science Archives

April 4, 2012

DARPA projects on TED

Another amazing video on DARPA projects including brain waves controlling robotics, nanotechnology, and hummingbird drones:

November 7, 2012


These quotes from Marc Andreessen inspired me to take on programming after several failed attempts to learn code:

"The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories," Andreessen says. "People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do."
In two words, "study STEM" (science, technology, engineering and math), he says. In liberal arts, only the best of the best will make top dollar. A person will have to be good enough that his book is a best seller or her song goes global, or he'll have to be smart enough to apply philosophy to corporate strategic thinking.

This quote just re-iterates my design minifesto. I should have included artists/writers/musicians and other creatives as well, but this was a 1-week assignment in 2003 (who knew what I now know).

Since May 2012, I've been taking classes in several MOOC's (Massive Open Online Course) via Coursera, Edx, Udacity, and Codeacademy. I think having taken Fortran in my undergraduate studies in engineering left a scar for learning programming. However, this year, I took a different approach by applying Malcolm Gladwell's principle of the 10,000 hours rule to my studies -- immersing myself in programming lectures. I am more determined to learn how to code. I am currently enrolled in a couple of Python classes, and whilst completing the assignments, I hadn't see a connection or relevance to my current day job... Until yesterday! A co-worker had to run some scripts in Python. Now that I can put what I learned to use, I am more motivated to learn Python.

I found this infographic on National Geographic relating to the 10,000 rule, which might inspire you:
Credit: Courtesy of Zintro

If you want to read a great article about MOOC's, check out this one published in the Nytimes. They even spell out the finer details between the MOOC's. Btw, Kerrissa Lynch, recommended this article to me.

Next week will mark the end of "Learn to Program." Wish me luck on my final ;)

November 10, 2012

Using 3D printers in regenerative medicine

A colleague of mine, Thomas Deneuville told me about this breakthrough research in using 3D printers to create tissue templates for creating organs in regenerative medicine (was published in Nature Materials).

Dr. Anthony Atala talks about "Growing organs" by printing, knitting, weaving cellular structures (and in some cases printing directly onto the organ during surgical procedures). These videos overlap, but the first one is dated 2009, and the second one is dated 2011:

In this video, they can scan and directly print these cell lines to the organ (screenshot of a frame in this video, and video just below it):


Last, I believe this research was published this July in Nature Biotechnology. The researchers at Caltech and Harvard were able to print and grow these artificial jellyfish, called "Medusoid," that they hope to use to create heart muscle or “to clean up oil spills in a similar manner to the way a jellyfish filters out its food.”

Check out this video of these flagellating Medusoids:

December 15, 2012

Great post by Arik Hesseldahl on Andy Rooney's bookshelf

I’m certain Rooney never read that email, and though I can’t prove it, I’m betting his producer did. Because two months later, Rooney closed the April 22, 2007 edition of 60 Minutes with a segment that included a few of his favorite books (Link goes to the video, which is not embeddable). They were: three dictionaries; a heavily used edition of Modern English Usage by Henry Watson Fowler. Walter Lippman’s A Preface To Morals; four leather-bound volumes by Charles Darwin; and the fifth edition of The Modern Researcher by Jacques Barzum and Henry Graff, also heavily used.

Here is Andy Rooney's segment on books (can't open the video, but maybe that is because of my browser):


I, too, have been fascinated with what is on people's shelves. I was so interested that I tried to translate this fascination into a physical object, a shelf connected to an RFID reader:

This initial prototype did function the basics (with the help of ITPers: Kazuhiro Nozaki, Josh Cheng, Max Weng, James Sears). However, there were some issues to be resolved like finding an RFID reader that had anti-collision properties (and was small enough and affordable). This investigation led to my thesis project, Hypershelf.

December 16, 2012

2012 ITP Winter Show, Day 1

ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) at NYU has a show twice a year. It always amazes me how creative and ambitious students are... They complete digital and physical prototypes using sensors, screen/optic/camera -- technology within a span of a semester, often working in groups, and some work individually. Nevertheless, they finish their projects on time. I was only able to attend one of the days, and could not cover all the projects. I highly recommend going. Below is the address and some of the projects I was able to engage with.

721 Broadway, 4th Floor
Tisch Building (Take the N/R to 8th street)
Sunday, December 16th, 2-6pm
Monday, December 17th, 4-8pm

List of projects:


These aren't in any particular order...

Sonified Data (Text is analyzed and assigned notes, which is played by the app that Hannah Davis created -- music is pretty soothing, sounds like Radiohead)

American Rubs []
This project analyzes the ethnic-neighborhood data taken from the U.S. Census Bureau, which is then used to create flavors of dry rubs for meats. I really got a kick out of this, and even tasted a couple of these spices... I particularly liked NYC, which is spicy, and Manhattan. Brooklyn kind of had a patchouli essence, which reminded me of uber hipsters.

Puppet and Performing Objects
Apparently, this was an entire class that explored interactive puppetry. Some puppets were high tech, like robotic, and some were low tech, like shadow puppetry. All in all, very cool.

Voodoo Bear []
This project was really funny. You enter your Twitter information and interact with the voodoo bear by pinching or poking it. The bear reacts with audio output and a tweet.

Bashtray []
It is an ashtray, but you put out your cigarette on the candidate you don't like.

So You Say []
This is a low-tech visualization that displays feedback for projects in the ITP show mapped geographically and demographically (age is represented in color of string).

The Buddhist arcade game []
I came by twice, but both times there were a ton of people playing this game (sigh). Hopefully, it makes it to an arcade so I can test my meditative abilities (been practicing lately with Deepak's 21-day meditation challenge).

The Collective DJ []
Ok, I am going to try to explain this, but it may be better to see it in person or watch the above video url. Your friend places her hand on one of those hand-cutouts. You place your hand on one of those hand-cutouts. Then you and your friend touch each other, and it plays a beat. If you touch your friends hand again, the beat switches off. Basically, humans are conductive switches. I can totally see this in a children's museum or a club/party. Very fun.

Random Story Generator
I came by a couple of times, and once again this spot was crowded so I couldn't get information about it. It intrigued me because it looked like a ouija board. Here are a couple of photos, which look like they play with a narrative story line. If you find out, please contact me with the details. I will give you credit.

Fly Guardian []
This is funny. Every time your fly is down, this device sends you a message-warning to your mobile device.

Water Cooler TV []
You can embed messages within a moment of the television show, so when others watch the same show, those messages will be displayed.

Octojam []
This is an instrument in the form of an octopus. As you pull the limbs of the octopus, a sound or beat is played.

Lego Builder []
Using gestures, you can construct buildings out of legos -- augmented reality.

Hamlet Simulator []
This is a pretty cool project. You select from several filter-ranges, which abridge a version of Hamlet according to the filters the user selects.

FreezeFrames []
This app captures your reaction after you watch a youtube video. I caught the tail end of the video where some kids knock down a shelf... I look surprised.

Bouncy Irises []
Bouncy Irises is sort of an innovative digital version of plinko. When the digital particles triggers a physical gear below (by pressing a button), the gears open up.



Cat Car []
This project makes me want to own a cat and this harness. You put this harness on a cat, and this harness has a wireless sensor talking to the the steering wheel, and lasers. Depending on where you want to drive your cat, it points lasers, so that your cat follows the lasers. The video is so funny because Sam Brenner tested this device on a couple of cats. He is going to document this online, and I will post his url here when he does. If he sold this on Kickstarter, I would consider getting this for my sister and her cat.

Laser Cat []
A robotic arduino car that follows laser beams, similar to that of a cat.

ITP Pcomp Mid-term FINAL from Max Ma on Vimeo.

December 22, 2012

More on Regenerative Medicine...

This is phenomenal. There is a lab in London, where researchers are repair body parts. Please note that the photos are a little graphic in this link by CNN.

Child stent that will expand as the child grows. Credit: (Seamus Murphy/VII); CNN, 14th slide

January 5, 2013

Literally, my new favorite site for now...

