Posts for Current undergraduate students

The history of "innovation"

In his article "Technological innovation", Benoît Godin provides a history of the term innovation and its adoption in discourse about technological change. 

The history of the expression begins as a translation of a Greek term that referred to subversive novelties and was invariably negative in tone.  Early Christian authors used the new word, innovo, to refer to regeneration, a return to a better state of affairs from the past, clearly a positive connotation.

The last of yesterday's telephones

Scott earlier talked about simplistic notions of firsts in technology.  When was the first computer invented?  Depends on what you mean by computer!  Anyway, who says the arrival of computers was marked by the invention of any given machine?

Triclosan no longer on hand

The Globe and Mail reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently banned the sale of antibacterial ingredients from soaps.  Manufacturers have one year to reformulate their products to exclude compounds such as triclosan and triclocarbon.

Drone manners

There have been many reports of drones being shot at by people who believe they are being spied on.  An article in Slate by Faine Greenwood explains why shooting at drones is both misguided and dangerous.

The first reason is that shooting at drones endangers everyone in the vicinity.  There is a chance that the drone, if damaged, may collide with someone on the ground.  There is also a chance that stray or falling ammunition may hit somebody.

Electronic voting

With election day approaching in the US, issues around the mechanics of the voting itself have returned to the limelight.  Voters in many states will use a variety of electronic machines—many connected to the Internet—to cast their ballots.  In this day when government and private information have been leaking (or leaked) like sieves, this fact gives rise to some trepidation.

Will Volvo's sensitive bus be safer?

A short item in New Atlas describes a new bus prototype from Swedish automotive giant Volvo.  The new bus is equipped with a system called the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System (PCDS). 

The PCDS combines cameras attached to the bus with a program that anticipates danger to cyclists, pedestrians, and other mobile "obstacles" to bus travel.  When a collision appears possible, the bus makes a noise to warn the pedestrian, etc.  The horn is used if the risk is deemed to be very high.

Essentialism and obesity

The Internet has recently brought forth some news about research on  so-called "obesity genes".

Obesity is an increasing problem (no pun intended, of course).  Why it occurs and how it might be mitigated are hot topics in medical science.  One such area of research concerns the genetic contribution to obesity.  Is there an obesity gene or genes and, if so, what might be done about it?

Giraffe genes and species

A Wired article gives an account of some research on the matter of how many species of giraffes there are.  Up until now, biologists held that there exists one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, divided into nine subspecies.

We shape our buildings...

In 1943, after the British Parliament buildings had been destroyed by a bomb, Winston Churchill mandated that they be rebuilt as before.  He justified his decision as follows:

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