Why we need volunteers for the first human Ebola trials Tuesday, Sep 2 2014 

https://theconversation.com/why-we-need-volunteers-for-the-first-human-ebola-trials-31158

Ebola vaccine testing to begin on humans

The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has emerged rapidly and evolved with alarming ease. An unprecedented number of lives have been lost and WHO predictions are that the virus will infect in excess of 20,000 people before the situation can be brought under control.

Authors:

Claire Tully

Claire Tully currently a final year DPhil student at The Jenner Instutute, University of Oxford.

Adrian Hill

Adrian Hill is a Professor of Human Genetics at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford.

This is an extraordinarily challenging time for the nations affected, many of which have fragile, inadequate health infrastructures and have been unable to contain the outbreak.

International efforts are now required to strengthen and implement comprehensive emergency response strategies across the areas affected and most at risk.

Accelerated development

An important part of the measures to be implemented involves fast-tracking access to treatment and vaccine options in order to reduce morbidity and mortality rates and help stop transmission. The gravity of the current epidemic is such that for the first time in history an international consortium has been assembled in order to accelerate the development and deployment of potential Ebola vaccines.

At the Jenner Institute in Oxford we will run the first phase I trial of a vaccine targeted at the Zaire strain of Ebola virus that is causing the current outbreak. The main purpose of this first-in-humans trial in the UK is to establish a detailed safety profile of the vaccine and assess the type of immune responses it induces before it could be considered for widespread use. A further goal is to identify the most suitable dose of the vaccine.

The vaccine is being co-developed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the National Institutes of Health who are running parallel human phase I trials in the US. Our trial is being funded with a £2.8m grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the UK Department for International Development.

Chimpanzee adenovirus

 

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The candidate vaccine in question uses a chimpanzee adenovirus (a type of respiratory virus) as a means to expose or prime the immune systems of volunteers to a specific protein that exists on the surface of the Ebola virus.

The vaccine contains some genetic material but not the entire Ebola virus genome so it cannot cause an Ebola infection. As with the US trial, the adenovirus also will not replicate but instead prompts the person vaccinated to express an Ebola vaccine that the immune system will later recognise if the person became infected.

Previously it has been tested in animal models and has demonstrated impressive effectiveness at protecting against infection and promoting recovery from animals later exposed to Ebola. Just a single dose was required to induce very high levels of protective efficacy.

Chimpanzee adenoviruses have been used extensively in clinical trials for malaria, hepatitis C and other infections but no vaccine of this type has been licensed as yet. In the 25 clinical trials of chimpanzee adenoviruses that have taken place, the safety profile of this type of vaccine has been good.

At present, ethical and regulatory approvals are being prioritised so that the trials may begin in the UK in September 2014. This will be run in parallel with a cohort in the US and extended to The Gambia and Mali shortly thereafter. At the same time, 10,000 vaccine doses will be stockpiled by GSK in order that, should the vaccine meet safety requirements, it may be deployed without any further delays.

The candidate vaccine will be tested in 60 healthy volunteers over the age of 18, who we will shortly begin recruiting. During the trial volunteers will be administered a single dose of the vaccine into the muscles of the upper arm and blood samples will be taken at specific time points.

In all, volunteers will be expected to attend for a total of nine clinic visits over six months. Clinical trials are an essential part of the vaccine development process and invaluable tools when it comes to understanding and ultimately improving the processes that provide vaccine-mediated protection from disease. In order gain the upper hand over Ebola, we need all the help we can get.

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5 Ways to Keep Email from Ruining Your Life Wednesday, Jul 9 2014 

5 Ways to Keep Email from Ruining Your Life

David Pogue July 2, 2014

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/5-ways-to-keep-email-from-ruining-your-life-90501714124.html

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Email is out of control. For many of us in the working world, there’s just too much of it. Email has become a source of anxiety, a measurement of our failure to keep up.

I’ve done a ton of reading on the subject, trying to peer over my virtual backyard fence to see how other people manage their email tsunamis.

Some people treat email like it’s Twitter: a living stream of communiqués that’s constantly rushing beneath our feet, to be dipped into when there’s a free moment — but otherwise, without feeling any obligation to answer every single one.

