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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The Top 10 Technology Game Changers for the Next Decade

In Business, Science, Tech and Social Media on 30/06/2012 at 20:09

This content was produced by GOOD with the support of Intel

How close to reality are some of our most futuristic fantasies? Consider that going to the moon was once a giant step for mankind, but in the near future you’ll be able to purchase a two week vacation to the International Space Station (if you’ve got a few million bucks to spare, of course). Here’s our list of ten incredible technological innovations that are poised to change our lives within the next decade.
Nanotechnology
Microscopic nanorobots placed inside the human body to fight disease from within will make enormous strides in the next ten years. Eventually, we’ll eliminate the need for invasive surgery and chemotherapy. The cancer cure we’re seeking might not come as a magic pill, but rather a technological advancement enabling us to repair from within using microchips one-billionth of a meter in size. The future is now at Cyberdyne, a Japanese electronics firm manufacturing Hybrid Assisted Limbs for Parkinson’s patients and miniaturizing from there.

Computer Eyewear
In the next decade, the simple act of pulling out a smartphone to take photos and record videos will seem clunky and outmoded. What if you could simply touch a button on your sunglasses and instantly record your surroundings exactly as you see them? The design team behindYouGen.tv is hoping to do just that. Their Epiphany Eyewear glasses will incorporate “magic glass”—chromatic shifting conductive glass—to power their instant on-off recording feature. The data captured from a first person’s perspective can be streamed to social networks, and has untold implications for learning, as you’ll literally be able to see through someone else’s eyes. “We believe this will raise the overall level of human empathy across the world,” said Erick Miller, founder of YouGen.tv.

Genome Sequencing
The building blocks of the human body may contain clues to unlock underlying causes of diseases. Life Technologies is producing a genome sequencing map to explore an individual’s DNA within 24 hours, potentially preventing future diseases. Cost is expected to plummet to $1,000 by the end of the year. Expect a more targeted treatment of cancer and other life-threatening diseases based on a unique genetic blueprint. (cont … GOOD)

Meet The League Of Extraordinary Women: 60 Influencers Who Are Changing The World

In Business, Science, Tech and Social Media, the World on 30/06/2012 at 19:33

ALL PHOTOS BY MIKE MCGREGOR

The previously untold story of how an unprecedented network of high-achieving women from the world’s largest companies, innovative startups, philanthropic organizations, government, and the arts combined forces to change the lives of girls and women everywhere.

Act One

IGNITION

They needed the cows.

Maria Eitel, CEO of the Nike Foundation, is starting her tale at the beginning of her eight-year journey to save the world’s girls. She is telling me about one 13-year-old in particular, the very one who inspired her to invent the Girl Effect, a global initiative that in less than a decade has created or supported groundbreaking programming and research that has put the often-terrifying needs of indigent girls in the toughest parts of the world on the global agenda. “I was in this ridiculously poor part of Ethiopia,” says Eitel, whose title at the time was vice president of corporate responsibility at Nike. The founder and CEO, Phil Knight (along with future CEO Mark Parker), had tapped her to create a not-for-profit arm–but had not dictated a mission. Eitel was in the midst of a yearlong exploration to determine how to make the biggest impact.

In Ethiopia, she followed this girl, named Kidan, through her entire day, watching her strap a filthy jerrycan to her back and haul water, then grind grain as she sat in the dirt. “She was amazingly smart,” recalls Eitel, who likes to talk about creating “that moment of inspiration when you know that a girl believes in herself.” She calls it “ignition,” and Kidan had it–she wanted to be a doctor. “She was such a bright light,” says Eitel. “But we learned that it’s not enough.”

When Eitel spoke to Kidan’s mother about her dreams for her daughter, she found out that the child had already been committed to be married, in exchange for cattle. The mother did not share Eitel’s dismay. “Once I was a girl,” she told Eitel. “One day, there was this commotion and they picked me up and put me on a donkey and that was my wedding. I never saw my family again. So Kidan will just have to be strong.” Kidan’s hope for a career–for anything like the self-directed life that Eitel, and probably any reader of this magazine, believes to be a human right–was effectively over, just as her mother’s had been not so long ago. And her survival? Well, her marriage commitment placed that in greater doubt: In sub-Saharan Africa, says Eitel, more than 90% of deaths related to pregnancy are among adolescents. They needed the cows. (cont … Fast Company)

10 mental traits of truly innovative leaders

In Business, Science, Tech and Social Media on 26/05/2012 at 11:19

Ever since I was young I’ve always loved thinking of ways to fix things, build products and make money.

And, over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with so many creative and innovative people.

I’m talking about people like Whitepages’ Alex Algard, Cheezburger’s Ben Huh and BuddyTV’s Andy Liu. These guys are absolute masters at drawing profitableconclusions from problems and ideas from totally unrelated fields. The businesses that these new ideas trigger speak for themselves.

