Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

With little electronic backpacks installed on their backs, giant flower beetles are being remotely controlled while in free flight. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) gained insight into how the insects fly and identified the use of these beetles in areas such as search-and-rescue.

The thought of these little bugs sporting backpacks makes me chuckle, but if they will be of service with search-and-rescue, I’m all for it!

blog beetleThe beetles were first placed in a closed room equipped with eight 3D motion-capture cameras. Using radio signals transmitted to the backpack once every millisecond, the researchers selectively stimulated different muscles. By doing so, they were able to get the insects to take off, turn left or right, or hover in place.

Similar research is being conducted at North Carolina State University, except instead of beetles, they are testing with cockroaches.  It seems fitting that some of the peskiest bugs are put to work for us.

It might be fun to be the one to train these beetles (or cockroaches) in a very high tech way and have them follow your commands – releasing the inner animal trainer in you.

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The concept is a rolling classroom; its purpose is to bring hands-on tech education to classrooms and build interest in students for science and math as fun subjects.

Where there’s a spark, there’s a flame – and the blaze is growing!!  This Stanford University (California, USA) rolling classroom is reaching both students and teachers alike…

Read about their beginnings and their continuing journey here:



And if you’re inspired by their success, maybe this is a project you and your fellow students will want to take on at your university!  Click the pic for a guide…



Where will you roll?

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has “launched” a public challenge with the aim of innovating technologies vital for the establishment of a colony on Mars. The agency is focused on a mission to the Red Planet, and has already taken the first vital steps. However, while simply reaching Mars with a cargo of healthy astronauts would be a monumental triumph, maintaining a permanent presence on so inhospitable a planet could prove to be a much greater technological challenge.

Maintaining a colony on the Red Planet will prove to be a leviathan challenge, compounded by the knowledge that should a catastrophe occur, the nearest aid sits roughly 140 million miles (225.3 million km) away. At best estimates, the shortest periods between resupply missions from Earth would be around 500 days. It is inevitable that much of the technology at the outpost will be reliant on resources from the homeworld, making any delays in the launch of a supply run a potentially life-endangering event.

The three most promising candidates will be granted a $5,000 USD minimum award.

So here’s the challenge to you:  submit an idea for one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities necessary to achieve a continuous human presence on the Red Planet.

Click on the red planet to submit your idea(s):

blog mars


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Paper maps have been used by humankind ever since it was necessary to document a location’s specifics for others.  Often, a map served to delineate boundaries or help groups travel to a previously unvisited destination – and there are a host of other uses for mapping.  More recently, maps have been added into the functionality of a myriad of handheld electronic devices – enhancing searchability and portability of a vast repository of information in a mobile device (no folding required!).

Now things have taken a step further…  Ordnance Survey has released a mapping tool which pulls together geographical, transportation and other types of local information including statistics on crime and other data

Read about it here:

Ordnance Survey releases


OpenMap mapping data


OpenMap UK

Source: OS OpenMap User Guide

The level of detail provided in a map of this type may revolutionize cartography…  At the very least, it’s another great way to keep yourself from getting lost!

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Meet Spinute: an app to help you save time and cut costs – really great for any person who doesn’t own a personal washer/dryer (or have someone to do the laundry for them!)

Designed by Adem Onalan, Tahnee Pantig and Louise-Anne van ‘t Riet, from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York City. Spinute is specifically for users of laundromats.  For those on a tight time-line, this could be the answer!

“What Spinute offers is a platform that is accessible to a larger audience at the low to middle income level. It offers an affordable alternative to the laundry experience while still saving time and money for the user.”

Spinute: A Laundromat SpinuteApp “By the Minute”  

(Don’t miss out on the User Experience video in the linked article…)

 Do you have any thoughts on timed activities for which an app would be useful in helping to organize people’s days?  Think how fabulous you can look pitching your idea in your newly cleaned clothes!

(Now if someone would come up with a product that does my ironing at warp-speed for a low cost, I’d be really grateful…)

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