September 23, 2011
Is the Universe Everything There Is? On 20th Century Science in Many Worlds
The Idea Festival, based in Louisville, Kentucky kicked off officially on Wednesday, September 21 at the Kentucky Performing Arts Center, located on a main drag of Louisville which is littered with art galleries, hotels and a restaurants.
Speaker Suketu Bhavsar decided to take the audience to the fourth dimension and show us simplistically (if that's possible with a topic like this), what the impact of an infinite universe really is.
Albeit a scientist, Bhavsar has a unique right brain charisma on stage and often threw in humor as a way to lighten his somewhat heavy talk. "If the universe is everything there is, what is there to talk about?" he asks the audience. "Time, but time is relative," reminds Bhavsar. "And, space is relative."He shows us a few examples demonstrating how space has geometry that depends upon the density of the universe.
The whole universe is full of galaxies mostly with empty space in between and every one of these galaxies is moving away from us. The space in between those galaxies is actually what’s expanding. Space is stretching out between galaxies all the time.
The geometry of our universe is flat and this means that our universe is endless and it’s infinite. An infinite universe leads to the first and simplest kind of multiverse, he suggests. If we go far enough, then there could and would be another you elsewhere. In other words, everything is possible in an infinite universe.
He asks, “how far until there is a copy of the visible universe?” and refers to Brian Greene’s name for it: Quilted Multiverse.
In the early universe, the quantum field of the rapidly expanding space drops to a lower value in random regions. These regions are bubble universes.
Regarding these bubbles and how they relate to each other:
- Each of these bubbles will continue to expand and have an infinite spatial galaxy.
- Each bubble universe has the potential to create daughter universes that inflate and become independent universes creating even more universes.
Another possibility is that not all the dimensions are curled up. In the Braneworld scenario, ours and many other 3-brane universes could be residing alongside each other and we wouldn’t know about it.
This moves us into Quantum mechanics, which is not deterministic like Newtonian mechanics he says. Quantum mechanics means that there are many arrays of things that could happen, allowing for many outcomes. AND, many things happening in multiple universes all at the same time.
Bhavsar challenges us to also read another book by Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe, and to contemplate the following questions:
Is this science? What is consciousness? What is time? Can we ever truly understand time? What is reality?
September 07, 2011
Idea Festival: New Ideas Create the Future
We're planning to go to Idea Festival this year as a media partner which is exciting on multiple levels. The whole premise of the event is that "new ideas create the future."
Much of the mesmerizing innovation that we are witnessing in the 21st century emerges at and from the intersections of many disciplines – science, the arts, business, design, technology, education, medicine and more. The IdeaFestival provides the opportunity for people across all of these disciplines to group together in a unique “space” for the convergence of ideas.
Now in its eleventh year, the IdeaFestival will be held in Louisville Kentucky from September 21-24, 2011. The event is a unique non-linear event designed to stretch people's horizon's and promote breakthrough thinking... utilizing multiple venues to showcase, discuss and "connect" important ideas in science, the arts, design, business, film, technology, education, etc.
More from the ground, but to give you a taste of the line-up and speakers so far, take a look at their schedule.
September 7, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
June 02, 2011
Meet Steamboat Ed's Aetheric Musical Machine: Calliope #5Below is a little history and the story behind Steamboat Ed and his Aetheric Musical Machine. Ed and friends were at the annual Maker Faire in May. Instruments emitting fire are not new adn have been made for over a century. They are, however, uncommon. Calliope #4 is a Pyrophone since it's not intended for team, but for air or propane. With propane, the whistles emit FIRE, when tooting, hence the "pyrophone.' His whistles are Helmholz resonators, chosen because he discovered an excellent tutorial describing them. His whistles are activated with solenoid valves that he found on eBay. More in the short video below.
Here are some photos of his work in action.
June 01, 2011
Maker Faire 2011 Video Recap in Two PartsBelow is some video that I shot at this year's Maker Faire held in mid-May, broken down into Part I and Part II.
