People Should Find A Safe Storm Shelter During Thunderstorm

Storm Shelters in OKC

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.

Leaning On God Through Hard Times

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.

Shaping technology’s future

Jessika Trancik’s life has been one of straddling languages and cultures, both in academia and in her own life.

Born in Boston to a Swedish mother and American father, she lived in Cambridge as a child but spent summers in Sweden and grew up bilingual, and still carries dual citizenship. In her work as an associate professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems and Society, which spans all of MIT’s five schools, she brings together engineering and the social sciences in order to carry out rigorous analyses of the factors that bring about technological changes that transform society.

Trancik says that “growing up in a couple of different cultures, you become very comfortable with that, and to some extent being able to understand and talk to people from different disciplines is [a similar experience].” And, she says, “science is a way to connect with people around the world. There are no national boundaries; it’s like a more unified network of people working on problems and discussing them.”

“I was always drawn to science and engineering because it affords an opportunity to have a positive impact on people and the planet,” she says.

Trancik graduated from Cornell University, where her father was a professor of urban design and her mother was a lecturer in Swedish. While there she studied materials science, analyzing the structure of metals and ceramics using transmission electron microscopy. In graduate school, as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, she focused on polymer materials including spider silk. This exceptionally strong material, which is formed at room temperature, is a promising model for synthetic materials for structural and other applications, she says. “There’s an environmental motivation there, which is that you can produce a higher-performance material at lower energetic costs,” she says.

At MIT, where she earned tenure last year, Trancik’s work focuses on the pace of innovation in different sectors of technology, and the forces that accelerate or retard that progress, for example in energy storage or in photovoltaic cells. That includes “evaluating opportunities for cost reduction and improvement, and what the effective drivers of improvement might be,” she says.

Her work these days focuses on “whether we can predict in advance what kinds of technological innovations will take off,” and how to influence that process, she says. “This whole area of research that I’ve been working on developing spans evaluating technologies in a larger context — their scalability, their costs, their emissions, their performance along different dimensions — and then using that information to inform how we’re developing these technologies.” The work aims to guide decisions by engineers, policymakers, businesses, and investors.

She credits some early teachers for asking open-ended questions that helped spur creative thinking. “I’ve always had an interest and enjoyment in problem solving and answering previously unanswered questions, and in rigorous ways, in testable ways.” And in applying that, she says, “I was really interested in the environment and in design, and so materials science seemed to bring together a lot of these different topics and questions.”

Trancik’s interests were, and are, quite varied indeed. “Growing up I was very interested in languages, I was very interested in design and painting and drawing, and I was also very interested in math and science, and writing. I did a ton of sports, first gymnastics and then tennis and skiing. That really sort of persisted, along with mountain biking, surfing, and lots of other sports like that. And music as well. I played the saxophone.”

As she grew older, she realized she needed to specialize a bit, she says. “But I would have liked to have continued to do everything.” Still, she comes close. “I’m still skiing, backcountry skiing, surfing, mountain biking, these are my favorite sports. And that’s sort of just a part of my life, like brushing my teeth.”

Before her PhD, Trancik spent a summer doing volunteer work in Kenya, and then following her PhD she worked for a couple of years at the United Nations on postconflict sustainable development. “That’s the time when I got interested in taking my research in a new direction, to span studying technology and materials development as well as big societal challenges. And that’s when I started working on energy and climate change,” she recalls. That led to a fellowship at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where “the research I was doing was on photovoltaic devices and materials, as well as studying trends in solar energy development, and trying to understand why some technologies develop more quickly than others.”

After that, she went to a fellowship at the Santa Fe Institute, where “that afforded me a great opportunity to interact with scientists from many different areas — physicists, economists, biologists, engineers, and so forth.”

There, “the environment really supported what I was trying to do, which was to continue to build this research focus that spanned technology evaluation and technology development, and to explain technological progress in a way that we can help inform and direct it in positive directions,” she says.

Last year, Trancik gave a TEDx talk that summarized her views and her research focus. She says that in addressing global issues like climate change “we want to develop technology to help us solve these challenges. We need to understand how to measure technological progress toward these goals that we care about. And we also need to be able to understand and take advantage of the drivers of technological progress.

“We always have limited time and money,” she says. “So how do we make decisions that are going to allow us to get in the direction that we need to? How do we speed up the process?” That’s what Trancik aims to find out.

High school students learn to build big ideas

A group of high school students, some from as far away as Italy and China, came to MIT’s Edgerton Center this summer to learn more about what it takes to be an engineer — and learned a bit more about themselves as well.

Now in its 12th year, the Edgerton Center’s Engineering Design Workshop (EDW) brought together 27 students in a month-long creative binge to flesh out their own projects. Some were practical, some were whimsical, but all were challenging and fun.

The students started out the summer by learning basic electronics, mechanical fabrication, and a bit of 3-D printing. They then broke up into teams and brainstormed their own creations under the guidance of the program’s mentors, many of whom are EDW alumni themselves.

This year’s final designs, which were showcased in a final presentation for the kids and their parents on Aug. 3, included an automated river water monitoring platform; an improved ship dry dock; an interactive light game; a monowheel unicycle; a bionic exoskeleton; and what can best be described as a cross between a Segway and a Nimbus 2000 broomstick from Harry Potter (but with cup holders).

Many of the kids seemed shy at first to talk about their projects, but Edgerton Center instructor Chris Mayer gently urged them on.

“Why don’t you bring that over to the audience, so they could have a closer look?” he said. Invariably, the kids’ close-up demonstrations of their work elicited amazed gasps and nods from the crowd.

For some like Luo Yan, a senior high school student from the Shanghai Foreign Language School, the workshop was also a hands-on history lesson. He and his team researched the design of Boston’s historic Charlestown Navy Yard and built a scale mock-up showcasing their proposed improvements to its long-defunct dry dock.

“This has a lot of stories behind it,” he said, pointing to the miniature replicas of the yard’s buildings, which were built in 1833. “I just want to see it working again.”

Thirteen-year-old Mohan Hathi of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School said Team Exoskeleton’s big idea was to build an assistive system that could help with repetitive chores, like lifting heavy objects on an assembly line. But with barely a month to build a working prototype, they ended up having to decide whether to build a bionic hand or arm.

“We decided, why not do both? And if it happens then it happens,” he said. “But it ended up working, and I’m really happy.”

Team QUICK (short for aQuatic Underwater Information Collecting Kit) built a submersible sensor platform that could be used for environmental monitoring in the Charles River and other bodies of water. But barely had they presented their final design when the team was already considering how it could be improved — better battery life, perhaps, or more robust sensors.

True to its name, Team LIT (Light Interactive Technology) designed an Arduino-controlled LED wall display, and even came up with a fairy-catching game to go along with it. In the game, a light “fairy” would flit about, and a controller box off to the side allowed players to light up parts of the wall to block its path.

Meanwhile, teams Monowheel and Broomba showcased their unusual transport designs. The former was a one-wheeled single-track vehicle and the latter a self-balancing witch’s broomstick on wheels. More whimsical than practical, they nevertheless offered an interesting and fun way to get around.

Though not everyone was able to get their creations off the ground, Edgerton Center instructor Ed Moriarty ’76 said, the experience is invaluable in itself. Moriarty has been with the workshop from the very beginning and has served as both mentor and friend to all its past and present participants.

“We did not say that you have to succeed in building your project. We said you have to care about your project,” he explained. “We did not set this up as an instructional thing. This is, ‘Hey, what do you want to build?’ ‘He, let’s go try it!”

“This isn’t about teaching,” he added. “This is about empowering students to get together and do things.”

That’s something that Moriarty takes to heart and has been sharing with high school students — or anyone who happens to drop by the Edgerton Center on a lazy Saturday afternoon — for years now. If you have a big idea, he believes you should always chase it down the rabbit hole, because no matter where you end up, it’ll always be an adventure.

3Q: Muriel Médard on the world-altering rise of 5G

The rise of 5G, or fifth generation, mobile technologies is refashioning the wireless communications and networking industry. The School of Engineering recently asked Muriel Médard, the Cecil H. Green Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT, to explain what that means and why it matters.

Médard, the co-founder of three companies to commercialize network coding — CodeOn, Steinwurf and Chocolate Cloud — is considered a global technology leader. Her work in network coding, hardware implementation, and her original algorithms have received widespread recognition and awards. At MIT, Médard leads the Network Coding and Reliable Communications Group at the Research Laboratory for Electronics.

Q. People are hearing that 5G will transform industries across the world and bring advances in smart transportation, health care, wearables, augmented reality, and the internet of things. The media report that strategic players in the U.S. and internationally are developing these technologies for market by 2020 or earlier. What sets this generation apart from its predecessors?

A. The reason 5G is so different is that what exactly it will look like is still up in the air. Everyone agrees the phrase is a bit of a catch-all. I’ll give you some big brush strokes on 5G and what people are looking at actively in the area.

In second, third, and fourth generations, people got a phone service that by 4G really became a system of phone plus data. It was all fairly traditional. For instance, people are used to switching manually from their cellular provider to available Wi-Fi at their local coffee shop or wherever.

One of the main ideas behind 5G is that you’ll have a single network that allows a blended offering. People are looking at using a multi-path approach, which means drawing on Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi 5G (or sometimes 4G) seamlessly. This poses some difficult coordination problems. It requires network coding, by using algebraic combinations, across different paths to create a single, smooth experience.

Another important part of 5G is that people are looking at using millimeter waves, which occupy frequencies that are high enough to avoid interference among multiple senders that are transmitting simultaneously in fairly close proximity relative to what is possible now. These high frequencies, with wide open spectrum regions, may be well-suited for very large amounts of data that need to be transmitted over fairly short distances.

There is also what people call “the fog,” which is something more than just how people feel in the morning before coffee. Fog computing, in effect, involves extending cloud capabilities, such as compute, storage and networking services, through various nodes and IoT gateways. It involves being able to draw on the presence of different users nearby in order to establish small, lightweight, rapidly set-up, rapidly torn-down, peer-to-peer type networks. Again, the right coding is extremely important so that we don’t have difficult problems of coordination. You must be able to code across the different users and the different portions of the network.

Q. You’ve described 5G as actively looking at incorporating services and modes of communications that have not been part of traditional offerings. What else sets it apart?

A. Let’s talk about global reach. With 5G, people are looking at incorporating features, such as satellite service, that are seamlessly integrated with terrestrial service. For this, we also really need reliance on coding. You can imagine how there is no way you can rely on traditional coordination and scheduling across satellites and nodes on the ground on large scale.

Another thing that makes 5G so different from other evolutions is the sheer volume of players. If you were talking about 3G or 4G, it was pretty straightforward. Your key players were doing equipment provisioning to service providers.

Now it’s a very busy and more varied set of players. The different aspects that I’ve talked about are often not all considered by the same player. Some people are looking at worldwide coverage via satellite networking. Other people are looking at blending new channels, such as the millimeter wave ones I referred to earlier, with Wi-Fi, which basically requires marrying existing infrastructure with new ones.

I think finding a coherent and central source of information is a big challenge. You have the organization that governs cellular standards, 3GPP, but the whole industry is transforming as we watch in the area of 5G. It’s not clear whether it’s going to be 3GPP still calling the shots. You have so many new entrants that are not necessarily part of the old guard.

Q. What do you believe people will notice on a daily level with the rise of 5G?

A. I’ll give you my vision for the future of 5G, with the caveat that we’re now moving into an area that is more a matter of opinion. I see heterogeneity as part of the design. You’re going to have a network that is talking to a large and disparate set of nodes with very different purposes for very different applications. You’re going to see a view that emphasizes integration of existing and new resources over just the deployment of new resources.

And I think the people who are going to win in 5G may not be the same players as before. It will be the company that figures out how to provide people with a seamless experience using the different substrates in a way that is highly opportunistic. It has to be a system that integrates everything naturally because you cannot preplan the satellite beam you’re going to be in, the fog network you’re going to be in, and the IoT devices that are going to be around you. There is no way even to maintain or manage so much information. Everything is becoming too complex and, in effect, organic. And my view on how to do that? Network coding. That’s an opinion but it’s a strongly held one.

Introducing the latest in textiles: Soft hardware

The latest development in textiles and fibers is a kind of soft hardware that you can wear: cloth that has electronic devices built right into it.

Researchers at MIT have now embedded high speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors, within fibers that were then woven at Inman Mills, in South Carolina, into soft, washable fabrics and made into communication systems. This marks the achievement of a long-sought goal of creating “smart” fabrics by incorporating semiconductor devices — the key ingredient of modern electronics — which until now was the missing piece for making fabrics with sophisticated functionality.

This discovery, the researchers  say, could unleash a new “Moore’s Law” for fibers — in other words, a rapid progression in which the capabilities of fibers would grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.

The findings are described this week in the journal Nature in a paper by former MIT graduate student Michael Rein; his research advisor Yoel Fink, MIT professor of materials science and electrical engineering and CEO of AFFOA (Advanced Functional Fabrics of America); along with a team from MIT, AFFOA, Inman Mills, EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Lincoln Laboratory.

A spool of fine, soft fiber made using the new process shows the embedded LEDs turning on and off to demonstrate their functionality. The team has used similar fibers to transmit music to detector fibers, which work even when underwater. (Courtesy of the researchers)

Optical fibers have been traditionally produced by making a cylindrical object called a “preform,” which is essentially a scaled-up model of the fiber, then heating it. Softened material is then drawn or pulled downward under tension and the resulting fiber is collected on a spool.

The key breakthrough for producing  these new fibers was to add to the preform light-emitting semiconductor diodes the size of a grain of sand, and a pair of copper wires a fraction of a hair’s width. When heated in a furnace during the fiber-drawing process, the polymer preform partially liquified, forming a long fiber with the diodes lined up along its center and connected by the copper wires.

In this case, the solid components were two types of electrical diodes made using standard microchip technology: light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and photosensing diodes. “Both the devices and the wires maintain their dimensions while everything shrinks around them” in the drawing process, Rein says. The resulting fibers were then woven into fabrics, which were laundered 10 times to demonstrate their practicality as possible material for clothing.

“This approach adds a new insight into the process of making fibers,” says Rein, who was the paper’s lead author and developed the concept that led to the new process. “Instead of drawing the material all together in a liquid state, we mixed in devices in particulate form, together with thin metal wires.”

One of the advantages of incorporating function into the fiber material itself is that the resulting  fiber is inherently waterproof. To demonstrate this, the team placed some of the photodetecting fibers inside a fish tank. A lamp outside the aquarium transmitted music (appropriately, Handel’s “Water Music”) through the water to the fibers in the form of rapid optical signals. The fibers in the tank converted the light pulses — so rapid that the light appears steady to the naked eye — to electrical signals, which were then converted into music. The fibers survived in the water for weeks.

