The flexible dual layer tent structure has the ability to close out the cold of winter and wet weather. It also opens up to allow cool air in and hot air out in summer. Rainwater is collected in the top of the tent and filters down the sides so the tent does not become flooded. The tent also has the ability to become a showering facility with water being stored in pockets on the side and drawn upwards via a thermosiphoning system providing basic sanitation.
As science writer and editor at the journal Nature, Philip Ball points out in his foreword: “Our brains are attuned to finding regularities in the world and using them to make predictions and deductions.” Pattern is the basis of science, language, culture and “our place in the cosmos”. Music flows in patterns, we build in patterns, our social structures follow patterns. Which is why, he writes, “our brains aren’t just adept at finding order and pattern, but respond to them aesthetically, rewarding ourselves with the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing universal harmonies”.
When Microsoft programmer Kentaro Toyama was sent by his employers to India in 2004, charged with using technology to improve education, he expected to swoop in armed with gadgets and effect whizzy social change. It didn’t quite pan out like that. Toyama had some early successes at Microsoft Research India, including the invention of a device that allowed multiple mice-wielding pupils to control one computer at the same time. (MultiPoint, a problem-fixer for classrooms that had too few computers, won awards.) But he quickly came to see that technology was not the “magic cure” export his employers – and, indeed, many in Silicon Valley – seemed to expect.
Fifteen years ago, Steve Silberman was working as a journalist for Wired magazine in San Francisco, as the digital revolution was really taking off. He was sitting in a cafe, telling a friend how he’d recently met two Silicon Valley power couples, each with a profoundly autistic child, when a teacher at the next table overheard and butted in: “There’s an epidemic of autism in Silicon Valley. Something terrible is happening to our children.” Silberman’s story on the topic, The Geek Syndrome, was published by Wired in 2001. Back then, it was not uncommon to hear autism spoken about in this way. But understanding and acceptance have since progressed in leaps and bounds. Silberman’s new book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently, tells the story of how this transformation happened – the research, the parents and therapists, and above all, the information networks that allowed everybody interested to share what they were finding out.
Much of this writing presumably never found a reader. And since the Amstrad had no easy way of connecting with another machine, these half-written memoirs and abandoned novels must now lie trapped in unreadable 3in floppy disks, binned or hidden at the backs of drawers. These losses are the price we pay for the elusiveness of a digital world that stores information not in material traces but in ethereal forms like binary ones and zeros. A book can now go from word file to email attachment to PDF proof to ebook, with no intervening encounter with paper and ink. The Amstrad did its bit to make this new world possible: it was the grisly beige gulag that gave birth to billions of words.
Take a look at your own media consumption, and you can most likely see the logic of the argument. Just calculate for a second how many things you used to pay for that now arrive free of charge: all those Spotify playlists that were once $15 CDs; the countless hours of YouTube videos your kids watch each week; online articles that once required a magazine subscription or a few bucks at the newsstand. And even when you do manage to pull out a credit card, the amounts are shrinking: $9 for an e-book that used to be a $20 hardcover. If the prices of traditional media keep falling, then it seems logical to critics that we will end up in a world in which no one has an economic incentive to follow creative passions. The thrust of this argument is simple and bleak: that the digital economy creates a kind of structural impossibility that art will make money in the future. The world of professional creativity, the critics fear, will soon be swallowed by the profusion of amateurs, or the collapse of prices in an age of infinite and instant reproduction will cheapen art so that no one will be able to quit their day jobs to make it — or both.
When was the last time you saw a website that didn’t have a huge image fitting to the screen with some giant text overlaid on it? Scroll down a little and you’ll be greeted with either another full width panel, this time a solid colour with centred text sat in it, or a bank of 3 columns with icons sat above them. Websites are all blending into one.
A prototype 3D-printed robotic hand that can be made faster and more cheaply than current alternatives is this year’s UK winner of the James Dyson Award. The Bristol-raised creator of the Open Bionics project says he can 3D-scan an amputee and build them a custom-fitted socket and hand in less than two days. It typically takes weeks or months to obtain existing products. Joel Gibbard says he aims to start selling the prosthetics next year. “We have a device at the lower-end of the pricing scale and the upper end of functionality,” he told the BBC. “At the same time it is very lightweight and it can be customised for each person. “The hand is basically a skeleton with a ‘skin’ on top. So, we can do different things to the skin – we can put patterns on it, we can change the styling and design. There’s quite a lot of flexibility there.” The 25-year-old inventor intends to charge customers £2,000 for the device, including the cost of a fitting. Although prosthetic arms fitted with hooks typically can be bought for similar prices, ones with controllable fingers are usually sold for between £20,000 and £60,000.