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I put forward at once — lest I break with my style, which is affirmative and deals with contradiction and criticism only as a means, only involuntarily — the three tasks for which educators are required. One must learn to see, one must learn to think, one must learn to speak and write: the goal in all three is a noble culture. Learning to see — accustoming the eye to calmness, to patience, to letting things come up to it; postponing judgment, learning to go around and grasp each individual case from all sides. That is the first preliminary schooling for spirituality: not to react at once to a stimulus, but to gain control of all the inhibiting, excluding instincts. Learning to see, as I understand it, is almost what, unphilosophically speaking, is called a strong will: the essential feature is precisely not to “will” — to be able to suspend decision. All unspirituality, all vulgar commonness, depend on the inability to resist a stimulus: one must react, one follows every impulse. In many cases, such a compulsion is already pathology, decline, a symptom of exhaustion — almost everything that unphilosophical crudity designates with the word “vice” is merely this physiological inability not to react. A practical application of having learned to see: as a learner, one will have become altogether slow, mistrustful, recalcitrant. One will let strange, new things of every kind come up to oneself, inspecting them with hostile calm and withdrawing one’s hand. To have all doors standing open, to lie servilely on one’s stomach before every little fact, always to be prepared for the leap of putting oneself into the place of, or of plunging into, others and other things — in short, the famous modern “objectivity” — is bad taste, is ignoble par excellence.
For one cannot subtract dancing in every form from a noble education — to be able to dance with one’s feet, with concepts, with words: need I still add that one must be able to dance with the pen too — that one must learn to write?
Executive Director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute, Professor Will Steffen, takes us on a journey through the science measuring humanity’s effect on the planet. Using tangible, real measures, Will shows us the profound change in the planet since the Industrial Revolution and argues that now, more than at any other time, humanity is the single most influential factor in global changes; so much so that we should recognise that now is the age of mankind – The Anthropocene.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to sway a climate-change denialist, but regardless, it’s an excellent overview of this important theory.
This BBC Horizon documentary, Are We Still Evolving? is an excellent overview of the current research into evolution in general, continuing human evolution and genetic engineering. It does stop short of the really interesting implications though; with radical technological change affecting the selection criteria, will we see an explosion in human evolution in the coming generations? We’ll soon find out.
Meanwhile, Danish researchers are attempting to create ‘cyborg DNA’, adding an extra strand to create a triple helix. Yep, things haven’t even started to get interesting yet.
Mr Matthew Plymale, student of Computer Engineering at Concordia University in Montreal, has sent in a most interesting submission:
Background: Engineering is evolving to acknowledge several facts: that engineers have multi-disciplinary skills, that those skills can benefit people already working in other fields, that engineers place great emphasis on the integrity of their professional practice on a global scale, that engineers have ethical and social responsibilities for their creations, and that engineers can be agents of change. These changes are causing engineers (and engineering education) to look beyond the textbook, to the world outside, and causing them to make themselves available for potentially radical projects without corporate interest or backing.
Engineers can build it for you
There has always been an unspoken battle of ideas between scientists and engineers. From the scientist’s perspective, the scientist comes up with the theoretical and experimental foundations for technology, while the engineer simply turns that work into money. From the engineer’s perspective, the scientist thinks about doing great things, but it takes an engineer to do them. The scientist prides himself in making things make sense. the engineer prides himself in making things work. Part of the animosity stems from the fact that scientists tend to work at universities, and engineers tend to work in corporations or consulting firms.
Recently, there has been a push in engineering education to impose the desire upon the engineer to expand beyond his specific field, and make connections. Economics can be modeled by artificial agents; The risk of a medical device to malfunction can be modeled with numerical methods; Start-ups can benefit from engineering processes to quickly get organized. The drive to make those connections used to come from entrepreneurs who could stand to make a buck from marketing that knowledge. Increasingly, we see engineers taking their knowledge on the road, to build networks, stir people to action and enable change. Unfortunately, engineers tend to be a quiet bunch, preferring to bow out of policy-making and protest-organizing.
We left it to the hobby-makers and high-tinkerers to come up with innovative gadgets use and languages to speak with. But what we used to relegate to the weekend project is now becoming sorely needed. While it seems the desire for change and tools to enact that change is stronger than ever, the change agents of today don’t seem to know how to get there. They are experimenting with different methods, some radical and some subtle. Engineers can no longer isolate themselves from the quickening pace outside.
The engineer does not necessarily care how you feel about a topic. He wants to know what you need.
“I need a global communication grid.” ”Done.”
“I need something to protect me from Big Brother” ”Take this, now they can’t track you”
“I need some cyborg wings” ”Do you prefer a matte or gloss finish?”
Part of the problem is that engineers do not advertise themselves very well. The same technology I use to build a multiplayer game can be used to send encrypted messages to and from oppressed dissidents. I have to take responsibility for the fact that my creations have a broader impact, whether good or bad. I am ready to take on that responsibility (it is written into our code), and until now, I thought other people would ask me to build those tools. Maybe the best approach is to build it and send it out into the world, and hope it is picked up by the people who need it?
If you find yourself with a challenge involving politics, economics, medicine, AND human rights, maybe you should ask an engineer. Because we can build it for you.
* Title Credit goes to Phillip K. Dick (author of “We can build you” and “We can remember it for you wholesale”)
I like this. I like this a lot! I am very fond of the work being done by Geeks Without Bounds for the same reasons. Thank you, Matthew.
One more step to make printed college textbooks a thing of the past:
New technology will give burn patients a higher fighting chance to prevent infection and recover with less scaring.
We’ve heard about the spray-on skin gun back in 2008 but we didn’t think it’d become this real, this useful, this fast. Though it is still technically in an experimental stage, the skin gun has already successfully treated over a dozen burn victims. The way it works is by using stem cells from the patient’s healthy skin and mixing it with a solution to come up with the spray paint. And combined with that fancy gun, the rest is easy. Doctors say “skin cell spraying is like paint spraying”.
The only big factor missing in the lack of gravity:
It sounds crazy, but 233 days ago a team of six scientists entered a sealed simulator in Russia. Their mission? Recreate the conditions of a 520-day round trip to and from Mars, realistically cutoff from the rest of the world. Come February they’ll finally reach the Red Planet, but the hardest part of the journey will still be ahead.
The experiment, called Mars500, is going down in a windowless isolation chamber within the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, with a team composed of three Russians, a fellow from France, one from China, and an Italian-Colombian. Communication is delayed just as it would be if the team was traveling further and further away from Earth for real; email and video messaging are the prime ways to exchange words even though the simulator is surrounded by a team of researchers, unseen by those inside. The team eats the kind of meals you’d find on the International Space Station and typically only enjoys showers weekly.
This shows an early incarnation of the Sporenspiel, a glockenspiel which is automatically played based on the amount of spores falling from a mushroom in real time.
Railroad cars carrying some 123 tons of nuclear waste glow red-hot in an infrared picture taken in Valognes (map), France, in November and released by Greenpeace International as part of an antinuclear-power campaign that included arranging protests that delayed the train’s progress.
The train is hauling a so-called CASTOR convoy, named after the type of container carried: Cask for Storage and Transport Of Radioactive material. These trademarked casks have been used since 1995 to transport nuclear waste from German power plants to France for reprocessing, then back to Germany for storage.
“High-level waste is in fact hot,” said nuclear energy and proliferation expert Matthew Bunn. “It doesn’t mean anything in particular in terms of how dangerous it is.”
This 30min documentary covers not just the origin of the Arduino, but how it’s helped create the MakerBot (which is getting a lot of attention at CES) and other interesting designs in hackerspaces across the globe.http://www.vimeo.com/18539129
via Mark Pesce
The QR cloud project is a recent temporary installation by the amsterdam based design group golfstromen. The project began in july 2009 and is still running in the west end of their city. the project consists of embedded QR codes in the urban environment, linking to pieces of artwork. the project features seven large QR codes that when photographed on a web-ready cell phone link viewers to small stories, poems or proverbs by dutch writers and poets. Each written piece was commissioned for the project as a short inspirational message to users. The QR codes were placed on a soon to be demolished building and focus on making the public aware of QR codes in contexts outside advertising.
Picture and words from DesignBoom.
Syuzi, from FashioningTech explains:
The Binary Glove, by game designer Pete Hawkes, is a fun interactive gaming wearable that teaches you a bit about bits. Each fingertip represents a bit value in a simple binary sequence 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 and is fitted with a pressure sensor that turns each bit on and off. The LCD displays the sum total of the sequence along with each value in the sequence.
The main factors behind loss of biodiversity are the degradation and destruction of natural habitats, climate change and overexploitation of biological resources. Changes in land use, brought on for instance by urbanization or the conversion of equatorial forest into pasture and arable land, is therefore the principal threat to biodiversity.
Keim, director of NAU’s Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics and division director of Translational Genomics Research Institute, said that while the plague is less of a threat to humans than at other periods in history, such as the Middle Ages, the current plague research can be applied to ongoing health threats around the world.
This type of DNA fingerprinting can be used to characterize both natural and nefarious plague outbreaks — which is crucial when a bacterium is used as a biological weapon.
“This work is more of a model for our control of epidemic diseases such as Salmonella, E. coli and influenza,” Keim said. “Plague took advantage of human commercial traffic on a global scale, just as the flu and food-borne diseases do today. Future epidemiologists can learn from this millennium-scale reconstruction of a devastating disease to prevent or control future infectious disease outbreaks.”