Wish they launched this site before cutting NASA funding:

I really think that some of the failures are more profound than the successes (rockets URL). Either way it is a win-win situation. Thanks NASA and more importantly thanks WTFNASA for highlighting relevant technologies, and making NASA cool again.

Btw, when my dad worked for NASA years ago, and I was a kid. I used to go to his fishing tackle box and break all these cells, not knowing what they were but just attracted to the feel and fragile-ness of this material. I never understood what he worked on, but thought space exploration was really boring. Recently my mother told me he researched solar cell technology there. Had I known that, I don't think I would have gone into his tackle box, but then again, I was 5 at the time.

Thank you, Matthew Evanusa for the referral to this blog.

January 8, 2013

Kickstarter stats and best projects of 2012


Ever thought of being a VC or Angel Investor, but couldn't afford to invest or commit? Well, Kickstarter is the platform for you to become an investor on some very cool projects. A group of friends that periodically invest in some interesting projects end up in my feed, which end up becoming a social way to invest. It is empowering and fun!


This comes out to $606.76 per minute.

Just like an annual report (but more interactive and engaging), Kickstarter publishes some stats and some projects for the public, [Just click here to visit]. But I will summarize some of the numbers below. All art belongs to Kickstarter, but I had to modify the screens so they fit in my blog.

Interesting list of categories and how much they made as a group. I believe games win at ~$83 million:

Here is a stat for those in music:

Here are a couple of music projects look pretty interesting (a movement to bring classical or new classical music back):

Now for funny projects that I have to revisit:



Other projects for me to revisit:


Design/Environmental Design/Architecture/Urban Planning

Design/Graphic Design/Urban Planning/Legal (offering "public domain" fonts)

A former colleague of mine, Britta Riley at NYU/ITP grad program founded this project:
Design/Environment/Interior Design/Nutrition/Education


Even Stanford University is teaching Kickstarter for college credit:

And Kickstarter is parodied by major publications like The New Yorker:
The caption reads: "Thanks to Kickstarter, we're buidling a tunnel." Click here to view original.

More funny links: [The Daily Show]

The Onion:,28655/

IFC (Portlandia):


Funny or Die [Rated PG-13]:

January 26, 2013

Now this is motivation to exercise... from funny science feed


Now based on this picture from this site/fb group (they make science fun), were rhinos the inspiration for unicorns as these two Wikipedia entries may suggest:

Elasmotherium ("Thin Plate Beast") is an extinct genus of giant rhinoceros endemic to Eurasia during the Late Pliocene through the Pleistocene, documented from 2.6 Ma to as late as 50,000 years ago, possibly later, in the Late Pleistocene, an approximate span of slightly less than 2.6 million years.
Unicorn Pliny the Elder mentions the oryx and an Indian ox (perhaps a rhinoceros) as one-horned beasts, as well as "a very fierce animal called the monoceros which has the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like that of the horse; it makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single black horn, which projects from the middle of its forehead, two cubits in length."

January 27, 2013

Great recommendation for InfoVis book by ITP List

I <3 the ITP Alumni list. There was a thread of reading material for information visualization. Of course, various people recommended the Tufte books. But there were 2 books that I purchased. Here is the title of the first one: Now You See It. I tried looking for information but only found the Table of Contents (TOC). Based on the TOC, I purchased it, and was pleasantly surprised.

pg 41 lists attributes of data
• length
• width
• orientation
• size
• shape
• curvature
• enclosure
• spatial grouping
• blur
• hue
• color intensity
• 2-D position
• direction of motion
Here are some photos:

Part-to-Whole and Ranking Patterns

This surprised me because the Part-to-Whole ratio has a visual definition.

Anyway, buy the book if you are interested.

October 17, 2013

A Network of Balloons Providing Internet Access

Google has launched a project called Loon, in which they create a network of balloons powered by solar panels and controlled using wind technology to provide Internet access (40th parallel south). I wish the success for this project, and the design is ingenious.

