31 December 2012

ATOMS ~ Seamless Toys for Kids on Kickstarter!

Check out MIT Media Lab alumco Seamless Toys and their ATOMS project on Kickstarter!
"ATOMS are a system of plug-n-play sensors, motors and logic blocks for kids & adults to make things that do amazing things"

Conservation Militias ~ Stop Elephant Holocaust...

Jeffrey Gentleman writes in the NYTimes that To Save Wildlife, and Tourism, Kenyans Take Up Arms...
"...destitute villagers have seized upon an unconventional solution that, if replicated elsewhere, could be the key to saving thousands of elephants across Africa, conservationists say. In a growing number of communities here, people are so eager, even desperate, to protect their wildlife that civilians with no military experience are banding together [...] risking their lives to confront heavily armed poaching gangs. It is essentially a militarized neighborhood watch [...] These citizen-rangers are not doing this out of altruism or some undying love for pachyderms. They do it because in Kenya, perhaps more than just about anywhere else, wildlife means tourists, and tourists mean dollars -- a lot of dollars."
See also photoessay by Tyler Hicks. And illegal trade infographic...

30 December 2012

Tablet as Teacher ~ Ethiopian Kids Auto-Learn...

Der Spiegel's Fiona Ehlers writes about Ethiopian Kids Using Tablets to Teach Themselves...
"The children in Wenchi have no opportunity to attend school, because the nearest school is too far away or their parents prefer to send them out to fetch water or into the fields, where they watch the cows in the morning and the goats in the afternoon. But what if these children, who, like their parents, can neither read nor write, were provided with a computer? And if the computer were loaded with learning programs, films about animals and faraway countries, arithmetic games, in both English and Amharic, Ethiopia's official language? And if the children were simply allowed to do as they please, in the hope that they would teach themselves and learn from each other? Could this approach enable developing countries to make the leap into the information age? Or would the tablets end up in the dust just as quickly as children's toys end up in the garbage in the West when they cease to be new and exciting? If the experiment were a success, could the same approach be used to help 100 million children worldwide, children who don't go to school because they live in rural areas or their families are too poor? [Could it be] that all you have to do is give children a computer, and that everything else will fall into place. "Children are autodidacts [...] they don't have to be taught to walk and speak, either." [If this] project succeeds, it will be a veritable revolution, one that could put an end to the plight of uneducated children and help bridge the gap between rich and poor."
I hope this is replicable elsewhere. Also, when I first heard of the OLPC $100 laptop design & deploy effort, I said "nevermind laptops, let's deploy one mobile per minor." By using cheap Android tablet-smartphones, that's now finally happening. Nice!

29 December 2012

Stairway to Heaven ~ Honoring Led Zeppelin!

MissC spotted this epic homage to Led Zeppelin! And here President Obama says a few gracious and telling words...

Rocketship Schools ~ Mass-Produced Education?

PBSNewsHour asks Can Rocketship Launch a Fleet of Successful, Mass-Produced Schools?
"John Danner has built seven "Rocketship" charter schools, whose model has produced results at or above average in low-income neighborhood by using technology, community engagement, and teaching coaches. Special correspondent John Merrow profiles the California program, which aims to mass-produce quality schools."

28 December 2012

Death of Apartheid ~ South Africa's Transition...

This Death of Apartheid documentary spotlights key aspects of South Africa's early 1990s transition and includes interesting comments from then leading ANC negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa who was just recently elected deputy president of the ANC... See also this One Team, One Country documentary about the 1995 Rugby World Cup later told in the Invictus movie!

Reach for the Stars ~ Inspiring Young Minds!

The Atlas Society shares creative entrepreneur Kerry O'Quinn's inspiring reading from his forthcoming book, Reach for the Stars...

