People Should Find A Safe Storm Shelter During Thunderstorm

Tuesday June 5, 2001 marked the start of an extremely fascinating time in the annals of my cherished Houston. Tropical storm Allison, that early summer daytime came to see. The thunderstorm went rapidly, although there was Tuesday. Friday, afterward arrived, and Allison returned. This time going slowly, this time in the north. The thunderstorm became still. Thousands of people driven from their houses. Only when they might be desired most, several leading hospitals shut. Dozens of important surface roads, and every important highway covered in water that was high.

Yet even prior to the rain stopped, service to others, and narratives of Christian compassion started to be composed. For a couples class, about 75 people had assembled at Lakewood Church among the greatest nondenominational churches in The United States. From time they got ready to depart the waters had climbed so high they were stranded. The facility of Lakewood stayed dry and high at the center of among the hardest hit parts of town. Refugees in the powerful thunderstorm started arriving at their doorstep. Without no advance preparation, and demand of official sanction, those 75 classmates started a calamity shelter that grew to hold over 3,000 customers. The greatest of over 30 refuges that could be established in the height of the thunderstorm.

Where help was doled out to those who’d suffered losses after Lakewood functioned as a Red Cross Service Center. When it became clear that FEMA aid, and Red Cross wouldn’t bring aid enough, Lakewood and Second Baptist joined -Houston to produce an adopt a family plan to greatly help get folks on their feet quicker. In the occasions that followed militaries of Christians arrived in both churches. From all over town, people of economical standing, race, and each and every denomination collected. Wet rotted carpeting were pulled up, sheet stone removed. Piles of clothes donated food and bed clothes were doled out. Elbow grease and cleaning equipment were used to start eliminating traces of the damage.

It would have been an excellent example of practical ministry in a period of disaster, in the event the story stopped here, but it continues. A great many other churches functioned as shelters as well as in the occasions that followed Red Cross Service Centers. Tons of new volunteers, a lot of them Christians put to work, and were put through accelerated training. That Saturday, I used to be trapped in my own, personal subdivision. Particular that my family was safe because I worked in Storm Shelters OKC that was near where I used to live. What they wouldn’t permit the storm to do, is take their demand to give their religion, or their self respect. I saw so a lot of people as they brought gifts of food, clothes and bedclothes, praising the Lord. I saw young kids coming making use of their parents to not give new, rarely used toys to kids who had none.

Unity Church of Christianity from a location across town impacted by the storm sent a sizable way to obtain bedding as well as other supplies. A tiny troupe of musicians and Christian clowns requested to be permitted to amuse the kids in the shelter where I served and arrived. We of course promptly taken their offer. The kids were collected by them in a sizable empty space of flooring. They sang, they told stories, balloon animals were made by them. The kids, frightened, at least briefly displaced laughed.

When not occupied elsewhere I did lots of listening. I listened to survivors that were disappointed, and frustrated relief workers. I listened to kids make an effort to take advantage of a scenario they could not comprehend. All these are only the stories I have heard or seen. I am aware that spiritual groups, Churches, and lots of other individual Christians functioned admirably. I do need to thank them for the attempts in disaster. I thank The Lord for supplying them to serve.

I didn’t write its individuals, or this which means you’d feel sorry for Houston. As this disaster unfolded yet what I saw encouraged my beliefs the Lord will provide through our brothers and sisters in religion for us. Regardless how awful your community hits, you the individual Christian can be a part of the remedy. Those blankets you can probably never use, and have stored away mean much to people who have none. You are able to help in the event that you can drive. You are able to help if you’re able to create a cot. It is possible to help in the event that you can scrub a wall. It is possible to help if all you are able to do is sit and listen. Large catastrophes like Allison get lots of focus. However a disaster can come in virtually any size. That is a serious disaster to your family that called it home in case a single household burns. It is going to be generations prior to the folks here forget Allison.

United States Oil and Gas Exploration Opportunities

Firms investing in this sector can research, develop and create, as well as appreciate the edges of a global gas and oil portfolio with no political and economical disadvantages. Allowing regime and the US financial conditions is rated amongst the world and the petroleum made in US is sold at costs that were international. The firms will likely gain as US also has a national market that is booming. Where 500 exploration wells are drilled most of the petroleum exploration in US continues to be concentrated around the Taranaki Basin. On the other hand, the US sedimentary basins still remain unexplored and many show existence of petroleum seeps and arrangements were also unveiled by the investigation data with high hydrocarbon potential. There have already been onshore gas discoveries before including Great south river basins, East Coast Basin and offshore Canterbury.

As interest in petroleum is expected to grow strongly during this interval but this doesn’t automatically dim the bright future expectations in this sector. The interest in petroleum is anticipated to reach 338 PJ per annum. The US government is eager to augment the gas and oil supply. As new discoveries in this sector are required to carry through the national demand at the same time as raise the amount of self reliance and minimize the cost on imports of petroleum the Gas and Oil exploration sector is thought to be among the dawn sectors. The US government has invented a distinctive approach to reach its petroleum and gas exploration targets. It’s developed a “Benefit For Attempt” model for Petroleum and Gas exploration tasks in US.

The “Benefit For Attempt” in today’s analytic thinking is defined as oil reserves found per kilometer drilled. It will help in deriving the estimate of reservations drilled for dollar and each kilometer spent for each investigation. The authorities of US has revealed considerable signs that it’ll bring positive effects of change which will favor investigation of new oil reserves since the price of investigation has adverse effects on investigation task. The Authorities of US has made the information accessible about the oil potential in its study report. Foil of advice in royalty and allocation regimes, and simplicity of processes have enhanced the attractiveness of Petroleum and Natural Gas Sector in the United States.

Petroleum was the third biggest export earner in 2008 for US and the chance to to keep up the growth of the sector is broadly accessible by manners of investigation endeavors that are new. The government is poised to keep the impetus in this sector. Now many firms are active with new exploration jobs in the Challenger Plateau of the United States, Northland East Slope Basin region, outer Taranaki Basin, and Bellona Trough region. The 89 Energy oil and gas sector guarantees foreign investors as government to high increase has declared a five year continuance of an exemption for offshore petroleum and gas exploration in its 2009 budget. The authorities provide nonresident rig operators with tax breaks.

Modern Robot Duct Cleaning Uses

AC systems, and heat, venting collect pollutants and contaminants like mold, debris, dust and bacteria that can have an adverse impact on indoor air quality. Most folks are at present aware that indoor air pollution could be a health concern and increased visibility has been thus gained by the area. Studies have also suggested cleaning their efficacy enhances and is contributory to a longer operating life, along with maintenance and energy cost savings. The cleaning of the parts of forced air systems of heat, venting and cooling system is what’s called duct cleaning. Robots are an advantageous tool raising the price and efficacy facets of the procedure. Therefore, using modern robot duct isn’t any longer a new practice.

A cleaner, healthier indoor environment is created by a clean air duct system which lowers energy prices and increases efficiency. As we spend more hours inside air duct cleaning has become an important variable in the cleaning sector. Indoor pollutant levels can increase. Health effects can show years or up immediately after repeated or long exposure. These effects range from some respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancer that can be deadly or debilitating. Therefore, it’s wise to ensure indoor air quality isn’t endangered inside buildings. Dangerous pollutants that can found in inside can transcend outdoor air pollutants in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Duct cleaning from Air Duct Cleaning Edmond professionals removes microbial contaminants, that might not be visible to the naked eye together with both observable contaminants. Indoor air quality cans impact and present a health hazard. Air ducts can be host to a number of health hazard microbial agents. Legionnaires Disease is one malaise that’s got public notice as our modern surroundings supports the development of the bacteria that has the potential to cause outbreaks and causes the affliction. Typical disorder-causing surroundings contain wetness producing gear such as those in air conditioned buildings with cooling towers that are badly maintained. In summary, in building and designing systems to control our surroundings, we’ve created conditions that were perfect . Those systems must be correctly tracked and preserved. That’s the secret to controlling this disorder.

Robots allow for the occupation while saving workers from exposure to be done faster. Signs of the technological progress in the duct cleaning business is apparent in the variety of gear now available for example, array of robotic gear, to be used in air duct cleaning. Robots are priceless in hard to reach places. Robots used to see states inside the duct, now may be used for spraying, cleaning and sampling procedures. The remote controlled robotic gear can be fitted with practical and fastener characteristics to reach many different use functions.

Video recorders and a closed circuit television camera system can be attached to the robotic gear to view states and operations and for documentation purposes. Inside ducts are inspected by review apparatus in the robot. Robots traveling to particular sections of the system and can move around barriers. Some join functions that empower cleaning operation and instruction manual and fit into little ducts. An useful view range can be delivered by them with models delivering disinfection, cleaning, review, coating and sealing abilities economically.

