Science & Technology

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Utilities goes on the offensive vs. Gazette

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 2:25 PM

David Neumann
  • David Neumann
In a highly unusual move, Colorado Springs Utilities has issued two public statements in the wake of two newspaper articles in efforts to have the city's position known about the Neumann Systems Group emissions control technology being installed on the Drake Power Plant downtown.

The statements are in response to two stories that appeared in the Gazette in March, both highly critical of the NSG technology. The articles quote Tim Leigh, who wasn't re-elected to City Council in 2013 after he spent two years on a campaign to discredit the technology. Leigh beat an ethics charge filed by NSG owner David Neumann, who alleged Leigh maligned his business, among other things.

The March 2 article, titled "Costs, doubts rise at Colorado Springs power plant," also quoted Boris Nizamov, a scientist who worked for Neumann:
In fall 2012, Leigh got an email from a chemist who had recently left Neumann Systems Group. Although Leigh would not disclose the name of the sender, The Gazette confirmed it was Boris Nizamov, who was instrumental in creating the Neumann technology and shares credit on 17 patents with David Neumann.

"I left NSG last summer when I came to the conclusion that NSG has no future because there will be no customers other than CSU," he wrote in the email.
The article also quoted Nizamov as saying the NSG system was initially going to cost $13 million and now is estimated at $130 million.

On March 10, Springs Utilities issued a statement titled, "Neumann System right decision for Drake."
In response to the March 2, 2014 article in The Gazette regarding emissions control at the Martin Drake Power Plant, I want to provide the following points to clarify several inaccurate and misleading statements:

The NeuStream scrubber is the correct option for Drake Power Plant to comply with emissions control requirements.

* It is cheaper and more efficient than competing scrubbers;
* Compared to other technologies NeuStream works best for the facility's
unique space requirements;
* It has lower capital, operating and maintenance costs, and
* Uses less water and power than conventional systems.

The cost of the Neumann system on which the 2011 decision was made was $121 million, which includes required plant upgrades (due to inflation current total cost projections are $131 million) compared to an independent study estimate of $168 million for conventional technology (including plant upgrades). Cost estimates quoted before 2011 are not pertinent as there was no design work done and no agreement to build scrubbers at that point.

Our 3-year testing process showed that the NSG system reliably removes 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from plant exhaust compared to 90 percent removal for conventional technology. In addition, an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study was performed which verified the system was scalable to the level needed and provided realistic cost estimates. Early testing indicated that the NSG scrubber could also remove nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide, but we chose to go only with SOx removal based on regulatory requirements and financial considerations.

The royalties on future sales were not a factor in the decision to move forward with NeuStream. We are confident that a market exists for the scrubber, and such proceeds would always be an added benefit. Using the NSG scrubber is a sound business decision for our community even if no future sales are made.

Bruce McCormick
Chief Energy Services Officer
Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Pam Zubeck
On March 30, The Gazette came back with another article, "Cost of scrubbers at Colorado Springs power plant keeps rising." 

But Utilities jumped the gun by issuing a statement two days earlier, on March 28, with the heading "NeuStream - A Sound Investment for Our Customers."
Recent news coverage about an emissions control project at the Drake power plant has lacked complete information, and Colorado Springs Utilities would like to share the facts about the approach we are taking to meet new EPA mandates by the end of 2017.

Colorado Springs Utilities and its board selected a wet scrubber process, called NeuStream in 2011 - a technology developed by local business Neumann Systems Group (NSG). The NSG technology has been rigorously tested and is proven to control sulfur dioxide emissions. Springs Utilities recommended and the Board has supported this solution because it will allow us to meet strict federal regulations, cost less than other technologies, and accommodate the unique construction requirements of the Drake plant.

A Sound Decision

Colorado Springs Utilities is moving forward with construction of the NSG project. Our goal is to hire as many local contractors/vendors as possible to build the system, providing needed economic stimulus for the local economy.

Changing direction at this point is not in our customers' best interest. Springs Utilities has already made the majority of the required investment in the NSG project. And based upon extensive testing, we remain confident that the NSG technology remains the best approach for Drake.

Facts about Drake

Drake reliably generates about one-third of our electricity and is a key reason we can deliver cost effective electric service to our customers. Colorado Springs Utilities electric rates for residential and commercial customers are lower than both Xcel and Blackhills Energy in all categories. Additionally, Drake and all of our power plants meet or exceed all EPA air quality standards.
Answers to frequently asked questions

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Has the price increased?
The cost of the Neumann scrubber on which the 2011 decision was made was $111.8 million. When accounting for required and expected site improvements (necessary for any type of scrubber), as well as price escalation for construction and materials, the 2013 projection is $131 million. Cost estimates quoted before 2011 are not representative as there was no design work done and no agreement to build scrubbers at that point.

Does it work?

The 3-year testing process, verified by an independent 3rd party, demonstrated that the NSG system is capable of reliably removing 97 percent of sulfur dioxide from plant exhaust. An Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study was performed which verified the system was scalable to the level needed and provided realistic cost estimates. NSG system components are commonly used in a wide variety of applications, including power plants. The proprietary NSG process has been effectively used in other applications as well.
Did NSG originally expect removal of all emissions?

Early testing demonstrated positive results for removal of SOx, NOx, particulates and CO2, and NSG believes there is market potential for removing these substances. However, Colorado Springs Utilities purchased only SOx removal to meet regulatory compliance requirements at the lowest cost for the following key reasons:

Particulate removal and mercury standards are already being met with existing emissions control equipment;
NOx removal can be achieved at lower cost using other methods, so NOx was not purchased from NSG; and
No regulatory mandate currently exists for CO2 removal.

Has Colorado Springs Utilities benefitted from the sales of NSG to other customers?

Using the NSG scrubber is a sound business decision for our community even if no future sales are made. We believe that a market exists for the scrubber, although, no other company has purchased the technology at this point. As scrubbers are sold, our agreement with the vendor allows for proceeds to benefit our customers.

Why invest $131 million on an aging coal plant?

While the Martin Drake site has been in operation for over 80 years, the three units currently in operation are units 5, 6 and 7, built in 1962, 1968 and 1974, respectively. The Drake power plant has been well maintained over the years to operate efficiently and reliably while meeting regulatory requirements. The units have had continuous runs exceeding 100 days several times in recent years, which is an industry benchmark of excellence. The plant complies with all EPA environmental regulations.

The Drake facility provides about one third of the community's electricity needs. Shutting the plant down would require purchasing power from for-profit utilities or spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new power plant, which would have adverse rate impacts for our customers. The Utilities Board and our customers are currently reviewing a third-party study on decommissioning options and will make a recommendation on the future of the plant.
The release also contained this comparison:


Meanwhile, NSG filed suit on March 28 against Nizamov, alleging that he signed a nondisclosure agreement when he began working as a consultant for NSG on June 21, 2004. In it, Nizamov agreed to "protect proprietary information." Nizamov left NSG Aug. 19, 2011. In December 2012, he agreed to a settlement agreement with NSG after "he made public certain confidential information about NSG that he obtained when he worked for the Company," Nuemann's lawsuit states.

Yet, the lawsuit states, he disclosed information to The Gazette for his March 2 report.

The lawsuit also alleges that Nizamov's disclosures interfered with NSG's contract with Utilities and thereby jeopardized that contract, as well as a potential new contract for scrubber technology at Ray Nixon Power Plant south of Colorado Springs.

Nizamov's response to the lawsuit characterizes the newspaper article as "the exchange of ideas in a healthy public debate regarding a public works project. Any statement made by Mr. Nizamov was simply a spontaneous remark that was injected into this debate."

The lawsuit also states that the only statement by Nizamov "that is not clearly in the public domain is the '$13 million' figure that was misquoted and relates to estimated costs of the NSG scrubber six years ago. However, a figure of 'less than $20 million' has been in the public domain for a long time."

Moreover, the response says, if Nizamov did want to inject his opinions into the debate, those statements would be protected by the First Amendment.

On Tuesday, NSG issued this release:
Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (NSG) has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Boris Nizamov alleging violations of the employment agreements he signed when he was employed by NSG. The suit is tied in part to actions by reporter Dave Phillips and the Gazette in publishing information provided to them by Tim Leigh and Dr. Nizamov. In his employment agreements with NSG, Dr. Nizamov agreed to, among other things, not disclose confidential and proprietary information that he obtained when he was employed by the company. NSG has alleged that Dr. Nizamov disclosed NSG’s confidential and proprietary information, including technical, project-specific, cost, and customer information to third parties on several occasions. An initial hearing on the case will be held Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in El Paso County District Court. Joel Neckers of Wheeler, Trigg, O’Donnell LLP will represent NSG. The hearing involves NSG’s request that the Court enter a temporary restraining order against Dr. Nizamov preventing Dr. Nizamov from disclosing information in violation of his employment agreements.

During the almost five and one-half years Dr. Nizamov was employed by NSG as a senior scientist, he received total compensation in excess of $700,000. While at NSG, Dr Nizamov was named as co-inventor on 39 US and international patents and patents pending for which NSG holds all the rights. He also gained his US citizenship during his time at NSG. When Dr. Nizamov voluntarily resigned from the company, he gave notice in writing and stated, “I appreciate the opportunity I was given at NSG and I want to thank you for it.” During his out-processing from the company less than two weeks later and after he had been denied a follow-on consulting agreement with the company, he made broad accusations of wrong doing by the company. He declined, in writing, to elaborate. Dr. Nizamov did not respond to a subsequent second written attempt by the company to obtain specifics. More recently Dr. Nizamov interviewed with Dave Philipps, reporter from the Gazette, and released an email and statements about NSG which he had previously sent to Mr. Tim Leigh under a false name.

According to recent publications, Dr. Nizamov works for a company in Denver called either Pioneer Astronautics or Pioneer Energy where his work involves development of a carbon capture system for application to enhanced oil recovery. Dr. Neumann, NSG’s President, said: “This is an area that NSG has been involved with dating back to laboratory experiments in 2007 and 2009 measurements at the Martin Drake plant. I am concerned that given Dr Nizamov’s demonstrated disregard for his legal responsibilities to protect NSG confidential and proprietary data, he may have employed NSG owned intellectual property and trade secrets in the performance of his duties at Pioneer.”

NSG is an advanced technology company conducting externally funded research and development projects in emissions controls and carbon capture. Its largest contract is for desulfurization equipment for the Martin Drake power plant owned by Colorado Springs Utilities. Most of the forty+ contracts and grants received by NSG over the past decade have been competitively awarded by the federal government. NSG is pursuing national and international market opportunities for its NeuStream® emission control and carbon capture systems. More information on NSG can be found at
At a court hearing Tuesday afternoon, attended by one reporter, yours truly, District Judge Gregory Werner granted NSG's request for a temporary restraining order against Nizamov disclosing information. A hearing for a longer-term injunction is set for April 11.

Nizamov's attorney, Gregory O'Boyle, argued, "If Mr. Nizamov is commenting about information in the public domain, he has a right to do that. This agreement doesn't prevent him from doing that."

NSG's lawyer, Joel Steven Neckers, countered that Nizamov's statements have violated the confidentiality agreement. "He's done this four separate times," he said. "The information was not in the public domain when he was speaking. NSG is involved in a very public debate on its scrubber technology. Having past or current employees talking about price and other things causes harm."

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Steve Wozniak to speak at CSBJ event Feb. 7

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 5:38 PM

A man of many talents. Dancing though, isn't one of them. - MICHAEL BULBENKO
  • Michael Bulbenko
  • A man of many talents. Dancing though, isn't one of them.
That's right, Woz himself will come to Colorado Springs Friday, Feb. 7 for the Colorado Springs Business Journal's Celebrate Technology Reception, happening at 5:30 at the Pinery at the Hill.

Wozniak is best known, of course, as the co-founder of Apple. According to his bio on, he founded the company with Steve Jobs, and introduced the Apple I and II before leaving in 1985. Since then, he's earned 11 honorary doctor of engineering degrees, founded various charitable and technological organizations (he reportedly adopted the Los Gatos School District), dated comedian Kathy Griffin for a short time, and did the worm on Dancing with the Stars. For a video of that, and his his appearance The Big Bang Theory, click here. Lately though, he's in the news for his numerous speaking engagements around the country like this one.

Given, though, that everyone seems to work on Apples these days — it's the machine I'm using right now — he's entitled to share his experiences until kingdom come. Check him out in this 1984 video with Jobs and the rest of the Mac guys presenting the first Mac personal computer for the public.

Tickets for the event are still available, though going fast, and include the talk, appetizers and a drink, and music, starting at $35.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Drake Task Force makes its pick for decommissioning study

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Attention, Colorado Springs Utilities fans (and foes): If you had HDR Engineering Inc. in your Drake Task Force bracket, congrats.