Though the principle sounds simple, making it work consistently, and making sure that the fibers could be manufactured reliably and in quantity, has been a long and difficult process. Staff at the Advanced Functional Fabric of America Institute, led by Jason Cox and Chia-Chun Chung, developed the pathways to increasing yield, throughput, and overall reliability, making these fibers ready for transitioning to industry. At the same time, Marty Ellis from Inman Mills developed techniques for weaving these fibers into fabrics using a conventional industrial manufacturing-scale loom.

“This paper describes a scalable path for incorporating semiconductor devices into fibers. We are anticipating the emergence of a ‘Moore’s law’ analog in fibers in the years ahead,” Fink says. “It is already allowing us to expand the fundamental capabilities of fabrics to encompass communications, lighting, physiological monitoring, and more. In the years ahead fabrics will deliver value-added services and will no longer just be selected for aesthetics and comfort.”

He says that the first commercial products incorporating this technology will be reaching the marketplace as early as next year — an extraordinarily short progression from laboratory research to commercialization. Such rapid lab-to-market development was a key part of the reason for creating an academic-industry-government collaborative such as AFFOA in the first place, he says. These initial applications will be specialized products involving communications and safety. “It’s going to be the first fabric communication system. We are right now in the process of transitioning the technology to domestic manufacturers and industry at an unprecendented speed and scale,” he says.

In addition to commercial applications, Fink says the U.S. Department of Defense — one of AFFOA’s major supporters — “is exploring applications of these ideas to our women and men in uniform.”

Beyond communications, the fibers could potentially have significant applications in the biomedical field, the researchers say. For example, devices using such fibers might be used to make a wristband that could measure pulse or blood oxygen levels, or be woven into a bandage to continuously monitor the healing  process.

The research was supported in part by the MIT Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) through the MRSEC Program of the National Science Foundation, by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. This work was also supported by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

President Reif urges “farsighted national strategy” to address China competition

In an op-ed piece published today in The New York Times, MIT President L. Rafael Reif urges a more farsighted response to address China’s attempts to dominate cutting-edge technologies, which have included tactics such as industrial espionage and theft of intellectual property.

While strong and decisive action against such practices is essential, Reif writes, it is not enough. “[I]t would be a mistake to think that an aggressive defense alone will somehow prevent China’s technological success — or ensure America’s own,” he says.

Rather, the most important action the U.S. can take to protect its global leadership role is to redouble its core strength in innovation, starting with ground-breaking federally funded research.

China has begun to do just that, in a concerted national effort, including a project called “Made in China 2025” that aims to achieve global dominance in several key areas of technology and manufacturing. Because of these ambitious initiatives by the Chinese government, Reif writes, “stopping intellectual property theft and unfair trade practices — even if fully effective — would not allow the United States to relax back into a position of unquestioned innovation leadership.”

Reif adds that “Unless America responds urgently and deliberately to the scale and intensity of this challenge, we should expect that, in fields from personal communications to business, health, and security, China is likely to become the world’s most advanced technological nation and the source of the most advanced technological products in not much more than a decade.”

However, he emphasizes that this outcome is far from inevitable. The most effective countermeasure is to harness the power of federally funded research at American universities, “rooted in a national culture of opportunity and entrepreneurship, inspired by an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, supported by the rule of law and, crucially, pushed to new creative heights by uniting brilliant talent from every sector of our society and every corner of the world.”

Reif concludes that “As a nation, the United States needs to change its focus from merely reacting to China’s actions to building a farsighted national strategy for sustaining American leadership in science and innovation.”

Holding law-enforcement accountable for electronic surveillance

When the FBI filed a court order in 2016 commanding Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in San Bernandino, California, the news made headlines across the globe. Yet every day there are tens of thousands of court orders asking tech companies to turn over Americans’ private data. Many of these orders never see the light of day, leaving a whole privacy-sensitive aspect of government power immune to judicial oversight and lacking in public accountability.

To protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, these requests require some secrecy: Companies usually aren’t allowed to inform individual users that they’re being investigated, and the court orders themselves are also temporarily hidden from the public.

In many cases, though, charges never actually materialize, and the sealed orders usually end up forgotten by the courts that issue them, resulting in a severe accountability deficit.

To address this issue, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Internet Policy Research Initiative (IPRI) have proposed a new cryptographic system to improve the accountability of government surveillance while still maintaining enough confidentiality for the police to do their jobs.

“While certain information may need to stay secret for an investigation to be done properly, some details have to be revealed for accountability to even be possible,” says CSAIL graduate student Jonathan Frankle, one of the lead authors of a new paper about the system, which they’ve dubbed “AUDIT” (“Accountability of Unreleased Data for Improved Transparency”). “This work is about using modern cryptography to develop creative ways to balance these conflicting issues.”

