Category Archives: space

NYC Data Hive

Last week, a team from my office ventured to the bustling tech incubator, otherwise known as New York City, to meet with leading female thinkers in the data/tech space. We want to better understand what might draw more women to the  space data table. Among others, we met with Dawn Barber, co-founder of NY Tech Meetup; Hilary Mason, founder of Fast Forward Labs; Sasha Laundy, founder of Women Who Code; Vanessa Hurst, co-founder of Girl Develop It and Write Speak Code; and Rachel Sklar, media darling and mover shaker behind TheLi.st and #ChangeTheRatio.

NYC Skyline

NYC Skyline at 53rd and Broadway

While we were chatting with Sasha, she mentioned the work she’s doing with Max Shron at Polynumeral, their new data strategy consultancy. Now here’s the cool thing. I had just ordered Max Shron’s book, “Thinking with Data: How to Turn Information into Insights” for my dissertation research. I’m in the data analytics phase, and I’ve been looking at different methods and platforms for teasing insights from a mountain of data I’ve assembled on my topic. I love it when work and research collide like this.

I haven’t finished his book yet, but I offer a few tidbits. Before treasure hunting with data, scope out what you want. Most of us do the reverse. We throw analytic tools and processes at the data and wonder what we’ll find. “Starting with data, without first doing a lot of thinking, …is a short road to simple questions and unsurprising results. We don’t want unsurprising — we want knowledge” (Shron 2014: 1). I totally agree. My dissertation is all about knowledge creation. In fact, I’m looking at “Knowledge Alchemy through Collaborative Chaos.” Max states that our search for knowledge is sometimes filtered through a mental model of our own creation, while other times an algorithm can put the puzzle pieces together for us. “What concerns us in working with data is how to get as good a connection as possible between the observations we collect and the processes that shape our world (Shron 2014: 31).

While Big Data is the buzzword of choice these days in the IT world, I learned on my trip to NYC what a truly small data world we live in. The connections between us shape our observations of the world around us. So great to make new connections with awesome and inspiring leaders, and plug into the vibrant NYC data hive.

Source: Shron, Max. Thinking with Data: How to Turn Information into Insights.  Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc, 2014.

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Filed under collaboration, data, OpenNASA, space, technology

St. Paddy’s Day: Green Space!

Even though the DC region is covered in white, here are a few “green” space images to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!

Space Station Expedition 37: French Polynesia

Space Station Expedition 37: French Polynesia

Earth's surface from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. Credit: NASA/Robert Schwarz

Earth’s surface from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. Credit: NASA/Robert Schwarz

Space Station Expedition 34: Northern Lights

Space Station Expedition 34: Northern Lights

Space Station Expedition 37: Aurora Australis

Space Station Expedition 37: Aurora Australis

Expedition 38: Night view inside Space Station

Expedition 38: Night view inside Space Station

Hubble image of supernova.

Hubble image of supernova

Hubble Reveals the Ring Nebula's True Shape

Hubble Reveals the Ring Nebula’s True Shape

Planetary Nebula MyCn18: An Hourglass Pattern Around a Dying Star

Planetary Nebula MyCn18: An Hourglass Pattern Around a Dying Star

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Filed under Earth, International Space Station, NASA, space

Spacebot Invasion

My Robot 2012 Calendar came equipped with Fold-Your-Own 3-D paper punch-out robots. As I close out this year, I decided to try putting one together. After one, I was hooked. I punched, folded, and glued my way through the week of Christmas. Normally, I wouldn’t take the time to make paper dolls, but who can resist these cute little robots? I truly enjoyed bringing them to life.

Meet the spacebots. Each is unique and has a story to tell.

Radiacto's radiation gauge looks off the chart.

Radiacto’s radiation gauge looks off the chart. Best to wear lead.

Retro Attack dares invaders to touch down on our Blue Planet.

Retro Attack dares invaders to touch down on our Blue Planet. She’s on guard 24-7.

Cyclops is a Universal Guardian

Cyclops is a Universal Guardian keeping an eye on humanity.

I-Spin 3000's Mood Meter monitors human happiness.

I-Spin 3000’s Mood Meter monitors human happiness. Smiling makes her meter spin.

Tock-A-Tron is a time traveler.

Tock-A-Tron is a time traveler. He rolls between the space-time continuum

Don't Panic is an Earth monitor.

Don’t Panic is an Earth monitor. She’s here to keep humanity safe.

Jackpot thinks our Blue Planet in right on the money!

Jackpot thinks our Blue Planet in right on the money!

Raid Invader was once a galactic warrior.

Raid Invader was once a galactic warrior, but after a short vacation on Earth, he quit his job. He opted for a Blue Planet retirement.

