Scarcity / Abundance

How Many Calories for a Dollar?

Michael Pollan, as always, making perfect sense:

Now watch Will Allen on urban farming…

Egyptian Mummies Yield Ancient Secrets of Good Journalism

This is based on an LA Times article here

What strikes me most is how athlerosclerotic the science itself is.  Or perhaps it’s just the reportage?

The opening line of the article is “CT scans of Egyptian mummies… show evidence of… hardening of the arteries, which is normally thought of as a disease caused by modern lifestyles….”  One of the researching cardiologist draws this conclusion: “Perhaps atherosclerosis is part of being human.”

The LA Times reporter covering the story (Thomas Maugh) rightly points out at the end, “The high-status Egyptians ate a diet high in meat from cattle, ducks and geese, all fatty.”  Which of course entirely negates the hypothesis of heart disease being part of the natural human condition.

It’s clear why the researchers — both cardiologists — would want ancient evidence to support the notion that heart disease is normal.  But the fact is that the preponderance of evidence around the world in epidemiology as well as cardiology indicates that …

Daniel Nocera’s Gift

I just saw the most important talk I have seen in 300+ TED, Pop!Tech, etc talks that I’ve watched.  And at the risk of hyperbole, I will say that the worst case scenario is that Daniel Nocera simply wins a Nobel Prize (and yes, I’m willing to bet at even odds that it happens in under 10 years from today).  But if the system is able to scale through replication, it will be at least as important as penicillin in terms of ending human suffering and will have a bigger impact on the world as a whole.  Here’s why:

  • Input: Water (clean, saltwater or dirty water)
  • Outputs: Electricity + Pure drinkable water
  • By products: nothing (other than what was in the water)
  • Resources required to assemble: all abundant and most have substitutes
  • Knowledge required to assemble: simple
  • Cost to assemble: relatively cheap

Essentially what Nocera has done is reverse engineered and re-created a super-simplified photosynthesis process.  It’s a closed loop (i.e. autocatalytic) so …

If You Had A Billion Dollars…

If you had a billion dollars to make the world a better place, how would you spend it?…

Providing Global Energy Needs

Derek Abbott says Australia alone could solve the world’s current and future energy needs using solar thermal and liquid hydrogen.  Saul Griffith says, practically speaking this is not feasible and we need to use all available clean energy technology and reduce and conserve substantially or we are doomed.  Who is “less wrong”, Derek or Saul?…

Is Hunger Really a Problem in U.S.?

Given everything I hear about obesity stats in the U.S. and malnutrition in the developing world, the last thing I was expecting to find in my inbox this morning was a plea to join a Facebook cause to help end hunger in America.  Really?

I’m usually not skeptical in this way, and I’m loath to focus on the negative when it comes to philanthropy, but I can’t get these thoughts out of my head and I’d like some perspective from those who are better informed about the alleged U.S. hunger crisis.  In the mean time, here’s my food for thought:…

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

A few articles on the economy that were sent my way recently.

The Good: After Capitalism (Geoff Mulgan)

The era of transition that we are entering will be disruptive—but it may bring a world where markets are servants, not masters.”  I urge you to read this entire article, and leave your ideological biases at the door.  Despite the title, this is no polemic.  Here’s the punchline:

Contemporary biology and social science has confirmed just how much we are social animals—dependent on others for our happiness, our self-respect, our worth and even our life. There is no inherent contradiction between capitalism and community. But we have learned that these connections are not automatic: they have to be cultivated and rewarded, and societies that invest large proportions of their surpluses on advertising to persuade people that individual consumption is the best route to happiness end up paying a high price.

Designing for Generosity

Clay Shirky is always a great speaker.  Here’s his Pop!Tech from last year:

Global Economic Constitution?

Homelessness

foodonfoot

This is a picture of what Food on Foot did on Christmas. …

Eben Pagan’s Birthday Webinar

This year for his birthday, Eben decided to host this webinar and invited all his contacts to join him online in lieu of a party and gifts.  What a brilliant concept and even more brilliant execution.  Eben (and Scott Brandon Hoffman, founder of CharityWater.org) truly epitomize the new philanthropy.  Watch the video here.…

Greening the Bailout

bed Code)

He makes so much sense!  Kevin?


Autocatalytic Systems

autocatalytic-automata

The above is a self-replicating dynamic structure from a class of systems called cellular automata (click here to run the simulation).  Below is a self-replicating dynamic structure from a class of systems called “life”:…

Out of Poverty

One of the more inspiring talks at Pop!Tech this year was Paul Polak’s talk about serving the “other 90%” with life-saving and transformative products using a for-profit micro-franchise model that scales.  Paul’s vision and track-record speaks for itself, check it out.…

Pop!Tech Notes, part 3

  • Sustainable ecocities (Dickson Despommier)
    • One shed of hydroponic barley = 200 acres of land
    • No new tech required
    • VerticalFarm.com

Pop!Tech Notes, part 2

This session of 3 speakers has been the best so far.  All three were great speakers and must-watches on poptech.org.

Chris Anderson – attention and reputation are also economic markets; google is world’s largest reputation market (via pagerank); larry page and will wright are central bankers, like bernake; so is phil rosedale of second life; check out Maple Story (korean game coming to US); games enable time/money fungability…

Pop!Tech Notes, part 1

The conference is being streamed live via video on live.poptech.org

Theme of the conference is Scarcity and Abundance.

BarefootCollege.org (Bunker Roy)

  • training poor, illiterate rural, older women from around the world to engineers, take knowledge back to their village and transform it
  • decentralizing and spreading technical knowhow (women, no written word)
  • rainwater collection
  • solar electricity
  • teaching done only by illiterates (don’t even speak same language) because literates can’t teach illiterates
  • children’s parliment