The remote controlled robotic gear comes in various sizes and shapes for different uses. Of robotic video cameras the first use was in the 80s to record states inside the duct. Robotic cleaning systems have a lot more uses. These devices provide improved accessibility for better cleaning and reduce labor costs. Lately, functions have been expanded by areas for the use of small mobile robots in the service industries, including uses for review and duct cleaning.

More improvements are being considered to make a tool that was productive even more effective. If you determine to have your ventilation, heat and cooling system cleaned, it’s important to make sure all parts of the system clean and is qualified to achieve this. Failure to clean one part of a contaminated system can lead to re-contamination of the entire system.

When To Call A DWI Attorney

Charges or fees against a DWI offender need a legal Sugar Land criminal defense attorney that is qualified dismiss or so that you can reduce charges or the fees. So, undoubtedly a DWI attorney is needed by everyone. Even if it’s a first-time violation the penalties can be severe being represented by a DWI attorney that is qualified is vitally significant. If you’re facing following charges for DWI subsequently the punishments can contain felony charges and be severe. Locating an excellent attorney is thus a job you should approach when possible.

So you must bear in mind that you just should hire a DWI attorney who practices within the state where the violation occurred every state within America will make its laws and legislation regarding DWI violations. It is because they are going to have the knowledge and expertise of state law that is relevant to sufficiently defend you and will be knowledgeable about the processes and evaluations performed to establish your guilt.

As your attorney they are going to look to the evaluations that have been completed at the time of your arrest and the authorities evidence that is accompanying to assess whether or not these evaluations were accurately performed, carried out by competent staff and if the right processes where followed. It isn’t often that a police testimony is asserted against, although authorities testimony also can be challenged in court.

You should attempt to locate someone who specializes in these kind of cases when you start trying to find a DWI attorney. Whilst many attorneys may be willing to consider on your case, a lawyer who specializes in these cases is required by the skilled knowledge needed to interpret the scientific and medical evaluations ran when you had been detained. The first consultation is free and provides you with the chance to to inquire further about their experience in fees and these cases.

Many attorneys will work according into a fee that is hourly or on a set fee basis determined by the kind of case. You may find how they have been paid to satisfy your financial situation and you will have the capacity to negotiate the conditions of their fee. If you are unable to afford to hire an attorney that is private you then can request a court-appointed attorney paid for by the state. Before you hire a DWI attorney you should make sure when you might be expected to appear in court and you understand the precise charges imposed against you.

How Credit Card Works

The credit card is making your life more easy, supplying an amazing set of options. The credit card is a retail trade settlement; a credit system worked through the little plastic card which bears its name. Regulated by ISO 7810 defines credit cards the actual card itself consistently chooses the same structure, size and contour. A strip of a special stuff on the card (the substance resembles the floppy disk or a magnetic group) is saving all the necessary data. This magnetic strip enables the credit card’s validation. The layout has become an important variable; an enticing credit card layout is essential in ensuring advice and its dependability keeping properties.

A credit card is supplied to the user just after a bank approves an account, estimating a varied variety of variables to ascertain fiscal dependability. This bank is the credit supplier. When a purchase is being made by an individual, he must sign a receipt to verify the trade. There are the card details, and the amount of cash to be paid. You can find many shops that take electronic authority for the credit cards and use cloud tokenization for authorization. Nearly all verification are made using a digital verification system; it enables assessing the card is not invalid. If the customer has enough cash to insure the purchase he could be attempting to make staying on his credit limit any retailer may also check.

As the credit supplier, it is as much as the banks to keep the user informed of his statement. They typically send monthly statements detailing each trade procedures through the outstanding fees, the card and the sums owed. This enables the cardholder to ensure all the payments are right, and to discover mistakes or fraudulent action to dispute. Interest is typically charging and establishes a minimal repayment amount by the end of the following billing cycle.

The precise way the interest is charged is normally set within an initial understanding. On the rear of the credit card statement these elements are specified by the supplier. Generally, the credit card is an easy type of revolving credit from one month to another. It can also be a classy financial instrument, having many balance sections to afford a greater extent for credit management. Interest rates may also be not the same as one card to another. The credit card promotion services are using some appealing incentives find some new ones along the way and to keep their customers.

Why Get Help From A Property Management?

One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the revenue of your rental home would be to engage and contact property management in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. If you wish to know more and are considering the product please browse the remainder of the post. Leasing out your bit of real property may be real cash-cow as many landlords understand, but that cash flow usually includes a tremendous concern. Night phones from tenants that have the trouble of marketing the house if you own an emptiness just take out lots of the pleasure of earning money off of leases, overdue lease payments which you must chase down, as well as over-flowing lavatories. One solution while removing much of the anxiety, to have the earnings would be to engage a property management organization.

These businesses perform as the go between for the tenant as well as you. The tenant will not actually need to understand who you’re when you hire a property management company. The company manages the day to day while you still possess the ability to help make the final judgements in regards to the home relationships using the tenant. The company may manage the marketing for you personally, for those who are in possession of a unit that is vacant. Since the company is going to have more connections in a bigger market than you’ve got along with the industry than you are doing, you’ll discover your device gets stuffed a whole lot more quickly making use of their aid. In addition, the property management company may care for testing prospective tenants. With regards to the arrangement you’ve got, you might nevertheless not be unable to get the last say regarding if a tenant is qualified for the the system, but of locating a suitable tenant, the day-to-day difficulty is not any longer your problem. They’ll also manage the before-move-in the reviews as well as reviews required following a tenant moves away.

It is possible to step back watching the profits, after the the system is stuffed. Communicating will be handled by the company with all the tenant if you have an issue. You won’t be telephoned if this pipe explosions at the center of the night time. Your consultant is called by the tenant in the company, who then makes the preparations that are required to get the issue repaired with a care supplier. You get a phone call a day later or may not know there was an issue before you register using the business. The property management organization may also make your leasing obligations to to get. The company will do what’s required to accumulate if your tenant is making a payment. In certain arrangements, the organization is going to also take-over paying taxation, insurance, and the mortgage on the portion of property. You actually need to do-nothing but appreciate after after all the the invoices are paid, the revenue which is sent your way.

With all the advantages, you’re probably questioning exactly what to employing a property management organization, the downside should be. From hiring one the primary variable that stops some landlords is the price. All these providers will be paid for by you. The price must be weighed by you from the time frame you’ll save time that you may subsequently use to follow additional revenue-producing efforts or just take pleasure in the fruits of your expense work.

Benifits From An Orthodontic Care

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry centered on the identification and treatment of dental and related facial problems. The outcomes of Norman Orthodontist OKC treatment could be dramatic — an advanced quality of life for a lot of individuals of ages and lovely grins, improved oral health health, aesthetics and increased cosmetic tranquility. Whether into a look dentistry attention is needed or not is an individual’s own choice. Situations are tolerated by most folks like totally various kinds of bite issues or over bites and don’t get treated. Nevertheless, a number people sense guaranteed with teeth that are correctly aligned, appealing and simpler. Dentistry attention may enhance construct and appearance power. It jointly might work with you consult with clearness or to gnaw on greater.

Orthodontic attention isn’t only decorative in character. It might also gain long term oral health health. Right, correctly aligned teeth is not more difficult to floss and clean. This may ease and decrease the risk of rot. It may also quit periodontists irritation that problems gums. Periodontists might finish in disease, that occurs once micro-organism bunch round your house where the teeth and the gums meet. Periodontists can be ended in by untreated periodontists. Such an unhealthiness result in enamel reduction and may ruin bone that surrounds the teeth. Less may be chewed by people who have stings that are harmful with efficacy. A few of us using a serious bite down side might have difficulties obtaining enough nutrients. Once the teeth aren’t aimed correctly, this somewhat might happen. Morsel issues that are repairing may allow it to be more easy to chew and digest meals.

One may also have language problems, when the top and lower front teeth do not arrange right. All these are fixed through therapy, occasionally combined with medical help. Eventually, remedy may ease to avoid early use of rear areas. Your teeth grow to an unlikely quantity of pressure, as you chew down. In case your top teeth do not match it’ll trigger your teeth that are back to degrade. The most frequently encountered type of therapy is the braces (or retainer) and head-gear. But, a lot people complain about suffering with this technique that, unfortunately, is also unavoidable. Sport braces damages, as well as additional individuals have problem in talking. Dental practitioners, though, state several days can be normally disappeared throughout by the hurting. Occasionally annoyance is caused by them. In the event that you’d like to to quit more unpleasant senses, fresh, soft and tedious food must be avoided by you. In addition, tend not to take your braces away unless the medical professional claims so.

