The Intersection of Science, Technology and Culture

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Frontiers of Astronomy: Exoplanets

November 24th, 2015 · astronomy


The Institute for Astronomy presents Frontiers in Astronomy: Exoplanets. This panel features experts in the fields of astrobiology and exoplanets, including Andrew Howard, Nader Haghighipour, Paul Kalas, and Josh Winn.

This event is free and open to the public:

  • Wed, December 2, 2015, 7:30pm
  • UH Manoa, Art Auditorium
  • Friends of the Institute for Astronomy Reception, 6:30pm


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Slideshow: Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology – Coconut Island

November 22nd, 2015 · ocean, science

HIMB - Coconut Island

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LAVA: Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications

October 31st, 2015 · cyberinfrastructure, innovation, Internet

IMG_6290Take your shoes off before entering the Laboratory for Advanced Visualization Applications (LAVA). Jason Leigh’s environment for visualizing big data is like going into his home, or more accurately his CyberCANOE. You wouldn’t wear shoes in there either. Coincidentally, CANOE is a back-ronym for Collaboration Analysis Navigation & Observation Environment.

The first thing you will notice as you enter LAVA is the 18-panel flat screen monitors which make up the CyberCANOE. You can think of this as your huge computer monitor. Imagine collaborating on your Mac or PC and you and your team being able to drag and drop windows from your desktop to the CyberCANOE. The software that enables this is called SAGE2 (Scalable Amplified Group Environment). SAGE2 is an open-source middleware that provides multiple users with a common operating environment to access, display, and share an assortment of data intensive information.

IMG_6281The intent is to enable teams to collaborate together or remotely by sharing large volumes of information on high resolution screens. The world of big data is greatly enhanced by the ability to visualize unique qualities of that data. For example if you could take the Twitter firehose, perform a word analysis by geolocation, you could then visualize the sentiment of a political debate across the country. That is just one example, there are applications in fluid dynamics, climate interactions, space debris mapping, etc. not to mention virtual reality environments.

LAVA is open for both the academic and business community to use. Their open house was on Friday October 30, 2015 and work is underway to establish CyberCANOEs in other locations like the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. Also work is being done to bring the next generation CAVE-2 to Hawaii. Check out more photos on Flickr.


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Fashion + Tech with Anouk Wipprecht

October 28th, 2015 · art, events, technology Hawaii business


This rare opportunity to directly experience the nexus between tech and fashion is coming to Hawaii featuring Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht. Sixteen local fashion designers will create Fashion+Tech designs with Anouk Wippprecht during the workshop event.

  • Workshop dates: Nov. 10, 11 & 12, 2015
  • Time: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Location: Manoa Innovation Center, Ideation Room

Organizers are looking for volunteers able to support teams with programming hardware like arduinos or other devices (teensyoctoneopixelsxbee), coding and soldering. Contact HiCapacity (Aisis Chen or Noah Hafner) if you can assist.

  • Fashion show will follow: Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015
  • Time: 7:00pm – 10:00pm
  • Location: Modern Hotel

These events are free. Additional information about the workshop and fashion show can be found here.

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Univ. of Hawaii Tech Showcase

October 20th, 2015 · science, STEM


The University of Hawaii is showcasing four new technologies at a breakfast on October 22, 7:45am to 10am at the Banker’s Club downtown.

The presenters will include:

  • Cyber-CANOE 3D virtual reality environment: Jason Leigh of Information and Computer Sciences
  • Anatomical 3D models on the zSpace virtual reality platform: Jesse Thompson of the John A. Burns School of Medicine
  • Telescope mirror technology for the solar industry: Jeff Kuhn of MorphOptic and the Institute for Astronomy
  • Realistic brain phantom for MRI research and development: Kyoko Fujimoto and Trent Robertson, Electrical Engineering graduate students

The Tech Showcase is presented by the UH Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development (OTTED), XLR8UH, and the College of Engineering with support from First Hawaiian Bank.