So I thought I would put down on paper what it is that makes these guys innovative thinkers and leaders, and tips that you can use to help you reach their kind of success, too. Here are 10:

Recognizing patterns

Truly innovative people have an ability to see connections across data and ideas, and then turn those patterns they see into even better ideas.

This mental trait starts early with you recognizing patterns in things like language, faces and handwriting, but through experience you see connections between ideas and concepts in the world. They call this lateral thinking.

A good innovate leader will blend information from different sources to come up with solutions and products. If you want to get really good at this, you have to do this:

  • Look at lots of sources of data and ideas and seek out the associations.
  • Encourage those around you to do the same.
  • Question conventional thinking and constantly get into the habit of developing different theories on how you can do something better.

Predicting

Most people stare straight ahead and look for the obvious. That can leave you open to missed opportunities, allowing competition to jump on them instead…or take advantage of weaknesses that you have.

Great innovative leaders instead develop what is called peripheral vision. This is the ability to look not just ahead, but up and down the vertical you are working in and across into very different verticals.

Here are some tips to help you do that:

  • Try to find information that could change the way you do business or the way your industry does business.
  • Look past all of your current boundaries.
  • Create networks of people who are also looking out at the peripheral to help you scan for opportunities. These reciprocal relationships work best with people not in your industry. (cont … Geek Wire)

First Private Craft Docks With Space Station

In Business, Science on 26/05/2012 at 11:06

A robotic arm on the International Space Station grabbed onto a cargo capsule from the SpaceX spacecraft.

High above northwestern Australia, a robotic arm on the International Space Station grabbed onto a cargo capsule floating 10 meters away.

With that penultimate act, the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation of Hawthorne, Calif., or SpaceX, made history as the first private company to send a craft, the Dragon, to the station.

The grab — which NASA refers to as a grapple — occurred at 9:56 a.m. Eastern time on Friday.

“It looks like we’ve got us a Dragon by the tail,” said Donald R. Pettit, the NASA astronaut on the station who was operating the robotic arm.

Andre Kuipers, an European Space Agency astronaut, then took over the robotic arm to pull the Dragon to a docking port on the station, locking it there just after noon. After the hatches are opened on Saturday, the astronauts aboard the station will spend six days unloading the cargo brought up by the Dragon and replacing it with items to take back to Earth. The Dragon is to undock on Thursday and parachute into the Pacific Ocean off California.

SpaceX launched the Dragon capsule on top of its Falcon 9 rocket on Tuesday. The company and NASA spent several days conducting tests to check the Dragon’s operations. On Thursday, it flew 1.5 miles beneath the station to test its communication and navigation systems.

It passed those tests, then looped around the space station to begin its final approach. By design, the approach was slow, with built-in pauses. As part of the testing process, the crew sent commands to the capsule to stop or temporarily move away, ensuring that Dragon could be safely sent off if something went badly awry.

SpaceX did run into some difficulties with Dragon’s navigation sensors, one that took thermal images and one that bounced laser pulses, and that delayed the capture by a couple of hours.

“This is, I think, going to be recognized as a significantly historical step forward in space travel,” SpaceX’s chief executive, Elon Musk, said during a news conference. “Hopefully the first of many to come.” (cont … New York Times)

‘Faulty’ computer chip is 15x more efficient

In Science, Tech and Social Media on 25/05/2012 at 11:56

In terms of speed, energy consumption and size, inexact computer chips like this prototype, are about 15 times more efficient than today’s microchips. (Credit: Avinash Lingamneni/Rice University/CSEM)

RICE (US) —Researchers have created an “inexact” computer chip that’s super efficient, challenging the industry’s 50-year pursuit of accuracy.

The design improves power and resource efficiency by allowing for occasional errors. Scientists unveiled prototypes this week at the ACM International Conference on Computing Frontiers in Cagliari, Italy.

The research, which earned best-paper honors at the conference, was conducted by experts from Rice University, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Switzerland’s Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), and the University of California, Berkeley.

“It is exciting to see this technology in a working chip that we can measure and validate for the first time,” says project leader Krishna Palem, who also serves as director of the Rice-NTU Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID). “Our work since 2003 showed that significant gains were possible, and I am delighted that these working chips have met and even exceeded our expectations.”

This comparison shows frames produced with video-processing software on traditional processing elements (left), inexact processing hardware with a relative error of 0.54 percent (middle) and with a relative error of 7.58 percent (right). The inexact chips are smaller, faster and consume less energy. The chip that produced the frame with the most errors (right) is about 15 times more efficient in terms of speed, space and energy than the chip that produced the pristine image (left). (Credit: Rice University/CSEM/NTU)

ISAID is working in partnership with CSEM to create new technology that will allow next-generation inexact microchips to use a fraction of the electricity of today’s microprocessors.