Many of AUDIT’s technical methods were developed by one of its co-authors, MIT Professor Shafi Goldwasser. AUDIT is designed around a public ledger on which government officials share information about data requests. When a judge issues a secret court order or a law enforcement agency secretly requests data from a company, they have to make an iron-clad promise to make the data request public later in the form of what’s known as a “cryptographic commitment.” If the courts ultimately decide to release the data, the public can rest assured that the correct documents were released in full. If the courts decide not to, then that refusal itself will be made known.

AUDIT can also be used to demonstrate that actions by law-enforcement agencies are consistent with what a court order actually allows. For example, if a court order leads to the FBI going to Amazon to get records about a specific customer, AUDIT can prove that the FBI’s request is above board using a cryptographic method called “zero-knowledge proofs.” First developed in the 1980s by Goldwasser and other researchers, these proofs counterintuitively make it possible to prove that surveillance is being conducted properly without revealing any specific information about the surveillance.

The team’s approach builds on privacy research in accountable systems led by co-author Daniel J. Weitzner, a principal research scientist at CSAIL and director of IPRI.

“As the volume of personal information expands, better accountability for how that information is used is essential for maintaining public trust,” says Weitzner. “We know that the public is worried about losing control over their personal data, so building technology that can improve actual accountability will help increase trust in the internet environment overall.”

Another element of AUDIT is that statistical information can be aggregated so that that the extent of surveillance can be studied at a larger scale. This enables the public to ask all sorts of tough questions about how their data are being shared. What kinds of cases are most likely to prompt court orders? How many judges issued more than 100 orders in the past year, or more than 10 requests to Facebook this month? Frankle says the team’s goal is to establish a set of reliable, court-issued transparency reports, to supplement the voluntary reports that companies put out.

“We know that the legal system struggles to keep up with the complexity of increasing sophisticated users of personal data,” says Weitzner. “Systems like AUDIT can help courts keep track of how the police conduct surveillance and assure that they are acting within the scope of the law, without impeding legitimate investigative activity.”

Importantly, the team developed its aggregation system using an approach called multi-party computation (MPC), which allows courts to disclose relevant information without actually revealing their internal workings or data to one another. The current state-of-the-art MPC would normally be too slow to run on the data of hundreds of federal judges across the entire court system, so the team took advantage of the court system’s natural hierarchy of lower and higher courts to design a particular variant of MPC that would scale efficiently for the federal judiciary.

According to Frankle, AUDIT could be applied to any process in which data must be both kept secret but also subject to public scrutiny. For example, clinical trials of new drugs often involve private information, but also require enough transparency to assure regulators and the public that proper testing protocols are being observed.

“It’s completely reasonable for government officials to want some level of secrecy, so that they can perform their duties without fear of interference from those who are under investigation,” Frankle says. “But that secrecy can’t be permanent. People have a right to know if their personal data has been accessed, and at a higher level, we as a public have the right to know how much surveillance is going on.”

Next the team plans to explore what could be done to AUDIT so that it can handle even more complex data requests – specifically, by looking at tweaking the design via software engineering. They also are exploring the possibility of partnering with specific federal judges to develop a prototype for real-world use.

“My hope is that, once this proof of concept becomes reality, court administrators will embrace the possibility of enhancing public oversight while preserving necessary secrecy,” says Stephen William Smith, a federal magistrate judge who has written extensively about government accountability. “Lessons learned here will undoubtedly smooth the way towards greater accountability for a broader class of secret information processes, which are a hallmark of our digital age.”

Frankle co-wrote the paper with Goldwasser, Weitzner, CSAIL PhD graduate Sunoo Park and undergraduate Daniel Shaar. The paper will be presented at this week’s USENIX Security conference in Baltimore. IPRI team members will also discuss related surveillance issues in more detail at upcoming workshops for both USENIX and this week’s International Cryptography Conference (Crypto 2018) in Santa Barbara.

The research was supported by IPRI, National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Simons Foundation.

Hammer family gift to support doctoral fellowships in the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society

MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) has taken a major step forward thanks to a generous endowment gift from Phyllis Thurm Hammer and the Hammer family, establishing the Michael Hammer Fellowship Fund. The Hammer Fellowships will be awarded annually to IDSS doctoral candidates in the Program in Social and Engineering Systems (SES). In addition, the Hammer family’s gift will also support postdoctoral fellows in IDSS.

The first Hammer Fellowship recipients were chosen this summer: Manxi Wu SM ’17, a second-year PhD student in SES; and Cate Heine and Leon Yao, who will join SES in September. The first postdoctoral fellow is Kiran Garimella, who will start in February 2019. Ultimately, the endowment will support 10 scholars annually. 

Since its launch in 2015, IDSS has been helping drive a revolution in the use of data drawn from networks and systems throughout society. IDSS is advancing education and research with a broad, ambitious goal: harness the massive amounts of data being generated, and use it to create knowledge and address complex societal challenges. IDSS faculty, researchers, and students are turning data troves into practical solutions on subjects ranging from transportation, climate, finance, and health care to social challenges such as radicalization, mass migration, and false news stories. The SES program is educating students to be researchers, policymakers, and thought leaders who solve society’s most pressing problems using ideas and analytical methods at the nexus of engineering, social sciences, and data science.  