Others let their inboxes fill, fill, fill with unanswered mail — 5,000 messages, 10,000, maybe 30,000 — and finally declare “email bankruptcy.” That’s where you throw in the towel and delete all of it, starting fresh, on the assumption that if any of it is still important, the sender will email you again.

But somewhere between those radical solutions and just moving to the Amish country, there are strategies that work. There are protocols that can keep email from destroying your productivity and your self-esteem.

If you expect to hear me championing the “inbox zero” movement, though, you’ll be disappointed. That philosophy says you should end every day with nothing in your inbox. Immediately answer any message you can deal with in less than two minutes — and everything else, you’re supposed to file away into a mail folder.

To me, though, that’s pure self-delusion. Just because you’ve moved a message out of your inbox doesn’t mean you’ve dealt with it. It’s still a to-do hanging over your head even if you hide it away. It’s a self-fakeout, if you ask me.

No, here’s what I propose: Follow these five tips that actually get you through email faster and restore balance to your work life.

1. Don’t be a slave to email. Every time you hear that little chime that says a new message has come in, you lose your train of work thought. You duck out of whatever you were doing to see what little email present has just arrived under the tree. You may even open the message, find an interesting-looking link — and the next thing you know, you’ve just blown seven minutes on the Web.

So turn off the notifications for incoming mail (look for the setting in Options, Preferences, or Settings).

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Furthermore, limit yourself to checking email only three times a day. In the morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day. No more ducking into email 35 times a day. Give yourself a fighting chance to get some creative momentum going on whatever you do in life.

(And don’t worry about missing things. If people are eager enough to reach you right this minute, they’ll text or call you.)

2. Death to perpetual email chains. One great way to stanch the flow of incoming email is to produce less outgoing mail. And one great way to do that is to end the conversation preemptively.

Idea 1: “I’ll send the proposal Friday. I’ll assume that’s fine unless I hear from you.”

You’ve given the other guy an out. Your wording allows him to stop the chain now. (As opposed to a multi-message back-and-forth: “When’s good? Can I send it Friday?” “Sure, sounds good.” “OK, Friday it is!”)

Idea 2: “I could meet Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 2 and 4. Let me know what works.”

See what you’ve done there? You’ve already established your free times; with only one more message, your colleague can cement the meeting time for good. You’ve saved yourself a bunch of “Sorry, I can’t do it then — how about Thursday?”-type memos.

Idea 3: Adopt email-triage shorthand. Let the other party off the hook by concluding your message with, “No reply needed” (or “NRN”).

Some people even put the entire message in the subject line, followed by EOM (“end of message”), like this:

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You’ve just saved your colleague the trouble even of opening the message. He’s got your news, and he can now hit Delete.

3. Save typing. Use an auto-expander. Face it: You type the same things over and over and over again. “Thank you so much!” “Got it — will do.” “No problem!” “Hope this helps!” Your address. Your phone number. Phrases that pertain to your line of work.

Using a typing-expander program lets you store these as abbreviations; whenever you type them, they instantly expand to full length. Like these:

ty = Thank you very much!

ma = Much appreciated.

np = No problem.

Addr = My address is: 1244 North Elm Street, Chicago, IL, 60609.

You should also set up “expanders” for typos you make a lot, too: “the” for “teh,” and so on. These programs work everywhere, not just in mail.

On the Mac, this feature is built right in. Open System Preferences; click Keyboard, and then click the Text tab. Click the + button and create the abbreviation you want:

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On Windows, a free program like PhraseExpress does the same trick. (It’s quite sophisticated; it can even propose the completion of entire sentences based on what you’ve typed before.)

No need to build a big list of abbreviations all on Day One; you’ll remember them better if you create them over time. I’ve been using these programs for 15 years, and by now, there are over 400 entries in my abbreviation list. y wdt bv how little i ac type tz days. (“You wouldn’t believe how little I actually type these days.”)

These typing expanders take a few minutes to set up. But they save time, decrease repetitive stress, and eliminate typos.

