A resident of South Central L.A. decided to combat obesity by planting a garden instead of grass. This guy is not just a gardener. He’s a brilliant entrepreneur and an inspiration. Somebody introduce him to Michelle Obama, quick…
A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA
Ron Finley | TED | Mar 13
________________________________________________________________________________ Artist and designer Ron Finley couldn’t help but notice what was going on in his backyard. “South Central Los Angeles,” he quips, “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by.” And it’s the drive-thru fast-food stands that contribute more to the area’s poor health and high mortality rate, with one in two kids contracting a curable disease like Type 2 diabetes.
Finley’s vision for a healthy, accessible “food forest” started with the curbside veggie garden he planted in the strip of dirt in front of his own house. When the city tried to shut it down, Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time.
A quadr0copter is a robotic device which looks like a miniature helicopter with four rotors. It is controlled by a computer which is linked to visual and other sensors giving the device virtual ‘real-time’ observation of its environment. The time from the observation to actuation of a suitable response is remarkable, as evidenced by this video of two quadrocopters tossing a vertically balanced pole to each other. They do it faultlessly, over and over. I would have a hard time doing it once. But then, I’m no robot…
Quadrocopter Pole Acrobatics
Flying Machine Arena
A Space Where Flying Robots Live and Learn
The Flying Machine Arena (FMA) is a portable space devoted to autonomous flight. Measuring up to 10 x 10 x 10 meters, it consists of a high-precision motion capture system, a wireless communication network, and custom software executing sophisticated algorithms for estimation and control.
The motion capture system can locate multiple objects in the space at rates exceeding 200 frames per second. While this may seem extremely fast, the objects in the space can move at speeds in excess of 10 m/s, resulting in displacements of over 5 cm between successive snapshots. This information is fused with other data and models of the system dynamics to predict the state of the objects into the future.
The system uses this knowledge to determine what commands the vehicles should execute next to achieve their desired behavior, such as performing high-speed flips, balancing objects, building structures, or engaging in a game of paddle-ball. Then, via wireless links, the system sends the commands to the vehicles, which execute them with the aid of on-board computers and sensors such as rate gyros and accelerometers.
Although various objects can fly in the FMA, the machine of choice is the quadrocopter due to its agility, its mechanical simplicity and robustness, and its ability to hover. Furthermore, the quadrocopter is a great platform for research in adaptation and learning: it has well understood, low order first-principle models near hover, but is difficult to characterize when performing high-speed maneuvers due to complex aerodynamic effects. We cope with the difficult to model effects with algorithms that use first-principle models to roughly determine what a vehicle should do to perform a given task, and then learn and adapt based on flight data.
When the first astronauts traveled into space their view was outward, toward the moon, the planets and beyond. Surprisingly, the view that may have the most impact is the one from space back to our planet—Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’. In this exquisite video five astronauts share their experience of the view of earth from space. If you need inspiration to care about climate change or saving the planet (or just want to see some incredible views of earth from space) you should watch this film…
________________________________________________________________________________ Planetary Collective is a group of filmmakers, visual media creatives and thinkers who work with cosmologists, ecologists and philosophers to explore some of the big questions facing our planet at this time.
I love to watch videos of how the world is supposed to look today from, in this case, 46 years ago. Good old Walter tells us all about the marvels of life in the 21st century. It’s a world of technological wonder. He doesn’t say anything about budgets, sequestration, drone warfare, torture, assault weapons, murdered school kids, gay boy scouts, North Korean nukes, extraordinary rendition, global warming, stray asteroids or homeland insecurity. They didn’t have those things back then. Just Russian subs armed with hydrogen bombs. Guess you can call that progress…
Walter Cronkite in the Home Office of the Twenty-First Century
For those of you over 40, this is how books used to be produced. They called it “craftsmanship”. The goal was quality, not profit. Esthetic value, not mass-market expediency. You could take one of these things and put it on your shelf (called a “bookcase) where you and your guests could admire and read it any time you wanted. You could loan it freely or even give it away as a Christmas present. Maybe someday, when we reach a new level of technology, we will rediscover the wonder of these simple documents so lovingly made and beautifully designed…
John Carrera | Quercus Press | 2011
________________________________________________________________________________ John Carrera is Proprietor of Quercus Press: Letterpress and Bindery in Waltham, MA.