Martin Drake Power Plant

Drake Task Force to Recommend Firm to Board
In today’s meeting, the Drake Task Force chose to recommend HDR Engineering Inc., to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Board as the firm to conduct a Study of Alternatives Related to the Potential Decommissioning of the Martin Drake Power Plant.
The Task Force received six proposals and created a short list of three firms to give oral presentations at today’s meeting.
HDR Engineering Inc. was selected based on the following criteria:
· Most Relevant Expertise
· Depth of Knowledge of Martin Drake Power Plant
· Understanding of Effort and Implementation
· Superior Risk Analysis
· Management and Staffing
Task Force co-leads, Brandy Williams and Val Snider, will present the recommendation to the CSU Board during the April 9 City Council meeting.
HDR Engineering Inc. is headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., with five offices in Colorado, including Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs office is on Briargate Parkway.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ivy League education in a box!

Posted By on Sun, Jan 27, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Ever felt like taking courses at Princeton, University of London or Berklee College of Music — for free?

In the eight months since online education site Coursera started up, some 2.5 million people have used it to take university-level classes in everything from computer science to Aboriginal culture.

Courses generally range from six to 10 weeks, and there are hundreds to sign up for. You can, for instance, study music improvisation with jazz legend Gary Burton, take artificial intelligence or equine nutrition classes from the University of Edinburgh, or explore the social context of mental health and illness with University of Toronto professor Charmaine Williams.

While I haven’t personally taken any classes yet, a friend who’s a math professor in Europe recently posted online about the experience:

“I have never seen online math presentations quite like the ones in my class. (The University of Pennsylvania professor who teaches the class estimates it takes 20 hours to produce each 15 minute lecture.) While it seems you can take a class and do nothing more than watch the videos and get something out of it, in reality these courses — or at least the one I am taking — are not meant for the casual learner. My class is broken up into 5 topics, each topic consisting of a series of lectures. Each lecture is a 15 minute video. There are a total of 57 lectures in all. So we are talking a real commitment.

“In addition, each lecture includes a homework assignment that is automatically corrected upon submission. Videos often require multiple viewings in order to fully get the material and do the homeworks. In addition, there is an exam at the end of each topic. There is a deadline for taking exams and handing in homeworks. There will also be a final. The homeworks have taken me about an hour apiece. I expect a lot of the students are spending much more time than I am.

“At the moment you cannot get course credit, at least nothing that will transfer to another university. But once that day comes, I think you can say farewell to a great deal of the clunky distance education programs out there.”

Warning: The following video from Dr. Elsa Barkley Brown will make you want to take her course:

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Synthesizing Kurzweil

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 7:11 AM

Ray Kurzweil cover, Colorado Springs Independent
Ray Kurzweil’s stock has been on the rise of late.

The futurist inventor — who’ll be speaking this evening at CSU-Pueblo as part of its free Distinguished Speakers Series — made headlines last month when he was hired by Google to a high-level position where he’ll essentially be teaching its machines how to think. (Read our Indy interview for more on that Google gig, among other things.)

But while the name may still be new to some, the controversial scientist's theories have been of interest to Animus Invidious for a while now. In fact the local musician sought Kurzweil’s permission to use excerpts from his writing as the basis for his 2009 track “Rampant Misconception.”

“I thought he was cool when he responded directly to an email inquiry about using some text of his in a song via text-to-speech synthesis,” says the electronic musician. “Afterwards I Wikipedia'd him and realized he helped develop that very same technology.”

You can listen to the track below.

Meanwhile, note that doors open at 6:30 p.m. for this evening’s talk, which will be held at Hoag Recital Hall. (Our Seven Days to Live write-up contains more event details.) Organizers tell us that, due to an anticipated overflow crowd, a live feed will also be simulcast in the university’s Life Sciences Auditorium.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Space museum: To infinity and beyond

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Gee, I might have decided to be a scientist if there were cool things around when I was kid to motivate me like the Science On a Sphere I saw today at the Space Foundation. Although it's hard to do it justice with my little camera, here's a shot of it.

The Space Foundation held a grand opening today for the Northrop Grumman Science Center at the foundation's new headquarters at 4425 Arrowswest Drive.

The center was funded with a $375,000 donation from Northrop Grumman and features a replica of the moon module built by the defense contractor.

Lon Rains, director of strategic communications for Northrop Grumman, says such investments are made to advance educational programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). "These are exciting careers," he says before the dedication. "Things like this really grab their interest. This is about making sure we give opportunities so the next generation of dreamers can build things in space. They think it's our destiny."

Already, 350 students from the area have toured the facility during soft openings in the past few weeks, says Iain Probert, the foundation's vice president for education. Fourteen classes from kindergarten to high school have experienced the center, which is open for field trip bookings. "The children were blown away," he says. "The teachers were blown away."

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the sphere, a dynamic spherical projection system developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that uses special software and satellite imagery to render dramatic, full motion views of the Earth, sun, moons and planets, the foundation says in a press release.

"The Space Foundation has long dreamed of creating a space where we can offer students and visitors an extraordinary educational experience. Northrop Grumman made it possible for us to do this very quickly and in a spectacular way," Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham said in a news release. "We are thrilled that, through this collaboration, we are offering teachers and students a compelling platform for STEM education and we are launching a new visitor destination in northwest Colorado Springs at time when the community needs it."

More shots of features in the exhibit:

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Neumann Systems — and its jobs — may be leaving Colorado Springs

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Dave Neumann, owner of Neumann Systems Group, which developed the NeuStream emissions control technology being installed on coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant, is exploring moving his business elsewhere.

Springs Utilities
  • Leigh: Doesn't like Neumann's contract.

In an exclusive interview with the Indy, Neumann says Councilman Tim Leigh's crusade against his company and his efforts to kill Colorado Springs Utilities' contract with Neumann Systems could lead to the loss of 60 jobs and a multimillion-dollar benefit of the city receiving a cut from the firm's gross sales.

"You can't have somebody out there that is just hammering away and damaging your company," Neumann says.

For the past four months, Leigh has called Neumann's technology "unproven" and "experimental," and challenged the roughly $120 million contract's fairness to ratepayers. Neumann says Leigh has told him the opposition to his technology has been mounted at the behest of Mayor Steve Bach. (We have contacted the mayor's office and will update if and when we receive a response.)

The latest tirade from Leigh came in his so-called "market report," in which he again challenges the technology has the most economical available.

"My colleagues agreed to undertake and study Drake issues at yesterday’s [Wednesday's] CSU Board meeting," writes Leigh, who didn't attend the meeting. "They did not go far enough. We must stop the Neumann spend at Drake now. If there were less costly other options available previously, we must find out if there still are. We don’t have the answers and until we do, we can’t continue to spend, spend, spend."

Springs Utilities officials have repeatedly said the Neumann technology is a third cheaper than other options available today, and energy chief Bruce McCormick reiterated that position today in an interview with the Indy.

"The damage that's been done to our company by Tim Leigh and the feedback we've gotten from prospective customers is unreal," Neumann says. "We're being very badly hurt by the mayor and Tim Leigh."

Although Neumann wrote a letter threatening Leigh with a legal action if he didn't stop disparaging his company with untruths, and said Leigh has "opened himself up to incredible liability," he says he believes it's bad policy to sue a City Councilman.

Neumann says he's met with officials in another state and has a meeting next week with a governor in another state. He also wants to meet with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to explore possible locations in other parts of Colorado.

If Neumann leaves, he'll vacate 45,000 square feet of space on Elkton Drive and the possibility of ultimately occupying 150,000 square feet when his manufacturing operation gears up with orders.

Colorado Springs Utilities Drake Neumann
  • Neumann Systems Group's website
  • A cost comparison.

But if the city honors the contract and allows the technology to become functional on Drake, Neumann Systems will stay put, he says. Other utilities are eagerly awaiting a full build-out on Drake to be assure the technology works. The NeuStream has been shown by multiple tests and multiple examinations by experts to work in a test on 20 megawatts of power production. Because the technology is simply an add-on for larger loads, Neumann and Utilities are confident of its efficacy, he says.

"We have been treated great [by the city] up until the last three to four months," Neumann says. "I think we've constructed this win-win partnership with the city and we're delivering low cost emissions control to the city, cleaning the air. Up until that point when the mayor and Leigh decided to take down the Drake plant and us along with it, it's been great. We've had a tremendous opportunity here. There are great people on Council. I think very highly of the vast majority of the people on City Council."

He says Leigh's commentary has led potential customers to question the system. If the city succeeds in driving away his business, it would miss out on a cut of gross sales in a firm that holds 36 patents in nine countries and is working with international distributors.

"There's an awful lot in the works here," he says. "It's a waste of our effort if we're going to be in a community that has a few people who are trying to run us out of town."