4. Use Unroll.me. This free service, available for email accounts from Gmail, Google Apps, AOL, Yahoo, Outlook.com, and Hotmail, shows you a master list of everything you’ve subscribed to — whether you think you did or not. All those newsletters, coupon deals, bank pitches … basically, anything you receive that has a tiny “unsubscribe” link at the bottom. Unroll.me frees you from all of them en masse, just by offering little Unsubscribe buttons:

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(When you click Unsubscribe, the service begins hiding incoming email from those senders instantly, even if it takes a couple of days for the actual Unsubscribe command to register.)

I think it’s weird that, after five unsubscriptions, you can’t unsubscribe from any more without first agreeing to post something about Unroll.me to Facebook or Twitter; that’s its requested “payment.” But it’s worth doing. Unroll.me doesn’t recognize every junky mailing, but it does an amazing job.

(Whatever marketing messages you don’t unsubscribe from get rolled up into a single daily digest, which is refreshing in its own way.)

5. Learn to use message rules (filters). Almost every email program lets you create rules, or filters, that process incoming mail automatically, based on who they’re from or what they say. If there’s some relative who never sends you anything but dumb jokes or hokey inspirational tales, you can set up a rule that automatically files those messages into, say, an Aunt Enid folder.

In Yahoo Mail or Gmail, for example, these rules are called filters. To create one, from the gear menu, choose Settings:

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Click Filters, then Add (or Create new filter). Now you get a dialog box where you can set up the rule. In this example, any email from irs.gov gets filed into your Guvmint folder:

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(And speaking of Gmail: Also in Settings, click the Inbox tab. You can use the Inbox Type pop-up menu to try out various Google schemes that attempt to identify and prioritize the important messages — displaying them first, for example.)

There are similar commands in email programs like Outlook and Apple Mail.

There’s no magic button that can reduce your email flood to a trickle. But by eliminating the unimportant junk, minimizing the back-and-forths, and using helper software, you can go a long way toward making the deluge manageable.

You can email David Pogue at this address poguester@yahoo.com;

13 Inventions To Remind You That The Future Is NOW. Tuesday, Jul 8 2014 

http://www.dose.com/lists/3059/13-Inventions-To-Remind-You-That-The-Future-Is-NOW-You-Have-To-See-2-To-Believe-It

 

Reset the Net —This is a re-post of a post by Paul Sieminski Monday, Jun 9 2014 

Paul Sieminski | June 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |

A year ago today, we joined the world in shock on learning that governments were spying on internet users around the world. Tapping internet service providers’ undersea cables, intentionally and secretly weakening encryption products,  surreptitiously collecting everything from call metadata to photos sent over the internet by US citizens — nothing was off limits.

Just as troubling as the revelations themselves is the fact that since last summer, little if anything has changed. Despite a lot of rhetoric, our three branches of government in the United States have not made many concrete steps toward truly protecting citizens from unchecked government surveillance.

Automattic has been a strong supporter of efforts to reform government surveillance. We’ve supported reform legislation in Congress, and participated in the Day We Fight Back, earlier this year. More importantly, we aim to make our own legal processes for securing the information our users entrust to us as transparent and protective as possible.

Be the change you want to see in the world — that’s why we’re joining the many other companies who are participating today in Reset the Net. In the face of intrusive surveillance, we believe that everyone in the tech community needs to stand up and do what they can, starting with their own sites and platforms. For us, that means working to secure the connection between users and our websites. We’ll be implementing SSL for all *.wordpress.com subdomains by the end of the year.

If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that encryption, when done correctly, works. If we properly encrypt our sites and devices, we can make mass surveillance much more difficult.

We’re happy to be taking these steps and hope that the coming year brings real reform to end mass surveillance.

Paul Sieminski | June 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |

https://us-mg6.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?#485822647

New CityHome Technology Helps You Work Magic in Small Apartments Monday, Jun 2 2014 

New CityHome Technology Helps You Work Magic in Small Apartments

 

 

http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2014/06/02/video-of-mit-media-labs-cityhome-research-responsive-urban-home/

 

 

5 Tips for Using Facebook Smarter and Less Stupidly Thursday, May 29 2014 

 

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by Tech Columnist

Let’s say you follow my advice to cope with having too many Facebook friends by learning to selectively ignore the ones you don’t care about, instead of going on an unfriending spree.

