Eric Knight Inventor. Entrepreneur. Author. Futurist. Business & Internet Pioneer.
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Would you like to fly to Mars? Here’s the next best thing…

January 19

time_capsule_to_mars_spacecraft_rendering_for_online_distributionMy company is a proud supporter of the international student team that’s planning to build and fly a small spacecraft to Mars. On board would be a two-inch-diameter titanium “time capsule of humanity” containing perhaps millions of digital photos, videos, audio files, and text messages from people all over the world — including you.

Your digital creations would be stored on new “quartz” media that, by some estimates, will survive on the surface of Mars for up to 300 million years.

This would be the world’s first interplanetary space mission led by a non-government team. Other key mission supporters include MIT and Explore Mars, Inc. Details of the mission can be viewed at this link.

While the students are working on the essential science, they are also looking for creative names for both the spacecraft and the Mars “time capsule” lander. The goal is to unleash the world’s creativity in every aspect of the program. The individuals who submit the chosen names will get special digital allocations in the time capsule’s quartz memory, as well as other unique tributes. To submit your name ideas, visit www.TimeCapuleToMars.com.

Excellent report: Consumer Report’s review of the Affordable Health Care Act “Obamacare”

September 22

Consumer_Reports_Health_Care_FactsDownload and read the excellent perspective on the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a., “Obamacare” — entitled “Health Reform:  Seven Things You Need To Know” — by clicking on this link.

The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes scientific gun study: “Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States.” SUMMARY: The higher the number of firearm laws in a state, the lower the rate of firearm fatalities in the state.

March 7

Results:  Over the 4-year study period, there were 121,084 firearm fatalities. The average state-based firearm fatality rates varied from a high of 17.9 (Louisiana) to a low of 2.9 (Hawaii) per 100,000 individuals per year. Annual firearm legislative strength scores ranged from 0 (Utah) to 24 (Massachusetts) of 28 possible points. States in the highest quartile of legislative strength (scores of >9) had a lower overall firearm fatality rate than those in the lowest quartile (scores of <2) (absolute rate difference, 6.64 deaths/100,000/y; age-adjusted incident rate ratio [IRR], 0.58; 95% CI, 0.37-0.92). Compared with the quartile of states with the fewest laws, the quartile with the most laws had a lower firearm suicide rate (absolute rate difference, 6.25 deaths/100,000/y; IRR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.48-0.83) and a lower firearm homicide rate (absolute rate difference, 0.40 deaths/100,000/y; IRR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38-0.95).

Conclusions and Relevance:  A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually. As our study could not determine cause-and-effect relationships, further studies are necessary to define the nature of this association.

Full report:   http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1661390

Eric W. Fleegler, MD, MPH; Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH; Michael C. Monuteaux, ScD; David Hemenway, PhD; Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-9. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1286.

Published online March 6, 2013

Steve Case: Entrepreneurs are American heroes | VentureBeat

September 14

Steve Case: Entrepreneurs are American heroes | VentureBeatSteve Case, founder of AOL, venture capitalist, and current chairman of Startup America Partnership, says entrepreneurs are the true American heroes.

“Entrepreneurship is how America became great,” Case said.  “The good news is that we’re still the most entrepreneurial nation in the world. The bad news is that all the other countries are trying to catch us.”

Case was speaking in Detroit at Techonomy on Entrepreneurship and American Relevance.There are two types of founders, Case said:  those who create an interesting product or service but have modest ambitions…and those who are trying to change the world, who are swinging for the fences.

Those who are swinging for the fences are continuing the grand American tradition of entrepreneurship, he suggested, continuing the legacy of legendary Detroit founders and leaders such as Henry Ford.

Case sees what’s happening now as the next revolution in technology. After the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the initial stages of the digital revolution, we’re now seeing perhaps the most important part of the digital revolution: the impact of digital technology on all aspects of the economy.

Even heroes, of course, need loyal sidekicks. That’s why Case accepted the role of chairman of the Startup America Partnership, which is focused on building up all the regions of the U.S.

Not just social media companies — not just Facebooks and Instagrams — but also companies that use technology intelligently in transportation, in manufacturing, in all aspects of the economy.

“In some ways, every company is now a technology company,” Case said. The most important thing for entrepreneurial heroes, according to Case?“They really have to have passion.”

Image credits: Blastr, John Koetsier

via Steve Case: Entrepreneurs are American heroes | VentureBeat.

De-mystifying the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). A wonderful summary of benefits, requirements, and nuances. A “must read” for those who want to know the facts about the health care law.

July 1

The non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation has prepared a superb summary of the Affordable Care Act.  No hype.  No political spin.  No mis-information.

Read about:   The individual mandate.  Employer requirements.  Prevention and wellness programs.  How public programs are expanded.  Premiums.  Cost-sharing subsidies.  Related tax changes.  Health insurance exchanges.  Impacts on private insurance.  State role.  Cost containment.  Improving quality and health care system performance.  Nutritional information required to be disclosed by restaurant chains.  Long-term care.  Coverage and financing.

Here’s the link to the KFF summary of health care reform as provided by the Affordable Care Act:  http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/8061.pdf

F.Y.I., regarding “coverage and financing,” the KFF summary reports:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the new health reform law will provide coverage to an additional 32 million when fully implemented in 2019 through a combination of the newly created Exchanges and the Medicaid expansion.

CBO estimates the cost of the coverage components of the new law to be $938 billion over ten years. These costs are financed through a combination of savings from Medicare and Medicaid and new taxes and fees, including an excise tax on high-cost insurance, which CBO estimates will raise $32 billion over ten years.  CBO also estimates that the health reform law will reduce the deficit by $124 billion over ten years.

