Caine’s Arcade

This kid is amazing. He is only 9. I think that this kid exemplifies what we were learning in class about design and innovation.

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connections with the interviews

With the 2 interviews that were conducted, the definitions of biotechnology varied. Overall though there was the impression that it dealt with science to achieve something bigger from both people who were interviewed. Both interviewees responded that they are in support of advancements in the field because they would essentially help humanity either in curing diseases or develop products that would be useful.

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Games for the Greater Good

In class on Monday we talked about games that can be played for humanitarian purposes like Free Rice. Programmers have recently created a Facebook game that allows users to play in a virtual world (similar to Facebook’s Farmville) where joy is earned instead of coins, called WeTopia. The joy is then sent to solve real-world problems. As a participant you can send joy to programs in Haiti, Africa, and the United States (helping send hot meals, medicine, water, and books to these places). Check it out below

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Technology and the Elephant

This video is so cool. Apparently anyone (or anything) can use a smart one now!

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It’s Not Easy Being Green But It’s Worth It

The following presentation is a plan to build the city of Norfolk, Virginia into a sustainable city of the future. The plan is called It’s Not Easy Being Green. Norfolk currently is an industrialized city that has the potential to become a very eco-friendly community. My plan is to implement green practices and infrastructure into the working city. Restaurants are afforded incentives to go “green” by utilizing composting. They can become certified in the practice and will be able to contribute to the agricultural community by giving the compost to the farmers.  The farmers in turn can take the compost and turn it into soil for their crops. The crops can then be sold back to the restaurants and complete the cycle of sustainability. Other ideas to implement green infrastructure into Norfolk include expanding the light rail system (The Tide), constructing green buildings that offer options for increased  water and air quality standards, expansion on the development of algal biodiesel being developed at Old Dominion University, and applying renewable energy technologies to the area (including wind and solar power). This plan is just the beginning of many that can transform Norfolk into a greener city. Why would you want to live in a city where you get nothing in return? A sustainable Norfolk not only allows for its inhabitants to get back something, but it also allows for the city as a whole to give back to the community and environment in which it is based.

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Readings for Class 2/22

So after reading what was assigned for class today I totally think that we need sky lights in every classroom! The article The Rise of the Green Building said that “students in naturally lit classrooms performed up to 20% better…”. Every little thing counts when trying to do well in a class.

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The Shareable Future of Cities

•How many people does Steffen estimate we will have living in or near cities by mid-century?

By mid-century, Steffen predicts there will be about 8 billion or more people living in or near cities.

•Explain how you agree or disagree with Steffen’s point that our energy use is “predestined” rather than “behavioral”.

I agree that energy use is predestined rather than behavioral because even though, for instance, I decided to turn the light switch on, the energy itself did not turn on because the energy has always been there in place it is just as if it acts dormant when not in use. The amount of energy available is measurable; therefore, the amount used can determine how much is left. By living in large cities, the energy usage is predetermined by the amount of current consumption.

•What correlation does Steffen make between a city’s density and its climate emissions?

The denser a city, the lower the emissions tend to be.

•What are the “eco districts” that Steffen mentions? How do you see these as feasible or unfeasible in a city like Norfolk?

Eco districts according to Steffen are the development of new sustainable neighbors by a means of using what is already available in a community. By implementing urban retrofitting, a community can become denser by adjusting the building space that is already available instead of creating an entirely new infrastructure.  For a city like Norfolk, eco districts are a feasible option in densifying the city. There are many older buildings that can be tweaked to accommodate a newer generation and still satisfy the city’s budget and more importantly reduce the level of emissions.

•Explain how you agree or disagree with the “threshold effect” that Steffen discusses related to transportation.

I agree with the threshold effect because it makes sense in today’s society especially in large cities and I have actually seen some different places start to experience this exact effect like Victoria, British Colombia in Vancouver, Canada. There will always however be a need for cars. People will continue to drive because it is what they have become accustomed too. Cities might adopt this effect but there are individuals who won’t give up their car just for the feeling of everything being in close proximity to them.

•What does Steffen mean by the idea that, “…even space itself is turning into a service…”? Can you provide any examples that you see here in Norfolk or elsewhere?

The idea that space is turning into a service means individuals can use available space for different purposes. They turn unused space into a profit essentially. A perfect example of this is the Village Apartments on the ODU campus. The first floors of some of these apartment buildings are actually services like restaurants and small shops, which in turn creates a mini threshold effect for the residents of the buildings.

•Describe your understanding of Steffen’s argument that, “…it’s not about the leaves above, but the systems below…”.

This statement essentially means that its good if the surface looks good and for the time being everything is working as it should but the focus should be on fixing the whole problem not just covering the top of it with a temporary fix. The underlying issues must be resolved too in order for the entire process to be effective.

•Finally, overall in what way(s) do you see Steffen’s ideas working / not working here in Norfolk? Spend time with this question!

Overall. I think Steffen’s ideas would work pretty well for the city of Norfolk. There could be numerous eco districts and therefore a threshold effect on transportation (for example areas like Ghent, Ocean View, etc.). The city has buildings that could be used for urban retrofitting which could create a denser city and a lesser amount of emissions (like the Rotunda building, etc.). Therefore, if Norfolk followed Steffen’s ideas, the city would be on the right track to tackling the bigger climate change issue.

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Interesting Article

The following article from the Huffington Post describes a high school in New York where its students are mysteriously developing tics. A doctor thinks that the tic symptoms might be spreading through social media networks like Facebook. Other people including parents of the students think that the mysterious illness may be caused from a chemical spill due to a train derailment close to the school that happened a couple of years ago. Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts stared in the movie adaptation of her life story) is currently on the case and testing soil samples to see if there is any relation to the tic-like symptoms and if they are being caused by environmental conditions. The article also includes several video clips of the students’ stories. The story was featured on the Today Show a few days ago. mystery-illness-is-social_n_1262480.html

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Reading for 2/6

The class reading for tomorrow was really interesting. I for one cannot live without my microwave and I had no idea that the invention of the microwave stemmed from WWII. I also agree with the last part of the reading that said that now microwaves have grown mundane like the toaster and can opener. I wonder now though what can be considered a useful indicator of consumer trends since the microwave is out? Could it now be the iPod or iPhone?

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Class Readings for Friday 2/3

I read the pages in the textbook that are due for Friday’s class and I learned about a lot of new stuff. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a “technology transfer” or that there was something known as “appropriate technology”. The section about technology transfer and its application in Europe at the end of World War II got me thinking about the conflict in the Middle East. Special Army tanks and vehicles were developed to survive the harsh terrain of the Middle East, and after a while the vehicles were “transferred” to the United States public in the form of Hummer automobiles. The section about appropriate technology was really interesting. I did not know that the majority of workers in maquiladoras were 16-28 year old women. It really puts it into perspective for me, because these women should be going to school and college like most women their age are in the United States. Instead they are making products in theses maquiladoras that have inferior working conditions where the products end up getting shipped back to the United States.