"disaster tech" entries

Four short links: 15 July 2009

Four short links: 15 July 2009

A collection inspired by Science Foo Camp attendees

  1. Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor (PNAS) — We found that a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability. We also found that a trader’s cortisol rises with both the variance of his trading results and the volatility of the market. Our results suggest that higher testosterone may contribute to economic return, whereas cortisol is increased by risk. Our results point to a further possibility: testosterone and cortisol are known to have cognitive and behavioral effects, so if the acutely elevated steroids we observed were to persist or increase as volatility rises, they may shift risk preferences and even affect a trader’s ability to engage in rational choice.
  2. The Origin of Universal Scaling Laws in Biology — eye-opening paper that blew my mind. Highlight of Sci Foo was meeting the author and shaking his hand. Relates metabolic rate, size, heart rate, and lifespan by applying physics to biology.
  3. Ushahidi — open source software for managing disasters. The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Our goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.
  4. Dissecting the Canon: Visual Subject Co-Popularity Networks in Art ResearchIn this paper we analyze a classic da-
    taset of art research, which collects ancient art and architecture and their Western
    Renaissance documentation since 1947. [T]here is clearly a long tail of monument
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Four short links: 6 Jan 2009

Four short links: 6 Jan 2009

Four thought-provoking links from the worlds of disaster tech, multicore, bioengineering, and 17th century French nobility.

  1. Techies: Volunteering to Save the World – article on NGO work being the new black for technology. In particular, this caught my eye: “Earlier this year, IBM launched a program called Corporate Service Corps to send 100 employees to Romania, Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ghana and Tanzania to work on projects that combine economic development and IT. And the response was impressive: More than 5,000 employees applied to participate.”
  2. Laurence Livermore Lab releases Stack Trace Analysis Tool – debugging tool for code running over 20k processors. We need new tools like this to handle the complexity thrown up by a multicore world.
  3. Spinning Silkworm Cocoons into Biosensors – interesting article in MIT Technology Review about bioengineer Fiorenzo Omenetto who is using silk to build optical devices that can be used as sensors in the body. “In the devices that ­Omenetto and Kaplan are developing, proteins embedded in the optical material efficiently bind to a target such as oxygen or a bacterial protein; when they do, the light transmitted by the sensor changes color.”
  4. La Rochefoucauld Quotes – lots of thought-provoking quotes. For example, on the freemium business model: “What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.” On Twitter: “As it is the characteristic of great wits to say much in few words, so small wits seem to have the gift of speaking much and saying nothing.” On social network sites: “However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship.” On Google/Microsoft/Apple/[insert big company here]: “There are heroes in evil as well as in good.
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DisasterTech: "Decisions for Heroes"

One of the most interesting DisasterTech projects I’ve been following is “Decisions for Heroes” led by developer and Irish Coast Guard volunteer Robin Blandford. Decisions is like Basecamp for volunteer Search & Rescue teams. The focus is on providing “just enough” process to compliment the real-world workflow of a rescue team, without unnecessary complexity. One of Robin’s design goals is…

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