30 November 2010

BCInet ~ VP Greg Hyver @ MIT Neuroven 2010

Great to have Greg Hyver, Vice President of Business Development, BCINet (and former Vice President of Neurosky) join us today in MIT Neurotechnology Ventures speaking about Mass-Market Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) Technology Using Electroencephalography (EEG). EEG, or brainwave-reading technology, has existed for a century. Over the recent five years, the technology has reemerged, not only in traditional medical sectors but in emergent markets -- including the consumer mass market. Hyver introduced the current state of this industry and discussed, from a business development perspective, some of the major lessons-learned during his tenure at two different BCI start-up companies. Plus we had a demo of the NIA PC Game Controller, a BCI device for playing existing PC games. Hyver’s Top Lessons-Learned in neuroventuring include:
  1. Sell Your Industry While Selling Yourself ~ The viability of your industry is as critical as your own viability;
  2. Core Technology vs Applications ~ Understand the trade-offs of each model before making a commitment;
  3. Facilitate the “Killer App” Treasure Hunt ~ Guide your developer community through the discovery process;
  4. Expose Your Niche ~ How are you unique? Be clear with your customers!
  5. Know the Decision-Makers & -Paths ~ Don’t waste time & money talking to the wrong people;
  6. Know When to Engage & Disengage ~ Don’t get them hot-and-bothered when you can’t deliver;
  7. Speak Their Language ~ Create demos and analogies that relate to their world;
  8. Control Expectations ~ Save your company’s reputation; don’t overhype your technology; it’s a long slog;
  9. Treat the Competition as Foe AND Friend ~ Killing each other off will only de-legitimize your nascent industry;
  10. “Out Support” Your Competition ~ Follow-Up and Follow-Through are relationship essentials.

Inverted Pendula ~ Nerdly Control Algorythmics!

Thanks to GFav for spotting this nerdly controls music video;-)

Inverted Pendulum from Tensor on Vimeo.

Fluidic Kinect ~ Web Browsing By Gesturing...

Simple gestures, powerful Kinect hack, MIT Media Lab'ers...

DepthJS from Fluid Interfaces on Vimeo.

29 November 2010

How Wide a Web ~ Media Cloud Mapping & More

Very good to see Ethan Zuckerman again at MIT, today kicking off the Media Lab's Colloquium series with a talk on How Wide a Web. Co-founder of Tripod, Geekcorps, and more recently Global Voices, Ethan is a research fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center whose personal blog My Heart's in Accra… continues to delight. He's especially interested in how civic media can address deep biases in mass media, including something he called imaginary cosmopolitanism today. Just because we have potential access to blogs and newspapers and online reportage from around our planet at the click of a button does not mean that much if any attention is actually paid to such streams. Mapping the facts of human media consumption, experimenting and intervening, and ideally catalyzing new innovations in global media are high on his research agenda, including his prime current project, Media Cloud, a platform for the quantitative study of online media. Great stuff!

Evolved Complexity ~ Debunk'n Intelligent Design

Thanks to FriendlyAthiest for spotting QualiaSoup's Irreducible complexity cut down to size...

27 November 2010

Epic Redwoods ~ Preston & NatGeo Spotlight...

Thanks to Nick Aster on TriplePundit for spotting Richard Preston at TED speaking about The Wild Trees... This in turn reminded me of an amazing piece in my favorite magazine, National Geographic, by Joel Bourne on The Super Trees. Central to the piece are the stunning photographs by Michael Nichols and team, including the huge tree photo-montage...
"At least 1,500 years old, a 300-foot titan in California's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has the most complex crown scientists have mapped. This photo, taken by Michael Nichols, is a mosaic composed of 84 images [...made using three cameras, robo-dolly, gyro-stabilizer, plus plenty of patience...] This tree, at 301 feet, isn't even close to the world's tallest, at 379.1, but accord­ing to [Humboldt State University Professor of Botany, Stephen] Sillett, who is waiting for [Wildlife Conservation Soci­ety biologist and National Geographic Soci­ety explorer-in-residence Mike] Fay at an opening in the canopy right at the very top, it is "super juicy" -- loaded with canopy soils and biodiversity. From there the two men peer out upon a nearly unbroken expanse of huge redwoods, with one clear-cut barely visible to the south."