May 17, 2011
FutureMed: Healthcare & Medicine Migrate From Linear Growth to Exponential Growth
I just finished attending a mind blowing event called FutureMed, the medical arm if you like, of Singularity University, which was founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil. Director, curator and chair of the program is Daniel Kraft, who together with a dedicated team, brought in some of the smartest creators and thinkers in medicine and healthcare for the 5 day long program.
Ask yourself: what is the impact that exponential technologies will have on medicine and healthcare? What was your initial response? Whether you're a scientist, physician, venture capitalist or biomed executive, the answers are profound because of the fast rate technology is developing, improving and having a direct impact on the "well-being" of our lives.
What's unique about the event is not just the content, which is deep and thought provoking and brings in insights from the top in their fields, but the structure of the event itself. Imagine a combination of panels, lectures and field trips with demos, workshops and breakout sessions all under one roof with only 70 or so attendees.
In other words, the intimacy of the event creates an environment where not only do you have an opportunity to have your answers questioned (and challenged) directly, but you have quality time with the speakers and technology creators, so you can more effectively understand what lies ahead -- and then act upon it. It also means that attendees are vetted, so not only is the speaker line-up phenomenal, but the attendees themselves have a host of honors, accolades and accomplishments, all of which result in an environment where the brightest minds can come together to learn, create and grow. A community is formed in which like-minds in medicine and healthcare can accomplish more together than they can alone in their respective fields. (Below is Peter Diamandis and Daniel Kraft in the first session of Day One).
Challenging the status quo is never easy but if through a combination of persistence, trial and error and really smart, caring and passionate thinkers who want to make a difference, things can change, particularly as you begin to see validation after validation for your thinking (and actions) along the way. In other words, linear thinking "be gone."
As CNET described the environment for participants, "For attendees, who range from executives in the medical field to practicing doctors to entrepreneurs looking for the next area to invest in, and who come from countries all over the world, FutureMed gives access to talks on topics as diverse as personalized medicine; the future of pharma; patient engagement; regenerative medicine; neuromedicine; synthetic biology; the future of medical education; global health and the hospital of the future; and more."
Ray Kurzweil and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis kicked things off with the notion that advances in healthcare and medicine have migrated from linear growth to exponential growth. As recapped so well in the MedGadget summary which you'll find me referencing a number of times because their coverage of the event was so extensive: "One fascinating insight from Ray’s talk was that these exponentially growing advances are often the combination of many different paradigms that grow and develop in a sigmoidal fashion. The exponential growth of computational power per dollar, for instance, is driven by say, vaccum tubes, which start slow, progress extremely rapidly, and then level off, only to be replaced by transistors, which did the same thing until integrated circuits came into the picture. Collectively, even though each of these technological paradigms hit a wall at some point, they were replaced by another advance that allowed the final outcome of computational power to continue to scale exponentially. In proof of this, Ray showed us what seemed to be an exponentially increasing number of charts that demonstrated exponential technological growth."
Another message we heard from many of the speakers, is how low the costs are going, from sensors that we wear and can self diagnose to the world of 3D printing, which using both plastics and metals, doesn't cost more to use.
In addition to 3D printing, Dan Barry talked about one of his favorite topics: robots.
There's no question; robots are getting smarter and smarter. Through sensors, robots are learning how to put objects in the right location and in the right spots within that location, i.e., product placement into a particular location on a particular shelf. "We want to move up the ladder even further," says Barry. "We want robots to not just organize but to sense, throw and manipulate."
Robot's dexterity is improving and their movement is getting more and more fluid. A robot’s hands can correspond to a human’s movements.
Dan gave a useful example of the impact on a human body when they do a space walk. He says, "it takes 4 hours just to get the nitrogen out of our system, but you can do a space walk with a robot through virtual reality and get the job done a lot faster."