Leigh says via email: "Nothing could be further from the truth! I'm an entrepreneur and I love other entrepreneurs. The norm for a business like Mr Neumann's is to let the free market fund his experiments, not unaware ratepayers who can't afford venture capital style risks. If Neumann's stuff proves to be as good as he says, I will be labeled the town clown for questioning it and him, and (rightfully so). That he lashes out in this manner continues to fan my flame of suspicion."

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jack Hanna, Ray Kurzweil, Temple Grandin coming to CSU-P

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

From the listings desk: Colorado State University-Pueblo just unveiled this year's Distinguished Speaker Series lineup, and as usual, it's quite impressive. Past years brought the likes of Nontombi Naomi Tutu, Sherman Alexie, Meghan McCain, Ray Nagin (and, puzzlingly, Bruce Jenner), and this year continues the trend. Best of all, the lectures are still free and open to the public.

Jack Hanna
  • Phil Konstantin

Aug. 22: Jack Hanna, animal celebrity and zookeeper extraordinaire. Hanna revolutionized zoo habitats for animals by transitioning the Columbus Zoo from cage-like enclosures to "habitat environments" during his tenure there as zoo director. Hanna, of course, is also the host of various TV shows, programs and a frequent talk show guest.

Oct. 3: Eric Thomas, a "hip hop preacher" whose experiences growing up in Detroit has lead him to reach out to high-risk students of color. Despite dropping out of high school, Thomas eventually gained his GED and completed a masters degree (he's working on a PhD in educational administration.) Thomas is now a senior minister at A Place of Change Ministries, the founder of Break the Cycle I Dare You, and works at an undergraduate retention program at Michigan State.

Ray Kurzweil
  • Michael Lutch

Jan. 23: Ray Kurzweil, one of the nation's top inventors, Kurzweil has made huge leaps in communication products, "the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition." He is also a recipient of the coveted $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize and the 1999 National Medal of Technology.

Angela Davis
  • Nick Wiebe

Feb. 20: Angela Davis, a longtime social activist, Davis spent 18 months in jail and was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List" in the 1970s. Today as an educator, Davis continues to fight for strengthening communities, and thereby working to end "social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination." A scholar and educator, Davis currently teaches at the University of California - Santa Cruz.

Temple Grandin
  • Rain Man's Rainbow

March 13: Temple Grandin, a doctor of animal science at CSU, Grandin works on the dual fronts of animal welfare and autism advocacy. As a woman with high-functioning autism, Grandin not only invented a "squeeze machine designed to calm hypersensitive people" but lobbies for humane livestock handling processes. Grandin has appeared in: Forbes, The New York Times, and People, as well as NPR and the Today Show. In 2010, HBO released an award-winning semi-autobiographical film about Grandin starring Claire Danes.

For more information on the series, visit

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Artfinder, your art map

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 12:31 PM

I don't have an iPhone, but the fact that I don't carry around a clamshell anymore means I'm definitely improving on the technology front. (Never mind that the clamshell broke.)

Anyway, I'll be looking forward to this app, or some derivative of it, making its way to Android. It's the free Artfinder app, which supplies not only gallery and museum listings, but maps them, saves your favorites, and best of all, uses image-recognition software to match a snapshot of a piece of art and retrieve the work's information for you.

There's also an Art of the Day e-mail blast that sends images of paintings with a quick paragraph on their background. May's selection appears promising: "The Death of Marat" by David, "The Fog Warning" by Homer, "Judith" by Klimt and "Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird" by Kahlo (which includes a link to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's website, where this work is currently on display.)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Celebrate Moog's birthday with Google's ingenious little synthesizer

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Googles working synth honoring Bob Moogs birthday
  • Google's working synth honoring Bob Moog's birthday.

By now, you may have noticed that today's Google "doodle" is a bite-sized synthesizer honoring electronic instrument pioneer Robert Moog's 78th birthday.

But what you might have overlooked is the degree of functionality it has. The working keyboard is just the beginning; there are also a couple dozen control knobs to tweak envelopes, filters, oscillators and a bunch of other stuff that'll make you sound very space-age.

If all that weren't enough, there's also a miniature "reel-to-reel" tape deck that has four tracks, so you can multitrack your own minor masterpiece and then share it with others.

Just one drawback: Birthdays last but one day, and so does this ingenious little plaything. So go here and check it out while you can.

