Dr. Cynthia Solomon is a pioneer in the fields of artificial intelligence, computer science and educational computing. Forty years ago while at Bolt, Beranek & Newman, Cynthia, along with Seymour Papert and Wally Feurzeig created the first programming language for children, Logo (programming language). She was Vice President of R&D for Logo Computer Systems, Inc. when Apple Logo was developed and was the Director of the prestigious Atari Cambridge Research Laboratory.
Solomon taught at Milton Academy for seven years. After that, she was the Technology Integration Coordinator at Monsignor Haddad Middle School in Needham, MA. Recently, Solomon directed the creation of educational materials for the One Laptop per Child Foundation.
Dr. Solomon has maintained a long relationship with the MIT Media Lab and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation in addition to her teaching, consulting and scholarship. Her doctoral research at Harvard led to the publication of the critical book, Computer Environments for Children: A Reflection on Theories of Learning and Education. Solomon is also the co-author of Designing Multimedia Environments for Children, with Allison Druin.
The first time Seymour and I used Logo with a class of children was the summer of 1967 at the Hanscom School on the Hanscom Air Force Base in Lincoln, MA. After that experience Logo was drastically redesigned and re-implemented. The class met 4 periods a week in Lexington, MA and consisted of 14 students. We had teletypes (model 33 and 35) in the classroom. They were connected to a DEC PDP-1 computer at Bolt, Beranek and Newman. The computer was a dedicated Logo time-shared system. Seymour and I team taught the class. Much of what went on that year is foundational to Seymour’s book, Mindstorms. Here are pictures taken in the Spring of 1969 by Frank Frazier.
In an attempt to liberate fish everywhere, Studio diip developed Fish on Wheels, which is the first fish-controlled vehicle.
“Fish on Wheels” has been developed so fish can steer their tank into a certain direction. Our pet fish have always been limited to their water holding area known as “the fish tank”. In an attempt to liberate fish all over the world, the first self driving car for fish has been developed. This car moves by detecting the fish’s position with computer vision. Up until now driving vehicles has been limited to mankind only (excluding a handful of autonomous vehicles driven by computers), but now your pet fish can also put the pedal to the metal.
A prototype version of ”Fish on Wheels” has been constructed using a standard webcam, a battery powered Beagleboard and an Arduino controlled robot vehicle. Using the contrast of the fish with the bottom of the fish tank his position is determined and used to send commands to the Arduino for moving the car into that direction.
Hopefully this invention will encourage more development in enhanced pet mobility, so pet animals can travel the world more freely.
New report from the UK on women in scientific careers.
Many attempts have been made to improve the under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers in the UK. Yet currently only 17 per cent of STEM professors are women. It is astonishing that despite clear imperatives and multiple initiatives to improve diversity in STEM, women still remain under-represented at senior levels across every discipline. One compelling reason to tackle this problem is that the UK economy needs more STEM workers and we cannot meet the demand without increasing the numbers of women in STEM.
There is no single explanation for the lack of gender diversity in STEM; it is the result of perceptions and biases combined with the impracticalities of combining a career with family. Scientists often consider themselves to be objective and unbiased, yet studies have shown that scientists are susceptible to the same biases as the rest of the population.
Therefore we have recommended that diversity and equality training should be provided to all STEM undergraduate and postgraduate students. It should also be mandatory for all members of recruitment and promotion panels and line managers.
Early academic STEM careers are characterised by short term contracts, which are a barrier to job security and continuity of employment rights. This career stage coincides with the time when many women are considering starting families, and because women tend to be primary carers, they are more likely than men to end their STEM career at this stage. We call on the Government to work with the higher education sector to review the academic career structure and increase the number of longer-term positions for post-doctoral researchers. We have found that what benefits women benefits everyone in the STEM workplace.
Emphasis is often placed on inspiring young girls to choose science, which is commendable, but such efforts are wasted if women are subsequently disproportionately disadvantaged in scientific careers compared to men. The Government recognises the importance of gender diversity in STEM, but its efforts appeared to be largely focused on encouraging girls to study STEM, with little focus on enabling them to stay and progress in STEM careers. We were disappointed that BIS spending dedicated to improving diversity in STEM was virtually halved in the 2010 Spending Review and we recommend that the Government should monitor the effects of its policies on cutting and “mainstreaming” diversity funding.