It is advised which you just observe your medical professional often for medical examinations to prevent choice possible problems that may appear while getting therapy. You are going to be approved using a specific dental hygiene, if necessary. Dental specialist may look-out of managing and id malocclusion now. Orthodontia – the main specialization of medication – mainly targets repairing chin problems and teeth, your grin as well as thus your sting. Dentist, however, won’t only do chin remedies and crisis teeth. They also handle tender to severe dental circumstances which may grow to states that are risky. You actually have not got to quantify throughout a predicament your life all. See dental specialist San – Direction Posts, and you’ll notice only but of stunning your smile plenty will soon be.

MIT’s Solve initiative seeks solutions to its 2017 global challenges

Solve — MIT’s initiative that brings together problem-solvers of all stripes to tackle the world’s pressing problems — has four new global challenges for 2017: brain health; sustainable urban communities; women and technology; and youth, skills, and the workforce of the future. Applications for those who have a solution to any of these challenges are due August 1.

Solve issues challenges for anybody around the world to apply to participate in. The program identifies the best solutions through open innovation. And, it builds and convenes a community of leaders who have the resources, the expertise, the mentorship, and the know-how to get each solution piloted, scaled, and implemented.

At its most recent event last May, Solve convened technologists, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and change agents on campus for three days of Solve at MIT.

“As I look out on the world, I’m more certain than ever of the power and significance of the collaborative problem-solving global platform we call Solve,” said MIT President Rafael Reif at Solve at MIT. “In the two and a half years since we first announced Solve, it has evolved in important ways. As many of you know firsthand, since then Solve has launched specific, actionable challenges around refugee education, carbon contributions, chronic diseases, and inclusive innovation. In its first cycle, Solve attracted more than 400 solutions from more than 57 countries.”

The May event celebrated the first cycle of Solvers, who worked on those 2016 challenges, by bringing them together with the Solve community to form partnerships to help implement their solutions. Also at that time, Solve launched its new challenges for 2017. Those challenges are now getting ready to close on August 1. They are:

  • Brain Health: How can every person improve their brain health and mental resilience?
  • Sustainable Urban Communities: How can urban communities increase their access to sustainable and resilient food and water sources?
  • Women and Technology: How can women and girls of all socioeconomic backgrounds use technology to fully participate and prosper in the economy?
  • Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future: How can disadvantaged youth learn the skills they need to prepare them for the workforce of the future and thrive in the 21st century?

Solve further announced three prizes for the 2017 challenges during Solve at MIT. Applicants for these challenges should be sure to opt in if they’re eligible.

  1. Atlassian Foundation International is pledging up to $1 million in grant funding for the Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future Challenge to selected Solvers from non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, social enterprises, academics, entrepreneurs, and for-profit organizations.
  2. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is pledging up to $1 million in grant funding for the Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future Challenge to selected Solvers who will have an impact in developing countries across the Indo-Pacific. 
  3. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma is pledging to curate a mentorship prize for selected Solvers who propose solutions based in arts and culture to the four challenges.

Applicants who are selected as finalists will join the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City on Sept. 17 during the United Nations General Assembly Week. The Solve pitch session will take place in front of challenge judges, Solve members, and a live audience in New York. 

“This is just the beginning of the community, of the marketplace, of the movement,” said Solve Executive Director Alex Amouyel during Solve at MIT. “And to truly realize the vision of Solve, we need you to continue the charge.”

Felice Frankel: Creating images to explain science concepts

Producing images powerful enough to be selected for the covers of major research journals is nothing new for Felice Frankel: She’s being doing it for decades with great success. But now, she’s extending that approach, using a growing arsenal of visual tools and techniques as she works with scientists and engineers to develop imagery that illustrates their concepts.

Frankel, a research scientist in MIT’s Center for Materials Science and Engineering, has helped to produce images that in the last few months have graced the covers of Nature, Nature Materials, and Environmental Science, among others. Some of her work is also featured in the exhibit “Images of Discovery: Communicating science through photography,” running at the MIT Museum through this August.

Frankel started her career in science and then turned to photographing architecture and landscapes, publishing a few books along the way. She started working with MIT scientists to improve their visual communications back in the ’90s. She’s been expanding her work ever since, both developing new ways of communicating ideas visually and teaching techniques for doing so.

Her latest work has involved combining a variety of photographic images into photo-illustrations that help to explain a process better than individual photos could. The latest journal covers have been examples of this approach. “I take pieces of photos I’ve already made and put them together as an illustration,” she says.

The cover image she created for the April 20 issue of Nature is a perfect example of this process. The research being illustrated involved using graphene as a kind of “copy machine” for nanopatterned thin sheets, for electronics applications. Instead of using just photographic images of the patterned surfaces, which wouldn’t have conveyed much information about the process, or a stand-alone diagram that wouldn’t have seemed as real, she combined the two elements into a single illustration.

It took many steps to produce the image elements and combine them effectively, but the result is a montage that clearly embodies the key elements of the process: the graphene surface and the thin sheets picking up patterns from that surface, one after another. And by mimicking the appearance of a copying machine with copies flying off from it, the final image conveys the active process of cranking out many identical copies from a single surface.

The process of creating the image involved many discussions and iterations among Frankel, the researcher, and the creative director at Nature, she recalls. The creative director “saw the potential” even from early sketches of the proposed design, Frankel says, and helped to refine the design into something that both the researcher and the journal’s editors could agree on.

“Every situation is different,” Frankel says. But the common thread is “helping to bring attention to important work,” by creating images that combine important concepts with an eye-catching design that can attract readers who might otherwise have overlooked the paper or related news coverage. She says the heads of several MIT departments have been encouraging their younger researchers to seek out her assistance, to help them gain attention for their work while their careers are getting off the ground.

“I first collaborated with Felice as a junior faculty member, and some of the core images that she worked on with us ended up being cover articles with meaningful impact over the years,” says Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering. “I have encouraged my own research group members, and now faculty members and the students and postdocs in our department, to take part in the workshops and courses that she offers to teach others about the key issues of communicating science through images.”

Frankel “is one of the hidden jewels at MIT,” says Anette “Peko” Hosoi, a professor and associate department head of mechanical engineering. “She has a deep understanding of the importance of visual communication and a true talent for bringing scientific concepts to life. I constantly call on her for advice, and she has fundamentally changed the way I think about my research.”

Another example of Frankel’s recent work, which also involved combining multiple photos into a single illustration, was a cover for the June issue of Nature Materials, for a paper that described how certain cells respond to biomaterials. The resulting image was, in essence, “a complete metaphor.” Although it depicted something that did not exist, it clearly conveyed the effect being described in the paper: a technique that prevents macrophages, a type of white blood cells that act as a kind of molecular garbage collector, from creating unwanted deposits around devices implanted in the body such as pacemakers.

To produce that cover, Frankel combined a backround image from the researchers’ lab, depicting normal cells in a growth medium, along with a foreground image depicting a macrophage, which Frankel found after an online search and then manipulated after purchasing rights to the image. The combination suggested the interactions described in the research, even though those interactions had not been directly imaged.

When she sits down with researchers to discuss images for their work, Frankel says, “I encourage them to come up with metaphors” that can help to show the essence of their work in ways that a simple photographic image might not. “Thinking about coming up with metaphors is also a means of clarification” that can help the researchers describe what they’ve done more clearly to people outside their own discipline.

Besides working one-on-one with researchers, Frankel has also led several workshops and developed an online edX class to convey her ideas about how to use visual imagery to enhance scientific understanding. The tutorials are also available on Open CourseWare.

Frankel “has done a fabulous job in helping our researchers to deliver their research graphically,” says Gang Chen, head of the department of mechanical engineering. “She is creative and resourceful, and is a delight to work with.”

In her direct work with the researchers, Frankel urges them to “tell me the salient facts,” and then they can work together on “designing an image to represent the fundamental aspects of what the research is about.” And, she says, “it’s another way for the researchers to clarify in their own minds” the key points they need to communicate.

Bitcoin study: Period of exclusivity encourages early adopters

Giving early adopters the first access to new technologies can help diffuse those technologies among the masses. A notable example is Google’s rollout of Gmail: In 2004, about 1,000 select users were given exclusive access and told to invite others. This campaign was so successful that at one point before the email service went mainstream Gmail invites were selling for more than $150 on eBay.

But what if early adopters are, in contrast, denied access at the initial stage of a rollout? That could greatly stifle broader diffusion, according to a unique new study by MIT researchers that examines adoption rates of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin among MIT students.

In 2014, the MIT Bitcoin Project offered all incoming freshman access to $100 worth of bitcoins. MIT Sloan School of Management professors Christian Catalini and Catherine Tucker saw this as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to study the role of early adopters in spreading technology in a controlled environment, says Catalini, who is the Fred Kayne Career Development Professor of Entrepreneurship. Tucker is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management.

During the rollout, the researchers randomly delayed giving half the students their bitcoin allotment by a couple of weeks. Students who were identified as early adopters of Bitcoin, but whose payment was delayed, cashed out their balance and abandoned the technology at nearly twice the rate of early adopters who received their payment earlier. The early adopters who cashed out also influenced those around them to do the same in high numbers.