Obviously there’s another side to the issue: What about “friends” you’d prefer to hide from?

Again, I think there are easier solutions than a time-consuming and unpleasant friend massacre to maintain the social-signal function of Facebook — and your privacy.

1. By all means, do not be friends with actual enemies. Just for the record, it is in fact a good idea to unfriend anyone you believe might have actual, active, visceral ill will toward you. This shouldn’t require any special effort on your part. Nasty breakup? Lawsuit? Grounds for unfriending.

2. Pay attention to who can see what you post. Apparently this is such a problem that even Facebook is preparing changes to make it easier for members to avoid “accidental oversharing.”

But even now it’s not all that hard to, at a minimum, make sure you’re not sharing every post with the public at large. Click the Privacy Shortcuts icon at the top left of your home page and choose Who can see my stuff? At a minimum, make the default Friends. (Not Public.)

You can change this for every status update if you want, and specify that any given update be made visible only to a particular list of friends. If you want to devote the time to it, you can structure a system that will result in some of your “friends” seeing absolutely nothing you post.

3. Just don’t say anything stupid! Frankly, I am not interested in such a granular approach to picking and choosing the audience for every Facebook utterance.

A more efficient strategy: Permanently limit your audience to friends, and just don’t say anything on Facebook that would be harmful to you or anyone else if the entire Internet ended up seeing it. Do not complain about your job, do not trash acquaintances, do not make off-color remarks.

If you want to say something genuinely private, don’t say it on Facebook.

4. Avoid arguments. What’s that? Someone is wrong on the Internet? Ignore it. Do not weigh in with a snarky rebuttal. You will not win the argument; you will escalate it. People will get emotional. Stupid things will be said.

Sure, you think it’s your moral duty to correct an erroneous analysis of Obamacare. But guess what? You are not Batman! So just pretend you didn’t see it, and let somebody else step in and stoke a pointless flame war.

5. Don’t overshare with Facebook itself. Facebook has many, many questions for me: Where did I grow up, what are my favorite bands and movies, and so on.

My friends do not have these questions. Those who care to know are quite aware of where I grew up, and even those who don’t care have heard me go on about The Kinks and Stranger Than Paradise. There’s really no logical reason to disclose this sort of thing unless you are, in fact, somehow attempting to send signals that attract more “friends” who don’t actually know you. (In which case, you can hardly complain about having friends you don’t really know!)

Just ignore all that. Facebook really wants to know more about you because that helps its advertising business target better. And I don’t particularly care how Facebook wants me to use Facebook. Do you?

8 Big Questions About Google’s Self-Driving Car Thursday, May 29 2014 

Martin’s Thoughts:  Something like this is in our future.  Like the very first gasoline cars in the 1890s and early 1900s, this will look very strange and primitive in about 100 years when  internet connected self controlled cars are commonplace.

 

 

BY SAMANTHA MURPHY KELLY

Google on Tuesday unveiled the design of its self-driving car prototype, a pint-sized two-seater with no steering wheel, no brake pedal and a big “stop” button. The car has a curious design (exact dimensions are still unknown) and even has a smiley face on its front exterior.

In a demo video released by the company, a mother details how she can catch up with her son in the car without keeping both eyes on the road, and a couple discusses how safe they feel when the vehicle slows at curves and speeds up at the right time. There’s space enough for two people and a dog to sit up front. The vehicle can go up to 25 miles per hour for now, but Google says it will eventually hit significantly higher speeds.

Google’s car is expected to hit the market by 2020, almost 15 years after the company first started the driverless vehicle project. More recently, it’s been testing the cars on the streets of San Francisco.

SEE ALSO: See How Google’s Self-Driving Car Navigates City Streets

While it’s up for debate if automated driving will truly take off, it will unquestionably usher in a host of new issues, everything from safety issues and traffic laws to accident liability and potential hacking. Here’s a look at some of the bigger ones worth addressing:

Why would you want a self-driving car?

