31 March 2011

MIT International Development Night ~ Sat 4/2

Join us for the 6th Annual International Development Night @ the MIT Museum this Saturday, April 2nd from 7-9pm in the MIT Museum!
"Bringing together a diverse audience to share ideas and learn about MIT international development technologies and projects, the evening is a wonderful networking opportunity which promotes social awareness about pressing global issues such as poverty, public health, education, and mobility. ID Night @ the MIT Museum is a unique opportunity for MIT students and staff to present their projects to a wide range of audiences. Last year's ID Night drew over 400 attendees, including a large number of Harvard and MIT students, local scientists, engineers and participants from the Harvard International Development Conference (IDC) that runs in conjunction with the ID Night."
Since we live in a police state with unconstitutional age discrimination laws, Positive ID Required

MIT Latin American Conference ~ Sat 4/2/2011

The 14th Annual MIT Latin America Conference is happening this Saturday April 2nd, 2011 at MIT in our Wong Auditorium at MIT Sloan School around the theme of From Potential to Reality. Compelling panels including Entrepreneurship, Sustainability, Politics, and Leadership. Great guest speakers!

30 March 2011

Emmanuel Magani ~ Africa 2.0 Co-Leader...

Excellent to have MIT Sloan MBA student Emmanuel Magani join me on MaximizingProgress.tv! We talked mostly about the first-ever MIT African business conference --
Africa 2.0: Achieving Growth Through Innovation
-- happening this Friday, April 1st, 2011 at the MIT Media Lab. Organized by Emmanuel and his colleagues from the MIT Sloan Africa Business Club (ABC), the Conference features great speakers on panels ranging from Mobiles, Energy, Finance, Entrepreneurship, and Technology thru Media. I'm especially excited to hear the venture pitches from the five top Africa Innovate! business plan competition finalists happening as part of the Conference. Emmanuel and I also talked about why the billion-strong Africans represent a trillion US dollar opportunity, the growth of the MIT ABC club events and activities, and why the time is now for business leaders to have an Africa Strategy much like they have India or China Strategies. If you're interested in these opportunities, see you this Friday at the Conference!

29 March 2011

Echoing Green 2011 ~ Two MIT DV Alumco's...

Excellent to see all the Echoing Green Finalists 2011, but especially our MIT Development Ventures alums David Auerbach and Ani Vallabhaneni working on Sanergy, green technologies in Kenya and Javier Lozano working on Clínicas del Azúcar (CDA), health solutions in Mexico!

27 March 2011

Startup Scene ~ Bussgang on Boston Ventures...

Thanks to Jason Ethier for pointing out presentation by Flybridge's Jeff Bussgang from back in 2009 reminding us What Makes the Boston Start-Up Scene Special?

iPrimer ~ Dynabook & Diamond Age Vision Today

Alan Kay's late 1960s vision for a Dynabook inspired me from the instant I first glimpsed it as an MIT undergrad UROPing in the late 1980s for Professor David Tennenhouse in the old LCS. I talked Tennenhouse into paying me while I researched the emergent world of hypertext, user interfaces, mobiles, and virtual reality. So seeing Kay's simple but telling sketch triggered lots of positive thoughts... More recently, Neil Stephenson's 1995 Diamond Age science fiction book included as central character a marvelous nanotechnology-enabled futuristic book for children, the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer or Propædeutic Enchiridion which personalizes the total learning experience of several young girls. And now, just after Apple released their iPad, a proud dad wrote nearly a year ago...
"My son Bridger just turned 2 last week and I bought him an iPad, mostly an excuse for me to get one and he actually can use it perfectly! His speech, understanding, word recognition, and even hand eye coordination have improved within just a short while!! I am so amazed and thankful for this amazing learning tool that my son has! I wanna say thanks to Apple and all those that have given my child such a head start in life with this amazing instrument! My son can read tons of words now, he knows every animal and dinosaur and he just turned 2 years old!!!! If you have a child around 2, don't rob him/her of knowledge, go buy him/her an iPad!"

Magic Machines ~ Rosling on Greatest Inventions

Thanks to Minka VanBeuzekom for spotting Hans Rosling of Gapminder at TEDWomen on what he thinks may be the greatest invention, the Magic Washing Machine and its peers...
"Thank you, industrialization. Thank you, steel mill. Thank you, power station. And thank you, chemical processing industry that gave us time to read books!"

