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Jun 23, 2012 at 7:30
I am told that I was out of line a few evenings ago when, in conversation with a lady next to me at a formal dinner, I brought up the subject of the Canadian Government’s undeclared war on science. Apparently such talk implies that I support climate change arguments. Getting from the withholding of real census information, to the sacking of civil servants whose job it has been to ‘defend plants’ (the literal translation from the French), to the suppression of talk from marine biologists, and from there to climate change...is a strange leap, especially for a lady who is scientifically trained herself.
It reminded me of the weird world we have got ourselves into and how science and engineering seem to be have been relegated to second-class status for so many. We make a lot of noise about how few women are seeking careers in the sciences, but that is only the tip of the iceberg; the truth is that in developed countries science is becoming too tough a path for the vast majority of graduates reg...
Jun 17, 2012 at 2:41
There’s a lot of moaning and hand-wringing whenever gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon. But all it would take for them to hit $10 a gallon overnight would be hurricanes wiping out a couple of refineries or saboteurs disabling a couple of pipelines.
The United States is still almost completely reliant on finite fossil fuels, which are rapidly being depleted. We should be following a plan now that transitions us to sustainable energy sources but, believe or not, there is no plan.
The country faces oil shortages, international security turmoil and expanding environmental impacts and our entire future hinges on a sustainable energy plan. A crisis will impact our whole quality of life. It’s not just gasoline: petroleum products are used in pharmaceuticals, plastics, things we rely on every day. The time to put together a plan is now – not when we’re in crisis.
After studying the details of the nation’s looming energy crisis I have drafted a detailed plan that is systematic, non-t...
Jun 17, 2012 at 1:35
You will (almost) never find a link to a Wikipedia article in the pages of EN-Genius. We regard that site and its contents as a laudable goal for knowledge, but one that is permanently damaged by the ability of any one and everyone to modify its contents. That was clearly shown by Stephen Colbert when he has caused problems on the site, spectacularly so when he decided to believe that George Washington never kept slaves and that his viewers could edit any entry about elephants to indicate that the population had tripled. He was blocked from the site in what seemed to be a search for additional publicity for Wikipedia.
But what of the multitude of other errors that are out there? It is like reading a newspaper story in which you are familiar with the details; the inaccuracies always annoy, but you doubtless don’t spend all that much effort in trying to correct them. With Wikipedia, I find the same: when I know the people, or the technology, or the place, the errors and deliberate slants are excruciating...
Jun 17, 2012 at 1:15
Competition is fierce in the tech startup space, yet few venues showcase new talent quite like Plug and Play's quarterly EXPO. At the beginning of June over 500 attendees poured into Plug and Play Tech Center's Sunnyvale headquarters to watch new tech startups compete. The event also featured a VC Panel with Ajay Agarwal, Jim Barnett, Kamran Elahian, and Sumeet Jain. Robert Goldberg of Zynga gave the keynote and VIP judges hailed from companies like Adobe, Cisco, GoDaddy.com, Honda, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Warner Brothers, and Yahoo!
"Imagine what American Idol would look like if it were looking for the best tech startups instead of pop singers; that's pretty much what Plug and Play's EXPO is," said Saeed Amidi, CEO and Co-Founder of the startup accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center. "We look for entrepreneurs from all over the world; they submit their companies; we choose thirty of the best; they audition before our audience; and our judges vote to decide who wins."
Jun 10, 2012 at 2:54
You step off the plane, weary from a long flight. As you walk through the terminal, you can’t believe your eyes. The airport is immaculate with walkways as wide as roadways and not a speck of litter anywhere. As you move deeper into the terminal, you see a butterfly garden, an outdoor swimming pool, playground equipment, a four-story slide, napping rooms, spa treatments, and entertainment venues including movie theaters and video-gaming stations. Airport employees eagerly greet you with smiles and ask how they can help.
Have you stumbled upon some air traveler’s mirage? Is this an illusion in the familiar airport desert of grim décor, stressed out passengers, rude counter agents, and crowded gate areas? No, this oasis of pleasure is what things are really like at Changi Airport in Singapore: and it’s the perfect illustration of what service can (and should) look like in our global economy.
Consider how frustrating service can be in airports today. Typically, passengers are focused o...
Jun 10, 2012 at 2:41
Our house has a huge Southern aspect roof, but a rudimentary calculation has shown me that unless I could secure a solar panel system with at least 25% efficiency, there is insufficient area to feed anything approaching the 15 kVA that is necessary for a normally operating household in moderate weather. So, for the moment, the roof remains blank. And that is probably the case for most of us – however much we would like to join the green revolution.
Now, though, we have the prospect of powering our houses using the windows. A number of companies have been working on technologies that allow for semi-transparent solar glazing using dye-sensitized thin films including Sony, Konarka, Oxford Photovoltaics, and Solaronix. There have also been companies working on polymer voltaics, including Konarka (again), New Energy Technologies, and Eight19. Both these sets of photovoltaic technology could provided conversion efficiencies of 10-11% and there have been hints that MIT and Ensol (Norway) also have other poten...
Jun 1, 2012 at 9:31
Some years ago I was invited to the original Bell Labs for several one-on-one technology demonstrations. At one of those I was introduced to the voice recognition software that now dominates in the North American telephony marketplace. In my interactions it was rather a disaster as the system was seriously confused by my accent – or lack of one…
My experience of such systems has not improved much over the years and I have learnt to push DTMF keys as a better alternative to getting frustrated verbally telling systems what I want. The availability of the service agent (digital assistant) Siri on the iPhone has not therefore been the killer feature that perhaps Apple thought it should be for potential customers like me.
The name Siri is not one of those computer-generated names like Allegis (United Airlines' ill-conceived, and very temporary, name change in 1987) but is derived from Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface, developed by Siri Inc and acquired by Apple in April 2010. The soft...
Jun 1, 2012 at 9:20
The national mood remains anxious, worried. We have millions of Americans out of work, many of them Baby Boomers who’ve seen what they worked for these past 30 years disappear: a predictable career, financial security, home equity, retirement savings. The foundation they’ve worked so hard to build seems to have collapsed before their very eyes.
“They feel lost. They see hedge-funders and investment bankers as having hijacked the American Dream from the middle class,” says Peter Weddle, former CEO of Job Bank USA, Inc., and author of A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream.
“Boomers – and all working Americans, for that matter – feel as if all of the opportunity has been sucked out of the land of opportunity, and they don’t know how or even if they can succeed in this changed world.”
But America is still the leader of the global economy and its future is as bright as it ever was, Weddle says. Why? Because Americans are i...