Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
September 25th, 2014

Cognitive Computing is one of the major buzz-phrases in technology today.  The IBM Watson Jeopardy!™ Challenge pitted the “brain” of a computer against the minds of humans in a fascinating display of man vs. machine.  Cognition takes many forms, and researchers in the U.K. are striving to learn more about the human brain’s functionality by exploring lucid dreams.

Charles Osgood of CBS News Radio in the U.S. had this to report:  “The scientists say the lucid dreamers used their extra level of insight to “think in a different way” – perhaps get a little creative with their minds to solve more of the problems.”

Here’s a posting from the University of Lincoln that gives some background on their studies

Awake within a dream: lucid dreamers show greater insight in waking life


Perhaps what is learned from studying the lucid dreamers’ heightened ability to problem solve will be applied to the next level of work in cognitive computing?  Maybe it’s something you want to be involved with?  For now…

sleeping computer…sleep well!


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September 21st, 2014

The future of farming is becoming more clear everyday. In Minnesota, a company called Rowbot has created a robot that can apply fertilizer when the plants are growing so fast, needing fertilizer more than ever during their lifespan. By reducing the amount of fertilizer applied, the robot can reduce the amount of nitrogen that can leach into the waterways after it rains. The potential to stop pollution by limiting the amount of fertilizer used is both economical and good for the planet as a whole.

As the machine travels between rows, it can spray two rows of corn on either side of the machine. It uses GPS to know when it’s reached the end of the field, and LIDAR, or laser-scanning, to make sure it stays between rows of mature cornstalks without hitting them. Although such fields could also be fertilized at any time via irrigation, only about 15 percent of U.S. cornfields are irrigated.

Agricultural drones such as this one have become a part of a technological revolution in farming that is changing the face of the industry. According to Mike Schmitt from the University of Minnesota, the ability to apply fertilizer at precise times and locations is “very critical.” Rowbot is a company that is one of several trying to make an impact on the planet. This is just a foretaste of what is to come.

Read more here


Farm bot: This robot rolls between corn rows, applying nitrogen fertilizer to mature plants, and using laser-scanning to avoid hitting stalks.

Farm bot:
This robot rolls between corn rows, applying nitrogen fertilizer to mature plants, and using laser-scanning to avoid hitting stalks.

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September 15th, 2014

Think of the biker image of the daredevil: James Dean, Marlon Brando, Evil Knievel. Now think celebrities who rode motorcycles in the ’40s, like Humphrey Bogart, and in the ’50s and ’60s, like Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen. And the quintessential biker film “Easy Rider” with Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson [which is a must see for any real film-nik].

Now think about all their slick rides: Harley, Ducati, a classic Indian.  And the leathers – jackets, boots, gloves, etc.  OK… you’re in the right frame of mind…  Here’s some new tech that promises to ‘revolutionize’ the headgear of the biker crowd (I wonder if you can get it with spikes sticking out of the top?)

Skully motorcycle helmets  ties a whole lot of technology together with voice recognition and a head-up-display.  Jason Dorrier on Singularity Hub says: “If the design is right, it’ll be awesome.”   And another thumbs-up from TechNewsWorld

So – are you ready to “get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway”?  Or at least design some cool tech-gear for the road?

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August 29th, 2014

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of PUSHBACK is: (#1) the action of forcing an object backward; (#2) resistance or opposition in response to a policy or regulation especially by those affected.  [Personal note:  lots of language has morphed around the globe - - being a language purist, I'd rather see pushback as a hyphenated word, but I don't think I get a vote!]

Most often we hear “pushback” used in the office or home environment to describe a “counter-offensive” in response to a proposed idea, suggestion, or (heaven forbid) chore to be done in the house – so definition (#2) is in play there.  In the aviation world, pushback relates to the primary definition (#1).

Read about the new system being developed in Germany to bring more automation to airline departures or PUSHBACKS

Pilot Ground Situation Awareness System (PGSA)

Make sure to check out the contact information for the companies at the bottom of the article (job prospects, maybe?)  Sorry, I didn’t see any advice in the article as to how to make your teachers, parents or boss give in to your pushback! You’re on your own there, I’m afraid :-)

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August 11th, 2014

Everyone likes to believe they could be an A+ level student or a sought after subject matter expert or the world’s most renowned someone or just darn good at SOMETHING!  Maybe you’ll have that opportunity with a boost from technology being investigated at Wright State U in Ohio…  Learn more about transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS.   Basically, it’s a device that uses electricity to stimulate your brain in all the right places. (Have a peek at their internal university posting, too, on Wright State University Newsroom and explore other avenues available to you at the school.)

 Brilliant for a Day: The (REAL) Science of Brain Enhancing Stimulation

 Brain stimulation


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