Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the past, present, and future of manufacturing. Davidson visited an after-market auto parts factory in Greenville, South Carolina and talked with employees there as well as with executives at corporate headquarters. What is the future of factory work in America? Why are some manufacturing jobs in America while others are in China or elsewhere? The conversation looks at these questions as well as how well or poorly the U.S. education system prepares students for the world of work. It’s seventy-two minutes here to play or download. Read the comments, too, where one error about tolerances is corrected.
Lab Out Loud made a segment that connects with fuel injector work by talking with Jon Dudas, president of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Dudas talks about the upcoming robotics competitions, how they teach kids how to try, fail and succeed, and how hands-on robotic lessons can enhance the classroom experience and spark interest in science education and careers. Some innovations produced during the contests even find subsequent support for commercialization. The program is just over twenty-four minutes and the site includes links to FIRST and related items. Similar work is being done with biology through groups like DIY Biology with its discussion group and this wiki about fab labs or a six-year-old seventeen minute TED talk about the labs. Either large cities or communities near appropriate commercial operations are best suited to support these efforts. All of this is reminiscent of the appearance of Radio Shack outlets, which displaced mail-order electronics kits from places like Burstein Applebee.
Held Hostage aired in Jun 2010, but This American Life, the source, decided to issue it as a repeat. An angry man in New Orleans, Nathaniel Dowl, seeks revenge against people who bought property that he formerly owned and was seized by the city. The homeowners find themselves trapped in a morass of paperwork, court visits…and worse. The twenty-three minute file can be heard online but costs $1 to download from Amazon or iTunes, or listen free online. The charges brought against Dowl can be seen, too, here. His activities mimic a problem called SLAPP or “strategic lawsuit against public participation,”a little known but widespread threat to the First Amendment. SLAPPs are meritless suits brought by companies, individuals and sometimes the government, not to win, but to silence critics. Congress is now considering federal anti-SLAPP legislation. A ten minute discussion of the problem is here. Its use in the pharmacological industry is noted here.
Last October 6 the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institute hosted a forum on education technology and its potential to transform the modern American classroom. In Education Technology: Revolutionizing Personalized Learning and Student Assessment a panel of experts analyze how to best incorporate digital technologies into American classrooms and increase the use of adaptive learning and assessment. They also examine how education technology can enhance student performance and collaboration. It’s a 1.5 hour program and mentions such resources as ePals, a site which includes another effort called In2books.
Richard Cordray, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director and former attorney general of Ohio, presented his vision for this new consumer agency in a forty-two minute presentation at the Brookings Institute on 5 January 2012. Nothing startling is revealed, but one hopes his assumption of the directorship signals the start of banking reform. Video and audio are available here. Click on “Listen to Audio Only” to reach the download option.
To ensure future competitiveness in the era of the innovation economy America’s workforce will need to be highly skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Yet U.S. education efforts in these critical areas lag behind those of other advanced nations. New Ideas to Advance STEM Education in the U.S. is a webinar with panelists in two one-hour segments hosted by the Brookings Institute about new policy ideas to advance STEM education, workforce training and student recruitment in the United States. Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce delivers keynote remarks in part one, followed by a four-person panel discussion with questions. To download both segments, select “Listen to Audio Only” right click on “Download” and select “Save Link As…” The sound quality varies due to the webinar format, but one interesting point concerns 350 math teachers in New York City selected for extra pay through the Math for America home program.
Sentinel Active Surveillance Roundtable: Highlights from the Sentinel Initiative Public Workshop is an hour-long webinar by two specialists about a Food and Drug Administration program to better collect, organize and apply information about medicine used in the U.S. The program is called the Sentinel Initiative and was initiated with a pilot version called Mini-Sentinel. It now involves over 100 million people. Related content is available at Implications of FDA’s Sentinel Initiative, Brookings Roundtable: Overview of Additional Sentinel ActivitiesBrookings Roundtable: Overview of the Mini-Sentinel Pilot
The Science Show weekly digest from Australia includes a current summary of fracking problems in several countries where it is being used to extract natural gas presented at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Vancouver, Canada, this year. It reports the likely cause of surface water problems are due to improper application of sealing agents to the upper portions of the wells in the Saturday 25 February 2012 program that can be downloaded with a right click and “Save Link As…”
The imaging platform, known as LUCAS (Lensless Ultra-wide-field Cell monitoring Array platform based on Shadow imaging), has now been successfully installed in both a cell phone and a webcam. Both devices acquire an image in the same way, using a short wavelength blue light to illuminate a blood, saliva or other fluid sample. LUCAS captures an image of the microparticles in the solution using a sensor array. Because red blood cells and other microparticles have a distinct diffraction pattern, or shadow image, they can be identified and counted virtually instantaneously by LUCAS. Data collected by LUCAS can then be sent to a hospital for analysis and diagnosis using the cell phone, or transferred via USB to a computer for transmission to a hospital. Discussion of the current state of the device were reported in this AAAS conference segment 19 February 2012: Anthropology and Engineering [MP3]. Photos from the 2008 report about the prototype are here. Only 1% of red blood cells are infected with the malaria parasite so you have to look at a large number of cells to identify the presence of malaria. This device lets health workers in Third World Countries do this with any cell phone equipped with a camera. “This technology will not only have great impact in health care applications, it also has the potential to replace cytometers in research labs at a fraction of the cost… A conventional flow-cytometer identifies cells serially, one at a time, whereas tabletop versions of LUCAS can identify thousands of cells in a second, all in parallel, with the same accuracy.”
Technology and the Innovation Economy: How To Harness New Engines for Growth is a three-person panel discussion for an hour and twenty minutes that addresses such key issues as STEM education, foreign workers, and use of the internet. An Intel Labs speaker described a device that plugs into a wall outlet of your house and detects the signature of every electrical device when it starts and stops to include the make and model of the device. In addition, changes in the device signal can be detected which can indicate when something is beginning to fail. It is called Wireless Energy Sensing Technology (WEST). It is part of work continuing in the U.S. and an Intel lab opened in Ireland, but nothing is available yet, nor have any release dates been provided.