THE STATE OF THE FUTURE - March 12, 2015 UPDATES - via @AndresAgostini
Google Secretly Working On Big Virtual Reality
Google GOOGL -2.36% is secretly working on a major virtual reality project, much bigger than previously thought, as part of efforts to take on Facebook, Microsoft MSFT -1.84% and mobile handset makers in that technology.
The search giant is employing a number of engineers to focus exclusively on developing a specific version of the Android mobile OS to support VR applications, according to reports.
In VR, Google could be seen as a little off the pace, having only released a relatively basic viewing device called Cardboard. Facebook, which last year bought virtual reality firm Oculus for $2 billion, is many months into its work to develop VR-backed communications. Samsung has also teamed up with Oculus for a mobile version of the tech, and Sony has developed its own Morpheus headset. Elsewhere, Microsoft is well into developing a VR device linking the real world and simulated data.
Google is reportedly expected to put some significant resources behind VR as the revenue opportunities begin to clarify. It has invested heavily in other areas where it sees revenue potential, including smart contact lenses, technology to support people with Parkinson’s, balloon powered Internet for remote areas, and of course self driving cars.
For the VR-supporting version of Android, Google has so far employed dozens of engineers dedicated to initial work, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quotes unnamed staff working on the project. Crucially, in order to gain quick adoption, the system would be made freely available as with existing versions of Android, the report notes. Google has not officially commented on its plans.
The potential for selling to consumers and businesses is evident. For consumers, virtual reality could offer the ability to communicate much more immersively (one of Facebook’s initial aims in this area), as well as powering impressive video game, retail, cinematic and sports viewing experiences.
In business, there are clear opportunities for different industries. Surgeons could perform operations remotely and engineers could make repairs offsite. Manufacturing staff could produce goods outside of their own factory, controlling machines remotely while seeing the objects in front of them. The training applications are endless, too, especially for military and civil aviation flight simluations. In education, colleges and schools can provide a remote immersive experience, while media businesses could further increase the impact of news reports and entertainment.
Miya Knights, senior research analyst at IDC Retail Insights, tells Forbes that Google’s reported efforts could “add competition and drive speed of development” in the virtual reality market. Google could also have a development advantage given its search, mobile OS, mapping technology, geolocation-based navigation, and shopping services.
However, the benefits could still be some time off, and VR remains “an answer desperately looking for a question” as industries seek use cases, according to Spencer Izard, European head at the retail analyst house.
“VR would provide an ability for consumers at home or in stores where certain stock items are not available to see a product represented in a 3D form that allows the customer to better understand it,” he says. “However, that is a very specific use case and I would question whether it would see mainstream adoption by consumers.”
One area that could change adoption is the blending of two types of technology, a kind of augmented virtual reality, in which people wearing a VR headset see information and images overlaid on what is in front of them. Last year Google invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company that is developing such a device.
With such technology, VR could be used to deliver Google-powered navigation, Knights explains, as well as “personalized and timely offers, physically showing nearby restaurants or stores a person might like, in their view as they shop.”
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Nuclear weapons. The unkicked addiction. Despite optimistic attempts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, the threat they pose to peace is growing
IN JANUARY 2007 Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn—two Republican secretaries of state, a Democratic defence secretary and a Democratic head of the Senate Armed Services Committee—called for a global effort to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. The ultimate goal, they wrote in the Wall Street Journal, should be to remove the threat such weapons pose completely. The article generated an astonishing response. Long seen as drippily Utopian, the idea of getting rid of nuclear weapons was suddenly taken on by think-tankers, academics and all sorts of very serious people in the nuclear-policy business. The next year a pressure group, Global Zero, was set up to campaign for complete nuclear disarmament. Its aims were endorsed by scores of government leaders, present and past, and hundreds of thousands of citizens.
In April 2009 Barack Obama, speaking in Prague, promised to put weapons reduction back on the table and, by dealing peacefully but firmly with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to give new momentum to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Processes could now be set in train, he said, that would lead to the worldwide renunciation of nuclear weapons within a generation. This speech, along with his ability not to be George W. Bush, was a key factor in landing Mr Obama the Nobel peace prize a few months later.
The following year he returned to Prague to sign an arms agreement with Russia, New START, which capped the number of deployed strategic warheads allowed to each side at 1,550. His co-signatory, Russia’s then president, Dmitry Medvedev, had endorsed Global Zero’s aims. A month later the NPT’s quinquennial review conference agreed a 64-point plan intended to reinforce the treaty’s three mutually supportive legs: the promise that all countries can share in the non-military benefits of nuclear technology; the agreement by non-weapons states not to become weapons states; and the commitment of the weapons states to pursue nuclear disarmament. There were hopes that, when the parties to the NPT met again in May 2015, there would be substantial progress to report.
Alas, no. Mr Obama’s agreement with Iran remains possible, even likely—but it will hardly be one that energises the cause of a nuclear-free world (see article). Iran will continue to sit close to the nuclear threshold, retaining an ability to enrich uranium which, if it were to withdraw from the agreement, would allow it to create a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade material in about a year. That is more than the current estimated breakout period of three months, and long enough, it is felt, for America and its allies to mount a response, should it come to that. But it is hardly a huge step back from the threshold, or forward for peace.
And the Iran deal is pretty much the only item on 2010’s list of high hopes that has got anywhere at all. The chilling of relations between America and Russia over Ukraine has resulted in cooperation on nuclear security measures being suspended, while promised follow-on measures relating to New START have been quietly abandoned. Vladimir Putin, Mr Medvedev’s predecessor and successor, takes every opportunity to laud his country’s nuclear prowess, and is committing a third of Russia’s booming military budget to bolstering it.
It is not the only power investing in its nukes (see table). America is embarking on a $348-billion decade-long modernisation programme. Britain is about to commit to modernising its forces, as well, while France is halfway through the process. China is investing heavily in a second-strike capability. In short, there has been no attempt to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the military and security doctrines of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, despite their commitments under the NPT. An initiative aimed at making nuclear weapons illegal under international humanitarian law, backed by over 150 NPT signatory countries, has attracted little to no support from the weapons states and only lip service from countries which welcome America’s nuclear protection.
READ MORE. http://linkis.com/www.economist.com/ne/zSg8O
Big Data's Dark Side
don’t mean to pick on big data. All technology has a dark side, if you let it loose. Mobile devices can be leashes or liberators (speaking as someone who once took his laptop to spring training, I count them as the latter). Sometimes I think security devices trip up the people they’re trying to protect more than they stymie the hackers they’re trying to target.
Arguably, most of my time here is spent promoting the value that big data provides. So when I start highlighting its limitations, it’s not that I want you think of a haunting, mellifluous voice cajoling, “Come to the dark side, Luuuuuuuke.” It’s that I want to point out things to think about so that we can be aware of those limitations, and thereby sidestep or overcome them.
Forbes columnist Steve Andriole concurs with this philosophy, I suspect. In his recent piece, Unstructured Data: The Other Side of Analytics, he writes, “‘Big data analytics’ is already a cult (like so many cults we’ve seen before). The data Gods are angry, my friends, and they’re pouring data onto us so fast that it’s impossible to avoid being buried alive – or so the pundits and consultants would have us believe.”
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The little engine that could. Downsizing to a car with a smaller engine is being made easier by the latest turbochargers. They can transform a standard four-cylinder engine into a much more powerful motor
FRUGAL four-cylinder engines used to be found only in the cheapest cars. But today they are being fitted to even luxury models. What has made them more acceptable—indeed, desirable—is the development of advanced turbochargers that cram more air than normal into the fixed volume of their cylinders, allowing the engines to burn proportionally more fuel. The result is a compact unit that punches way above its weight in terms of power and torque, a turning force which makes that power available at lower revs. These engines also provide better fuel economy and emit less pollution.
A turbocharger works by tapping the hot exhaust gas from the engine to spin a small turbine which, in turn, drives an equally small air compressor. For higher performance, an intercooler is sometimes placed between the compressor and the engine’s inlet manifold. This lowers the temperature of the compressed air and raises its density still further. In general, a turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine can deliver the power and torque of a naturally aspirated 3-litre six-cylinder unit. By the same token, a turbocharged V6 can be more than a match for a conventional V8.
Turbochargers are not to be confused with superchargers, made famous by the 4.5-litre Blower Bentleys of the 1920s. While they serve broadly the same purpose—to squeeze more air into an engine—they function differently. A supercharger does not rely on an exhaust-driven turbine but is driven directly by the engine. Superchargers are better in one respect: they do not suffer from “turbo lag” (the time taken for a turbocharger to spool up to speed). The disadvantage is that a supercharger robs the engine of power and, thermodynamically, it is nowhere near as efficient.
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Global banks. A world of pain. The giants of global finance are in trouble
ONLY pop music and pornography embraced globalisation more keenly than banks did. Since the 1990s three kinds of international firm have emerged. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs deal in securities and cater to the rich from a handful of financial hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore. A few banks, such as Spain’s Santander, have “gone native”, establishing a deep retail-banking presence in multiple countries. But the most popular approach is the “global network bank”: a jack of all trades, lending to and shifting money for multinationals in scores of countries, and in some places acting like a universal bank doing everything from bond-trading to car loans. The names of the biggest half-dozen such firms adorn skyscrapers all over the world.
This model of the global bank had a reasonable crisis in 2008-09: only Citigroup required a full-scale bail out. Yet it is now in deep trouble. In recent weeks Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, has been forced to field questions about breaking up his bank. Stuart Gulliver, the head of HSBC, has abandoned the financial targets that he set upon taking the job in 2011. Citigroup is awaiting the results of its annual exam from the Federal Reserve. If it fails, calls for a mercy killing will be deafening (see next story). Deutsche Bank is likely to shrink further. Standard Chartered, which operates in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is parting company with its longstanding boss, Peter Sands.
The panic about global banks reflects their weak recent results: in aggregate the five firms mentioned above reported a return on equity of just 6% last year. Only JPMorgan Chase did passably well (see chart). Investors worry these figures betray a deeper strategic problem. There is a growing fear that the costs of global reach—in terms of regulation and complexity—exceed the potential benefits.
It all seemed far rosier 20 years ago. Back then banks saw that globalisation would lead to an explosion in trade and capital flows. A handful of firms sought to capture that growth. Most had inherited skeleton global networks of some kind. European lenders such as BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank had been active abroad for over a century. HSBC and Standard Chartered were bankers to the British empire. Citigroup embarked on a big international expansion a century ago; Chase, now part of JPMorgan Chase, opened many foreign branches in the 1960s and 1970s.
As they expanded in the 1990s and 2000s all of these firms concentrated on multinationals, which required things like trade finance, currency trading and cash management. But all expanded beyond these activities to varying degrees and in different directions; today they typically account for only a quarter of sales. Deutsche and StanChart bulked up in investment banking. BNP built up retail operations in America. At the most extreme end of the spectrum Citi and HSBC tried to do everything for everyone everywhere, through lots of acquisitions. They sold derivatives in Delhi and originated subprime debt in Detroit.
This model is in trouble for three reasons. First, these giant firms proved hard to manage. Their subsidiaries struggled to build common IT systems, let alone establish a common culture. Synergies have been elusive and global banks’ cost-to-income ratios, bloated by the costs of being in lots of countries, have rarely been better than those of local banks. As a result these firms have all too often been tempted to make a fast buck. Citi made a kamikaze excursion into mortgage-backed bonds in 2005-08. StanChart made loans to indebted Asian tycoons.
Second, competition proved to be fiercer than expected. The banking bubble in the 2000s led second-rate firms such as Barclays, Société Générale, ABN Amro and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to expand globally, eroding margins. In 2007 RBS bought ABN in a bid to rival the big network banks. It promptly went bust, proving that two dogs do not make a tiger. The global giants also lost market share in Asia to so-called “super-regional” banks, such as ANZ of Australia and DBS of Singapore. Big local banks in emerging markets, such as ICBC in China, Itaú in Brazil and ICICI in India, also began to build out cross-border operations.
If mismanagement and fierce competition were problems before the crisis, the regulatory backlash after it has been brutal. American officials have begun to enforce strict rules on money-laundering, tax evasion and sanctions, meaning that global banks must know their customers, and their customers’ customers, if they want to maintain access to America’s financial system—which is essential given that the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. Huge fines have been imposed on StanChart, BNP and HSBC, among others, for breaking these rules.
Bank supervisors, meanwhile, have imposed higher capital standards on global banks. Most face both the international “Basel 3” regime and a hotch-potch of local and regional regimes. A rule of thumb is that big global banks will need buffers of equity (or “core tier one capital”) equivalent to 12-13% of their risk-adjusted assets, compared to about 10% for domestic firms. National regulators increasingly demand that global banks ring-fence their local operations, limiting their ability to shift capital around the world. The cost of operating the systems that keep regulators happy is huge. HSBC’s compliance costs rose to $2.4 billion in 2014, 50% higher than the year before. JPMorgan is spending $3 billion more on controls than it did in 2011.
One measure of these firms’ viability is their “best case” return on equity (ie, assuming that the huge, supposedly, one-off legal fines and restructuring costs incurred over the past half-decade suddenly stop, but the new capital standards are fully implemented). On this basis most global banks barely achieve 10% (see prior chart). The overall figures hide lots of rot. After three decades of trying to diversify from its base in Asia, HSBC still makes the bulk of its money there; the other two-thirds of its business underperforms badly for the most part. JPMorgan Chase’s profits are more evenly spread, but about two-thirds of its businesses fail to cross the 10% hurdle. The same is true of StanChart. From the outside—and perhaps from the inside, too—Citi’s reporting system is too crude to make any sensible judgment. Deutsche looks better than most, but many of its rivals question its capital calculations.
Another test of viability is to compare the benefits of being global with the costs. In February JPMorgan Chase said that the revenue uplift and cost savings it gets from its scale boost profits by $6 billion-7 billion a year. There is a plausible case that the extra capital it must carry, and the regulatory costs its complexity incurs, offset a big chunk of that benefit. (If they dared to reveal them, the figures for other banks would probably look far worse.) Scale does not seem to mean cheaper funding. It is no cheaper to buy a credit-default swap, which pays out if a borrower goes bust and so is a reasonable proxy for borrowing costs, on the debt of JPMorgan Chase or Citi than it is on that of mid-sized American banks. All are regarded by debt investors as government-backed.
The financial arguments for global banks no longer appear convincing. Yet unscrambling these firms would be hellish. And in any case both managers and investors see two possible rays of light. One is gradually rising interest rates in America: JPMorgan Chase reckons these might add a fifth to its profits by 2017. The other is declining competition, which would allow them to raise their prices. The withdrawal of second-tier banks should help—on February 26th RBS said it would shrink its commercial and investment-banking operations down to 13 countries from over 50 at the peak of its pomp in 2008.
Yet there are always new competitors to push down margins. Japanese banks are on a cross-border lending bender for the first time since the 1980s. China’s banks are steadily expanding. The Western network banks were right to assume that globalisation would lead to a big increase in the amounts of money sloshing around the world. They have yet to work out how to prosper from it.
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Why You Will Always End Up Doing Your Marketing Yourself
Talking to startups and clients I sometimes get the impression, they believe for their marketing it would be sufficient to get some influencers to give a shout out or to get a handful of bloggers to write some coverage.
The hard truth is: It is part of your job as an entrepreneur to market your business, and if you do not get this job done, you are likely to fail. And the influencers and bloggers have their own interests in mind, it is not their job to do your marketing.
Don’t get me wrong: Of course there is help to be had and you should go for every help that you can get (or afford): Talk to people who have done it. Get someone to advise you on how to get started and how to optimize your marketing processes. But it is not the job of influencers, bloggers or friends and family to give you persistent exposure. And that is what you are looking for if you really want to make your venture a success.
The hard truth is:
One article on TechCrunch, Mashable or GigaOM will give you traffic for a day or two, if you are lucky a few hundred of signups – most of which are going to forget about you tomorrow. (How I know? Been there, done that.)