Money and Happiness ~ Correlation vs Causation

Thanks to Yuri Ramos and Linda Peia for spotting Money and Happiness in the Economist...

R.I.P. Joe Gavin ~ Out on the Edge of Technology

Sad to hear MIT alumnus rocketry engineer Joe Gavin passed away. Phil Davison writes in the FT obit about this Engineer who took control when Houston had a problem...
"Joe Gavin played a crucial role in enabling Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 to become the first men to land on the moon and come home safely. [...] Gavin was in charge of the 7,500-man team from the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation on New York’s Long Island that had won the contract to build lunar landing modules for the Apollo flights. From the original estimate of $350m, the cost would eventually soar to $1.5bn. [...] that first successful moon mission was one of high drama, it was not the most dramatic Gavin would work on. Less than a year later the command module of Apollo 13 did explode. It is a moment known to many of us from the film Apollo 13 [...] Back on earth, Gavin and Kelly were able to reprogramme the landing craft to tow the crippled command module 300,000 miles round the moon and earthwards. The three astronauts survived in the landing module for four days before using the command module to splash down safely in the Pacific. “That was the tensest episode of my career,” Gavin said later. “The team at Grumman developed a personal relationship with every one of the astronauts in the Apollo era. We were building machines that our friends would operate -- not some faceless individuals unknown to us.” In 1971, Nasa awarded him its Distinguished Public Service Medal for his part in saving the astronauts’ lives." [...] Speaking of his lifetime’s work, he once said: “There’s a certain exuberance that comes from being out there on the edge of technology, where things are not certain, where there is some risk, and where you make something work.”
Beautiful and bold. Rest in peace, Joe.

Hummingbirds! ~ Beautiful Aeronautical Animal

Thanks to the Economist's Babbage for The Difference Engine: Big Flap spotting Hummingbirds...
"To someone schooled in classical aerodynamics, the sight of hummingbirds hovering to refuel on the wing never ceases to astonish. Their mechanics of flight seem to defy the laws of physics. They are true masters of stationary flight and can even fly backwards -- the only birds able to do so. [...] To get the extra lift needed for hovering, hummingbirds do not simply flap their wings up and down, but oscillate them through a figure of eight pattern. By angling their bodies near to the vertical, the lift-generating vortices are thrust straight down beneath them. The hummingbird is literally buoyed on a vertical jet of air, with its head held stationary as it uses its long bill to feed."
The article goes on to discuss man-made ornithopters. But I wanted to see more of the real thing. Thankfully, on the 'Tube we have this Behind the Scenes of "Hummingbirds" by PBS NATURE!

26 November 2010

The King's Speech ~ Conquering A Disability...

See here conquering a disability. Looks rather promising! Trailer...

Ideas Matter ~ Can Technology Solve Poverty?

Ideas Matter ~ Can Technology Solve Poverty? Find out 2 December 2010 at 4pm at the Wong Auditorium at MIT...
"The media and international-development advocates can’t stop trumpeting information and communications technology for development (“ICT4D”). But, drawing on his field work in India, Kentaro Toyama argues that cell phones and the Web can take us only so far. Human capacity remains the foundation of economic growth."
Speakers include...
  • Kentaro Toyama ~ Researcher at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, and former Assistant Managing Director of Microsoft Research India.
  • Nicholas Negroponte ~ Founder and Chairman of the OLPC Foundation and Jerome B. Wiesner Professor of Media Technology at the MIT Media Lab, which he cofounded.
  • Rachel Glennerster ~ Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT and coauthor of Strong Medicine: Creating Incentives for Pharmaceutical Research on Neglected Diseases.
  • José Gómez-Márquez ~ Program Director for the Innovations in International Health initiative at MIT. He was named Humanitarian of the Year by Technology Review in 2009.
  • Archon Fung ~ Moderator ~ Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and coauthor of Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency in Government.