“The paper received the highest peer-review evaluation of all the Computing Frontiers submissions this year,” says Paolo Faraboschi, the program co-chair of the ACM Computing Frontiers conference and a distinguished technologist at Hewlett Packard Laboratories. “Research on approximate computation matches the forward-looking charter of Computing Frontiers well, and this work opens the door to interesting energy-efficiency opportunities of using inexact hardware together with traditional processing elements.”

The concept is deceptively simple: Slash power use by allowing processing components—like hardware for adding and multiplying numbers—to make a few mistakes. By cleverly managing the probability of errors and limiting which calculations produce errors, the designers have found they can simultaneously cut energy demands and dramatically boost performance. (cont … Futurity.org)

IT Guru on Diversity and IT Paradox

In Business, Culture, Science, Tech and Social Media on 22/05/2012 at 22:13

This article is from 2011 and was originally published in Rolling Out magazine.  I thought it was worth posting here as well.

Social Media & IT Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Cultural Pundit and Global Citizen, Dadisi J. Olutosin, slowed his roll long enough for us to grab an espresso and ponder diversity in the IT industry. It was an eye-opening conversation that required a second espresso.

There is actually a lot of diversity in the IT economy. Look at it from the perspective of people who innovate, create, and distribute technology versus people who use them. If you look at it in the context of technology, people of color are definitely consumers of technology. But, by and large, we are not creators of technology.

Let’s look at Dr. Dre with this Beats Technology. I refer to him as the new Ray Dolby, creator of the DSS Dolby Sound System and in every country on earth he is getting paid perpetually. Dr. Dre just closed a $300 million dollar deal with Beats Audio. He, too, will be perpetually paid.

African Americans have to get out of this mindset that we have to be consumers. Trading up cell phones at every contract renewal or buying the new most popular app is straight consumerism and does nothing to promote diversity in the industry. Recently two young ladies from Spelman College won an AT&T competition for creating an app. Few knew, though, because there was very little media coverage or recognition in the Black community. I’m a Morehouse man, so I emphatically state this: why did this not spawn a consortium with Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark-Atlanta University where students create apps? A technology lab, of sorts. Here we were innovating and creating and no one bothered to move the ball down the field.

I can’t really say that the study of math and science not being priority in the Black community is the reason, either. Business ownership takes business skills. Accounting, finance, marketing and more. IT creators tend to not have those skills. They are similar to artists who use acrylics, chalk or photography, but their art is writing code. Once they create a code that does something unique, it’s time for recognition and feedback; their version of a gallery showing. What they need are business-people to help them take the code-created product to the next level because they don’t have the background, charisma, or know how to launch and sustain a product. (cont … Rolling Out)

New Planet Found in Our Solar System?

In Consider This, Science on 16/05/2012 at 10:42

Artist’s conception of a small icy object beyond Pluto (file picture).
Illustration courtesy G. Bacon, STScI/NASA

Odd orbits of remote objects hint at unseen world, new calculations suggest.

An as yet undiscovered planet might be orbiting at the dark fringes of thesolar system, according to new research.

Too far out to be easily spotted by telescopes, the potential unseen planet appears to be making its presence felt by disturbing the orbits of so-called Kuiper belt objects, said Rodney Gomes, an astronomer at the National Observatory of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

Kuiper belt objects are small icy bodies—including some dwarf planets—that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Once considered the ninth planet in our system, the dwarf planet Pluto, for example, is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects, at about 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) wide. Dozens of the other objects are hundreds of miles across, and more are being discovered every year.

(See “Three New ‘Plutos’? Possible Dwarf Planets Found.”)

What’s intriguing, Gomes said, is that, according to his new calculations, about a half dozen Kuiper belt objects—including the remote body known as Sedna—are in strange orbits compared to where they should be, based on existing solar system models. (Related: “Pluto Neighbor Gets Downsized.”)

The objects’ unexpected orbits have a few possible explanations, said Gomes, who presented his findings Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Timberline Lodge, Oregon.

“But I think the easiest one is a planetary-mass solar companion”—a planet that orbits very far out from the sun but that’s massive enough to be having gravitational effects on Kuiper belt objects.

Mystery Planet a Captured Rogue?

For the new work, Gomes analyzed the orbits of 92 Kuiper belt objects, then compared his results to computer models of how the bodies should be distributed, with and without an additional planet.

If there’s no distant world, Gomes concludes, the models don’t produce the highly elongated orbits we see for six of the objects.

How big exactly the planetary body might be isn’t clear, but there are a lot of possibilities, Gomes added.  (cont … National Geographic)

This well-known Egyptian symbol is actually an early math problem

In Culture, Science on 13/05/2012 at 15:00

The All Seeing Eye of Ra or Heru

Chances are you’ve seen this symbol before, because it’s one of the most well-known Egyptian symbols. It’s called the Eye of Horus. It’s been in the background of plenty of mummy movies, and been turned into a lot of necklace charms.

