Sunday, 21 February 2010

When the means deform the objective (video)

This short film of the animated character Bean Maxwell caricatures a situation familiar to many of us.


 - On the Level: All Bean Maxwell wants is for the picture on his foyer wall to hang level.
The warning is not about the end does not justify the means, but when the means deform the objective. It can be applied to research too, when we scientists engage in ridiculous efforts because our attention to the tiny details of our problem has led us to forget the frame, the larger framework, to where the true problem belongs.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Inspiring talk on a global problem related to combustion: cheap, clean-burning, solid fuels

Prof  Amy Smith from MIT gave in 2006 a TED talk on how to develop clean-burning solid fuels from local resources for indoor cooking. She said that fumes from indoor cooking fires kill more than 2 million children a year in the developing world. The specially interesting bit for me here is that for once, a TED talk covers a combustion related topic. More inspiring and global ideas on combustion would be certainly welcome.

Prof Smith research is based on invent cheap, low-tech devices that use local resources, so communities can reproduce her efforts and ultimately help themselves. That is just worth being imitated indeed.

I quote from their website: TED is nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. TED believes passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.