Creativity Is Thinking Deeper

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

What is creativity? A typical definition might be “the ability to create new things using your imagination.” Using the word “create” in the definition seems to remove some of the definition, however. Merely changing “create” to “produce” may be more satisfying.

Whichever definition you prefer, it’s clear that imagination is involved as is making something new on the face of the planet, at least new to the creator. Much more important than the what of creativity is the how. How do you become more creative?

Being in a creative job (making new online science lessons that are truly different), having a creative avocation (writing fiction and non-fiction), and having been in creative professions previously for a long time (first scientist and then software engineer), I have some thoughts. Many ideas about being creative have been explained by very many people before. There are endless suggestions ranging from meditation to travel.

To all of these, I’ll add one idea. It’s not a new one, but then none truly are. I happen to like this idea because it fits with my concepts of what a scientist, such as myself, must be able to do. It’s an important part of scientific thinking and of many professions that must see something where others do not.  Continue reading

‘Inside 360’: Behind the Scenes of the Mars One Mission

Amersfoort, 27th May 2015 – Mars One is proud to introduce Inside 360; a series of in-depth articles that present an inside look into the details and feasibility of the Mars One mission. The first article can be found on Mars Exchange. Subsequent articles will be added periodically.

Mars One has taken the first crucial steps in the process of establishing the first human settlement on Mars. In order to address the questions and concerns that have been raised, Inside 360 will foremost provide an in-depth explanation of the individual phases of the mission. Mars One is continuously improving their mission plans based on advice from advisers and suppliers, and Inside 360 will offer the rationale behind decisions made. The ongoing series will additionally feature interviews with Mars One team members and external experts about the different aspects of the mission.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

“Mars One is still in the early stages of organizing this human mission to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One. “We are looking forward to sharing our developments as well as the studies completed by our suppliers. This way, the aerospace community can share their feedback and we can implement suggestions that improve our mission design.”

Astronaut Selection: Inside 360 will describe the Mars One astronaut selection process and include an interview with Mars One’s Chief Medical Officer, Norbert Kraft, M.D., discussing the selection criteria. Dr. Kraft has researched crew composition for long duration space missions at NASA and has also worked for the Japanese Space Agency and collaborated with the Russian Space Agency.  Continue reading

Robots in Movies

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Artificial intelligence has appeared in a great many movies over the years, often as robots. The latest is Chappie, a movie that has been panned by a majority of critics but apparently enjoyed by quite a few movie goers.

Robots (or AI) have been good and bad. The first that I recall was Robby in the first science fiction (SF) movie to adhere to scientific ideas (of the time), Forbidden Planet. This 1956 movie starred Leslie Nielsen when he was still doing romantic leading roles. The character of Robby created quite a stir at the time. He was definitely a benevolent robot who was unable to harm humans. An immense computer system, the hidden evil element of the movie, served as a foil.

robots 03
Most people remember HAL, the AI embedded in the spaceship of 2001, a Space Odyssey. This movie debuted twelve years later and showed how AI could be a force of evil. Few who saw it will forget the creepy voice of HAL (notably one letter apiece short of IBM alphabetically).

I probably will not see Chappie for several reasons based on the reviews and my viewing of the trailers. The concept of artificial intelligence rising to the level of human consciousness bothers me, not for religious but for scientific reasons. However, many students probably will see it if only because of its themes involving street gangs and defiance of authority.  Continue reading

2015 Contest to Promote STEM Innovation in Public Middle Schools: Apply May 4-June 12

ScreenHunter_234 Mar. 26 08.35

Northrop Grumman Foundation today announced it is launching an online contest to encourage today’s students to become tomorrow’s innovators by creating classrooms and science labs that inspire. The Fab School Labs contest is open to public middle schools and will make five grants of up to $100,000 available to five winning schools to fund a school lab makeover.

Northrop Grumman Foundation Launches Middle School Contest to Promote STEM Innovation

Beginning May 4 and continuing through June 12, 2015, teachers, principals and school administrators can enter their eligible school by visiting www.FabSchoolLabs.com, where they can learn about the contest and submit their application, along with photos and video to help tell their story. Semi-finalist schools will be chosen and their videos will receive online votes of support to assist with the final selection process. The winning schools will team up with Fab School Labs contest partner Flinn Scientific Inc. to design a state-of-the-art lab complete with all of the tools, resources and furnishings needed.