A shout out from an influencer (hopefully from your area of interest) on Facebook or Twitter might give you some attention – or it might not even do that. Those visitors are very unlikely to turn into instant customers.
And why do you think a blogger should do your marketing by covering your new service? You might be lucky and convince a blogger to write about your cool service – congratulations. Your chances are higher, if you target the influencers well. Just blasting out to everyone with a large Twitter following will not get you anywhere. However, this can be great for bringing your products before an already attentive audience – but keep in mind that this is not your audience. Tomorrow these people will again listen to the same blogger writing about other products and services. And you will still have to figure out how to market your product.
Marketing is about building brand recognition and trust
You need persistence and constant exposure for this. To manage this with bloggers or influencers when your startup is still small and yet has to proof it is going to grow and last, is more than hard. One shout out or one big blog writing about you is not going to make your marketing. You would need an ongoing stream of TechCrunch articles, influencer shout outs and blog articles – the only way to achieve that is with marketing.
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This Sticker Automatically Injects Meds When a Chemo Patient Can't
Chemotherapy is a brutal but often life-saving treatment for an even worse disease. It can also reduce a patient's white blood cell count, which hinders the body's ability to fight off infections. Injections of Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) can help boost white blood cells, if given exactly a day later. That's where this sticker comes in handy.
To ensure those injections are given a full 27 hours after chemotherapy, this sticker, applied after treatment, automatically injects the necessary dosage exactly when needed.
The side effects of chemotherapy are notoriously unpleasant, and having to immediately return to a doctor's office for a shot while a patient is trying to recover isn't easy. So Amgen, the company who manufactures Neulasta, created this stick-on injector that allows chemotherapy patients to automatically receive the necessary injection while they're comfortably recovering at home. It also means there are less patients filling a clinic's waiting room who are just there for a simple shot.
The Neulasta injector does need to be applied to a patient by a medical professional. It uses a small needle inserted under the skin for the medication to be properly delivered—it's not just a sticker. But it can be applied and prepped while a patient is still at the clinic receiving their chemotherapy. After the injection it can presumably be easily removed by the patient, or their caregiver, without the need for further medical intervention. So it saves them from having to make the trip to a doctor while they're feeling awful, which helps make the treatment slightly more bearable.
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Great Satire and Marketing Take Care of "Unfinished Business"
Satire is best when everyone can laugh. Such is the case with a marketing campaign for the movie Unfinished Business, which opens today.
Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco strike the poses we know so well from stock photos — those generic images adorning white papers, clickbait and yes, even blog posts on this venue. To promote their movie, the actors recreate many of your favorite stock photo stereotypes, such as business people pointing at a screen; business people inexplicably standing in wedge formation; and business people clapping about … something.
“Successful brands are becoming platforms and need to do more than just drive consumers to a purchase,” a Forbes story about digital marketing stated. “They have to inspire them to participate.”
You can participate by using these images in your next PowerPoint presentation or corporate newsletter. And you can download the images here for free; so you don’t have to see the movie or buy a stock photo subscription to play along.
This is the intersection of brilliant parody and culturally savvy marketing. And everyone is in on the joke, from the movie studio, 20th Century Fox, to a stock image company, iStock by Getty Images.
“We hope these images bring a smile to people’s faces as they recognize classic business stock concepts with a twist,” Craig Peters, general manager of iStock by Getty Images in a statement on Getty’s Web page.
iStock is even creating the illusion of scarcity by offering only four of 12 downloads at a time. You’d have to visit the Web site every week for three weeks to collect all of the photos.
Unfinished Business is a comedy about “a hard-working small business owner and his two associates who travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives,” according to the movie’s IMDB page. “But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every way imaginable — and unimaginable.”
Speaking of IMDB, these stock images already appear as photos on the actors’ pages. We can’t be surprised by Vaughn and Franco participating in these shenanigans, given their roles in comedies such as Old School and 21 Jump Street.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/4PUUU
Big & Fast Data: The Rise of Insight-Driven Business
We live in a fast-moving, complex world of increasingly connected people and connected things that are creating vast new digital footprints. To thrive, organizations need to make sense of this big and fast-moving data, to gain real-time access to powerful insights and deliver them at the point of action. But how are data-driven insights changing businesses? Where are organizations today and where are they going?
We surveyed 1,000 C-level executives and senior decision makers in nine regions and nine industries to help us assess where the market is heading.
Big data has brought the market to an inflection point, causing massive disruption:
64% of companies believe that big data is changing traditional business boundaries
58% expect to face increased competition from start-ups enabled by data
24% of companies report disruption from new competitors moving into their industry
In our report, we explore how far companies have got with their initiatives to gain and use insights from big data. Although everybody has realized it is time to move, there are still barriers to big data adoption. We look at the steps that organizations are taking to address them and explain how these steps can evolve into a set of guiding principles that can shape an effective transformation into an insights-led organization.
Today, big data is about business disruption. Organizations are embarking on a battle not just for success but for survival. If you want to survive it’s time to act.
The real battle is for the data that delivers the most relevant and pertinent insights – the combination of data sets that enable effective and more rapid monetization of data. Your data could ultimately become more valuable than your traditional product or services. Big data technologies are the enabler for developing new business models to make that happen.
Profiting from big data is at least as much about organizational integration, change and evolution as it is about the underlying technology. Organizations in our study are already implementing the technology. Now they need to drive the organizational changes needed to make it effective.
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Your New Mantra: Done Is Better Than Perfect. Keep the momentum going, and don't take a zero. That's how the truly exceptional do it. One foot in front of the other.
At the elite level, mental performance--and mental toughness--is what separates the vast pool of "really goods" from the truly exceptional.
And, just like any other world class skill, elite mental toughness isn't something you pick up in a few hours, or over the weekend. Building and keeping it is "abnormal."
I don't say that to discourage you, or to make it seem like it's impossible to improve your own mental performance. In fact, it's the opposite. It's hard to do, but the only barrier between doing it and not doing it is deciding that you'll be determined and consistent.
Unlike throwing a 97-mph fastball, hitting a 320-yard tee shot or shooting a three-pointer, it doesn't take superhuman skill to be mentally tough.
Anybody can do it. It's a matter of going to the "mental gym" I talked about in a previous column, and applying yourself every day.
The every-day part is where most people struggle.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
You decide that you want to get in better shape, so you join a gym. You do all the "right" things. You hire a trainer for an introductory session, to get an idea of what kinds of exercises to do. You start going every day, and pound the weights and treadmill hard.
For two weeks, it's great. You're feeling better, and the lifting and running is becoming easier.
But then, you have to travel for work for a few days. When you come back, you want to spend some time with your kids, so you blow off the gym for the weekend and resolve that you'll pick it up again on Monday.
You don't get to the gym until Tuesday, and when you weigh yourself in the locker room, you're back to where you where at the beginning of the process. You get frustrated, and you drop out of the workout routine like you have before.
To be "abnormal," you don't need superhuman willpower, or to spend thousands of dollars on a trainer to guilt yourself into a commitment.
You need to start with a small step.
Instead of striving to be perfect, commit to getting something done.
Take the mental workouts I described in the other column. They take two minutes to complete. Even at that short interval, there will be days when you don't feel like doing it, or you get too busy.
Instead of putting it off until the next day or some other time, do something. Even if it's just 30 seconds. Whether your working out your mind or your body in the gym, every workout doesn't have to be perfect.
Keep the momentum going, and don't take a zero. That's how the truly exceptional do it. One foot in front of the other.
Done is better than perfect.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/jJxhC
IMF Expected To Approve Fresh Ukraine Bailout
The board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is widely expected to approve a fresh $17.5 billion loan program for Ukraine when it meets on March 11.
The Ukrainian economy -- forecast to contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 -- has suffered in the past year as government forces fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and trade with Russia has almost ceased.
Last week, Ukrainian lawmakers passed austerity measures, including pension cuts and tax increases, intended to help secure the fresh IMF bailout package.
Kyiv hopes to receive up to $11 billion this year to boost its international reserves, which are at their lowest level in more than a decade.
President Petro Poroshenko this week called on the country to "look truth in the eye" and stay united.
"As long as there is war there will be no investment in Ukraine, and people must be told the truth," he said in an interview on March 9.
RAED MORE. https://tr.im/Oaz5f
Google in initial talks to buy Indian startup InMobi: source
Google Inc (GOOGL.O) is in early talks to buy Bangalore-based start-up InMobi, in a move that would strengthen its offering in the increasingly competitive mobile advertising space, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
InMobi, which helps companies target phones and mobile devices in their advertising, was launched in 2007 and claims to have over 1 billion users across 200 countries. It counts Japan's SoftBank (9984.T), an early backer of China's Alibaba, and early stage venture capital firm Sherpalo among investors.
The source, who asked not to be named because the companies have not made the negotiations public, said talks were at an early stage. The source said Google had not yet detailed its terms and conditions for the deal.
InMobi would likely be valued at around $1 billion, the source said.
The Economic Times newspaper first reported news of these ongoing talks on Wednesday.
Both InMobi and Google declined to comment.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/ZruBz
12 Easy Steps to Massive Business Success With Pinterest. 70 million people can't be wrong. Use the power of Pinterest to grow your business now.
Pinterest is an image-filled catalogue of possibilities. Users create boards such as "my dream home," wedding or party ideas, favorite clothes or shoes, awesome DIY projects--and much, much more. A user then searches for vivid images through Pinterest, Internet searches, or off their favorite websites and pins them to their board.
Simply put, people use Pinterest to create boards that represent the things that interest them most. They pin images to their boards that they would love to own, experience, share with others--their boards are their place to go back to that fully resonates with who they are.
As of January 2015, more than 70 million people were using Pinterest. 80 percent of these users are women. Women account for more than 85 percent of consumer purchases. And, the number of pins (or pictures) sent every day through Pinterest is over 2 million. Pinterest is growing so rapidly that it is now creating more internet traffic than Twitter and Reddit combined.
There are more than 30 billion pins and growing--rapidly--on Pinterest.
In just one example of the power of Pinterest--a Denver-based company pinned one of their products onto Pinterest, and the very next week their virtually unknown website was visited 48,000 times. They went from a small-time company to a multi-million dollar company within 18 months.
Think that marketing your business through Pinterest just might be the way to go? If the answer is yes, here are 12 easy steps to knock your business out of the park (in a very good way) with Pinterest.
1. Set up a Business Page on Pinterest (not a personal page).
2. Your business page should have your business name, website, and a very clear description of what you are offering or what your company is about.
3. If your company is connected, link your Pinterest account to your company's Twitter, Facebook, and Google accounts. Have a successful Facebook business page? Check out Pinvolve and increase repins by more than 150%.
4. Explore Pinterest. Search similar products or services and take note of boards, popular pins, and commentary--it's always enlightening to see what pinners are saying and asking.
5. If you don't have images of your products or services (or don't think the ones you do have will work), brainstorm ideas and come up with beautiful, imaginative, and persuasive images. You may need to hire a professional photographer--beautiful images fly on Pinterest.
6. Each image representing your company should be linked to your website and contain rich, clear descriptions.
7. Create some boards--each board should represent your business in a different way. Title boards with keywords--make it easy for pinners to find your images.
8. So that Pinterest users can easily pin images from your website, add a Pin It Button to your website or add an On Hover Pin It Button. The On Hover Pin It Button is not mobile friendly
9. Pin images from your website and from other related pins throughout Pinterest onto your boards.
10. Once established on Pinterest, you will be able to use Pinterest Analytics, which tracks your success and provides invaluable information to help you navigate and grow your business.
11. Communication is important too--follow those businesses on Pinterest that you normally follow on other platforms and if someone leaves a comment or question on one of your pinned images, always follow up.
12. The above steps will get your company on the map within the huge, wonderful world of Pinterest. Keep searching, pinning, interacting, and learning all that Pinterest has to offer. If you Need Help, Pinterest is there to support you and your company.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/xIIRB
Y Combinator-Backed SIRUM Matches Unused Medicine With Low-Income Patients
An estimated $5 billion worth of prescription medication gets burned up, flushed down the drain or thrown in the garbage each year. About $2 billion worth of it just sits on the shelf at long-term care facilities in the United States until it expires, according to University of Chicago researchers.
That’s a terrible waste, considering prescription medication is one of the highest costs in our healthcare system and that one in four families in the United States can’t afford to pay for those prescribed medications.
SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine) is a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that operates out of the Haas Center at Stanford University. It’s a patent-pending software platform that acts as a sort of on-demand inventory for pharmacies and care facilities to make it easier to redistribute the otherwise unused medications to patients who can’t afford to pay for their prescriptions each year.
The law varies from state to state but 42 states and Guam currently have some sort of “Good Samaritan” program for donated, unused, unexpired medications to low-income patients with a valid prescription. There are state-run drug-donation facilities and other third-party programs, such as Dispose My Meds to locate places to donate this unused medicine in each area, as well.
SIRUM works with these drug donation facilities, pharmacies, nursing homes and clinics as a peer-to-peer redistribution platform that cuts out third-party networks. Instead it lets each organization upload their medical surpluses and needs on the platform in order to find a match for patients in need at that moment.
SIRUM co-founders Kiah Williams, George Wang and Adam Kircher estimate the service has helped redistribute about $3 million worth of unopened, unexpired pills to 20,000 low-income patients since its start in 2011.
With funding from Y Combinator, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and Google.org, SIRUM is currently operating within California, Oregon and Colorado at the moment. It plans to eventually open in all 50 states.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/Oqe39
Minister sees 'out-dated attitudes' towards apprentices
The skills minister says parents and teachers often have "outdated attitudes" towards apprenticeships.
Nick Boles said apprenticeships should be regarded as a clear alternative to a full-time university place.
Marking national apprentice week, he said he wanted to promote the idea that apprentices could "go as far as they want to go".
Labour has also been highlighting the issue, saying it would introduce a "gold standard" for apprenticeships.
Mr Boles believes apprenticeships have an image problem with older generations - teachers and parents - because they were brought up at a time when university was the clear choice for able pupils.
But he said young people were increasingly seeing them as a viable career path, partly as an "unintended consequence" of university tuition fees.
"People are making quite hard-headed pragmatic judgements," he said.
"I certainly think that when I was growing up, even though many fewer people went to university, there was this sense that if you could go to university, then of course you would - it was automatic, the government basically paid for it and it was the thing you would do if you could.
Continue reading the main story
I would like to get to a place where there's a choice between two routes, both of which could take you as far as you want to go - one of which is a full-time university degree, the other is an apprenticeship”
He said there was still a perception that apprenticeships were for "mechanics and brickies".
And while he was quick to stress these were important, he said they were by no means the whole picture.
"You can now become an apprentice lawyer, an apprentice accountant, or an apprentice journalist, and I think that perception is taking some time to change," he said.
Mr Boles acknowledged the UK lagged behind other countries - notably Germany - where apprenticeships are regarded far more positively as routes into trades and technical professions.
He said we could learn much from Germany, but it would not fit "our economic model" in its entirety.
"I would like to get to a place where there's a choice between two routes, both of which could take you as far as you want to go - one of which is a full-time university degree, the other is an apprenticeship," he said.
The minister was speaking during a visit to Holition, a London-based creative technology company, which specialises in supplying retailers.
He was shown a "virtual mirror" the company has developed that allows shoppers to see what they would look like in selected clothes without having to change into them, or how make-up might look without having to actually put any on.
To my uneducated eye, it appeared to work by magic.
Thomas Monkman, who is 20 years old, could be described as a poster boy of the government's apprenticeship campaign.
He joined the company as an 18-year-old, and three weeks into his 13-month apprenticeship was handling an important project for Hugo Boss.
"I wanted to get straight into programming and this apprenticeship was a great way to do that.
"I wanted to see how programming is actually used in the real world, rather than in theory," he told me.
"Everyone is just told to go down the university route, apprenticeships are not even seen as a viable alternative.
"But it was a fairly easy choice for me - I wanted learn practically, rather than academically.
