Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Smarter Planet
September 17th, 2014

Heard this story on the radio and thought of boyfriends past who were SO into StarWars; perhaps they are still…  It was all about the Rebel Forces, and how the Death Star pulled them in – but I digress…

“Sci-fi” references aside, this is genuine Tractor Beam Technology that is currently being explored by scientists in Australia.  News has been released that physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) ‘have created a tractor beam on water, providing a radical new technique that could confine oil spills, manipulate floating objects or explain rips at the beach‘.

Here’s three takes on the subject:

ANU     BBC News   IFL Science


P.S.  I hear the surfing is great down under. Maybe you want to head off and join the Aussies to do some water research…

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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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This fall the Longhorn Lights Out program is excited to expand beyond the University of Texas at Austin, and partner with several other universities to hold a joint, intercollegiate Lights Out event. Other participating universities include University of Kansas, Penn State, Bowling Green University, and University of Toledo and possibly others. In this pilot program on October 24th, all participating universities will turn off lights and electronics on the same day at the same time, then report our joint impact on energy savings, and student engaged. We have chosen this week in conjunction with other sustainability-focused events, and Bowling Green University’s “No Impact Week”!  The UT Austin tower will be turned off for this event!  

Moving Forward: Learning from our experiences with the pilot Lights Out program, we plan to expand the program such that we provide the materials and support to be able include any interested university develop and implement their own Lights Out program.    Spread the word and help us conserve!




Longhorn Lights Out is a program the University of Texas at Austin to engage students, faculty, and staff in reducing energy use on the UT Austin campus, and increase awareness about energy conservation. Once a month students meet on Friday’s at 6:30 pm, and split up to survey all the campus buildings to reduce energy use by turning off lights, and electronics. Faculty and staff pledge to turn off lights and electronics in their offices and places of work.  Check us out our Website, Facebook, Twitter (#LonghornLightsOut), and our video


- post by Kristen Cetin


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The fall semester has started again at the University of Texas at Austin, and we are excited to update SFSP about the successes with the Longhorn Lights Out program. We continue to thank IBM and Students for a Smarter Planet for their support in growing this program!

Longhorn Lights Out – Student Efforts to Date

Since it began in the spring of 2013, Longhorn Lights Out has grown substantially – and continues to develop and grow. It began We have held 7 student events, 3 faculty/staff events and are looking forward to many more.  Our measured impact has been total of 35393 kWh of savings from the students alone, the equivalent of the annual energy use of nearly 3 Texas homes. Just in the last semester, over 165 student volunteers participated, and turned off over 13248 lights, 82 projectors, and 606 computer monitors, going to an average of 26 buildings per event.  We are presenting these efforts both at the UT Austin Sustainability Symposium this Friday, and at the ACUHO-I/ APPA Housing Facilities Conference in October.

Longhorn Lights Out expands to include Faculty and Staff 

In an effort to include not only students, but also faculty and staff, the summer was focused on building faculty and staff participation.  Each month, for May, June and July, faculty and staff pledged to turn off lights and electronics on Fridays before leaving for the weekend.   The faculty/staff pilot program was an overwhelming success – each month we had nearly 100 staff and faculty participate, turning off 3844 lights, 860 computers, and 1244 monitors, as well as 882 additional devices. Based on feedback from participants, 100% wish to participate again, so moving forward, both students and faculty/staff Longhorn Lights Out events will be help at the same time, one Friday per month!  We look forward to having an even greater impact on energy conservation awareness and savings.  We thank everyone for their collaboration thus far.

LLO_Inforgraphic_May302014 LLO Infographic_June27 LLO Infographic_July

We invite those interested to our website, developed in house,, our video, produced through the Environmental Science Institute at UT Austin, and a Facebook site,  More updates soon!


The University of Texas at Austin, through partnership between the UT Energy & Water Conservation ProgramEngineers for a Sustainable World, and ASHRAE , have developed an energy conservation program called Longhorn Lights Out.  This program’s purpose is to engage students, faculty, and staff in reducing energy use, and increase awareness of energy conservation. Once a month students meet on Friday’s at 6:30 pm, and split up to survey all the campus buildings to reduce energy use by turning off lights, and electronics. Faculty and staff pledge to turn off lights and electronics in their offices and places of work. 

- post by Kristen Cetin

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Did you ever deal with ‘toothy’ stuff… Braces?  Fillings?  Crowns?  Implants?  Root canal?   A trip to the dentist is usually not looked forward to with  much enthusiasm – more like trepidation.  But – did you ever stop to think about the effects of our oral hygiene on the rest of the planet?  Maybe Mother Earth is as frightened of the sound of a dentist’s drill as humans are – and possibly with good reason!

Dental Recycling International (DRI) announced that it has partnered with the Rwanda Dental Association. DRI provides education on and technology for dental waste recycling throughout the world, and will help the association to reduce the amount of mercury from dental amalgam entering the local environment.  Take a look at related articles found linked at the bottom of the posting.  There’s a great piece on amalgam alternatives, with credits to U Illinois, too.

And check out Dental Recycling International (DRI) while you’re at it!





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