“The Capacitor Challenge” Wins XPRIZE Video Contest, Exemplifies Growing Interest in Energy Storage Technology

xprizewinnerToday XPRIZE Foundation announced that “The Capacitor Challenge”, a video calling for innovation in ultracapacitor technology, is the winner of their “What’s Your Crazy Green Idea” video contest [see my previous post about the contest].  The $25,000 prize was awarded to the video creators Kyle Good and Bryan Le of Irvine, California for receiving the most votes for their video entry in the contest.  The “What’s Your Crazy Green Idea” video contest was a call by the XPRIZE Foundation for ideas in the realm of green innovation that may serve as the basis of a goal for a future XPRIZE award.

The XPRIZE Foundation has not made an announcement about an official ultracapacitor XPRIZE yet, but the XPRIZE Foundation has a track record of offering very large prizes to encourage rapid innovation.  Several years ago they awarded a $10 million prize to Scaled Composites for launching the first reusable privately constructed vehicle into space.

Continue reading ““The Capacitor Challenge” Wins XPRIZE Video Contest, Exemplifies Growing Interest in Energy Storage Technology”

The Junk Food Tax: Good for Our Health or Bad for Our Wealth?

obtax1Last month New York Governor David Paterson proposed an obesity tax to be levied on fattening foods.  He characterizes America’s problem with obesity as a crisis.  Drawing a comparison to cigarettes, he suggests that just as cigarette taxes reduced the number of American’s consumption of cigarettes, a tax on certain junk foods should reduce the consumption of unhealthy fare.

Paterson remarked:

“Just as the cigarette tax has helped reduce the number of smokers and smoking-related deaths, a tax on highly caloric, non-nutritional beverages can help reduce the prevalence of obesity”[1]

Continue reading “The Junk Food Tax: Good for Our Health or Bad for Our Wealth?”

Video Calling for Ultracapacitor Innovation Makes Final Cut for X PRIZE Green Video Contest

imagesA video calling for innovation in ultracapacitor technology has made the final cut for the X PRIZE Foundation’s “Crazy Green Idea” video challenge.  The X PRIZE Foundation offers large awards for the achievement of one of their defined goals, typically involving scientific and engineering innovation.  They select goals with potential benefit to humanity.  In October of 2004 the X PRIZE Foundation awarded $10 million to Scaled Composites for the being the first private team to build and launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks.  The historical flight of the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne spaceplane attracted international attention.

The “Green Video Idea” is a call by the X PRIZE Foundation for submission of videos containing ideas for future X PRIZE goals.  “The Capacitor Challenge” was submitted by Kyle Good from Irvine, California, calling for innovations in capacitor technology.

Continue reading “Video Calling for Ultracapacitor Innovation Makes Final Cut for X PRIZE Green Video Contest”

Is Outdated Behavioral Code to Blame for Unhealthy Living Habits?

Notwithstanding the well known danger and the clear evidence that healthy living habits significantly reduces the risk, many Americans choose to live lifestyles that put them at high risk of suffering from heart disease. To explain this seemingly irrational human behavior let’s take a look at how evolution has coded humans to behave.

codeevoThe leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease.   In fact the average American stands a 1 in 3 chance of dying from heart disease.   Advances in medical technology cannot offset the increasingly poor lifestyle that American’s lead.  Most people are familiar with the most often cited measures for decreasing the risk of heart disease, mainly:


1.       Don’t smoke

2.       Be active

3.       Eat healthy

Notwithstanding the well known danger and the clear evidence that healthy living habits significantly reduces the risk, many Americans choose to live lifestyles that put them at high risk of suffering from heart disease.   To explain this seemingly irrational human behavior let’s take a look at how evolution has coded humans to behave.

Continue reading “Is Outdated Behavioral Code to Blame for Unhealthy Living Habits?”

The Smoking Optional Room

smokingoptional

I recently enjoyed a short getaway with my wife.  We had reserved a room at a hotel and had requested a non-smoking room.  Upon check in the gentleman at the front desk told us that the hotel was very busy.  He informed us that the room they had available for us was a smoking optional room.