27 December 2012

A City Is Not A Tree ~ Alexander on Semilattices

I was an EECS undergrad at MIT, but I took many optional electives in Architecture, Sociology, Civil Engineering, Business, and beyond. This was fantastically important in exposing me to a rich intellectual smörgåsbord I would otherwise never have tasted. And among the very most important such nuggets was reading Christopher Alexander's A City Is Not A Tree where he decries the overly simplistic rules dominating (and debilitating) urban planning and design...
"Why is it that so many designers have conceived cities as trees when the natural structure is in every case a semilattice? Have they done so deliberately, in the belief that a tree structure will serve the people of the city better? Or have they done it because they cannot help it, because they are trapped by a mental habit, perhaps even trapped by the way the mind works -- because they cannot encompass the complexity of a semilattice in any convenient mental form, because the mind has an overwhelming predisposition to see trees wherever it looks and cannot escape the tree conception? I shall try to convince you that it is for this second reason that trees are being proposed and built as cities -- that is, because designers, limited as they must be by the capacity of the mind to form intuitively accessible structures, cannot achieve the complexity of the semilattice in a single mental act. [...] For the human mind, the tree is the easiest vehicle for complex thoughts. But the city is not, cannot and must not be a tree. The city is a receptacle for life. If the receptacle severs the overlap of the strands of life within it, because it is a tree, it will be like a bowl full of razor blades on edge, ready to cut up whatever is entrusted to it. In such a receptacle life will be cut to pieces. If we make cities which are trees, they will cut our life within to pieces."
Wow!

Density Atlas ~ Understanding Urban Intensity...

Check out MIT's Density Atlas combining the three commonly used measures of density to better understand and compare city blocks and neighborhoods...
"This atlas measures projects using dwelling units per acre, population per acre, and floor area ratio (FAR), the three most commonly used measurements of density. Projects are grouped into "neighborhood" scales and "block" scales, for proper comparison."

26 December 2012

Dawkins on Religion ~ AlJaz Asks If Good or Evil?

In an AlJazeera Special Programme, Mehdi Hasan interviews renowned atheist -- and author of The God Delusion -- Richard Dawkins on Religion asking...
"Is religion a force for good or evil? Can it co-exist with science? Is science the new religion? And why if god does not exist, is religion so persistent? [Especially given] fanaticism, fundamentalism, superstition and ignorance. Religion is getting a bad press these days. Much of the conflict in the world, from the Middle East to Nigeria and Myanmar, is often blamed on religion."

Complexula ~ NASA Pictures Unusual NGC 5189

NASA spots NGC 5189, an Unusually Complex Planetary Nebula!

Martine Luther Queen ~ Sirius Inventor on Stern!

Thanks to IEET for spotting the transgendered and transhumanist entrepreneur and Sirius Inventor Martine Rothblatt on Howard Stern!

Holland vs NL ~ Parts of the Confusing Kingdom

MissC spots explanation for Holland vs Netherlands by CGPGrey...

AquaDom ~ Radisson Blu Hotel Lobby Aquarium

Inhabitat spots AquaDom, the huge Radisson Blu Hotel lobby cylindrical aquarium with one million litres of seawater...

Boiling (Mad) Frogs ~ French High-Tax Exodus...

The FT's Hugh Carnegy and Scheherazade Daneshkhu write that Entrepreneurs follow Depardieu out of France...
"Jean-Gil Boitouzet’s departure may not cause the same hullabaloo as the tax exile of Gérard Depardieu but, like the film star, the businessman is quitting France for Belgium. [The] founder of the online brokerage Bourse Direct [...] will move across the border before January 1, when President François Hollande’s new tax regime -- including a 75 per cent marginal rate of income tax -- takes effect. He says tax is not the main reason he is relocating to Belgium, but rather the anti-business culture in France. “It is like boiling the frog. But I am jumping out of the water before it boils.” A “morose” national mood and high taxes add up to a hostile “ambience”, he says. “This is a country where there is no growth, the cost of labour is very high, and when entrepreneurs succeed they are criticised for exploiting their workers.” Just how many people are treading a similar path to Mr Boitouzet and Mr Depardieu -- to less harsh tax regimes [...] -- is impossible to gauge: the two men are unusual in being open about their plans."

Axis of Comedy ~ Evil or Humor, You Decide;-)

Axis of Evil Comedy Tour standup comic Maz Jobrani (the Persian)...

