Monthly Archives: August 2012

US–Iran normalisation could fight climate change

The problem of climate change policy at an international level is not only about reaching agreement on sharing the mitigation burden. It is also about how dysfunctional foreign policies – not directly related to climate change policy – can pose major obstacles to meeting global emissions targets. The relationship between the United States and Iran […] … learn more→

Online Ed goes to Hollywood

Celebrities seem to endorse almost anything and everything these days: they lend their faces and voices to pitch and promote a wide range of products and services to consumers. Yet in academe, “celebrity” endorsements are typically limited to a successful coach, a prominent alum, or perhaps an accomplished faculty member who has won national or […] … learn more→

Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle

Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals’ behavior. Now, scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania are taking more than inspiration from nature — […] … learn more→

Talk to the least important person in the room

’Tis the season for department functions, such as new faculty or graduate student orientations. I look forward to these gatherings at the start of the year as a chance to get reacquainted with colleagues and meet new ones before the pressure of the semester shortens (though never dispenses with) social pleasantries. Let me suggest a […] … learn more→

Why we need to forget about the environment

Calls to “protect the environment” ring out across issues as diverse as climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water conservation and chemical contamination. I believe it is time to abandon this type of thinking. Time to forget about the environment and start thinking more about yourself! Your ecological self, that is. The idea of protecting the […] … learn more→

The researcher’s digital afterlife

Recently we lost a friend to suicide. His death was tragic and shocking to those who knew him, but Linkedin had no idea it had happened. He must have created an account there some time back and never got around to making contact with me. Now Linkedin keeps telling me to connect with him. To […] … learn more→

Indonesia brings new hope for rhino conservation

There has been little good news for rhino conservation in recent years. Increasing demand for rhino horn, particularly in Asia, has led to a massive spike in prices and incidents of poaching. This is devastating the last rhinoceros populations in Africa and Asia. But good news is trickling out of Indonesia. Last year saw the […] … learn more→

4 thoughts about Boundless, publishers, and the lawsuit

Have you checked out Boundless yet? The idea is either brilliant or criminal, depending on your perspective. What Boundless does is to map open source content to chapters and sections of dominant textbooks. Students can enter the name of the assigned textbook on Boundless site, and the site automatically creates an aligned web based textbook […] … learn more→

Farming loved but misunderstood

A survey exploring public opinion about the UK’s agricultural sector has revealed that farming has a special place in most people’s hearts, even though they know surprisingly little about it. The results of the YouGov-Cambridge poll show that large numbers of people believe that farming is important for both the environment and the economy, visit […] … learn more→

Pushing through the perils of teaching online

I knew the student evaluations from my spring online class would be harsh, but that harshness exceeded anything I had imagined. The class was disorganized, students said again and again. The professor was distant and uninvolved, others growled. Several students dismissed my attempt to promote peer learning, complained about a lack of feedback, moaned about […] … learn more→