


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Two images built by Dartmouth researchers (left and center) to assess the stability of Lee Harvey Oswald in a famously disputed photo.

Dartmouth researchers built and posed a physiologically plausible 3-D model of Lee Harvey Oswald to match his appearance in the famous photo. By adding the appropriate mass to each part of the 3-D model, they were able to perform a balance analysis that r

Credit: Hany Farid, Warren Commission

Dartmouth College researchers have used three-dimensional (3D) modeling to confirm the authenticity of the backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald holding the same type of rifle used to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.

In particular, a team led by professor Hany Farid addressed claims Oswald's pose was physically implausible, as it appears as if he is standing off balance.

The team conducted a 3D stability analysis, which involved building a physiologically plausible 3D model of Oswald, posing it to match his appearance in the photo, and adding appropriate mass to each part of the model. The analysis revealed the pose is stable. Moreover, it shows the lighting and shadows in the photo are physically plausible and the length of the rifle is consistent with the one used to kill the president.

"Our analysis refutes purported evidence of manipulation in the Oswald photo, but more generally we believe that the type of detailed 3D modeling performed here can be a powerful forensic tool in reasoning about the physical plausibility of an image," Farid says. "With a simple adjustment to the height and weight, the 3D human model that we created can be used to forensically analyze the pose, stability, and shadows in any image of people."

From Dartmouth Now
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