24 December 2012

Foster's New World ~ Architecting Slum Solutions

The latest Economist Intelligent Life issue includes a piece by J.M. Ledgard on architect Norman Foster's New World which includes interesting prospective slum solutions...
"In particular, the challenge for Foster is Africa. [...] Africa's population will double to 2 billion before 2050. Its urban population will more than quadruple. [...] I pressed him on the question of a new model of city for Africa, necessarily poor, without an industrial base, but youthful, vital, playful and verdant. "It is absolutely essential", he said, "to get that balance of greenery, vegetation, animals, space, silence, light and dark. We only appreciate urbanity when we have the opportunity to experience the opposite. Of course, if one thinks of wilderness, nature, safaris and biodiversity one thinks of Africa." He remains a firm believer in the transformative and lasting power of huge projects. [...] He is adamant that cities dependent on the car will fail. Rising fuel prices make this inevitable, he argues, as does the sprawl of the car-driven city. [...] What is needed in African slums", Foster ventures, "is the industrialisation of units that provide the sanitation, kitchens, energy-harvesting, run-off of rainwater, and a proper infrastructure of drains and sewers. That would be transformational, but that's a very different approach to the design-profession response to wipe it clean and superimpose another order, which completely disregards the fact that, notwithstanding the horrific deprivation, there is an underlying social order and an organic response to needs." [...] the cause of African future cities need not be philanthropy. There is plenty of money to be made from squatters. Most of the economic growth in the world in the coming years will be from the poorest bits of cities in the poorest countries. [...] instead of thinking as in the past that you have one authority talking about pylons, another rail, another roads, why not bring those together with tremendous economy and elegance? In a way, the Victorian tradition had the courage to imagine that. High-speed rail is still operating on the track Stephenson created for the Rocket. Olmsted laid out Central Park at the time when people were herding sheep, horses and carts. Now, bringing back a pedestrian-friendly experience, taking away the dependence on gasoline, why drive when you could walk, design with an understanding that these are very scarce commodities -- Africa has that opportunity."
Bold, but let's see if and how his Masdar City lives up to grandiose promises first.

Boomtown Slum ~ Economist on Kibera Daily LIfe

The Economist xmas double-issue spotlights upwardly mobile Africa in Boomtown slum ~ A day in the economic life of Africa’s biggest shanty-town...
"Africa’s biggest slum, it is home to perhaps a million people. Nobody knows for sure, since Kibera is left to its own devices. Government is absent: it offers the residents (regarded as squatters) no services, opens no schools, operates no hospitals, paves no roads, connects no power lines and pumps no water into homes. And yet Kibera, wedged in between ornate embassies and a well-tended golf course, is an integral part of Nairobi [...] Kibera’s origins are Western. A century ago British colonial rulers gave small plots of land on the edge of Nairobi to Nubian soldiers serving in the King’s African Rifles. They built mud huts [...] The land was later nationalised but the Nubians stayed put and rented parts of it to newcomers. Today most homes are made of ragged tin and reused timber. [...] Kibera is a thriving economic machine. Local residents provide most of the goods and services. Tailors are hunched over pedal-powered sewing machines. Accountants and lawyers share trestle tables in open-air offices. Carpenters carve frames for double beds along a railway line. Whole skinned cows hang in spotless butcher shops. [...] Life in Kibera can be harsh. Disease is rife, food is short for some, and death can come suddenly. [...] The key to making it in Kibera is access to capital. A market of one million potential customers crowds in on entrepreneurs, but raising the money to start a business is hard. Most banks won’t lend to them because they have no collateral, perhaps not even a fixed address. Those who manage to borrow face high interest rates. [...] Kibera may be the most entrepreneurial place on the planet. Residents have no choice but to look after themselves."
Inspiring resilience. And yet further evidence that we need more inclusive innovations and beneficial slum solutions.

20 December 2012

Liberia 77 ~ Topham Brothers Revisit Memories

See full Liberia 77 by the Topham brothers (mentioned earlier)...

Kickstarter Deliverables ~ When They Shipped...

CNNMoney graphic on Kickstarter's top projects: When they shipped...
"[We] examined the 50 top funded Kickstarter projects with estimated delivery dates of November 2012 and earlier to see which shipped on time -- and why the laggards were late. Click each square for more details."

18 December 2012

17 December 2012

DIY Spectrometer ~ Public Lab's Light Analyzer!

Public Laboratory is shipping their DIY Spectrometer!
"Chemists use expensive tools called spectrometers (there are several kinds) to analyze unknown solid or liquid samples. We are working on a cheap version which we hope to use to identify oil contamination in water and soil, as well as a range of other possible toxins. Spectrometers can also be used to identify species of plants or crop diseases, assess plumes from smokestacks, and have many other applications."
"What we perceive as a single color consists of multiple blended colors -- just as green paint can be made from mixing yellow and blue paint. A spectrometer is a device that splits light into the various colors it is composed of, which we otherwise cannot distinguish with the naked eye. By viewing a substance through a spectrometer, one can distinguish the exact mixture of colors, which correspond to specific wavelengths of light, that make up the perceived color of the sample."

Riding the Rails ~ Interview with Amtrak CEO...

Excellent to see Bloomberg Capitol Gains interview Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman about upgrading American passenger train service and advancing high-speed rail...

16 December 2012

District 9 ~ Blomkamp's Wild South African SF!

District 9 is wild aliens vs humans SF from South African Blomkamp!

Pale Blue Dot ~ Anime of Sagan's Poetic Verses

Kuriositas spots Pale Blue Dot anime of Carl Sagan's poetry...

Nimbus ~ Dutch Artist Smilde's Indoor Clouds!

Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde makes indoor Nimbus clouds...

Timelapse Weave ~ Watching Spider Spin Web!

Lovely! Neatorama spots Jean-Michel's timelapse of spider weaving!

Criminalizing Squatters? ~ Lousy Slum Solution...

The Guardian's Steve Rose on The politics of finding a place to live...
"The criminalising of squatters in Britain is part of a Europe-wide backlash. But with at least 10% of the world population squatting, can they really be a menace to society? [...] It is invariably rightwing governments that push through the laws [...] often on the basis of spurious arguments. [...] "it's part of a revanchist mood in politics [...] Everything that people hate is blamed on soft, leftwing politics from the 1960s and 70s -- migration, squatting, Muslims. So it's revenge against what happened in the past." [...] But if squatting is on the retreat in Europe, it has exploded in the rest of the world. According to a recent UN estimate, some 800 to 900 million people around the world are technically squatters -- over 10% of the world's population. The socio-economic conditions are different: these are overwhelmingly rural migrants settling on the outskirts of cities. But these are still people occupying land they do not own, without permission. [...] These squat neighbourhoods are often referred to as slums, shanty towns, favelas or bidonvilles. They are often characterised as grim places, with poor sanitation, high crime rates, drug gangs, and other problems. But it's often a misconception, says Robert Neuwirth, author of Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters. He spent two years living in slums in four of the world's largest cities: Mumbai, Nairobi, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro. "They're not criminal enterprises. They're not mafias," he says. "These are people, law-abiding citizens, workers. People who wait on the tables and clean the rooms in the tourist hotels. People help each other and take care of each other."
We urgently need more inclusive and better slum solutions.