"Of course there should be a balance - university is the best option for some people.
"But I think apprenticeships should be more widely known about and used."
"We can find talented people, but they can't necessarily do what we need them to do - apprenticeships give us the chance to mould people into what we need," he said.
"We had quite high minded - almost philanthropic - reasons why we wanted to take on an apprentice.
"But we very quickly realised it was a sound investment.
"We ended up with someone specifically trained to fit into our business."
But Mr Chippindale also recognises that the apprentices also need to benefit.
"We had to prove to him that we were a better career choice for him than going to university."
"Thomas joined at a busy time, and we threw him in at the deep end.
"Three weeks into his apprenticeship he was doing a project for Hugo Boss by himself."
Labour have also been marking national apprentice week, with the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna outlining his party's plans.
He said he wanted to see more "high-quality apprenticeships, and routes on to technical degrees".
He said he wanted to see the same number of school leavers going into apprenticeships as go to university by 2025.
But he said in order to "ensure genuine parity of esteem between academic and vocational pathways", quality should not be sacrificed for quantity, and that expansion should be "based on a relentless commitment to excellence".
READ MORE. https://tr.im/LTmYx
EEFIG report: Energy Efficiency is the first fuel for the EU Economy
Deutsche Bank contributes to land-mark energy efficiency finance report for the European Union. The conclusion: Energy efficiency investment is the most cost effective way to reduce the European Union’s reliance, and expenditure, on energy imports which today cost the EU over EUR 400 billion a year.
In 2050, 75-90% of today’s buildings will still be in use but 75% of current buildings were built with no or minimal focus on energy efficiency. As buildings account for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption, increasing the renovation rate of buildings is critical. As well, only half of the estimated EUR 60 -100 billion of annual investment required to achieve Europe's 2020 energy efficiency targets in buildings is being met. The dramatic fall in the oil price, and its likely impact in lower European gas prices, highlights the need for Europe to have buildings, industry and SMEs whose competitiveness and running costs are better insulated from the uncertainties and volatility created by commodity price shocks. Combined with the need for Europe to transition to a competitive low carbon economy, these factors make increasing the level of energy efficiency investment of strategic importance to Europe.
International landmark study on how to scale-up investment levels
The European Commission and UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) co-convened a group of finance and other experts to recommend ways to scale-up investment levels. Deutsche Bank was a core member of the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG), which recently published its final report “Energy Efficiency – the first fuel for the EU Economy: How to drive new finance for energy efficiency investments”. The EEFIG report identifies the critical success factors, policies, market instruments and financing solutions to increase energy efficiency investments in Europe in the buildings, industry and SME sectors. The international landmark study is the result of 16 months of work of more than 120 active participants representing finance, policy makers, the buildings sector, industry, SMEs and energy efficiency market participants.
A five-fold increase in private energy efficiency investments in European buildings is required
The EEFIG report estimates that a five-fold increase in private energy efficiency investments in European buildings is required by 2030. Whilst there is no single solution, EEFIG identifies a framework of cross-cutting measures and requirements for different building and industry sub-segments. EEFIG identifies the need to engage multiple stakeholder groups, scale-up the use of several financial instruments within a clear and enforced “carrot and stick” legislative framework and identifies 19 recommended market and policy actions in four strategic areas of market, economic, financial and institutional.
Investing into energy efficiency measures is fundamentally important for Europe
European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefcovic, welcomed the launch of the report with the following words: "Investing into energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and in SMEs is fundamentally important for Europe. I will strive to ensure that energy efficiency investment financing is looked at in our forthcoming policies and that this Report will be used as inspiration for our further work.” The EEFIG report had a direct influence on the new European Energy Union strategy.
Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman of Deutsche Bank, said in reference to EEFIG’s work: “Our experience and research shows that energy efficiency finance and investment opportunities can be profitable and contribute to improving energy security, economic growth and reduce our footprint. Scaling up investment into Europe’s buildings and industry requires much greater cooperation between policy makers, companies and the financial sector. There is also great potential to help deepen the real estate investment industry’s already strong focus on energy efficiency by using robust information, incentives and targets to drive investment.”
Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate commented: “This report’s conclusion that scaling up energy efficiency is strategically and economically important for the European Union matches both my experience in government and the conclusion of the New Climate Economy initiative. Energy efficiency is already the biggest source of “new” energy supply, but large untapped potential remains in Europe. Implementing the report’s recommendations can support economic growth and help tackle climate change at the same time.”
Deutsche Bank’s financial expertise to assist clients in reducing energy use
There are many ways in which Deutsche Bank is active in energy efficiency and deploys our financial expertise to assist clients in reducing energy use:
The Bank has made significant efforts to reduce our own energy use, such as the green refurbishment of the Frankfurt Towers and installing energy efficient services, lighting and heating systems in many of our buildings and using green leases in more of the buildings we occupy. These efforts contribute to the Bank’s carbon neutrality and cost reduction goals.
This expertise was used to help win the fund mandate for the European Energy Efficiency Fund, which invests in projects to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings.
Deutsche AWM real estate has an increasing focus on energy efficiency and will publish an annual report on progress in March, alongside Deutsche Bank’s Annual Report and Corporate Responsibility report
Deutsche AWM real estate has an energy efficient property investment team focused on retrofits of physical buildings.
The Sal Oppenheim managed Green For Growth Fund focuses on investments in Southeast Europe and other neighboring countries such as Turkey and Ukraine.
The Corporate Banking & Securities (CB&S) division has structured an energy efficiency bond in California and is a leading player in the growing green bond market.
The Private and Business Clients (PBC) division provides loans to businesses and individuals to support energy efficiency and renewable energy investment.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/8XK1g
Tackle Bias in Your Company Without Making People Defensive
Unconscious bias is all the rage. Barely a blip on Google’s radar in 2010, a Google trends search shows how much the term has now gone mainstream. This is progress. Every manager can learn from the excellent The Invention of Difference by Jo and Binna Kandola, the 4-part series by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant in the New York Times, or the various articles that have appeared in this magazine, by Herminia Ibarra, Robin Ely, and Deborah Kolb, Joan C. Williams, and others. And at our firm, we’re seeing a sudden surge in interest for sessions on unconscious bias to address gender imbalances. It’s a promising shift from the exclusively women-focused initiatives that have dominated corporate balancing efforts for the past couple of decades.
I applaud this progress, and to maximize its impact, I’d like to suggest a productive way of bringing bias to the table, without losing half your guests. While hitting people over the head with accusations of bias may be a satisfaction for some, it is not well received by many.
The Chief Diversity Officers who ask us for these programs love them. But managers generally don’t. Defensiveness, contempt, or stonewalling are all on pretty immediate display. Is there a better, less abrasive way to achieve the same outcome? Can we build more inclusive management styles that leverage today’s talent and serve today’s heterogeneous customers without alienating the people we want to engage? Yes, and it starts with what we call it. Focusing people on positive outcomes is far more motivating than accusing them of misbehavior – conscious or unconscious. And it’s simple enough to do. It starts with branding.
Recently, we were invited to help with the launch of a company’s gender initiative. They were all set with presentations that highlighted the gender imbalance in their management teams and framed the loss of female talent as a serious problem that needed management’s attention. This is the common default framing. (We call it the unconscious bias of the gender teams.) The Head of Diversity was going to announce, at the annual company management conference, that she was launching a series of unconscious bias training sessions on gender for the several hundred managers in the room.
The only problem is, this is a guaranteed, set-up-to-fail mechanism. How enthusiastic do you think the people in the room, 80% of them men, will be to hear that? Most of your company’s managers, male or female, are probably committed to the idea that their company’s systems are based on a meritocracy principle. They don’t really like being accused of gender bias before they even enter the room. The fact that all humans are biased to some degree is well researched. And addressing this reality is key. But there are more or less effective ways to bring the topic into companies. It starts with flipping the issue from a divisive, negative problem to a unifying, shared opportunity.
So focus on the opportunity, not the problem. Start by focusing on the key strategic goals. What are your 2020 objectives, targets and milestones? Get the CEO to start there. And then suggest that gender balance is a lever to help you reach that goal. Here’s an example from a real company we’ve worked with:
We set a bold target of hitting $10 billion in revenue by 2020. Getting the very best talent and delivering the very best customer service will be the dual keys to our success. Understanding, anticipating and delighting customers means ensuring we know what they want and how they feel. That requires having the best balance of talent in-house, talent that “gets” where our fast-changing market is heading. I believe gender balance is one of the key levers to unlocking huge, untapped talent and market opportunities. Today’s talent pool is balanced, so are our customers. We want to reflect that reality inside. So we are going to focus on leadership skills and tools to build balanced teams that continually deliver stellar service.
This “tone from the top” has a different impact. It results, from the start, with a more engaged, less defensive management team.
So, in summary, if you are working on launching or accelerating a push for more gender balance in your company, start by asking these questions:
Strategic opportunity: Are you positioning gender as a problem or as an opportunity?
Positive branding: Are you using language that accuses or language that invites them to build skills and enhance leadership impact?
Authentic leadership: Are you engaging with the majority of your managers on things they understand are central to both their individual and company success? Or are your efforts perceived as politically correct, tick-the-box exercises?
It is an important moment on the road to more balanced businesses. But the final goal isn’t balance. The goal is more engaged employees and more connected customers. You probably can’t repeat that too often. Leaders need to keep everyone’s eye on that ball, while drawing everyone into the game.
Best-in-class companies are moving on from an era of over-focusing on women as the solution to balance. Now, they are focusing on managers. It’s an unprecedented opportunity to get everyone positively primed for balance. Let’s not lose them by accusing them. Companies are spending a lot of time and money on leadership. Let’s make sure that whatever the 21st leadership model you work with, gender “bilingualism” is built in.
READ MORE. https://tr.im/o9ytC
Apple’s Latest Betrayal. “Seriously, f*ck them,” read the tweet by M.J. The person was speaking about Apple and the new MacBook the company recently announced. There are countless other tweets and comments with the same sentiment. Right now there’s visceral hate directed at the company. A swath of consumers feel betrayed by the stark design of the new MacBook. Our original post on the topic was shared over 25,000 times. For good reason, too.
The new MacBook thinks different. It has more in common with a tablet than most laptops. Think of it as an iPad that has a keyboard and runs OS X. And like the iPad, it only has one port, which is the cause of the outcry.
Most computers have several ports scattered around the frame. There’s usually one for charging, a couple USB ports for various tasks and some sort of port to output video. The new MacBook combines all three into a lone USB-C port. This means users will not be able to, say, charge the laptop and an iPhone at the same time. Or input data from a flash drive while outputting video to an external monitor.
READ MORE. http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/10/apples-latest-betrayal/
Big Data 101: Using Large-Scale Data Mining to Find Fraud. You may have heard the term “big data” or “data mining,” but what do those terms mean? Today’s WatchBlog sheds light on how GAO analyzes large amounts of data to identify instances of potential improper payments or fraud.
What Is Data Mining and How Does GAO Use It? Data mining allows us to quickly identify relevant patterns in large databases, typically compiled from multiple sources. We’ve used this technique multiple times to identify potential improper payments or fraud on a large scale. For example, we’ve used data mining to
Identify people who may be receiving multiple federal payments. For example, by comparing data from different sources—such as benefit rolls for various programs and death files—we identified 59,251 individuals who received concurrent disability payments totaling $3.5 billion in fiscal year 2013, and over 2,600 people with potentially invalid identifying information who received $21 million in relief following Hurricane Sandy; Identify outliers or other particular patterns. For example, we found that about 83,000 Department of Defense employees and contractors who held or were determined eligible for secret, top secret, or other clearances had more than $730 million in unpaid federal tax debt as of June 30, 2012; and
Create maps that allow us to easily determine whether there are suspect patterns. For example, the map below shows an expected distribution of greater numbers of people living along the coast receiving relief funds following Hurricane Sandy.
READ MORE. http://blog.gao.gov/2015/03/10/big-data-101-using-large-scale-data-mining-to-find-fraud/
One-Year Data for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement in U.S. Patients. Study results of one-year data for more than 12,000 patients who had transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in the United States show an overall one-year death rate of 23.7 percent and a stroke rate of 4.1 percent, according to a study published in the March 10 issue of JAMA.
“Transcatheter aortic valve replacement has become transformational for patients who need a new valve and are at high-risk for surgery or inoperable. aortic valve stenosis TAVR illustrationBut we have been lacking long-term data for this group of patients who are considering this procedure,” says study lead author David R. Holmes, Jr., M.D., a Mayo Clinic interventional cardiologist. “Before this study, we only had 30-day information. This is a milestone and will help us better guide patients and learn as physicians.”
For the study, researchers used the Transcatheter Valve Therapies Registry, developed by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American College of Cardiology, combining 12,182 TAVR patient procedures performed from November 2011 through June 2013 and linking to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrative claims for one-year data using direct Medicare patient identifiers (name and social security numbers).
Other important results from the study are:
Median age of patients was 84 years old, and 52 percent of patients were female.
8 percent of patients were discharged directly to home.
Thirty-day mortality was 7 percent.
4 percent of survivors were re-hospitalized only once, and 12.5 percent twice.
TAVR received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2011. It is used with increasing frequency for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis in patients who are at high or prohibitive risk for surgical aortic valve replacement, Dr. Holmes says.
Aortic valve stenosis happens when the valve narrows. The narrowing prevents the valve from fully opening, restricting blood flow from the heart into the aorta and then to the rest of the body. In TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure, physicians access the heart through a blood vessel in the leg or, less often, through an incision in the chest. A catheter is inserted through the access point, and the physician guides the catheter to the heart. Once in place, the replacement valve is passed through the catheter and positioned into place, and catheters are removed.
READ MORE. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/jama-publishes-one-year-data-for-transcatheter-aortic-valve-replacement-procedure-in-u-s-patients/?linkId=12816331
Hackers Can Now Use One Free Tool To Hijack Your Facebook-Linked Login For Pretty Much Any Site
Modern life means logging in to about a zillion different websites and apps every week, with about a zillion different accounts. But there are ways to streamline it all — for example, logging in to everything with your Facebook account, as millions do.
That’s much more convenient not only for you, but for hackers who have a new way to target you: a free, easy-to-download tool that exploits a bug in those logins to let them hijack your account. Oops.
The researcher who discovered the bug and designed the tool set it loose in the wild last week, Vice’s Motherboard site reports, after claiming Facebook ignored his reports of the problem.
The tool basically works by allowing an attacker to worm their way into a user’s cookies for a specific website and then access their account on that site.
READ MORE. http://consumerist.com/2015/03/10/hackers-can-now-use-one-free-tool-to-hijack-your-facebook-linked-login-for-pretty-much-any-site/?linkId=12813458
Uber's lofty goal: Hire 1 million women drivers
Uber wants to hire 1 million women drivers over the next five years.
It's an ambitious goal, even for a fast-growing startup like Uber, which doesn't have a total of 1 million drivers globally yet.
The company, which connects drivers and passengers via a smartphone app, says it has "hundreds of thousands" of drivers worldwide.
Uber's plan to hire women drivers is part of a global partner ship with UN Women.
The announcement comes in the wake of criticism that Uber isn't doing enough to ensure the safety of female passengers. Allegations of sexual harassment have surfaced across the globe -- from Chicago and Los Angeles to New Delhi. The worst was a case where a woman reported being raped by an Uber driver in New Delhi.
Uber was temporarily banned in the city and recently installed a "panic button" for passengers there.
READ MORE. http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/10/technology/uber-women-drivers/index.html?sr=twmoney031015uberwomen0623story
Peter Thiel becomes a part-time partner at Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator
Peter Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and Palantir and a prominent investor who built up hedge fund Clarium Capital Management and the venture capital firm Founders Fund, has joined prominent Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator as a part-time partner.