He also brought up the social and ethical implications of people who may choose robots as their companions rather than human beings. In the future, robots will become true companions for people who are lonely, have lost their loved ones or generally just want companionship. Hmmm. Not sure about companionship (for me that is), but I definitely get the value of robots in eldercare and have already seen amazing advancements coming out of Willow Garage, where their PR2s are being trained to put dishes away, set the table and clean among other things.
On the Data Driven Healthcare panel, Stanford University's Dan Riskin talked about the convergence of devices. Says Riskin, "We’re able to take these platforms, such as an iPhone or a computer system, pull together valuable information and make it really useful. We’re seeing an innovation shift to mature platforms."
As for devices and technology, medical intervention will become an app. In fact, it's already starting to happen. Apps will be prescribed just like medication, i.e, welldoc shows a decrease in diabetics problems (a 4 fold benefit from an app than using medications alone).
We also heard about a perspective on the fundamental flaws of the RCT, which included things like the long term nature of it (often a decade to change care), the high expense (not affordable without support), the fact that it can be biased (selected based on drug and device firms) and lastly, that they're poorly generalizable. It’s just not working and ineffective.
Other apps are able to extract words/language that a patient uses and put them into a matrix to show how these words relate to each other, i.e., fever, nausea, chest tightness. The power of analytics is helping the doctor make a diagnosis by structuring a record so that he/she has more data and beyond that, some actual “meaning” within that data.
An example that was given was a test they did with a small group of patients who got re-admitted into the hospital. They did an analysis and discovered what contributed to people being re-admitted to the hospital and more importantly, why. The results helped with quality improvement and flow of data.
A force behind eLegs is Iceland-born Eythor Bender from Berkeley Bionics. They augment humans with wearable, artificially intelligent bionic devices called exoskeletons. Below is a young man demonstrating it to the FutureMed audience, showing how flexible and dynamic his world has become using their technology. Since visuals (and patient feedback) is most powerful, check out their YouTube channel for stories and use cases and their eLegs FAQ for the hows and whys. All I can say is: inspiring. There are no words for the rest.
Healthtap founder Ron Gutman pushed the need to unite consumers and physicians in personal health – both the data and the conversation. In other words, get physicians into the game and allow them to particate in the conversation so they can access this data in real time and better help their patients. The two step approach involves creating an infrastructure, then getting the physicians to engage with the data so its always up to-date and therefore relevant. It’s essentially a database that combines data, conversations, and personalization around the patient so the physician can be more effective in their care and decisions.
Sutha Kamal talked about feedback loops, which was a constant theme throughout the program. If I (a patient), can access data in real time through a wearable sensor and make sense of that data, then I can help my doctor better understand what is happening with my health over time. Feedback loops provoke action. (also refer to the beginning of my TEDxSV post where Wired's Chris Anderson talks about the same thing citing examples).
If you have no "meaning" from the data, then essentially you have a "broken" feedback loop. Data without meaning doesn't move a patient to take the right action OR have the right conversations with their doctors and other experts. "When you get this data, that data should belong to you," says Kamal. "We want to understand the things that you would adhere to but don’t today. Feedback is personal but meaning needs to be in that personal data so you, the patient, end up doing something with the data."
Ultimately, if you think your body is a “black box,” aka poor health, you’re going to end up getting depressed because you don’t know where to start. In the future, a lot of this gathered data will end up on our phones because they're with us all the time.
Google's Roni Zeiger says, "our cell phones will become our data lens for information about our bodies. You will also be able to access information in real time about the workflow of a hospital and the wait of the line in the emergency room. The patient is at the center of information flow and decision making."
The patient has ALL of the data because they know how they feel better than anyone else does. The data transmitted from a patient's body in the not too distant future, will be used to allow physicians to look at your veins and arteries remotely on a device. Ones and zeros will be flowing back (aka the patient’s data), with analysis so the physicians can make real-time diagnostics and decisions.