Sun of a B**** (Is humanity really doomed by upcoming solar storms?)

August 16

Over the last couple of months I’ve seen a flurry of doom ‘n’ gloom scenarios based on the nearing peak (in mid 2013) of the 11-year solar cycle.  For instance, a little over a week ago I read in the International Business Times, “Severe Solar Storm to Create Global Chaos and Complete Darkness” followed a week later by “Severe Solar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade.”

I’m not picking on the IB Times.  I’ve seen similar reports in Popular Science, such as the June 30th article entitled, “Are We Prepared for a Catastrophic Solar Storm?”

So are we all toast?

Here’s the reality:

It’s true that with the near total dependence on computers for every aspect of our lives, we’ve never been more vulnerable to solar activity.  I described in a previous article a recent near-miss of a CME (corona mass ejection) — essentially a ball of plasma ejected by the sun.  If a large CME hits our planet, power could certainly go down for an extended period of time.

One of the biggest concerns of scientists is the “Fukushima Effect” in which the backup generators and battery systems at nuclear power plants run out power.  Such a circumstance could cascade to the point where water-cooling systems would become inoperable — and result in Fukushima-like catastrophes around the world.  The actual chances?  Hard to predict precisely.  But, by legitimate estimates, pretty low.

More likely to occur:  Gas pumps at your local service station would stop working.  (They’re essentially computerized pumps; the credit-card processing network would also likely go down.)   “Telecommuting” would not be possible, as phone and Internet would be flicked off like a switch.  Cell phone service would also go down as soon as the backup generators and / or batteries at the cell towers run out of juice.  (You won’t be able to charge your cell phones, anyway.)

If the power grid goes down, once your food runs out (or spoils) in your fridge, don’t count on restocking at the supermarket.  The 18 wheelers that are the mainstay of food delivery across the country would also quickly run out of fuel — and, as mentioned above, the services stations would be unable to refill the rigs.

The probability of a sweeping, worldwide catastrophe as outline above is low.  But CMEs can, and have, made direct Earth strikes over the centuries — and caused significant disruptions.  Do a Google search for the “Carrington Event.”  In 1859, during the peak of another solar cycle, a CME knocked out telegraph offices around the globe (and even shocked some of the telegraph operators).  Most scientists agree that — because of entrenched computerization and satellite-based communications — the same magnitude CME today would disrupt society on a widespread basis.

I’m hoping the media doesn’t escalate the risks to an astronomical level.  The last thing we need is a massive wave of hysteria.  But, hey, it can’t hurt to keep an extra candle or two around the house.  And, perhaps, a couple of cans of Spam…

For a reasonably well-proportioned (non-hyped) news report — with an exceptional piece of video from NASA of a CME — check out the following two-minute CNN video:  http://bit.ly/h7GEmn

For reference, the NASA image associated with this article shows the approximate size of the Earth as compared to a solar eruption.  (In reality, the Earth is 93 million miles away from the sun — so a flare would never envelop the Earth as in the NASA comparison.)

How to find the cheapest gas prices in town — instantly!

April 23

A super-easy way to find the lowest price of gas in town is with the handy Web site www.GasBuddy.com.  Just type in your ZIP code and — presto — the lowest prices at the nearest gas stations will pop up on your screen.  There’s also a handy app for your iPhone, Android, or Windows mobile phone.  Click & save — now!

UNCOVERED BY AP: U.S. to use Facebook & Twitter to issue terror alerts

April 7

(Associated Press) Terror alerts from the government will soon have just two levels of warnings — elevated and imminent — and those will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances. Color codes are out; Facebook and Twitter will sometimes be in, according to a Homeland Security draft obtained by The Associated Press.  The new system, replacing the five color-coded levels, is expected to be in place by April 27.  A 19-page document, marked “for official use only” and dated April 1, describes the step-by-step process that would occur behind the scenes when the government believes terrorists might be threatening Americans. It describes the sequence of notifying members of Congress, then counterterrorism officials in states and cities, then governors and mayors and, ultimately, the public.  For the full report, visit http://yhoo.it/gelihP

Help friends find jobs

March 15

Two years ago, my company and I created a 100% free job-search service to help Americans, around the country, search for employment.  I’m proud to say the service is as robust as ever, with a current database of six million job postings.  It’s called Jobs Across America –  www.JobsAcrossAmerica.us.  And it remains totally free to job seekers.  If you know someone who is down on his or her luck, and looking for work, please pass along the Web address www.JobsAcrossAmerica.us.  Together, let’s help our friends and fellow citizens get back on their feet.

You’re essentially looking over my shoulder as I write, think, create, invent, and — in general — ponder the world around us.  Feel free to peruse my writings and chime in as you’re so inspired.  I encourage spirited debate.

This is a specially crafted multi-pronged conduit.  Everything I type feeds parallel simultaneous streams to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my e-mail broadcast system.  It’s a global tightrope without a net.  Oh, my.

No topic is off limits.  If you’re looking for a site that is “politically correct,” you’ve come to the wrong place.  Hit the back button on your browser now.

Lots and lots of new features are coming online.  They’re all in various stages of development.  You’ll soon see innovative things I’m working on — such as a live, streaming, two-way “TV channel” of sorts where you’ll be able to interact with me (audio, video, text) in real time as I type here in front of my computer.

This is my platform to push the boundaries of technology in every dimension.

Hang on tight.  We may achieve orbit.  Or we may sail off a cliff.  But the ride will be exhilarating.

– Eric