Outdoor School ~ CNN spots Islamabad's Kids

Thanks to Harvard alumna (and Development Ventures participant) Iram Tariq for spotting another kind of "Khan Academy" in CNN's piece by Reza Sayah on Ayoub Khan's outdoor school in Islamabad...

Driving Africa’s Growth ~ McK on Great Prospects

The MIT Sloan Africa 2.0 Conference organizers spotlight McKinsey's What’s driving Africa’s growth article by Acha Leke, Susan Lund, Charles Roxburgh, and Arend van Wamelen...
"If recent trends continue, Africa will play an increasingly important role in the global economy. By 2040, it will be home to one in five of the planet’s young people, and the size of its labor force will top China’s. Africa has almost 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land and a large share of the natural resources. Its consumer-facing sectors are growing two to three times faster than those in the OECD7 countries. And the rate of return on foreign investment is higher in Africa than in any other developing region. Global executives and investors cannot afford to ignore this. A strategy for Africa must be part of their long-term planning. The time for businesses to act on those plans is now. Companies already operating in Africa should consider expanding. For others still on the sidelines, early entry into emerging economies provides opportunities to create markets, establish brands, shape industry structures, influence customer preferences, and establish longterm relationships. Business can help build the Africa of the future. And working together, business, governments, and civil society can confront the continent’s many challenges and lift the living standards of its people."
See also sister piece McKinsey's Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies.

26 March 2011

Data Visualizations ~ McCandless Detects Beauty!

Thanks to João Vieira da Cunha for spotting David McCandless exemplifying the beauty of data visualization at TED... Stay till the end for his punchline visualization;-)

REPLAN IT ~ Sustainable Human Empowerment

Inventor-builder Jock Brandis and Rob Hill are connected with social entrepreneur Illac Diaz on Kickstarter with REPLAN IT: Empowering People w/ Sustainable Solutions. Says Jock...
"There are a billion people on this planet no one bothers designing for because they don't have any money to make it worth their while. So that's the group of people I work for."

Fat Ho Burgers ~ Tasty New Waco Restaurant ;-)

Dionne Anglin of FOX 4 News reports about the latest Waco restaurant, Fat Ho Burgers...
"That’s right. The restaurant is named after a fat (as in hefty) ho (not the garden tool). [...] The 23-year-old [owner Lakita Evans] worked her way through college to open her burger joint and said the name is mostly a bit of humor in an otherwise serious world. [...] For now, that means grilled favorites including the Sloppy Ho Brisket or the Supa Dupa Fly Ho with Chz for a lunch crowd that’s spilling out of the front door. But not everybody’s laughing. One of Fat Ho Burgers’ closest neighbors is the Gospel Café. Folks at the volunteer-run religious café and bookstore wish the burger joint was a little more “holy.”
Genius! Thanks to UniqueDaily for spotting this one!

Entrepreneurial Solutions ~ Kacou on Prosperity

See here Eric Kacou on Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in BoP Markets. FYI, he's speaking next on the entrepreneurship panel at MIT Sloan Africa 2.0 Conference Fri 1 April 2011...

Moore's Law ~ Packing in the Computing Power!

Gokul Rajaram spots Moore's Law at work...

23 March 2011

Rotterdam Cyclists ~ Bike Lanes in the Bigger City

Mark Wagenbuur shares his view from a bigger city's cycle paths in his latest post Rotterdam remedies a lower cycling rate...
"The cycling rate, although very high compared to any other country, is low for the Netherlands. About 25% of all trips in Rotterdam is by bicycle. This is much lower than Amsterdam, where that figure hovers around 40% or Groningen where it is almost 60%. [...] When the city was rebuilt from the late 1940s the city planned to do that 'according to the demands of modern fast traffic' and after the example of US cities. [...] Luckily a long standing Dutch tradition was also not forgotten and the new wide streets were built including separate bicycle infrastructure. But just building infrastructure has proven not to be enough."
Understanding how to build cycling-and-pedestrian-friendly megacities is crucial to our urban future, so learnings from Rotterdam are essential!

Deborah Douglas ~ MIT 150th Exhibit Curator!

Delightful to interview Deborah Douglas again on MaximizingProgress.tv! Science and technology curator for the MIT Museum, Deb also spearheaded the latest and greatest exhibit, the amazing 150 artifacts honoring the epic 150 year history of the Institute! Some of my personal favorites include the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, the Media Lab's CityCar, Kalmus' Technicolor camera, Metcalfe's 3Com Ethernet card, Hadzima's IPVision patent map of Stata's Analog Devices MEMS Accelerometer, Forrester's Core Memory, and many more! Stay tuned for Deb's April 1st, 2011 opening of the Compton Gallery exhibit of 19 finale artifacts on the ground floor under the main MIT Great Dome!

