Friday, February 27, 2015

Too much tech for children?

According to an opinion piece in the New York Times:
"More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea. But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it."
Is this too negative - may be. Be we really have to look at the research and not just accept the very effective and motivating promotional hype coming from big tech companies whose main priority is simply to sell their services and hardware.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Gecko breakfast

A gecko came for breakfast the other day - in fact it often comes if I leave my cereal bowl at the end of the table. Clearly they are able to learn from experience.

Looks like the same variety as mentioned previously.

If you look closely you can see its pink tongue (see second picture below).

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Civilisation is advancing!

It seems that, despite the impression made by the media, the world is getting to be a better place. This very interesting report in Slate says:
"The only sound way to appraise the state of the world is to count. How many violent acts has the world seen compared with the number of opportunities? And is that number going up or down? As Bill Clinton likes to say, “Follow the trend lines, not the headlines.” We will see that the trend lines are more encouraging than a news junkie would guess."
After examining the statistics the report concludes:
"The world is not falling apart. The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse—have been in steady decline in most of the world. Autocracy is giving way to democracy. Wars between states—by far the most destructive of all conflicts—are all but obsolete. The increase in the number and deadliness of civil wars since 2010 is circumscribed, puny in comparison with the decline that preceded it, and unlikely to escalate."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What about fusion energy?

So may be fusion can rescue us? I remember hearing about this in my teens (some 50 years ago). A solution always seems to be 20 years away. I expect this will eventually solve the energy problem but NOT in time to stop global warming. At NextBigFuture there is valuable review of the state of play of this important and promising but complicated and very expensive technology.

Can renewable energy help?

According to reports a major project by Google to find a cheaper-than-coal, competitive renewable energy solution failed:
"even if Google and others had led the way toward a wholesale adoption of renewable energy, that switch would not have resulted in significant reductions of carbon dioxide emissions. Trying to combat climate change exclusively with today’s renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach."
They did not find a solution which would "be able to deliver a technology that could compete economically with coal". In other words there is no purely economic solution. According to the report:
 "Let’s face it, businesses won’t make sacrifices and pay more for clean energy based on altruism alone. Instead, we need solutions that appeal to their profit motives."
It seems that the time to learn some altruism is at hand. There is no easy, convenient solution available. Governments, indeed nations, need to face their responsibilities. Behaviours must change.