Tomorrow will be the first time an American Astronaut heads to the International Space Station since the shuttle program was retired in July 2011. What makes this trip special is that from now on, NASA is going to be dependent on foreign governments and commercial enterprises for space transportation. Going forward, NASA will focus on more intense mission such as putting boots on places such as Mars or even beyond.
The Russion Soyuz rocket on the left will be launching tomorrow. On right, the retired American shuttle.
One of the largest problems with this new format of space exploration by NASA is budgeting. The idea of NASA sending a man back to the moon was envisioned under the Bush administration. The announcement of the Shuttle mission ending was made at the same time. However, no budgets were introduced for NASA to begin work on this new mission. The Obama administration has also embraced this new mission but there is no date, destination, or funding yet.
With the new economic crisis and rise of the no-spend tea party it seems unlikely that the government will be able to finance such a massive project. So a few questions-
What do you think about NASA being dependent on private enterprises and foreign governments to shuttle astronauts to the space station?
What mission should NASA focus on?
Is the space program worth the investment with today’s global financial problems?
In his latest article, Something’s Happening Here, Thomas Friedman discusses the wave of protests and revolution across the world in the past 9 months. The unrest that started in Egypt and the Arab world has now spread to Wall Street and cities across the United States. Friedman presents two theories as to what has caused these protests. I will sum them up here but you should check out the article as well.
The first theory is that this is the start of the “Great Disruption.” The general idea is that capitalism is getting close to its financial and ecological limits. Paul Gilding, an Australian Enviromentalist, says that the Debt Crisis, protests, slow economy, and climate change should not be looked at as isolated issues. Rather, they are all signs that our system of- economic growth, innefective democracy, and abusing the planet- is broken. This global capitalism was supposed to provide enough wealth to not only make the rich richer, but also make the poor less poor. Now, according to Gilding, people see that they are buried in debt, their kids will be worse off, and the environment is not getting any better.
The alternate theory is that these protests are the beginning of the “Big Shift.” This theory, by John Hagel III and John Brown, says that because of technology and Globalization we will be better off than ever before. The current protests are because the hyper-connected world is conflicting with the outdated governing and business institutions. Once this passes, the flow of information will be able to solve any problems that get in the way of progress. Hagel and Brown say that corporations will have more talent available from individuals. These individuals do not even need to be in the same hemisphere because the world is so connected. Another benefit of this information flow is that everyone has access to it. A women in an African village has access to Stanford classes, information flow really levels the playing field.
So, a few questions…
Which theory do you think is more likely/relevant? Do you see another reason for or outcome of these protests?
The purpose of a corporation is to make profits for its shareholders. Do you think the corporations should take responsibility for these environmental and economical problems or the governments should impose regulations?
How would you feel about having your personal bar code?
This isn’t the future, it is a new trend with QR Codes. These codes have been popping up everywhere in recent years- magazines, subway stops, and now even on people.
A QR (Quick Response) Code first started in the auto industry but now enjoys popularity around the world and across industries. QR Codes are unique because unlike the traditional bar code, QR’s can hold much more information due to its two dimensional design.
According to the New York Times article Want More Information? Just Scan ME by Stephanie Rosenbloom, QR codes are appearing everywhere. At exhibits companies are handing out cookies, mugs, and other consumer items with QR codes on them. Postcards are now starting to include these codes. They have even appeared on a runway model’s dress.
A new company, called Skanz, has begun selling bracelets with a personal QR code embedded in it. When scanned, this code brings up a personal web page with further information about the owner. Could this become the new business card? Or maybe a new sight in the club scene, people scanning each other rather than asking for numbers?
Most people, however, still do not use QR codes. The largest group (60.5%) of scanners are men with a household income of $100,000 or more. But with the rise of smartphone users there are bound to be many more users of QR codes.
What do you think about QR codes- are they practical or to difficult to use?
How would you feel about having a personal QR code on a bracelet or even a tattoo?
Are there any applications where QR codes would be most practical?