In a short time, IDSS has achieved success on three strategic fronts. It has hired and promoted a major corps of faculty, now engaging more than 80 core and affiliate faculty from all five schools at MIT. It has driven an expanding academic program, welcoming 24 SES doctoral students, launching an undergraduate minor in statistics, and undertaking development of both an interdisciplinary statistics PhD and an online MicroMasters in statistics and data science. And it has been the catalyst for a growing number of major, multidisciplinary research projects — from ways of improving nuclear power generation facilities to assessing the health benefits of China’s climate policies to reducing control overheads in wireless networks

The addition of the Hammer Fellowships will empower the SES program to attract and support top students in the field. The Michael Hammer FellowshipFund will also support valuable programming for IDSS scholars, and will underwrite two postdoctoral research fellows who will further expand the Institute’s research initiatives. 

“Social and Engineering Systems is, in many ways, an extension of Michael Hammer’s insights and work,” observes Munther Dahleh, director of IDSS and the William A. Coolidge Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “He recognized that solving major societal challenges begins with an understanding of howcomplex systems function and interact — and that it requires a careful teasing apart of the interplay among inherently different kinds of systems: physical and engineered, economic and social-behavioral, and institutional.”

Michael M. Hammer ’68, SM ’70, PhD ’73 was a much-lauded educator, visionary engineer, and pioneering business leader and author. As a full-time MIT faculty member from 1973 to 1984, he was hailed for his teaching in courses on programming language processors, computer language engineering, data base management, and office automation. His research in the latter two fields earned him an international reputation. 

“Michael was, at heart, a life-long student and a life-long teacher,” says Phyllis Thurm Hammer, herself a former MIT bioscience researcher. “MIT was an integral part of his life — as a student, faculty member, and long-time collaborator. Even after he stepped away from a full-time faculty role, he remained a passionate educator and mentor, providing intellectual guidance and unique perspectives through adjunct faculty roles at MIT and Oxford University and the hundreds of classes he taught for corporate leaders around the world.”

As a business thought leader and consultant, Hammer helped drive fundamental changes in the nation’s engineering and business landscape. Widely known for his founding role in the business reengineering movement and his formulation of the process-centered organization, Hammer sought to transform business in ways that not only made it more efficient, but more personally engaging for workers across the entire corporate spectrum. As just one measure of his impact, he was named by TIME magazine to its first list of “America’s 25 Most Influential Individuals.” 

“Our family believes that creating the Michael Hammer Fellowships — supporting new generations of systems thinkers and integrative problem solvers at MIT — will continue Michael’s legacy of impactful and iconoclastic research and education,” says Phyllis Thurm Hammer. “It is one of the best ways we could honor his memory.”

How Africans developed scientific knowledge of the deadly tsetse fly

Few animals are more problematic than the tiny African insect known to English speakers as the tsetse fly. This is the carrier of “sleeping sickness,” an often deadly neurological illness in humans, as well as a disease that has killed millions of cattle, reshaping the landscape and economy in some parts of the continent.

For generations, vedzimbahwe (the “Shona” people, builders of houses) and their African neighbors, assembled a significant store of ruzivo — knowledge — about mhesvi, their name for the tsetse fly. As MIT Associate Professor Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga explains in a new book, this accumulation of local knowledge formed the basis for all subsequent efforts to control or destroy the tsetse fly and is an exemplary case of scientific knowledge being developed in Africa, by Africans.

“Ruzivo and practices based on it were the foundation of what became science and means and ways of tsetse control,” Mavhunga writes in “The Mobile Workshop: The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production,” recently published by the MIT Press. However, he notes, Europeans nonetheless dismissed Africans as being “only good at creating and peddling myths and legends.”

In fact, Africans developed a diverse set of practices to combat mhesvi. For example, they used late-season forest burning to expose mhesvi to predators; moved herds through mhesvi-infested stretches at night while the insect was inactive; strategically located their settlements to neutralize the insect’s threat or turn it into a weapon against their human enemies; cleared bush and felled trees to create buffer zones between mhesvi-infested wildlife areas and human- and livestock-inhabited areas; and developed innoculations using live or dead mhesvi. Europeans appropriated many of these methods, or, at the very least, used their basic principles as starting points for what they then called “science.”  

Going mobile

To understand how Africans learned about the intricacies of mhesvi, Mavhunga says it is important to consider the connections between the mobilities of the insect and those of larger animals, people, and the environment itself. Mhesvi was, first of all, a vehicle carrying and spreading a deadly passenger, a nyongororo (parasite) that vachema (white people) would later call a “trypanosome.” This mobility of pest and human turned the forest land into an “open laboratory producing knowledge,” as Mavhunga puts it.