24 November 2010

Azamat Abdymomunov ~ MIT-Kazakh Innovator!

Fantastic to have Azamat Abdymomunov join me on MP.tv tonight! Hailing from Kazakhstan, a huge transcontinental CIS (ex-Soviet Union) Central Asian country, Azamat represents a resurgent and ever more vital Eurasian innovation ethos. Currently a graduate student in MIT's Systems Design & Management (SDM) program, Azamat is interested in both holistic systems thinking and engineering as well as emergent technology-business themes. Plus, he's co-founder with Rafael Maranon of the MIT Social Media Club, an organization dedicated to exploring and understanding social media, studying its development and dynamics, and shaping the future of social networks!

R.I.P. David Nolan ~ Libertarian Partier & Chartist

Alas, David Nolan, MIT alum and co-founder of US Libertarian Party has just deanimated. Douglas Martin writes in the NYTimes obit...
"David Fraser Nolan was born on Nov. 23, 1943, in Washington and grew up in Maryland. He was influenced by the individualist fiction of Robert A. Heinlein and the novels of Ayn Rand. He went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the idea of being an uncompromising architect like Howard Roark, the hero of Rand’s “Fountainhead.” After switching his major to political science, his involvement in conservative politics deepened. [...] When the Libertarian Party was formed, Mr. Nolan emphasized the need for liberals and conservatives to unite behind unrestricted capitalism and maximum civil liberties. [...] Libertarians’ dovish views on military involvement and liberal attitudes about abortion veer sharply from those of conservatives. This week, expectedly enough, Libertarians campaigned against airport pat-downs. The party’s mix of conservative and liberal positions reflects an underlying belief that almost all government power is inherently coercive. Mr. Nolan came up with a well-known graph, called the Nolan Chart, to explain this phenomenon. The graph has two axes: one labeled economic freedom and the other called personal freedom. Under Mr. Nolan’s scheme, Libertarians dwell in the corner of the graph where both kinds of freedom are greatest. His hope was to persuade people to think of politics as a debate between libertarian and authoritarian positions rather than as one between the traditional left and right. [...] At a meeting of party leaders this weekend, he submitted a resolution but did not attend. Delegates, who did not know of his subsequent death, approved the resolution. It said, “The Libertarian National Committee hereby reaffirms that the Libertarian Party welcomes individuals from across the political spectrum who now accept the libertarian principles of self-ownership and non-aggression.”
David may now be dead but his ideals certainly endure and will ultimately prevail.

Free Thinker ~ The "Why I Left Islam" Blog Post...

Thanks to Bret Stephens giving the Global View in the WSJournal when he champions Free Palestine! Writing about the predicament of blogger Waleed al-Husseini, Stephens asks a very legitimate question -- Why persecute a human for their exercise of freedom of speech? This is currently rather relevant because al-Husseini wrote a post titled "Why I Left Islam" from which Stephens shares the following excerpts...
"The pseudonymous Husseini makes no bones about his opposition to religions generally, which he says "compete with each other in terms of stupidity." But nothing seems to exercise his indignation more than the religion he used to call his own. Islam, he writes, is "an authoritarian religion that does not respect the individual's freedom of choice, which is easily noticeable from its barbaric verdicts such as stoning the adulterous, pushing homosexuals off a cliff and killing the apostates for daring to express a different viewpoint." And that's just Husseini getting started. The essay proceeds by way of a series of questions, such as "Is Islam a religion of tolerance?" Answer: "The sacred texts of Islam also encourage blatant war and conquest of new territories." What about equality? "Islam has legitimized slavery, reinforced the gap between social classes and allowed stealing from the infidels." Women's rights? "I have a mother, a sister and a lover and I cannot stand for them to be humiliated and stigmatized in this bone-chilling way." The prophet? "A sex maniac" who "was no different than barbaric thugs who slaughtered, robbed and raped women." And so on."
All this would be a perfectly reasonable exercise of free speech in any modern, civilized country. People have said far worse about the equally horrific Christian and Jewish and other cultist "traditions." Except the alleged author of this blog post is now in detention in the West Bank, Palestine, stripped of civil rights, prevented from receiving either visitors or any legal representation, and threatened by locals with being "burned alive." Judge for yourself how irrational, stupid, and backwards such responses are. Horrible.