Reclaiming Rivers ~ Exploring SP's Dirty Waters

Simon Romero writes in the NYTimes of A Willing Explorer of São Paulo’s Polluted Rivers...
"The Tietê and Pinheiros Rivers, which cut through this metropolis of 20 million, flow well enough in some parts. But in certain stretches, they ooze. Their waters are best described, perhaps, as ashen gray. Their aroma, reminiscent of rotten eggs, can induce nausea in passers-by. José Leonídio Rosendo dos Santos has been diving into both rivers for more than 20 years. Hired largely to unclog drainage gates, he scours the murky depths of the Tietê and Pinheiros, which have symbolized São Paulo’s environmental degradation for decades, bringing to the surface a list of items that is eerie and bizarre. [...] Part of the fascination with Mr. dos Santos has to do with how Paulistanos view their rivers. [...] it was adored by city residents as recently as the middle of the last century, when they fished, swam and held rowing competitions in its waters. Then São Paulo rapidly expanded to become one of the world’s largest cities, its residents moving into high-rise buildings, gated enclaves and sprawling slums. Factories deposited their waste in the rivers. Flourishing districts in São Paulo’s metropolitan area expanded without basic sanitation systems, discharging sewage directly into the Tietê and Pinheiros. The rivers now persist in Brazil’s popular culture as dystopian objects of derision. [... Still there is] hope that the stubborn presence of life along São Paulo’s rivers might reflect the latest phase in their existence: the attempts to resurrect them. Since 1992, the authorities have been advancing with a painstakingly slow project to clean up the Tietê and Pinheiros."
See also a piece from the Economist on Cleaning up an urban sewer.

Urban Diagrams ~ Power of Pictures in Planning

Thanks to The Guardian's Oliver Wainwright for spotting Grand plans: how the simple planning diagram has shaped our cities about the exhibit Grand Reductions: 10 Diagrams That Changed City Planning orchestrated by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research association (SPUR)...
"Many of the ideas that most influenced the design of cities were first expressed through diagrams. These simple visual statements have become iconic distillations of values, policy agendas and ideologies -- touchstones in the visual lexicon of urban planning and design. Grand Reductions investigates the visual culture and iconography of city planning and the impact, for better or worse, of these ideas on the shape of communities in the United States."
Just a few examples...

New Urban Mechanics ~ Boston's App Office...

The Globe's Eric Moskowitz writes about Bumps in the Road...
"A smartphone application known as Street Bump, developed by an in-house City Hall think tank and tested by 25 municipal employees, records the location of every bump a driver hits. Of the first 100,000 ride-jarring bumps registered by the app, traditional potholes accounted for a stunningly small percentage. They were vastly outnumbered by misaligned castings, according to the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the think tank that developed the app. [... They] are also behind Citizens Connect, the nearly four-year-old app that ­allows residents to send the city GPS-tagged photos and descriptions of problems such as graffiti or darkened streetlights. After the early success of that app, the team ­began to wonder if smartphones could be used to detect potholes automatically, without waiting for citizens to report them. They developed an app harnessing two smartphone components -- the accelerometer, which gauges the direction and acceleration of a phone’s movement, and the Global Positioning System receiver -- to register the jostling of a phone placed in a car’s cupholder or center console and to mark the location based on GPS satellites. And they set out to refine it to weed out false positives, such as speed bumps."
The bottom-line is that new urban apps, data-driven priorities, and rapid responsiveness are the stuff of the modern vital city!

Invest in Africa ~ FT Spots Tullow's Campaign...

Fascinating story by the FT's Michael Kavanagh noting that Tullow keeps the ball rolling in Africa...
"...as founder of “Invest in Africa”, Tullow Oil has emblazoned the name of the campaign group on to TV screens in a sponsorship deal with Sunderland football club in northeast England [...] Aidan Heavey, Tullow’s chief executive, said: “At a stroke, this association will make Sunderland the most popular football club in Africa.” Mr Heavey’s claim will appear to many as quixotic. Yet it clearly reflects a desire by Tullow and its Irish founder to act as a cheerleader for investment, rather than aid, in the continent where the Chiswick-based company continues to concentrate its attention. [...] since its creation in 1985, Tullow’s main focus has been in Africa, where it now operates in 15 countries and claims to be the continent’s leading independent oil company. The stated aim of Mr Heavey’s campaign vehicle is to attract the support of other companies operating successfully in the region, challenge misconceptions about doing business on the continent and “tackle the gap between the perception and reality of doing business in Africa”. Tullow itself claims credit for encouraging local recruitment and training of senior management in the territories where it operates, as well as job creation and investment."
Very compelling indeed! Here's their promo film...

T-Rex on Charles ~ Globe Archival Photohumor!

Funny photo by Ted Dully of T-Rex on the Charles is latest From the Archives of the Globe!