Real-Time-Lapse ~ Lieberman DIY @ CMU...

Another Lieberlapse!
"Just visited CMU to give a talk and to make this video installation. Everything was conceived, choreographed, filmed, edited, and aired on the same day (March 17) -- I can't think of a better way to have spent my birthday... thanks everyone for helping make it a reality and thanks to all the CMU students for helping to make it!"

Bikeman ~ Cycle Repair Pro w/ Mobile Workshop!

Thanks to Copenhagenize for spotting The Bikeman, the mobile bicycle repairs and fix-it guy...
"Meet Jacob -- aka The Bikeman. He's a bike mechanic with a rolling workshop. He has everything he needs in his cargo box, including a portable stand for suspending bikes. He'll go anywhere you need him to on his Bullitt in the city centre. Jacob also has arrangements with various companies. He comes out during work hours and the employees can go down and get their bikes adjusted, tuned, de-squeaked, whatever you need. No need to sacrifice your bicycle for a day by chucking it into a bikeshop. Brilliant. The professional bikeshop comes to you."
There should be a whole network of Bikemen, just like GeekSquad!

TEROOS ~ Shoulder-Mounted Buddybot...

Cyriaque Lamar from io9 notes Someday you will go on a date with this Muppet-like telepresence robot TEROOS, a shoulder-mounted wearable robot buddy...
"...built by researchers at Keio University and Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute, affixes to your body like the Predator's shoulder cannon. Once attached, TEROOS allows you to discreetly communicate with your pal by whispering sweet nothings in his or her ear."

Algebra Touch ~ Engaging Mathematics...

Now this is a teaching calculator! Algebra Touch...

E4C App Project ~ Mobiles for Development...

Rob Goodier at Engineering for Change writes about E4C's app project: Science, engineering and development apps that work...
"Applications for mobile devices have staked out firm and useful territory within the world of international development in the last several years. They've become important tools for monitoring, gathering information, informing and educating people. That's why we believe that a storehouse of useful apps could be a powerful resource for the E4C community. This post is an overview of apps that have caught our attention, and a foray into the creation of an E4C app database."
Check out the several examples, including from domains of science and data collection, project and event monitoring, engineering and education, and disaster preparation.

African Logistics ~ USAID Lessons w/ ICT Mobiles

Check out ICT Applications for Distribution and Supply Chain Management in sub-Saharan African Agriculture...
"Using ICT to manage distribution and supply chains can increase efficiency and predictability and reduce waste in value chains and have positive impacts on all market actors. ICT applications presented in this paper are divided into the following categories: 1) applications that assist in the management of supplier networks, 2) applications that facilitate traceability, and 3) applications that assist input supply companies to manage their distribution networks."

22 March 2011

Khan Academy ~ School Disruptor Salman at TED

Salman Khan of Khan Academy fame speaking at TED about...
"...educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other subjects. He shows the power of interactive exercises, and calls for teachers to consider flipping the traditional classroom script -- give students video lectures to watch at home, and do "homework" in the classroom with the teacher available to help."

Downhill Insanity ~ Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race

Thanks to Z Holly for spotting the Valparaiso Cerro Abajo urban mountain bike race...

Red Planet ~ "Capitalism Killed Life on Mars"

Moron of the Moment award goes to Venezuelan caudillo since Chavez says capitalism may have ended life on Mars writes Eyanir Chinea of Reuters...
"Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday. "I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day. Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world's problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up."

Street Grid’s Birthday ~ Mapping Manhattan!

Zachary Seward blogs in the WSJournal Metropolis, On Grid’s Birthday, Beautiful Manhattan Maps...
"Tuesday marks the 200th anniversary of Manhattan’s street grid, which was adopted in 1811 “to unite regularity and order with the public convenience and benefit and in particular to promote the health of the City.”
Some really stellar visualizations, including maps such as...

Mobiles for Development ~ Tools for UNICEF++

Thanks to MobileActive's Melissa Ulbricht for spotlighting UNICEF's Mobiles for Development authored by Kojo Boakye, Nigel Scott, Claire Smyth...
"...to help the organization understand the global mobile telephony landscape as it relates to advancing development, and as an area of significant future opportunities. Evidence for the report comes from UNICEF operational staff and representatives of mobile operators in 14 countries (Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Kosovo, Lao PDR, Malawi, Mongolia, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Uganda, and Zambia). The report suggests that mobile tools can identify the most deprived children and communities, provide cost effective interventions, overcome bottlenecks to services, and enable communities to maximize the impact of available resources."