The technology:

It is project like these that make me wish I were a scientist :D


Promotional video:

November 3, 2013

Breakthrough Conference 2013

Just attended this conference Tuesday, October 22, 2013. It was like the Academy Awards with celebrity scientists form JPL and various academic and private institutions covering a variety of topics.

Download Summary of Panelists; Download my notes (typed on my iPad, so excuse typos)


Some notes:

Jet Propulsion Lab

-They are using Rover to collect samples from Mount Sharp on Mars
-They are also analyzing the terrain in layers, taking samples of deposit layers (e.g. clay layers)
-They are retroactively analyzing the terrain and found commonalities such as an ancient river bed and an old super volcano
-designing Rover to be a "roving laboratory" and created a Skycrane (would need to be able to transport 40 tons for a human habitat versus the current capacity of 4-5 tons)
-Next mission is called "2020" []


Oculus Rift (he wasn't able to be on the panel, but he created a VR system using Kickstarter that is being used to help people with post traumatic stress disorder using virtual-reality therapy:


Fabrication/Maker Startups

There were some other panelists substituted and covered "fabrication/makers/tinkering" and creating new economies for hardware design and process, and how to overcome larger competitors:
- Jim Newton, founder of TechShop in Silicon Valley []
- Sanjay [] - they were funded by Paul Graham's y-combinator
- Mike Este [] - this company began as an education company (they have lowered their age barriers from 18yo to 8yo — kids can learn to solder). Initially they were tasked to improve high school shop classes because students did not have the skills to understand manufacturing, etc.
• Focus is on either 3D fabrication or 2D milling.


Autonomous Drivers

Highway Autopilot (semi-autonomous cars via General Motors) - this system is being integrated in "Cruise Control" features of cars:

Vijay Kumar (miniature robotic helicopters controlled by remote control that can lift heavy objects for construction or be used to sweep the environment after a disaster):


Nanotechnology and Small Sensors

Michael Goldfarb created mechanical exoskeletons to help people who have spinal cord damage:

Robotic touch that can detect texture better than humans using a special algorithm (looping and collecting data on different textures) and machine learning (for prosthetics):

Dr. Anita Goel - Biosym
Dr. Goel's product was a hand-held device that harnesses real-time processing and is a mobile DNA/RNA diagnostic system (comparable to a PCR machine). I think they are working on a system that detects HIV for developing countries because most of these tests take 6 weeks to see results, and by that time, people have migrated to other locations.

Addendum: Jason Wilde @nature referenced that this device might be parallel to the Star Trek Tricorder, and Mark Henry mentioned that perhaps the root comes from "triage" [(in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties]. Yes, there are a bunch of Star Trek geeks here in science. For those, who don't know what a Tricorder is, I found one on this site using google images:

credit and contest:

Paul Bunje - Ocean Health X Prize, UCLA center for climate change solution;
worked with policy makers, carbon emissions impact on oceans -- specifically
acidification by using sensors. Collect actionable data in order to make
decisions. They want to award a winner to create a pH sensor for the ocean (cheap and accurate)

What was not apart of the conference, but still amazing – growing and printing organs:


Peter Diamandis, X Prize

- some ideas include being able to order a dress online from Bangladesh, and your closet prints the dress by next morning
- innovations in oil clean-up
-Singularity University []; []
- Xprize focused on finding asteroids (because they are rich in water – 20%) for space vehicles
- he mentioned something about Optogenetics and Cortical implants (during the Q&A session)
- mining platinum elements when an asteroid hits the Earth []
- check out the screenshot from Kevin Werbach's Gamification course at UPenn on investment yields from competitions like Xprize, Innocentive and Darpa Grand Challenges [Coursera/Upenn]:

More information on Peter Diamandis here:

November 24, 2013

Ziegfeld Theatre

Credit: Emily's Last Word

One of my favorite theaters in NYC is Ziegfeld Theatre. If you don't want any hassles waiting in line, finding a seat, or have a pleasant lavatory experience (each stall in the bathroom has a sink) -- then this is the theater to watch your movie in. Last night, I watched the new Suzanne Collins' sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire starring Jennifer Lawrence. I was able to walk right to this theater 12 minutes before the show started, purchase tickets in two minutes, and find a seat with plenty of time to get popcorn or go to the restroom. Also Rosa, the attendant, introduced the movie and the duration of the movie and trailers. So if you can't watch this movie, you still have time to leave and get a refund on your movie tickets.