Cash-out rates among early adopters were also amplified in dorms, especially smaller dorms where the delayed or non-delayed status of students would be more well-known, indicating that early adopters need to feel like they are part of an exclusive group in order to stick with new technologies.

Published today in Science, the paper is the first to examine what happens when natural early adopters (NEAs) are purposely denied first, exclusive access to new technologies, Catalini says. “When you study new technologies, how fast and in what ways [they] diffuse through society, you never get to see what would have happened if things had unfolded differently,” he says.

Creating two “parallel universes”

Of the 4,494 MIT freshmen offered access to Bitcoin, about 3,100 joined the researchers’ experiment. Those students had five days to sign up on a waiting list, complete a survey, and create a digital wallet.

The researchers first identified which students exhibited natural early adopter (NEA) traits compared to the other students, whom they refer to as natural late adopters (NLAs). They classified as NEAs the first 25 percent of students who signed up to the waiting list, all within the first 24 hours. Surveys showed that those NEAs were also more likely to be top computer programmers, to have built mobile apps, and to use peer-to-peer payment apps, among other identifiers. These characteristics align with popular definitions of early adopters, who generally possess advanced technical skills that help them start using new technologies.

Bitcoins were distributed a few weeks after the signups. But the researchers randomly delayed distribution of the bitcoins to 50 percent of the students, both NEAs and NLAs, by another two weeks. They then tracked all Bitcoin transactions through the blockchain — the digital ledger used by Bitcoin — and through the students’ digital wallets.

Randomly delaying access created two “parallel universes,” Catalini says, in which to study the S-Curve — the measure of the speed of adoption of innovation in societies. “In one universe, we ended up seeding Bitcoin in the optimal way, by giving it first to early adopters and later to everybody else. In the other parallel universe, the opposite was likely to happen,” he says.

Findings were surprising. The two-week cash-out rate of the NEAs who received their bitcoins late rose to 18 percent, well over the non-delayed NEA cash-out rate of 11 percent. “That people, on all accounts, who were supposed to be NEAs of Bitcoin would abandon it was surprising to us,” Catalini says.

Both groups of late adopters, on the other hand, showed cash-out rates of roughly 10 percent, suggesting they were indifferent to the delay.

The cost and value of exclusivity

The researchers then studied the underlying mechanism of high cash-out rates by comparing behaviors of students living off campus to those in dorms, which function as social clusters.

In dorms, where it was likely more noticeable which students had received their bitcoins on time, delayed early adopters were 4.3 times more likely to cash out than non-delayed late adopters. Moreover, in smaller dorms, where students are even more aware of each other, or in dorms where NEAs are rarer, cash-out rates among delayed NEAs rose sharply again over their peers. Off campus, however, there was no measurable difference in cash-out rates among early and late adopters, delayed or not.

“When you take students out of the social environment — where comparisons are made and people are aware of each other receiving versus not receiving Bitcoin — we do not see that [cash-out] activity,” Catalini says.

This points to NEAs finding some value — monetary or socially — in having exclusive access to new technologies, the researchers write: “Our results highlight a novel, understudied mechanism through which NEAs might obstruct further diffusion if they refuse to adopt because their desire to feel unique is challenged or the consumption value they derive from early, exclusive access is reduced.”

But this behavior also has a “spillover” effect, where NLAs were more likely to drop Bitcoin if NEAs did — possibly because late adopters rely on early adopters to learn about new technologies, Catalini says. After 225 days, the researchers found dorms with an above-the-median share of delayed NEAs had 45 percent fewer active Bitcoin users.

“That’s a large difference,” Catalini says. “This behavior by early adopters, where you see them abandon Bitcoin, seems to have repercussions on everyone else.”

Noting the MIT study’s idiosyncratic setting, Catalini says the results offer a couple of key insights for tech firms. Identifying NEAs before going to market may be valuable, instead of relying on people lining up outside of the store. Firms could then fulfill the NEAs’ need to feel exclusive and capitalize on their potential to encourage wider adoption.

“In settings where the decision to adopt is a social decision, where comparisons or conversations are taking place in communities and when there is uncertainty about the value of an innovation, it can be important for firms to take advantage of early adopters, as they do create this positive effect of others,” Catalini says. “But that comes with a cost, which is exclusivity.”

Avi Goldfarb, a professor of marketing at the University of Toronto, says the study’s results are “interesting and surprising” and “the method is novel” in tracking a type of “what-if?” scenario of diffusion. “Diffusion research has suffered because it is difficult to know what would have happened [had] a new product not appeared,” he says. “Unlike many other areas of research where experiments have taken off, research on new product adoption and diffusion has been limited to observational data. So, a key part of the long-term impact of this paper on the field is to show how to embed experimental design into research on diffusion.”

Moreover, Goldfarb adds, “it does all this in the fascinating context of Bitcoin. We still do not know much about how people will use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. This paper helps us understand some of the challenges of launching such a currency, even without a technology-savvy population.”

Tucker points out that the Bitcoin experiment proved to be a boon to the majority of MIT undergraduates. More than 50 percent held on to their bitcoins, possibly hoping for the price to increase further, Tucker says. The $100 in Bitcoin they were given in 2014 is now worth more than $700. Many MIT students have also started experimenting and building novel apps in this space.

The researchers are currently working on another paper based on the study that examines the decision students made in terms of securing the privacy of their online transactions.

The art of construction: Chemistry lab takes center stage in an artist’s exhibition

From many perspectives, a construction site represents a headache — an area in flux, hovering between functional and unusable, a source of financial and emotional stress. When will the work be completed? When can the area return to its finished state? And will it be done by the estimated, yet counted upon deadline, for the estimated, yet counted upon budget? To perceive a space mid-renovation in any other way — to take it even further and actually be inspired, as opposed to daunted — requires a truly unique vision. Angel Chen MS ’17, a recent master’s degree recipient from MIT’s Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT), not only possesses that vision, but defines it.

Chen, who received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and computer science from McGill University in 2009, came to MIT in 2015, and made quite an impact over the course of her time in ACT. The 2017 second-place recipient of MIT’s Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts, Chen’s art practice at MIT has revolved around understanding complex and technical systems. “[ACT] supports my background and interest very well because it encourages experiments in new modes of relating a critical art practice to culture and to technology,” she explains.

When it came time to execute her thesis work, Chen set off in search of a construction site on campus to stage an art installation. She pitched her idea to create an artwork that would explore the connection between building construction and nanoscale fabrication to Dick Amster, MIT’s director of campus construction. Amster then put her in touch with Janis Burke, manager of the Institute’s Committee for Renovation and Space Planning, who introduced Chen to four project managers and their respective renovation projects on campus.

One of the projects in contention was the renovation of Department of Chemistry laboratory spaces on the fourth and and fifth floors of Building 18, overseen by campus construction project manager Meredith Fydenkevez. Fydenkevez was assisted by project coordinators Julie Azzinaro and Mike Morizio. Members of the project team also included Department of Chemistry’s administrative officer Richard Wilk and facilities administrator Brian Pretti. Columbia Construction Company was represented by project manager Mike Ausevich, assistant project manager Sarah Neff and field superintendent Erik Julio.

Chen presented her idea to the project team, and they determined the project could accommodate her request to utilize the space during construction. Department of Chemistry’s senior administrative assistant Emrick Elias assisted by providing Chen daily access to the space, with construction beginning in May. The spaces will soon belong to Professor Laura L. Kiessling, and in order to accommodate her research group, they had to undergo a few changes. When Chen first viewed the fourth floor space in April, prior to the start of any construction, she was immediately drawn to it. “I was initially attracted to quality of the natural light I experience walking down the hallway. It makes you want to believe in something, or at least be hopeful for something,” she said.

Chen also discovered a meaningful connection to the building as a whole: “My ACT studio is in an I.M. Pei building from 1985, and Building 18 is also designed by I.M. Pei, but in 1967. 1967 is also the year my program’s predecessor, Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), was created. Going in between these spaces inspired me to reflect on how artists and scientists came together to collaborate at different times in the history of the Institute.” Having landed on the perfect location, Chen began production on the art installation, entitled “Looking for Space: Arriving at a Laboratory Under Construction.”

From April 18 through May 23, Chen was a daily fixture in the fourth floor construction site, arriving at various times of day, staying for intermittent amounts of time, and absorbing the environment as a whole as well as the minutiae that made up the space. “Every little interaction was very meaningful to me,” she says. “All the interactions together make up one very memorable and impactful moment. I did really enjoy being surprised by what would happen at any given day … running into people at the elevator, Brian and Meredith bringing me a MIT hardhat with my name on it, and the quiet but continuous alarm sound the cold room made when it was put to rest.”