Party Tricks ~ Ridiculously Great Openings!

Gotta quench thirst;-)

I Love Rock! ~ Well-Appreciated Glorious Genre;-)

I love Rock!

I Love Disco! ~ Celebrating a Lovely-Great Genre!

Disco is totally underappreciated! Check out these lovely compilations of top hits, almost every one a personal favorite...

21 March 2011

Stanford Innovation Survey ~ Eesley @ MIT-West

Nice to see MIT alumnus now Stanford Professor Chuck Eesley conducting the Stanford Innovation Survey! Curiously enough, back in the 1990's I went out to Stanford when I was running the MIT Founders Project, results of which were published by BankBoston in the MIT: Impact of Innovation report. I met with then Dean of Engineering Gibbons and also the resource development folks at Stanford. No interest then in doing a parallel project to what MIT was up to! And that's despite Stanford having been architected by MIT's then-President Walker! And MIT alumnus Fred Terman having been so instrumental in the creation of Silicon Valley! Better late than never, so please tell your Stanford compatriots to participate in Professor Eesley's Survey.

20 March 2011

Taming Leviathan ~ Shrinking the Bloated State...

The latest Economist special report on Taming Leviathan spotlights the future of the bloated, ineffective state...
"The state almost everywhere is big, inefficient and broke. It needn’t be. [...] The disruptive reforms that have so changed the private sector should now be let loose on the public sector. The relationship between government and civil society has been that between master and servant; instead, it should be a partnership, with the state creating the right environment for companies and charities to do more of its work. The conclusion: “We are in a transition from a big state to a small state, and from a small society to a big society.” [...] the financial crisis has merely brought forward a fiscal reckoning. In most of the rich world ageing populations have been driving up the cost of public health care and state pensions. Emerging countries that are becoming richer, such as China and India, are now wondering what sort of state they need to meet their citizens’ demands for better schools, health care and infrastructure. Indeed, the fiery argument about capitalism prompted by the credit crunch has obscured a nascent, and much broader, debate about the nature of government. The future of the state is likely to dominate politics for the next decade at least. How can government be made more efficient? What should it do and not do? To whom should it answer? [...] This special report’s central argument is that Leviathan can be made far more efficient. The state has woefully lagged behind the private sector. Catching up is not just a case of nuts-and-bolts productivity improvements but of liberal principle: too often an institution that, at least in a democracy, was supposed to be the people’s servant has become their master. But nobody should expect that to be easy."
Word. Look at this evidence, it's just awful. From a reasonable 10% taxation a century ago to swallowing half or more of human value creation today. It's immoral and unconscionable...

Honoring Hibakusha ~ Beyond the Unfathomable

David McNeill and Miguel Quintana write in the Independent that Atom-bomb survivors fear new generation face familiar discrimination about the Hibakusha -- survivors of A-Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- one of man's most inhumane actions in recorded history...
"Like millions of other Japanese, Hiroko Tanaka has been glued to television footage of workers frantically trying to prevent disaster at a crippled nuclear plant. She has more reason to be worried than most: as an atom-bomb survivor, or hibakusha, Mrs Tanaka knows the impact of radiation first hand, and she has faced discrimination all her life in a country where little is still known about its effects. She waited 50 years before applying for the government certificate that proves she is a surviving victim of the 1945 US atomic bombing of Hiroshima. "Radioactivity is so scary because it's invisible" [...] Japan's roughly 227,000 hibakusha have suffered higher cancer rates as a result of the fallout from the twin bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The drama unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear complex fills many with growing alarm. [...] "The hibakusha faced an extreme degree of discrimination based on unfounded ideas," he said. "If the public was given a clear explanation of the effects of radiation, this problem would no longer exist."

Man's Best Friends ~ Animals and the Tsunami...

Everyone's seen these heartwarming images of canine companions spotted (and later rescued) from post-quake, tsunami-ravaged Japan... Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support are among the organizations saving hundreds of similarly lost animals. Another key element, though, is the role of specialty animal assistants. In a CNN piece, Rescue in Japan as 2 pulled from rubble, they spotlight the role of rescue dogs...
"Along with emergency workers searching the worst stricken areas, specially trained dogs are taking part in the effort. "There's a lot of technical gear, obviously: the listening devices, the cameras, all of them help to locate people. But at the end of the day you can't beat a dog for hitting the scent of a human being," Rob Furniss, a British canine search specialist who is in Japan, told CNN. The dogs are so highly trained, they're able to block out the scent of a dead body and pick up only on someone who's alive. They pounce onto rubble, working their way along jagged, uneven piles as they search. When they get minor wounds in the effort, they get stitched up without a whimper, and soon get right back to work."
And anyone interested in Japan and dogs must necessarily discover the remarkable story of Hachikō, the ultra-loyal Akita who faithfully waited at the train station each evening for a decade following his owner's passing.