Of all the verbiage on the internet today (and there is a ton of it) one article by Gene Robinson of the Washington Post stands out as the quintessential statement of Barack Obama’s second innauguration. Four years ago today I stood a a couple of hundred yards away as Obama took the oath and the cannons boomed (scared me a lot). On that day it was like watching the Civil War come to an end. Almost two million people stood with me in the freezing air and watched the earth move. Today I watched it on TV. The earth didn’t move today. It just rolled on as it always does and Barack Obama was President again. Nice speech. Good poem. Four years ago I watched and cheered as George Bush flew into history as one of America’s worst presidents. Today I watched Barack Obama take his second oath as one of the best. Bush stayed home…
The Black President No Longer
Eugene Robinson | Washington Post | 20 Jan 13
President Barack Hussein Obama’s second inauguration was every bit as historic as his first — not because it said so much about the nation’s long, bitter, unfinished struggle with issues of race, as was the case four years ago, but because it said so little about the subject.
Reflect for a moment: A black man stood on the Capitol steps and took the oath of office as president of the United States. For the second time. Meaning that not only did voters elect him once — which could be a fluke, a blip, an aberration, a cosmic accident — but then turned around and did it again.
Imagine if all the plastic bottles, containers, wraps, covers, toys, implements, tools, gadgets, clothing items, sprays, writing products, computer components, car parts, ball point pens, cookware, water bottles, soda bottles, milk containers, take-out food trays, glasses… you get the idea, were all made of plastic which is not made from petroleum and which biodegrades in months into harmless fertilizer. A pipe dream, right? Try this pipe…
Plastic From Plants
Frederick Sheer | Focus Forward Films | Nov 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Frederick Sheer is President of Cereplast, a German company with offices and plants in the US and India, that explores the benefits of using plant-based plastics.
Imagine a battery that takes a minute to charge and powers your cellphone for a week. How about a car that runs on a battery that takes five minutes to charge and gives you 300 miles of power? And when the battery wears out you grind it up and sprinkle what’s left on your garden. Science fiction? Not really. Watch this…
________________________________________________________________________________ Ric Kaner is head of a research group at UCLA who are working on conducting polymer nanowires, chemical synthesis of graphene and solid state routes towards ultra-hard and incompressible materials, thermoelectiric crystals and other semiconducting nanoparticles.
The video shown here is by far the best video tour of a spacecraft I have ever seen. Astronaut Suni Williams, Commander of the station, gives an incredible guided tour of the entire craft including the restrooms (heads), observation stations, science experiments, exercise areas, sleeping accommodations and the Soyuz spacecraft which, by now, has brought her home. The video lasts 25 minutes and is worth watching at full-screen all the way. My question is how do they keep from banging their heads all the time…
A Guided Tour of the Space Station
Suni Williams | YouTube | Nov 12
________________________________________________________________________________ Sunita (Suni) Williams is an Indian American astronaut and a United States Navy officer who holds the record for longest space flight by a woman. She was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and Expedition 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33. In addition to holding the record for the longest space flight time among female space travelers (195 days, not counting her ongoing 2012 mission), she holds the record for number of spacewalks for a female, and most spacewalk time for a female. Williams first broke the two spacewalk records for women space travelers—most number of spacewalks, and most spacewalk time—during Expedition 14/15 in 2007, but both records were surpassed by Peggy Whitson during Expedition 16. Williams regained both records during her sixth spacewalk, on September 5, 2012, and currently has 50 hours and 40 minutes of spacewalk time (seven walks).