It’s happening now with sleep devices and soon it will be happening from a lot of different sources. He also gave examples of smart health realted search queries like “poison control,” which immediately returns the number for the US poison control center, and “suicide,” which displays the number for the US suicide prevention hotline.
Additionally, people are putting their data online, on Twitter, Patients Like Me and in other places and asking people to mine that data in a way that will be useful for their care givers and doctors. The distinction between data and conversations are becoming blurred, and eventually they’ll go away.
Gamification is a natural example, where incentives are given for a a particular behavior. Esther asked: "Where are the HR execs in this conversation?"
There’s an increasing trend in employer benefits where companies can start to engage with employees in innovative ways that has a positive impact on their health.
On reimbursement, McCall suggested that rather than see this as a barrier, think about creative ways to compensate. She noted that “there are ways for these things to pay for themselves.”
Google's Astro Teller gave a fascinating talk about body monitoring. He asserts that body monitoring isn't really about healthcare. "It misses the point," he says. "That way of thinking derails us from understanding what body monitoring can actually become in the future. Fitness people tend to be quantitative nuts. If you drive at the group that makes the most sense, you miss all the other amazing opportunities."
He talked about major obvious opportunities in this space, such as the “patch” which is very small and very cheap. Other trends around body monitoring in the future?
Upselling new pieces of value to the same wearer by showing value and cost effectiveness. Passive monitoring will also be big, he says, because at the end of the day, people don't like to "do" a lot for their health but they do want to be healthy. Passive monitoring allows us to have sensors on our bodies, but we don’t have to think about them. He's spot on about that one.
Monitors can tell us how much time people spend on their computers, their heart beats, the "way" they use something, such as a mouse. By monitoring a "behavior" such as mouse movement, you can get an idea of visual motor quality which is often a result of sleep deprivation or early warnings of Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease.
With sensors, people often ask “what does it measure?” Teller says, "this is not the point. We want the guess/surrogate to be better than it makes the statement about and we want accuracy to be good enough that we can make a better analysis overall about your body."
He also reminded us that while we’ve spent a lot of time sequencing the human genome, we haven’t spent much time sequencing the human lifestyle. Wearable body monitoring isn’t about being quantified, reinforcing his point by saying that "Mary Jo Jane" (aka the average person) doesn’t want to be quantified.
"Wearable body monitoring is about having the right parts of the world know who you are and in what you want and need in a million little ways, in real time, and all the time."
At the end of the day, you want people/things/data to respond to what you need without you having to think about it. AND, there will literally be a million apps for that. (his prediction is 1 million+ apps by 2015).
Check out the CBS Interactive Smart Planet clip for a "short" on Dan Barry's talk. And for incredibly in-depth coverage of the entire event, check out the summaries by MedGadget by the day.
Day One Summary: Ray Kurzweil, Gabor Forgacs, Eythor Bender and more.
Day Two Summary: Eric Schadt, Esther Dyson, Kaiser's Innovation Center.
Day Three Summary: Robert Hariri, Mike West, Autodesk and more.
Day Four Summary: Andrew Hessel, Philip Low, Intuitive Surgical and more.
Day Five Summary: Erik Rasmussen, Andy Kogelnik, Brad Peterson and Goodbyes.
And let's not forget David Bolinsky and team's incredible animation.
For a mind numbing experience, check out their site for a video that will take you through the human body in the most exciting way you could ever have imagined. (it's a bit like being on a Back to Future ride). Below, a glimpse of the magic they have created for companies, healthcare institutions and hospitals.
Below is a shot from the FutureMed graduation at NASA AMES in Silicon Valley on the last night, a group shot taken during the week and one taken at an after party. And, here are some images I shot from the kick off party, which includes an overview of the program and the first day.
Disclosure: I provided some consulting to FutureMed.
