Monthly Archives: October 2010

LAUNCH: Health…FINally!

This is it! The week we host LAUNCH: Health, the second in our series of sustainability incubators.

LAUNCH: Health

NASA partnered with USAID, Department of State, and NIKE to create the LAUNCH initiative to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to global challenges. Through LAUNCH, NASA can host a global conversation about innovative solutions. We’re problem-solvers, after all. That’s what we do best.

Here’s a quote from our LAUNCH: Health challenge:

Sustaining quality of life on Earth and in space requires transformative advances in science and technology, along with new models, policies and behaviors that will guide human development. The search for innovative technology solutions to ensure healthy astronauts orbiting the planet mirrors healthcare challenges faced by providers throughout the world. The same requirements for simple, rugged, ultra portable, low power devices to provide remote diagnostic capability serves dual needs for humans living within the extreme environments on and off the planet.

We put out an open call through InnoCentive to search for solutions. We augmented the call with an internal search for innovations that might not bubble up through InnoCentive process. Meet our ten Health Innovators:

David Van Sickle, Asthmapolis: a devise to track and measure a patient’s self-treatment for asthma by attaching a GPS receiver and rechargeable battery to a standard inhaler. Can also be used to monitor air quality….

Gijsbert van de Wijdeven, Bioneedle: a biodegradable needle that dissolves under the skin releasing the vaccine, leaving behind no waste products. No medical professional is required to deliver the injection, which is inserted with an air compressor.

Erick Toledo, The Chlorine Bank: a grocery-story-style supply chain network to provide low-cost chlorine-based water purification products to rural communities.

Dieterich Lawson, FrontLine SMS Medic: text messaging solutions that connect doctors and patient medical records with remotely-located healthcare workers and their patients.

Ben Reis, HealthySocial/Food Hero: a social media-based game that fights obesity by teaching children about healthy eating and exercise as they care for a “troll” that can only perform when healthy.

Matt Sanders, Imetrikus Medi Compass Connect: networked technology to connect chronic pain patients with their doctors on a regular basis through home monitoring devices connected via computer, modem, or smart phone.

Aydogan Ozcan, LUCAS: A miniaturized microscope attached to a cell phone that detects parasites and bacteria in blood and water in remote locations.

Samuel Sia, mChip: Lab-in-a-box. A handheld device that can analyze diseases — such as HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted diseases — in 15 minutes from a drop of blood.

Ramesh Raskar, NETRA: portable eye doctor (minus the physician). A small measuring device that administers an eye test and determines necessary correction with the touch of a button.

Jonathan Attwood, ZamZee: a handheld device for kids to encourage and record movement, and reward physical activity with virtual shopping credits.

We’ll be streaming the presentations live. Stay tuned for details on LAUNCH.org website.

We’re also pleased to welcome our LAUNCH Council to the Kennedy Space Center. You can find their bios on the LAUNCH.org website. They represent diverse backgrounds from entrepreneurs to scientists and engineers to venture capitalists to leaders in government, media and business, who will help to guide the innovators as they move forward toward successful implementation of their products and ideas.

Our hope is that they see begin to see “space” in a new light as an integral part of the global sustainability conversation.

LAUNCH: Water was our first forum back in March. We have Mark Tonkin, one of our LAUNCH: Water Innovators, coming back to talk with the group this weekend. We’re hoping to bring in Astronaut Ron Garan for a quick hello. Ron, you may recall, was one of our LAUNCH: Water Innovators for his humanitarian effort to bring clean water to children in Africa through Manna Energy. He’s down at the Space Shuttle launch, and is one of our STS-133 Tweetup speakers.

Yes, it’s going to be a busy, amazing week! We’re also hosting 150 enthusiastic STS-133 tweeters at the press site, AND, let’s not forget the Space Shuttle launch inself, which is what this fuss is all about in the first place.

The STS-133 crew will leave the boundaries of Earth onboard Space Shuttle Discovery for her final flight on Monday, November 1 at 4:40 p.m. EST.

STS-133 crew

STS-133 crew at Launch Pad A

God speed STS-133!

If you want to participate in LAUNCH: Health, we have several options for you. You can watch the Innovator presentations via U-Stream. You can also interact with us through NASA Mind Mapr, cousin of NASA Buzzroom. Mind Mapr offers web-based virtual participation for you by allowing you to create an account to log into the system to add comments or pose questions. You can also follow the LAUNCH twitter account.

Best of HEALTH to you all — LAUNCH: Health, that is. :)

Crosspost on OpenNASA and GovLoop.

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Filed under Africa, AIDs, Earth, environment, federal government, humanitarian aid, NASA, poverty, social media, technology

Adaptors vs. Innovators: Kirton Inventory as Gov 2.0 Predictor?

Anke Domscheit-Berg ignited a gender fire storm yesterday with her GovLoop blogpost: “Why do women understand government 2.0 and social media better than men?”

My good buddy and LAUNCH: Health teammate, Todd Khozein, sent me an email yesterday with the link. I read the post and left a comment, then tweeted out the link. I received these comments back:

@edwardvirtually tweet about gender differences

@califgirl232 tweet about women and Gov 2.0

@genejm29 tweet

@edwardvirtually tweet

Interesting conversation about whether women are better suited to embrace Gov 2.0 tools. Personally, I love social media tools, but I work with women who don’t. I’ve learned a great deal about Gov 2.0 from incredibly gifted progressive guys at NASA, but watched many more snub their noses at it. I think it goes both ways.

Though gender may give insight into how men and women approach situations differently, we may find a less contentious Gov 2.0 cheerleader-meter.

The Kirton Adaptation-Innovation Inventory may just be the PERFECT tool to flush out change agents.

The Kirton Inventory measures problem-solving and creativity in individuals and helps teams understand the different ways they approach solutions. I first learned of the Kirton Inventory back in the 1990s when I planned an off-site retreat for the Office of Policy and Plans (better known as the Land of MisFit Toys) led by Lori Garver. We brought in a facilitator who tested us, then walked us through how our Kirton scores would help Lori make smart team assignments.

The Kirton Inventory scores individuals on a continuum from Adaptors to Innovators. The Adaptors work best within the existing system, seeing change as a matter of  tweaking and perfecting what already exists. The Innovators embrace all things new and adapt quickly to change.

Kirton Inventory: Characteristics of Adaptors & Innovators

Characteristics of Adaptors & Innovators. Credit: "Chemical Innovation" Nov 2001

At the extreme ends of either side of the spectrum, the Adaptors find comfort in the status quo where the Innovators prefer tossing out the old and starting fresh. Neither side can speak the language of the other, and need translators — who are the individuals who scored somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. These individuals are called the “Bridge” because they can speak both languages: status quo and change.

Our facilitator advised that every team needed at least one Bridge to keep the process moving, otherwise miscommunication and misunderstandings could impede progress.

alienMy Kirton Inventory scores qualified me as an extreme innovator. Surprised? ;) Most of my workmates scored on the opposite end of the spectrum as Adaptors, and some as extreme Adaptors. I began to understand for the first time why I felt like an alien at NASA. My Innovator-DNA hadn’t equipped me to relate, understand, or communicate with “the Adaptors.”

According to an article about the Kirton Inventory Tool in “Chemical Innovation: Can corporate innovation champions survive?” Nov 2001…

Extreme Innovators describe Extreme Adaptors as:

  • dogmatic,
  • compliant,
  • stuck in a rut,
  • timid,
  • conforming, and
  • inflexible.

Extreme Adaptors describe Extreme Innovators as:

  • Unsound
  • impractical,
  • abrasive,
  • undisciplined
  • insensitive,
  • one who loves to create confusion.

I’ve heard many of these words used to describe me — abrasive, impractical, chaos-creator. Yep, the story of my 25 years at NASA.

Back to the original question: Does an affinity for change (think Gov 2.0) have anything to do with gender, as described in Anke’s thought-provoking blogpost? Are Innovators or Adaptors pushed to the extremes through influences or factors linked to DNA, socialization, gender, or experiences? The Kirton Inventory doesn’t address the causes behind the scores, so I can’t answer the question. I can only offer another data point for the discussion.

I have an idea! Why don’t you take the Kirton test yourself? See if you’re an Adaptor or Innovator. Let me know what you find out.

But if you’re an Adaptor, remember to bring your translator with you. Otherwise, I might not understand a word you say.

Crosspost on GovLoop.

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NASA Solves Problems Above AND Below Earth

A team from NASA’s Langley Research Center, led by Clint Cragg, helped design the escape pod to rescue 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,300 feet below the surface since August 5.

“Putting teams together and getting the best talent from across the agency, that’s what we’re pretty good at.” Clint Cragg

Chilean officials turned to NASA for expertise in dealing with humans who live and work in confined spaces (though Space Station is now the size of a five bedroom house with two bathrooms, a gym, and office/lab space). Not too shabby.

Clint Cragg's pic from Chile

Rescue site in Copiapo, Chile. Credit: Clint Cragg

Clint, along with NASA doctors Michael Duncan and J.D. Polk, and psychologist Al Holland, met with officials in Chile to consider options. Back at home, Clint pulled together a tiger team to look at extraction capsule designs, which contributed to the final design.

I have to say: watching the miners lifted to safety, one by one, on their journey to family and fresh air, feels like a testament to the Gene KranzFailure in Not an Option” mentality that the Apollo 13 movie made famous.

NASA's Gene Kranz

NASA's Gene Kranz

The human spirit is infinitely resourceful.

I think NASA embodies the limitless nature of what we can accomplish if we bring the right minds and attitudes to the table. We solve problems…against all odds. Today, we see evidence that we not only tackle challenges off the planet, but below the surface as well. How cool is that?

Bravo Clint and NASA team. You guys ROCKet!

And welcome back to the land of sunshine, miners of Chile. Breathe deeply. Today is a new day!

Related articles:

WKYT News: October 12, 2010

iStock Analyst: October 12, 2010

Space Coalition: October 10, 2010

Daily Press: October 10, 2010

AOLNews: October 10, 2010

NASA.gov: September 22, 2010

NASA.gov: September 9, 2010

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Prague: Pets Reflect Politics?

Interesting observation during our visit to Prague: very few dogs wore leashes. They followed their owners obediently and submissively, displaying little interest in other dogs or people.

As we watched this day after day, I wondered about the differences in culture.

Why do American dogs seem so exuberant and curious about their surroundings? Out of control, some might say. Do American owners indulge their dogs or treat their dogs differently? Do we lack the training skills, as a people, to bring our dogs into submission? Are we an excessive society that allows our dogs free rein?

DachshundOn one occasion, we followed a tiny noodle dog (I’m a cat person) as a larger dog approached. The noodle dog jumped off the sidewalk and tumbled onto the cobblestone road to get around the other dog. The larger dog noticed the noodle dog stumble, then turned his attention back to the sidewalk and kept moving forward. Once the larger dog passed, the tiny dog scrambled back up onto the sidewalk. The owner was already around a corner and out of sight. The little guy could barely keep up.

Fascinating.

How can all these dogs be so well-behaved? Why do they show so little interest in their surroundings? Why do they keep to themselves? What can this mean?

Behind the Iron Curtain

Behind the Iron Curtain

Can it be possible that dog-behavior reflects an Iron Curtain mentality? I know that seems a stretch, but work with me.

Let’s look at Czech history. World leaders sliced and diced Czechoslovakia during World War II — way too complicated to summarize. The Czech Republic of today is a democratic republic, born from a heritage of brutal suppression under Communist rule from 1948-1968, and Warsaw Pact invasion force in 1968 through 1989. A few gory details: in 1969, student Jan Palach torched himself in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest Soviet occupation. Horrified, I googled Jan Palach. He survived for three pain-filled days before he died from third degree burns over 85% of his body.

Jaroslava Moserova, Czech burn specialist who treated Jan Palach, relayed his desperation in the crushed human spirit of his fellow citizens:

It was not so much in opposition to the Soviet occupation, but the demoralization which was setting in, that people were not only giving up, but giving in. And he wanted to stop that demoralization. I think the people in the street, the multitude of people in the street, silent, with sad eyes, serious faces, which when you looked at those people you understood that everyone understands, all the decent people who were on the verge of making compromises.[1]

Memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc in front of Prague National Museum

Memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc (fellow protestor) in front of Prague National Museum.

In his last words, he discouraged others from following his example!!!

“My act fulfilled its role. But no-one else should follow me. Students should try to save themselves, and devote their lives to fulfilling our goals. They should fight alive.

Fast forward 20 years to 1989 and the non-violent Velvet Revolution which led to Democratic elections in 1990, the first in 60 years. January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split peacefully into two states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

I, for one, feel incredibly thankful that I lead a very safe life in the land of the free. I’m thankful for the peaceful shift in political power every four to eight years. I’m thankful for the freedom to express my opinions and disagree with the leadership of my country.

But, what if I didn’t have the democratic freedoms I take for granted? How would handle the pressures of oppressive rule — the real life-and-death kind — not the bureaucratic red-tape kind I deal with daily in the federal government. How would I react if my life (or the lives of my daughters) depended on it? Would I submit or resist? I’d love to imagine myself as a freedom fighter, hiding families in my attic, and smuggling people to safety. But is that just wishful thinking? In reality, would I survive by:

  • keeping my eyes on the ground,
  • minding my own business,
  • following the rules, and
  • not making waves?

Hopefully, I’ll never have to make these choices.

So back to the story of the dogs.

Prague dogs keep their noses forward, eyes to the ground — indifferent to stimuli around them. Can we attribute this good behavior to superior training techniques? Or…do these pets mirror Iron Curtain survival traits?

Can the crushed human spirit from oppressive rule manifest itself in pet behavior?

Granted, this is all pure speculation. But, as a political scientist, I’m curious.

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Launch: Roving Reporter-nauts

I noticed something really amazing last night during the Expedition 25 Soyuz launch to Space Station: social media tools are transforming our astronauts into behind-the-scenes reporters.

And what a wonderful thing!

Soyuz Launch by @AstroIronMike

Soyuz Launch by @AstroIronMike

Seeing a picture of the Soyuz launch from Astronaut Mike Fincke‘s iphone just seems to feel more intimate and amazing than images taken by professional photographers.

With @Astro_Ron Garan on the backup crew, we get a glimpse inside the inner circle of an exclusive club — those who strap themselves onto rockets for the ride of their lives into space. We get to see what they see. How cool to see astronauts reporting the experience for their fellow astronauts.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really loving this new social media communication revolution.

Here are a few twitpics Ron posted last night:

Astronaut Scott Kelly Receiving Traditional Blessing

Astronaut Scott Kelly Receiving Traditional Blessing

Special Boots for Scott

Special Boots for Scott

Ron and Scott pre-launch

Ron and Scott pre-launch

I especially love this pic (below) from behind the glass. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode, “People are Alike All Over,” where an astronaut  finds himself a caged exhibit in a Martian zoo. I wonder if that what it feels like just before launch….

Behind the Glass Walls

Behind the Glass Walls

Soyuz in Sight

Soyuz in Sight

Long Walk to Launch
I love this trippy pic of the walk to Soyuz.
Soyuz on Launch pad

Soyuz on Launch pad

Ron will launch to the International Space Station on a Soyuz in March 2011. You can follow his training on the Fragile Oasis website. He keeps adding new bloggernauts to his astro-community. STS-133 Nicole Stott and Expedition 25 Doug Wheelock are already onboard. Astronaut Don Pettit is gearing up to post hundreds of Science in Space articles and videos.

The Fragile Oasis objectives:

  • Get the word out that the International Space Station is an incredible global asset;
  • Highlight the scientific advancements being accomplished on the International Space Station;
  • Inspire students to academic excellence;
  • Allow people to “experience” living and working in space vicariously through crew; members currently living on the International Space Station; and
  • Use the unique orbital perspective to inspire people to improve life on our planet.

Soon we’ll have a community component on Fragile Oasis that you can be part of. Stay tuned for more features in the next weeks and months. Ron has a HUGE vision for sharing the relevance of space with those of us on Earth.

I’m so thrilled to see our astronauts embrace new technology to leverage ways to let the rest of us join them on their journeys. Again, what a WONderful thing!!

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Prague Highlights

I attended the International Astronautical Congress last week in Prague, Czech Republic. I attended the Vancouver Congress years ago, but as an exhibit staffer, not a presenter. This was my first time to present papers. Quite an experience.

I presented three papers in four sessions (one with co-authors Joanna Scorsone and Angela Triano) — all about sharing “space” in non-traditional ways.  I must say, trying to find sessions to attend was like navigating a college course catalog. You can browse the IAC author’s index.  Quite extensive, impressive, and absolutely overwhelming. I had trouble finding my own sessions.

Space Expectations: Involving the Public in Space Activities.Rise Above the White Noise

Calling Planet Earth — Space Outreach to the General Public.Rise Above the White Noise

Water from Space: Societal, Educational and Cultural Aspects.LAUNCH:Water — Accelerating Innovation for a Sustainable Future

To Boldly Go — Space Station Education and Outreach. “SpaceSmart: Shifting Public Perceptions of Space”

I’ve posted “Rise Above the White Noise” on SlideShare. I’ll post the others too.

After each session, we had amazing conversations — sharing ideas and programs. I’m still sorting and processing. Here are a few highlights.