“In addition to founding PayPal and Palantir and being the first investor in Facebook, Peter has been involved with many of the most important technology companies of the last 15 years, both personally and through Founders Fund, and the founders of those companies will generally tell you he has been their best source of strategic advice,” Y Combinator president Sam Altman wrote in a blog post today announcing the news. “He already works with a number of YC companies, and we’re very happy he’ll be working with more.”
If you sensed a bit of an issue given the fact that Thiel remains involved with Founders Fund, well, there could be one, but Y Combinator intends to prevent it.
“Peter won’t invest in any companies while they’re in YC or for 3 months after they present at Demo Day (this will apply to Peter’s investment entities as well), which should eliminate any unfair advantage,” Altman wrote.
READ MORE. http://venturebeat.com/2015/03/10/peter-thiel-becomes-a-part-time-partner-at-silicon-valleys-y-combinator/
"After nearly seven years as CFO, I will be retiring from Google to spend more time with my family."
That's how Patrick Pichette, one of Google's highest-ranking executives, led his announcement on Tuesday that he'd be retiring from his role at the company. That line of reasoning has become something of a safe cliché among notable executives leaving their posts. But then Pichette did something unusual: He kept going, offering a candid explanation about the struggles of work/life balance at his level.
Pichette recalls a vacation in Africa with his wife last fall, during which she suggested they keep traveling and really see the world. He initially demurred, noting the importance of his work at the Internet giant.
"Then she asked the killer question," Pichette wrote in his memo, which he posted to Google+. "So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air."
He started to lay out the argument in his head: Their kids had grown up and moved away. He had worked for nearly 30 consecutive years of his life. And his wife clearly deserved more quality time. He knew it was time to "hit the road."
READ MORE. http://mashable.com/2015/03/10/googles-cfo-retires-memo/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-bus-link
The challenges of making battery-operated electric cars
ANY doubts that electric cars are the future are rapidly blown away within minutes of driving a Tesla Model S. It is not so much the rapid acceleration, but the smooth and relentless supply of power from its electric motor. That is the thing about electric motors: they produce a twisting force called torque instantly. So much torque, in fact, there is no need for a gearbox. This saves weight and makes more room for all the toys, such as the giant touchscreen that dominates the Tesla’s centre console. It is a shame then that Levi Tillemann did not crown this car the winner in his book “The Great Race”, instead of wimping out at the end by declaring the quest for the car of the future is a “race we all run together”.
Mr Tillemann’s book is about the car guys, mostly those employed by the giant carmakers in America, China and Japan, and their titanic struggles to bring electric vehicles to the market (and, at one point, in the case of General Motors, trying to kill them). Yet it was Tesla, an upstart from Silicon Valley founded by the PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, that took the laurels by building electric cars that run rings around the others. Teslas use improved versions of industry-standard lithium-ion batteries, rather than any exotic concoctions put together by the battery guys. These players are running in a different but parallel global race described by Steve LeVine in “The Powerhouse” about the visionary attempts to develop a battery that would “save the world”. The world is still waiting.
READ MORE. http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21645119-challenges-making-battery-operated-electric-cars-charging-ahead?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/ed/ChargingAhead
MIT’s sustainability community gets to work
Inaugural event brings together over 100 campus leaders to plan for greater efficiency, reduced waste.
It was apparent even before the meeting began that this would be a different kind of event: The cups and plates were compostable, the name badges were plain paper, and there were no programs at all — the conference agenda came via a smartphone app.
Those small differences clearly signaled the purpose of this gathering: getting the MIT community to embrace the principles of efficiency and sustainability. The invitation-only event, called “Sustainability Connect,” took place Monday, bringing together faculty members, students, leaders of MIT’s facilities and sustainability offices, administrators, and others to hear about ongoing plans and to brainstorm about how to move the Institute toward a greener, cleaner, less-wasteful future.
The aim is to make MIT into a living laboratory for exploring, testing, and quantifying ways to make more efficient use of energy, water, buildings, and equipment — and then to disseminate information about the most successful practices to have a global impact.
READ MORE. https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/sustainability-connect-0305
Tires That Generate Electricity. Tires and cars have had an important relationship ever since the first auto rolled onto a dusty, haphazard road. But what if tires could play a more integrated role in vehicle design?
In a debut that caught many by surprise, Goodyear unveiled a new tire concept at the 2015 Geneva Autoshow. Called the BH03, the futuristic tire concept imagines how an auto’s wheels could generate electricity that would then power a car.
According to Goodyear’s engineers, BH03 would harness the heat created by vibrations, road friction and the sun to generate power. To realize these spectacular properties the BH03 would have a wrap of thermos-reactive, piezoelectric material underneath its outer shell. As heat penetrates the first layer of the tire the thermos-reactive material beneath would begin producing electricity.
That’s still unknown.
While there’s no timetable for when the BH03 will hit the road, if it ever does, it’s easy to imagine how helpful this tire design could be for electric and hybrid cars. With range-phobia preventing greater adoption of fuel-efficient car designs, a fleet of BH03 tires could be a way to push EV ranges even further. Although, I wonder what the magic number is for making range a non-issue—500, 800, 1000 miles?
READ MORE' http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/9751/Tires-That-Generate-Electricity.aspx
Heart on A Chip Aids Drug Screening
When University of California, Berkeley, bioengineers say they are holding their hearts in the palms of their hands, they are not talking about emotional vulnerability.
Instead, the research team led by bioengineering professor Kevin Healy is presenting a network of pulsating cardiac muscle cells housed in an inch-long silicone device that effectively models human heart tissue, and they have demonstrated the viability of this system as a drug-screening tool by testing it with cardiovascular medications.
This organ-on-a-chip, reported in a study to be published Monday, March 9, in the journal Scientific Reports, represents a major step forward in the development of accurate, faster methods of testing for drug toxicity. The project is funded through the Tissue Chip for Drug Screening Initiative, an interagency collaboration launched by the National Institutes of Health to develop 3-D human tissue chips that model the structure and function of human organs.
READ MORE. http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/9740/Heart-on-A-Chip-Aids-Drug-Screening.aspx
3DP & Powder-Based Cement, A Breakthrough for Construction, Architecture?
A UC Berkeley research team led by architecture professor Ronald Rael has unveiled the first and largest powder-based 3-D-printed cement structure built to date. The debut of this groundbreaking project is a demonstration of the architectural potential of 3-D printing. It will close the fifth annual Berkeley Circus, which celebrates the research and accomplishments of the College of Environmental Design (CED) community.
The freestanding pavilion, “Bloom,” is 9 feet high and has a footprint that measures about 12 feet by 12 feet. It is composed of 840 customized blocks that were 3-D-printed using a new type of iron oxide-free Portland cement polymer formulation developed by Rael.
Bloom is a precise 3-D-printed cement polymer structure that overcomes many of the previous limitations to 3-D-printed architecture. Such limitations include the speed and cost of production as well as aesthetics and practical applications.
Rael designed and led the yearlong research project with funding and collaborative support from the Siam Research and Innovation Co. Ltd. (SRI), the research and development division of Siam Cement Group (SCG). SCG, the largest cement company in Thailand, provided the Portland cement. Additional support and materials were provided by Emerging Objects, a startup company co-founded by Rael and Virginia San Fratello, and Entropy Resins.
READ MORE. http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/9738/3DP-Powder-Based-Cement-A-Breakthrough-for-Construction-Architecture.aspx
A New (Longer) Life for Li-Ion Batteries?
Lithium-ion batteries are common in consumer electronics. They are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries for portable electronics, with a high energy density, no memory effect and only a slow loss of charge when not in use. Beyond consumer electronics, lithium-ion batteries have also grown in popularity for military, electric vehicle and aerospace applications.
Now, researchers at Arizona State University are exploring new energy storage technology that could give the battery an even longer life cycle.
Led by Dan Buttry, professor and chair of ASU's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the research also involves former undergraduate researcher Jarred Olsen and current graduate student Tylan Watkins. Olsen joined Buttry’s group as an undergraduate researcher to work in the ionic liquids area. The work he contributed to this study was performed while he was on an internship at Boulder Ionics working at both Boulder and ASU with Watkins. Olsen is currently a doctoral student at the University of Washington, Seattle.
READ MORE. http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/9734/A-New-Longer-Life-for-Li-Ion-Batteries.aspx
Mercedes-Benz Commits $500 Million to Build “Sprinter” Vans in the USA
Mercedes-Benz Vans has announced that it will invest around half a billion dollars to build a new van plant in the United States. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the facility will supply the North American market with the next-generation Sprinter. With the new plant, Mercedes-Benz Vans will become one of the biggest industrial employers in the region. Within the total area of more than 200 acres (more than 800,000 m²), the division will create a completely new body shop, a paint shop and an assembly line. Construction of the new factory is scheduled to begin in 2016. Over 1300 jobs will be created.
The new Sprinter plant in the United States is essential for Mercedes-Benz Vans, as the large van segment is expected to grow rapidly in North America over the next few years. The United States is one of the most dynamic van markets in the world. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz Vans currently faces high U.S. import duties and a complex disassembly process of Sprinters made in Germany for sale in the U.S. The new plant and the vehicles 'Made in USA' will enable the company to more economically meet the growing demand from North American customers in the future and to considerably reduce delivery time on this market.
"Today is a very important day for Mercedes-Benz Vans and certainly also a very significant day for the Charleston area. We are investing around half a billion dollars to create a top-notch Mercedes-Benz van plant here in South Carolina. This plant is key to our future growth in the very dynamic North American van market," said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, at the official announcement of the plant's location. "Charleston is an excellent location for our new plant. The region has very highly skilled workers, a dense network of reliable suppliers, and an outstanding logistics infrastructure that includes good transport connections to the nearby harbor."
READ MORE. http://www.engineering.com/AdvancedManufacturing/ArticleID/9744/Mercedes-Benz-Commits-500-Million-to-Build-Sprinter-Vans-in-the-USA.aspx
Research shows that salt affects more than just blood pressure
Sodium is essential for fluid balance and cellular homeostasis, or maintenance of a stable internal environment in an organism. But the amount of salt needed to maintain homeostasis in adults is quite low—about 500 milligrams (mg) per day.
In contrast, most Americans consume more than six times that much, which leads to high blood pressure in many people.
But what if you're one of the lucky ones who can eat all the salty snacks and convenience foods you want and still register low numbers on the blood pressure cuff?
New research suggests you may not be so lucky after all.
A review paper co-authored by two faculty members in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences and two physicians at Christiana Care Health System provides evidence that even in the absence of an increase in blood pressure, excess dietary sodium can adversely affect target organs, including the blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain.
Authors of the paper, "Dietary Sodium and Health: More Than Just Blood Pressure," include William Farquhar and David Edwards in UD's Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology; William Weintraub, chief of cardiology at Christiana Care; and Claudine Jurkovitz, a nephrologist epidemiologist and senior scientist in the Value Institute Center for Outcomes Research at Christiana Care.
The paper was published in the March 17 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
READ MORE. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-salt-affects-blood-pressure.html
Researchers see way cocaine hijacks memory. Washington State University researchers have found a mechanism in the brain that facilitates the pathologically powerful role of memory in drug addiction. Their discovery opens a new area of research for targeted therapy that would alter or disable the mechanism and make drug addiction less compulsive.
Turning off the mechanism is "diminishing the emotional impact or the emotional content of the memory, so it decreases the motivation to relapse," said Barbara Sorg, a professor of neuroscience at Washington State University, Vancouver. Her findings appear in the latest Journal of Neuroscience.
Memories associated with drug use are a leading suspect in driving the impulses behind drug addiction. The brain reinforces memories, in part by giving them emotional weight. The result is a personal blueprint of rewards and cues guiding fundamental decisions.
Drug use creates memories so powerful they hijack the system, turning physiology into pathology.
"If you saw 'Spinal Tap,' it's like memory turned up to 11," said Sorg.
Sorg and Megan Slaker, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience, gave male rats cocaine in a specific setting, a drug cage, conditioning them to associate the experience with that place. With each new experience, the rats would draw memories of previous experiences there, reconsolidate them with new information and in effect reinforce the memory.
READ MORE. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-cocaine-hijacks-memory.html
Move over Mozart: Study shows cats prefer their own beat
Move over Mozart: Study shows cats prefer their own beatAs more animal shelters, primate centers and zoos start to play music for their charges, it's still not clear whether and how human music affects animals.
Now, a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that while cats ignore our music, they are highly responsive to "music" written especially for them. The study is online at Applied Animal Behaviour Science.
"We are not actually replicating cat sounds," says lead author Charles Snowdon, an emeritus professor of psychology. "We are trying to create music with a pitch and tempo that appeals to cats."
The first step in making cat music is "to evaluate music in the context of the animal's sensory system," he says. Cats, for example, vocalize one octave higher than people, "So it's vital to get the pitch right. Then we tried to create music that would have a tempo that was appealing to cats." One sample was based on the tempo of purring, the other on the sucking sound made during nursing.
In the tests, Snowdon and former UW undergraduate student (now a Ph.D. student at Binghamton University) Megan Savage brought a laptop and two speakers to the homes of 47 cats and played four sound samples: two from classical music, and two "cat songs" created by University of Maryland composer David Teie.
The music began after a period of silence, and the cat's behavior was noted. Purring, walking toward the speaker and rubbing against it were adjudged positive response, while hissing, arching the back and erecting the fur were negative.
READ MORE. http://phys.org/news/2015-03-mozart-cats.html
Traveling without moving: Quantum communication scheme transfers quantum states without transmitting physical particles
While Einstein considered quantum entanglement as "spooky action at a distance," and those who fully accept entanglement acknowledge it to be counterintuitive, current entanglement-based quantum communication schemes for transferring an unknown quantum state from one place to another require classical transportation of particles between sender and receiver. Now consider this: Recently, scientists in China at Harbin Institute of Technology, Yanbian University and Changchun University demonstrated what is known as a counterfactual approach in which quantum information can be transferred between two distant participants without sending any physical particles between them. The researchers accomplished this by entangling two nonlocal qubits with each other without interaction – meaning that the present scheme can transport an unknown qubit in a nondeterministic manner without prior entanglement sharing or classical communication between the participants. Moreover, the scientists state that their approach provides a new method for creating entanglement that allows two qubits to be entangled without interaction between them.
Prof. Shou Zhang discussed the paper that he and his colleagues published in Scientific Reports. "There's a long-held assumption in the classical information field that information transfer requires physical particles to travel between sender and receiver – an assumption first challenged in 2013 by Hatim Salih and his colleagues1," Zhang tells Phys.org. By using the so-called chained quantum Zeno effect, the 2013 paper showed how information can in fact be transferred between two locations without any physical particles traveling between them. (In the quantum Zeno effect, time evolution caused by quantum decoherence in quantum systems is suppressed by, for example, continuous observation or measurement, interaction with the environment, or stochastic fields. In a chained quantum Zeno effect, a series of secondary splitter/detector loops ensure that there is never a significant probability of decoherence.) "This mind-boggling and highly counterintuitive communication protocol inspired us to think whether quantum information can be transferred counterfactually," Zhang adds, "so in fact, our present scheme can be considered as an incremental extension of Salih's work from classical bit to quantum bit."
READ MORE. http://phys.org/news/2015-03-quantum-scheme-states-transmitting-physical.html
In 2012, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft made a voluntary commitment to increase the proportion of female scientists in W2 and W3 positions and in remuneration groups E13 to E15 of the Collective Wage Agreement for Government Service Workers (TVöD). The aim is to increase the numbers five times by one percentage point each year up to 2017. This target was agreed with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Joint Science Conference.
In 2012, the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft made a voluntary commitment to increase the proportion of female scientists in W2 and W3 positions and in remuneration groups E13 to E15 of the Collective Wage Agreement for Government Service Workers (TVöD). The aim is to increase the numbers five times by one percentage point each year up to 2017. This target was agreed with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Joint Science Conference.
