These are the articles and videos from the previous week I found most interesting.
- Swift Catches Mega Flares from a Mini Star
- Next Big Thing – Wearables that are changing lives
- Swimming with Snakes: Biologist Marion Pullman
- One of Nature’s Most Amazing Sights
- To create for the ages, let’s combine art and engineering
- Stories of Technological Failure: PicturePhone, Dvorak keyboard & Betamax
- Studying the invisible: Interactive physics lesson on invisible waves and infrared radiation
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
- The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State
On April 23, NASA’s Swift satellite detected the strongest, hottest, and longest-lasting sequence of stellar flares ever seen from a nearby red dwarf star. The initial blast from this record-setting series of explosions was as much as 10,000 times more powerful than the largest solar flare ever recorded.
Brian Cooley looks at technology that really connects to your body, beyond Google Glass or Apple Watch. It’s called an epidural stimulator.
A heart-stopping encounter with a giant anaconda is all in a days work for biologist Marian Pullman.
One of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions, the Grand Prismatic Spring is home to some of the earliest forms of life on Earth.
When Bran Ferren was just 9, his parents took him to see the Pantheon in Rome — and it changed everything. In that moment, he began to understand how the tools of science and engineering become more powerful when combined with art, with design and beauty. Ever since, he’s been searching for a convincing modern-day equivalent to Rome’s masterpiece. Stay tuned to the end of the talk for his unexpected suggestion.
Introduction to a short series of three videos that takes a “snackable” look at the failure of three famous engineered objects: The Bell System’s PicturePhone, which lost the company a half billion dollars, but nearly created the internet; the Dvorak keyboard, which is faster than our current QWERTY arrangement, but failed to gain traction in the marketplace; and the technically superb Betamax video cassette recorder, which lost to an inferior VHS-format machine.
1: PicturePhone: How Bell Telephone lost a half billion, but nearly created the internet
How Bell Telephone’s PicturePhone, introduced in 1964, flopped yet nearly catalyzed the internet. Technically, it was an amazing achievement: Bell used the existing twisted-pair copper wire of the telephone network — not broadband lines like today — to produce black and white video on a screen about five inches square. And, amazingly for the time, it used a CCD-based-camera. It was meant to be the most revolutionary communication medium of the century, driving subscribers to purchase broadband lines, but failed miserably as a consumer product costing Bell a half billion dollars. This is one of three videos in a series on marketplace failures of technological objects.
2: Why the Dvorak keyboard didn’t take over the world
Perhaps no technological failure is better known than that of the Dvorak keyboard. Since the early 1870s nearly every typewriter used a keyboard with a QWERTY layout, yet most studies show the Dvorak arrangement of keys to be faster. This videos probes the underlying reasons that this arrangement failed to make headway in the marketplace. This video tells the story of why the Dvorak keyboard failed. This is one of three videos in a series on marketplace failures of technological objects.
3: How Sony’s Betamax lost to JVC’s VHS Cassette Recorder
In 1976 Sony introduced the Betamax video cassette recorder. It catalyzed the “on demand” of today by allowing users to record television shows, and the machine ignited the first “new media” intellectual property battles. In only a decade this revolutionary machine disappeared, beaten by JVS’s version of the cassette recorder. This video tells the story of why Betamax failed. This is one of three videos in a series on marketplace failures of technological objects.
Join Los Gatos High School Teacher Dan Burns for a 30-minute demo of an interactive physics lesson on invisible waves and infrared radiation. Dan lists this among his “$10 activities” you can do to get your students engaged and surface exploratory opportunities.
TED talks have redefined the elements of a successful presentation and become the gold standard for public speaking around the world. TED and associated Tedx conferences are held in more than 130 countries and are being viewed at a rate of 1.5 million times a day. These are presentations that set the world on fire, and the techniques that top TED speakers use are the same ones that will make any presentation more dynamic, fire up any team, and give anyone the confidence to overcome their fear of public speaking.
Public speaking coach and bestselling author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs Carmine Gallo has broken down the top TED talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters as well as the top researchers in the fields of psychology and communications to get their cutting-edge insights and to reveal the nine secrets of all successful TED presentations. From “Unleashing the Master Within” and “Delivering Jaw Dropping Moments” to “Sticking to the 18-minute Rule,” Gallo provides a step-by-step method that makes it possible for anyone to create, design, and deliver a TED-style presentation that is engaging, persuasive, and memorable.
Ideas are the true currency of the twenty first century, and Gallo gives readers a way to create presentations around the ideas that matter most to them, presentations that will energize their audiences to spread those ideas, launch new initiatives, and reach their highest goals.
Just as China deliberately set out to remaster the art of capitalism, it is now trying to remaster the art of government. The only difference is a chilling one: Many Chinese think there is far less to be gained from studying Western government than they did from studying Western capitalism. They visit Silicon Valley and Wall Street, not Washington, D.C.
‒ John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge