The Big Sky is Falling

The history of instrument flight (originally called blind flying) has had three distinct phases. The first began with Elmer Sperry’s Gyro Horizon in the 1920s that allowed skilled pilots to fly through clouds by showing them where was the horizon they couldn’t otherwise see. Race pilot Jimmy Doolittle used Sperry’s gyro and a precision altimeter, a gyro compass and a primitive navigation radio in 1929 to make the first flight entirely “under the hood” with takeoff, flight, and landing all without visual references. That Jimmy Doolittle was one hell of a pilot. But for the purposes of this column what I want to concentrate on is that in this first era of instrument flight the only thing Doolittle had to worry about hitting […]

How to save 400,000 lives per year (four million in the world)

When I wrote recently that my predictions for 2020 would include some things I hoped would happen, this was the column I had in mind. What follows is a prediction that will definitely not happen unless someone decides to make a change.

Everybody dies.

But not everybody has to die young or in middle age from many of the diseases that afflict our society. In the United States, our single leading cause of death is heart disease with 650,000 deaths per year. Heart attacks cause more than 400,000 deaths alone. With approximately 800,000 heart attacks per year in the U.S., 50 percent of heart attacks lead directly to death. […]

No fracking way! Fukushima is worse than ever

japanbabyRemember the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan? I wrote about it at the time, here, here, here, here, and here, explaining that the accident was far worse than the public was being told and that it would take many decades — if ever — for the site to recover. Well it’s six years later and, if anything, the Fukushima situation is even worse. Far from being over, the nuclear meltdown is continuing, the public health nightmare increasing. Why aren’t we reading about this everywhere? Trump is so much more interesting, I guess.

“The […]

Big Data is the new Artificial Intelligence

deskset4This is the first of a couple columns about a growing trend in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it is likely to be integrated in our culture. Computerworld ran an interesting overview article on the subject yesterday that got me thinking not only about where this technology is going but how it is likely to affect us not just as a people. but as individuals. How is AI likely to affect me? The answer is scary.

Today we consider the general case and tomorrow the very specific.

The failure of Artificial Intelligence. Back in the 1980s there was a popular field called Artificial Intelligence, the major idea of which was to figure out how experts […]

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 […]