My fav presentation was European Space Agency’s Mars WebCam project. You’ll just have to check it out. The best example of “participatory exploration” that I’ve seen. They turned an unused mission camera back on to take photos of Mars. They offer the data to the public to process. The Mars WebCam folks post the “processed” images back on their site. Quite wonderful. They’ve created an amazing, enthusiastic community of Mars-watchers, who participate in the mission voluntarily with hundreds of hours of processing time to their credit. You can read the Mars WebCam blog. (Congrats on your shout out for the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2010!)

I spent a delightful lunch with a Canadian teacher who wants to create a classroom version of LAUNCH:Water. We talked about the process for planning, how we pick the topics, background research, innovator selection, thought-leader selection, presentation format, impact rotation conversations, and follow-up. I’m so thrilled to see her move from concept to implementation in her school setting. If this works, we’ll spin-off our first LAUNCH x — which was always our plan.

A representative from the Korea Aerospace Research Institute shared his excitement about space. He visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida a decade ago and has been waiting all this time to take his family back. He finally got the opportunity recently. He’s still glowing from the experience. He’s busy creating his own little bit of space paradise in Korea, and wants to use some of our space outreach activities to help the public experience the thrill and drama of space.

The UK-based EADS Astrium CubeSat guys are eager to learn from us on how to use social media to build enthusiastic communities around satellite opportunities. Lots of CubeSat excitement, btw. I saw a number of CubeSat presentations. They need launch opportunities to prove their concepts.

The German-based EADS Astrium folks want to share ideas on outreach and community-building tools.

I loved seeing the Spanish-language website, ProgramaEspacial.com, presented by a professor from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya on behalf of his Argentine colleagues. The site translates NASA mission updates and programming into Spanish and adds commentary by volunteer Spanish-speaking reporters. Well done. We hope to work more closely for future missions.

A representative from the China Academy of Space Technology wants to learn from us on how to reach out to the public. They don’t engage in “outreach” yet, but he is eager to understand how we make personal connections outside employees of the space sector. He liked Buzzroom, our NASA conversation collector, as well our newest social media note taking tool, Mind Mapr, which we’ll debut at the LAUNCH: Health sustainability forum.

I spoke on several occasions with a number of representatives in the South Africa space community. With Daughter #2 Steph in South Africa, I feel the need to touch all things related to her life. I was amazed to see plans for their new Space Port in Cape Town. They are forming a South African Space Agency. So cool!

I bartered two NASA pins for a South African delegation scarf, and wore it proudly!

South African Space Delegation Scarf

I’m excited about next year’s International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town. Hopefully, I’ll be able to present papers again. Fingers crossed.

A note from our sponsors. Prague is an amazing city. Ancient, but urban. Beautiful, but worn out. The language sounds quite close to Russian, but the city feels more medieval than what I’ve seen in Moscow. Our hotel, the Holiday Inn, sat on top of the castle ruins of the Bohemian Empire. Walking to dinner every evening was a visual feast, with churches and gorgeous architecture all around us.

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul

Church of St. Peter and St. Paul next to our hotel.

I must say, the search for bars in Prague took on a totally new meaning. By “bars,” I mean wifi and data roaming hotspots. The more “connection bars” the better. Picture us waving our iPhones in the air to get the best juice. Totally comical. Once we found connections, all conversation ceased. Heads down and fingers flying, we read and responded to as many email as possible in the shortest amount of time.

At times, we put down our digital devices and simply soaked in the culture…and an occasional serenade. (I have a few video recordings of our adorable Czech accordion player.)

UFlecku Accordion Player

UFlecku Accordion Player

The greatest highlight of this conference was the amazing opportunity to experience Prague with Daughter #1, Carol.

My daughters come from a Czech, Germanic heritage. (I’m more a a Celtic mutt with Scottish Irish roots mixed with English and French.) Pretty powerful and moving to learn the history of the Bohemia (I had no idea it was a place — I thought it was a state of mind) while walking on the cobblestone streets where my daughters’ ancestors may have walked. Czech phrases my mother-in-law taught me when the girls were little kept popping out of distant memories. We even found a little Czech bakery with poppy seed kolaches–a HUGE deal in Texas.

Thank you Prague for being such a wonderful host.

Traditional Czech Pastry
Traditional Czech Pastry in Street Vendor Carts

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Filed under Africa, Earth, environment, federal government, humanitarian aid, leadership, NASA, social media, space, technology, water