30 April 2012

Chibikart ~ Charles Z Guan's Latest Electricar!

The unstoppable Charles Z Guan electrifies again with his latest contraption, the Chibikart! Quoth he...
"Fortunately, I have something mechanical and not software-involving to distract me, and that’s Chibikart! [Indeed, a mere few weeks later] Chibikart was sent up the de-facto MIT Random Contraption Proving Ground, where it completely defied (again) my expectations."
And here's first testruns at the MIT-SUTD IDC of this...
"...four-wheel drive ulta-compact go-kart with 100mm custom hub motor wheels. The frame is 34" long and 18" wide (870mm x 460mm)"

29 April 2012

Flying Paper ~ Kites & Kids Docu on Kickstarter!

MIT Media Lab alum Nitin Sawhney and colleague Roger Hill have put their Flying Paper kids and kites documentary on Kickstarter! Join me in backing them ASAP! They tell the...
"...uplifting story of resilient Palestinian youth in the Gaza Strip on a quest to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown. [...They] capture the culture of kite making and flying among youth and their spectacular record-breaking event."
I've seen the rough-cuts and this is essential and inspiring material!

DragonBots ~ Media Lab's Social Robo-Owls!

Check out Kombusto the DragonBot, one of a family of lovely social robots by MIT Media Lab's Adam Setapen and colleagues! This is the ultimate "skin" for a mobile smartphone -- and that's one of the killer core elements of this very cool project... And here's Nimbus!

Media Lab @ Night ~ Magical MIT Things!-)

Just a hint of the magical MIT medialab@night!

Ultraglass ~ MIT's Nanotextured Functionality

Very compelling to read David Chandler's MIT News piece about the work on nanotexturing ultraglass by MIT team of Park, Choi, et al. Their ACS Nano paper describes Nanotextured Silica Surfaces with Robust Super-Hydrophobicity and Omnidirectional Broadband Super-Transmissivity. That's a remarkable combo of water resistance, clarity, anti-fogging, and self-cleaning qualities!

27 April 2012

Patterned by Nature ~ Lieberman et al Delight!

Check out MIT alumnus artist+engineer Jeff Lieberman, et al's fantastic new exhibit piece Patterned by Nature!

22 April 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi ~ Still Seeking Perfection!

Lovely sushi, painstakingly prepared, yet still not perfect! Just look at those tasty morsels... He's a philosopher with food... Even Bourdain has no reservations -- Jiro's the best!

Dark Girls ~ Docu on Skin Color Biases...

Thanks to CNN's Roland Martin for spotlighting the Dark Girls documentary, writing...
"...there is another critical discussion that must be had, and that is the belief that the lighter skinned you are, the better your life will be. The effects of this mindset are examined in the documentary "Dark Girls," produced by actor/director Bill Duke and directed by Chan Berry. "Dark Girls" explores the pain that is associated with having dark skin, even re-creating the white doll-black doll studies made famous by Dr. Kenneth Clark"

21 April 2012

Green Building Tetris ~ Playing Games @ MIT!

Nadya Peek spots Green Building Tetris @ MIT! Nice...

Safe Sound Scooter ~ Domino's NL Promo;-)

Thanks to Branko Collin at 24Oranges for spotting Electric moped that emits advertisements instead of engine sounds...
"A delivery moped for Domino’s Pizza is cruising the streets of Amsterdam with its traditional engine sound replaced by a man’s voice that goes “Mmmmm… Lekker, lekker… D-d-d-d-d-omino’s” (“Hmmmm... Yummy, yummy... D-d-d-d-d-omino’s”)."

African Aquifers ~ Huge Groundwater Reservoirs

BBC's Matt McGrath writes 'Huge' water resource exists under Africa...
"Researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London (UCL) have mapped in detail the amount and potential yield of this groundwater resource across the continent."

17 April 2012

Made in Africa ~ MIT's Sengeh Innovates Salone!

Excellent to see MIT Media Lab colleague David Sengeh from Sierra Leone share his Made in Africa vision at last weekend's Africa Innovate conference!

