Solve for X - Tech Pioneers On Taking Moonshots
I really like the basic idea of the moonshot thinking. The intersection of “a huge problem to solve, a radical solution for solving it and breakthrough technology to make it happen” is a good start for thought-provoking futures and sustainable visions.
Right now, Technology Moonshots are more science fiction than fact, but will be hopefully soon more fact than science fiction.
Last week, Solve for X gathered 60 entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world to discuss 18 moonshot proposals—world-changing projects that work to address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it work.
- Erez Livneh - Virus Decoys
- Daniel Kerber - Re-engineering Refugee Camps and Slums
- Dmitriy Tseliakhovich - Efficient Space Access
- Nicholas Chim - Sustainable Architecture at Scale
- Julia Greer - 3D Architechted Nano Metamaterials
- Ana-Carolina Zeri - Global Science Playground
- Ira Glass - Tries to Boss You Into a Moonshot
- Karen Gleason - Efficiency from Hydrophobic Surfaces
- Aldo Steinfeld - Solar Syngas
- Bob Boyd - The Road Not Needed
- Suchitra Sebastian - A New Generation of Superconductors
- Asel Sartbaeva - Thermally Stable Vaccines
- Ido Bachelet - Surgical Nanorobotics
- Howard Shapiro - Ending Stunting in Africa
- Christopher Wilmer - Efficient Gas Storage and Separation
- Yael Hanein - Artificial Solar Retina
- Lonnie Johnson - Heat Direct to Electric Energy
- Leslie Dewan - Power from Nuclear Waste
I mentioned before that I went to The New School and when I was there I made a friend named Will.
Will was an institution. He was one of those guys that was so positive and good. It was honor to know him and an honor to call him friend.
Will unfortunately passed on due to complications to an injury. I spent the past day thinking about him and thinking about our conversations, and I really just miss the guy. I missed the dude after graduation, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t visit as much as I should have.
I wish I could talk to him again. Just a hey how are you doing, I want to hear him talk about his son again, or give me advice on girls, anything I don’t give a shit; I just want my friend back.
Us New Schoolers call ourselves a community. Even though we’re fractured, and we have different opinions, and come from different places we’re all proud that we were there. Will was the one man that made us a community. We loved him.
It sounds weird and strange, but its a comfort knowing that there are literally several thousand people that’s feeling the same loss as I am.
The clip is from a student radio interview with Will. I love this clip because this is Will, and it was exactly how he was.
I hope he could teach you and you can take something away from it.
Please keep Will’s son in your thoughts. He’s a young kid and it’s tough to lose someone so close to you so close to the holidays.
Knowledge automation tools could take on tasks equal to the output of up to 140 million full-time workers by 2025. Photo: EPFL/AFP
American sports don’t often grab my attention but this gridiro …
The expert’s first impression is not a first impression at all. It is the latest in a series of millions.
Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31 percent said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects. “Students’ social media and digital footprint can sometimes play a role in the admissions process,” says Christine Brown, the executive director of K-12 and college prep programs at Kaplan Test Prep. “It’s something that is becoming more ubiquitous and less looked down upon.”
Simon DeDeo, a research fellow in applied mathematics and complex systems at the Santa Fe Institute, had a problem. He was collaborating on a new project analyzing 300 years’ worth of data from the archives of London’s Old Bailey, the central criminal court of England and Wales. Granted, there was clean data in the usual straightforward Excel spreadsheet format, including such variables as indictment, verdict, and sentence for each case. But there were also full court transcripts, containing some 10 million words recorded during just under 200,000 trials.
How the hell do you analyze that data?” DeDeo wondered. It wasn’t the size of the data set that was daunting; by big data standards, the size was quite manageable. It was the sheer complexity and lack of formal structure that posed a problem. This “big data” looked nothing like the kinds of traditional data sets the former physicist would have encountered earlier in his career, when the research paradigm involved forming a hypothesis, deciding precisely what one wished to measure, then building an apparatus to make that measurement as accurately as possible.
When you cut into the present the future leaks out.
William S. Burroughs
Background: Nature recently published a paper on a new technology for windows. In a nutshell: glass has been prepared that selectively absorbs visible and near-infrared light when an electrochemical voltage is applied. This opens the way to ‘smart’ windows that block heat on demand, with or without optical transparency.
Given that residential and commercial buildings account for about 40 percent of energy use and 30 percent of energy-related carbon emissions in the US, this is quite a breakthrough.
Read Composite for smarter windows (Note: Nature subscription required for this one)
Design challenge: Our goal was to create a graphic that simply and elegantly showed the three limiting optical states of a new smart coating: (a) full transparency, (b) selectively near-infrared (NIR) blocking, and (c) darkened against both visible and NIR light transmission (as labelled in the final graphic, above).
The cover design (also above) showed the three states in one window, but for the graphic we wanted to be more explanatory while still conveying the simplicity of the concept.
A key challenge was to show the layers within the glass, to visually explain how applying a charge to this setup affects the nanocrystals and therefore the optical transparency of the glass matrix. It was drawn in an orthographic projection, with the layered structure of the glass drawn as blowouts using the same projection. This allowed all of the elements to sit nicely within the same visual space.
I experimented by showing more structure around the windows (such as in a brick wall) and by showing more of an external ‘scene’, but found that simple floating windows with a stylized depiction of sky and natural light was all that was needed.