Category: human ingenuity

November 4, 2011 • Emerging Technology

Developing countries, part I

by Ann Barczak

It’s that time of year again.  The weather is turning colder, football is in full swing, and the kids are back in a school routine. Once school starts in our house each fall, the crazy begins. No matter how much preparation goes in the night before, mornings are chaos. There is fighting, moodiness, confusion, yelling… . Breakfast is every man for himself and resembles a scene from Lord of the Flies. The dogs circle the kitchen, desperately hoping that the baby is just sleepy enough to drop his waffle on the floor. A child screams, “Where’s my belt?” Well, it’s right where it should be of course – looped around the bathroom door by one brother to keep another trapped inside. continue

October 11, 2011 • Current Events, Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Sustainability

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8….. Light!

by Hannah Miller

The Fibonacci Spiral

Someone recently said the words “Fibonacci” and “solar panels” to me, and my ears immediately pricked up. I’ve always been intrigued by the Fibonacci sequence and my first thought was of the PBS show Square One and its segment, MathNet, where I first learned about it.

But this decade’s reference to Fibonacci isn’t fiction. A seventh grader from New York named Aidan recently won the 2011 Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History for his work identifying how the Fibonacci sequence can help increase electricity output of solar panels. continue

May 16, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy's Lighter Side, Natural Gas, Perspectives

Old man embraces new fuel technology

by Chad Holder

Get off my lawn!

Another birthday and a drawer full of v-neck undershirts signal I’m ready to embrace my inner “old man.” These days I spend a lot of time complaining and talking about the way things were “back in my day,” back before gasoline was $4.07 a gallon. One day last week unleaded gas shot up 37 cents a gallon. Summit Energy commodity analyst, Matt Smith, attributed the meteoric rise to “flooding on the Mississippi, which is impacting both production and transportation of the fuel.” Matt’s right, of course, but the grumpy old man in me would rather blame it on “kids these days” or Communism. continue

April 18, 2011 • Energy Innovation, Energy's Lighter Side, Perspectives

The Three I’d Marketer

by Kent Evans

Recently, I was talking with a college student about to enter a career in marketing. I casually mentioned a few things that I thought characterized the best marketers I’ve known. It just so happened that each of the traits started with the letter “I” and a blog post was born. continue

April 14, 2011 • Energy Innovation, Perspectives, Sustainability

Bill Gates and BipBop

by Jackie Cobb

Last night, I was browsing one of my favorite websites, TED.com (if you haven’t been there, go now…run), and I stumbled upon a talk by Bill Gates about innovation in energy.  While the 30-minute speech was filled with all sorts of interesting and inspiring nuggets, there was one line that stuck with me: “If you could pick just one thing to lower the price of–to lower poverty–by far you would pick energy.” continue

March 30, 2011 • Emerging Technology, Energy Innovation, Energy's Lighter Side

Residential Demand Response is Gathering Momentum

by Chad Holder

Twiggy, the Water-Skiing Squirrel

Like a squirrel on water skis, technology never ceases to amaze me. The fact that I can program my DVR from my smart phone or track my pizza preparation online really brings out my inner geek. For my latest blog post, I decided to research the effect of technology on Demand Response (DR). From a discussion standpoint, DR has raised its redheaded stepchild status to Sustainability Servicesgolden child. As it happens, Demand Response is steadily moving from being a lucrative initiative for select companies to becoming an increasingly important cost-saving concept for residences. continue

March 7, 2011 • Perspectives, Sustainability

The Times They Are a-Changin’

by Hannah Miller

Every morning on my way to work, I pass a large shopping center with a Barnes and Noble store. This morning it got me thinking about how much the book business has changed in just the last few years. Back then, if you’d asked someone where they got their copy of Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand or the latest Stephen King novel, the answer would have undoubtedly been somewhere around town – a small, locally owned shop or one of the big players such as Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc.

A few weeks ago, a lot of people were surprised to hear that Borders had filed for bankruptcy and will be closing quite a few stores across the country. How could a company that used to hold such a market share be in trouble? Quite simply, it’s because the market changed and they didn’t change with it. continue

March 1, 2011 • Energy's Lighter Side, Sustainability, Travel & Leisure

Sustainable Tourism: Why It Pays to Bet on Green

by Chad Holder

Winning with sustainability

On March 16, I will be visiting Las Vegas. In an effort to encourage corporate sustainability, specifically sustainable tourism, I’ve taken it upon myself to support companies that exhibit environmental stewardship and energy efficiency. That’s why I just might seek out and congratulate a Caesars Entertainment Corporation representative for the company’s very successful corporate sustainability strategy.

At this point, it bears mentioning that the timing of my visit to Las Vegas, the location of Caesars’ Nevada headquarters and a certain college basketball tournament are all purely coincidental. Also coincidental: that I planned this trip with seven other Murray State alumni last June. continue

February 4, 2011 • Energy's Lighter Side, Perspectives

The Energy Enigma

by Hannah Miller

I love a good puzzle. When I see something in pieces and I know it should fit together into a whole, I can’t resist picking it up, turning it around in my hands, fitting the pieces up against each other and figuring out how to make it all come together. This week I rediscovered a favorite game in smartphone form called WoodEnigma and have been captivated for days.

In this game, you’re given several small, oddly shaped pieces and a large shape outline, and you have to manipulate all the small pieces to fit exactly within the large one. For a few of the puzzles, I looked at the outline and the pieces and could immediately see how they fit together. Others took days of slowly working through all the options I could see, walking away, and coming back to try again before I finally figured it out and got the validation of seeing the word “Solved!” flash across the screen.

Although it doesn’t come with the same immediate gratification as a smartphone puzzle, energy management  can pose the same kind of challenge. continue

January 6, 2011 • Perspectives

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

by Hannah Miller

Perhaps that sounds like a killjoy title, but you know what I’m going to say next: If you try sometimes, you just might find that you get what you need. [Thank you, Rolling Stones.]

Besides the catchy tune and the almost irresistible urge to play air guitar, I find this song wandering around in my head for another reason. I often feel caught between being an idealist and a pragmatist. I love to dream about what’s possible and figure out a plan to get there. I believe that, with a little determination and creativity, there’s almost always a way to get what you want. But then there’s the pragmatist in me. If the idea isn’t going to work in reality, then it’s time to move on and find something that will.

It’s pretty easy to be caught in this same tension when considering energy management. continue

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