Civilization Mostly Doesn't Seem So Civil

I tend to bumble along through life, without a great deal of philosophical pondering - as readers of my blogs will quickly realize. However, five years or so on Facebook and a couple on Twitter has forced even me to realize just how tribal we still are, even after thousands of years of "civilization".

There is still an incredibly strong instinct to band together with like-minded people, and we seldom see changes of affiliation. We clump together racially, politically, religiously, and on and on. 

ITT Technical Institute On The Chopping Block

ITT Technical Institute has come under the withering scrutiny of the US Department of Education, and has stopped enrolling students at all campuses. The for-profit school has come under a lot of heat recently, and the new sanctions are obviously having a major effect.

The Federal Government is examining the "for profit" school business in general, citing possible issues with the quality of education, and the financial situation of students at the conclusion of their studies.
The sanctions set against ITT Technical Institute have been described as a “death sentence.” In addition to preventing the company from taking federal aid for tuition, the US Department of Education is requiring that ITT increase its reserves from $94.4 million to $247.3 million. The reserves are meant to support students in case the company closes.


"Earth-Like Planets" - Truth In Advertising

A great article by Miriam Kramer in Mashable brings up something that has bugged me for a while. After billions of dollars and many years of study, we still can't definitively say if there is any kind of life on Mars or not. "Earth-like planet" makes for a great headline, but does it mean what one might reasonably think it means?


Monitoring And Predicting Falls In The Elderly

Young people often seem to be made of rubber as they can bounce back from falls and tumbles, thankfully often without lasting injury. Even broken bones typically heal quickly and completely. 

As we grown older, the consequences of falls and slips can become much more serious, and the elderly may often be at a high risk of serious injury, or even death.

Now the technology exists to not only detect falls when they happen, but to predict the increased likelihood of falls in elderly people by monitoring gait and other movement cues.
To predict falls, researchers used data collected from sensor systems at TigerPlace, an innovative aging-in-place retirement residence, located in Columbia, Mo. The system generated images and an alert email for nurses indicating when irregular motion was detected. This information could be used to assist nurses in assessing functional decline, providing treatment and preventing falls.

Dyson In Hot Pursuit Of The Better Battery

Dyson is proposing to spend a lot of time, effort and cash to build a better battery. Despite considerable advances, batteries can still be a weak point in electronic and computer devices (both in terms of performance and sometimes safety), and James Dyson and his company want to change that.
Dyson believes the answer lies in using ceramics to create solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Dyson says he intended to spend $1.4 billion in research and development and in building a battery factory over the next five years. Last year Dyson bought Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Sakti3, which focuses on creating advanced solid-state batteries, for $90 million. The global lithium-ion battery market accounts for $40 billion in annual sales, according to research firm Lux as cited by Forbes.