Community Forestry ~ Ixtlán Entrepreneurship!

Elisabeth Malkin writes in the NYTimes about Growing a Forest, and Harvesting Jobs, spotting Ixtlán entrepreneurship...
"Three decades ago the Zapotec Indians here in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico fought for and won the right to communally manage the forest. Before that, state-owned companies had exploited it as they pleased under federal government concessions. They slowly built their own lumber business and, at the same time, began studying how to protect the forest. Now, the town’s enterprises employ 300 people who harvest timber, produce wooden furniture and care for the woodlands, and Ixtlán has grown to become the gold standard of community forest ownership and management [...] Mexico’s community forest enterprises now range from the mahogany forests of the Yucatán Peninsula to the pine-oak forests of the western Sierra Madre. About 60 businesses, including Ixtlán, are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council in Germany, which evaluates sustainable forestry practices. Between 60 and 80 percent of Mexico’s remaining forests are under community control..."
Fantastically interesting example of participatory capitalism!

22 November 2010

Source Code ~ Groundhog Day Does The Matrix

Groundhog Day does The Matrix in a way that's Unstoppable, thus begetting Source Code, another train wreck thriller...

Help Remembering ~ Alzheimer's Caregiving...

Christine Wicker writes in Sunday Parade, Unlocking the Silent Prison, Caregivers are learning a better way to communicate with Alzheimer's patients...
"Your mother will never forget you," [OSU speech pathology professor Michelle] Bourgeois told her. "She just needs help remembering." Bourgeois is part of a group of scientists whose work marks a sea change in how caregivers deal with people who have dementia, focusing on what they can do rather than on what they've lost. [...] she developed some of the first memory books, which use pictures and sentences to help people with memory problems -- including Alzheimer's patients -- recall past events. Alzheimer's disease, which affects up to 5.3 million Americans, first strikes the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is critical for learning and memory processes. Typically, long-term memory and certain kinds of skills like reading (which is overlearned so it is automatic) are less afflicted. "Even when dementia is so advanced that people cannot speak, they can read if the words are large enough," Bourgeois explains. "We know because they smile, make pleasant sounds, and stroke photos of loved ones with captions." In contrast, she says, "Spoken words literally go through one ear and out the other. Patients understand, but they can't store the memory. That's why they ask the same question again and again."
More such simple solutions are needed.

Giving Thanks ~ Anna Badkhen's Peace Meals...

War reporter Anna Badkhen remembers both friendly hosts and epic meals in her Boston Globe Magazine piece, Giving Thanks...
"In a war zone, no one can guarantee that your next meal will be there when you’re hungry. No one can guarantee that you will even live to have a next meal. So when you do break bread together, the most heart-wrenching conversation is elating simply because you are alive to have it. Every shared meal delivers more than nourishment -- it delivers comfort, and the simplest fare becomes a celebration. Every meal becomes a Thanksgiving. [...] Hala and I met in Baghdad two years ago [and she] invited me to dinner [Inside] there was Hala’s happy embrace; there were boxes of chocolate on an out-of-tune piano; there was warm homemade bread and eggplant stew and tabbouleh -- tangible and fragrant acts of human defiance against wartime depravity. [...] This fall, Hala came to Massachusetts to visit her son, a freshman at UMass Boston. I invited her for a Saturday meal [since] I wanted to return Hala’s hospitality, to offer my friend temporary shelter from the violence that continues to wrack Iraq. [So] for an afternoon, Hala became an emissary of all the people who have broken bread with me, an outsider, on the world’s most destitute edges. The food I kept piling on Hala’s plate -- the way so many war-zone hosts have done for me, motioning with their hands that I eat, eat, eat some more -- was my thanks offering to them all."
That's beautiful. See also Anna Badkhen's travelogue about war and food, Peace Meals. Here she speaks at MIT's CIS... MIT Tech TV

Kinect Hacking ~ 3D Video Reconstruction!

Kinect Hacking is blossoming, for instance... Watch thru to the end!

21 November 2010

Budrus ~ Non-Violent Struggle for Human Rights

Thanks to Der Spiegel for spotting Budrus, director Julia Bacha's Just Vision documentary about peacebuilding, civil disobedience, and action towards a shared future by focusing on the experience of...
"...a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat."
See here the trailer...

Changing Education Paradigms ~ Robinson Talk

RSAnimate adapted from talk on Changing Education Paradigms by Ken Robinson, education and creativity expert... FYI, here's the longer, original talk...

20 November 2010

New Economy States ~ Kauffman/ITIF Spot MA...

2010 Ranking of ‘New Economy States’ Highlights Leaders and Laggers in Innovation, According to Kauffman/ITIF Study...
"the 2010 State New Economy Index uses 26 indicators, divided into five categories that best capture what is new about the New Economy:
  1. Knowledge jobs
  2. Globalization
  3. Economic dynamism
  4. Transformation to a digital economy
  5. Technological innovation capacity"
Amazingly enough, Massachusetts tops the rankings...

Hooters ~ CNN Shares Eye-Opening Startup Story

Thanks to CNN for spotting the Hooters startup story!

Billion Dollar Gram ~ McCandless Visualizes...

David McCandless' beautiful Billion Dollar Gram...

Extreme Sportsmen ~ Crazy Skillful Feats!

Z Holly spots Danny MacAskill... Lucinio Munoz and Nils Ansgar spot Wingsuiting... Elad Gil spots Dan Osman, Speed Climber... Miss Cellania spots Milky and Lil Demon... Ohad Folman spots Skydiving Sexy Freestyle... Joselin Mane spots Rubberlegs... Indian Pole Gymnastics... Indian Spiderman / Monkeyman... Bruce McHenry spots Insane Robot Dance... Russian dancers... Chinese pole dancers... 9 yo Chinese girl shuffling (later w/ Dad)...

XOS 2 ~ Raytheon Sarcos' Exoskelaton Supersuit!

Thanks to MHT for spotting the XOS 2... Reminds me of the best part of Aliens, the movie!

17 November 2010

Julianne Zimmerman ~ MIT Entrepreneur Advises

Delightful to have MIT alumnae entrepreneur Julianne Zimmerman join me on MaximizingProgress.tv! Most recently a Momentous Scientist at the IgNobel's, Julianne is a reformed spaceflight payload engineer and NASA astronaut candidate who now helps entrepreneurial teams go exponential. She helps her clients distill their ideas, ambitions, and aspirations into a crisp, compelling plan which helps raise money, get customers, unite talent and rally the firm forward.

14 November 2010

Festo Robotics ~ Beautiful Biomorphics!

Thanks to MIT's Shane Colton for spotting these Festo 'bots...

Hockfield & Faust ~ MIT & Harvard on Charlie R...

Watch MIT and Harvard Presidents Hockfield and Faust speaking about change and big questions, discoveries and innovations, and their students passion and compassion on Charlie Rose...

Disaster City ~ Emergency Worker Learning Lab

Thanks to Der Spiegel for spotting Disaster City, part of the Texas Engineering Extension Service learning labs for training emergency response workers from around the world!

Glorious Inhabitats ~ Great Lovely Greenscrapers!

Here's a long overdue dose of Inhabitat!

Utrecht Corrects ~ Wagenbuur on Little "Big Dig"

Thanks to David Hembrow for spotting Non-stop relaxed cycling in Utrecht and in particular Mark Wagenbuur's excellent video on the history of development in a key part of the city where today they correct 1960's vintage urban planning disasters...
"A motorway was planned on this very spot in the 1950s and 60s. When building for that road began, there were increasing protests against it and all the demolitions that went with it. The opposition became so strong, that in the 1970s the works were stopped and the road was never finished [...] It took the city 30 years to realize that it was best to reverse the situation."