Ultimately, Chen’s project evolved into more than what she had originally intended; it became not only a place for an art installation, a site in transition/in flux/in limbo to be witnessed and photographed, but also a nest of sorts. Chen described the space’s evolution from her expectation to the ultimate result in the description of her installation as “a place to spend time in, to reflect on my position as an art student. By forming this nest, through every day interacting, observing, and learning, I encountered specific people, procedures, processes, traces, gossip and memories that together make up this place.”

On May 22, Chen opened the installation for her fellow ACT classmates, as well as professors both from MIT and beyond, as a public display of her thesis work. Groups donned hard hats and walked through the renovation that had become Chen’s nest, observing the items she had carefully arranged amidst the chaos, dust, and debris of an ongoing construction zone. Chen’s goal for the scene was to instigate a different way of thinking. “My intention was to create a space that really urges people to look at a lab space differently, regardless of where they are coming from, through paying attention to different materials, to placements of objects, through trying to discern which things have been brought in by me from my studio, and through noticing traces of time as demonstrated by marks left by many different people, machines, and processes. That the lab is under renovation means that certain aspects — electrical outlets, walls — are quite literally open, adding to the mix of materials.”

The exhibit was a multifaceted success, for Chen, for the Department of Chemistry, and for all who had the privilege of experiencing it firsthand. “This project,” Chen muses, “experimental in nature, has given me an incredible opportunity to develop artistic research and exhibition-making methods that I will take with me and continue to refine for years to come.” Chen’s work has inspired a thoughtfulness among those who work in Building 18. It has promoted the notion that the space that is experienced on a daily basis can be easily taken for granted. Moments are finite, and the lab renovation on the fourth floor of Building 18 will soon be complete, but Chen’s artistic vision helped to instigate an appreciation for the fleeting passage of time, and all of the tiny elements that make up an average day.

Jessica Myers: Liberté, Égalité, Sécurité

As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Jessica Myers MCP ’17 threw herself into writing a thesis on urban food markets in New Orleans. After many months of work, however, she was disappointed to see it filed away, virtually unread. For her graduate thesis in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), she was determined to resist that fate.

Interested in writing about the urban fabric of Paris, she spoke with members of DUSP’s Community Innovators Lab (CoLab), who suggested that she produce a podcast that could be disseminated online to a wider audience. She’d never created a podcast, Myers says, but as an avid podcast listener, she was excited about the challenge of figuring it out.

The result is “Here There Be Dragons,” a two-season, 13-episode (and counting) exploration of urban life in New York and Paris through the themes of race, class, and security. “I basically wanted to ask questions about fear,” says Myers, “looking at how people prepare themselves to be in a city and create mental maps and strategies.”

Myers isn’t from a big city herself; she grew up in the bedroom community of Plainfield, New Jersey. But she fell in love with Paris during a study abroad semester during which she held a number of jobs — washing dishes at a restaurant, translating poetry for a cabaret, and working as an archivist at the Centre Pompidou. “I was all over the city, working in a lot of different contexts, and that made me very interested in how it works socially and politically.”

At MIT, she took a class with DUSP lecturer Jota Samper on “conflict cities” that examined how policies around security affect the use of public space. While other students studied Teheran, Donetsk, or Medellin, Myers chose to focus on Paris. “With older Western cities, we typically look at them as historical case studies, seeing them as ‘developed’ rather than ‘developing,’” says Myers. “But on a neighborhood level, they are dealing with the same social and cultural issues as the global south.”

For her podcast, Myers honed her craft with a first “season” on New York, featuring interviews with seven people about how they constructed mental maps of where they felt safe and unsafe. “If I am a woman, where am I not going to wear a short skirt; if I am queer, where can I hold hands,” she says. “I wanted to look at all of these strategies people have and how they change over time.”

After developing her interview techniques and tweaking the software she used to weave together the program, she set forth on a second season on Paris, starting with reactions to the terrorist attacks of November 2015. “What was interesting was that white men were very shocked at the prospect of having to feel worried in a public space,” says Myers. “Whereas women and LGTBQ interviewees were more like, ‘This is another thing I need to add to my running ticker tape of public stress.’”

As she spoke to different groups — white, immigrant, middle class, and poor — about where they felt safe or unsafe in the city, the conversations took a surprising turn toward issues of gentrification. For middle-class Parisians, the introduction of a wine shop or brunch spot on a previously “unsafe” corner made them extend their mental map. For residents of poor neighborhoods, however, an influx of unfamiliar faces made them feel unsafe. “If you rely on the so-called ‘eyes on the street’ to keep your kids safe,” Myers says, “then all of a sudden that change breaks up your sense of community trust.”

Later episodes of the podcast address the contradictions of the French policy of mixité, a social housing program based on the ideal of mixing social classes that relocates poorer people such as immigrants from North and West Africa into more affluent arrondissements. “But what exactly is the support offered to those families?” Myers asks. Often even second- or third-generation African-French citizens are referred to as “immigrants” by white French people. “If they cook food with strong peanut sauces and neighbors smell it, will it be a nuisance? Will they feel hostility in a place that is supposed to be their home?”

For each episode, Myers created a script, transcribing the interviews in French and then translating them into English. She cast English speakers to closely match the original subjects in age, gender, and ethnicity, and overlaid the English audio onto the French. It’s an effective strategy in bringing the issues alive, says Myers’s advisor, professor of landscape architecture and planning Anne Whiston Spirn. “Hearing their voices and their words, it makes it so clear that the ideas are emerging from the data,” she says. “You often don’t get that as directly in a more conventional thesis.”

Since DUSP first offered students the option of a media-based thesis four years ago, Spirn has overseen several other students with backgrounds in film and photography who created multimedia explorations of urban planning. She hopes that in the future, more students like Myers, who didn’t arrive with a media background, can take that approach. “I am interested in promoting these theses and in giving students the support they need in order to do them.”

In telling the stories of her subjects, Myers had to balance between the academic demands of her thesis and the entertainment value of a podcast. “I think academics have lost a crucial audience because there is little emphasis on being engaging, and news has decided to become so much a part of entertainment, that there is no grounding in rigor,” she says. In addition to receiving guidance from Spirn, she’s worked with a producer from BuzzFeed France in maneuvering between those poles.

Her formula seems to be working. “I would say it’s as rigorous as any thesis I’ve seen, and at the same time it’s enormously engaging,” says Spirn. In recognition of the achievement, Myers was awarded honorable mention for the department’s outstanding thesis award.

Currently the podcast is downloaded 200 times a week by listeners in the United States and France, as well as from as far away as Iceland, Hong Kong, and Chile. “I hope that people take away from this the fact that Paris is still developing, and the conversation isn’t over about what it can become,” says Myers, who is thrilled with the wide reach of the work. “Someone in Medellin or Mogadishu might have something to contribute.”

Two MIT documentaries win New England Emmy Awards

On June 24, Boston-area journalists, videographers, and producers filled the halls of the Marriott Boston Copley Place for the 40th annual New England Emmy Awards. Staff from MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) and MIT Video Productions (MVP) occupied two full tables at the black-tie affair. By the end of the night, two golden statues joined them as both groups were awarded Emmys.

MechE’s multimedia specialist John Freidah was honored with a New England Emmy in the Health/Science Program/Special category for the film “Water is Life,” which chronicles PhD student Natasha Wright and Professor Amos Winter as they travel to India gathering research on how to design a low-cost desalination system for use in developing areas. The film was also recently honored with a 2017 National Edward R. Murrow Award — one of the most prestigious awards in journalism — as well as a 2017 Circle of Excellence Award from the The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Meanwhile, MVP’s Lawrence Gallagher, Joseph McMaster, and Jean Dunoyer received a New England Emmy in the Education/Schools category for their film “A Bold Move,” which recounts MIT’s relocation from Boston’s Back Bay to a swath of undeveloped land on the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The film is the first in a four-part series that commemorate MIT’s 100th year in Cambridge.

“Water Is Life”

As the camera pans over an aerial shot of a lake in India, a flock of white birds majestically flies by. Capturing this moment in the opening shot of “Water is Life” required a lot of patience and a little help from a new friend. Unable to bring a drone into India, the film’s producer, editor, and cinematographer, John Freidah, had to come up with another plan. During a conversation on a flight from Delhi to Hyderabad, Freidah befriended a passenger in his row. He mentioned his search for a drone operator to get the perfect birds-eye-view shot of India’s landscape. As luck would have it, the day before departing India, Freidah received an email from his new friend saying he new someone with a drone that he could use to film sweeping aerial shots.

Planning for “Water is Life” began months before Freidah flew to India, however. Interested in highlighting the important work done in Professor Amos Winter’s Global Engineering and Research (GEAR) Lab, Freidah and his colleagues in the media team at MechE honed in on the research PhD student and Tata Fellow Natasha Wright was conducting on designing an affordable desalination system for use in rural India. With the generous support of Robert Stoner, deputy director of the MIT Energy Initiative and director of the Tata Center for Technology and Design, plans were arranged to film Winter and Wright in India.

