Category Archives: Thought Provoker

Fart, you said?

SCIENCE Yeah, you read that right. What else do you need to know, really? (Washington Post) Do we smell a citizen science project? Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit. Discussion Ideas So, scientists have compiled a database of animal farts. What are farts? Farts, also known as […]

via Scientists Build an Animal Fart Database — Nat Geo Education Blog


Steamships and Corncobs in America

I found a great article on some excavations of steamships – but not on the coast… Back in the day when steamships carried goods and people along the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. Almost like a mid-America Titanic in what they have found and what they have learned about the life and culture of the time. And how did they get there? Well, the article gives you lots of information on how the changing of the course of the rivers led to such finds….


(Photo: Luke Spencer)

Self-driving and Blackberry?

Remember on my last post about Uber and self driving cars? Just noticed a new post on Wired about Blackberry getting into the self driving car (aka autonomous car). They’ve got plans for all of it…

BlackBerry announced its “most advanced and secure embedded software platform for autonomous drive and connected cars.” Basically, it wants to provide the computer code for everything from cars driving themselves, to the way that your smartphone hooks up to the touchscreen in the dash.

They are getting into the nitty-gritty of what a driver would want in their latest and greatest car – the one in the video is a Jaguar! So if you are quite happy with your manual window, 4-on-the-floor, and the old cassette player you may be falling a bit behind “very soon” as the rep from Blackberry says in the video.

What do you think? Is it technology at your fingertips enabling you to drive safe and informed or is it Mayhem from Allstate just sitting, waiting for you to take your eyes off the road to touch that cool flatscreen to look at a city grid while you drive?

Self -Driving Uber: Ready for the Ride?

Headed out on the town in Pittsburg today? Well, take your gamble and request a ride thru the UberX app – you might just get a free ride! Oh, yeah, one little thing – you’ll be riding with a partially self-driving Ford Fusion. How about that?


Courtesty USA Today



You might ask “how is it PARTIALLY self- driving?”.  You’ll have a person behind the wheel but the driver is a complex mix of radar, sensors and other gadgets. That person behind the wheel is really there in case it all goes wrong.

So, how does this all fit in with the self-driving market? In this USA Today article self driving cars I like how it describes the market “In the recent weeks, the road to self-driving cars  has developed some potholes.” Google, Apple and Tesla are some of the key players in this endeavor – and it is a mighty big one, in my opinion.

My comfort level with a self-driving car is pretty low right now – of course I won’t be buying a Tesla anytime soon or probably not in my lifetime. I can’t even see me riding in a self-driving car of any brand, actually. My GPS isn’t even up to date all the time with continuing construction and those backroads that only the locals know about. So if I’m on a stretch of toll-road 130 headed to San Antonio from Austin and there is that spot where the GPS thinks I’m backroading it and it’s an elevated road then imagine how my self-driving car would do…dive off the toll road without the parachute.

The optimistic and intrigued side of me says that I can’t wait to try it out. Put me in that Ford and let’s see how it does in Pittsburg. If I’m in the city what’s the worst that could happen – run into a building or over a few pedestrians?

Would you ride in a self-driving car?

Train Your Brain instead of Medicating?

Who out there has tried Luminosity? Was it just another game to you or did you truly see results? Well, here is some news:

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Lumos Labs this month agreed to pay the US Fair Trade Commission $2m to settle false marketing allegations against its Lumosity brain-training game. The company had claimed its games helped users perform better at work and could even alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  (Luminosity info)

But what if we could take the billions and billions of dollars spent today on mental health medical treatments and turn them to non-pharmacological treatments? Would you go for it? And what if it could help with dementia? My father has dementia and I do wonder if I am more at risk for it – though the (at least to me) silly peanut butter Alzheimer’s test doesn’t quite convince me.

With Akili Interactive Labs new product, Evo, just about to start the clinical trials I am wondering if this could really be a breakthrough for some mental health disorders. It could be, since Shire and Pfizer have joined in with the Akili team for the Alzheimers aspect.

So, if you have the wonder around familial Alzheimers, dementia, ADHD, or other mental health disorders treatment could be around the corner in the form of an electronic tablet and not one made of drugs…

What do you think?

Instagram – friend or foe?

Lots of people have Instagram accounts. And I’m betting that a majority of them have not really read the privacy policy nor do they understand that their photos can be shared without their permission. Well, on January 28th nine Instagram users found out that their photos could be used by learning that they were on the front page of The New York Times! In this article on Poynter they talk to one of the Instagram users whose photo appeared on the front page, Jeca Taudte. Ms. Taudte didn’t know her photo was on the front page until another Instagram user commented on her photo. The Instagrammers featured did get their full name shared in the paper.

Though Ms. Taudte was happy with having her photo featured we have to look at the instance where a user would not want their photo shared – that college party where a little too much alcohol resulted in some less than complimentary photos – and those on the professional side of photography that are sharing their photos. Personally, as an amateur, semi-pro photographer I never share my “good” photos on Instagram just for the reason of the lack of control of my photos.

What are your thoughts? Do you use Instagram? And for what?