From sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure gap to organizing data on cellular neurophisiology, the world of today is filled with information challenges that only crowds of smart volunteers can help tackle.
With this, we tap into the treasure trove of cases and data that we have been gathering for you in the first six months of 2015 and sharing in our newsletter. To subscribe to the Steppes in Sync Figures and Facts That Tell The Tale newsletter, click here.
In How to earn $3 per diem for applying chemicals in the field: Zimbabwe Tobacco Revival, Coal Logistics & Indigenous Hardwoods out of the door by 2050 we ask: What exactly do we do to educate Zimbabwe’s 90,000 small-scale tobacco farmers about deforestation? To promote alternative energy sources? And diversify the Southern African nation’s economy while developing healthier sources of income? And don’t forget those two-dollar wages a day for the labor toiling in the field, as you ponder similar complex problems that increasingly vie for our attention.
How do you execute on big stuff, to get big stuff done, inspire the builders of the new world?
Social entrepreneurs, says Jeremy Rifkin, will be less driven by the profit motive, and will willingly give their talents to the various networks they are in, to improve their social reputation within them. Mr Rifkin is a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business Executive Education Program, where he instructs CEOs and senior management on transitioning their business operations into sustainable economies. In this connected and collaborative world economy, the idea of the artist as an individual genius, which is so implanted in our consciousness, is “absurd”.
[The millennials] have a different idea of freedom. My generation defines it as being autonomous, not beholden to others, and values exclusivity. Young people are all about inclusivity, access to networks, transparency. Further autonomy is death.
… Artists will no longer be so interested in creating a sense of immortality. The transitoriness of the experience, the enjoyment of the moment, will be everything. Life will be seen as a series of unique moments. And maybe we will see that reflected more in the art.
For 38 out of 54 African countries, data on poverty and inequality are either out-dated or non-existent. Only 3 % of African citizens live in countries where governmental budgets and expenditures are made open.
You need money or, once again, loads of volunteer man/hours to collect and analyze the data in a professional way. In 2013, out of a total aid budget of $134.8bn, a mere $280m went in support of statistics.
Establishing a statistical office is less eye-catching than building a hospital or school but data driven policy will ensure that more hospital and schools are delivered more effectively and efficiently.
NeuroElectro, an open access database of electrophysiological properties of different types of neurons. Become a neuron curator here.
Be aware that we live in a world of growing — often conflicting — needs for public funding. Space consumed more than 4 % of government spending in the US during the 1960s race to the moon. 0.5 % — the current proportion of federal spending devoted to Nasa — is reasonable. If other industrialised countries raised space spending closer to that level (the UK figure is about 0.05 %) there would be enough to fund robotic exploration and to send people further out than the moon or space station.
We have sent a probe 500M km to a comet to analyse rock samples, but virtually no geologist has yet dug his spade into the crater of the highest mountain in the planet’s largest desert.
Same applies to the ocean exploration. Some argue that we now know more about the outer space, fund more research of space that about our own oceanbed. But fields of study can be combined.
Working in the Antarctic wilderness, 630km from the South Pole, 760m under the floating glacier ice and 500km to 600km from the nearest open ocean that isn’t covered by ice, scientists recently found fish, about 15 cm long. It lends credence to the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life, as some of the environments that scientists are targeting for study lie in what are thought to be oceans under thick ice covers such as on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.
The $8bn Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful atom smasher, restarted in spring after a two-year maintenance shutdown — a second round after inaugural three-year run from 2009 to 2012.
Be aware of industrial megatrends and timings. IMS Health, the healthcare information group, expects almost 200 drugs to be launched worldwide in the next five years, the highest level since the mid-2000s. The length of time it takes to get a new product to market is highest in pharmaceuticals, at 10-12 years, beating the 6-8 years taken to develop an aeroplane. The cost of launching a drug, at $1.25bn, says Deloitte, is equal to that of developing a new car and behind only the $3.75bn cost of a new aeroplane.
With this in mind, don’t forget that timing and setting the right, meetable deadlines is a skill to develop throughout your career as a strategic volunteer, social entrepreneur.
NASA says its Mars campaign is aimed at sending humans to the Red Planet and its moons by the 2030s — but Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, says there’s a downside to having such a stretched-out timeline.
You can’t do this on a 24-year timeline because God’s patience is not infinite, and the U.S. Congress is considerably worse.
Meanwhile a mission plan is being discussed that calls for a 9-month cruise to Mars; 12 months in orbit, with a potential landing on Phobos or Deimos; and nine months back to Earth. The orbital odysseys could open the way for sending a two-person crew for a 30-day stay on the Martian surface in 2039 — and then putting four astronauts on Mars for a yearlong stay in 2043. NASA is committed to supporting the International Space Station through 2024, and the agency has not yet spelled out what will happen after that.
Get the science, technology of it, be a science communicator.
Towers of height 15-25 km could be easily built using present-day materials. Space launch from the top of such a tower would have a long list of advantages.