The generative value of mobility as a site for and influence on knowledge production is a theme within Mavhunga’s larger body of work. His first book, “Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe” (MIT Press, 2014), looked at African hunting as a practice through which African science, technology, and innovation could be generated.

Much of “The Mobile Workshop” details the strategic deployment of mobility among the diverse tactics Africans developed to combat mhesvi. These methods had adverse social consequences when adopted by Europeans, whose practice of “prophylactic resettlement” forcibly relocated Africans to the mhesvi-infested margins of land, while they settled on lands vatema (black people) had made healthy and livable.    

“There is a contrast in environmental philosophy I wanted to highlight,” Mavhunga says.

The African approach centered on “strategic deployments within the environment,” as Mavhunga puts it in the book, including “careful siting of settlements, avoiding the potentially pestiferous insect’s territory.”

But the Europeans, he adds, were intent on “destroying species they designated vermin beings, and by any means necessary — slaughtering the host and food source animals, massacring whole forests, poisoning the environment with deadly pesticides whose environmental pollution consequences we are yet to study and understand, including possible links to cancers.”

As Mavhunga details, cancer rates in Zimbabwe have risen significantly in recent decades, following the use of pesticides — but much of the outside analysis of local health trends has focused on “lifestyle” choices by Africans, rather than environmental factors.

Appreciating language

Other scholars of African science say the book is an important contribution to the field. Ron Eglash, a professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has called it “a sophisticated sociological analysis, and a unique account of Africa’s relations between knowledge, science, nature, and politics.”

In addition to highlighting the robustness of African scientific knowledge and its place in the matrix of European solutions to the tsetse fly, Mavhunga’s book extensively deploys rich indigenous vocabularies, of vedzimbahwe and others across southern and eastern Africa, to help reconstruct this historical episode through the minds and languages of Africans. In addition to mhesvi and ruzivo, readers can learn the terms for everything from ngongoni (wildebeest) to tsika (culture or custom). It is all part of Mavhunga’s project of demonstrating the extent and sophistication of African scientific and technological knowledge on its own terms.

“To have written this book otherwise was, quite simply, impossible,” Mavhunga writes.  

“I wanted the reader to appreciate how language, deployed as a tool to silence African modes of knowledge, can be mobilized as a tool to recover that same knowledge,” Mavhunga says. “In a sense, the book hopes to excite younger scholars — and Africans! — to investigate, imagine, and make science from Africa.”

MIT launches new homepage and daily email

Vice President for Communications Nate Nickerson today shared the following.

To the members of the MIT community and friends of MIT:

Today, MIT launches a redesigned homepage and a new daily email newsletter. What follows are a few notes on what we’ve done, and why.

The homepage we replace has given good service to the Institute. Since its launch in 2009, it has maintained a straightforward and uncommon aesthetic: a single “Spotlight” image surrounded by links to sites from around MIT. (And that basic approach had been established years before.) The page has been well-liked and well-used.

But research of our audiences showed us that it was time to make some changes. First, we wanted to transform the Search function. We sought not just to make it perform better (it’s both highly used and a frequent source of frustration, we learned), but also to make it say something about MIT: that we prize utility, practicality, serendipity, exploration, and fun. What you see here is just a beginning; we will be eager over time to find new ways to make Search satisfy and delight our visitors.

If the left side the new homepage is devoted to utility and self-guided journeys, the right side offers a daily glimpse of the culture and output of MIT. Here we have preserved the daily Spotlight — which we now summarize in brief, bold type that itself (through hyperlinks) serves as a jumping-off point to other destinations at MIT.

We also wanted to clean up the navigation structure: The old homepage exposed both too much and too little, our research showed. After determining how our audiences classify different kinds of information about MIT,  we created a navigation system of secondary landing pages linked to from the top of the homepage — places designed to orient visitors and get them where they want to go.

In all of this, we required a site that would work well on mobile devices, meet the highest standards of accessibility, and be “light” enough to function usefully in a world of highly variable levels of bandwidth and processing power.

The homepage you see today, then, aims to honor but also improve upon MIT’s long-distinctive approach to a homepage.

The new MIT Daily email complements that effort. Building on the weekly MIT News email that was begun in 2009 — and to which tens of thousands of people beyond the MIT community now subscribe — the new Daily (plus a redesigned Weekly) aims to give the MIT community and our friends outside a regular dose of the Institute’s news and culture: You’ll find a diverse menu of content that changes every day. We’ll do our best to keep these emails varied and surprising, and we’ll feature their content on the homepage under the “Recommended today” list of links.

Over the course of this journey, the creative input we received from the MIT community was an embarrassment of riches. Communications colleagues from across MIT put their mark on the work. The Admissions Office partnered with us from the beginning, lending us their high degree of creativity and their deep understanding of current and prospective students. MIT’s senior leadership improved our thinking with energy and encouragement — and in user testing, the Institute’s brilliant students and alumni helped us see things in new ways. Finally, hats off to the creative agency Upstatement, which helped us to be as bold as we were careful. Thank you, all!