These sensor-filled vehicles have been programmed to make driving decisions based on what’s happening around them in real time, such as slowing down for jaywalking pedestrians, watching for cars that sneak out of hidden driveways and looking for cyclists making gestures that indicate a possible turn. The cars detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions — making it more powerful than the human eye.

Without fallible humans behind the wheel, these cars could have a profound influence on improving road safety.

“The primary advantage here is that it could have a huge impact on safety,” said Joshua Schank, of the Washington-based nonprofit Eno Center for Transportation. “People are not great at driving — 30,000 people die in car accidents each year. Machines can be much better than humans when it comes to driving; they don’t drink or text and can think faster.”

In addition to the potential for reducing crashes, self-driving cars could ease congestion, improve fuel economy, reduce parking needs and bring mobility to those who are unable to drive.
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Who would use it?

There are use case scenarios for everyone. Not only could the self-driving car streamline commutes — from the grocery store and the office to long road trips — but it could also help transport the elderly, kids and the blind. Taxi and bus companies could also utilize the technology and bring individualized transportation to non-car owners.

What will it cost?

It’s unknown how much a self-driving car would cost, but like with any form of new technology, it will be high: “You could have the greatest technology in the world, but if it’s not affordable, no one will be able to enjoy it,” Schank said.

Will consumers feel safe?

In order for the Google self-driving car to really hit the mainstream, not only does the technology need to be perfected, it has to win over consumer trust. Google’s demo video shows passengers very pleased with the experience — early testers have called it relaxing, while others likened it to a tram-ride you’d find at Disney World.

 

 

 

Perhaps it’s the type of thing each person has to see and experience in person before deciding if it would fit their lifestyle.

But according to a recent study conducted by Seapine Software in February among 2,000 U.S. adults, about 88% said they would be concerned about riding in a driverless car — most of which worried the equipment could fail, such as a braking software glitch or a failed warning sensor that alerts the driver of danger.

“We found, not surprisingly, that safety was the number-one concern that survey respondents noted for their reluctance to adopt driverless technology,” said Rick Riccetti, president and CEO of Seapine Software. “That means that until manufacturers — in this case Google — can prove, without a doubt, that their product is free from software glitches or failures there simply won’t be a market for them for the average consumer.”

SEE ALSO: 12 Mysterious Google Maps Sightings

Recent disclosures and recalls related to car safety issues, including the ignition switch recall delay by General Motors, are not helping in the short term either, Ricetti added. While Google has its work cut out for itself, consumers could easily be swayed if safety and efficiency is proven.

Forget carjacking. What about car hacking?

The study also found that 52% of respondents fear a hacker could breach the driverless car’s system and gain control of the vehicle.

“For all the positives, the industry will need to be very alert to the risk of cyber manipulation and attack,” said Wil Rockall, director of KPMG’s cybersecurity team, in an emailed statement. “Self-drive cars will probably work through Internet connectivity and, just as large volumes of electronic traffic can be routed to overwhelm websites, the opportunity for self-drive traffic being routed to create ‘spam jams’ or disruption is a very real prospect.”

Although the industry would naturally take safety and security seriously, Google would likely have to create ways to step in if issues occur along the way.

“Overrides could also be built in so that drivers could shut down many of the car’s capabilities if hacked,” Rockall wrote. “That way, humans will still be able to ensure their cars don’t route them on the road to nowhere.”

But Schank of the Eno Center for Transportation said that the ability to hack into individual cars would be extremely difficult.

“You would definitely need a security system in place, but it would be very hard to hack into a number of individual systems,” he said. “You might be able to hack into one, but doing so to many cars would be a big challenge.”

Who’s liable in an accident?

The Eno Center for Transportation believes automated self-driving cars have the potential to dramatically change the transportation network. In a recent white paper that looked at potential impacts and hurdles for transportation professionals and policymakers, it noted that self-driving cars could reduce crashes, ease congestion, improve fuel economy, reduce parking needs and bring mobility to those that are unable to drive. But it also highlighted many concerns, especially in terms of liability.

“When there is a car accident now, it’s relatively easy to sort out who was at fault, but in an autonomous vehicle, the water is murkier,” Schank said.

The issue is similar with the airline industry — if there is a crash now, who is at fault: the pilot? The manufacturer?

