Innovation Academy for High School Students

Posted on October 25, 2007  Comments (0)

Innovation Academy students get their feet wet

“They teach us about ocean life and animals — I like that kind of stuff,” she said. “It’s something different.”

Moody High School Innovation Academy students will make three more trips to the field station this semester and another five in the spring. Then they’ll gather up statistics and try to determine environmental trends for the station.

The trips are possible through an agreement made late this summer between the 2-year-old institute and Corpus Christi Independent School District. The Innovation Academy — one of seven academies at Moody — is in its first year and enrolls 75 Moody ninth-grade students and 105 Cunningham Middle School sixth-graders.

“Our kids are becoming very involved in the makeup of Laguna Madre plants and animals, as well as how to document their existence,” said Tina Dellinger, Texas Science Technology Engineering and Math district coordinator. The Innovation Academy is in its second year of a two-year, $750,000 Texas Science Technology Engineering and Math Initiative grant that last year funded academy planning and training and this year is funding its first activities.

Related: Engineers of the FutureBuilding minds by building robotsLego LearningFun k-12 Science and Engineering Learning

Computational Science and Engineering by Gilbert Strang

Posted on October 25, 2007  Comments (1)

New book, Computational Science and Engineering by Gilbert Strang, is available. The website includes some sections of the book. Video Lectures of Gilbert Strang on Linear Algebra, Spring 2005.

Related: webcasts of engineering and math lecturesposts on science podcasts

China Reaches for the Moon

Posted on October 24, 2007  Comments (0)

China’s Long March to the Moon

The missions by China and Japan are part of a broader resurgence of interest in the moon by space agencies around the world. The U.S. and India also are planning unmanned lunar-exploration missions next year. It is the biggest burst of such work since the 1970s. The last humans to stand on the moon were American astronauts from the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

For China, the aim is explicitly political, as well as scientific. “Lunar exploration reflects a country’s comprehensive national power,” said Ouyang Ziyuan, the chief scientist for China’s moon program, in an interview with the official Communist Party newspaper, People’s Daily. It will “raise our international prestige and strengthen the cohesion of our people.”

China aims to have a unmanned mission to the moon in 2012 and a manned mission to the moon by 2020.

Related: China Prepares for Return of Shenzhou Helium-3 Fusion ReactorChina’s Science and Technology PlanAsia: Rising Stars of Science and EngineeringBest Research University Rankings (2007)

More Dinosaurs Fighting Against Open Science

Posted on October 23, 2007  Comments (0)

Controversy at the American Chemical Society by John Dupuis

So, what’s my take on this? First of all, I’m not surprised. Unfortunately there are some scholarly societies that operate more like for-profits when it comes to their publishing arms and ACS is certainly one of the most notable for that sort of thing. While it should be shocking that ACS is acting more like Elsevier than Elsevier at times, sadly it isn’t.

Secondly, what should we, as librarians do about it? Mostly we need to advocate. We need to push our vendors towards business models that favour open access, we need to reassure them that we’re interested in a sustainable model for scholarly publishing

I agree. It is sad that so many organizations distort behavior though poor management structures but that is the world we live in. My management improvement blog focused on how to manage better. And I have posted several times about the need to shift our support to open access science and away from those who want continue outdated strategies that restrict the advancement of scientific ideas.

Related: Open Access and PLoSI Support the Public Library of ScienceProblems with Bonuses

Killing Germs May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Posted on October 23, 2007  Comments (2)

Caution: Killing Germs May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Relman is a leader in rethinking our relationship to bacteria, which for most of the last century was dominated by the paradigm of Total Warfare. “It’s awful the way we treat our microbes,” he says, not intending a joke; “people still think the only good microbe is a dead one.” We try to kill them off with antibiotics and hand sanitizers. But bacteria never surrender; if there were one salmonella left in the world, doubling every 30 minutes, it would take less than a week to give everyone alive diarrhea. In the early years of antibiotics, doctors dreamed of eliminating infectious disease. Instead, a new paper in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports on the prevalence of Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which was responsible for almost 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005—about twice as many as previously thought, and more than AIDS. Elizabeth Bancroft, a leading epidemiologist, called this finding “astounding.”