May 17, 2011 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 16, 2011
TEDx Silicon Valley: Anderson, Hogg, Meier and Stein: #tedxsv
Anderson asserts that a data feedback loop can improve behavior as you see real-time stats on the consequences of your actions, whether its from a device or a non-intrustive wearable monitor. Simply by being aware of how your body is affected by your actions, you can improve your performance and lead a healthier life - emotionally and physically.
Feedback loops was a popular theme of many of the speakers, who focused on the growth of sensors which track your patterns and behavior. Bpttom line: once we see value in the feedback we receive from sensors, which continue to come down in price, we can measure everything we do. "Measurement," says Anderson, "quantifies what matters most and through that feedback loop, we can make smarter decisions."
Gamification -- on and offline -- can also be effective and is growing in popularity. Whether its points or rewards we give a child who remembers to brush his or her teeth or badges and coupons to buy things online if we cut out that donut and coffee for five days in a row, the feedback we receive through gamification is validation that we're doing something right or wrong.
Imagine a future where you're measuring nearly everything you do? Tomorrow, your thermometer can let you know when is the most efficient time to run the dishwasher, shaving money off your bill month after month. Today, you can already do quite a bit with measuring devices, right down to measuring stress levels in real time based on who you're talking to. (be prepared bosses, mother-in-laws, accountants, dentists and lawyers - stress meter readings may not be all that pretty).
Chris Hogg reinforced Anderson's message about the importance of data and measurement, particularly as it relates to better health and well being.
He pointed to his 67 year old step father who regularly drinks foul tasting tea and can see a correlation between drinking it and improved health, all of which he tracks on his iPhone.
Patrick Meier gave us a demo of something he referred to as Check-Ins with Purpose.
Country after country, he showed us a mapped location of how check-ins and smart location mapping has helped humanitarian efforts.
Forward wind to the Japanese Tsunami. They created a "crisis map" to help locate missing people, which the Japanese government and other organizations who were providing relief, could access.
The other example he used was Libya, where they created a "social media map" to improve their humanitarian efforts on the ground. Take a look at Libya Crisis Map.net.
The Libya Crisis Map platform was activated by the request of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to the Standby Task Force (SBTF). The platform continues to be supported by volunteers.
We can be more effective at helping people than we ever have been able to do in the past with rich geo-location based services and social media tools at our fingertips. We can use Facebook to schedule and post notices, Twitter to coordinate and get the word out and YouTube to share the story in more depth. "These live maps," he says, "are like having helicopters above you so you can see exactly where people are and therefore find them that much faster."
One of the things she has learned from going through the process is to keep your ear to the ground....in other words, listen to voices from the local community. She calls the phenomena they have created, a "global tribe."
Says Lara, "My goals have migrated from how do you create systems and back ends on the ground TO how to we paint the story of this massively global and passionate tribe? The latest stats are staggering: 1,783 past events, 1,002 future events, 101 cities and 46 countries.
A handful of guidelines she has learned include the following: plan for the predictable, be prepared to invent as you learn, don’t get in the way, pave the way of your real time feedback loop, ignore the chorus, be prepared to fail (another theme of speakers), don’t think of it as a part time job, listen to the community on the ground, and follow your moral compass. She adds, "our focus is inspiration and action, not education."
She quoted an attendee who attended a TEDx in a remote area: "I was sitting on the end of the world, huge oil fields surrounded by massive dunes and nothing else, I was surrounded by really smart kids and nothing else." Indeed. That feeling is most definitely is a TED-like moment.
May 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
April 21, 2011
It's Pretty Visually Interesting When Two Galaxies Collide
So, what does it look like when two galaxies collide? To celebrate its 21st anniversary, Nasa's orbiting Hubble telescope has snapped this stunning image of Arp 273: a photogenic group of interacting galaxies.
The largest spiral galaxy, UGC 1810, is skewed and distorted into a rose-like shape by the gravitational tug of its nearby companion galaxy, UGC 1813.
The twisted spaghetti of cosmic arms suggests the two galaxies have collided, with 1813 diving deep into the center of 1810 and out the other side. There's also a tenuous tidal bridge of material between the two galaxies, like a phone-line, tens of thousands of light-years long.