And, while you're at it, here's an excellent video that'll teach you how to use it, while also giving you a quick lesson in the basics of music synthesis. Have fun!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crumb's Facebook prediction hits Facebook

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Robert Crumb cartoon predicts Facebook

As an IndyBlog reader, chances are good that you're also on Facebook.

Chances are also good that you'll experience the same shudder of recognition I got this morning when Dangerous Minds posted this four-decade-old panel by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb.

Actually, since this has been out there on Facebook for hours, several of your friends have probably reposted it, which means you're already processed it and moved on .

In any case, now that we've seen Crumb's vintage view of a social media future, here's his sentimental take on America's past:

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Space group lands Russian exhibit, teaching lab

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Lunokhod rover

From the land of wheat and the Wizard of Oz comes help from the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center in Hutchinson, Kan., in helping the Springs-based Space Foundation get its visitors center project off to a good start.

The Cosmosphere is loaning a collection of 1970s-era Soviet space artifacts, which will be displayed at its headquarters at 4425 Arrowswest Drive.

Since the foundation moved last year into the building, it's been gradually settling in and has a generous amount of space to dedicate to a visitors center and museum.

The Russian items will be on display for three years starting Aug. 1, after making an appearance at the National Space Symposium at The Broadmoor, which closed on Thursday.

On display will be one of the few Lunokhod lunar rovers ever to be displayed outside of the former Soviet Union; a half-scale model, constructed in the Soviet Union, of the Luna 16 Robotic Probe, the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample of lunar soil to Earth, and a prototype of a Sokol (Falcon) Space Suit-K, a pressure suit that was used for on-ground engineering and thermal vacuum tests during Soviet cosmonaut training.

The foundation said in a press release:

"Initially, we will place these three extraordinary artifacts, which the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center has so generously loaned to us, in our extended lobby area," said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. "Then, we'll move them into the El Pomar Space Gallery, as part of the first phase of development of our visitors center.

"We're particularly excited because these artifacts represent a rich part of space history that few Americans have been exposed to," he continued. "We are very pleased to be able to display some of the meaningful contributions the Soviet Union made to space exploration."

The Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center is a museum and educational facility in Hutchinson, Kan., that displays and restores spaceflight artifacts and offers educational programs and camps. It is one of only three museums to display flown spacecraft from Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, and it has the second-largest collection of flown Soviet and U.S. space artifacts in the world. In addition to being a destination, the Cosmosphere also sponsors traveling exhibits and loans artifacts to other museums and organizations. For more information, go to

"These artifacts on display in our booth at the National Space Symposium are exemplary of the unique and inspiring collection accumulated during our 50-year history and housed at the Kansas Cosmosphere," said Richard Hollowell, interim president & CEO of the Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center. "We are excited to continue our mission of honoring the past and inspiring the future of space exploration by sharing these fascinating artifacts with visitors to the Space Foundation through an annually renewable three-year loan agreement.

In a related development, industry leader Northrop Grumman Corp. has donated $375,000 to create a science center and teaching lab at the Space Foundation's headquarters.

The press release explains:

To be known as the Northrop Grumman Science Center, the facility will include a Science on a Sphere™ laboratory and a teaching facility that will be used for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs for teachers and students and for community education outreach efforts.

The Northrop Grumman Science Center is the first major component of the Space Foundation's visitors center, which is under development at 4425 Arrowswest Drive in Colorado Springs, Colo. Construction will begin immediately and the new center is expected to open as early as this fall.

"This generous gift from Northrop Grumman makes it possible for the Space Foundation to realize our vision of an interactive destination for formal and informal public and private education - advancing STEM in the exciting context of space exploration, development and utilization," said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. "We envision a facility where children and adults can participate in highly interactive learning opportunities in multiple disciplines, including astronomy, physics, mathematics, geography, environmental sciences, planetary sciences and biology."

The Northrop Grumman Science Center will have both lecture and laboratory facilities that can be used for pre-kindergarten through graduate-level courses, educator professional development and educational multimedia events and presentations for the general public.

"Northrop Grumman is honored to partner with the Space Foundation to create this exciting new educational facility for the Rocky Mountain region that will help lead the next generation into space," said Gary Ervin, a corporate vice president of Northrop Grumman and president of the company's Aerospace Systems sector. "STEM education initiatives like this are critical for today's children to become tomorrow's leaders in space. They are the future stewards of our nation's leadership in technology to keep both our economy strong and our residents secure while advancing our understanding of the world around us."

