Monthly Archives: August 2011

Creative Ideas Get You Nowhere

New research at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that most people reject truly creative ideas.

The organizational behaviour study, The Bias Against Creativity: Why People Desire But Reject Creative Ideas, scheduled to be published in Psychological Science journal, shows that most people experience a negative association with creative and novel, high performance solutions.

According to Jack Goncalo (, member of the study, people are often feeling uncomfortable when faced with prospects of new, novel approaches or technology.

Even when a new, creative approach is validated through a sound explanation, the subjects preferred practical, familiar solutions instead.

The study unveils as well as confirms a few key ingredients to technological evolution: most organizational behaviourists and communication theorists will tell you that human behavior, by default, aims to resist change. Change is a difficult pill to swallow because any change usually implies alteration and adaption of already established habits and behaviours. To change one’s behaviour is innately undesired.

Similarly, researchers have also confirmed that radical elements in society, as well as deviancy, tend to spur creativity and change. Despite this, society has been treating its more provocative denizens with increasing levels of condemnation.

This may translate to how individual as well as social perception of creative developments is accepted or rejected, as the study also shows some less creative, but well “marketed” ideas have a better chance at being coopted, rather than those truly different ideas.

You need look no further than at your new IKEA catalogue. Or for that matter, our very economy and financial principles: despite evidence to the contrary, the trickle-down principle is still dressed up to appeal to public at large, as real change, those scarce creative solutions are largely ignored.

According to the study, subjects often associated novel, creative ideas with words such as “vomit, poison, and agony.”

Uncertainty drives the search for and generation of creative ideas, but “uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity, perhaps when we need it most,” the researchers wrote. “Revealing the existence and nature of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements, even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary. … The field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas to identify how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.”

Doctor Who: Let’s Kill Hitler

In the latest round of interviews on the subject of Doctor Who, Moffat reveals some uncomfortable hints and truths: for one, he is less enthusiastic about Doctor Who than he is about Sherlock, as persistent rumours indicate serious cut-backs to the Doctor “reboot.”

The man who was handed over one of the most amazing and most successful franchises to date, counting not one but 3 successful series has already had enough of it it seems.

The work has been so overwhelming, what will all this reimagining of the Doctor, and the vast, significant changes to the franchise, that Moffat is just pooped. He’s simply imaginationed-out.

Now, the questions loom – will there be another season, and more importantly, when will the episodes for the seventh season air.

Meanwhile, the interview regarding the long-awaited Let’s Kill Hitler episode is out on BBC.

Samsung Defends Its Patent by Using a Sci-Fi Classic

There is a patent war at hand, and all the telecommunications companies engaged in these protracted, legal battles. In the latest face-off, Samsung’s legal team resorted to using clips from 2001: A Space Odyssey in the courtroom, enclosing image above to showcase prior knowledge of technology.

The image from the Kubrick film clearly shows astronauts browsing their electronic newsprint and white papers on what could potentially be interpreted as a Tablet-like device with rounded corners.

The film, suggests the legal team, proves that the idea of an electronic pad is a relatively old one. That really is not a superbly novel tactic, but then again, neither is the idea. We all grew up watching The Tomorrow People, or for that matter, Star Trek: TNG, in which Pickard often handles his novels on notebook-sized electronic pads.

Really, noone can deny the value of science-fiction and visual media that continuously inspire growth of technology, apart from the ever disastrous Runaway, complements of Michael Crichton, naturally.

The argument made by Samsung’s legal team thus is that Apple did little in terms of inventing the preliminary design for its iPhone or iPad.

NASA Goes Sci-Fi

NASA has recently lost its space shuttle program. The space, as of now, is largely a private affair. It may seem like a win, but really, looking at it closer, it is largely a grand loss.

But no worries. There are other things NASA will be engaging in: namely, the business of publishing.

Many may be surprised, mostly those who keep their penchant for Star Trek under wraps like a set of dirty socks, that science fiction has a long history of influencing space exploration and extraterrestrial sciences, as well as vice versa. Panels of futurists have always graced various commissions and studies, and most science fiction writers are or were practicing scientists.

Now that we’ve cleared this up back to NASA.

NASA, now that it has all this time not worrying about shuttlecrafts, is entering the world of publishing. In a big media splash, the public space agency has unveiled a NASA-inspired set of novels. Why? To inspire the next generation of kids.

The reasoning seems flat, but I don’t mind. The Tor-Forge books will be commissioning the likes of Scarlett Thomas, Douglas Rushkoff, Ray Hammond and Markus Heitz, who will create the works in question.

Underwater Superspeed Train Revealed: 4,000mph underwater train from New York to London

Few years ago, when Iraq war was at its very ugly head, the rumours flooded the media regarding an established Iraqi scientists who made headway on research into underwater propulsion and was scooped off to US. Despite my best efforts to locate the said articles with the notes, the person in question disappeared.

A handful of years later though, plans for 4,000mph underwater train from New York to London have been unveiled.

The Maglev Train would use electromagnetic propulsion through an underwater, vacuum channel, in order to reach unprecedented speeds. The final product would basically get you from New York to London in a little less than an hour (disregarding the time required to clear the border patrol and the customs, of course).

Read more here.

Spiderman Reboot: Trailer: The Amazing Spiderman

watch here:

The newly released trailer full of fresh faces is meant to reboot a relatively new franchise. Not unusual for a comic book, yet a relatively short time for a film franchise, the new series of films is meant to give us an alternate look at the story of the Peter Parker become Spiderman from a more organic, science-based perspective.

This new version of The Amazing Spiderman directed by relative newcomer to the action genre, Marc Webb, is a cinematic feast, providing an unusual, and much wanted, first-person perspective. Andrew Garfield who made his mark in critically acclaimed Red Riding film series is Peter Parker / Spiderman.

With John Schwartzman as cinematographer, and distinguished cameramen such as Greg Baldi (Quantum of Solace, Wanted, Eagle Eye) we’re assuredly in safe hands.

In this version of Spiderman, Peter Parker relies on genetic changes that have very much something to do with his past, his genetics, and the death of his parents.


Awhile ago on the show I mentioned a bit about bioelectrodes made from enzyme-coated nanotubes. Here’s the paper that was published on it:

What I found really cool was that it provided a way to tap into the metabolic energy of a cell and turn it into electricity. Normally in biotic systems metabolism has to cycle in coenzymes like NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and move protons and their bond electrons through a complex electron transport chain to get usable energy out of the breakdown of glucose. These bioelectrodes allow you to directly harvest electricity from a catabolic reation. It had a very good efficiency as well – the voltage measured across the electrodes was nearly identical to the redox potential of the enzyme. There is very little energy being lost by transducing energy using this method.

WiTricity Update: Charging Demonstration_Tablet