Culture

The revolution at work is here

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 12, 2011   View Article

The Internet bubble inflated during the late 1990s partly on the promise that technology would revolutionize how and where we work. More than a decade after the bubble popped, the workspace revolution is finally upon us, according to a technology company executive.

“As the world has progressed over the past 10 years, pretty much everything has gone towards an IP-based way of doing things,” Rick Hutley, vice president of global innovation at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems, told me in a wide-ranging interview Thursday.

Robot makes cookies (almost) from scratch

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: August 3, 2011   View Article

The future of robots is shaping up to be wonderful for couch potatoes: they can fetch beers, fold laundry, and now they can even bake cookies.

This latest breakthrough comes from the Distributed Robotics Lab at MIT where graduate student Mario Bollini is plugging away at code that allows robots to make decisions for themselves as they accomplish specific tasks.

Tiny house has everything you need

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 28, 2011   View Article

How much space do you really need to live? No more than 128 square feet – about the same footprint as the trailers lawn care companies use to haul their gear, according to a team of college students and recent alumni keyed into the sustainability movement.

The team is putting the finishing touches on their tiny house which, in fact, was built on a trailer and is completely self-sustainable. It generates all the water and electricity its dweller needs, a first, they say, for this class of miniature housing.

Grow a new language in your head

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 23, 2011   View Article

For adults, learning a new language is often a long, frustrating process that inevitably ends up in failure. A memory expert and a neuroscientist hope to change that with a new online software package designed to make learning the vocabulary of a foreign language fast, fun and rewarding.

“Really good successful learning needs to be vivid, imaginative and creative. It needs to be active. And if you can make it a bit social, that’s great,” Greg Detre, a neuroscientist and co-founder of Memrise, the online destination to learn foreign words quickly, told me today.

Golfers: How to sink more putts

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 13, 2011   View Article

Leave it to a golfing physicist armed with geometry to give all us duffers some simple advice that should make more of our putts fall.

The advice is this: instead of just lining up the putt at hand, take a little extra time and determine the target line for several equidistant putts a few steps to the left and right of the ball.

“What you’ll notice is that those target lines all sort of converge at the same place,” Robert Grober, a physicist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., told me today. “It is as simple as that.”

To sink the putt, aim for this area.

Why a red shirt helped Tiger Woods

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 8, 2011   View Article

Back in the noughties, Tiger Woods, dressed in a red shirt, hoisted a trophy on the 18th green on almost every Sunday that he started out with at least a share of the lead. Science is helping explain how the red shirt helped him — and why it won’t do much for the golfer now.

“It made him feel more confident and powerful and made others shrink in fear of this alpha male among us,” Andrew Elliot, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, told me Tuesday.

Disaster-proof homes that don’t suck

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: May 24, 2011   View Article

Earthquakes don’t kill people, poorly built buildings do. The problem is that most disaster-proof, inexpensive housing technologies don’t fit the cultural preferences of the communities that need them, according to a non-profit that’s promoting a fix.

“This is something that we can control and we can change if we know how to do it correctly,” Elizabeth Hausler, the CEO and founder of Build Change, which has led post-disaster reconstruction efforts in China, Haiti, and Indonesia, told me last week.

Implementation of simple engineering principles using locally-available materials and labor can lead to culturally-acceptable housing that can survive the violent shaking of earthquakes and hurricane-force winds.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach