Arizona SciTech Blog
This blog is courtesy of the Arizona Scitech Festival.
Article Provided By: Nikki Cassis, School of Earth and Space Exploration SpaceVision 2013, the largest annual student-organized space conference in the world, was held Nov. 7-10 in and around the new state-of-the-art ISTB 4 building on the ASU Tempe campus, home to the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). Speakers included science superstars Bill Nye the Science Guy, Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait and a range of speakers from the space sciences. SpaceVision brings students from across the world together with professionals and thought leaders in academia for four days of networking, education and awareness around space and science. This year’s conference was co-hosted by the ASU and University of Arizona SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) chapters. Approximately 350 students attended, with roughly 50 from ASU and most of those from either SESE or the Fulton Schools of Engineering. “SpaceVision 2013 was a huge success. We had some phenomenal and enthusiastic new and veteran speakers that generated a great deal of excitement for all attendees,” said economics major John Conafay, president of SEDS ASU and co-chair of SpaceVision. Bill Nye, a highlight for many attendees, kicked off the conference with a keynote address. Following his speech were several days of workshops, tours and Ignite Talks by SEDS alumni. Speakers also included: Bob Richards, the cofounder of SEDS and CEO of Moon Express; author and astronomer Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait; Jim Bell, president of The Planetary Society; and others. “The Ignite Talks are a SEDS tradition of having SEDS alumni who are new in industry come back and share their stories with current SEDS students. This year we had SESE alumni Hallie Gengl, Jim Crowell and Laura Fisher, as well as University of Colorado at Boulder alum Kyle Shannon all give talks,” said Jack Lightholder, computer science major, vice president of the ASU SEDS chapter and co-chair of SpaceVision. Attendees interacted with speakers and others from various private, government and academic space sectors. Of special interest were representatives of two asteroid mining companies: Rick Tumlinson, founder of Deep Space Industries, and Chris Lewicki, chief asteroid miner (president and chief engineer) of Planetary Resources, Inc. The conference also included elections for national officers. Lightholder and Conafay were both elected to the national board of directors for SEDS-USA as the vice chair and treasurer, respectively. SpaceVision 2013 speakers included science superstars Bill Nye the Science Guy, Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait and a range of speakers from the space sciences. Photo by: Peter Nguyen
...and Participation Within Arizona SciTech Festival “Gilbert SciTech Fest” Planned for 2014 On Thursday, September 19, 2013, Gilbert, Arizona’s Mayor, John W. Lewis, served as host to the semi-annual Gilbert Mayor’s Ambassador Forum. It was through this Forum that the Town of Gilbert made its official announcement to join the Arizona SciTech Festival with its own “mini” version of a Festival, titled, “The Gilbert SciTech Festival.” This new addition includes a special week set aside in the Town to celebrate the best in science, technology engineering, math and innovation within the Town, as well as lend support to the Arizona SciTech Festival’s statewide initiative that is entering year three in February and March 2014. The semi-annual Gilbert Mayor’s Ambassador Forum serves as an opportunity to bring together Arizona leaders to discuss pressing topics, develop solutions and establish a community “call to action”. Its mission is to inform local leaders of Gilbert initiatives, connect local leaders with the Gilbert team, and encourage and empower local leaders to serve as ambassadors for Gilbert as part of their normal daily business activities. Gilbert’s session included keynote speakers and a panel discussion with a focus on the “STEM Entrepreneurial Environment,” where the state of entrepreneurship in Gilbert, the entrepreneurial environment within science, technology, engineering and math sectors, and entrepreneurial excellence, were addressed. Gilbert’s involvement within the 2014 Arizona SciTech Festival is one of several new major additions to the Festival in the coming year. Adding to the nearly 500 statewide Collaborators, sponsors and partners, the following other significant participants include Sahuarita, Verde Valley and Buckeye. Located in the southeast valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Gilbert, Arizona has a resident base of 217,000 making it the 7th largest community in Arizona and 97th in the nation by population. The community promotes commercial investment opportunities for innovation-based industries such as aerospace and defense; biotechnology and life science; clean technology and alternative energy; and high-tech manufacturing. Gilbert ranks 33rd out of the top 100 best places to live in America, has one of the highest ranked K-12 education systems in Arizona, a median resident income of $79,414, and noted as the 5th safest city in the country. For more information regarding the Town of Gilbert’s Festival plans, contact Amanda Elliott, Marketing & Public Relations, Gilbert, Arizona Office of Real Estate & Economic Development; 480-268-3188; Amanda.Elliott@gilbertaz.gov, or Dr. Jeremy Babendure, executive director, Arizona SciTech Festival, email@example.com.