As antibiotics lose their effectiveness, researchers are returning to an idea that dates back to Pasteur, that the body’s natural microbial flora aren’t just an incidental fact of our biology, but crucial components of our health, intimate companions on an evolutionary journey that began millions of years ago.

Related: Anti-biotic Overuse ArticlesCDC Urges Increased Effort to Reduce Drug-Resistant InfectionsAntibiotics Too Often Prescribed for Sinus WoesAntibacterial Products May Do More Harm Than GoodBacteria on Our SkinTrillions of Microbes Working for Us in Our Guts

Why Planes Fly: What They Taught You In School Was Wrong

Posted on October 22, 2007  Comments (3)

Why Planes Fly: What They Taught You In School Was Wrong

So we all know how planes fly, right? The top of the wing is rounded and the bottom of the wing is more straight. Air takes longer to travel over the top of the wing than the bottom, which results in more pressure on the bottom, hence the lift. Right? As it turns out, no.

This is what I was taught, and it’s what I’ve always believed (it’s even in most lower-level text books), but it’s simply not true. The concept is called the Bernoulli Principle, and it accounts for very little of the lift that makes flight possible. The main reason planes fly is far simpler: wings force air downward, which in turn pushes the wings upward.

The primary actor here is the the Coanda Effect, with the Bernoulli Principle taking a supporting role. It all starts with the air wrapping downward along the back of the wing (Coanda).

Related: The Silent Aircraft InitiativeEngineering the Boarding of Airplanes

Nanoengineers Use Tiny Diamonds for Drug Delivery

Posted on October 21, 2007  Comments (1)

Nanoengineers Mine Tiny Diamonds for Drug Delivery

Northwestern University researchers have shown that nanodiamonds — much like the carbon structure as that of a sparkling 14 karat diamond but on a much smaller scale — are very effective at delivering chemotherapy drugs to cells without the negative effects associated with current drug delivery agents.

To make the material effective, Ho and his colleagues manipulated single nanodiamonds, each only two nanometers in diameter, to form aggregated clusters of nanodiamonds, ranging from 50 to 100 nanometers in diameter. The drug, loaded onto the surface of the individual diamonds, is not active when the nanodiamonds are aggregated; it only becomes active when the cluster reaches its target, breaks apart and slowly releases the drug. (With a diameter of two to eight nanometers, hundreds of thousands of diamonds could fit onto the head of a pin.)

“The nanodiamond cluster provides a powerful release in a localized place — an effective but less toxic delivery method,” said co-author Eric Pierstorff, a molecular biologist and post-doctoral fellow in Ho’s research group. Because of the large amount of available surface area, the clusters can carry a large amount of drug, nearly five times the amount of drug carried by conventional materials.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin Interview Webcast

Posted on October 21, 2007  Comments (5)

This interview and audience question and answer took place last week at the end of the Google Zeitgeist conference. Some interesting notes from Sergey:

  • I like to see us not focus on maintaining Google’s culture but to improve it – continuous improvement (he specifically mentions how the infrastructure they have in place now allows them to experiment in ways that were not possible before – a reminder of Google’s focus on the scientific method and Experimenting Quickly and Often).
  • Google still follows their model of focusing 70% of the effort on core business (search) and 20% on related activities and 10% on “anything goes” (new business areas).
  • While not directly related to Google he is very interested in the innovation in nanotechnology and carbon nanotubes and the present time.
  • on moving toward universal power supplies – we are talking to some companies about solutions “but I gotta be honest with you it is a harder problem than I thought”


  • focus on Google’s mission – to organize the world’s information
  • believes there is great potential in solar power and would love to see successful companies in that industry
  • improve power supply efficiency on servers


  • discussed poor web usability practices based on sites that adopt flashy technology that make it slower and more difficult for users – flash, excessive Ajax… Larry also mentioned doing testing on the user experience – no surprise for Google and no surprise that most poorly overly fancy sites care more about what a pointy haired boss might think on seeing the flash than on users experiences and testing.