“India is a beautiful and amazing country, which is rich in imagery. I felt lucky to film there,” Freidah says. “We were fortunate to have the aid of stakeholders — Jain Engineering and Tata Projects — who facilitated our visits to the local villages where they were struggling with clean drinking water.”

Visiting these villages and talking to end-users who would benefit from and potentially use a desalination system was a crucial component of Winter and Wright’s research. Capturing the daily challenges these villagers face on film brought another level of exposure to the work being done by GEAR and the Tata Center.

“Having John travel to India enabled us to tell the story of our research in much greater depth than we could on campus,” says Winter. By capturing the many angles of Winter and Wright’s story, “Water Is Life” aims to show people first-hand what a problem access to clean water is on a global scale, and how essential it is to support new research and technologies that hope to solve it.

“I really wanted to give the viewer a first-person experience — through the visuals,” Freidah explains. “I wanted it to be a visual journey, as if they were there — with sound and imagery — from honking horns on the street and rickshaws going by.”

“A Bold Move”

It’s hard to imagine a time when the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge weren’t adorned with MIT’s Great Dome, inter-connected buildings, and stately columns. MIT President Richard Cockburn Maclaurin’s aspiration to move the Institute from its overcrowded classrooms in Boston’s Back Bay to a plot of vacant land across the river in 1916 did more than shape the landscape around Kendall Square; it redefined MIT’s presence as a global pioneer in science and technology research. To celebrate the 1916 move to Cambridge, the program A Century in Cambridge was launched last year.

Well before the centennial fireworks exploded over Killian Court, Larry Gallagher, director of MVP, was approached by the Century in Cambridge Steering Committee. MVP was asked to produce a series of documentaries that explored MIT’s move to Cambridge in 1916 and other key aspects of the MIT experience that have helped shape MIT into what it is today. The first of this series, “A Bold Move,” chronicles the design and construction of MIT’s new campus, the whimsical celebrations commemorating the move, and the tragic and untimely passing of the man who orchestrated the entire process — President Maclaurin.

Capturing this period in MIT’s history required extensive research and the participation of faculty, staff, and historians well versed in the move to Cambridge. “We are deeply indebted to the faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the Cambridge community who so generously gave their time end expertise,” says producer and director Joe McMaster. “Without their insights, the film wouldn’t have successfully portrayed this moment in MIT’s history.”

In addition to interviewing those with extensive knowledge of the 2016 move, the MVP team had to dig deep into MIT’s robust archives. Thousands of photos from The MIT Museum, The Institute Archives, the Cambridge Historical Commission, and other sources were analyzed by McMaster and a team of research assistants. “I was amazed to see how thoroughly documented MIT’s history is in photographs — particularly everything to do with the move to Cambridge,” McMaster adds. “The whole affair seemed to be carried out with such a wonderful mixture of seriousness and whimsy, and I hoped the film would capture that feeling.”

Editor and co-producer Jean Dunoyer was tasked with weaving together the footage and photographs in a way that reflected this mixture of the silly and sacred. The imagery and footage was set to period music, to give viewers a feel for that particular era in history. In one of the concluding scenes, this period music is brought to life once more by MIT a capella group The Chorallaries. The group performs a haunting rendition of “Mother Tech,” a piece originally performed at the conclusion of the celebrations in 1916.

The entire Century in Cambridge documentary series was produced over the course of 18 months, with assistance from the Century in Cambridge Steering Committee and the generous support of Jane and Neil Papparlardo ’64. The scope of “A Bold Move” required a massive collaboration across all of MVP. “This is indeed a huge collaborative effort for MVP,” says Gallagher. “Projects of this scope benefit from the contributions of the entire team, and for their work and talents to be recognized by their peers in the video production community with an Emmy is a great source of pride.” 

Q&A: Running a company in an era of “crazy technological progress”

How do ongoing advances in technology affect business management? That’s the question the prolific writing duo of Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee pose in their new book, “Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future,” being published on June 27 by W.W. Norton. Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and a principal research scientist at MIT Sloan, also collaborated in 2014 on “The Second Machine Age,” another exploration of the changes digital innovation is bringing to the workplace. McAfee recently talked to MIT News about “Machine, Platform, Crowd.”

Q: What is your new book about?

A: “Machine, Platform, Crowd” is the answer to a question: How should I think differently about running my organization in this era of crazy technological progress? We need to rethink the balance between the work that we ask human minds to do in organizations, and the work we give to machines. We need to rethink whether you have a product orientation or a platform orientation. And we need to rethink the core of an organization, if there are literally these hundreds of millions of strangers out there across the internet who you can tap into.

Q: What’s different now compared to past moments of technological change?

A: Within the past five years, 10 years easily, at least two really fundamental things have happened. First of all, artifical intelligence started meeting its expectations and even exceeding them. We weren’t expecting that, and it’s pretty remarkable. The machines are much more capable. The second thing is, in the era of the smartphone, we have gone from a globe that was pretty disconnected, to having that same human population for the first time deeply interconnected through powerful devices, which are each about as powerful as all the computers collectively on campus when I was an undergraduate at MIT in the ’80s. Those are both legitimately new things.

Q: I know you’ve mentioned the rise of machines that can win at the game of Go as one instance of these advances. What are some of your favorite examples of machines, platforms, and crowds at work now?

A: Go is my favorite example of the power of machines, because it was so unanticipated that we would have a digital Go champion in 2016 or 2017. The insiders thought if that ever happened it would happen much, much farther out in the future.

In our section on products and platforms, we talk about companies like ClassPass, which is trying to build a purely digital platform; they don’t own any assets, but they’re trying to provide a virtual, very broad gym membership, or exercise membership [by offering rates for an array of memberships]. So they’re putting a platform over the industry of spinning, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, things like that. And if you had asked me just a little while ago for an industry that would not be greatly affected by the digital transformation, I might have said group exercise: You get in the gym with other people and sweat and have a workout. But after working on the book, I think that the exercise industry is going to be changed a lot by platforms.

Finally, we came across a very interesting company called Quantopia that is trying to be essentially a crowdsourced quantitative trading hedge fund. That may sound ludicrous, except, as the founder of the company has said, it is extremely unlikely that all the world’s top algorithmic traders are employed by the [relative] handful of companies that have dominated this industry. So to test that theory, they’ve been holding contests for algorithmic trading. It turns out, lo and behold, most of the people who win those contests are not insiders in the finance industry and have never even worked in finance. It tells me that if you can tap into the crowd and find the right brains, all over the world, and get them involved in what you’re doing, the results are potentially tremendous.

Q: What’s the reaction to these ideas when you give talks about them?

A: The reception to these ideas is all over the map. It goes from outright skepticism to something a little more subtle, which is, “This is great and interesting, but it doesn’t apply to me.” I’ve come across a lot of that.

Q: Do you get pushback about your interpretation of the pace of innovation itself?

A: Yeah, it’s super-interesting. Inside the academic community and among economists there is a huge debate about how much innovation we’re actually seeing. The skeptics say, “Where is the productivity growth, if there’s so much innovation going on?” Or they say, “We had amazing periods of innovation in the past. Are we sure this one measures up?” And those are important debates to have. But in every other community I try to be part of, and that includes investors, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and executives in mainstream incumbent companies, I don’t hear any of that debate, or very little. What I hear instead is: “There’s a lot coming at us, and we need to get on top of it and make it work for us.”

When people say there’s nothing new under the sun, I find that really valuable, because if all you do is talk to technologists, you just get caught up in the hype. It’s almost inevitable. So I really value those discussions. But when I talk to almost anybody else, it’s something close to a foregone conclusion that we’re living in this remarkable era, and I happen to believe that as well. Not only can we sequence the genome, we can edit it with precision. If that’s not a big deal, then I don’t [know what is]. We only mention CRISPR briefly in the book, but the period that we’re in is one to me of monumental progress and innovation.

STEX event showcases innovations in fitness technology and science

Many MIT-affiliated startups are innovating in the burgeoning fitness technology and science space, aiming to promote healthier lifestyles and help optimize athletic performance.

Novel products from these startups include a smart chair that fights back pain and diabetes, a sleeve that monitors muscle-movement data that users can share in the cloud, a wristband that tracks blood oxygen levels for greater performance, and even a so-called anti-aging pill.

A workshop hosted June 22 by the Industrial Liaison Program’s STEX (Startup Exchange) program brought together some of these MIT entrepreneurs and industry experts to showcase their innovations and foster connections that could lead to new business opportunities.

Held throughout the year, the three-hour STEX workshops include lightning presentations from MIT-affiliated startups; brief talks from academic innovators, industry experts, government representatives, and venture capitalists; startup presentation and demonstration sessions; and an interactive panel discussion.