16 April 2012

Lazika ~ New Georgian Coastal City Development

Very interesting to hear first from MIT Sloan Fellow Otar Bubashvili and to now read and see more about Lazika, the new Georgian coastal city development just north of Poti and south of Anaklia... Here's the larger map of Georgia with the Lazika location (unmarked) being in the coastal middle... More generally, I'm quite interested in such new cities, including contemporary examples such as Iskandar in Malaysia, Rawabi in Palestine, Greater Aqaba in Jordan, Masdar in Abu Dhabi, City of Silk proposal in Kuwait, and the very bold Al Noor proposal between Yemen and Djibouti.  P.S. Ellen Barry writes in the NYTimes On Black Sea Swamp, Big Plans for Instant City, quoting the Georgian President...
"We need a big breakthrough if we are not to have poverty anymore.” The breakthrough, he said, would be a brand-new city and maritime port on the coast [...] an idea now common in China, which has erected dozens of cities to house its flood of rural migrants, but highly unusual for Europe. [This integrates] the idea of a “charter city,” with distinct regulatory and judicial systems that could attract foreign investors to build factories. “This idea came to us -- why can’t we do that in Georgia?” he said. “We looked out and we saw there is free space on the Black Sea coast."

Fast Construction ~ Dutch Underpasses for Bikes+

When underpasses for bicyclists and pedestrians are needed, the Dutch ProRail and construction partners move fast!

14 April 2012

Golden Link ~ Vladivostok-to-Russky Isle Bridged!

The final Golden Link in the epic bridge connecting Vladivostok to Russky Island was installed last night in the Russian Far East! If you haven't seen this before, I definitely recommend the construction film... My only gripe about the whole project is that there's no tramline (yet) which would allow both passenger tram service between (and on) Russky and Vladivostok as well as cargotram options.

How It's Made ~ Fantastic Fabrication TV Series!

UniqueDaily reminds me of the many fantastic fabrication shows in the How It's Made series! For example... And more!

3D Titanic ~ Google Earth + NatGeo Visuals...

gCaptain spots 3D Titanic on Google Earth mashing up National Geographic, NOAA and other data! RIP -- this great ship sank a century ago tonight-early tomorrow... And, finally, the latest simulation of what happened...

13 April 2012

International Dev't Night ~ MIT Museum Sat 4/14

Check out International Development Night @ the MIT Museum Saturday, April 14th from 7-9p at the MIT Museum!
"Please join us for a fascinating expo and reception hosted by Technology & Culture and MIT’s International Development Initiative (IDI). This event is being held in conjunction with the MIT Sloan Africa Innovate conference 2012 and the 2012 Harvard International Development Conference. Refreshments will be served."

09 April 2012

More ~ Huge Problems, Distributed Solutions!

Economist interviews Diamandis on Abundance...

Largest Rube Goldberg ~ Purdue's 300 Stepper!-)

Wow, thanks to Neatorama for spotting ginormous Rube Goldberg machine!

LowLine ~ NYC's Underground Urban Park Idea!

Thanks to MIT alum friend John Mills for spotting the LowLine on Fast Co.Design. They just raised $155,186 on KickStarter from 3,300 backers and are now able to prototype-demo the idea!
"We want to transform an abandoned trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of Manhattan into the world’s first underground park. It will be a new kind of public space, using solar technology for natural illumination, and cutting edge design to capture and highlight a very special industrial space. {...] This "Delancey Underground" space is quite large, by New York standards: 60,000 square feet, or 1.5 acres -- nearly the size of Gramercy Park. It was built in 1903 as a trolley terminal, for streetcars traveling over the Williamsburg Bridge, and has been out of operation since 1948. We fell in love with the site because of its architectural details: old cobblestones, crisscrossing rail tracks, vaulted 20-foot ceilings, and strong steel columns."

06 April 2012

littleBits ~ Ayah Bdeir on Interactive Hardware

Excellent to have MIT Media Lab alumna entrepreneur Ayah Bdeir share her experiences in the Computing Culture group and most recently building littleBits -- both product and her startup! She's figuring out how electronics can enable creativity -- how can they be provocative, transparent, accessible. This means working towards object-oriented hardware, an idea paralleling object-oriented software with qualities like modularity, openness, big library, standard interfaces, and more. She gave some lovely examples of prior art, including Dieter Rams' Lectron. LittleBits modules just snap together with guiding magnets, simple interconnects, and lots of playful parts. The key is shifting from component-level view of the pieces to the interaction quality and experiences of the pieces -- i.e. not the LED but light, not the motor but the motion, not the capacitor but touch-sensing. So not object-oriented but interaction-oriented hardware. Check it out! She also shared the saga of developing and refining from 2008 to 2011 of all the elements, the color coda, magnetic interconnections, and overall business -- not easy! Ayah also showed some lovely videos of very young kids playing with littleBits -- baby engineers!-)

Google Glasses? ~ Avoiding Wearable Failures;-)

Not this, please... Kottke scathes further;-)

03 April 2012

Dotswatch ~ Stunningly Enabling Timekeeper!

