Archive for Energy

Transportation, Manufacturing and Twittering Things

Having spent some time recently at the interesting convergence of people and vehicles known as AltWheels, I’m wondering how transportation and local manufacturing will mesh. A great deal of  our transportation infrastructure deals with moving goods from centralized factories to distribution centers, retail outlets and consumers. Some think a radical decentralization of this existing process will be too inefficient, but I’m old enough to remember personal computers being seen as inadequate for the serious work of mainframe computers. It took about a decade for personal computers to supplant mainframes for new application development. Most of the mainframe companies were acquired or went under. Today, IBM has a thriving mainframe business, albeit one that runs Linux, an operating system designed for personal computers.

As with information systems, transportation systems are deeply intertwined with human activities so the most significant opportunities for improvements tend to  stem from process reengineering. IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative recognizes the need to rethink existing processes:

Traffic systems are part of a larger system

Rethinking how we get from point A to point B means applying new technology and new policies to old assumptions and habits. It means improving the drivers’ experience, not just where and when they drive. And it could lead to advances in the cars we drive, the roads we drive them on, and the public transit we might take instead.

and their blog also has a Transportation category. Often the most significant barrier to process improvement is that people don’t recognize some of the terrain they are acting in and can’t align themselves with other participants in their ecosystem. Clearly, social networking is helping to break down these barriers – Twittering Things will only accelerate the evolution.

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Plug Into The Smart Grid

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Nuclear Energy & Education

There are many areas of science and engineering that are very dangerous and/or expensive to investigate, where experimentation in the meshverse is much safer and cheaper. Clearly, nuclear energy is one area. Learning in the meshverse can also be more effective too:

In a way, running experiments and teaching classes in Second Life offers a number of advantages over real life: students watching from their computer screens won’t have to wear expensive radiation badges or obtain clearance to enter an actual laboratory. Instead, they can attend in the guise of “avatars” — virtual likenesses, like personalized computer game characters, whose appearance and features can be customized.

They can also interact with other avatars, a key to making a successful virtual classroom, Amme said, and a major advantage over more traditional Web-based distance learning programs.

“We think that a hands-on laboratory experience is the best teacher, and to be able to do this in Second Life is a marvelous breakthrough, a marvelous opportunity,” he said. “The Web itself is rather benign by comparison because there’s no interactivity. … What’s missing in a lot of distance learning is the socialization [among] students.”

There are other benefits too: Avatars don’t flinch when they’re doing gamma ray spectroscopy. “We don’t have to be worrying about the control of actual nuclear specimens because they can’t be stolen,” Amme pointed out. And, “you don’t have to worry about using plutonium, for example, as a source of neutrons.”

Inside Higher Ed: In Second Life There’s No Fallout

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Nuclear Energy & Education

There are many areas of science and engineering that are very dangerous and/or expensive to investigate, where experimentation in the meshverse is much safer and cheaper. Clearly, nuclear energy is one area. Learning in the meshverse can also be more effective too:

In a way, running experiments and teaching classes in Second Life offers a number of advantages over real life: students watching from their computer screens won’t have to wear expensive radiation badges or obtain clearance to enter an actual laboratory. Instead, they can attend in the guise of “avatars” — virtual likenesses, like personalized computer game characters, whose appearance and features can be customized.

They can also interact with other avatars, a key to making a successful virtual classroom, Amme said, and a major advantage over more traditional Web-based distance learning programs.

“We think that a hands-on laboratory experience is the best teacher, and to be able to do this in Second Life is a marvelous breakthrough, a marvelous opportunity,” he said. “The Web itself is rather benign by comparison because there’s no interactivity. … What’s missing in a lot of distance learning is the socialization [among] students.”

There are other benefits too: Avatars don’t flinch when they’re doing gamma ray spectroscopy. “We don’t have to be worrying about the control of actual nuclear specimens because they can’t be stolen,” Amme pointed out. And, “you don’t have to worry about using plutonium, for example, as a source of neutrons.”

Inside Higher Ed: In Second Life There’s No Fallout

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