Gravity Map ~ NASA's GRAIL Images of Moon!

Alok Jha of the Guardian spots NASA's GRAIL mission to map our Moon's gravity!
"To peer inside the moon, scientists used measurements from two NASA satellites called Ebb and Flow, collectively known as the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. By measuring the tiny fluctuations in the moon's gravitational field, they have indicated that, in its first billion years, the moon (and, by inference, many of the inner planets) was fractured repeatedly by violent impacts from asteroids and other remnants from the early years of the solar system."

Miracle of Medicine ~ Reason Triumphs Faith...

Diane Speare Triant writes in today's Sunday Globe about The miracle of medicine spotlighting the historic first successful kidney transplant surgery at the Brigham in Boston back in 1954. Beyond the groundbreaking scientific, engineering, and medical essentials of this achievement is the bizarre backstory where the really anti-progress faith-freak majority was amazingly beaten by another faction of the religiously faithful, just one a bit less irrational...
"Many felt that subjecting [donor twin] Ronald, a healthy person, to a major operation not for his benefit was a breach of the Hippocratic Oath’s promise to do no harm. There were public outcries that the transplant team would be “playing God.” People compared Murray to Dr. Frankenstein. Yet Murray, a devout Christian, believed he was simply working with the tools God had given him, following a human inclination to be curious and persistent. Since he also felt a deep responsibility to address society’s concerns, he immersed himself in dialogue with Boston’s religious leaders. “We had conferences in the hospital,” he said. “We had the cardinal; we had a leader of the Jewish faith. We wanted to get the consensus.” Murray’s inclusive approach eventually won a special decree allowing the surgery from the state’s highest court."
Overcoming religious superstition impeding progress is the true medical miracle here.

14 December 2012

Asterank ~ Cataloging & Mapping Asteroid Value

Cool new visualization tool Asterank shows economic and scientific catalog of half-million "nearby" asteroids in solar system...
"Our calculations incorporate conclusions from multiple scientific publications in addition to cross-referencing known meteorite data. Asteroid mining has been making headlines. Companies like Planetary Resources are an exciting take on the commercial viability of space industry. But how realistic are the trillion dollar estimates? How much would it cost to mine an object millions of miles away? The data on these objects are public but very sparse. Remember, it's 2012 and we are just beginning!"

09 December 2012

Enabling Infrastructure ~ Other Cyclepath Users

Mark Wagenbuur at BicycleDutch spotlights Who else benefits from the Dutch cycling infrastructure...
"That mobility scooters are allowed to use the well-designed Dutch cycling infrastructure gives people who are not able to cycle (anymore) the freedom to travel from A to B in an independent and very safe way. [...] good cycling infrastructure is not only good for people from 8 to 80 who want to cycle, the cycle paths also shield pedestrians from motorised traffic, and they offer quality of life to people with disabilities. In short: cycle paths are good for society."

Galactic Plasma Jets ~ NASA Spots Hercules A!

NASA APOD spots Plasma Jets around Radio Galaxy Hercules A!

Meeker's Trendscape ~ Net Remakes Everything

Fred Wilson spots Mary Meeker's Internet Trends 2012... Many interesting nuggets in there, including this big-picture and longterm trendscape plot of OS-share...

08 December 2012

Limits to Growth ~ 40 Years of Doom Dynamics

40 years ago Dennis Meadows and colleagues built upon the World Dynamics model of MIT's Jay Forrester and published The Limit to Growth about computer model simulations of global dynamics to explore the macro-possibilities of humanity on earth and study the "Predicament of Mankind." Just a few weeks ago, the Volkswagen Foundation sponsored a workshop asking whether we are Already Beyond? -- 40 Years Limits to Growth. And the Smithsonian's Mark Strauss writes Looking Back on the Limits of Growth, asking...
"Forty years after the release of the groundbreaking study, were the concerns about overpopulation and the environment correct? Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s, The Limits to Growth."
Finally, Der Spiegel's Markus Becker interviews Meadows who says Humanity Is Still on the Way to Destroying Itself...
"...we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change. [...] The fact that the collapse hasn't occurred so far doesn't mean it won't take place in the future. There is no doubt that the world is changing, and we will have to go along with it. There are two ways to do that: One is, you see the necessity of change ahead of time and you make the change, and the second is that you don't and are finally forced to do it anyway. [...] the geological record clearly shows that the global temperature doesn't increase in a linear way. It jumps. If that happens, a collapse will occur. But it would be nothing new, of course. Societies rise and fall. They have been doing so for 300,000 years."