Space Heroes ~ Inspiring Pioneering Explorers!

Yuri's Night and Association of Space Explorers salute our heroes!

18 March 2011

Monirobo ~ Finally, Monitor Bots at Fukushima

Thanks to Cristina Caldas for spotting this New Scientist piece Japan sends robots into Fukushima nuclear plant...
"Monirobo is designed to operate at radiation levels too high for humans. The 1.5-metre robot runs on a pair of caterpillar tracks and has a manipulator arm for removing obstacles and collecting samples. Sensors include a radiation detector, 3D camera system and temperature and humidity sensors. It can be operated remotely from a distance of about a kilometre. Monirobo weighs some 600 kilos and is limited to a speed of 2.4 kilometres per hour. It has to carry heavy shielding because many electronics, especially cameras, are highly vulnerable to the effects of radiation. The robot was developed by Japan's Nuclear Safety Technology Centre in association with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry after the Tokaimura nuclear accident in 1999 in which two workers died. The machine now in use is Red Monirobo; a Yellow Monirobo, which has tools for collecting dust samples and sensors for flammable gas, is expected to be deployed within the next day or so."
Finally. This doesn't excuse the unfathomable stupidity of the original flawed design, but at least the Japanese are now bringing in the power tools made by Mitsui.

Mapping Africa ~ Royal Geo Society Slideshow

Check out the BBC audio slideshow on Mapping Africa...
"From one of the earliest depictions of the continent -- to the colonial scramble for land -- the maps of Africa reveal a great deal about the people who have lived there through the centuries."

Online Science Fair ~ Cool Rube Goldberg Promo!

Cool, an all-online Science Fair...
"Introducing the world's first online global science competition, the Google Science Fair! Google has partnered with CERN, LEGO, National Geographic and Scientific American to create a new kind of online science competition that is more global, open and inclusive than ever before. Students aged 13-18 from around the world are invited to enter and compete for awesome once-in-a-lifetime experiences, scholarships and real-life work opportunities."
And here's Making Of footage...

16 March 2011

Criminal Incompetents ~ Seppuku for Fukushima...

The criminally negligent and grossly incompetent designer-authorities who placed emergency backup diesel generators and fuel storage pools at Fukushima in positions so blindingly obviously exposed to tsunami in the very country that named this historically inexorable risk-factor should instantly commit seppuku. Their unbelievable stupidity in the face of crystal-clear evidence and repeated warnings has led to death and injury, loss and disruption, burden and pain, and threatens to set back the nuclear energy cause for another generation. This is so dishonorable and categorically evil that I wonder how could any of the perpetrators live with themselves going forward?

P.S. Truth now emerges as CNN reveals in Expert: Japan nuclear plant owner warned of tsunami threat.

Rural Innovators ~ India's Honeybee Pollenators!

Thanks to Professor Anil Gupta for pointing to this excellent slideshow in Rediff on 24 amazing innovations from rural India...
"India's rural innovators have proved that ordinary people are indeed capable of extraordinary inventions. Despite many constraints -- lack of education and severe cash crunch -- most of them have succeeded in using technology cost-effectively to build ingenious products. [...] The exhibition is organised by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), a grant-in-aid institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The mission of NIF is to make India a global leader in sustainable technologies by building upon genius of grassroots technological innovators and traditional knowledge holders."
Some of my favorites include low-loss floating soap...Labor-saving bamboo processor...
Off-grid LPG-powered iron...
The Solar Mosquito Destroyer!
The clean and effective smokeless cooking stove...

