Net-Zero Energy House

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to explore the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Net-Zero Energy House.


As its name implies the residential home makes as much energy as it uses. 


It is run by one of NIST’s 7 laboratories, the Engineering Lab’s Energy and Environment Division.


The 2,700 square foot home is super-insulated and hyper-energy efficient.


It runs on only 12,000-13,000 Kilowatt per year compared to a typical home that guzzles 40,000 KW. 


You can see the array of solar panels on the roof and there is a two-way exchange of energy to/from the grid as available/needed. 


There is also solar thermal water heater. 


The home simulates a family of 4 living there cooking, bathing, watching TV, etc. 


There are 600 sensors inside the house that monitor everything. 


The garage maintains the computers and controls for the research. 


Overall, I was very proud to see the wonderful scientific research being done here. 


It was truly impressive and good for the nation and the planet.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Rethinking How Blood Work Is Done

Rethinking How Blood Work Is Done

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating interview today with Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of a new company that has rethought how we do blood work for medical diagnosis.

Her company, Theranos, has certified phlebotomists for taking patient’s blood, but instead of taking vials and vials of blood, they just take a pinprick worth–1/1,000 of a typical draw–from the tip of your finger.

Moreover, unlike with conventional blood work testing, “only about 62% of tests that doctors order are ultimately carried out,”partially because there is still not enough blood drawn, but with Theranos the tests are able to be done with only small drop sample sizes.

With advanced, patented technology, Theranos does the tests (blood, urine, other) faster–in 4 hours or less, rather than in days, so you, the patient, can get the results quicker, and treatment for your condition sooner.

Moreover the results are said to be more precise to within a 10% variation–in contrast to typical labs tests that are within plus-or-minus 30% allowable error–a 60% error range!

With faster and better technology, Theranos helps your doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis and provide targeted treatment.

The testing results are provided securely and electronically to the doctors in this very cool dashboard (pictured above) in which blood measurements can be quickly and easily seen on a scale of low-to-high, as well as whether something is deficient, insufficient, or at toxic levels.

Also, Theranos provides trending of results over time, so the physician can quickly see whether the patient’s condition is worsening or improving, and can make treatment decisions accordingly.

And when the doctor releases the results, you’ll be able to logon and see them for yourself as well.

Further, Theranos is committing to conduct the blood work at a 50%-off discount on Medicare fees–they are saying, “we want to bill you at less than you’re willing to reimburse.”

I really like when someone bold and bright like Elizabeth Holmes comes around and breaks the old broken paradigms–really rethinking how something could/should be done better.

In general, it often seems that the medical field is change/risk adverse (like with adoption of electronic health records), but Ms. Holmes has brought a better, faster, and cheaper testing and diagnostic process to all of us.

I noticed that Theranos has a very impressive roster on it’s board, including former Secretary of States Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and former Secretary of Defense, William J. Perry to name just a few.

Theranos seems to be the company to watch in this medical diagnostic laboratory field.

No more scary big needles–just a pin-prick and a few drops of blood…that’s blood worth taking and testing. 😉

(Source Photo: Theranos Website)

Willy Wonka Wears Google Glass TOO

Willy Wonka Wears Google Glass TOO

I can only say that my fascination with Google continues to grow daily.

Years ago, I used to joke, “What is this G-O-O-G-L-E?”

But now, I know and marvel at how Google is information!

And every type of information from news and facts to shopping and entertainment:

Research is Google.
eCommerce is Google.
Entertainment is Google.

Google this…Google that.

Archive, index, search, discover, access…learn, grow.

Google has quite literally ushered in a new age of enlightenment, no really!

The focus is on information…Google’s mission statement is:

“Organize the world’s information and make it universally acceptable and useful.”

If you believe that knowledge and learning is one of the core underpinnings for personal growth and global development then you can appreciate how Google has been instrumental in unleashing the information age we are living in.

Of course, information can be used for good and for evil–we still have free choice.

But hopefully, by building not only our knowledge, but also understanding of risks, consequences, each other, and our purpose in life–we can use information to do more good than harm (not that we don’t make mistakes, but they should be part of our learning as opposed to coming from malevolent intentions).

Google is used for almost 2/3 of all searches.

Google has over 5 million eBooks and 18 million tunes.

Google’s YouTube has over 4 billion hours of video watched a month.

Google’s Blogger is the largest blogging site with over 46 million unique visitors in a month.

But what raises Google as the information provider par excellence is not just that they provide easy to use search and access to information, but that they make it available anytime, anywhere.

Google Android powers 2/3 of global smartphones.

Google Glass has a likely market potential for wearable IT and augmented reality of $11B by 2018.

Google’s Driverless Car will help “every person [traveling] could gain lost hours back for working, reading, talking, or searching the Internet.

Google Fiber is bringing connection speeds 100x faster than traditional networking to Kansas City, Provo, and Austin.

Google is looking by 2020 to bring access to the 60% of the world that is not yet online.

Dr. Astro Teller who oversees Google[x] lab and “moonshot factory” says, “we are serious as a heart attack about making the world a better place,” and he compares themselves to Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

I like chocolate and information–and yes, both make the world a better place. 😉

(Source Photo: here by (a)artwork)

3-Bedroom Homes on Mars

I am very excited about Bigelow Aerospace’s BA-330 space inhabiting module.

The BA-330 is an inflatable, expandable habitat that can be launched into orbit or used to colonize another planet.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (2 May 2013), the space vessels are inflatable–like a football or car tire.

The inner core is an airtight bladder for living. The outer shell is composed of protective layers of foam and bullet-resistant Vectran fabric. In the center is a metal framework of electronics and equipment.

The “space habitat is folded tightly into the trunk of a rocket for launch, and released in orbit, where is inflated with a breathable atmosphere.”

Internal pressure makes the hull rigid and the up to 40″ of layered protective material make the habitat stronger and safer than conventional aluminum modules–and yet can be produced at half the cost!

The modules can be arranged vertically into the equivalent of a three-story home with kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, and gym.

NASA has plans for one of these modules to join with the International Space Station and to test it for future uses.

Bigelow wants to be the 1st space landlord renting out dwellings, work environments, and laboratories to tourists, scientists, and companies. “Bring your clothes and your money. We provide everything else.”

For only $51M you can travel to the Bigelow Alpha Station–it’s first commercial outpost–and enjoy 110 cubic meters for 60 days.

Someday, these early ventures into space will seen as the pioneers crossing the oceans to discover and settle new far away lands, but the difference will be millions of miles and infinite choices. 😉