BBC World Service features Mendeley, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, Google Wave

The current edition of the BBC World Service’s Digital Planet has a couple of nice interviews with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Cameron Neylon on Google Wave, and me talking about Mendeley. My segment starts at 7:54mins – I haven’t listened to it because, as I explained earlier, watching/listening to myself makes me cringe like the the people in The Ring (though I don’t instantly die a gruesome death).


A shorter write-up of Cameron’s and my interview is also on the BBC News website: Strength in Science Collaboration.

Top 8 influential Science and Tech Stories of 2009, so far

The year 2009 is halfway through and already we’ve seen some great stuff being published, created, and predicted that could have a major impact in the future. Each of the eight items were chosen because they could influence how every one of us communicates, learns, and lives more so than any other discoveries so far in 2009. What’s that? You’re not a science or techie person? It doesn’t matter, you and everyone else are going to be affected because of the work and ideas brought forth below. So, pay attention. We start with some exclusive, never before public news from NASA, very fitting as today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch.

1. NASA starts project Nebula (new exclusive information) Nope, this isn’t another space probe. This is the government giving a head nod to cloud computing. They’ve wisely hired a few seasoned Internet entrepreneurs to command the mission at NASA Ames and take NASA data into the cloud. That much has been known since May. Last week I had dinner with Chris Kemp (CIO, NASA Ames) and some of the Nebula team. Here’s what Kemp agreed to reveal publicly for the first time:

”NASA collaborates with hundreds of universities, commercial partners, and other federal and international partners. The NASA Nebula cloud computing platform will dramatically increase the efficiency and productivity of these collaborations.”

How it affects you: If you’re a NASA collaborator or want to become one, then get ready. As for every day citizens, you too will reap the rewards of Nebula via the research performed. There’s also been a lot of speculation that Nebula will power data sets other than just NASA’s, such as Is this true? Let’s put it this way. Their focus, for now, is on NASA’s data. The rest is my opinion only: imagine the possibilities if we had a national or even international cloud computing platform. Remember that it was originally a similar government project called ARPANET that gave rise to today’s Internet. This could be BIG for science, tech, and planet Earth.

Hurdles to jump: Kemp and team must first get this rolling with NASA before opening it up to outsiders. And it’s government, so there’s a lot of bureaucracy and red tape to cut through to get this done and costs down. President Obama and Vivek Kundra (Federal CIO), if you’re listening, then help this team out by cutting that tape and give them carte blanche funding to get it done.

More info: Official NASA Nebula websiteFollow Nebula on Twitter

World avoided2. The ozone has been saved – sort of

Ever ask yourself what the ozone layer and our planet would look like today if we hadn’t passed some of those pesky environmental laws back in the 1980’s? Researchers, led by Paul Newman, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and elsewhere asked “What would have happened to the ozone layer if chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) had not been regulated in 1987?” This was an important and difficult to answer question, until this year. I reached Dr. Newman for a comment to let us know the most important message from this research:

“If chlorofluorocarbons had not been regulated by the Montreal Protocol, two-thirds of the ozone layer would have been destroyed by the year 2065 with a consequent increase of surface ultraviolet radiation to extreme levels.”

How it affects you: While the conclusions were based on computer models, the importance of environmental policy cannot be overstated, and now we have proof that policy does work. Oh, and your grandkids will get to play outside in 2065. Even by 2020 it would have been pretty nasty without SPF 3 billion lathered on. Check out these neat simulations, such as the image above.

Hurdles to jump: As you may know, we still have a slight problem with a thing called “Global warming.” Lots to do in order to reduce carbon emissions.

More info: Original study

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