Printing Buildings ~ MIT's Oxman on CNN Next

Great to see MIT Media Lab colleague Neri Oxman on CNN Next...
"A new model of the world has emerged over the past few decades: the World-as- Organism. This new model inspires a desire to instill intelligence into objects, buildings and cities. It is a model that stands in contrast to the paradigm of the Industrial Revolution, or the World-as-Machine. [...] the future lies in questioning what an inhabitable structure is. When we consider printing concrete with variable density as in bones, we do not mean to do this simply to reproduce the same old buildings. These technologies will enable us to create buildings that are entirely different than the ones that we inhabit today."

04 December 2012

Sky Gardens ~ High Parks, Streets, Bridges...

BBC series on Reaching for the Sky explores Skyscraper Gardens in greencity Singapore...
"With a growing number of people living and working in tall buildings, architects have become increasingly concerned with finding ways to introduce horizontal spaces -- providing a place for residents to socialise, exercise and get some fresh air. Sharanjit Leyl visited The Pinnacle@Duxton building in Singapore, a public housing complex of seven buildings linked with "sky bridges"

02 December 2012

Timelapse Jets ~ Compressing Airport Landings!

Thanks to Michael Zhang at PetaPixel for spotting fascinating views of jets approaching San Diego International by Cy Kuckenbaker... And another of jets approaching London Heathrow...

Troubled Waters ~ Future H2O Stress Worldmap

CSMonitor cover story Troubled Waters by William Wheeler asks Global water crisis: too little, too much, or lack of a plan?
"The global water crisis -- caused by drought, flood, and climate change -- is less about supply than it is about recognizing water's true value, using it efficiently, and planning for a different future, say experts. [...] Water is a part of everything we do: It feeds crops, powers cities, cools computer servers, and is key to the manufacturing of everything from clothes to cars. The billion more people expected on the planet by 2025 will increase water demand for all of those functions. And just to feed those people, water withdrawals for agriculture are expected to increase by about half. But it's not only about the additional mouths to feed; it's also the growth of new appetites. Much of the growth in demand will emerge from the swelling sprawl of bustling, slum-pocked metropolises across the developing world. For the first time in history, the share of the global population living in cities recently surpassed 50 percent -- on its way to 75 percent expected by 2050."
See here worldmap of today's and projected water stresses...

Boatlift ~ Resilient Maritime Response to 9/11...

9/11 is yet to be adequately avenged and the cultural cancers that enabled it are yet to be fully exorcised from Earth, but there are positive lessons to be learned from the civil service and civilian emergency reaction, including the resilient maritime response documented here in Boatlift...

Ice on Mercury ~ Innermost Planet's Crater H2O

NASA APOD spots Ice on Mercury's north pole...

The Gods Must Be Crazy ~ SAfrican Humor Film

The Gods Must Be Crazy!

01 December 2012

Chosen Vessel ~ Amazon River Hospital Ship...

The Guardian spots Peruvian Amazon's floating hospital...
"The Chosen Vessel, run by NGO Project Amazonas, provides medical services to the remote villages of the Peruvian Amazon. There is an on-board doctor and dentist, and free reading glasses are given to those who need them. The boat hospital has treated 200,000 people in the 16 years it has been sailing on the river."
Reminds me of Mercy Ships and the Phelophepa.