The Center will extend the reach and capabilities of the Space Foundation's education enterprise, which offers space-themed, standards-based education programs to teachers and students. Programs include Space Across the Curriculum teacher professional development courses, STARS science enrichment programs for schools, New Horizons community programs that combine school-based education programs with community events and lectures, Audience with an Astronaut sessions for schools, school and youth tours of major space industry exhibits, including those at the National Space Symposium, lesson plans and teaching resources and a NASA Educator Resource Center.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Further advice for data hogs

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 12:06 PM

In yesterday's heartbreaking Confessions of a Data Hog post, I wrote about exceeding the newly instituted limits on AT&T's "unlimited data" iPhone plan.

Since then, I've heard from a number of others who are, for the same reason, facing reduced data speeds.

While yesterday's post offered some tips on how to cut back on data usage, I've since been made aware of a more comprehensive New York Times article.

Although the piece originally ran in 2010, it's full of useful suggestions, including some little-known suggestions on how to extend battery life.

Did you know, for instance, that streaming music will use up more battery life at higher volumes? (So if you're listening to Rhapsody on a trip to Denver, it helps to turn DOWN the volume on your phone and turn UP the volume on your car stereo system.)

Anyway, I'd go into more of them here, but I wouldn't want to deprive the Times of a few potential page hits. So if you're interested in preserving both battery life and data speeds, check out the article here.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Confessions of a data hog

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 4:41 PM


I've always wanted to be in the top 5 percent of something, and now I am.

A text from AT&T this morning delivered the good news: "Your data use this month places you in the top 5% of users."

Unfortunately, the rest of the message appeared less promising. "Use Wi-Fi to help avoid reduced speeds."

Yes, it turns out that I am a "data hog," the pejorative term reserved for those of us who've pushed past the newly instituted limits on AT&T's "unlimited" data plan. From this point forward, if I exceed 3 gigs of data usage during a one-month billing period, I'll be "throttled" back to a speed the company would rather not specify.

Granted, I have felt vague pangs of guilt as I imagine a landfill somewhere overflowing with my spent data. But a more pressing concern, as someone who's become dependent on streaming music, is the prospect of spending the next 24 days listening to songs start, stop and stutter as the cache slowly reloads.

Fortunately, it's turned out to be not as dire as all that. I called AT&T today and discovered that my billing cycle actually begins on the 9th of the month, rather than the 1st. (Everyone's varies, the say.) In other words, I've barely gone over my limit.

Plus (and here's where this post may have some actual use-value), there are a bunch of ways to cut back on your data usage that don't involve hiding your iPhone.

• If you're in a wi-fi zone — whether that's at home or a coffee shop — be sure to switch over from 3G and the meter will stop running.

• Even when you put your iPhone to sleep, a lot of apps continue to toil away in the background, including Pandora and my beloved MOG. Facebook is especially diligent, since it's off looking for your friends' latest lolcats even as you busy yourself with something useful.

• To prevent that from happening during periods of non-use, you can close each app individually, power off the phone, or put it in airplane mode. Just remember that the latter means your phone won't ring when you get a call or message. (Of course, coworkers might appreciate that.)

Find more suggestions, along with a space-age "data calculator," right here.

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Friday, March 2, 2012

QR-coded condoms? Yes, folks, they're here

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 12:41 PM

It's like Foursquare for sex. Sort of.

In order to normalize and popularize responsible condom-wearing, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest has kicked off a new "Where did you wear it?" campaign (Tagline: Safe sex happens. Find out where!") with the distribution of 55,000 condoms whose wrappers bear QR codes.

They're asking individuals to scan the codes with their smartphones, then add details online about the experience, including gender, partner's gender, age, relationship status, general location, why you used a condom, and how the sex was (from "Ah-maz-ing" to "Things can only improve from here.")

You don't have to have a QR-coded condom to check in. And according to the online interactive map, folks all across the U.S. have been participating, including those in our very own Colorado Springs.

Whos getting it on, where, locally
  • Who's getting it on, where, locally

One such couple in the Springs reports:

An under 20 guy and a girl whose relationship is just for fun and have already talked about safer sex and STDs used a condom in the bedroom to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. It was great— can’t wait for round 2.

Really, it's probably just a matter of time before a company like Sir Richard's Condoms jumps on this and starts giving away mayorships.

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