Guest Author: Kathy Lane, Retired English Teacher Of all the remarkable aspects of the human body, the most fascinating is that it is always changing. From birth to physical maturity, the body constantly develops and restructures itself to become stronger, more agile and alert. Despite reaching the peak of its growth, the body continues to change even beyond adulthood. As adults transition into their senior years, they begin seeing signs of decline – a decline in muscle strength, some loss in vision and hearing, etc. But exactly how does the body change as we get older? What Happens to Joints, Bones and Muscles? Ever notice how elderly people end up shorter than they were at their physical peak? There are several factors that cause that to happen. One such factor is osteoporosis, a condition where the body experiences a slow loss in bone size and density. The cartilage between bone joints can also wear out over time, causing a small reduction in overall height in some people. Additionally, older adults may experience a decrease in lean muscle mass, resulting in reduced muscle strength and a weaker overall physique. Changes in the Cardiovascular System With aging, the heartbeat becomes slightly slower due to a collection of fibrous tissue and fat deposits on the pathways leading to the heart's natural pacemaker system. The heart itself may also increase in size by a small degree due to thickening of the heart walls. The main artery also thickens and stiffens, making it less flexible and causing a moderate increase in blood pressure. It’s normal for the cardiovascular system to undergo changes as a person's life progresses, but some changes may be warning signs of conditions that could lead to life-threatening situations if ignored. According to information from the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among those 65 years of age and older. Skin and Appearance Another series of changes associated with aging involves the outward appearance. For instance, the outer layer of skin begins to thin, despite no change in the number of cell layers. The body’s layer of subcutaneous fat also thins, increasing the likelihood of skin injury while reducing the body's ability to maintain its temperature. Meanwhile, cells containing pigment began to decrease in number, while the remaining cells increase in size. This causes older people's skin to appear more translucent. The National Institutes of Health notes that sun exposure is the greatest single factor in skin changes, especially for those with fair skin tones. Living Your Life to the Fullest Despite these significant changes, there’s plenty we can do to promote good overall health at any age. For instance, the CDC notes that older adults can benefit from activities focused on promoting muscle strength. Eating a healthy diet and managing your stress levels can also go a long way for maintaining health even as we age. As you seek senior communities in Phoenix AZ, you may want to look into ones that feature rehabilitative services. These services focus on mobility, exercise programs and other therapeutic treatment to help aging people preserve their health and well-being throughout their golden years. Rehabilitative services also provide wound care and pain management, as well as therapy for maintaining and improving cognitive health and memory.
Do you know of someone who has epilepsy? In an experiment done in the 1960s, a neuroscientist named Roger Sperry learned that in certain severe epileptic patients, their corpus callosum (the nerve fibers that join the right and left brain hemispheres) could be severed to prevent an epileptic seizure from spreading from one brain hemisphere to another. These are called “split-brain” patients. Through this, he learned, in quite a funny way, that most of our body is “contralaterally” organized (what the left eye sees is sent to the right brain hemisphere, that our left hand is controlled by our right hemisphere, etc), with smell being an exception (smelling something with your right nostril will send that information to the right hemisphere). Now, it is important to know that the left hemisphere mostly deals with speech. In split-brain patients, because the corpus callosum is severed, the two brain hemispheres can’t communicate with eachother. Here’s the fun part:If a split-brain patient is presented a picture to their left eye (which goes to the right hemisphere), they’ll say they saw nothing because it is the LEFT hemisphere that works with speech (the brain hemispheres couldn’t communicate with eachother to allow him to say it!). However, because the right hemisphere (left eye) “saw” the picture, they can still draw that picture with their left hand even though they’ll deny having seen anything! On another note, if he smells a flower with his right nostril, the information goes to the right brain hemisphere (remember that smell is the exception to “contralateral” organization!). He’ll say he smelled nothing (because the LEFT hemisphere deals with speech), but could still draw the flower with his left hand! Isn’t that something? If you’d like to see a video of these concepts, you can check it out here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMLzP1VCANo [*Source: Hansen, Whitney. “Blackboard Intro To Course.” PSY325 Physiological Psychology. Lecture. 8 Jan 2013.]