READ MORE. http://www.mpg.de/7999136/women-science
Searching for Earth's twin. The Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research establishes data centre for the European space mission PLATO to search for exoplanets
How common are planets such as Earth in our galaxy? And are such celestial objects suitable for the development of life? The European Space Agency’s (ESA) new planet-hunting mission PLATO (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars) will take an unprecedented step towards answering these questions. ESA has now given the official go-ahead for this mission, which is scheduled for launch in 2024. In its six year lifetime, the spacecraft will search for planets around one million stars; of these 85,000 will be characterized precisely. In close collaboration with many European partners, Germany will play a key role in the mission: the Institute of Planetary Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin will head the overall mission; the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Göttingen will lead the processing of the observations in the PLATO Data Center.
Under a foreign sun: the universe appears to be harbouring a large number of exoplanets. PLATO will survey a million stars searching for those orbited by Earth-like exoplanets.
PLATO will for the first time fully characterize these stars and their planets. The ultimate goal of the mission is to find an Earth-twin: “PLATO will enable us to find planets that orbit their star in the habitable zone: planets where liquid water is expected, and where life as we know it can be maintained”, says Heike Rauer from DLR, who will lead the mission.
In order to reach this ambitious goal, PLATO is equipped not with one, but with an array of 34 telescopes mounted on a single satellite. By surveying a very large fraction of the sky for six years, PLATO will study the full diversity of stars and planetary systems across our galaxy. “PLATO will finally give us the big picture”, says Gizon.
READ MORE. http://www.mpg.de/7957207/PLATO
“In some respects, the Wikipedia of science” Expert communities consider the online series Living Reviews as their first port of call for information
Bernard Schutz, Director of the MPI for Gravitational Physics and initiator of the Living Reviews series of open access journals explains his recipe for success and describes the obstacles still to be overcome.
Review journals are based on the principle of providing articles containing a scientific overview of a particular specialised field. A huge amount of work goes into such articles. Once printed on paper, they age very quickly – so, in the late 1990s, I came up with the idea of the Living Reviews, which would only be published online and could therefore be updated as “living articles” when new information becomes available.
The articles can be used freely, they incorporate multimedia elements – in summary, it all sounds a bit like Wikipedia...
That’s an interesting point. One thing should be made clear: we are older than Wikipedia; the first contributions to Living Reviews in Relativity were published in 1998. And there are a few crucial differences: whereas all users can contribute to Wikipedia articles, this is not the case with Living Reviews. The authors are selected and there is a strict peer review process – this guarantees quality. What’s more, our contributions are often over 100 pages long and also contain, of course, animated sequences, graphics and images. From the user’s perspective, however, the Living Reviews and Wikipedia have certain things in common: Whereas people obtain information about everyday life through Wikipedia, we have become the first port of call for members of our expert community who are looking for information. So Living Reviews can be referred to in some respects as the Wikipedia of science – however, the standards are higher, because the contributions are intended as binding reference sources.
READ MORE. http://www.mpg.de/7617181/living-reviews-Schutz-interview
Ageing research cluster in Cologne moves closer together. Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing opens new research building
At the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Cologne, scientists from over 20 nations are deciphering exactly how and why living organisms age. The Institute has continued to grow since its foundation in 2008. Its staff members were previously accommodated in several buildings on the campus of the University Hospital of Cologne. The young, international team can now look forward to more laboratory space and shorter distances: the new research building officially opened on 18 October. Around 400 guests from the worlds of science, politics and business attended the event.
The MPI for Biology of Ageing is just six years old but it is already well established internationally, as Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society, emphasizes: “Together with the University of Cologne and other research institutions, one of the leading gerontology clusters in Europe has emerged in the Cologne-Bonn region.” It is not just ageing research in Cologne that is young, so too are the staff. The average age of the around 160 employees is 33. “Our dynamic scientists are working rigorously to find answers to the fundamental questions surrounding the phenomenon of ageing and longevity,” says top-level British researcher Linda Partridge, Managing Director of the Institute. Questions such as: Why do living organisms age? What biological processes determine their life span? What role do genes and the environment play in the ageing process?
In the future, the hitherto three departments and five research groups will address these issues at the Institute’s new research building which has 4,500 square meters of laboratory space – the equivalent of 20 tennis courts. The new building was realized thanks to special funding from the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia. Funding was also provided by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the federal state and federal government. Helmut Dockter, State Secretary at the NRW Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research, remarked: “The MPI for Biology of Ageing’s new building is a further milestone for ageing research in North-Rhine Westphalia. The research infrastructure in this field, which has been developed over a period of time, now has another facet which is making a significant contribution to the solution of society’s greatest challenge – healthy ageing.”
READ MORE. http://www.mpg.de/7575444/MPI-Biology-Ageing-research_building
Higgs particle can disintegrate into particles of dark matter. The Standard Model of particle physics successfully describes the smallest constituents of matter. But the model has its limitations: It does not explain the dark matter of the universe. Christoffer Petersson, a research scientist at Chalmers Univ. of Technology, has found a solution. His theories are now being tested at the particle physics laboratory CERN.
Physicists describe the smallest constituents of nature—elementary particles and forces acting between them using a set of theories known as the Standard Model. This model was developed in the 1970s and has been very successful, particularly in predicting the existence of undiscovered particles.
In recent decades, particle physicists have discovered one of the predicted particles in the Standard Model after another in their particle accelerators. The last in the series was the Higgs particle, the existence of which was confirmed by the scientists at the particle accelerator Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in 2012. This completed the Standard Model.
READ MORE. http://www.rdmag.com/news/2015/03/higgs-particle-can-disintegrate-particles-dark-matter?et_cid=4445562&et_rid=588039503&location=top
Four ways to break the universe's speed limit What can travel faster than the speed of light?
BI Answers: What can travel faster than the speed of light?
When Albert Einstein first predicted that light travels the same speed everywhere in our universe, he essentially stamped a speed limit on it: 670,616,629 miles per hour.
But that's not the entire story. In fact, it's just the beginning.
Before Einstein, mass — the atoms that make up you, me, and everything we see — and energy were treated as separate entities. But in 1905, Einstein forever changed the way physicists view the universe.
Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity permanently tied mass and energy together in the simple yet fundamental equation E=mc^2. This little equation predicts that nothing with mass can move as fast as light, or faster.
The closest humankind has ever come to reaching the speed of light is inside of powerful particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider and the Tevatron. These colossal machines accelerate subatomic particles to more than 99.99% the speed of light, but as Physics Nobel laureate David Gross explains, these particles will never reach the cosmic speed limit.
To do so would require an infinite amount of energy and, in the process, the object's mass would become infinite, which is impossible. (The reason particles of light, called photons, travel at light speeds is because they have no mass.)
Since Einstein, physicists have found that certain entities can reach superluminal (that means "faster-than-light") speeds and still follow the cosmic rules laid down by special relativity. While these do not disprove Einstein's theory, they give us insight into the peculiar behavior of light and the quantum realm.
READ MORE. http://www.businessinsider.com/what-can-travel-faster-than-the-speed-of-light-2015-2?utm_content=buffer848c8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
Gigaom Shuts Down in Crowded Tech Media Landscape
When tech blog Gigaom announced Monday that it was unable to pay its creditors and would shut down, the media world reacted mostly with shock.
Not only was Gigaom posting as recently as that afternoon — about the Apple Watch event — but the site also didn’t appear to be all that cash-strapped. Its most recent funding round last year raised $8 million, at which point the site’s founder Om Malik gave up his day-to-day role. The site had ramped up efforts to find new revenue streams, such as an events business and research arm.
Clearly, though, something went wrong. “We do not know at this time what the lenders intend to do with the assets or if there will be any future operations using those assets,” Gigaom management wrote in a statement. “The company does not currently intend to file bankruptcy.”
Gigaom’s fate had others in the digital media industry wondering if the event portended a larger “content shakeout,” especially given that Say Media recently sold its own tech site ReadWrite.
Executives in the media and venture capital worlds say it is quite difficult to be a self-sustaining site these days, considering the crowded tech media space.
“When everybody from The Wall Street Journal to the New York Times to everybody else has doubled down on covering tech, what’s your value?” said Rafat Ali, the CEO and founder of travel site Skift. Mr. Ali sat on an advisory board to Gigaom after the site he founded, paidContent, was acquired by the company (though he says they never asked him for advice).
READ MORE. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/03/10/gigaom-shutting-down-means-for-digital-media/?mod=WSJBlog&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
MIT Director Reveals 'The Best Economic News In Human History'
An MIT director and business expert has revealed “the best economic news in human history,” claiming that we're on the brink of the possibility of rising living standards for everyone on earth.
Andrew McAfee, the associate director of the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School of Management, said that technological progress means humanity will soon solve the problem of 'increasing scarcity', meaning that there are, in theory, enough goods and wages for everyone in the world.
"We’re going to solve that," he told an audience at the WorldPost Future Of Work Conference, "The problem that we’re not facing is a problem of not enough to go around."
McAfee said that the industrial revolution of the 19th century meant that for the first time, human productivity can keep pace with the growing population, creating the possibility of a rising standard of living for everyone.
We have nearly reached the peak of this bounty, in an "ever-growing pie that left people better off". Technological progress is "the best economic news in human history", he said.
READ MORE. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/03/05/andrew-mcafee-worldpost-future-of-work-mit_n_6806732.html
REGULATING 23ANDME WON’T STOP THE NEW AGE OF GENETIC TESTING
MARKET DISRUPTIONS OFTEN occur — or not — as the direct result of unintended collisions between breakthrough technologies and their more incremental regulators. In the latest dust-up, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month ordered startup 23andMe to stop marketing its $99 genetic analysis kit, just before the Christmas shopping season kicked into high gear.
To date, over half a million customers have taken the swab in return for detailed ancestry data and personalized information on 248 genetic traits and health conditions. The company, which launched in 2007 with substantial backing from Google, has been working closely — albeit more slowly than the FDA would have liked — with the FDA to ensure it complies with federal health and safety regulations. But the agency concluded in its recent warning letter that 23andMe was marketing a “device” that was “intended for use in the diagnosis of diseases or other conditions,” and as such, its marketing materials required pre-approval from the FDA, which includes extensive research studies.
23andMe is an example of what we call a “Big Bang Disruption” — a product or service innovation that undermines existing markets and industries seemingly overnight by being simultaneously better and cheaper than the competition. What’s happening in genomic testing (and healthcare in general) is consistent with our research in over 30 different industry segments, from manufacturing to financial services to consumer products.
READ MORE. http://www.wired.com/2014/01/the-fda-may-win-the-battle-this-holiday-season-but-23andme-will-win-the-war/
The hype surrounding “Big Data” does businesses a disservice by making it all look much too easy.
Data analytics and “Big Data” promise to revolutionise marketing. Most companies are sitting on tonnes of data from various sources: financial data, mobile data, transactional data, customer research data, behavioural data, social media data, etc. The combination of new analytical techniques, amped-up computer power and instantaneous online resources has resulted in incredibly powerful tools that have changed the game forever. So powerful, in fact, that analytics can go beyond merely lending support to unlocking new opportunities and strategies, as well as opening up possibilities never before imagined.
But the ease of analysing “Big Data” also has been overstated. In reality, harnessing Big Data is still a messy and very labour-intensive business. Take it from two people who do this work for real: Some of the hype is doing us a disservice, because it creates a false expectation of how easy this is going to be.
So that we can start getting real about Big Data, it’s time to put to rest these commonly heard myths.
Big Data isn’t “big”. It is diverse. “Big” is misleading. What we’re talking about is a large volume of data points, updated at high-frequency in real-time, from various sources. It’s very granular. It’s individual transaction data; it’s a certain credit card, paying for a certain amount of gas, at a certain gas station. Big Data is actually lots and lots of very small data. It’s not a landslide of data; it’s a sandstorm. And sandstorms can blind and disorient you. So, to help see in the storm, what other myths do we need to debunk?
Big Data Myth #2: You need to apply it right away
Most things in life that are important and worthwhile are difficult, and the analysis of Big Data is no different. The solution is to take small steps and start with very specific objectives. Think carefully about what you want to do with the information before you start stockpiling data.
Big Data Myth #3: The more granular the data, the better
Is real-time and granular data always better? No, it’s not. The first quarter of a football game doesn’t predict how a whole game plays out. Real-time can be too close to the action. Sometimes, you need to pull back for the long shot to reveal what’s really going on.
Big Data is encumbered by a huge amount of white noise. The noise as a proportion of the total signal increases with higher resolution, for example, data by minute rather than by week, or data at a town level rather than state. Do not confuse precision with accuracy. Big Data, in its raw disaggregate form, can be misleading. There needs to be an appropriate level of aggregation to cancel out all the white noise
Read more at http://goo.gl/ReKjUI
Caterpillar digs in to data analytics—investing in hot startup Uptake
The mining and construction equipment maker wants a piece of the industrial Internet. Its strategy? Turn to the startup world for help.
General Electric isn’t the only industrial giant attempting to jumpstart its business with data and software services. On Thursday morning Caterpillar announced it has made a minority investment in Uptake, a Chicago-based data analytics platform co-founded by long-time entrepreneur Brad Keywell, who is profiled in the current issue of Fortune.
As part of the agreement, Caterpillar and Uptake will co-develop “predictive diagnostics” tools for the larger company’s customers. (Uptake says it is also working with other players in insurance, automotive and healthcare, though it won’t disclose other names.) The idea? To take the mountains of data spewing from bulldozers and hydraulic shovels and turn it into meaningful information that can help Caterpillar’s customers catch potential maintenance issues before breakdowns occur, minimizing downtime.
“We had some experience in this [data analytics] because of our our autonomous mining equipment,” Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s CEO, said in an interview with Fortune last month. “But we were really looking for somebody to help us jumpstart this. And that’s where the lightbulb went on between Brad and I.”
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/tPuoNg
This Nuclear Reactor Eats Nuclear Waste. Nuclear power isn't going anywhere. But safer designs are sorely needed.
Nuclear power provides the promise of carbon-free electricity, but there are just too many "buts" for many people to accept. No one wants another Fukushima and the United States still doesn’t know what to do with more than 60,000 tons of radioactive waste that has accumulated at its reactor sites. Then there’s the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation and national security to worry about, not to mention the environmental toll of mining for uranium.
A startup—itself a rare concept in the nuclear industry—is working on designs for a new reactor that could address many of these concerns. Transatomic Power’s molten salt reactor design could run on either spent nuclear waste (for countries like the U.S. that have a lot of it) or fresh fuel enriched to lower, cheaper, and safer levels of uranium compared to traditional reactors.
"We have a type of nuclear reactor that environmentalists can really get behind," says CEO Leslie Dewan, a 30-year-old graduate of MIT’s nuclear engineering PhD program and co-founder of the company.
Molten salt reactors aren’t new; designs for them have been around since the 1950s. They have advantages over the light water reactors in use today because they can be operated at normal pressures and shutdown safely even during a power failure. However, previous designs have required very highly enriched uranium to operate. Transatomic’s new design would require much lower-level uranium enrichment or could simply operate on radioactive waste. The reactor core would also be smaller and able to burn up to 96% of the energy from the fuel over long periods of time—a far higher efficiency than reactors today.
Dewan and her co-founder, Mark Massie, met at MIT in 2010 and decided to look for a project to work on together after they finished their grueling qualifying exams. With their hearts in their throat, they presented their concept for the first time to an audience at TEDxBoston. It was 2011, just after the Fukushima disaster had occurred, and they didn’t know how the audience would react. They received a standing ovation.
READ MORE. http://www.fastcoexist.com/3043099/this-nuclear-reactor-eats-nuclear-waste
Beautiful but strange: The dark side of cosmology (Science)
It’s a beautiful theory: the standard model of cosmology describes the universe using just six parameters. But it is also strange. The model predicts that dark matter and dark energy – two mysterious entities that have never been detected — make up 95% of the universe, leaving only 5% composed of the ordinary matter so essential to our existence.