Reconfigurable Robots ~ MIT CBA's Milli-Motein

MIT's David Chandler writes about The robotic equivalent of a Swiss army knife...
"The little device is called a milli-motein -- a name melding its millimeter-sized components and a motorized design inspired by proteins, which naturally fold themselves into incredibly complex shapes. [...] The team had to invent an entirely new kind of motor: not only small and strong, but also able to hold its position firmly even with power switched off. The researchers met these needs with a new system called an electropermanent motor."
Thus mechanical proteins as programmable matter!

29 November 2012

True US Debt ~ $87T = 550% GDP = $8T/Yr Tax

Bipartisan commissioners on entitlement and tax reform, Chris Cox and Bill Archer, shock us with facts in their WSJ OpEd piece Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt...
"For years, the government has gotten by without having to produce the kind of financial statements that are required of most significant for-profit and nonprofit enterprises [...] it does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized and very real obligations. [...] We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities. The actual liabilities of the federal government -- including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits -- already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. [...] When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. [But] if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough [...] to fund the growth of U.S. liabilities."
This means political malfeasance and governmental incompetence of titanic proportions. We need a new generation of leaders in DC to steer the ship of state, which means electing more reality-minded and ethical people like MIT alumnus Representative Tom Massie!

Gorilla Gym ~ Brilliant-Simple Doorway Exerciser

Great to see Kiril Alexandrov -- good friend and MIT $100K winning alumco co-founder and Big Skinny pocketpreneur -- together with business partner Peter and their families revealing the Gorilla Gym -- a brilliant-simple doorway-retrofit exercise system -- and launching it via Indiegogo!
"Install Gorilla Gym on your doorway without tools or drilling. Our patent-pending Vise Grips add stability to allow you to perform a wider variety of exercises with a larger range of motions, such as pull-ups, chin-ups, swinging arms, abs, and shoulder exercises. Add multiple attachments for additional exercises for men, women, and children, including boxing, yoga, and swinging."

28 November 2012

Cheetah Slo-Mo ~ Wilson Captures Fast Cat!

MissC spots Greg Wilson's Cheetah slo-mo for NatGeo!

Fall Timelapse ~ NYC's Central Park Seasons!

io9 spots Jamie Scott's Fall ultimate seasonal timelapse!
"One of the most striking things about New York City is the fall colors and there's no better place to view this then Central Park. I chose 15 locations in the park and revisited them 2 days a week for six months, recording all camera positions and lens information to create consistency in the images. All shots were taken just after sunrise."

Accelerate ~ MIT $100K Contest Deadline 2day!

Tonight, Wednesday 28 November 2012, a minute before midnight is deadline for the MIT $100K Accelerate Contest!
"The contest is all about building stuff -- it's about execution. Up to 30 teams with the most potential will be selected by the judges to go through to the Accelerate phase during IAP. These teams will receive $1,000 each to spend on their ideas, and we'll pair them up with rockstar mentors and designers. We’ll also help them secure work space."
As former lead organizer of the MIT $100K, I'm especially excited to see the latest class of compelling ventures blossom!

26 November 2012

Chicago Forward ~ Gabe Klein on Friendly Cities

I'm now sitting at Media Lab listening to DUSP guest speaker Gabe Klein, the Chicago DOT Commissioner speak on Chicago Forward: Building a User-Friendly City. The soft-start to the talk is this lovely Cities for Cycling Streetfilm... Chicago's an amazing transit hub with four Class One railroads, a dual-hub airport, bike net -- but it's also "bottleneck city" with congestion, safety issues, and lots of fat people and kids. Klein was previously a bike business manager, then with Zipcar, then food truck business, and then DC's transport guy (including helping roll out Capital Bikeshare). Very interesting transitions!  In DC, he helped steer bikelanes down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue!
Among the compelling trends he spotlights are the share economy, digital public ways, robust multimodal hubs, far more public/private combinations, and more. Chicago Forward is his city's action agenda embracing Safe Transit (including the issue of automatic traffic enforcement, safety zones, and the unbelievable "freedom-to-kill" drivers currently have today over pedestrians and bicyclists), Rebuilding & Renewing, Layers of Options, Complete Streets, and more.

Mapping Cape Town ~ Spotlight on SA Supercity

Cape Town, South Africa in maps...