Guest Author: Skip Derra Capturing the public’s interest is a key component for “New Space,” where commercial companies are filling in some of the roles that had been traditionally played by NASA. And education has an important role to play, states Ariel Anbar, a Professor in Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. This new role for academia is “a deeper, more authentic relationship than providing training and science majors” to industry, says Anbar. Educating non-science majors is also important. “Investors in space companies primarily are not going to be science majors,” Anbar says. “They are business majors, philosophy majors, history majors. These are the people who need to have a good understanding of what is done out there and how it affects us down here.” **READ MORE**. Anbar spoke at a Nov. 15 forum on the future of space exploration at the National Press Club. The forum featured a panel of space industry experts discussing the future space exploration in a time of curtailed NASA funding and a need of more collaboration between industry, academia and the government. The panel included Lori Garver, former Deputy Administrator, NASA; Alex Saltman, executive director, Commercial Space Flight Federation; Steve Isakowitz, president, Virgin Galactic, Jon Morse, CEO, Boldly Go Institute; and Laurie Leshin, dean, School of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Anbar says a key to success in this New Space era is seeking to garner public interest and support. “We need to think of public interest as a market,” he says. “We have to figure out ways to tap that market.” One way Anbar proposes is for a university and space company to work together and set up a MOOC (massively open on-line course) that provides a portal into the work and missions of the space company. “Missions can go for several years in development and execution,” says Anbar. “The MOOC could provide an educational experience that could last a student’s career and provide insight and experience” unparalleled today. If they add in a nominal cost of taking part in the MOOC, of say $100, then it in turn could provide funding to the company for future missions. “The goal is to match a public interest with a commercial interest,” Anbar says.
Source: ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination How will people read in the future? What will books look and feel like? How will publishers adjust in the face of technological upheaval? In what new ways will authors engage with their readers? ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination is collaborating with Intel Labs on a number of creative interventions and research projects to explore the future of books, reading, writing and publishing. Our first project, Sprint Beyond the Book, was an ambitious experiment that teamed up novelists, scholars, digital publishers and journalists to create a digital book featuring original writing, video and images in just 72 hours. From October 9-11, 2013, we were on site at the Frankfurt Book Fair writing, editing and assembling a collaboratively written book about the future of publishing. The final product, Beyond the Book, also features crowdsourced text and video responses to a variety of questions about the future of books and publishing collected through the project’s website. It was created using a collaborative media platform, currently in prototype form at Intel® Labs. Beyond the Book is free to read and share, and is available now at the Sprint Beyond the Book website. If you are using a Windows machine, you can read and interact with the fully-featured book using Intel’s platform, and if you are using a mobile or non-Windows machine, you can read the entire main text of the book directly on the website. Beyond the Book is a living book, so check back frequently for updates, enhancements and additional supported operating systems!
Guest Author: Theodore C. Kraver Ph.D. The cost to support Arizona’s prison population continues to be a thorn in the side of funding Arizona’s education, job and economic sectors. Over decades Arizona Town Hall solutions went on the shelf while decisions by state leadership forestalled needed prison reform. A growing number of non-violent young adults continually entered the wrong learning community. The approximately 600% prison population increase since 1980 was primarily caused by mandatory sentencing replacing courtroom judgment. Arizona prisons now incarcerate 40,000 men and women with a cost of 1 $Billion per year, just for maintenance and operations. New prison construction cost is approximately $150,000 per prisoner. But since 2009 prison populations have dropped nationally at about 1% a year. Arizona may be able forgo future prison construction costs. But the real cost is a large population of non-violent offenders learning to be criminals. Result: A School for Scoundrels I recommend that we turn Arizona’s dark learning community based education system into system of light. Let’s assume we could undo the hype driven mandatory sentencing. By incarcerating only violent offenders (like the rest of the world) prison population could be reduced by two-thirds. The cost for increased for community services, parole monitoring, drug treatment and mental health programs and counseling should be a fraction of the $25,000 per year now spent on each prisoner. Approximately $600,000 million becomes available as prisons are closed. Families will become whole again. Additional wage earners will ease the poverty statistics. Arizona is number seven on the states with highest poverty and also has one of the lowest funded education system. There is no short range solution, but there is a long range one. Colorado’s upcoming vote on their Amendment 66 will be pouring close to a 1 $Billion per year of new funding into their education system. Arizona could do the same with funds released via prison cost reduction. Initial needs are effective kindergartens, assuring “success “ by 3rd grade and “ready” for high school by the end of 8thgrade. But for starters a sophisticated offender history data system is needed to assess the likelihood of further criminal activity. This decision support system in will deliver both formative and summative assessments. The outcome would both protect the population and the support the offender on a well-lit pathway. Since Arizona has pioneered the nation’s leading education assessment system it seems that we have state level skill set and a model for our criminal justice system. Result: A School for Enlightened Citizens Cheers! Ted Theodore C. Kraver Ph.D. pathfinder éminence firstname.lastname@example.org 602-944-8557(direct) www.eSATS.org225 West Orchid Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85021
By Steven G. Zylstra, President & CEO, Arizona Technology Council Unless partisan politics in Washington drives the economy back into a recession, there are critical trends in the technology industry that are pointing to continued slow but steady growth for Arizona. Most recently, the Semiconductor Industry Associated reported that U.S. semiconductor sales in August increased by 23.3 percent compared with August 2012, and global August sales were 1.3 percent higher than the previous month’s total of $25.53 billion. This makes the sixth consecutive month of growth globally. The news is positive for the Phoenix area, which employs close to 20,000 workers in the industry at companies like Intel Corp., Microchip Technology and ON Semiconductor. The ability to sustain growth in this sector will hang in part on whether or not consumers open up their wallets and spend on electronics during the critical holiday period. Particularly vulnerable to austerity measures out of Washington, our Aerospace & Defense industry could certainly feel the impact in terms of lost jobs. The long-term outlook remains strong, however, as Arizona remains home to the some of the most renowned names in aerospace and aviation with local presence that dates back to WWII. A technology trend that is giving Arizona a big boost, as highlighted by new research from Savvis, is the major shift in IT infrastructure models. Nearly 90 percent of enterprises are using cloud services today according to a Savvis report, but only five percent of enterprises depend on the outsourced cloud for the bulk of their IT resources. The report goes on to predict that scenario will change dramatically over the next five years, leading to the outsourced cloud as the dominant model. With our low catastrophic risk and predictable climate, Greater Phoenix has long been a popular location for datacenter companies and the numbers will most certainly increase. This is especially predictable given our modestly priced power costs and a package of incentives which became law this year. Cited as “a quantum leap forward” by Jim Grice, a partner with Lathrop & Gage LLP and a primary architect of the bill, this important legislation was advanced by the Arizona Technology Council in partnership with the Arizona Data Center Coalition. The rise of the innovation economy is another important trend. A report from the Kaufmann Foundation showed Arizona had the highest entrepreneurial activity rate of any state in 2012. A white paper released by the same Foundation in September of this year ranks Phoenix as 13th among the top twenty large metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions by high-tech startup density in 2010. Entrepreneurs make Arizona’s economy stronger by creating jobs and with new players emerging every day, the innovation ecosystem in Arizona will continue to grow and improve. The area of healthcare innovation is a great example. Arizona is fast becoming a hub with top research institutions like TGen, world-class healthcare brands such as Blue Cross Blue Shield AZ, Cancer Treatment Centers of America and Mayo Clinic, and well-funded startups like WebPT, GlobalMed and others. One trend not in Arizona’s favor has to be the continued loss of rebates and other incentives in the Renewable Energy sector. The economics given this point of time has made it particular difficult. As a result, residential solar will continue to struggle in 2014, with utility scale solar suffering less. Arizona needs to continue to prepare for these trends and possible disruptions – externally and internally generated. Our focus needs to remain on ensuring that our workforce is prepared for the opportunities to come by updating the skills they need now. We also need to keep our lawmakers and community informed of the importance of technology to the growth of our state so that Arizona can build an economy based on high growth industries with higher than average wages. Let’s hope Washington comes along for the ride.