The theater is enormous:

In addition, there are historical plaques describing the detail of the theater. I found this one, which reads:

Story of This Wood

Carbon 14-Isotope dating shows this wood has been buried in a peat bog near Cambridge, England since 2120 BC. Rising sea levels flooded the forest and prevailing winds toppled the trees. The forest was replaced by an open sedge fen. Waterlogging the tree and enveloping it in a thick bed of organic peat.

After 4100 years, the bog waters have hardened the wood and changed its color from a natural oaken tone to the rich charcoal hues you see. Although other trees have been found in the same area, none has proven to be as large or well preserved as this one.

Supplied by David R. Webb Co., A division of Walter Reade Organization



Btw, Jennifer Lawrence is one of my favorite actresses. I was thinking if anyone would be cast as WonderWoman, she could play her. I really like this clip of her at the Academy Awards:

This version of Hunger Games has elements of Blade Runner and The Matrix. Costumes and special effects were amazing, and used appropriately.

A shout out to Jena Malone. I met her when she was 8yo, working on a grad student film for a candidate at the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC. I remembered how talented and mature she was at that age. She later starred in Donny Darko.

I thought the elevator banks were shot in NYC, but I was wrong -- in Atlanta Marriott Marquis.


Found this excerpt, describing these series of books:

The book was released on September 1, 2009, and was later released in Kindle and audiobook format. The book had an initial print run of 350,000 copies. Advance reading copies were available at BookExpo America in New York City, and were sent out to some booksellers, and offered as prizes in Scholastic's "How Would You Survive" writing contest in May 2009. Major themes include survival, government control, rebellion and interdependence versus independence.

December 11, 2013

TED: The promise of research with stem cells

I just found this video which was dated Jun 2012. Susan Solomon, the founder of New York Stem Cell Foundation, speaks about the innovative technology of stem cell research, drug discovery process, statistics of drug discovery and disease-modeling in tissue, use of hardware (automated robot to print thousands of stem cell lines), use of software (to produce avatars to test side effects of drugs on organs). Skip to 13:28-13:40 to see this technology...

Genspace Event: A New Strategy Against Blood Cancers

Dr. Julian Adams on "A New Strategy Against Blood Cancers"

Friday, December 13, 2013 from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Join us at Genspace for a presentation by Dr. Julian Adams, the President of research and development at Infinty Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Adams’s work has led to the development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs, proteosome inhibitors, that target multiple myelomas. Find out how rapid progress being made in the field of anti-cancer drug development is hoped to lead to the eventual eradication of all forms of cancer.

Dr. Adams has been recently honored by The Mass General Cancer Center for his efforts and success in leading the way towards curing cancer:

December 26, 2013

Circuit Scribe: Conductive Ink and STEM

Pretty cool project on Kickstarter:

December 29, 2013

Khan Academy

Just found this great video on Kahn Academy.

Sometimes the founder, Salman Khan, will study up to 5 textbooks before he creates a video:

Here is a segment on Khan Academy's data driven analysis by former Google Executive, Eric Schmidt:

August 23, 2014

[Edtech]: STEMteachersNYC: Standards-Based Grading

I have gone to one STEMteachersNYC event on [], and open-source Java based code for artists and designers. First off, STEM is an acronym for (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). I was pretty impressed with the teachers in this group. I worked with two high school teachers, who were teaching Processing, Arduino inputs (software-to-hardware and hardware-to-software interaction), scary that some kids are learning this in 10th grade, when I learned this program in my mid-thirties. Within 20-40 minutes, my group created a simulation of a decaying leaf over 365 days, including day and night. That was one of the issues I had in graduate school. Artists and designers were creating beautiful art, but not using the program to simulate science. I saw some projects simulating Visual Calculus techniques that simulated a presentation from a Caltech Professor, Mamikon Mnatsakanian [New Horizons in Geometry(Dolciani Mathematical Expositions) Hardcover – January 18, 2013 by Tom Apostol (Author), Mamikon Mnatsakanian (Author)]. I also saw cool applications of teachers teaching Trigonometry, sine and cosine by creating the application, and editing the program. Processing is the new Mathematica (this software was $100k at one time).