Galaxy Ranger travels planet to planet.

Galaxy Ranger travels planet to planet. Earth is his fav stopover.

Heartbreaker has a heart for Earthlings.

Heartbreaker has a heart for Earthlings. She’s a planetary caretaker.

Tank-Tronic keeps the planet safe from enemy invaders.

Tank-Tronic keeps the planet safe from enemy invaders.

Drill Bit is a Planetary Archeologist.

Drill Bit is a Planetary Archeologist. Don’t forget the drilling permits!

Spacebots are hanging out in my library

Spacebots are hanging out in my library, trying to learn about humans.

Spacebots enjoyed their first Blue Planet Christmas.

Spacebots enjoyed their first Blue Planet Christmas.

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Filed under Earth, space

5th Dimension: Imagination Space

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone—Rod Serling

Star Trek: Borg spacecraft

Star Trek: Borg Cube

In physics, the fifth dimension exists outside the space-time continuum, which is the three-dimensional space (up-down, backward-forward, right-left) plus the fourth dimension of time. I’ll stick with Rod Serling’s version of the fifth dimension as the space where imagination lives.

Looking at the fifth dimension from a math point of view, five-dimensional geometry features a 5-cube, part of the hypercube family (which makes me think of the Star Trek Borg connection.) Look at the series of geometric figures below, each generated from a 5-cube. What do you see? I see a visual representation of the 5th Dimension Imagination Space — a constellation of ideas and solutions that can be generated from 5 points of reference.

5-Cube

Idea generation (or…31 uniform polytera generated from 5-cube)

So how can we harness the 5th Dimension Imagination Space?

That question drives my PhD dissertation research on the topic of Social Intrapreneurship — individuals from the 5th Dimension who leverage the mission and capabilities of their organizations to provide social good. I’m looking at the characteristics  and skills of change-makers, their idea generation/implementation process, and the organizations capacity to allow entrepreneurial activities to exist and flourish. I’m specifically interested in the disruptive thinking process that can shift the status quo and bring about social change.

Here are a few tidbits of wisdom from three books I’ve read recently.

1. “Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation,” by Tim Brown.

Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO offers three dimensions to define the creation space:

  1. inspiration space, where insights are harvested;
  2. ideation space, where insights become ideas; and
  3. implementation space, where action plans are created from the best ideas (p. 64).

He divides the creation process into “four mental states” — divergent and convergent thinking, followed by analysis and synthesis (p. 66-70). Divergent thinking is all about creating choices, where convergent thinking leads to making choices (p. 82). The process of brainstorming is a “structured way of breaking out of structure (p. 78).”

 “Every design process cycles through foggy periods of seemingly unstructured experimentation and bursts of intense clarity, periods of grappling with the Big Idea and long stretches during which all attention focuses on the details.” — Tim Brown

My favorite part of the book was his story about working on a kid’s product for NIKE (our LAUNCH.org partner). They asked a group of kids, aged eight to ten, to come up with a product ideas — then divided the girls from the boys. The girls came up with over 200 ideas by leap-frogging each other’s ideas. The boys compiled 50 ideas. Hmmm. Why, you may ask. The author explains that the boys were so busy trying to sell their own ideas that they paid little attention to anyone else’s ideas (p. 79).

2. “How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,” by David Bornstein

Bornstein explores what makes a social entrepreneur and looks for ways to identify them before they become well known. “Social entrepreneurs rarely announce themselves when they walk in the door.” He points out Ashoka’s criteria — vision, determination, and ethics (p. 120-201). He points to the difference between having an idea and being able to implement it (p. 123).

“What fascinates me most about the social entrepreneurs, at a personal level, is the way they hold to an internal vision no matter how many disruptive forces surround them. Somehow they find ways to construct meanings for themselves and hold to those meanings. On a daily basis, they manage to align their interests, abilities, beliefs, while acting to produce changes that accord with their deepest convictions (p. 288).” — David Bornstein

Bornstein identifies six qualities to look for in social entrepreneurs:

  1. willingness to self-correct,
  2. willingness to share credit,
  3. willingness to break free of established structures,
  4. willingness to cross disciplinary boundaries,
  5. willingness to work quietly, and
  6. strong ethical impetus (p. 238-46).

3. “The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the World” by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan

“Being unreasonable is not just a state of mind. It is also a process by which older, outdated forms of reasoning are jettisoned and new ones conceived and evolved (p. 1).” — Elkington and Hartigan

The authors investigated the roots of unreason in successful social entrepreneurs to determine how their bring about change. From the outside, these individuals seek “outlandish goals” by attacking intractable problems. They force others to “look beyond the edge of what is possible.” The authors wanted to understand how they approach value creation, as well as common models of leadership and business.