At last week’s event, eight entrepreneurs pitched their fitness-tech products — several rooted in MIT research — to a crowd of around 80 entrepreneurs, researchers, and industry experts in the ILP’s headquarters on Main Street, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The academic keynote speaker was MIT Novartis Professor of Biology Leonard Guarente, who took the opportunity to demystify the science behind his startup Elysium Health’s “anti-aging pill,” which is made of compounds that aim to thwart age-related cell damage, which can lead to inflammatory and heart diseases, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

STEX events aim to stimulate discussion and build partnerships between MIT-affiliated startups and ILP-connected companies, which now number around 230. The series covers a broad range of topics: a recent workshop focused on energy storage, while upcoming events will focus on synthetic biology, robotics and drones, cancer therapies, renewable energy, world water issues, and 3-D printing.

“These are very exciting areas, and MIT has young and old startups in all of these spaces. We certainly have industry coming to campus interested in all of these technologies and products coming from them,” Trond Undheim, a senior industrial liaison officer and co-organizer of the event, said in his opening remarks.

Presenter Simon Hong, a researcher in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and CEO of smart-chair startup Robilis, said last week’s STEX workshop provided “an opportunity to interact with potential stakeholders.”

Based on neuroscience research, Robilis developed StandX, a chair with two automated moving halves, side by side. The halves alternate — one dropping down and the other staying straight — making the user sit down on one half while standing on the opposite leg. The frequent alternation prevents stress on the spine caused by sitting in one position for extended periods, and the chair’s design encourages proper posture. The movement also interrupts prolonged sitting, which is associated with diabetes.

During a startup demonstration session midway through the event, Hong’s station was crowded with attendees looking to try out the chair. In the end, he walked away with a few contacts interested in helping with production and in introducing him to potential investors. “I was quite satisfied with the event,” Hong told MIT News. “It is in a way a networking event, and good things tend to happen quite unexpectedly during many, many interactions with people.”

Apart from providing a venue to spread the word about his wearables, the event enabled Alessandro Babini MBA ’15, co-founder of Humon, to connect with larger organizations in the space. Humon, a wearable targeted at endurance athletes, attaches to a muscle, where it monitors blood oxygen levels by shining a light into the skin and analyzing changes in the light that indicate less or more oxygen.

“It was interesting to get an understanding about what big brands seek in partners, what they’re looking to invest in, and what they’re working on now,” Babini told MIT News. “Big corporations have a lot of customers and a big influence on where the market is going.”

Another interesting MIT spinout, figure8, presented a wearable that captures 3-D body movement that can be analyzed by the user or shared with an online community — like a “YouTube” of movement data.

The wearable is a small sleeve made from novel sensor-woven fabric that fits over the arm or leg to track joint and muscle movement. It lets users map the movement of muscle, bone, and ligaments. Put on a knee, for instance, the wearable can map individual ligaments, which is valuable for, say, monitoring the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). One application is in physical therapy, so athletes can track injuries as they heal.

Users can also map their movement to others. Dancers, for instance, can use the sensor to match their movements to those of others during training. The startup is also developing a platform that lets users upload and share that data in the cloud.

“Before YouTube, no one thought about video as something you can share, upload, and download as a commodity,” said co-founder and CEO Nan-Wei Gong, an MIT Media Lab researcher, during her presentation. “We’re trying to create a system for everyone to collect this motion [data] they can upload and download.”

Other startups that presented included: Kitchology, Fitnescity, Digital Nutrition, Food for Sleep, and SplitSage.

In his keynote, Guarente explained the science and history behind Elysium’s “anti-aging” pill, called Basis, which he himself has been taking for three years. He noted the pill doesn’t necessarily make people feel more youthful or healthier, especially if they’re already healthy. “You should just fall apart more slowly,” Guarente said to laughter from the audience.

Years ago, Guarente and other MIT researchers identified a group of genes called sirtuins that have been demonstrated to slow the aging process in microbes, fruit flies, and mice. For instance, calorie-restricted diets, long known to extend lifespans and prevent many diseases in mammals, is key in activating sirtuins. “It turns out there are compounds that can do the same thing,” Guarente said.

At MIT, the researchers discovered one of those compounds, which is abundant in blueberries. Later, they discovered that an enzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) was also essential in carrying out the activity of sirtuins. But the enzyme deteriorated with age. “If there’s not enough NAD, you don’t activate sirtuins. Metabolism and DNA-repair goes awry, and a lot of things go wrong,” he said.

However, they soon found that in the NAD synthesis pathway, NAD’s immediate precursor, called nicotinamide riboside (NR), could be injected into an organism, where it would move efficiently into cells and be converted into NAD.

Basis is a combination of NR and the sirtuin-activating compound from blueberries.

Last year, Elysium conducted a 120-person trial. The results indicated that the pills were safe and led to an increase and sustainability of NAD levels. More trials are on the way, and the startup is growing its pipeline of products. It has not yet been shown whether Basis can extend life-span in humans.

“We could really make a difference in people’s health,” Guarente said at the conclusion of his talk. “And it would add to all the … medical devices and DNA analysis and motion sensors, so that people can begin to do what they want to do, which is to take charge of their health.”

The investor speaker was David T. Thibodeau, managing director of Wellvest Capital, an investment banking company specializing in healthy living and wellness. The industry speaker was Matthew Decker, global technical leader in the Comfort and Biophysics Group of W.L. Gore and Associates, the manufacturing company best known for Gore-Tex fabrics.

Panelists were Guarente, Decker, Thibodeau, and Josh Sarmir, co-founder and CEO of SplitSage, an MIT spinout that is developing an analytics platform that can detect “sweet spots” and “blind spots” in people’s fields of vision to aid in sports performance, online advertising, and work safety, among other applications.  

STEX has a growing database of roughly 1,200 MIT-affiliated startups. Last year, ILP created STEX25, an accelerator for 25 startups at any time that focuses on high-level, high-quality introductions. The first cohort of 14 startups have gone through the accelerator, gaining industry partnerships that have led to several pilot programs.

Illuminating the developing world’s “invisible” consumers

While on location in remote areas of Kenya, researching automation and home manufacturing for his doctoral dissertation, Kenfield Griffith PhD ’12 encountered a significant lack of data.

For example, information he needed about whether people had access to indoor plumbing was scarce or nonexistent — and conducting traditional surveys to gather the data would be arduous and time consuming. But nearly all rural Kenyans, he realized, had texting-capable cell phones.

Back in his MIT dorm room, Griffith built a platform that allowed users to easily create and send text message-based surveys, and monitor incoming results in real time on a web dashboard. Returning to Kenya, he amassed hundreds of participants to use the platform, and completed his research.

“I was getting interesting information that you couldn’t find anywhere else, from people who didn’t have a bathroom but had mobile phones,” Griffith says. “That was the epiphany for me, where I said, ‘This could be an opportunity to really understand consumers on the ground and create conversations at scale.’”

In 2012, Griffith commercialized the platform as mSurvey, which is now being used by companies to gain insights into the purchasing behavior of people living in previously hard-to-reach communities in Kenya, the Philippines, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and other locations in Africa and the Caribbean. In return for their feedback, participants receive mobile money.

Researchers are also using the platform for tracking and improving HIV medication adherence across Africa, monitoring pregnancy and abortion results of Kenyan women, and other studies. The City of San Francisco has started using the platform to improve services for people living with HIV and AIDS.

In March, mSurvey partnered with Kenya’s leading mobile provider, Safaricom, to launch Consumer Wallet, a platform that, for the first time, tracks consumer cash spending in Kenya. “Consumers in the most rural areas of Kenya, and other emerging markets, don’t really have a voice,” says Griffith, who studied design and computation in the Department of Architecture at MIT and is now CEO of mSurvey. “We’re capturing that invisible consumer.”

Instrumental in his startup’s success, Griffith says, was the funding he received from the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship, which offers resources to MIT students, faculty, and departments that are looking to improve the lives of people in the developing world. The center now lists mSurvey as a successful case study.

Conversations at scale

With mSurvey, users sign onto a web dashboard to create a survey conversation of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. They set the number of participants, and an algorithm randomly shoots off the surveys to the selected number from the “universe” of participants; in Kenya, that’s 21 million, or nearly half the population. To narrow down this list, users can also set parameters, such as age, gender, and location. By partnering with mobile-money providers, mSurvey sends small amounts of mobile money to all participants for completing all questions.

Companies might use the surveys to brand products. If a survey indicates that most people eat, say, yogurt because it tastes sweet and is healthy, the company may emphasize those descriptors in advertisement campaigns.

But an important perk of mSurvey is collecting data in real-time. Companies can view how advertisement campaigns are doing and potentially revise the campaign on the fly. Restaurants, banks, and coffee houses use mSurvey to get quick customer feedback and refine their offerings and services. Executives have been known to gather data on how a product is doing within hours before walking into board meeting, Griffith says.

