Category Archives: Technology

Must-watch: “Open Pit”

Screened this for the first time yesterday and it generated a lot of discussion, so I thought I’d share. It’s powerful and very well done. Highly recommended. Plus, the whole thing is available to watch free online:

Open Pit from River of Life on Vimeo.

Accolade Award winning Feature Documentary “Open Pit” is a tour de force of investigative journalism and guerilla filmmaking that reveals the vicious face of “dirty gold” in Peru. A film by Gianni Converso. Produced by Daniel Santana and Gianni Converso.

In the heart of Cajamarca, Newmont Mining Corporation operates the Yanacocha Gold Mine, one of the largest Open Pit mining operations in the world.

Using the cyanide leach process, Newmont Mining has come to define “dirty gold” for a generation of Campecinos – the indigenous people who have lived at the top of the Peruvian Andes since the Inca civilization.

Faced with devastating mercury pollution, heavy metals and acid mine drainage, the people of Cajamarca fight a desperate battle to defend their water resources, their families – and their way of life.

Backed by money from the International Finance Corporation and The World Bank, Newmont Mining enforces their business model through corruption, intimidation and violence.

Open Pit is a tour de force of investigative journalism and guerilla filmmaking that reveals the vicious face of “dirty gold” in Peru.

Advertisements

Opinio Juris: “Foreign Intelligence” ≠ Foreigner Intelligence (Expatriate Americans in PRISM)

Apropos of my doing a summer internship abroad and wondering, as news of the PRISM scandal emerged, whether it also applies to Americans in other countries — Peter Spiro at Opinio Juris has written a post about just that issue!

Spiro writes:

If on the internet it’s difficult to draw the domestic/foreign line in territorial terms, it’s only more so in terms of citizenship. The surveillance is all secret, so there’s no chance to declare yourself an American. There’s really no way for the Government to know whether you are a citizen or not. There is no master list of US citizens. For every John Smith Bank of America employee temporarily in London (who might be easily flagged as a US citizen), there are many who have acquired citizenship in less obvious ways and who don’t wear their American identity on their electronic sleeve. Does the NSA have a citizenship algorithm?

His conclusion:

If you’re American, you have the same rights against governmental action in Paris as you do in Detroit. But even in the non-virtual world, it’s tough to know the citizenship status of people behind foreign doors you are about to knock down. There’s no evidence that anyone in the intelligence apparatus is even trying to stay true to the constitutional rule. Perhaps yet another reason for several million expatriate Americans to feel second class.

More at “Foreign Intelligence” ≠ Foreigner Intelligence (Expatriate Americans in PRISM).

Post-Silicon Computing

Could Pittsburgh be the nation’s next “Strontium Valley”? The University of Pittsburgh is the lead institution on a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) of the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) to bring a new kind of computer out of the lab and into the real world. The goal of the group, led by Jeremy Levy, a professor of physics and astronomy in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, is no less than transforming the way computing is done.

Jeremy Levy

The four-year grant, titled “Scalable Sensing, Storage, and Computation With a Rewritable Oxide Nanoelectronics Platform,” also involves researchers from the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University. The program aims to create new high-tech industries and jobs in the United States.

“The search for a new semiconductor device that will provide the United States with a leadership position in the global era of nanoelectronics relies on making discoveries at these kinds of advanced universities,” said Jeff Welser, director of the NRI for SRC.


From Etch-A-Sketch® to Tiny Transistors

Levy and his team have invented a tiny Etch-A-Sketch® that draws infinitesimally small “wires” on a surface, then erases them. The device works by switching an oxide crystal between insulating and conducting states. The interface between these two materials can be switched between an insulating and metallic state using a sharp conducting probe. Electronic circuits can be “written” and “erased” at scales approaching the distance between atoms (two nanometers). The device, less than four nanometers wide, enables photonic interaction with objects as small as single molecules or quantum dots.

This research grant explicitly addresses key scientific and technological challenges that, if overcome, could lead turn the “Etch-A-Sketch®” into something real and useful—from being just a toy in a science lab to a possible replacement for conventional electronics made from silicon devices.

Beyond being just plain cool, this device could be the basis of an entirely new kind of transistor.

More at Pitt Chronicle >

Electric Cycle Invention Gets Pitt Student Noticed by Entrepreneur Magazine

Note: Today’s the last day you can vote for Micah in the College Entrepreneur of the Year contest. Go to www.entrepreneur.com/e2011/vote/college and support electric vehicles, innovation, and Pittsburgh!

 

With a dream of revolutionizing personal urban transportation, a University of Pittsburgh undergraduate is in the running to be Entrepreneur Magazine‘s “College Entrepreneur of the Year.” Micah Toll, a senior mechanical engineering major in the University of PittsburghSwanson School of Engineering, is one of five finalists in the contest. The winner will be the focus of a feature article in the magazine’s January issue.

The mission of Toll’s company, Pulse Motors, is to build completely electric two-wheeled Personal Electronic Vehicles. The vehicles resemble bicycles but do not require pedaling.

“Our vehicles are designed to be the ideal solution for millions of commuters driving in and around urban centers,” says Toll in his contest video entry on the Entrepreneur Magazine Web site. “Instead of a single person commuting in a two-ton gas-guzzler, our vehicles allow drivers to zip effortlessly along using minimal energy and no fossil fuels while producing absolutely zero tailpipe emissions.”

Computer rendering of a 2011 PEVO, officially debuted by Pulse Motors Aug. 28 at Pitt's Student Activities Fair. (Courtesy of Pulse Motors)

A panel of judges selected the five finalists from among thousands of entries across the country. The selection of the ultimate winner of the College Entrepreneur of the Year now comes down to two components: the online voting process and voting by the panel of judges. The online voting points and panel voting points will be combined for each of the five finalists, and the winner will be the student who receives the highest total.

More at News from Pitt >

 

Pitt Team Regrows Blood Vessels With a Potent Molecule

Ever since the Nobel Prize for nerve growth factor was awarded more than 30 years ago, researchers have been searching for ways to use growth factor clinically.

University of Pittsburgh Professor Yadong Wang has developed a minimally invasive method of delivering growth factor to regrow blood vessels. His research, which could be used to treat heart disease, the most common cause of death in the Western world, was published in the Aug. 1 issue of the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …

When the researchers injected their growth factor compound under the skin of mice, they saw something amazing: New blood vessels grew, and large ones, not just tiny capillaries. “We had structures that resembled arterioles—small arteries that lead to a network of capillaries,” says Wang.

Moreover, the structures stuck around. At least a month later, after only one injection of the growth factor complex, the new blood vessels were still there.

More at Pitt Chronicle

 

Interview with my dad! aka Yellow submarine canvassing sunken piece of state history

[They didn’t spell our name right, but them’s the breaks.]

There’s a yellow submarine in the water off Fort Worden in Jefferson County.

It’s an Everett-based sub that’s mapping and filming a bit of Washington state history: the sinking of the SS Governor in 1921.

As it heads toward a dock at Fort Worden, it looks like some sort of weird jet ski. But what you are looking at is the Blue View, a yellow submarine.

It’s the creation of Pete Hoffman. He built it out of pieces of a North Sea oil inspection sub.

“The opportunity to buy the complete sub presented itself and through a series of mishaps, I ended up with it. I had no money but a 32,000-pound sub in the garage,” Hoffman said.

The sub once was a dinghy mounted at the stern of a Russian super-yacht. But Hoffman says now it’s doing what it should be doing, working with Everett-based Ocean Gate.

(Video at KOMO News)