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Sep 28, 2012 at 10:34
I never met Richard Feynman but I am glad to say that I played a small role in preserving what he had to say, especially stories about events in his past. When I was in college in the late 1960s, I encountered Feynman’s physics books. As a scientifically-serious youth, I was somewhat taken aback by a picture in the foreword of the book of Feynman playing bongo drums. What kind of a physicist could this be, I wondered to myself? My first impression of Feynman was negative; he didn’t come across as a serious scientist.
As decades rolled by I encountered people who had taken a course from Feynman, usually at CalTech. Julian Noble, himself a physics professor when he was living, was one of them. My longstanding friend Walter Thorson, a theoretical chemist who went the MIT-CalTech route through school and taught for many years at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, is another. In one of our roving discussions I recall Walter telling me about Feynman’s teaching style and his ability to do cont...
Sep 10, 2012 at 7:52
It is always interesting to see how an engineering site on the web – EN-Genius, of course – compares to the world at large in what slices of technology we prefer to use compared to ‘normal’ people.
The most recent numbers to be given out by Net Applications highlight the fact that Apple’s OS X operating system has finally overtaken Microsoft’s Windows Vista in the market place, with Vista falling in use rather than OS X claiming more share; Mountain Lion (10.8) has, however, grabbed very quickly about 1.3% of web users. Most of that is attributed to updates from people moving from Lion (10.7), rather than new Apple purchases, although Lion itself still accounts for 2.3% of web use. With Mountain Lion, Lion, and the earlier Leopard (10.6) combined the total OS X presence is now 6.5% with Vista down to just over 6%. (The much earlier Tiger – 10.4 – still accounts for a small percentage of users and I have heard some horror stories in recent weeks of attempted upg...
Sep 10, 2012 at 7:47
Years ago, I found myself on the campus of the state University in Minneapolis, and at the wrong time of year to be there: in January. The occasion was a meeting with Aldert (not Albert) van der Ziel, by then a very retired EE professor who was a leading expert on electrical noise. Aldert showed up wearing the appropriate attire for the cold winter in Minnesota and we trudged slowly up the stairwell of the building where he retained a presence, past what looked like a high-voltage laboratory and into a spacious office – or was it another laboratory? – with a large Faraday cage and long wooden tables with many books, journals, and papers. Aldert proceeded to dig into his ‘piling system’ for a reference to whatever we were discussing: it wasn’t noise.
Well into his seventies, Aldert moved and talked slowly but his countenance reflected a youthful mind. I knew of him in another connection than his pioneering work on noise…...
Sep 4, 2012 at 1:26
Going to war has been a fairly ‘civilized’ process, in the main, for many hundreds of years. One king, or other controller of territory, material goods, mining rights, or even family, would make their demands on another party, give a deadline, and then go to war if the demands were not met. Sometimes, perhaps more often than we care to admit, the casus belli has been falsely created to satisfy the general public: an archduke’s assassination, perhaps, or claims of weapons of mass destruction, or a faked attack on a naval vessel in Cuba or Vietnam…
But what of the war that is not ‘official’ and has been created by surreptitious means? That certainly seems to be the case of the triangle that has been created by Israel, Iran, and the United States. We, the general public, obviously have no real idea about the precise state of Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The technology behind a nuclear device is known to millions, of course, and the stages involved in taking u...
Aug 25, 2012 at 4:44
Few people would have the cojones to try and get a car manufacturing enterprise going at this time. We often talk about the cost of entry for a company that would like to get into the semiconductor fabrication business today, but vehicle production is also way up there in gambling somebody’s money away.
Fisker Automotive was founded in Southern California (Anaheim) in 2007 by Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler. Koehler is the business partner while Fisker is a renowned automobile designer, including architecting the beautiful Aston Martin DB9. Fisker’s first car, the Karma, was unveiled in 2008 but through various hiccups did not go on sale until December 2011. Although heralded as an ‘American’ vehicle it is, in fact, currently manufactured in Finland. The hybrid Karma has a turbo-charged back-up gas engine but the batteries are also rechargeable from a wall socket and the car has an extremely sporty set of specifications. The vehicle has won the Top Gear boys’ Luxury Car of th...
