Abe fiddles while Fukushima leaks

fukushimatanksIn the middle of a pissing match between the President and Congressional leadership it’s good to remember that the United States isn’t the only government that seems to have lost touch with reality. I was reminded of that today when I read this story about the contaminated water problem at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Now here’s a government that is truly paralyzed!

The story from Japan Times, if you choose to read it, says Japanese Prime Minister Abe is reaching out to foreign experts in an attempt to deal with the problem of radioactive cooling water that is accumulating in hundreds of makeshift tanks that are now beginning to leak. “We […]

What Intel and AMD clean rooms could teach hospitals

buttonIn 19th century Europe (and probably in America, too) women were less likely to die in childbirth if their babies were born at home or even on the street rather than in hospitals. The reason was simple: street and home births almost always involved the doctor or midwife washing their hands, thus minimizing the risk of infection. Doctors of the time rarely bothered to wash between hospital patients. Yum. Ignaz Semmelweiss first noticed this in Austria before 1850. Then Louis Pasteur came up with his germ theory of disease in 1864. Finally Joseph Lister in England (he of Listerine fame) pioneered the use of carbolic acid (phenol) antiseptics and the fight against germs took off […]

Why elite marathoners don’t (yet) wear wristwatch mobile phones

GPSwatchesThirty years and 50 pounds of blubber ago, between various teaching jobs and being fired from computer companies, I wrote for a New York-based magazine called The Runner, which was long ago absorbed by Runners World. I took the gig to force myself to get in shape and it worked, which is why one year I ran the Boston Marathon. Understand that my editor at the time, a guy named Amby Burfoot, had won the Boston Marathon, so my finish well back in the pack was professionally meaningless, but that memory gives me some sense of the scene yesterday in Boston when those bombs went off. I know what the air was like, what the […]

Not all smart people work at the X-Prize Foundation

This is my response to yesterday’s message from Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize director Mark Winter, who said my objections to his contest design were without merit. Let me make a point here: this isn’t about me receiving $10 million. We all know that’s not going to happen. It’s about designing a contest that actually encourages innovation. Please read on as I explain… 

I appreciate your position, Mark, and might have sent the same reply were I standing in your shoes. However I am sure I’ve uncovered exactly the sort of poor contest design that may well doom your effort. As such I will go ahead tomorrow and publish the letter I wrote to Paul Jacobs so my readers can weigh-in on this issue. Certainly […]

X-Prize Foundation defends their poorly-conceived Qualcomm Tricorder contest

X_PRIZE_Foundation_logo_HiRes_jpgThis message from the X-Prize Foundation is in response to the letter I published yesterday. They seem to feel the contest is fine as-is and my objections are without merit.
Dear Bob,
 
I am the Senior Director in charge of this competition and I appreciate receiving your letter of interest dated January 11.  First, let me offer you my highest level of encouragement for your creation of a SIDS monitoring device. As you know, medical technology is one of the most difficult areas to make significant progress in. To make something really work and pass through all the regulatory hurdles in […]