In an article in this week’s Science, Princeton astrophysicist David Spergel reviews how cosmologists came to be certain that we are surrounded by matter and energy that we cannot see. Observations of galaxies, supernovae, and the universe’s temperature, among other things, have led researchers to conclude that the universe is mostly uniform and flat, but is expanding due to a puzzling phenomenon called dark energy. The rate of expansion is increasing over time, counteracting the attractive force of gravity. This last observation, says Spergel, implies that if you throw a ball upward you will see it start to accelerate away from you.
READ MORE: https://blogs.princeton.edu/research/2015/03/05/beautiful-but-strange-the-dark-side-of-cosmology-science/
Preparing for a Price on Carbon: Lessons from 3 Companies
ive months after the UN Climate Leadership Summit, with its unprecedented call to action for putting a price on carbon, low oil prices have provoked governments to look again at whether they have prices right and to consider how to exploit a golden opportunity to reset signals within their economies for lower-carbon growth.
Business leaders in closed-door and public sessions in Davos last month talked of the inevitability of effective prices on carbon and the need for an orderly transition to lower-carbon growth. There was a sense that business, not normally reticent when pointing out how policy can negatively affect operations, needs to use its voice to urge smart, early policy action on carbon pricing. The bottom line was that this price signal will be essential, if insufficient on its own, to steer economies closer to a pathway that can keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
The voices were CEOs, from all sectors of the economy and all regions of the world. They recognize the risks climate change poses to their supply chains and businesses.
Last week, we heard those arguments again as organizations that have come together since the summit into a Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) met to assess progress and plan for 2015.
READ MORE. http://blogs.worldbank.org/climatechange/
For The First Time, A Manmade Spacecraft Is Orbiting A Dwarf Planet
At 7:39 EST this morning, the dwarf planet Ceres captured the Dawn spacecraft in its gravity. After a journey of more than seven years, the spacecraft will spend the next 16 months orbiting this tiny world 260 million miles away.
Dawn is not only the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet, but the first to orbit two different worlds. It visited the asteroid Vesta between 2011 and 2012, returning loads of data and some amazing pictures. The two-stop journey would not have been possible without Dawn’s unique ion engines.
Now the spacecraft is orbiting Ceres at a height of approximately 38,000 miles. For the time being, Dawn is making its approach on a side of Ceres that faces away from the Sun. But by mid-April, Dawn will emerge from the dark side, descend to a height of 8,400 miles, and start sending home visuals and data. At its closest, Dawn will orbit Ceres at just 230 miles, mapping its topography, composition, and gravity in detail.
Situated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is considered to be an embryonic planet whose development froze midway through. Scientists hope that studying it will provide clues as to how planets form, and what kinds of factors cause some planets to become icy like the outer planets of our solar system, or dry and rocky like Earth.
Until now, Ceres has been shrouded in mystery. But as Dawn moves in, we’ll see this tiny planet at a resolution 800 times better than we have before. Expect to see some surprises along the way—including, maybe, cryovolcanoes, moons, and a subsurface ocean.
READ MORE. http://www.popsci.com/nasa-dawn-spacecraft-now-orbiting-dwarf-planet-ceres?dom=tw&src=SOC
Ikea to sell furniture that will charge your smartphone
Swedish furniture maker Ikea International A/S unveiled a new range of furniture that it says can wirelessly charge some mobile devices.
The collection includes tables, desks and lamps which have wireless charging pads in them. The wireless charging works through an energy induction transfer. The furniture itself needs to be connected to a power source. The collection will hit the shelves of Ikea shops in Europe and North America on April, 15, followed by a global roll-out.
Ikea’s introduction of wireless charging functionality on some of its new furniture heats up the battle for a global wireless charging standard, of which there are currently three, all struggling to become the global leader. Ikea will equip its new range of furniture with Qi-certified wireless chargers from the Wireless Power Consortium and has also joined the organization. The Qi-standard is supported by smartphone makers like Samsung, HTC and Microsoft.
READ MORE: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ikea-to-sell-furniture-that-will-charge-your-smartphone-2015-03-02?mod=MethodeStories&link=sfmw
Intel unveils Broadwell desktop CPU with Iris Pro graphics at GDC 15
When you think about overclocking, generally the first things that come to mind aren't mini PCs and all-in-one desktops. These form factors were developed for convenience first, and performance second, so they tend to receive lower-end or last-generation processors that won't exact satisfy hard-core PC gamers.
But that perception might be changing. For instance, the forthcoming arrival of Steam Machines for living room gaming is the most visible sign that small-form-factor PCs are starting to demand more performance. Intel, still the runaway leader in desktop processors (and creator of the NUC mini-PC platform), appears ready to respond, based on its announcement from this year's Game Developers Conference.
The company unveiled a new fifth-generation (or Broadwell) Core processor that will be notable for a couple of reasons. It will be the first Broadwell LGA-socketed processor to include Iris Pro Graphics, the integrated graphics solution that has been most notable to date for being included with Apple's recent iMacs and MacBook Pros. While it won't replace a high-end discrete graphics card, the Iris Pro graphics will perform far better than the integrated graphics of old.
Also of particular interest to tweakers is that this CPU will be unlocked, which makes it easier to overclock. Most consumers -- especially those buying all-in-ones -- won't be interested in that capability, but the fact that Intel is indicating that it's unlocked suggests there is interest in the feature, even in a lower-power (65W) processor. The company also announced that gaming utility Raptr (pictured above) will work with Intel integrated graphics, tweaking your hardware settings to optimize performance with just a single button.
READ MORE. http://www.zdnet.com/article/intel-unveils-broadwell-cpu-with-iris-pro-graphics-at-gdc-15/
You Are Being Judged By These 4 Things. Others make decisions about you in only a few milliseconds...with good information, you can ensure that you're able to make a great first impression.
Imagine that you're preparing for an important meeting. Everything seems perfect: Your hair looks great; your new suit fits well; your shoes are polished. You've done everything possible to make a great first impression.
But some things are beyond our control. Everyone we meet will make assumptions about us...and we will do the same. How quickly do people make decisions about others?
33% of managers know within 90 seconds if they will hire you
People will determine if you're trustworthy within 1/10 of a second
Before the brain registers your gender, it has already decided if you are likable
"There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis." wrote Malcolm Gladwell, in his best-seller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Gladwell introduced the concept of "thin slicing," the lightening-quick process of deciding characteristics, from attractiveness to intelligence to financial success.
READ MORE. http://www.inc.com/rhett-power/you-have-milliseconds-to-make-a-great-first-impression-4-keys-to-success.html?cid=sf01001
Are Consumer-operated Insurance Plans a Healthy Choice?
We’re into the second year of the Affordable Care Act, and the consumer-operated and oriented health plans (CO-OPs) provided in many stares as alternatives to the plans put forth by insurers are starting to get closer scrutiny.
Those CO-OPs were reviewed in a report just issued by the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In a recent interview on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio on SiriusXM channel 111, Wharton health care management professor Scott Harrington, the author of the report, talked about what his findings.
Cisco’s John Chambers: Digital Disruption Is an Opportunity for CIOs
Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers said digital disruption facing companies is so intense that one-third of corporate leadership teams will not make the transition over the next three years.For CIOs, though, it’s an opportunity to elevate their roles. “It’s a chance for IT to be back in vogue,” said Mr. Chambers.
READ MORE: http://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2015/02/03/ciscos-john-chambers-digital-disruption-is-an-opportunity-for-cios/
From Local Loops to Global Champions: Scenarios for Sustainable Lifestyles 2050
The fact that European lifestyles are not sustainable in the long term is hardly a surprise for anyone. However, there has been a total gap in through research into what kind of social structures and lifestyles can be disruptively more sustainable. In this scenario-report we present extensive and in-depth research on sustainable lifestyles into year 2050. The scenario’s are based on the two significant uncertainties. Future technology is either “pandemic” or “endemic”. Additionally future society’s governing principle is either humancentric or meritocratic. From these different viewpoints we have created four alternative scenarios for lifestyles in 2050. The scenarios are Singular Super Champions, Governing the Commons, Local Loops and Empathetic Communities.
READ MORE. http://www.demoshelsinki.fi/en/julkaisut/from-local-loops-to-global-champions-scenarios-for-sustainable-lifestyles-2050-2/
An effective supply chain is the key to creating business value. This paper will help you benchmark your performance today and take a methodical organizational approach to improving your supply chain effectiveness.
. Orchestrating a Supply Chain Competitive Edge An effective supply chain is the key to creating business value. By understanding the four stages of supply chain maturity — from decentralization to orchestration — organizations can focus change efforts and maximize results.
2. 2 KEEP CHALLENGING January 2015
3. Executive Summary Your Supply Chain Matters Whether your industry is retail or manufacturing, transport or healthcare, your supply chain is the key to creating business value. An effective supply chain delights customers (internal and external, business and consumer), controls operational costs, and supports growth and expansion into new markets. But what makes for an effective supply chain? And how can you approach new initiatives and transformations to increase that effectiveness? That’s what this paper explores. We introduce a model for supply chain maturity that can take you from a standing start to the highest levels of excellence. We also provide the frameworks and questions to ask that will help you benchmark your performance today, and take a methodical organizational approach to improving your supply chain effectiveness. Throughout we have provided references to other publications that can help broaden your insight and get you started on your journey. ORCHESTRATING A SUPPLY CHAIN COMPETITIVE EDGE 3
4. Climbing the Supply Chain Maturity Curve Mounting Pressure to Excel The end goal of any supply chain is to be “capable to deliver” — having a full picture of the lead time and resources that must be committed to meet the customer’s delivery expectations. That has always been a challenge to achieve, and today a host of trends are putting even more pressure on organizations’ supply chains. In agriculture, for example, consumers are demanding to know where the food on their supermarket shelves has come from, with unbroken traceability from “field to fork”. In retail, customers expect stores to deliver a truly omni-channel experience, with same-day delivery and no compromise on quality. Breaking Down the Barriers Supply chains have many moving parts, spanning multiple organizations, and in reality they’re complex networks or ecosystems rather than simple chains. When looking to drive improvements in supply chain performance, it’s not enough to focus on one supply chain activity, one process or one entity in isolation. Arguably, that’s exactly what ERP systems have encouraged. Many organizations today have localized excellence, but processes and systems that are siloed. They’re held back by the constraints of legacy systems and fragmented organizational structures, and the experience they deliver is just as outdated and disjointed. Competitive edge arises from mastering the big picture: orchestrating the movement of goods and information seamlessly across functional and even organizational boundaries and building effective end-to-end value chains. Every industry has its own supply chain dynamics. But many are looking to reduce manual “touches”, improve cross-organization collaboration, and improve speed to market through careful orchestration of just-in-time component delivery and product pickup. Fast Food The food industry is one example of an industry looking to better integrate supply chains for speed, efficiency and traceability. Read more in “A Leap Toward Sustainable Development.” http://cogniz.at/1wlQFkH Quick Take 4 KEEP CHALLENGING January 2015
5. Four Steps to Business Value Evolution and Revolution There’s a continuum of supply chain sophistication and effectiveness. We’ve identified four landmarks on this continuum (see The Four Levels of Supply Chain Maturity), which can help you benchmark your current performance and identify what you can achieve in the future. This paper describes that model and provides some recommendations for how you can move your organization to the next level. The four levels represent different degrees of business value created by the supply chain — and different levels of business change needed to get there. • Level 1: Decentralized. Individual processes and regions are optimized for efficiency and performance, but there is little integration between elements of the supply chain. Each unit operates independently. • Level 2: Unified. Internal departments, such as procurement, finance and logistics, are integrated as one team to create a central supply chain organization. You have one supply chain across geographies. But this still leaves suppliers and customers on the outside. • Level 3: Networked. Integration creates a networked organization that brings in partners, suppliers and even competitors to share information and reduce the number of touchpoints. It will also see you develop a common language for all units, which means that payment terms and delivery timescales, for example, are standardized across your supplier ecosystem. • Level 4: Orchestrated. At this stage you have created a complete end-to-end supply chain that’s “capable to deliver”. Here everyone is working together to get the right product, to the right place, at the right time. The entire supply chain function is tightly integrated and synchronized, able to deal with huge complexity and dramatic fluctuations in supply, demand and participant behavior. There is a single view of customer demand across all channels of purchasing and fulfilment, shared by all supply chain partners in real time. Ultimately, the goal is to have a touchless supply chain, where the order is taken by the organization’s sales function or retail partner and fulfilled directly by the supplier. Among others, Gartner has proposed an alternative but compatible model, which it calls the “Demand-Driven Maturity Model”1 . During its five stages — react, anticipate, integrate, collaborate, orchestrate — organizations increasingly adopt an “outside-in” mindset, integrating business unit supply chain functions, customers and networks, benefiting from increasing levels of standardization, scalability and adaptability. By delivering more efficient and better quality service to customers even as demand and supply factors fluctuate, they maximize profitability. Evolutionary supply chain Increasing degree of business change Increasing degree of business value Revolutionary supply chain Orchestrated Uni?ed Networked Decentralized The Four Levels of Supply Chain Maturity Figure 1 ORCHESTRATING A SUPPLY CHAIN COMPETITIVE EDGE 5
6. How Mature is your Supply Chain? Most Supply Chains are a Long Way from Orchestration Although organizations today have more sophisticated systems available to support them than ever before, most still report low levels of supply chain integration. As you can see below only 10% report “high” levels of integration. We can map these tiers to levels 1, 2 and 3 on our model — very few organizations have attained level 4 today. Change is No Easy Task It’s no surprise that many organizations are still at an early stage on this maturity curve. A large retailer, auto manufacturer, food and beverage manufacturer or pharmaceuticals company may have thousands of outlets and depots, thousands of SKUs made from millions of assemblies, components and raw materials, and thousands of suppliers in dozens of countries. Dozens of related systems and processes around pricing, promotions, packaging, payment terms and more are also intimately connected. This complexity only functions thanks to layers of legacy systems, experienced practitioners, and large numbers of distributed physical assets, from retail point of sale systems to warehouse inventory and fleet dispatch applications. Changing these processes, people and systems is like steering an oil tanker: it’s slow going and has to be done with care if you’re to avoid a disaster. Maintaining the Status Quo is Not Enough Although change is difficult, every organization needs to establish a plan for advancing their supply chain competencies in order to maintain a competitive edge. According to PwC2 , CEOs are looking to supply chain leaders to support business growth in a range of different areas: • New product or service development — cited by 35%. • Organic growth in existing domestic markets — cited by 30%. • New M&A, JV or strategic alliance — cited by 20%. • Organic growth in new geographic markets — cited by 15%. Supply chain organizations are responding to these goals with advanced new capabilities. In our 2014 benchmarking study3 , 83% of supply chain leaders said that supply chain is heading toward real-time planning. 78% said that adaptive planning will become commonplace. 75% said that their planning function is becoming globalized. And 64% say that they will increasingly use new data sources, such as social, in their planning. 22% have a disconnected planning environment 55% have a “modestly” integrated planning environment 10% have a highly integrated supply chain planning environment Cognizant’s supply chain planning benchmark study 2014 found that Figure 2 Supply Chain Intelligence To find out more about the state of supply chain excellence, read the “2014 Supply Chain Planning Benchmark Study.” http://cogniz.at/1nC289M Quick Take 6 KEEP CHALLENGING January 2015
REAR MORE. http://www.slideshare.net/cognizant/orchestrating-a-supply-chain-competitive-edge
Microgravity rovers. A lightness of being. Space vehicles that can operate in the ultra low-gravity on asteroids and comets are having to employ novel locomotive systems
AFTER hurtling more than 6 billion kilometres through space for over a decade, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) probe Rosetta began orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko last year. In November the mother ship released its lander, Philae, which appeared to descend to the surface successfully. But elation at the European mission-control centres soon turned to concern. Philae had bounced back up again due to a failure of the explosives-powered harpoons that were supposed to anchor it to the surface. The harpoons were necessary because a small body like a comet generates little gravity. So little, in fact, that if Philae bounced faster than 44cm per second it was in danger of exceeding the comet’s escape velocity, the speed that an object needs to be travelling to break free of a body’s gravity.