Guest Author: Kathy Montgomery - Kathy used to design and build eco-friendly homes for first-time home buyers in Northern Virginia - Several countries across the globe are making conscious, concerted efforts to address the pressing issues of global warming and greenhouse gases. Reader's Digest listed Sweden as fourth among all nations in a 2010 green-friendly ranking. The Scandinavian country reduced industrial and commercial greenhouse gas emissions by 42 percent from 1993 to 2008, according to Growth Analysis, a Swedish government initiative. The Environmental Media Association also placed Sweden fourth in their 2013 rankings. Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Norway rounded out the top five. The United States, unfortunately, does not even crack the top 20 in either analysis. Americans love their 8-cylinder, gas-guzzling automobiles despite the "green" discounts offered by Statefarm.com auto insurance and most other indemnity companies. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says energy consumption, mostly from cars, has caused greenhouse gas emissions to climb by one percent every year since 1990. But there are subtle, yet powerful actions individuals and companies are taking to help America become more environmentally-friendly. ASUS Bamboo Laptop Computers Electronic waste, also known as "e-waste," accounts for only 2 percent of space in U.S. landfills. It produces 70 percent of toxic waste in the country, according to Alianza Recycling and Recovery. Large amounts of lead are used in most electronics. Lead is an element that can damage the human nervous system, contaminate blood and cause kidney failure. ASUS took notice of this and released the first edition of its Ecobook in early 2008. The company says the laptops are 50 percent recyclable. Much of their frames and trackpads are made of biodegradable bamboo. The newest model, part of the Ecobook's U-series, was featured at CeBIT 2013, the world's largest computer expo. Not only will these laptops help reduce toxic waste, but they're powerful (4 gigs of memory) and have storage capacities up to 640 gigs. They are priced about the same as a similar Dell or HP laptop. Spray-On Solar Panels Researchers at the National Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Alberta may have discovered an element that can drastically reduce the size and availability of solar panels. Jillian Buriak, the senior researcher on the project, told Science Daily that they've designed microscopic particles that can absorb sunlight and turn it into electricity. The particles are composed of zinc and phosphorous, both of which are far more abundant than the cadmium used in solar manufacturing. And since the particles are not lead-based, they are free from any and all regulatory restrictions. Buriak said the panels could potentially be produced similar to how ink is sprayed on large rolls of paper on printing presses. The team has inquired about a provisional patent, and the project is still in the experimental stages. Solar Plant Stimulators Agrovolt Technologies, a Seattle-based startup, started a crowdsourcing campaign in July to fund what they call an innovative technology that will make plants grow faster and healthier. Gardeners would simply push a probing apparatus into the soil near the plants. Powered by a small solar panel, the device then increases the roots' ability to absorb nutrients. A press release by the company cited research done at the University of Florida which showed the device increased growth up to 150 percent and cut maturation rates by half. Scott Friedman, the company's CEO, said they only need to raise $23,000 to finish the project.