Thiel @ MIT ~ MIT Enterprise Forum Event 11/16

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Clarium, Founders Fund and early FB investor speaks at MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Innovation Series this Tuesday 16 November 2010 6-8pm...
"Today he is known as the mentor of the PayPal mafia of entrepreneurs, as well as for his warnings of a coming technology deficit with severe economic consequences. He works to accelerate innovation to prevent such a crisis by identifying and funding promising technology ideas and by guiding successful companies to scale and dominate their industries. Peter recently launched the Thiel Fellowship to foster the next generation of tech visionaries. The Thiel Foundation will award 20 people under 20 years old cash grants of $100,000 to further their innovative scientific and technical ideas."

Science Cheerleaders ~ Smart STEM Supporters!

Thanks to Miss Cellania for spotting the Science Cheerleaders!

New Monopolists ~ Downsides of Convenience...

Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu writes in the WSJournal that we are alas In the Grip of the New Monopolists ~ Do away with Google? Break up Facebook? We can't imagine life without them -- and that's the problem...
"How hard would it be to go a week without Google? Or, to up the ante, without Facebook, Amazon, Skype, Twitter, Apple, eBay and Google? [...] a real pain. [...] For most of us, avoiding the Internet's dominant firms would be a lot harder than bypassing Starbucks, Wal-Mart or other companies that dominate some corner of what was once called the real world. The Internet has long been held up as a model for what the free market is supposed to look like -- competition in its purest form. So why does it look increasingly like a Monopoly board? Most of the major sectors today are controlled by one dominant company or an oligopoly. Google "owns" search [etc]. Consider that, in the late 1990s, there were many competing search engines, like Lycos, AltaVista and Bigfoot. In the 2000s, there were many social networking sites, including Friendster. It was we, collectively, who made Google and Facebook dominant. The biggest sites were faster, better and easier to use than their competitors, and the benefits only grew as more users signed on. But all of those individually rational decisions to sign on to the same sites yielded a result that no one desires in principle -- a world with fewer options. Every time we follow the leader for ostensibly good reasons, the consequence is a narrowing of our choices. This is an important principle of information economics: Market power is rarely seized so much as it is surrendered up, and that surrender is born less of a deliberate decision than of going with the flow."

Routemaster 2.0 ~ Return of Iconic British Bus!

FT's Bob Sherwood writes London mayor shows Routemaster bus...
"A full-size mock-up of the design revealed the same open rear platform that allows passengers to hop on and off and an interior decor inspired by the old Routemasters. But for all the nostalgia, the latest London bus displays more modern sweeping lines, two staircases, three entrances and panoramic windows, and it will have more fuel-efficient engines. Routemasters, one of the quintessential international images of London, have not been seen in general service on the capital’s roads for almost five years."
Lovely reimagination of an iconic design!

Neglected Priorities ~ Global Aid Distortions...

Robin McKie writes in the Guardian Observer that Focus on HIV prevents us from curing a billion people...
"More than a billion victims of some of the world's most pernicious ailments could be treated with drugs that have annual costs of less than [US$0.50] a person. However, the plight of these people is being neglected because resources are being monopolised in developing countries by three major conditions -- HIV, malaria and TB -- even though these diseases infect a much smaller fraction of their populations. This is the warning of experts who say an opportunity to rid the planet of some of its worst scourges -- including sleeping sickness, elephantiasis and river blindness -- is being missed because of distorted health policy goals. "This is not the fault of pharmaceutical companies," said Professor David Molyneux of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. "They have made available billions of doses of key drugs. Our problem is that we are not providing the impetus or the means for getting these drugs to disease sufferers. "People at policy level think that only malaria, TB and HIV exist in the third world. This is not true. Neglected tropical diseases as a whole [...] cause more of a burden than these big-name diseases but are being ignored."
We need more civic competency and holistic systems-solutions.