Social entrepreneurs are in demand from global corporations who are looking for “market intelligence” since entrepreneurs serve as “sensitive barometers for detecting market risk and opportunities (p. 2).” What sets social entrepreneurs apart from their business entrepreneur counterparts is their sense of the long-term solutions to problem, rather than short term gain from selling the idea.

How do we populate the 5th Dimension Imagination Space with divergent, disruptive thinkers, who have the freedom to create the maximum number of choices for optimum implementation?

I’ll let you know when I finish my dissertation. And, I hope I don’t find myself somewhere out in the Twilight Zone. ;)

Twilight Zone

Rod Serling: Twilight Zone

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Filed under culture, innovation, social entrepreneurship, space

LAUNCH: Innovation Super Bowl

“Your heart, not your knowledge or skill, is your qualification for leadership.”

A guest pastor at DC Metro church last weekend made this statement above. As I listen to the LAUNCH: Beyond Waste innovators share their passion for making the world a better place, I keep thinking the heart is what draws us together for the common goal of solving the intransigent problems facing humanity — like water, health, energy, and now waste.

After our first day of prep session with the innovators, I’m renewed with hope for what we can do collectively, if we join together with single purpose. Each of us on the LAUNCH team speaks the same passion language for a sustainable existence (both on and OFF this planet).

The LAUNCH forum is our Innovation Super Bowl.

We work for months to source and gather the right mix of expertise, experience, and influence for the LAUNCH Council and a balanced set of innovations to tackle complex issues. Once we get to this point in the process, we recharge off the collective genius of the minds gathered together for the forum.

Here are a few snapshots from Pasadena so far.

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LAUNCH: Collective Genius for Better World!

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Filed under innovation, LAUNCH, social entrepreneurship, space, technology

LAUNCH: Time to Stop Wasting

I’m flying high today. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy website hosted our LAUNCH: Beyond Waste blogpost authored by LAUNCH: Water Innovator and Astronaut Ron Garan: LAUNCHing Ideas for a Waste-less Tomorrow.

We’ve been refining LAUNCH over the last few years. This will be our fourth sustainability innovation forum. We’ve hosted LAUNCH: Water, LAUNCH: Health, and most recently, LAUNCH: Energy — all at the Kennedy Space Center. Now we’re moving from the east coast to the west coast. We’ll gather 35-ish thought leaders to hear and discuss ten game-changing solutions to the problem of waste at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory this July.

Waste is a huge issue for humans living on the planet, as well as those who live beyond the borders of Earth. In the developed world, we live in a throw-away society. We use a product (and sadly people, sometimes) and toss it when the newest model comes along. In the developing world, citizens take discarded objects, and give them new life. My daughter bought this soda can art from a market in South Africa.

South African Art: Plane from Recycled Fanta Can

South African Art: Plane from Recycled Fanta Can

To travel in space long distances, humans must take what they need for the journey. At $10,000/lb, we need to think long and hard about the essentials we send off the planet in our rocket-propelled biospheres.

We need creative minds to help think about designing a future with zero waste, and re-think waste in creative new ways to add redundant value.

LAUNCH: Beyond Waste is accepting proposals until May 15th. Be the change we need for a better tomorrow. Apply now at  http://challenge.launch.org.

Stop wasting time! It’s time to stop wasting.  

Let’s create a future with zero waste. I’ll leave you with a little Steve Miller Band….

Time Keeps on Slipping: Steve Miller Band

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Filed under LAUNCH, NASA, social entrepreneurship, space

2011: My Top 10 iPhone Travel Fotos

In days gone by, I never left home without my camera bag stocked with film and lenses. With an iPhone, I travel so much lighter. I’m totally hooked on the hipstamatic app, which allows me to create a funky style without a darkroom or chemicals. With a simple shake of my iPhone, I can change camera lenses and film, though my favorite is the Hipstamatic John S lens and Kodot XGrizzled film.

Here are a few shots from my 2011 travels to the Space Tweetups in Germany and Italy, and the NASA tweetups at the Kennedy Space Center. The final two are from Washington DC, where I work and play. Enjoy!

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Space Tweetup: German Space Day train

Space Tweetup: German Space Day train

Frankfort Airport

Frankfort Airport

Roma Colosseo

Roma Colosseo

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

Rome: Santa Maria Maggiore

ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy

ESA/ESRIN facility in Frascati, Italy

Cocoa Beach Sand Castles

Cocoa Beach Sand Castles

Space Coast Space Melons

Space Coast Space Melons

White House

White House

Washington Monument

Taxi window view of Washington Monument

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Filed under NASA, space, SpaceTweetup, tweet-up