15 March 2011

Fukushima 50 ~ Strength to Frontline Operators

The Guardian's Tania Branigan and Justin McCurry write how the Fukushima 50 battle radiation risks as Japan nuclear crisis deepens...
"Between 50 and 70 employees -- now known in English as the Fukushima 50 -- all in protective gear, were left at the plant to battle myriad problems. Some are assessing the damage and radiation levels caused by the explosions, while others cool stricken reactors with seawater to try to avert a potentially catastrophic release of radiation. The workers are the nuclear power industry's equivalent of frontline soldiers, exposing themselves to considerable risks..."
And Keith Bradsher and Hiroko Tabuchi of the NYTimes write Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers...
"They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots. [...] Nuclear reactor operators say that their profession is typified by the same kind of esprit de corps found among firefighters and elite military units. Lunchroom conversations at reactors frequently turn to what operators would do in a severe emergency. The consensus is always that they would warn their families to flee before staying at their posts to the end."
Let's hope it doesn't come to that. P.S. It hasn't. Just announced: they were ordered to quit early... This is ridiculous. Why is there no backup control room facility offsite? Where the hell are the teleoperated hazmat robots, including aerial camerabots, repairbots, and more? Come on!

Wireless Power ~ Key Transmission Innovations...

Amara Angelica writes on KurzweilAI about A radical alternative to nuclear reactors...
"The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has in fact already been developing one possible solution: space solar power (SSP) -- beaming energy to Earth from a satellite in orbit. With its Space Solar Power Systems project, JAXA researchers “have started preparation for the world’s first demonstration of 1kW-class wireless power transmission technology, and are aiming for practical use in the 2030s."
The article goes on to cite prior art, including 1975 NASA JPL Goldstone Demo of Wireless Power Transmission... Also very interesting are shorter-range MIT spinoff efforts at WiTricity... Even simple wireless power transfer via inductive pad is interesting.

Converging World ~ Living Healthy & Wealthy...

Hans Rosling of Gapminder fame shows CNN's Fareed Zakaria the rest of the world converging on US. Says Rosling...
"I'm not an optimist because that's an emotional state. I'm a possiblist. It is possible, if we keep peace, and keep free trade, and protect human rights, we can all live up in the healthy, wealthy corner because in the end, that's where people want to go."

Thorium Reactors ~ Clean, Green Nuclear Fuel?

Richard Martin writes in WIRED, Uranium Is So Last Century -- Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke...
"...thorium could solve the nuclear power industry’s most intractable problems. After it has been used as fuel for power plants, the element leaves behind minuscule amounts of waste. And that waste needs to be stored for only a few hundred years, not a few hundred thousand like other nuclear byproducts. Because it’s so plentiful in nature, it’s virtually inexhaustible. It’s also one of only a few substances that acts as a thermal breeder, in theory creating enough new fuel as it breaks down to sustain a high-temperature chain reaction indefinitely. And it would be virtually impossible for the byproducts of a thorium reactor to be used by terrorists or anyone else to make nuclear weapons. [Oak Ridge National Lab director and Fluid Fuel Reactors book author Alvin] Weinberg and his men proved the efficacy of thorium reactors in hundreds of tests at Oak Ridge from the ’50s through the early ’70s. But thorium hit a dead end. Locked in a struggle with a nuclear- armed Soviet Union, the US government in the ’60s chose to build uranium-fueled reactors -- in part because they produce plutonium that can be refined into weapons-grade material. The course of the nuclear industry was set for the next four decades, and thorium power became one of the great what-if technologies of the 20th century."
Powerful reading.

13 March 2011

Ocean Mapping ~ Visualizing Earth's 71% Cover...

The recent Japanese quake -- and especially tsunami -- reinforce that Earth's Ocean is quite important and powerful. Therefore, understanding and mapping is key. For starters, here's NOAA's map of large underwater features... This ocean floor is fundamentally composed of tectonic plates, which sometimes make sudden moves... The water's not uniform, of course, and has different temperatures and flows. Here's the summary path of Thermohaline Circulation -- a.k.a. the Great Ocean Conveyor -- with blue representing deep-water currents, red representing surface currents... Surface Oceanic Circulation Patterns influence trade and weather alike, with East Coasts tending towards warm ocean currents and West Coasts dominated by cold ocean currents... Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) in normal years shows cold water upwelling in the boxed areas, a source of nutrients which enables rich coastal fisheries... But this February 2010 image shows an El Niño year where coastal upwelling slows considerably -- note here off Peru -- meaning nutrient flux drops, plankton plummet, and thus fishing yields collapse... These surface patterns combine with atmospheric dynamics to source powerful cyclonic Typhoons worldwide... Marine species are widely but unevenly distributed around the world’s coastlines... The contest over these riches continues, with the Law of the Sea enabling nation-states to claim Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) reaching 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) out from coastline... So it should be no surprise there's growing deep-sea fishing on seamounts and ridges including in the high seas... And, last but not least, the Ocean's a prime mover of goods for us all!