African PaCT ~ Harvard's Public Health Project

Harvard's School of Public Health and African colleagues are running PaCT -- Partnership for Cohort Research and Training...
"...studies that include 500,000 participants across Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Africa. [...] Cohort studies enroll tens of thousands of people who are asked questions about what they eat, how much they exercise and smoke, and their family and reproductive histories. These are correlated with information from biological samples. However, Africa, home to nearly one billion people, has [until now, had] no large cohort studies similar to those in the US and Europe that look at chronic diseases. [...] They will make innovative use of technology to keep costs down. For example, with cell phones -- widely used across all of Africa -- they can retrieve data and conduct follow-up surveys with participants. They plan to develop comprehensive biobank to enable cutting edge molecular studies. The large number of participants will allow the study of gene and environment interactions. And, as has been effectively demonstrated with studies here in the United States, PaCT will provide a fertile training ground in innovative research and create viable career paths for African scientists. Furthermore, PaCT will allow for collaboration between African countries, as well as partnerships with more developed countries."
To emphasize how important this is, just this past week, the head of the Institute of Medicine Harvey Fineberg (former Provost and Dean of Public Health at Harvard) spoke about the growing problem of chronic disease in developing nations. In his talk, The Underappreciated Burden: Chronic Illness in the Developing World, he noted that...
"...chronic diseases have always been present in developing nations, but the public’s attention has focused on the threat from infectious diseases such as AIDS. While infectious diseases remain a problem, that doesn’t diminish the concern over chronic diseases. Further straining scarce health care resources is the new push to reduce the burden of ailments referred to as neglected tropical diseases, mainly parasitic ones such as Chagas disease, which are unfamiliar to people in industrialized nations but which affect as many as a billion people."

Religious Illogic ~ Bible Contradictions & Context

Thanks to the Friendly Atheist for spotting this massive chart visualizing the ridiculous number of contradictions in the world's most widely published book, the Bible... And for those decry that "context" is crucial to understanding seemingly contradictory or otherwise horrendous passages, absorb this...

13 November 2010

Robo Bricklayers ~ Road Construction Machines

Peaceful Conquests ~ Paul Romer on Long Now

Paul Romer on co-evolution of rules and peaceful conquests... See more of this Long Now program at Fora.tv.

Lapping Pussies ~ Fluid Inertia Defeats Gravity!

Nicholas Wade writes in the NYTimes For Cats, a Big Gulp With a Touch of the Tongue about research by MIT professor Roman Stoker and colleagues on How Cats Lap: Water Uptake by Felis catus...
"...the cat’s lapping method depends on its instinctive ability to calculate the point at which gravitational force would overcome inertia and cause the water to fall. What happens is that the cat darts its tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip lightly touches the surface of the water. The tongue is then pulled upward at high speed, drawing a column of water behind it. Just at the moment that gravity finally overcomes the rush of the water and starts to pull the column down -- snap! The cat’s jaws have closed over the jet of water and swallowed it. The cat laps four times a second -- too fast for the human eye to see anything but a blur -- and its tongue moves at a speed of one meter per second. Being engineers, the cat-lapping team next tested its findings with a machine that mimicked a cat’s tongue, using a glass disk at the end of a piston to serve as the tip. After calculating things like the Froude number and the aspect ratio, they were able to figure out how fast a cat should lap to get the greatest amount of water into its mouth. The cats, it turns out, were way ahead of them -- they lap at just that speed."
Clever pussies!

Ark Hotel ~ 15 Floors, 48 Hours, Fast Fab China...

10 November 2010

Vision on Tap ~ Cloud-Powered App Building!

Check out MIT Media Lab colleague Ramesh Raskar's group project Vision on Tap -- "Computer Vision for the Masses." Try using it to build a computer vision app online. Then give critical feedback on how they can improve! Screenshot...

Chinese Aggression ~ Senkaku Boat Collision...

The Economist spots evidence of Chinese aggression All At Sea...

Mobile STD Diagnostics ~ Rapid, Fast Tests...