“The platform gives companies the ability to have these conversations with customers in real time, at scale,” Griffith says.

As an entrepreneur himself, Griffith notes that the platform could also help fledgling entrepreneurs in Kenya and other emerging markets find out if locals can afford their products and services. “With entrepreneurs, time is of the essence. We don’t have three months to go through this elaborate surveying process. We want that information about the consumer now,” he says.

With Consumer Wallet, Griffith says, companies can now gain insight into Kenyan cash purchases to make better decisions about what products and services the people need and want. About 55 percent of Africa’s economy comprises cash purchases, he says. In the past, companies and researchers have tracked purchases by having people in developing countries keep records in journals.

“We’ve digitized that process,” Griffith says. “We’re talking to thousands of consumers to understand their spending habits day after day.”

The startup is now looking to expand Consumer Wallet across Africa. Collecting cash-spending data across the continent could lead to greater investments, Griffith says. By 2020, he says, consumer spending in Africa will be about $1.2 trillion, but investors need to know where that money goes.

“You don’t invest is something you don’t know,” Griffith says. “We’re proud, because we can create this visibility into this cash economy that wasn’t formalized before. Now we’ve formalized it using a mobile phone.”

Impact on health

What began as part of a doctoral dissertation has also returned to academia, for the benefit of public health. Researchers are using mSurvey to better connect with communities in Africa and here in the U.S. To conduct surveys, researchers generally recruit clinicians to conduct traditional surveys in the country of interest, which is time-consuming and can result in lack of data or incorrect analyses. On the other hand, mSurvey is quick, accurate, and well-regarded among participants.

Among notable mSurvey case study participants is Harvard Medical School, which has been using mSurvey for three years to monitor and improve adherence to an HIV-suppressing drug, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), among “discordant” couples in Kenya and Uganda. Over nine months, the researchers enrolled nearly 400 HIV-negative partners who had HIV-positive partners, to receive daily surveys asking about their adherence and sexual behavior, with aims of quantifying their risk. A vast majority of participants reacted positively to mSurvey, and the researchers used the results to develop effective text-based intervention techniques to boost adherence.

A similar study — measuring PrEP and other medication adherence among discordant couples to ensure safer pregnancies — was conducted by the Washington University at Seattle, also with useful results.

In its effort to eliminate all new HIV infections by 2020, the San Francisco Department of Public Health is using mSurvey to help people living with HIV better engage with service programs. Clients receive daily surveys asking about their mental health, substance use, and support systems. They also have access to real-time, personalized support.

At the end of the day, Griffith says the platform’s value lies in its potential for scalable impact, whether for commercial or research purposes. “That impact could be quantified by more customers using a product. In the research sense, the medication is a product too. You want more people to have access to this medication,” he says. “Everyone wants to have impact.”

MIT’s first MicroMasters learners earn credentials

The first-ever cohort in MIT’s inaugural online MicroMasters program — consisting of more than 1,100 learners who completed all five of the online courses in supply chain management — has received its final MicroMasters certificates and will be honored at an online ceremony today.

Of those learners who opted to take the proctored comprehensive final exam, 622 achieved passing grades, automatically earning a chance to apply for a full master’s degree. Combining credit for the completed online coursework plus one semester of on-campus classes, this “hybrid” master’s is available at MIT or any of several partner institutions: University of Queensland, in Australia; Curtin University, in Australia; Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, New York; and the Zaragoza Logistics Center, in Spain.

Given that the MicroMasters’ testing process and course standards are designed to be as demanding as those of on-campus MIT classes, the MicroMasters credential itself is also expected to provide those who earn it with opportunities for career advancement.

“When we first announced the MicroMasters, our goal was to offer serious learners anywhere a practical credential that does justice to their academic drive, ambition, and achievement,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Thanks to the members of this remarkable first cohort — their commitment to learning, their sustained efforts and determination, and their inspiring success as MicroMasters pioneers — we have the confidence to continue to find creative ways to leverage MicroMasters programs to build pathways to a master’s degree.”

This initial MicroMasters program, offered through MIT’s top-ranked graduate program in supply chain management (SCM), was the first such MicroMasters program created through MITx. There are currently more than 5,000 additional learners in the supply chain management MicroMasters pipeline who have successfully completed at least one of the five required courses. Last December, MITx launched a second MicroMasters program in data, economics, and development policy, and others are under consideration. Additionally, more than 10 other universities now offer MicroMasters certificates through the edX online platform, which was co-developed five years ago by MIT and Harvard University.

The MicroMasters program in supply chain management has drawn more than 180,000 learners of all ages, from around the world, says Yossi Sheffi, director of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics and director of the MIT supply chain management program, who taught some of the online classes. “Their enthusiasm and excitement were amazing,” he says of the MicroMasters participants, some of whom met him in person at the finals and described how the experience had already changed their lives.

More than 1,100 learners finished all five of the required courses, he says, and there was a great deal of interaction among them, the faculty, and an army of volunteer “community teaching assistants” who responded to all learners’ queries. The teaching team had decided that all such queries should be answered within an hour, so “The scale of it makes it very difficult,” says Sheffi, who is the Elisha Gray II Professor of Engineering at MIT. But the process worked, and participants around the world responded with enthusiasm. “The impact is enormous,” he adds.

Sheffi estimates that it would take roughly 350-580 years of teaching traditional MIT classes in supply chain management to teach a comparable number of students as were reached through the MicroMasters program. In the end, more than 750 learners chose the extra step of taking the in-person final exam, on which a passing grade could earn them a MicroMasters credential in supply chain management as well as the opportunity for a mixed online and residential master’s degree.

Those who passed can now qualify for a master’s program even if they lack many of the traditional application requirements, including GRE scores or even an undergraduate degree. Since their progress through the classes has been monitored and recorded, click by click, “We know about these students,” Sheffi says. “We don’t have to rely on a letter from a professor we don’t know.”

The fact that these learners have completed the five required classes “shows grit,” says Chris Caplice, director of the MicroMasters program in supply chain management and executive director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, who taught most of the classes. “They’ve spent a lot of time working on this to advance their careers.”

The participants spanned a wide range of nationalities, ages, and backgrounds. They ranged from supply-chain professionals with decades of experience who wanted to expand their skills, to a pair of 14-year-old twins looking toward future career possibilities. Those teaching the classes were surprised by the number and diversity of the participants.

Sanjay Sarma, vice president for open learning and the Fred Fort Flowers and Daniel Fort Flowers Professor in Mechanical Engineering, says “I’m over the moon” about the outcome of this first experiment with an MITx MicroMasters. “When you create a program like this, there’s a lot of guesswork — informed, but still guesswork. So I’m very pleased and pleasantly surprised” by the response. Clearly, he says, “there’s a huge unmet need here. These are not easy courses. It’s a lot of work, but people have taken the effort to do it.”

Paulina Gisbrecht, a logistics manager with a German power company who earned the MicroMasters certificate, says, “What we learned was on the one hand challenging and complex enough to reflect the real-world problems, but on the other hand still sufficiently simple to be understood well.”

“I’ve enjoyed being challenged academically in my own professional field,” says Bill Seliger, director of supply chain at LSC Communications in Chicago. “As a lifelong learner, a supply chain practitioner, and an educator, it’s been a honor and a pleasure to be able to take part in these classes.”

Michel Groenner, a senior logistics analyst at Votorantim Cimentos, in São Paulo, Brazil, plans to follow up the online learning with the full hybrid master’s program. He says, “I looked for this course to reinforce some concepts of SCM, and I ended up enjoying it so much that I am completing the credential. I plan to apply for the blended master’s degree in SCM. I was very impressed to see that the concepts covered in the course were extremely close to my daily life.”

The program has also reached many learners who would have been unlikely or unable ever to take part in a residential master’s program like MIT’s. Moses Mfune of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, says “I’m convinced beyond doubt that supply chain management could offer a very good reason for the poor state of economic performance in many African countries. Teaching SCM and making others understand the importance of SCM will not only be beneficial to individuals or small and medium enterprises, but to my country too.”

Sarma sees this project as a great example of MIT’s strengths: “We’re meritocratic; we search for merit and talent. Our exclusivity is our inclusivity, in that sense.” The MicroMasters program embodies that concept, providing multiple advantages, he says.

First, it makes the knowledge and learning associated with an MIT credential more broadly accessible than ever. It also provides a way of identifying talent, no matter where in the world it may be. And, it provides people who are already working in the field a way to hone their skills, without having to leave their jobs to do so.

For those who get admitted to the hybrid master’s program, the ability to transform the effort of a semester’s worth of online learning into a semester of credit toward a full MIT master’s, Sarma says, “helps to establish [the MicroMasters] as a credit equivalent. It is signaling that it’s good enough for us.”

The next course of the MicroMasters program in supply chain management starts on Sept. 13.

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