BBC News Asia has a great profile on Minal Sampath, an engineer working on India’s mission to Mars.
For two years, Minal Sampath, a systems engineer working on India’s mission to Mars, worked flat out in a windowless room, often for 18 hours a day, to be ready for the country’s most ambitious space project to date.
“We had a great team and there [was] an understanding between us that we [had] to get the work done to meet the deadline,” she says. “The launch date [was] fixed and we could not miss it.
That day finally came on 5 November last year when the Mars Orbiter Mission took off at 09:08 GMT from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the east coast of India.
It also marked the moment that India joined the short list of nations capable of launching such a mission…
Ms Sampath is one of the few women working at the Indian equivalent of Nasa.
Despite that, she says she has never felt that she is treated any differently.
“I forget I am a woman sometimes, working in such an organisation,” she says.
“Maybe it’s because we spend a lot of time working in clean rooms with full suits on, so you can’t tell who is male or female,” she says, laughing.
But as only one in 10 of the scientists is female, Ms Sampath says this is something she wants to change. “I want women to imagine that they can do this.”
With her work firmly supported by the traditional extended Indian family structure, the prospect of much higher wages abroad has no appeal for her.
“I want to become the first woman director of a space centre,” Ms Sampath says, and she would love to go into space herself, although she says she is likely to leave that to the next generation.
Fourteen years after its premiere, Futurama has finally come to to an end – again. After four seasons of neglect on the FOX network, the brilliant animated sci-fi comedy was cancelled in 2003, then rode a wave of fan goodwill to resurrection in a series of DVD movies and two seasons on Comedy Central before its series finale in September. The beloved series will live on in an extensive network of Wikis, subreddits, and memes, but according to physicist and math enthusiast Simon Singh in his latest book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secret, the show’s most impressive legacy is its celebration of mathematics.
Longtime readers know how deep the numerical references go on Futurama. The highly educated writing team features no less than three former Simpsons writers with Ph.Ds – Ken Keeler, Jeff Westbrook, and Bill Odenkirk – who packed episodes with math and science content far more freely than they did on that other animated series. Two months after the show’s finale, WIRED spoke to Singh and Futurama executive producer and head writer David X. Cohen about Futurama’s legacy, mathematical and otherwise….
Nathan Yau from FlowingData created beautiful maps by using publicly accessible exercise app data:
There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities. Record speed, time, elevation, and location from your phone, and millions of people do this, me included. However, when we look at activity logs, whether they be our own, from our friends, or from a public timeline, the activities only appear individually.
What about all together? Not only is it fun to see, but it can be useful to the data collectors to plan future workouts or even city planners who make sure citizens have proper bike lanes and running paths.
Colossus veterans and their families gather today at The National Museum of Computing located on Bletchley Park to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer. They will see a re-enactment of the code-breaking process from intercept to decrypt with a working rebuild of Colossus.
On 5 February 1944 Colossus Mk I attacked its first Lorenz-encrypted message, the highly sophisticated cipher used in communications between Hitler and his generals during World War II.
Designed by brilliant British telephone engineer Tommy Flowers, Colossus was built to speed up code-breaking of the complex Lorenz cipher. By the end of the war there were ten functioning Colossi and they had a decisive impact in shortening the war and saving countless lives.
Fascinating mystery — “Seastar Wasting Syndrome.” From PBS.
The disease is largely a mystery. Researchers who are studying it are asking beach-walkers to photograph any starfish they see to tweet photos of it with the #sickstarfish tag. Starfish are important marine predators; a serious depletion of their numbers will have far-reaching consequences for marine ecosystems.
Up and down the Pacific Coast, starfish are dying by the tens of thousands and no one knows why. Special correspondent Katie Campbell reports from Seattle on how researchers and citizen scientists are investigating the spread of the mysterious and distressing syndrome.
