Sunday, April 20, 2014



While some may call a clear, blue sky art enough, French artist Thomas Lamadieu might say otherwise. In fact, he might call it a blank canvas. His ongoing series, Skyart, takes the blank spaces between buildings and turns them into illustrated wonderlands filled with bearded inhabitants and imaginary animals.


What The Happiest People Know About Work

Content Loop

a growing body of research in positive psychology and neuroscience is demonstrating that happiness is the secret ingredient to success. It turns out, our brains are more engaged, creative, productive, and resilient when in a positive state.

·         Change the word "problem" to "challenge."

·         Mix up your daily routine.

·         Start the day with the big questions.

·         Arrive at work early.

·         Have an office playlist.

·         Avoid energy zappers.

When possible, attempt to surround yourself with winners; those who are positive and uplifting and just seem to radiate happiness.


Combs of Light Accelerate Communication

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Miniaturized optical frequency comb sources allow for transmission of data streams of several terabits per second over hundreds of kilometers – this has now been demonstrated by researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in a experiment presented in the journal “Nature Photonics”. The results may contribute to accelerating data transmission in large computing centers and worldwide communication networks.


The Myth of the Lone Genius


It’s no accident that the achievements of Leonardo da Vinci, often credited as the greatest inventor of all time, happened during the Renaissance. Contrary to popular belief, he did not cloister himself away in a cabin and just invent wonders. Da Vinci was part of a vibrant community and collaborated with almost every major luminary of his day. The same goes for Thomas Edison, who built upon the work of his Industrial Revolution contemporaries to produce innovations such as the phonograph and the incandescent lightbulb.


What do the data tell us? I mined the 1,000 most-cited articles from the top scientific journal, Nature, from 2001 to 2010 to illustrate the relative contribution of single-author research. If you’re not familiar with the fast-paced world of academic publishing, the number of citations a paper receives is broadly indicative of its impact.

We need to focus on creating innovative groups, not mindlessly searching for the one “genius” who’s going to solve all our problems. Because groups are where the real ideas are created—not broom closets.


Around the world, things look better in hindsight

BPS Research Digest

Human memory has a pervasive emotional bias – and it’s probably a good thing. That’s according to psychologists Timothy Ritchie and colleagues.


In a new study published in the journal Memory, the researchers say that people from diverse cultures experience the ‘fading affect bias’ (FAB), the tendency for negative emotions to fade away more quickly than positive ones in our memories.In total, 562 people were included.


The participants were asked to recall a number of events in their lives, both positive and negative. For each incident, they rated the emotions that they felt at the time it happened, and then the emotions that they felt in the present when remembering that event.


Ritchie and colleagues found that every cultural group included in the study experienced the FAB. In all of these samples, negative emotions associated with remembered events faded to a greater degree than positive emotions did. Importantly, there was no evidence that this effect changed with people’s age: it seems to be a lifelong phenomenon.

The authors conclude that our ability to look back on events with rose-tinted spectacles might be important for our mental health, as it could help us to adapt and move on from adversity: ‘We believe that this phenomenon is part of a set of cognitive processes that foster emotion regulation and enable psychological resilience.’


Playing Jenga with Heavy Earth-moving Equipment

Boing Boing

In Stack competitions, a bunch of earth-moving equipment plays a monster-scale game of Jenga with 600lb blocks of wood -- pretty amazing skill on the part of the operators!


Become a Rockstar of Productivity

Robin Sharma

Let’s dive right in…

#1. Get Your Routines Right Ultra-productive producers focus less on using their willpower and a lot more on building their routines.

#2. Enjoy Being Disliked Look, I get it. Part of being human involves a need to be liked. To fit in. To avoid conflict. This neurobiological need served us when we lived on the savannah hundreds of years ago. If we strayed from the herd, we’d be eaten by tigers. Or die of starvation. But now we’re in a world without the same threats.

#3. Value Suffering - quick-fix, pleasurable and fast is considered good. But here’s the thing: every master suffers. And to become the single most productive person you know, you’ll have to accept some pain along the path. Van Gogh, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling

#4. Do Real Work Versus Fake Work Really important distinction here…. Average producers confuse activity with productivity. They think movement equals effectiveness.

