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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MIT Team Unveils Airplane that Uses 70 Percent Less Fuel Read more: MIT Team Unveils Airplane that Uses 70 Percent Less Fuel | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

Inhabitat reports :

Today a team of researchers at MIT unveiled their latest feat of engineering — an airplane that uses 70% less fuel than conventional aircraft. The MIT team was one of six groups — and the only university led team — across the US chosen by NASA to help redesign current aircraft to increase fuel efficiency, lower emissions and allow planes to take off on shorter runways. The team accomplished all of NASA’s set goals with their innovative D-series plane, lovingly referred to as the “double bubble”.

Read more: MIT Team Unveils Airplane that Uses 70 Percent Less Fuel | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shape of things to come: Open source hardware

This is a topic close to home as we are advocates of open source software but manufacture proprietary hardware. I have always wanted to open source our designs as the market is bigger than what any one company can service. However not everyone is convinced that it is the way to go. What is needed is a GPL like license that works for hardware innovation. IAC given the Indian context IP is so much bull. The Foocamp annual fest threw up 13 innovators who are making million + out of open hardware. The OH industry is estimated to cross a billion dollars by 2015. Very interesting if somewhat counterintutive business wise.

Open source hardware $1m and beyond - foo camp east 2010 from adafruit industries on Vimeo.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Civil Liberties : How safe are our EVM's.

While the opposition has been complaining of EVM manipulation, the EC has consistently rubbished these claims. The video below claims that EVM's can be cracked and manipulated easily. Given what i know of electronics and embedded systems the claims are highly credible. Check out the video below.

The attack of the superweeds

Maybe the fact that Intelligent design holds sway in the US, has induced this problem. After all anyone who believes in Darwin's theory of evolution also believes in the inherent arms race between prey and predator. Clearly the weeds have struck back. In what is being described as 'the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,', heavy use of the defoliating agent Roundup has accelerated the development of super weeds that are resistant to, surprise, Roundup. The entire agri economy in the US depends on mass poisoning of fields with such 'herbicides' and then planting with GE verities of the crop that are resistant to it. Little wonder that the genes have crossed over to weedy relatives of the crop. Super weeds have the potential to kill agriculture due to cost escalation in handling. Wonder what Monsanto will do now....
I wonder how many people know that monsanto was one of the first and largest producers of Agent orange, used extensively by the US occupation forces in Vietnam. Another was our good friend Dow chemicals.
This article in today's ET is scary for what such moves mean in the long run. Points to ponder.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

SC bans drugging people and calling the result 'evidence'

In a long overdue move the Supreme Court of India banned the use of drugs and polygraphs is the pursuit of law enforcement. These practices are routine in India and are deceptively called 'Brain Mapping' and 'Narco Analysis'. Nice way to say they drug the shit out of the alleged perpetrator and use the induced verbal diarrhea as evidence in court. Significantly this has been ruled as violative of Article 20 (3) of the Constitution, which prohibits self-incrimination.

Read more here...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Demand Side Management : Other voices

Matt Millman of relampled an ESCO company based in the US, has a good writeup on the ESCO model, demand side management and how LED's fit into the the space. The data he has used is so close to what our own analysis tells us, that i was wondering if my colleague Atul wrote it :) What it confirms is that no economy is that different from any other given the 'flattening' effect of Globalization. It all appears quite fractal, different from the top, but identical at some scale.

Sustainability Series : Akash Ganga

Akasha Ganga or the River from the sky is an innovative NGO scheme that has shown a path to sustainable use of water and also establishes a scheme for water harvesting and storage. The project led by B.P.Agarwal has won the 2010 Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability

Sustainability Series : Sustainability by numbers

Most of us believe things as articles of faith. That our current consumption driven lifestyle is unsustainable is more an article of faith than based on any hard data. Of course i acknowledge that hard data does not often capture the essence of a decaying or destroyed landscape. However in a democracy where accountability of the ruling class to the people is still important, there needs to be an unambiguous way of deciding what deserves attention and what does not. Hence numbers in all their glory become important in preparing a case.
Sustainable Development - a gateway is a portal run by the Government of India with some canadian funding. The four categories of indexing sustainability are

1. Environmental indicators
2. Economic indicators
3. Social indicators
4. Institutional indicators

the site has data captured from various surveys and institutions. Worth the 30 minutes it takes to skim through it.
What i liked most about the site is that there is no commentary on the data provided. It is left to the gentle reader to use the data as they see fit in measuring sustainability.


Monday, May 03, 2010

Horizontal gene transfer to mammals

The Science daily reports that for the first time conclusive evidence of lateral transfer of genetic material from parasites to their hosts was found. Very interesting. Calling some one a louse may no longer be incorrect :)