As luck would have it, Philae fell back to the surface and eventually came to a stop where insufficient sunlight could reach its solar panels. The craft managed to deliver some data until its batteries ran out of power 64 hours later. One day Philae might be revived if 67P happens to move into more sunlight. Even so, the difficulties the mission encountered help to explain why space agencies are putting so much effort into designing machines which are capable of not only landing on bodies with microgravity but also travelling around them without flying off in all directions.
Wheeled rovers have long trundled across the Moon and Mars, but their gravities are merely low—a sixth and a third, respectively, of that on Earth, which has an escape velocity of 11km per second. Wheeled and tracked rovers could probably be made to work in gravity as low as a hundredth of that on Earth, says Issa Nesnas, head of the Robotic Mobility Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. But in the far weaker microgravity of small bodies like asteroids and comets, they would fail to get a grip in fine regolith. Wheels might also hover above the ground, spinning hopelessly and using up power. So an entirely different system of locomotion is needed for rovers operating in a microgravity.
READ MORE: http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21645508-space-vehicles-can-operate-ultra-low-gravity-asteroids-and-comets-are?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/ed/alightnessofbeing
Concern over cyber threats has CEOs warming to government collaboration
With cyber attacks the new normal in business, CEOs from the biggest companies expressed the highest concern over cybersecurity. Compared to all other hindrances to growth, cyber threats caused the sharpest uptick in worry for US CEOs. And surprisingly, while CEOs see over-regulation as a growth impediment, a relatively large number say they welcome government-business collaboration on cybersecurity—signaling a shift for the sake of securing business ecosystems.
READ MORE: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/ceo-survey/secure-assets.jhtml
Apple, Google, eBay step up mobile payments arms race
Pulling out a wad of cash, or writing a check at the Whole Foods checkout counter, are already outmoded ways of paying for goods. And as mobile payment systems continue to evolve, that swipe of a plastic card outfitted with a magnetic stripe could soon be obsolete too.
Mobile payment systems are developing at a dizzying pace, after being kick-started last September when Apple Pay was introduced. In the six months since then, the likes of Google, Samsung, PayPal and others have scrambled to launch new systems and secure a slice of a rapidly-growing market.
It’s like an arms race, said Mark Ranta, a senior consultant at ACI Worldwide.
“We’re basically asking consumers to change what they’ve done for the last 20 to 35 years,” Ranta said. “The younger generation will adopt mobile payments much sooner, but for everyone else, it is going to take a while.”
READ MORE. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/state-of-pay-an-overview-of-mobile-payments-2015-03-06?link=sfmw
This Solar-Powered Plane Is About To Fly Around The World (Very Slowly)
After endless years of planning (and a not-so-successful dry run), the Solar Impulse sun-powered plane is about to take off on its around-the-world voyage — provided it's not too cloudy, of course.
The Solar Impulse 2 isn't your average aircraft: it's been designed from the ground up with this mission in mind. Over 17,000 solar cells line its wings, supplying a series of electric motors and charging four on-board lithium batteries. It's designed to be entirely solar-powered, and, thanks to those batteries, able to fly through day and night. While we've certainly seen solar planes before, it's the first that can actually fly between continents — and, if all goes well, it'll soon be the first to fly around the world.
The trip is due to take place over five months. It's starting and finishing in Abu Dhabi, with around 25 full flight days split into twelve legs. As such, the craft is unlikely to be breaking speed records any time soon, but to the minds behind the project, Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, that's not the point. For them it's the energy efficiency of the project that makes it exciting. They're not so concerned with changing the aviation industry just yet, so much as changing the public perception about how exciting renewable energy can be. In other words, this is as much publicity stunt as technological milestone.
READ MORE. http://gizmodo.com/this-solar-powered-plane-is-about-to-fly-around-the-wor-1690077257?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_twitter&utm_source=gizmodo_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow
Foreign Banks in China Can Leverage Digital Expertise for Growth
Sushil Saluja is senior managing director (financial services) for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America of management consulting, technology services and outsourcing firm Accenture. His expertise includes China and India; he was earlier senior managing director for financial services in the Asia Pacific region and oversaw Accenture’s financial services business in India.
Last month, Saluja was named chairman of TheCityUK’s ASEAN market advisory group. TheCityUK is a lobbying group for the financial and related professional services industry. He is also on the board of Heart of the City, a London-based charity promoting corporate and social responsibility among smaller companies in London.
READ MORE. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/foreign-banks-china-can-leverage-digital-expertise-growth/
Apple Loop: Apple Overtakes Samsung, Replaces AT&T, Doubles iPhone RAM, Delays iPad Pro
Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop covers Apple’s success in the smartphone sales table, replacing AT&T in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Android Wear on iOS, a potential MacBook Air announcement, doubling the memory in the next iPhone, iPad Pro delays, Microsoft Office’s preview app, and the $75,000 Apple Watch.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read our weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
READ MORE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2015/03/06/apple-news-digest-apple-smartphone-sales-ipad-pro-macbook-air-12/?utm_campaign=ForbesTech&utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_channel=Technology&linkId=12757025
How to Manage Cellular Data Usage on iPhone, iPad With iOS 8
When Apple introduced the iPhone, it also managed to get AT&T and then other carriers to offer unlimited data plans in the United States and in a few other countries. That didn’t last, especially as networks became congested with heavy data use.
There are still millions of people grandfathered into old plans that allow unlimited data use, but most of us—and all-new users and network switchers—are either on plans that have a fixed amount of data included in each billing period and then charge fees for overages, or on plans that allow “unlimited” usage, but after a certain amount of data is consumed, the connection is throttled from Mbps to Kbps for the remainder of the billing period.
I’m on a family plan with AT&T that allows 10GB of use per month among all our cellular-enabled devices, and then charges $15 per additional gigabyte. After many months on this plan, we haven’t exceeded our allocation.
READ MORE: http://www.cio.com/article/2893377/ios/how-to-manage-cellular-data-usage-on-iphone-ipad-with-ios-8.html?utm_campaign=sflow_tweet#tk.rss_all
Your next phone contract might be with Google…
our next cellphone contract could be with Google, after the search giant confirmed plans to become a mobile operator.
The project will be "small scale," according to Sundar Pichai, Google's Android chief, who was speaking at Mobile World Congress on Monday, but did not give any specific details about the company's plans.
"I think we're at the stage where we need to think of hardware, software, and connectivity together," Pichai added.
"We don't intend to be a carrier at scale, and we're working with existing partners. You'll see some of our ideas come to fruition in the next few months."
An employee walks through the lobby of Google's Washington headquarters, January 8, 2015 in Washington, DC.
An employee walks through the lobby of Google's Washington headquarters, January 8, 2015 in Washington, DC.
The news follows media reports last month that Google was looking to partner with T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. to operate their wireless service.
Pichai did not confirm this, but said the company is working with "some partners" on the project.
Google would sign a resale deal with a carrier, known as a mobile virtual network operator agreement (MVNO). This would allow it to essentially rent capacity from existing carriers and means Google won't have to build costly infrastructure.
Pichai said Google's service would not compete directly with the likes of Verizon and T-Mobile.
READ MORE: http://www.cnbc.com/id/102468442
Five Cool Things Revealed at Mobile World Congress. This year’s Mobile World Congress was about everything except the mobile phones.
Smart watches got stylish, tablets got new software, and virtual reality goggles wrapped their tentacles around everyone’s faces. Some companies are deconstructing their mobiles into modules. And discussions of the next generation of mobile networks, 5G, centered on how useful it will be for the Internet of Things, not mobile voice or data.
Here is a look at five important tech developments from this week’s conference:
Deconstructing the mobile: the pieces come together for modular mobiles.
Smartphone maker Yezz showed off a prototype of Google’s Project Ara modular phone, which can fit up to 11 components onto its frame. The concept goes back to the PhoneBloks project, which has promoted modular phones as way of reducing e-waste. Also this week in Barcelona, Circular Devices announced at the parallel 4 Years From Now conference that its Puzzle Phone is also on the way.
A fresh operating system for tablets.
Jolla, a Finnish startup that crowdfunded its flagship tablet last year, has also experimented with separating the NFC-equipped back half of its smartphone and attaching keyboards via magnets. So far, that’s not too different from other external cases. But its tablet, which has a gestures-only operating system called Sailfish OS, won the Best Tablet award today at MWC. The firm also announced that a future version will be the first open security-focused operating system.
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/nvFofO
Mobile Phone Data Reveals Humanity's Reproductive Strategies
Combining old fashioned questionnaires with data mining techniques reveals increasingly detailed insights into the way young men and women allocate their time and resources.
The study of human behaviour has always been a difficult, time consuming and expensive business. Anthropologists have largely carried out their research with small scale experiments in the lab, field observations and questionnaires.
All this has changed in recent years with the mobile phone revolution. All of a sudden, social scientists have been able to study humanity cheaply and easily on an unprecedented scale. This data has revealed detailed patterns of commuting, rhythms in cities and even ways of measuring economic prosperity.
Today, Talayeh Aledavood at Aalto University in Finland and a few pals take this process to new levels of detail. These guys have combined the old and new approaches by gathering mobile phone data about when and where people contact each other and combining it with the information from questionnaires about the significance of the relationships people have with each other.
The results provide a unique window into human behaviour. They show how daily patterns of communication are remarkably robust to major life changes. It also reveals fascinating detail about the way in which gender influences the resources men and women allocate to communication strategies.
READ MORE. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/535671/mobile-phone-data-reveals-humanitys-reproductive-strategies/
The rise and fall of cognitive skills. Neuroscientists find that different parts of the brain work best at different ages.
Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as fluid intelligence, peaks around age 20 and then begins a slow decline. However, more recent findings, including a new study from neuroscientists at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), suggest that the real picture is much more complex.
The study, which appears in the journal Psychological Science, finds that different components of fluid intelligence peak at different ages, some as late as age 40.
“At any given age, you’re getting better at some things, you’re getting worse at some other things, and you’re at a plateau at some other things. There’s probably not one age at which you’re peak on most things, much less all of them,” says Joshua Hartshorne, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and one of the paper’s authors.
“It paints a different picture of the way we change over the lifespan than psychology and neuroscience have traditionally painted,” adds Laura Germine, a postdoc in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental genetics at MGH and the paper’s other author.
READ MORE. https://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/brain-peaks-at-different-ages-0306
New detector sniffs out origins of methane. Instrument identifies methane’s origins in mines, deep-sea vents, and cows.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, second only to carbon dioxide in its capacity to trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere for a long time. The gas can originate from lakes and swamps, natural-gas pipelines, deep-sea vents, and livestock. Understanding the sources of methane, and how the gas is formed, could give scientists a better understanding of its role in warming the planet.
Now a research team led by scientists at MIT and including colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of Toronto, and elsewhere has developed an instrument that can rapidly and precisely analyze samples of environmental methane to determine how the gas was formed.
The approach, called tunable infrared laser direct absorption spectroscopy, detects the ratio of methane isotopes, which can provide a “fingerprint” to differentiate between two common origins: microbial, in which microorganisms, typically living in wetlands or the guts of animals, produce methane as a metabolic byproduct; or thermogenic, in which organic matter, buried deep within the Earth, decays to methane at high temperatures.
The researchers used the technique to analyze methane samples from settings including lakes, swamps, groundwater, deep-sea vents, and the guts of cows, as well as methane generated by microbes in the lab.
“We are interested in the question, ‘Where does methane come from?’” says Shuhei Ono, an assistant professor of geochemistry in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. “If we can partition how much is from cows, natural gas, and other sources, we can more reliably strategize what to do about global warming.”
Ono and his colleagues, including first author and graduate student David Wang, publish their results this week in the journal Science.
READ MORE. http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/detector-sniffs-out-methane-0305
Lockheed Martin’s Laser Weapon Incinerates Truck
Lockheed Martin’s 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a small truck during a recent field test, demonstrating the rapidly evolving precision capability to protect military forces and critical infrastructure.
Known as ATHENA, for Advanced Test High Energy Asset, the ground-based prototype system burned through the engine manifold in a matter of seconds from more than a mile away. The truck was mounted on a test platform with its engine and drive train running to simulate an operationally-relevant test scenario.
“Fiber-optic lasers are revolutionizing directed energy systems,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin chief technology officer. “We are investing in every component of the system – from the optics and beam control to the laser itself – to drive size, weight and power efficiencies. This test represents the next step to providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks.”
READ MORE: http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/9722/Lockheed-Laser-Weapon-Incinerates-Truck.aspx
Infor Cloud PLM for Discrete Manufacturers: What’s under the hood?
Infor is widely known as an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software vendor with its extended portfolio in CRM (customer relationship management), SCM (supply chain management) and other enterprise software products. Over the years, Infor has been expanding its PLM portfolio mostly by acquisition to serve specific industries. It acquired Formation Systems in 2005 that led to its Optiva PLM process solution and Lawson for fashion PLM.
The ION framework under the Infor’s PLM solution enables integration with core Infor ERP hubs such as LN, SyteLine, M3 and VISUAL. Customers also get social/collaborative support with Social Space and Infor Ming.le. Infor Accelerate from Aras is integrated with ERP and multiple CAD products. Users can expect the CAD integration to have same capabilities as offered by Aras. The ERP-PLM-CAD integration gives customers deep flexibility across engineer-to-order(ETO) and assemble-to-order (ATO) manufacturing. . Infor PLM Discrete uses Infor 10x technology to integrate with Infor solutions and third-party applications, including ERP and CAD systems.
READ MORE: http://www.engineering.com/DesignSoftware/DesignSoftwareArticles/ArticleID/9721/Infor-Cloud-PLM-for-Discrete-Manufacturers-Whats-under-the-hood.aspx
Capitalizing on Asia’s digital-banking boom. Our new survey shows Asia’s finance consumers are rapidly switching to online banking, presenting risks and opportunities for companies.
Since 2011, adoption of digital-banking services has soared across Asia. Consumers are turning to computers, smartphones, and tablets more often to do business with their banks, while visiting branches and calling service lines less frequently. In developed Asian markets, Internet banking is now near universal, and smartphone banking has grown more than threefold since 2011. In emerging Asian markets, the trend is similarly dynamic, with about a quarter of consumers using computers and smartphones for their banking. And despite some structural obstacles, we believe this surge will continue—and incumbents and market entrants alike should prepare for the consequences.
READ MORE. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/financial_services/Capitalizing_on_Asias_digital-banking_boom
Big Brother will get bigger in the wake of the Boston bombings
Video surveillance is big business but now it is expected to get even bigger… After law enforcement used closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to help identify the Boston bombing suspects. Lawmakers and surveillance advocates in the U.S renewed calls for increased numbers of cameras nationwide.
Law enforcement officials in New York are almost certain to oblige. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kellywants to “increase significantly” the amount of surveillance equipment in Manhattan, which already has one of the country’s most robust systems.
According to Forbes the argument for greater surveillance is straightforward. Horrible events in places like Boston is a reminder that we’re vulnerable. The best way to limit events like the bombings, the argument goes, is to accept 24-hour surveillance in public spaces. And when you see someone maimed by bomb shrapnel, privacy concerns sound coldly abstract.
No amount of security can completely eliminate risk, so it’s difficult to know where to draw the line. Are 10,000 cameras really twice as good as 5,000? In tragedy’s aftermath, it can be tough to have a serious conversation about how much to invest. But when the goal is to push risk as close to zero as possible, spending can asymptotically stretch into infinity.
Research suggests brain's melatonin may trigger sleep
If you walk into your local drug store and ask for a supplement to help you sleep, you might be directed to a bottle labeled "melatonin." The hormone supplement's use as a sleep aid is supported by anecdotal evidence and even some reputable research studies. However, our bodies also make melatonin naturally, and until a recent Caltech study using zebrafish, no one knew how—or even if—this melatonin contributed to our natural sleep. The new work suggests that even in the absence of a supplement, naturally occurring melatonin may help us fall and stay asleep.