The ocean of sapphire gems glittering on top of the pair is the clustered, ultraviolet flare of intensely bright and hot blue stars. The full story is over on Wired.
April 13, 2011
Do Chaps or Maps Drive History?
Do chaps or maps drive history? Human brilliance and folly, or geography? Or maybe its genes or culture? At the next SALT talk in San Francisco, archaeologist/historian Ian Morris goes a level deeper than Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel to determine why the standards of Europe and North America now prevail in the world when it was the East that dominated for the 1,200 years between 550 and 1750 CE. Why did that happen, and what will happen next? More information HERE.
May and June talks below:
May 3 - Tim Flannery, "Here on Earth"
June 7 - Carl Zimmer, "Viral Time"
April 07, 2011
The Moon Rush is On & Silicon Valley Enterpreneurs Are On Their Way
The Moon-Rush is on and Naveen Jainn, Barney Pell, and Dr. Robert (Bob) Richards have started a new company called Moon Express, announced this week. Moon Express is a privately funded lunar transportation and data services company created to establish new avenues for commercial space activities beyond Earth orbit.
Their plan is to develop a space vehicle that will in turn allow the company to tap into mineral resources on the lunar surface. Selected last fall by NASA, Moon Express was awarded a lunar data services contract worth up to $10M, for the initial delivery order of the “Innovative Lunar Demonstration Data (ILDD)” program.
In addition, the X PRIZE Foundation announced Moon Express as a competitor for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE, a competition to place a robot on the Moon’s surface that travels 500 meters and transmits high definition video, images and data back to Earth. And to top it off, Moon Express will be sending a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development.
The team believes in the boundless economic opportunities on the Moon and are passionate advocates for space exploration.
Here's some coverage from their launch:
VentureBeat: The Semantic Web Shoots the Moon
Techcrunch: From Search Engines to Lunar Landers.....
Inspired by new White House policies supporting increased government partnership with the commercial
March 23, 2011
Maker Faire 2011 in Bay Area
Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 mashes items possessing an On/Off switch with old-fashioned human curiosity, resulting in a round up of robots, musical Tesla coils, fresh-squeezed sunflower oil, futuristic chariot races, antique pinball machines, super-sized Lego projects, and more neon, flame, and brightly gaseous glows than are normally seen outside an MIT lab. Whoah Nelly. But yes, it's all that and more.
Maker Faire combines the best of Burning Man's sizzling creativity with the hottest creations of the DIY community and serves it all up in a dazzling two-day event guaranteed to engage every member of the family. Now in its sixth year, Maker Faire Bay Area runs May 21-22 at the San Mateo County Event Center and will host some 100,000 visitors as they learn from and play with over 600 crafters, makers, engineers, vendors, and artists who come from all over the country to exhibit their particular brand of genius.
Produced by MAKE Magazine and O'Reilly Media, Maker Faire's geek culture flourishes with droids, DIY kits by kids for kids, and mobile land sharks roaming in the dark. Longtime favorites the Flaming Lotus Girls return, this time bringing their fiery Mutopia pods. The SF Model Yacht Club has "Race and Shoot" games not to be missed; the Stanford Solar Car Project soaks up some attention; the Madagascar Institute whips things up with their zany chariot races; and robotics and animation engineer Dr. Mike Regalbuto showcases his Posables, lifelike forms that literally bend to your will. None of this would be complete without rockets, bikes, food, and a huge children's area for young dreamers and makers.
Focused on making education so fun as to be seamless, Maker Faire Bay Area 2011 embraces the universe, loosely titling the weekend "From Maker Space to Outer Space" in honor of a recent collaboration with MAKE, NASA, and Teachers in Space in which students conceive experiments to be conducted during suborbital flights. To purchase tickets, including weekend passes, go here: http://makerfaire-marketwire.eventbrite.com.