Some people think it’s writing. Actually, it’s math.

Top image: Jose Ignacio Soto/Shutterstock.com

The Eye of Horus is, from a design standpoint, both beautiful and iconic. And whoever created it might have been thinking of exactly that while dreaming it up. But it’s not just a stylish symbol. It has a deeper meaning: The Egyptians used it to express fractions of volume. Each stroke counts for a subdivided piece of the whole.

The inner corner of the eye indicates one half, the iris is one fourth, the eyebrow is one eighth, the outer corner of the eye is one sixteenth, and the decorations below the eye are one thirty-second and one sixty-fourth respectively. They were combined, in various ways, to measure the unit capacity for grains.

This eye may seem like a straightforward notation system, but it’s not just that. It’s also a pictogram. A good analog for this is a simple tally system kept by a child. Four slashes indicate units, and one diagonal slash across the four indicates a group of five. Look over a list, and it’s easier to get a sense of the different amounts that have been tallied than to read the numerals for all of them. (Similarly, some people in East Asia still use the character for “correct” as a kind of tally system.)

By using different marks to make a complete Eye of Horus, people in charge of many different quantities of something can skim a list quickly. And they can get a sense of how many storage units are at what capacity, just by looking for how many completed eyes there are, and whether the incomplete eyes are built from the inside out or the outside in. (cont … io9)

Taming The Wild Mind

In Science on 12/05/2012 at 23:29

Myths have developed around and researchers have studied how the human brain juggles creativity and organization. Popular theory tells us that the left brain is structured and logical, while the right brain is artistic and imaginative, and that all human beings use predominantly one side of the other.

Working in a creative field means challenging that theory, or else challenging the schedules and deadlines that managers impose on writers, designers and other creatives. As a project manager in a UX design agency, as well as a writer, I believe it is necessary to challenge both the assumptions about schedules and the belief that creativity implies disorganization.

Can Creativity Be Scheduled?

There’s a quick and easy answer to this question. Yes!

You’re shaking your head now. You’re thinking about how much you hate deadlines and how your designs suffer from the 9:00 to 5:00 schedule imposed by your manager. You’re remembering the sketches or creative writing you did in college at 3:00 in the morning. Sathish Manohar expresses it well in his article “Why 9 to 5”:

“Knowledge work solely depends on creativity of the workers. But, still some how, knowledge work-places got modeled around factories. Employees had to work 9-5, be creative between 9-5, and go home… This is a problem, We cannot schedule the brain to be creative at any given time.”

Yet I’ve spent years trying to merge my creative-writing personality with my project-management skill set and day job. Recently I realized that writing by the light of the moon results in over-caffeinated mornings and sloppy grammar, and still I continued—after all, isn’t that what creativity is all about? I’ve always been able to empathize with my designers, who want nothing more than free reign to be creative when the mood hits. But as a project manager, I also strive to create a working environment where designers and content strategists can be productive and efficient—and where we can deliver mockups on a deadline.

The solution turned out to be easier than you might expect. Spontaneous creativity is not the only way. In fact, as a content strategist, designer or even developer, you are paid for your ability to turn on the creative faucet. So, what goes into creating on command? (cont … Smashing Magazine)

Chinese Physicists Smash Distance Record For Teleportation

In Science, Tech and Social Media on 12/05/2012 at 19:18

The ability to teleport photons through 100 kilometres of free space opens the way for satellite-based quantum communications, say researchers

Teleportation is the extraordinary ability to transfer objects from one location to another without travelling through the intervening space.

The idea is not that the physical object is teleported but the information that describes it. This can then be applied to a similar object in a new location which effectively takes on the new identity.

And it is by no means science fiction. Physicists have been teleporting photons since 1997 and the technique is now standard in optics laboratories all over the world.

The phenomenon that makes this possible is known as quantum entanglement,  the deep and mysterious link that occurs when two quantum objects share the same existence and yet are separated in space.

Teleportation turns out to be extremely useful. Because teleported information does not travel through the intervening space, it cannot be secretly accessed by an eavesdropper.

For that reason, teleportation is the enabling technology behind quantum cryptography, a way of sending information with close-to-perfect secrecy.

Unfortunately, entangled photons are fragile objects. They cannot travel further than a kilometre or so down optical fibres because the photons end up interacting with the glass breaking the entanglement. That severely limits quantum cryptography’s usefulness.

However, physicists have had more success teleporting photons through the atmosphere. In 2010, a Chinese team announced that it had teleported single photons over a distance of 16 kilometres. Handy but not exactly Earth-shattering.

Now the same team says it has smashed this record. Juan Yin at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai, and a bunch of mates say they have teleported entangled photons over a distance of 97 kilometres across a lake in China. (cont … MIT Technology Review)

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