I am attending this event on assessment. I have been interested in retention. Why can I remember almost every colleagues' thesis or class projects in graduate school, but on a MOOC, I need to review content. In both physical classes and digital classes, assessment was very important, but very different. Since approximately 70k-100k can take one Coursera class, students are often graded by their peers using specific examples of rubrics. Anyway, there are 30 spots:

More about this event and how to join the group below:

• Elizabeth Dowdell (Urban Assembly Maker Academy, Manhattan)
• Steven Carpenter (Avenues: The World School, Manhattan)

DESCRIPTION: Standards-Based Grading (SBG) begins with standards that teachers author/choose/revise and that they apply in their classrooms. Rather than a top-down directive, these standards are a helpful tool that teachers use to make required work and acceptable performance levels transparent. Instead of receiving a traditional letter or number grade on an assessment, SBG allows teachers to provide students with feedback on their mastery of a set of specific skills and content knowledge. With SBG, conversations become more focused on learning itself rather than report card grades. SBG can also be used to help meet the demands of Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and Danielson’s Framework (especially component 3d).

In this workshop, we will share our experiences developing and implementing Standards-Based Grading systems in our classrooms. During the first part of the workshop we will present specific examples and resources from our classrooms, along with discussions regarding why and how we made the shift to SBG and some of the challenges and rewards we experienced. During the second part of the workshop, you will have the opportunity to work in groups to experience the process of developing/choosing standards and to discuss how those standards impact instruction and grading.

Elizabeth teaches physics and Steve teaches physics, engineering, physical science, and computer programming. In addition to using SBG in their own classrooms, both Elizabeth and Steve have experience implementing SBG with interdisciplinary teams. Thus the focus of the workshop will be on a variety of disciplines, and the strategies and tools considered will be useful to any teacher, irrespective of subject.
Receipts and Certificates documenting participation are available.

STEM (Science-Tech-Engineering-Math) teachers, including physics, chemistry, biology, earth science physical science, and general science teachers
Teachers of any subject interested in making their evaluation of student work more meaningful and transparent as well as in developing explicit standards and connecting them with grading.

Students interested in becoming teachers or engaged in preparing to be teachers.
ACCELERATED MOTION APPARATUS AND WHITEBOARDS. There is a simultaneous workshop at Teachers College on “Accelerated Motion Lab Make-n-Take & Intro to Modeling.” If you wish to do so, you can order whiteboards (6 for $20) and/or one or more of the accelerated motion apparatus setups for $10 each (or 8 for $64) at . The whiteboards and apparatus will be available for pickup in room 414, down the hall from the SBG workshop at 1 pm.

CAPACITY: limited to 30 participants.
ORGANIZER: Fernand Brunschwig, Math, Sci. & Tech. Dept., Columbia Teachers College
To join STEMteachersNYC, fill out survey:

By the way, I met with Fernand Brunschwig, founder of this program, and author of a college physics text book. You can google him, or check out his books on scribd [].

May 17, 2016

STEAM Event in NYC

I was lucky to get tickets from NYU to a STEAM event at a public school in Brooklyn.

I gravitated away from the new technologies like Arduino and LittleBits, and found this booth. I was able to experience some of these tools that people used in early 19th and 20th Century. It was a like a tangible museum.

This device reminds me of Google Cardboard:

This is what I see in the viewer:

Here's a microscope:

Here's what someone joked as a Ouija board.

But it looks like a mini-printing press or type-plate. It reminds me of a Letterpress class I took at Art Center:

See in context:

They use these tools for teaching. If interested, here's more information:
The Museum of Interesting Things
Denny Daniel


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