This is a fantastic piece of marketing word play.  Unless there is category of rooms in which smoking is required, my understanding is that all smoking rooms are in fact smoking optional. But by adding that one word optional to the label for the room, the image of the room is somewhat transformed.  The term smoking room conjures up images of a room that smells like an ashtray and is littered with tiny burn marks on the furniture.  By contrast, a smoking optional room is a room in which you have options.  The occupant of the smoking optional room has a freedom that the occupant of the non-smoking room does not possess; the freedom to partake in a multitude of delightful tobacco products.

This phraseology, while creative and even a bit cute, is no doubt an attempt to make the room seem more acceptable to non-smokers when no non-smoking rooms are available for their stay.  Perhaps some non-smokers, despite previous convictions to refrain from the habit, are at least compelled to not completely rule out the option of smoking should they choose to pickup the habit during their stay.

After a polite request, and some discussion with the manager on duty, we were placed in a smoking prohibited room.  But I appreciate that we were afforded the option of smoking.

Formula One Cars to Go Hybrid

F1Formula One (F1) racing appears to stand in contrast with current global trends. The fuel thirsty high performance vehicles thumb their nose at modern practical automotive trends of fuel frugality. However, Formula One racing is in transforming in a way that will make it a leader in high performance fuel efficient technology. Max Mosley, president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for Formula One racing, sent a letter to the Formula One community laying out a process for Formula One race cars to become hybrids[1].  The process is already underway.

Mosley said: “Formula One is becoming unsustainable. The major manufacturers are currently employing up to 1000 people to put two cars on the grid. This is clearly unacceptable at a time when all these companies are facing difficult market conditions.

Also, with attention on energy problems world-wide, Formula One cannot afford to be profligate in its use of fuel.”

Continue reading “Formula One Cars to Go Hybrid”

Two Free Applications to Improve Your Tech Security

laptopsecureWant to increase the security of your online accounts and sensitive data? Here are a couple of free applications that I have found useful.
Continue reading “Two Free Applications to Improve Your Tech Security”

Energy Storage: From Gasoline to Ultracapacitors

Energy cannot be created or destroyed.  Scientists have accepted this theory of conservation of energy for ages[1].  But this theory seems to be in juxtaposition with the conventional thought of energy being a scarce resource.  If energy cannot be created or destroyed, why are we always scrambling to find new sources of energy?  While energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can change form.  And there are only certain forms of energy that we can practically harness for use.  One of those forms is potential energy[2].  How we work with potential energy, transport it and harness its potential, is an area of significant evolution in science.

Continue reading “Energy Storage: From Gasoline to Ultracapacitors”

Two Face’s Take on Punishment: Dish it Out By Chance

twofaceA couple of days ago I posted part one of my article examining whether our method of punishing criminals leads to imprisonment based on what are seemingly random events. If you haven’t read that article and you have some time, you can check it out here:  Do We Imprison People Randomly? Without having read that article, what follows may lack context and may make little sense.

Last night I was watching the recent DVD release “The Dark Knight”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must see. It’s about as good as it gets if you like action or super hero movies. But if you fall into that category, you’ve probably already seem this film, so the point is moot.

Towards the end of the movie, the rookie villain Two Face holds a gun to a young boys head and prepares to flip a coin to determine the boy’s fate. As he holds the coin in his hand he says:

“The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair.”

Continue reading “Two Face’s Take on Punishment: Dish it Out By Chance”

Do We Imprison People Randomly?

Punishing Consequences or State of Mind: An Examination of the Driving Force Behind the Criteria Used for Criminal Punishment – PART 1

On a pleasant spring day, two men go out hunting. They both have a history of heart problems and have both had a heart attack within the past year. As they are walking through the forest a loud bang from another hunter startles them and triggers another heart attack in each hunter. Their fingers involuntarily clench the triggers of their rifles. One of them fires a stray bullet into the dirt. The other fires a bullet that travels two-hundred feet to where another hunter is hiding the bushes. The stray bullet strikes this third hunter in the head. Should the hunter responsible for discharging the bullet that ultimately killed a person be punished differently from the hunter that shot the bullet into the ground? Stated differently, as a society, how do the mere consequences of a defendant’s actions bear on our punishment of his crime?

Continue reading “Do We Imprison People Randomly?”