Guest Author: Theodore “Ted” C. Kraver, Ph.D. We education advocates spent inordinate time on the critical aspects of PreK-12, higher education, job training… but we may be missing one of the most important learning transitions, the first time one does real work. Richard Ford Opt-Ed piece in the Oct 19th, 2013 New York Times titled, “A Boy Who Played with Trains,” told a story about his first real work. At age 19 Richard was hired as a fireman to work on diesel switch engines to assemble trains in the Little Rock switchyard. The job was train-as-you-go with no skills needed. He found himself checking lubrication, brakes and doing left side locomotive surveillance for wayward civilians, animals and vehicles. The engineer was an old school informal apprentice master that watched his every move. His first and only formal lecture was, “Ford, you just look out the window and be sure we don’t hit anything, and we’ll be fine.” His first real job had duties with consequences. Eventually this 19 year old boy was using hand and lantern signals to control switch men so he could assemble and shunt a hundred box cars from one rail to another. It was the first “twinkling of his mental life*” where the boy stopped playing at being serious and learned to deal with serious matters of real work. I may have had a similar turning point when I was 20 in 1959. It was also a summer job but with the NY Central Railroad in their Collingwood Yards in Cleveland. Their Research Lab wanted me to design, build and test a turbojet engine snow blower with Don Wetzel a fireman/technician. We had a whole 3 months. I had had summer jobs as short order cook, plant engineering and drafting but nothing like this. I located zero hour J-47 and J-57 surplus engines from military jet aircraft for $1000 each. We mounted them in the back of an old baggage car and built a nozzle. The nozzle was to vector the exhaust blast from side to side. The task was to windrow snow from lines of cars after a blizzard. I hooked up the engine throttle with a bell crank and cables, which was a large version of the controls I used for my model airplanes. Fed from a tank car of Number 2 Diesel fuel we tested it for many hours to collect exhaust velocity data. Rocks flew and noise complaints from the yard’s neighbors flooded in. We ruined one engine when someone fed us bunker C fuel oil and another when the boss, showing off to Japanese visitors, rammed the throttle to full power and burned up the turbine. By the end of the summer I had enough data to design a prototype with a hydraulically actuated nozzle and housed on a derelict caboose. I went back to Cambridge for my senior year. The following spring I learned that the prototype was used successfully after a blizzard closed a New York City rail yard. Unfortunately, police precincts were flooded with calls of jet planes crashing. The jet snow blower had to use full throttle to clear a path through the city to reach the rail yard. Ten years later, commercial companies were building jet engine snow blowers targeted to clear mountain passes. Only the coyotes were there to complain. Testing and designing a system that contained a 10,000 pound thrust engine that functioned in populated areas brought real work into my life for the first time. I decided I liked the responsibility and went on to engineer aircraft jet engines for Garrett AiResearch in the 1960s. I am not sure when my “mental life twinkled on” but somewhere along the line I learned to enjoyed real work. *Saul Bellows, writing about Franklin D. Roosevelt when the Great Depression hit. Epilog – 10 years later “Something out of Buzz Lightyear's imagination, this jet-enhanced train car was tested (successfully) in the summer of 1966. This was the time when rail-road usage declined in America, as the interstate highway system completed its major routes and airlines drew increasing numbers of travelers. New York Central research team, led by Don Wetzel, was assigned a task to collect data on possible high-speed rail service and whether the tracks could handle high-speed passenger traffic. "Wetzel and his crew adapted two General Electric J-47-19 jet engines, which had been designed as boosters for the Convair B-36 intercontinental bomber. These were mounted just above the engineer’s station at the front of the car. Wetzel’s original design had the jet engines at the rear, but this changed after his wife, making her point with some sketches on a dinner napkin, suggested that the locomotive would look better with them mounted up front. This switch also helped keep the nose of the locomotive on the tracks. The Cleveland shop fashioned a black streamlined cowling for the front of the Budd car, which was designated M-497. Workers called it the Black Beetle." The tests have seen the M-497 flashing by at 183.85 miles per hour, a U.S. rail-speed record that stands to this day.” When the M-497 returned to commuter service, Wetzel salvaged the jet engines and built a patented jet-powered snow blower.