To MARS and Beyond

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So excited about the new show called MARS (and yeah, it’s on National Geographic). 

I watched the season premier and it was awesome!

They did this cool combination flipping between the non-fiction of the here and now on Earth in 2016 with all the plans and advances being made to go to settle Mars someday, and the fictionalized future 2033 actual voyage and colonization there. 

The spaceship, rovers, colony are all pretty amazing and it seems so real like we’re practically there!

Elon Musk (SpaceX) does a nice job explaining the vision and the reusable rockets they are focused on to get us cost-effectively to the Red Planet and beyond. 

The imperative is clear for us becoming a true multi-planetary species, so that we drastically reduce (hopefully to zero) the risk of an extinction level event to humanity.

There was a good quote that I remember, something like:

“We go into the dark, so others can follow the light.”

The leap forward of us actually making it to and colonizing Mars is so mid-boggling great that just about everything else literally pales in comparison. 

Mars is just the first real step…after that the possibilities are truly endless. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to NASA Jet Propulsion Lab)

Happy Jewish New Year 5777

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May it be a truly sweet and wonderful year. 


It should be a year filled with happiness, health, peace, prosperity, love, and unity. 


May G-d forgive our transgressions, judge us with mercy, and inscribe us in the book of life. 


Let it be a year of meaning, inspiration, innovation, exploration, discovery, and ushering in better times for all mankind. 


Thank you Hashem for all your everlasting kindness, for safeguarding and keeping us, and bringing us ever closer to redemption and to you. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Robots, They Are Coming

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I was so excited by this photo in the Wall Street Journal today.


YuMi, an industrial robot by ABB, is adroitly writing Chinese calligraphy. 


If you look at the photo and think for a moment, the notion of the robot doing and the person watching is truly prophetic of how we are evolving technologically and as a species. 


Yumi is made by ABB, a leading robotics company headquartered in Switzerland, that on one hand has over 300,000 robots installed worldwide, but on the other hand needs only 4,600 employees in 53 countries to produce all these fantastic and productive droids.  

This robot is a work of not just incredible science and engineering, but of art and beauty. 


It’s sleek black and white build with two incredibly agile arms and hands plus a viewing camera, enables it to do small parts assembly or even fine calligraphic work. 


YuMi stands for “You and Me” working together, collaboratively. 


While we surely will work together, the flip side is that with robotics, some people (who don’t make the transition to STEM) may not be working much at all. 


But of course, the positive side is that we are looking at an incredible capacity to do more and better with less! 


Leaving the innovation to humans, and the assembly and service to the bots, the bar will be raised on everything–both good and bad.


We will build greater things, travel and explore further, and discover ever new depths of understanding and opportunities to exploit.


But we will also edge people out of work and comfort zones, and be able to engage in new forms of conflict and war that only the power and skill of (semi-) autonomous machines could inflict. 


The robots are here, however, they are coming in much greater numbers, capabilities, and impact then we can currently fully comprehend. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via WSJ)

STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

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So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Looking For Astronauts – Apply Here

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So cool!!!


OPM Job announcement today for Astronauts.


Work for NASA at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.


Train for missions to the International Space Station, on two new commercial spacecraft, and for the Orion  deep-space exploration vehicle.


To go where no man or woman has gone before…


Dreams do come true!;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Paul Hudson)

The Flaming Bus

Flame Bus

I took this photo today in Washington, D.C.


This cool bus is painted with flames on the hood and has a guitar at the top. 


No, it’s not the bus from The Partridge Family although it has similar colors!


On this bus, the guitar has the name “Sailing Conductors Jack Mantis” on it. 


When I looked this up online, I found that these are some “music loving dudes” who travel (sail and bus) the world and record musicians across dozen of countries and 5 continents. 


They have music, videos, and a 4-part TV series from their global talent search–although there is only limited material at their site (so not sure where all the recordings from the “hundreds of local musicians” is available for consumption).


Anyway, this is a fascinating experiment in discovering diversity, music and the arts, and culture along their travels. 


As to the specific music–beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To The Holy Land

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My youngest daughter, Rebecca, left for The Holy Land today.



I am so proud of her courage, love, and determination to visit there and learn more about her Judaism and Israel. 



Rebecca, you are going on an amazing journey, and we are all so happy for you and thinking of you. 



We all wish you nothing but the best time, lots of learning and meaning, new friends, and of course G-d’s endless blessings and protection.



May you go in peace and return in peace–all our love. 😉



(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)