…Most people don’t know about the decade-long research and development effort by Bell Labs to make Picturephone work–piping a 30hz video signal (with 250 interlanced lines of resolution!) over an existing 1MHz bandwidth line. Pure analog communications, bootstrapped onto Bell’s vast telephone line infrastructure. I was delighted to find a June 1969 copy of the Bell Laboratories Record (PDF), the company’s bi-monthly magazine, dedicated to explaining Picturephone technology, complete with wonderful photographs and diagrams showing the set’s operations. I’ve uploaded it to Scribd here for easy reading. Bell took Picturephone to four cities, and businesses paid $160 a month plus 25 cents per minute to use the service. And even though it failed, the Picturephone was a fetching piece of hardware….
“Maker” and Intel Intern
Joey Hudy is a self-described “Maker,” part of a growing community of young people, adults, and entrepreneurs who are designing and building things on their own time. Joey first shot to fame in 2012 when, at 14-years-old, he attended the White House Science Fair where the President took a turn using the contraption he had made — the “extreme marshmallow cannon” – and launched a marshmallow across the East Room. Joey then handed the President a card with his credo: “Don’t be bored, make something.” Now 16, he has continued to live by his motto, appearing at Maker Faires all across the country. Joey, a proponent of STEM education, is determined to teach other kids about how they can make and do anything they want. Joey lives in Anthem, Arizona with his mom, dad, and older sister. Earlier this month, he started as Intel’s youngest intern, a position Intel CEO Brian Krzanich offered him on the spot at his Maker Faire exhibit.
The above video shows some highlights from last year’s Ada Lovelace Day. Next year should be even bigger when it is hosted at the Royal Institue’s historic lecture theatre.
Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration, sharing stories of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths. The aim is to highlight and create new role models for women, young and old, by highlighting female ambassadors in STEM subjects.
This year it will be held on Tuesday 14 October and we are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a live Ada Lovelace Day event here in the Ri’s historic lecture theatre.
The event’s namesake, Lady Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, is often referred to as the “first computer programmer”.
Daughter of the poet Byron, Ada held a close and lifelong friendship with the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, Charles Babbage, who referred to her as “The Enchantress of Numbers”. Intrigued by his Analytical Engine, she translated a description of it by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, which Babbage then asked her to annotate and expand upon. The resulting notes were the most elaborate and complete programs ever written for his early computing machine.
Ada also had great admiration for one of the Ri’s most eminent scientists, Michael Faraday. She tried eagerly to persuade him to tutor her in maths, once writing that she “entertain[ed] an esteem little short of reverence” for him but, despite a friendly correspondence, Faraday never did acquiesce to her request.
Ada died of cancer at the tragically young age of 36, leaving her great potential unfulfilled. However, whilst Babbage’s Analytical Engine was never built (and her programs therefore never drawn upon), her notes were to become a key inspiration in Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers during the Second World War. Thanks to her remarkable intellectual and passion for her subject, Ada remains a powerful symbol of women in science and technology.
For more information about Ada Lovelace Day please visit the Finding Ada website findingada.com.
I saw the Puma tennis shoes Saturday night and figured I would email you guys some information about them, assuming anyone is interested. The company that did them was named T&C for Yash Terakura and Gerry Cohen, both ex- Commodore Business Machines employees as I am. It was around 1986, maybe a little earlier.
The electronics of the shoe itself was designed by Yash which benefited from his background and contacts in Japan as that was where mass production was mostly done back then.
The algorithm that converted the impulses from the shock sensor into distance was developed in conjunction with University of Pennsylvania Bio-Engineering Department, one of those early places where you would see people swinging golf clubs with little dots attached to their bodies.
Basically the algorithm maps the length between footfalls to the distance of the stride and and tries to determine the distance covered.
The project was also co-owned by a maker of extended memory cards for the early PC, as in the 4.77mhz IBM PC. It might have been IBM that did the card, however I don’t remember.
The promotion of buying a memory card with the Puma shoes and the cord was called:
“Jog Your Memory”.
It never did quite take off. By the time I was involved we were looking at the issues vs. fixing it or letting it kind of die a quiet death. We chose the latter unfortunately, but the ones you have may be examples of the first electronics in a shoe (or anywhere else?) as I definitely didn’t know anyone else doing this back then. Lol… I recommend you put them in a glass case as they should be pretty rare.