Fab School Labs contest gives schools funding to create a first-class STEM learning environment

The contest is designed to drive students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by giving public middle school teachers and school administrators the chance to create the STEM lab of their dreams and give students access to the latest learning tools and technologies that will stimulate as well as teach.  Continue reading

A Network for Under-served Populations

By Bonnie Bracey Sutton
Associate Editor

The article below is from a dear friend, Joyce Malyn-Smith. Please send her names and interests. We are trying to get funding for programs and grants for more minorities.

A Network for Under-served Populations

By J. Malyn-Smith

Joyce Malyn-Smith

Joyce Malyn-Smith

I want to expand my own professional network in order to share information and opportunities I come across in my work to build the next generation of technology enabled citizens and workers. As someone who has spent many years working with under-served populations I am particularly concerned that persons of color, Hispanics and Native Americans may not be aware of many of these opportunities, or may learn of them too late to participate. For example, I am working with NSF’s Cyberlearning and ITEST resource centers, both hosting workshops in June aimed at helping people, who have not received Cyberlearning or ITEST funding, to develop strong NSF proposals.

The first goal for the expansion of my own professional network is to do what I can to ensure that these workshops are accessible to persons of color, Hispanics and Native Americans. To that end, I am asking you to help me expand my network so that I can forward relevant information, answer questions they might have about the events, and make sure a diverse group of potential participants are aware of when applications open so that these types of events are more accessible to them.  Continue reading

Mars One CEO Answers Questions About Mission Feasibility

Amersfoort, 19th March 2015 – Mars One recently published a video in which Bas Lansdorp, CEO and Co-founder of Mars One, replies to recent criticism concerning the feasibility of Mars One’s human mission to Mars.



Question: What do you think of the recent news articles that doubt the feasibility of Mars One?

BL: At Mars One we really value good criticism because it helps us to improve our mission. We get a lot of criticism from our advisors, and that is also exactly what we want from them. The recent bad press about Mars One was largely caused by an article on medium.com, which contains a lot of things that are not true. For example, the suggestion was made that our candidates were selected on the basis of how much money they donate to Mars One. That is simply not true, and it is very easy to find that on our website. There are a lot of current Round Three candidates that did not make any donations to Mars One, and there are also lots of people that did not make it to the third round that contributed a lot to Mars One. The two things are not related at all, and to say that they are is simply a lie. The article also states that there were only 2,700 applications for Mars One, which is not true. We offered the reporter, the first journalist ever, access to our list of 200,000 applications, but she was not interested in that. It seems that she is more interested in writing a sensational article about Mars One than in the truth.

We will have to delay the first unmanned mission to 2020. Delaying our first unmanned mission by two years also means that all the other missions will move by the same period of time, with our first human landing now planned for 2027. -B.L.

Question: Concerns have been voiced about the thoroughness of the astronaut selection process. What is your response to that?

BL: We started our astronaut selection with over 200,000 applications that were submitted online. The application included a video and a lot of psychological questions for our candidates. We used that to narrow down the candidates to about 1000 that had to do a medical check, which was very similar to the check for NASA astronauts. All the remaining candidates then underwent an interview. The interview and all other parts of the selection process were led by Norbert Kraft, our Chief Medical Officer. He has worked on astronaut selection for 5 years at the Japanese Space Agency, and at NASA he researched crew composition for long duration space missions.  Continue reading

Mars One Fizzles?

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

One of the craziest schemes to garner worldwide publicity and lots of contributions is having some new problems. Mars One has lost one of its final hundred to misgivings about the process by which he was chosen. Will more come out with similar stories? Is this the beginning of the end for Mars One?

The Mars One stray is Joseph Roche, an assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin with a PhD in, wait for it, physics and astrophysics. With this education and background, he’s not just a scientist well equipped with Carl Sagan’s famous “baloney detection kit,” he’s also a specialist in getting around the universe.

Mars One is a reach too far. Until I see plenty of funding and until I see that water mission and then see the first supply mission land successfully, I will remain cautiously skeptical. -H.K.

I have written plenty about Mars One and its challenges. In the end, I stated that its biggest challenge is not radiation or water or air or food but money. It’s not just the money to send that first expedition to Mars but also the money to keep sending more until the colony is self-sufficient. The first expedition requires several preparatory flights to deliver lots of habitat modules, freeze-dried food, solar panels, machinery, rovers, and more. Each of those unmanned preparatory flights will cost very large sums of money, likely a billion or more dollars apiece.  Continue reading