Daily Archives: January 28, 2014

Views from the Solar System (184)

Cloud Bands Over the Western Sahara Desert, Mauritania

NASA – This photograph of cloud bands over southern Mauritania was taken from the International Space Station with an oblique angle such that the cloud shadows are a prominent part of the view. Beneath the clouds, the plateau of dark sedimentary rocks appears as a ragged, near-vertical escarpment (image top right). Isolated remnants of the plateau appear as dark mesas (flat-topped hills) across the top and near the center of the image. The escarpment is about 250 meters high, with a field of orange-colored dunes at the base (image upper right).

Prevailing winds in this part of the Sahara Desert blow from the northeast. (Note that north is to the right.) The wavy dunes are aligned transverse (roughly right angles) to these winds. The sand that makes the dunes is blown in from a zone immediately upwind (just out of the bottom of the image), where dry river beds and dry lakes provide large quantities of mobile sand. This pattern is typical in the western Sahara Desert, where plateau surfaces are mostly dune free and dune fields are located in the surrounding lowlands. Larger rivers deposit sandy sediment on the few occasions when they flow, sometimes only once in decades.

Astronaut photograph ISS038-E-26862 was acquired on Jan. 8, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 180 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 38 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed.

> View annotated image

Image Credit: NASA
Caption: M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs at NASA-JSC

Don’t Worry About Robots. Worry About Washington


The Second Machine Age, Authors: Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

By Clive Crook – In Robert Gordon’s view (pdf), replacing human labor with machines is the key to growth in productivity and hence in living standards, and this is happening too slowly.

The more common fear, of course, is just the opposite — that networked automation is destroying jobs across an ever-widening front of occupations. Yesterday, factory workers; today, office workers; tomorrow, teachers, pilots, doctors, you name it. Before long robots will be doing everything.

The capitalist elite will do fine, because they own the machines. How will the rest of us make a living? more> http://tinyurl.com/n5khgyq

Local governments’ open data

By Julia A. Glidden – Citadel on the Move is a project funded by the European Commission that aims to address this challenge by providing cities and towns with simple and easy to use templates and tools to help them open their data and create new applications that can be used and shared across Europe and even around the world.

Regardless of the tools and templates used, the key to success lies in getting started – one data set at a time, and getting users engaged – one application at a time.

Data is only as valuable as its use.

The more people who use data the more value is created, and the greater the incentive to open data becomes. more> http://tinyurl.com/kldn7uq

Updates from Autodesk

Autodesk Charts the Future of Building Information Modeling

Autodesk – Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) unveiled several exciting new technologies for Building Information Modeling (BIM) today at its annual user conference, Autodesk University. With today’s announcements and numerous other recent innovations, Autodesk continues to extend BIM value across the full lifecycle of the built environment for Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) professionals in the building and infrastructure industries.

“We are expanding the reach of BIM on multiple fronts — into conceptual design on one end of the spectrum and into construction on the other. Our advancements are empowering professionals to move from designing objects and simply representing their ideas in 2D and 3D to designing in context while optimizing and better predicting the performance of their designs,” said Amar Hanspal, Autodesk senior vice president of Information Modeling and Platform Products. “Autodesk is helping to drive higher levels of productivity into the building design, infrastructure and construction industries both in the office as well as in the field with our expanding desktop, cloud and mobile portfolio.” more> http://tinyurl.com/kw38xcy


Time to Get Ready for War in the Robotic Age

By Shawn Brimley and Paul Scharre – Unlike the technological advances of the Cold War, like stealth, advanced sensors and the global positioning system, the movement toward the robotic age is not being led by America’s military-industrial complex.

While defense companies are developing advanced, stealthy drones and protected communications, commercial companies producing consumer goods and business-to-business services are driving the information revolution. Advanced computing, “big data,” autonomy, artificial intelligence, neural networks, miniaturization, additive manufacturing and high-density power storage are all being driven by the commercial sector.

These technologies and the advanced robotic systems they enable will therefore be available to potential adversaries, state and non-state alike. more> http://tinyurl.com/optg6hn


Library of Congress – H.R. 3547 [113th] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 S. 1845 [113th] Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act H.R. 3362 [113th] Exchange Information Disclosure Act H.R. 3304 [113th] National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 H.R. 2847 [111th] … Continue reading


CONGRESS WATCH When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families, democraticleader.gov


CONGRESS WATCH PHOTO RELEASE: Rubio Begins Official Visit To Asia, US Senate PHOTO RELEASE: Rubio Concludes Visit to Japan, US Senate US security has helped Asian growth: Rubio, Leslie Shaffer, CNBC.com PHOTO RELEASE: Rubio Visits The Philippines, Tours Area Of … Continue reading


CONGRESS WATCH Every Week Should Be School Choice Week, Ron Paul


CONGRESS WATCH Jaime Herrera Beutler Helps Shape First Year-long Federal Spending Bill Since 2011, US Congress Herrera Beutler on baby, CRC, election campaign, YouTube [VIDEO 2:24] Herrera Beutler gathering focuses on immigration, Eric Florip, Columbian