The study was published online in the March 5 issue of the journal Neuron.
"When we first tell people that we're testing whether melatonin is involved in sleep, the response is often, 'Don't we already know that?'" says Assistant Professor of Biology David Prober. "This is a reasonable response based on articles in newspapers and melatonin products available on the Internet. However, while some scientific studies show that supplemental melatonin can help to promote sleep, many studies failed to observe this, so the effectiveness of melatonin supplements is controversial. More importantly, these studies don't tell you anything about what naturally occurring melatonin normally does in the body."
READ MORE: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-brain-melatonin-trigger.html
Students launch desktop recycler that turns pop bottles into 3D printer plastic
Three engineering physics students at the University of British Columbia have developed a desktop plastic recycler and extruder that turns plastic waste into the material needed for 3D printing.
Called ProtoCycler, the machine can grind plastic, such as pop bottles and Lego, and melt it into a filament that can be fed into 3D printers.
ProtoCycler began as a fourth-year engineering project for inventors Dennon Oosterman, Alex Kay and David Joyce.
"We were concerned about the amount of plastic waste generated in our engineering projects, so we looked for a way to recycle that plastic back into usable filament," Oosterman said.
While there are other desktop filament extruders and plastic grinders on the market, ProtoCycler combines the two and is faster and easier to use. It can produce 10 feet of filament per minute – the fastest extruder on the market, says Oosterman.
Single ion shuttles the critical electron in fuel cell CO conversion
Not present when the reaction starts or ends, the driving force behind turning poisonous carbon monoxide into a benign form is a single atom that appears in the heat of action, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In the simulations, carbon monoxide binds with a gold nanoparticle on top of a cerium dioxide support. The carbon monoxide changes the surface; it spurs a single gold ion to leave the nanoparticle. The ion delivers an electron and returns to the particle.
"This is single-atom catalysis," said Dr. Roger Rousseau, a computational chemist at PNNL who co-led the study. "With a new twist—the catalyst is dynamically formed under operating conditions."
Clean air. Converting or oxidizing carbon monoxide is vital in fuel cells that create electricity without pollutants. It is also used in cleaning the air in firefighters' masks. Such oxidations could also apply to similar reactions used in manufacturing. Understanding exactly how the catalyst that drives this reaction works could open doors for improved efficiency and reduced costs.
READ MORE: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-ion-shuttles-critical-electron-fuel.html#jCp
Exploring new chemical paradigm with the theory of nonadiabatic electron
his volume offers a clear perspective of the relevant ideas and methodology relevant to the chemical theory of the next generation beyond the Born-Oppenheimer paradigm. It bridges the gap between cutting-edge technology of attosecond laser science and the theory of chemical reactivity. The essence of this book lies in the method of nonadiabatic electron wavepacket dynamic, which will set a new foundation for theoretical chemistry. The future direction of chemical reaction theory is clearly illustrated.
The Born-Oppenheimer framework to treat molecules have dominated the theoretical foundation of chemistry in the 20th century since their seminal paper in 1927 and even to date, which dynamically separates electronic and nuclear motions under an assumption that electrons can follow the nuclear dynamics almost instantaneously. This idea successfully leads to the static view of molecular geometry and the notion of electronic stationary-states that adjust themselves to any nuclear configurations in space. However, nonadiabatic interactions and associated quantum transitions arising from the breakdown of the Born-Oppenheimer separation are critically important in chemical reaction dynamics. This is because almost all the interesting chemical and even biological processes involve nonadiabatic transition events in them. Besides, the recent progress of laser technology makes it possible not only to track the real-time dynamics of ultrafast chemical reactions but also to control chemical reactions in terms of intense electromagnetic vector fields. These situations of are far from those of dates when the classic theories such as the Born-Oppenheimer approximation have been established.
READ MORE: http://phys.org/wire-news/187093948/exploring-new-chemical-paradigm-with-the-theory-of-nonadiabatic.html#ajTabs
The Digital Network 3.0 in the Services Providers of 2020: Creating Value from Disruption
This paper presents an Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)-type layer model of the “Digital World,” combined with the different roles the provider can play and the key initiatives required in order to make the new model a reality.
Digital service providers are driving the digital transformation at the heart of today’s “Digital World.” Their software controlled network is an essential component in the globally interconnected world, and plays a vital role in driving the economic and social standards of society.
In recent years, disruptive players, ranging from over-the-top (OTT) entities to super platforms have frequently offered differentiating and competing services, while in many cases exhibiting a significantly leaner operating model through the use of IT operations paradigms. Given these circumstances, service providers and enterprises are being required to rethink their business and operating models. One of the key components of the provider’s and enterprise’s new thinking should be the accelerated phase-out of legacy networks in favor of a new network that will enable them to operate in tomorrow’s fragmented world, with its plenitude of players.
The new network, which will incorporate Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) in order to meet future broadband requirements, will enable high-quality services, lower operating costs, and a reduced time to market for new services, while also permitting providers to maintain a healthy margin.
REAR MORE. http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/insight-open-systems-interconnection-model-networking.aspx?c=cmt_comsmtwt_10000127&n=smc_1214
How to back up a country. To protect itself from attack, Estonia is finding ways to back up its data
WIPING a country off the map is one thing. Wiping its data is another. Estonians know what the former is like. They are determined to avoid the latter. Just as computer users back up their laptops in case they break or are lost, Estonia is working out how to back up the country, in case it is attacked by Russia.
Estonia has already shown notable prowess in putting government services online. It has pioneered the use of strong digital identities for every resident, enabling them to sign and encrypt documents, access government services, and conduct e-commerce.
But the latest project, termed “digital continuity”, is the most ambitious yet. It aims to ensure that even if Estonia’s government is sabotaged it will continue to function over the internet, providing services and enabling payments. The lessons will be valuable to any organisation concerned about disaster recovery.
Estonia, which regained independence in 1991 after being occupied by the Soviet Union, was the target of what many regard as the first instance of cyber-warfare. In 2007 its main websites were overwhelmed with traffic from multiple sources in a distributed denial of service attack during a row with Russia over a war memorial. The episode crippled the country’s online banking system and came within a whisker of disabling emergency services. Lately Russian airspace intrusions and propaganda attacks are a constant headache.
READ MORE. http://www.economist.com/node/21645505/print
World's deadliest volcanoes identified. Indonesia's population most at risk from eruptions.
Swept away by mudslides, entombed in lava or suffocated under ash, nearly 280,000 people have died in volcanic eruptions during the past four centuries, but only now has humanity managed to quantify the risk posed by these fiery phenomena. The first detailed assessment of global volcanic risk — part of a larger international hazard assessment released on 4 March by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction — aims to save lives by providing better information for risk planners and by showcasing effective response measures.
“For the first time, we really have a shared understanding of volcanic activity at the global scale,” says Jean-Christophe Komorowski, a volcanologist at the Institute of Earth Physics in Paris, who contributed to the report. “This is a major turning point.”
Eight hundred million people live within 100 kilometres of a volcano that could erupt. But the hazards differ greatly from place to place. High in the snow-capped Andes, an eruption might melt ice and send floodwaters rushing into nearby villages. In southeast Asia, a powerful eruption might blast ash over a wide area, causing roofs to collapse under the weight.
READ MORE. http://www.nature.com/news/world-s-deadliest-volcanoes-identified-1.17035?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews
Human Brain Project votes for leadership change. Controversial European initiative will disband three-person executive committee after anger from neuroscientists.
Shaking up the neural network: the Human Brain Project is changing its governance structure.
Europe's ambitious but contentious €1-billion (US$1.1 billion) Human Brain Project (HBP) has announced changes to its organization in a response to criticism of its management and scientific trajectory by many high-ranking neuroscientists.
On 26 February, the HBP's board of directors voted to disband the three-person executive committee that was running the European Commission flagship project, which launched in October 2013 and is intended to boost digital technologies such as supercomputing through collaboration with neuroscience. That decision is expected to be endorsed by the HBP’s 112 partner universities and research institutes by the end of this week.
The revamp comes eight months after more than 150 leading neuroscientists sent a protest letter to the European Commission, charging, among other things, that the committee was acting autocratically and running the project's scientific plans off course. Led by the charismatic but divisive Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), which is coordinating the HBP, the committee had stirred up anger in early 2014 when it revealed plans to cut cognitive neuroscience from the initiative.
READ MORE. http://www.nature.com/news/human-brain-project-votes-for-leadership-change-1.17060
The connectomics of brain disorders
Pathological perturbations of the brain are rarely confined to a single locus; instead, they often spread via axonal pathways to influence other regions. Patterns of such disease propagation are constrained by the extraordinarily complex, yet highly organized, topology of the underlying neural architecture; the so-called connectome. Thus, network organization fundamentally influences brain disease, and a connectomic approach grounded in network science is integral to understanding neuropathology. Here, we consider how brain-network topology shapes neural responses to damage, highlighting key maladaptive processes (such as diaschisis, transneuronal degeneration and dedifferentiation), and the resources (including degeneracy and reserve) and processes (such as compensation) that enable adaptation. We then show how knowledge of network topology allows us not only to describe pathological processes but also to generate predictive models of the spread and functional consequences of brain disease.
READ MORE. http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v16/n3/full/nrn3901.html
Google Researchers Make Quantum Computing Components More Reliable. Researchers from a university and Google demonstrate a crucial error-correction step needed to make quantum computing practical.
A solution to one of the key problems holding back the development of quantum computers has been demonstrated by researchers at Google and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Many more problems remain to be solved, but experts in the field say it is an important step toward a fully functional quantum computer. Such a machine could perform calculations that would take a conventional computer millions of years to complete.
The Google and UCSB researchers showed they could program groups of qubits—devices that represent information using fragile quantum physics—to detect certain kinds of error, and to prevent those errors from ruining a calculation. The new advance comes from researchers led by John Martinis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who last year joined Google to set up a quantum computing research lab (see “Google Launches Effort to Build Its Own Quantum Computer”). Martinis now holds a joint position between UCSB and Google, leading work on superconducting aluminum chips that operate at a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. Most of the work behind the new results, reported today in the journal Nature, took place before Martinis joined Google.
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/FHv168
Electronic Inks Make 3-D Printing More Promising. A startup called Voxel8 is using materials expertise to extend the capabilities of 3-D printing.
Three cofounders of Voxel8, a Harvard spinoff, are showing me a toy they’ve made. At the company’s lab space—a couple of cluttered work benches in a big warehouse it shares with other startups—a bright-orange quadcopter takes flight and hovers above tangles of wires, computer equipment, coffee mugs, and spare parts.
Voxel8 isn’t trying to get into the toy business. The hand-sized drone serves to show off the capabilities of the company’s new 3-D printing technology. Voxel8 has developed a machine that can print both highly conductive inks for circuits along with plastic. This makes it possible to do away with conventional circuit boards, the size and shape of which constrain designs and add extra bulk to devices.
Conductive ink is just one of many new materials Voxel8 is planning to use to transform 3-D printing.
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/ygcBya
New nanodevice defeats drug resistance. Tiny particles embedded in gel can turn off drug-resistance genes, then release cancer drugs.
Chemotherapy often shrinks tumors at first, but as cancer cells become resistant to drug treatment, tumors can grow back. A new nanodevice developed by MIT researchers can help overcome that by first blocking the gene that confers drug resistance, then launching a new chemotherapy attack against the disarmed tumors.
The device, which consists of gold nanoparticles embedded in a hydrogel that can be injected or implanted at a tumor site, could also be used more broadly to disrupt any gene involved in cancer.
“You can target any genetic marker and deliver a drug, including those that don’t necessarily involve drug-resistance pathways. It’s a universal platform for dual therapy,” says Natalie Artzi, a research scientist at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and senior author of a paper describing the device in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of March 2.
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/YliVQX
MIT to launch three Institute-wide cybersecurity efforts March 12. New research programs will tackle technical, regulatory, and business challenges.
IT will launch three new research endeavors aimed at addressing the technical, regulatory, and business challenges of cybersecurity. Reporters are invited to attend the launch event, “Cybersecurity at MIT,” which will feature talks by and interview opportunities with key MIT cybersecurity experts.
Recognizing the importance of a more integrated approach to combatting data breaches and security failures, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the MIT Sloan School of Management are spearheading three new interdisciplinary research efforts to tackle the growing problem of how to safeguard digital data. The three efforts are:
Cybersecurity@CSAIL, a new CSAIL initiative led by Howard Shrobe, associate director of CSAIL, that will bring together experts in software, hardware, cryptography and other fields to address the technical challenges associated with preventing, working through and recovering from web-based attacks.
The MIT Cybersecurity Policy Initiative, an interdisciplinary program funded by a $15 million grant from the Hewlett Foundation and led by Daniel Weitzner (former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy in the White House), that will draw researchers from across MIT to create the foundations for a smart, sustainable cybersecurity policy.
The Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, (IC)3, a new consortium based at the MIT Sloan School of Management and led by Professor Stuart Madnick, which will address the need to improve the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure through a focus on the strategic, managerial and operational issues related to cybersecurity.
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/YoCUqw
High “return-on-learning”. “Business intelligence” software for schools links classroom technology and strategies to student achievement.
To see the impact of their investments, companies often use business intelligence tools — primarily data-analytics software — that analyze company data to link cash spent with outcomes.
Now MIT spinout BrightBytes has developed similar data-analytics software for schools that links the implementation of classroom technologies, and other strategies, to student achievement. About one in seven U.S. schools now uses the software.
The software combines academic research with collected data on students, teachers, and schools to create school-by-school analyses and action plans for implementing technologies and strategies. This lets educators and administrators know where to direct their funding.
“It’s a business intelligence platform written for schools,” says BrightBytes CEO Rob Mancabelli MBA ’12, who worked in the education sector for 15 years before co-founding the startup. “Instead of a return-on-investment, though, it’s a ‘return-on-learning.’”
READ MORE. http://goo.gl/corluA
Na-ion batteries get closer to replacing Li-ion batteries
As lithium resources continue to decline worldwide, the next generation of portable electronics will most likely be powered by something other than Li-ion batteries. One potential candidate is the sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery, which stands out because sodium is cheaper, non-toxic, and more abundant than lithium.
Currently, one of Na-ion's largest drawbacks is that the batteries take a long time to charge and discharge, and a slow discharge rate does not supply enough power density for high-power applications. In general, there is a tradeoff between the charge/discharge rate and capacity, so that attempts to increase the charge/discharge rate have resulted in severely reduced capacity.
Now in a new study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers led by Yong Lei, a professor at the Technical University of Ilmenau in Germany, have achieved a significant improvement in this area. The researchers demonstrated a Na-ion battery that exhibits charge/discharge rate and capacity values that are among the highest achieved for both organic Na-ion and Li-ion batteries. The large improvement may help pave the way toward the integration of Na-ion batteries in portable and wearable electronics.
Engineering: U.S. Must Take Action to Strengthen Manufacturing Innovation, Productivity, and Workforce Training
Globalization, technological advances, and changing business practices are dramatically transforming employment and operations across the board in manufacturing. U.S. companies, government and educators should partner to strengthen workforce training and improve innovation and productivity, says a new report from the National Academy of Engineering.
Manufacturing can no longer be considered separate from the value chain, the system of research and development, product design, software development and integration, and lifecycle service activities performed to deliver a product or service to market. Businesses focusing on the entire system help make value for their customers and are less likely to be disrupted by new technologies or increased competition from emerging economies around the world.
While technological advances offer companies new ways to understand customers’ needs and in turn increase demand for their products, automation and streamlined operations are likely to supplant an increasing number of workers in a variety of occupations, the report says. By some estimates, almost 50 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk for disruption. For example, due to advances in automation and computer-aided design, engineering, and production, an automobile manufacturing plant can now be run by one-third as many people as in 1965, while the quality, sophistication, and timely delivery of vehicles have dramatically improved.
READ MORE: http://goo.gl/GEFReK