Blind and sighted people both grok time on the MIT+RISD Dotswatch!

Bioluminescent ~ Perrine's Maldivian Surfshot!

The DailyMail delivers photographer Doug Perrine's lovely image of bioluminescent bacteria born by surf crashing on a quiet beach in Vaadhoo, one of the Raa Atoll islands in the Maldives...

African Democracy ~ 3 Steps Forward, 2 Back?

See The Economist on African Democracy: A Glass Half-Full...
"...many Africa-watchers perceive a gradual erosion of democratic standards. [...] African elections do not necessarily produce representative governments. [...] Academic studies also paint a gloomy picture. [...] Southern Africa, historically the best-performing region, is now a problem child. [...] Still, Africa has come a long way..."

World Governance Goals ~ MDG's for Civics...

Very interesting OpEd in WSJournal by Mark Palmer, Patrick Glen, and Paul Wolfowitz asking How About Some World Governance Goals?
"Progress against poverty requires measuring countries by the rule of law, judicial independence and free speech [...] If the U.N. is serious about promoting democracy, it should establish goals, similar to its Millennium Development Goals. [The important thing] is the measurement of progress over time on such issues as establishing written constitutions and laws; implementing universal suffrage and free elections; guaranteeing freedom of speech and association; protecting the independence of the judiciary; and ensuring the accountability of officials. Realization of these goals would mean the effective end of dictatorial and autocratic rule and lay foundations for strong and genuine democracy. [...] The benefits of establishing Millennium Goals focused on governance and the rule of law are twofold. First, setting goals agreed upon by the international community would establish a minimum standard of good governance for judging a state's actions and provide a way to measure progress. Second, promoting better governance would lead to greater progress on the U.N.'s existing development goals."
Definitely read the rest. And also look at both recent book on Why Nations Fail and the Freedom House report mentioned in the piece.

02 April 2012

Capital Punishment ~ US + Evil = Probably Wrong

Embarrassing to see (via the Economist) US amidst a mostly sordid cast of evil-doing countries headed by dictators and despots...

01 April 2012

Healthcare Train ~ South Africa's Phelophepa!

Thanks to Railways Africa piece Second Healthcare Train Launched for describing the Phelophepa Healthcare Trains! It's so obvious and brilliant and great once you hear about it, but I had no idea that this exists till just now!
"On the introduction of Phelophepa II, public enterprises minister Gigaba says: “What started off 18 years ago as a modest three-coach eye clinic has become an internationally well-known beacon of hope, providing healthcare throughout South Africa, especially in rural areas. [...] Each train has 20 permanent staff, 16 contracted security officials and 40 students on board. They function as training institutions for South African and international final-year professional health students, not only providing practical experience for nursing, dental, optometry, psychology and pharmaceutical students, but also attracting catering students needing an opportunity to practise their skills."
I personally appreciate that global pharma giant Roche has made a major CSR commitment to the Phelophepa in partnership with South African infraco Transnet's Foundation! Here's a Journeyman Pictures piece on the original train...

Shanghai Tower ~ Inhabitat Interviews Chris Chan

Diane Pham at Inhabitat interviews Gensler's Chris Chan on the Sustainable Shanghai Tower, Asia's Tallest Skyscraper...
"The Tower’s design was centered around innovative sustainable concepts and technologies. [...] The dramatic twisting form of the tower, for instance, was not just inspired but shaped through careful study of how wind forces will move around the tower. Iterative study was made possible only with advanced BIM systems to adjust and update the whole tower shape according to CFM (computational fluid modeling) and wind tunnel feedback."
Read the rest!

On Civilization ~ Conversations w/ Christopher H!

Wideranging discussion with and by Christopher Hitchens...

Why Societies Collapse ~ Jared Diamond @ TED

Thanks to IEET for spotlighting UCLA professor Jared Diamond's TED talk on Why Societies Collapse... Plus, here's bonus talk at UCSB...