I hope you’ll enjoy these new products. I welcome your feedback on the homepage and on the Daily.

Yours truly,

Nate Nickerson
Vice President for Communications, MIT

Contemplating the eyes in the sky

Satellites have changed the way we experience the world, by beaming back images from around the globe and letting us explore the planet through online maps and other visuals. Such tools are so familiar today we often take them for granted.

Lisa Parks does not. A professor in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing program, Parks is an expert on satellites and their cultural effects, among other forms of aerial technology. Her work analyzes how technology informs the content of our culture, from images of war zones to our idea of a “global village.”

“I really wanted people to think of the satellite not only as this technology that’s floating around out there in orbit, but as a machine that plays a structuring role in our everyday lives,” Parks says.

As such, Parks thinks we often need to think more crisply about both the power and limitations of the technology. Satellite images helped reveal the presence of mass graves following the Srebrenica massacre in the 1990s Balkans war, for instance. But they became a form of “proof” only after careful follow-up reporting by journalists and other investigators who reconstructed what had happened. Satellites often offer hints about life on the ground, but not omniscience.

“Since satellite images are so abstract and remote, they necessitate closer scrutiny, re-viewing, careful description, and interpretation in ways that other images of war do not,” Parks writes in her 2005 book “Cultures in Orbit.”

Alternately, satellite images can open up our world — or be exclusionary. The landmark 1967 BBC show “Our World,” one of the first broadcasts to feature live global satellite video links, was touted as a global celebration. But as Parks writes, it reinforced distinctions between regions, by emphasizing “the modernity, permanence, and civilizational processes of industrial nations,” and thus “undermining the utopian assumption that satellites inevitably turned the world into a harmonic ‘global village.’” 

For her distinctive scholarship, Parks was hired by MIT in 2016. She studies a range of media technologies — from the content of television to drone imagery — and has co-edited five books of essays on such topics, including the 2017 volume “Life in the Age of Drone Warfare.” Parks is also the principal investigator for MIT’s Global Media Technologies and Cultures Lab, which conducts on-site research about media usage in a range of circumstances.

“Technology and culture is what I’m interested in,” Parks says.

Big sky, then and now

Parks grew up in Southern California and Montana. Her father was a civil engineer and her mother was a social worker — a combination, Parks suggests, that may have helped shape her interests in the social effects of technology.

As an undergraduate at the University of Montana, Parks received her BA in political science and history. She initially expected to become a lawyer but then reconsidered her career path.

“I didn’t want to be in an office all of the time,” Parks says. So she went back to the classroom, at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she received her PhD in media studies. It was there that Parks’ attention really turned to the skies and the technologies orbiting in them. She wrote a research paper on satellites that turned into both her dissertation and first book. Parks then took a job at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she taught for over a decade before joining MIT.

“I loved my job there, I loved working in the U.C. system, and I had excellent colleagues,” says Parks. Still, she adds, she was fascinated by the opportunities MIT offers, including its abundant interdisciplinary projects that pull together researchers from multiple fields.

“MIT seems to really value those kinds of relationships,” Parks says.

In the classroom, Parks teaches an undergraduate course on current debates in media, which grapples with topics ranging from surveillance to net neutrality and media conglomerations. For graduate students, she has been teaching a foundational media theory course. 

“If you’re an MIT student and you want to come out of this place having thought about some of the policy implications relating to the media in this current environment, our classes equip you to think historically and critically about media issues,” Parks says.

Technology … and justice for all

One other issue strongly motivates Parks’ scholarship: the idea that technology is unevenly distributed around the world, with important implications for inequality.

“Most people in the world live in relatively disenfranchised or underprivileged conditions,” Parks says. “If we shift the question about designing technologies so they serve a broader array of people’s interests, and designs are interwoven with concerns about equity, justice, and other democratic principles, don’t those technologies start to look different?”

To this end, MIT’s Global Media Technologies and Cultures Lab, under Parks’ direction, studies topics such as media infrastructure, to see how video is distributed in places such as rural Zambia. Parks’ research has also examined topics such as the video content accessible to Aboriginal Australians, who, starting in the 1980s, attempted to gain greater control of, and autonomy over, the satellite television programming in rural Australia.

Parks’ research takes place in a variety of social and economic orbits: In March, you could have found her and a research assistant, Matt Graydon, at the Satellite 2018 convention in Washington, interviewing CEOs and industry leaders for a new study of satellite-based internet services.

In some places around the globe, the effects of aerial technology are more immediate. In the volume on drones, Parks writes that these tools create a “vertical mediation” between ground and sky — that when “drones are operating in an area over time, above a certain region, they change the status of sites and motions on the ground.” She elaborates on this in her new book, out this year, “Rethinking Media Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror.”

As diverse as these topics may seem at first, Parks’ scholarly output is intended to expore more deeply the connection between aerial and orbital technologies and life on the ground, even if it is not on the mental radar for most of us. 

“We need to be studying these objects in orbit above, and think about orbital real estate as something that’s relevant to life on Earth,” Parks says.

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