“It would be far more difficult to watch over that with every car crash, but then again, if vehicle collisions decline because of this technology, it might not be that big of an issue. We just don’t know yet,” he added.

 

 

 

 

As for getting self-driving cars on the road, some states such as Nevada have already issued permits to do so: “There is certainly an eagerness to adopt automated cars from a regulatory standpoint,” Schank said.

Will everyone want a “cute” car?

And finally, let’s talk design. When the Google car prototype is unveiled in the video, one tester calls it “cute.” The reaction isn’t surprising: coupled with the small size of the vehicle and that smiley face on the front, it is cute. But not everyone wants a cute car.

In a society that prides itself on the style, shape and flexibility of picking a car that fits their personality and needs, the self-driving car — or at least this model — is extremely limiting. The concept itself embodies the coolness of future but in a nerdy form factor.

SEE ALSO: Google’s Self-Driving Car Looks Rather Familiar

It’s the same complaint many have given the high-tech Google Glass: neat in theory but geeky on the face. Just like Glass, perhaps the car will eventually come in different shapes and sizes.

Who are Google’s partners?

It’s unclear as of right now who Google has partnered with to built the car, but one thing is evident: companies want in.

Uber cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick said during the Re/Code conference on Wednesday in San Francisco that he sees practical use for Google’s self-driving cars in Uber’s business.

“The magic [of a self-driving uber car] is, the reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re paying for the other dude in the car [the driver],” Kalanick said. “When there isn’t another dude in the car, the cost for taking a road trip becomes cheaper.”

Google has not yet responded to a request for comment on any of the unanswered questions mentioned in this story.

 

 

 

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car Prototype Wednesday, May 28 2014 

Martins’ comments:

This is a great idea!  Been waiting for something like this since  I watched the Jetsons cartoon as a kid. I will buy one when the price becomes affordable, the flying option is available and the bugs have been worked out of the design.

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car Prototype

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — Google has been building self-driving cars for years, but what we’ve seen so far has always been retrofits of existing cars — until now. The search giant unveiled on Tuesday a fully autonomous self-driving car, built from the ground up by Google and its partners.

Company co-founder Sergey Brin revealed his plans at Recode’s Code Conference in southern California. He told Recode editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher (who has ridden in the car), that there’s a safety benefit in a custom-built self-driving car. Because the car doesn’t have a steering wheel, accelerator or brakes, it has more sensors in strategic spots than is possible in a regular vehicle. It is also equipped with a big “stop” button. In addition to all this tech, Google’s autonomous car includes internal power steering and power brakes.

“It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, ‘What should be different about this kind of vehicle?'” Chris Urmson, director of the Self-Driving Car Project, wrote in a blog post about the new car.

 Vehicle-Prototype-Image-Banner-Cropped-600px

Swisher said riding in the all-electric car was like going on a Disney ride. Considering it currently has a maximum speed of roughly 25 mph, this makes sense. Brin described riding in the car, which in one test was programmed via smartphone, as “relaxing,” and similar to catching a chairlift. He added that the car will eventually go up to 100 mph once it’s proven to be able to travel safely at that speed.

As for when the cars — which are significantly smaller than traditional cars and include couch-like seating — might actually make it to real highways, Brin said Google will soon test them with drivers. “Within a couple of years, we’ll — if we’ve passed the safety metrics we’ve put in place, which is to be significantly safer than a human driver … have them on the road,” he said.

 

 

by Lance Ulanoff

If You Need Any Convincing That Solar Roadways Are The Future, This Video Will Help Saturday, May 24 2014 

If You Need Any Convincing That Solar Roadways Are The Future, This Video Will Help

 

 

 

 

19 year old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove Tons Of Plastic From Oceans Thursday, May 22 2014 

19 year old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From Oceans Read More: http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/03/19-year-old-student-develops-ocean-cleanup-array-that-could-remove-7250000-tons-of-plastic-from-the-worlds-oceans.html

 I am unlikely to be on this planet in 50 years, but a lot of people reading and hearing this will be.  What kind of world do you want to live in?  I want my grand children who are alive now to have one at least as pleasant as I had 50 years ago when I was young.

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