John Sutter writes in CNN that Mobile phones may diagnose STDs...
"The "eSTI2" project, managed by Tariq Sadiq from St George's University of London, England, recently received a $6.5 million grant to develop small chips that can be used to used to test saliva, urine or blood for sexually transmitted diseases. The chips -- which, yes, you would need to pee on in some cases -- would connect to mobile phones for processing. It's possible that a smartphone app would be able to tell a person if they'd tested positive or negative for a particular STD in 5 to 15 minutes, Sadiq said. "It's bringing the diagnostics to the population rather than having the population come into clinics," he said. [...] the stigma associated with testing -- as well as the inconvenience of waiting for an appointment at a clinic -- dissuades many people from getting tested. The eSTI2 project hopes to break down those barriers."

09 November 2010

Failure to Educate ~ Boston's Yearwood Reveals

Retired Boston Public Schools teacher Junia Yearwood writes in the Globe OpEd section Failure to Educate on how "the Boston school system is churning out illiterate students whose only skills are to pass predictable standard tests." She reveals deep systemic depravity...
"...most of my students [...graduating...] were not functionally literate. They were unable to perform the minimum skills necessary to negotiate society: reading the local newspapers, filling out a job application, or following basic written instructions; even fewer had achieved empowering literacy enabling them to closely read, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate text. [...they] could not write a complete sentence, a cohesive paragraph, or a well-developed essay on a given topic. [...] the system churned out academically unprepared students who lacked the skills needed to negotiate the rigors of serious scholarship, or those skills necessary to move in and up the corporate world. We instituted tests and assessments, such as the MCAS, that required little exercise in critical thinking, for which most of the students were carefully coached to “pass.’’ [...] Students practiced, studied for, and passed the test -- but remained illiterate. I also bear witness to my students’ ability to acquire a passing grade for mediocre work. A’s and B’s were given simply for passing in assignments (quality not a factor), for behaving well in class, for regular attendance, for completing homework assignments that were given a check mark but never read. In addition, I have been a victim of the subtle and overt pressure exerted by students, parents, administrators, guidance counselors, coaches, and colleagues to give undeserving students passing grades..."
Collectively this is a condemnation of centralized, state-run so-called "education", the gross incompetents in charge, and the political machines which protect and support this fatally-flawed status quo.

Burger King! ~ Swiebodzin's Enormous Promo!

Polish city Swiebodzin are installing biggest Burger King advert ever!

Zlata ~ Super Human Elastic Contortionist!

The DailyMail delivers Zlata, the super-human elastic contortionist!

07 November 2010

Great Migrations ~ Epic Animal Life on NatGeo!

My favorite exploratory society presents Great Migrations!

Bookless Libraries ~ Digital Shift for the Academy

Sam Allis of the Globe writes about the Digital Shift that Cushing Academy has made in going bookless in their Fisher-Watkins library!
"Until 2009, the library at Cushing Academy, a small, co-ed private boarding school, looked like any other school library: a crowded space packed with dark canyons of books. It was, says headmaster James Tracy, the least used building on campus. Then, a little over a year ago, Cushing got rid of almost all of its 20,000 books in a radical shift to create a digital library. The goal was to liberate students from stacks full of outdated reference material and mold them into online artistes adept at pursuing research through mastery of databases -- information literacy, in short. To some, the change was a smart step into the digital reality of the 21st century. Others were appalled."
Great! It's high time we appreciate that librarians are really about learning, knowledge, judgment, and research and therefore libraries are not merely storage facilities for dead wood pulp media! Modernize!

Human Waste ~ Idiots Blocking "Nuclear Train"

The French are not the only suppliers of idiotic non sense in Europe. See here a German variant as uncivilized luddite rioters try to halt a train carrying nuclear waste...

Coffee! ~ Miracle Bean & Brew! OTC Neurotech;-)

Just a quick morning shout out to Coffee! the miracle bean and brew! Perhaps the first Over-The-Counter neuroceutical (or would that be beer?-) Grown in many tropic-equatorial zones globally, consumed mostly in the northern-artic zones. Thanks also to Randy Krum from Cool Infographics for spotting How Coffee Affects the Global Economy, a new infographic on Mint.com and designed by Column Five Media...