Aug 18, 2012 at 4:45
Some years ago I was the Director of Sales & Marketing at a broadcast equipment manufacturer in Goleta, CA (a suburb of Santa Barbara). One of our products – still in production – was, for that time, a relatively sophisticated remote control system. It was quite easy to configure quite complex systems but when a large project came along it was inevitable that the dealers who had been invited to quote would come to the factory to get the system fine tuned and to get their overall cost pricing confirmed.
It was not unusual to see the same system requested by three or four dealers and although we knew we would be earning the business we had to wait and see whose tender was accepted by the end user. There was, unfortunately, one rotten apple in the barrel (from Texas) and his quotations were excruciatingly close to his cost price. It was a strange way of doing business (just burning through money – his mother’s money, apparently) and it didn’t take many of these silly quotes &nd...
Aug 18, 2012 at 4:42
Since former President George W. Bush amped up standardized testing throughout the nation in 2002 with the No Child Left Behind Act, critics say results have been negative.
The bottom line is that there is no clear correlation between standardized testing and the knowledge and skills kids will need to prosper in the 21st century world of work. It seems we’re more interested in creating a homogenized workforce than a nation of individuals who have learned what their talent is and how to bring it to work with them.
Consider these statistics:
Annual state spending on standardized tests has increased by 160% – from $423 million in 2002 to $1.1 billion in 2008, according to the Pew Center on the States;
Since 2002, the United States dropped from 18th in the world in math on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to 31st place in 2009, with a similar drop in science and no change in reading;
The NCLB Act has drastically narrowed content, according to a study...
Aug 3, 2012 at 12:43
Too often, organizations promise satisfaction to external customers and then allow internal politics to frustrate their employees’ good intentions to deliver. It’s important to remember that your customers aren’t the only ones who come through your organization’s door every day seeking quality service. Your coworkers and leaders also need to be served. If they’re not happy, it’s not likely they’ll deliver stellar service, and the same goes for you. Inevitably, difficult people will creep into your work life, disturbing your, your colleagues’, and your leaders’ workflow and negatively affecting the service you all provide your customers.
At some point, we’re all viewed by our colleagues as the organization’s ‘difficult person.’ That’s why it’s important that we find a way to provide uplifting service internally all the time…even (and especially!) when difficult situations arise so internal tiffs don’t lead t...
Aug 3, 2012 at 12:38
Growing numbers of Americans are changing their relationship with religion, recent Pew Research Center polls indicate.
Consider the stats:
44% of US adults have either switched religious affiliation, or report “no affiliation”
More than 16% report they are unaffiliated with a religion; that includes those who are spiritual but not religious, and agnostics and atheists
28% have switched from the religion in which they were raised
A full-bodied understanding of the truth does not necessarily come neatly packaged in the form of a church or a scientific theory. With science developing new concepts about the nature of reality; changing attitudes in institutional religions, and widespread sharing on the Internet, more believers are creating their own spiritual narrative – one that makes more sense to them. Scandals involving sex and money in Christian denominations, which account for more than 78% of the faithful in America, have contributed to religious shifting.
Jul 28, 2012 at 9:25
Great coaches take into consideration an athlete’s talent and heart when they’re building a team, but they consider group dynamics, too.
It’s not just a matter of getting the fastest, strongest and smartest players on your side. If you’re building a championship team, you’re gauging how the individual athletes fit together; how their personalities, talents, drive and abilities will mesh to meet the team’s goals. It’s exactly what you need to do to build a winning corporate team. As Michael Jordan, put it, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
In the 2011 film Moneyball, Coach Billy Beane picks his players based on analysis and evidence. He doesn’t ever just ‘go with his gut.’
Here are some key points for building a successful, effective team:
Lead with a team, not a group: A team of leaders behaves very differently than a group of leaders. Many companies don’t know the difference. It comes d...