#5. Be an Incrementalist Massive productivity isn’t the result of one revolutionary act. Instead, it’s actually the result of supertiny daily wins.

#6. Understand that Elite Productivity without Deep Refuelling Causes Dramatic Depletion

#7. Know The Power of The 3 S’s … the value of a period of daily Solitude, Silence and Stillness.

#8. Practice Spectacularity - the principle is this: practice being spectacularly productive long enough and being spectacularly productive will become your way of being.


Hopkins Code Cracks Baseball Scheduling

The Baltimore Sun

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers have developed a system that fulfills all of a baseball league's scheduling rules, and as many of the teams' requests and preferences as possible, using thousands of lines of code. The system, developed by associate research scientist Anton Dahbura and professor Donniell Fishkind, allows 10,000 schedule limitations and even more factors to be fed into a supercomputer, which produces a workable schedule. The methodology employs combinatorial optimization, which is the concept that there should be at least one schedule that optimally satisfies every rule and team request, via a combination of integers. JHU graduate student Matt Molisani says the system's operation involves generating a massive amount of code to define a broad spectrum of schedule constraints. Each league's preferences present a challenge to programmers, and the supercomputer that processes the constraints can take as long as a month to churn out a solution in certain instances as it mines through the exponentially large number of possible schedules to find ones that conform with the rules. "I like the fact there's always so many different ways to get to the final solution," Molisani says. "There's never just one correct answer, which is weird because in math there's usually only one correct answer."


Americans Wary of Futuristic Science, Tech


The majority of Americans think tech developments will make life in the next half-century better, but 30 percent said they would make life worse, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Although nearly two-thirds of survey respondents disliked the idea of robots being used to care for the sick and elderly, 51 percent think computers will be able to create art as skillfully as humans do. "The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage," the survey's report says. The survey found many respondents were leery of some possible near-term technological advances, such as the use of personal drones and the ability of parents to manipulate the DNA of their unborn children. About half of the respondents said they would ride in a driverless car, and 39 percent said it was likely scientists would develop a way to teleport things. However, only 19 percent expect scientists to learn how to control the weather. Pew's Aaron Smith notes respondents were "especially concerned about developments that have the potential to upend long-standing social norms around things like personal privacy, surveillance, and the nature of social relationships."


M.I.T.’s Alex Pentland: Measuring Idea Flows to Accelerate Innovation

NY Times

Massachusetts Institute of Technology computational social scientist Alex Pentland's research has lately focused on social physics, which is the ability to employ new technologies to collect data and quantify communication and transactions on an unprecedented scale to acquire knowledge about the flow of ideas, which can be applied to expedite innovation. Pentland says the optimal decision-making environment is characterized by high levels of engagement and exploration. The former measure describes how frequently group members communicate with each other and share social knowledge, while the latter is a measure of looking for new ideas and new people. Pentland stresses there needs to be an ideal or golden mean between the two measures. He points to evidence from various experiments as proof his social physics theory is supportable, arguing that new data and measurement tools facilitate a "God's eye view" of human activity that can be used to potentially engineer better decisions in a "data-driven society." Pentland also acknowledges the risks this entails, which can include creating a surveillance society. He says big data could potentially yield considerable benefits in numerous fields, provided privacy is safeguarded, trust is established, and data is allowed to flow.


Ode to my Mentors

Huffington Post

A hot topic for career growth is mentorship. It seems that we need a mentor, a guiding star or a sympathetic friend at "the top" if we want to progress. Perhaps you feel a little anxious or frustrated because you cannot seem to find the "right" mentor, or mentors. I want to share a little bit about the people who I consider to be mentors to me. Perhaps it helps to look in less conventional places for mentorship.

I have, in the past, had the privilege of working alongside women in my field and in my company who I could certainly learn a great deal from. If you have the privilege of knowing such people, please make use of every opportunity to observe them, speak to them and listen to them.


There are, however, times in one's life where one single mentor is not forthcoming. In a STEM field where female managers are not in the majority, it often means that, at least the gender part of mentorship is not often very plentiful in our immediate work environments. Here are a few examples of some of my sources of mentorship that may not always be obvious places one looks.

Younger Mentors

Mentors in a different profession

Mentors of a different gender

Mentors who challenges us

Mentors in life