Related: Great Marissa Mayer Webcast on Google Innovation

Deer Rescued 1.5 miles Offshore

Posted on October 20, 2007  Comments (2)

Bambi Caught 1.5 miles OFFSHORE

They saw what appeared to be a seal with its snout out of the water, but they didn’t think any seals were around their fishing grounds and they kept watching. Soon they realized it was a deer trying desperately to keep afloat – and obviously losing the battle. Fearing the whitetail would get snagged in their lines they cranked in their rigs. Then the deer headed straight for the boat possibly thinking it was a spit of land.

But as it got closer and saw the two fishermen aboard, it had second thoughts. With its nose barely out of the water, it appeared to have been swimming all night, said Campbell. “Since the fish weren’t biting, we thought we’d give it a hand. Bo grew up around cows, was really handy with a bow line and lasooed the deer on the first attempt.”

to the closest beach, Kent Point, where I beached the boat and we carefully unloaded our catch on the sand. We untied him and jumped back.

“Too weak to stand, he just sat there quivering. We picked him up again and put his feet underneath him, but he still couldn’t walk or stand. We left him sitting there looking at us. Before we left, I looked him in the eye and said ‘See you on opening day; payback time.’

See link for photos. Related:The Cat and a Black BearPolar Bear Playing with WolvesWater Buffaloes, Lions and Crocodiles Oh MyThe Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer

The Chemistry of Hair Coloring

Posted on October 20, 2007  Comments (4)

Scientists Develop the First Significant Advance in Hair Dye in 50 Years by Kristen Philipkoski

Hair color is serious chemistry. Getting color into that hair shaft is no joke. That’s why Procter & Gamble employs 1,800 “beauty scientists” around the globe. I spoke to two of these beauty scientists this week who told me they have invented a kinder hair color, and that it marks the first significant advance in dye jobs in 50 years.

Small, diffuse color molecules enter the hair, and while they’re inside, they oxidize and form a chemical reaction with a larger color molecule that’s already trapped in there. But the small molecules aren’t all that selective about who they get it on with, and they end up breaking some of the chemical bonds that hold hair together. That releases free radicals that make hair weaker and less able to resist things like aggressive brushing, blow-drying and ironing.

So the beauty scientists came up with a whole new chemistry for getting the lightening molecules inside the hair. First, the new process works at a much lower pH. That makes it less alkaline, so it strips away much less of the lipid coating.

2007 William G. Hunter Award

Posted on October 19, 2007  Comments (1)

T.N. Goh received ASQ Statistics Division’s 2007 William G. Hunter Award. He sent me this email:

You may not realize that I first met Bill 38 year ago, when he was in Singapore helping us set up the first school of engineering in the country. He persuaded me to go to the graduate school at UW-Madison and I daresay that’s the best advice I ever got in my whole career. Now when I come to think of it, what Bill stood for in his lifetime has not been, and never will be, out of date. He had advocated the use of statistical thinking and the systems approach, which if anything is even more critical today in handling issues such as global warming and government effectiveness.

Also, statistical design of experiments has assumed an increasingly important role in performance improvement and optimization in the face of constrained resources, again something always in the minds of engineers, managers and business leaders. From time to time there are others who package statistical tools under labels Bill might not even have seen himself, such as “Design for Six Sigma“, but the underlying idea is still the same: recognize the existence of variation, and the earlier you anticipate it and do something about it, the better off you will be in the end.

Bill’s zeal in spreading the message and sharing his knowledge and expertise with people in other parts of the world is well known; I would even say that he had recognized that “the world is flat” way before the likes of Tom Friedman discovered the reality of globalization!

So that’s to share my thoughts with you, having being honored by the Bill Hunter award. I am copying this to Stu, also to Doug who chairs the committee for this award. I reality enjoy the professional association and friendship with you all.

I had not realized Dad was helping set up the first school of engineering in Singapore. This is an example people telling me the positive impact Dad had on their lives that I mentioned in: The Importance of Management Improvement.

Related: Statistics for ExperimentersSingapore Research FellowshipBest Research University Rankings – 2007