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Open Access Week 2015

October 13th, 2015 · open, open data


Open Access Week kicks off on October 19, 2015 across the country and here at home the University of Hawaii will host a number of events. This year’s lineup includes:

  • Creative Commons Licensing
  • Make Your Work Open in ScholarSpace
  • Open Government Resources and Government Funded Open Mandates
  • Launching an Open Access Journal
  • Open Collaboration with GitHub
  • Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Author Rights
  • Learn How to Contribute to Wikipedia

Anyone interested in free access to scientific documents and research papers or learning how to publish to open access repositories like Scholar Space will want to attend these sessions. Registration is free although you may have to pay for parking on campus.


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2015 SOEST Open House

October 10th, 2015 · STEM

SOEST-Open-House-2015-flyerMark your calendars for:

  • Friday, October 23, 8:30 am – 2 pm
  • Saturday, October 24, 10 am – 2 pm

The SOEST Open House presents a diverse array of entertaining and educational “hands-on” activities, which highlight the research conducted by their faculty and staff. This event also only occurs once every two years so you won’t want to miss this.

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A Glimpse of Oahu’s Water Source – Halawa Pumping Station

September 25th, 2015 · environment, Navy, water

Halawa Pumping Station

There is no doubt that water is important but sometimes we take it for granted thinking it will always be there. Like petroleum, one day fresh water will become a scarce resource. We assume that the artesian wells that provide Oahu’s fresh water will continue to be productive but ever since they’ve been tapped, in the 1940’s, the levels have been decreasing.

I recently got a chance to revisit the Board of Water Supply’s Halawa Pumping Station since the last time was quite a while ago.  Things haven’t changed much. The trolley that takes you down the shaft still reminds me of a carnival ride.


Halawa Shaft

What is amazing is the fresh water that sustains all of us resides in pools deep in the earth. The system that replenishes this supply is well understood. But as the demands on these water resources grow, whether it be population growth or development, you can see the water levels drop from the 1940s to present.


Freshwater well

In addition to increased water usage there are the threats due to contamination. A recent revelation was the fuel storage facility located on Red Hill. These large containers of jet fuel are leaking and pose a threat to the Moanalua wells. Discussions for a remedy are ongoing between the BWS and Navy as this site visit might indicate, but it is still unclear what the solution is and a proposed settlement is still forthcoming.

This will become an issue if not already. You can familiarize yourself with this project by reviewing the Administrative Order on Consent and the Statement of Work along with an archive of supporting documentation I helped to produce in collaboration with the Board of Water Supply.

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Pixar in a Box

September 17th, 2015 · STEM



On Bytemarks Cafe this past Wed. September 16, 2015, we got a chance to talk to the new Director of DBEDT (Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism) Luis Salaveria and Georja Skinner, Chief Officer of the Creative Industries Division, about several initiatives including broadband, tech entrepreneurship and energy. But one that caught my attention was related to STEM or a hybrid called STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Although we’ve been covering STEM topics for years, from VEX and First Robotics, Science Olympiad, Science Fair, Sea Perch, GenCyber, etc, this was the first time the A was emphasized in association with a well known brand, Pixar.

Pixar in a Box, a unique partnering between Pixar and Khan Academy, is a new online resource that explores the academic concepts behind Pixar Animation Studios’ creative process. Through a series of video lessons, interactive exercises, and hands-on activities, students will discover how the academic concepts they learn in school enable Pixar filmmakers to create new worlds, animate unique characters and tell stories through animation. Although designed especially for students in middle and high school, these resources are available to learners of all ages, completely free of charge.

According to Georja Skinner, 37 teachers in the Dept of Education have been been selected to incorporate the course material into their classes. Unlike some of the other STEM programs like robotics, which require after school time by the students and teachers, Pixar in a Box will get integrated in the class curriculum. Teachers interested beyond the initial 37 need only contact DBEDT as more teachers will be added as the curriculum grows.

Salaveria feels strongly that the A for Arts incorporated into STEAM is a key differentiator for Hawaii students introducing a creative arts discipline into the technology and engineering pathway. If done correctly could give Hawaii students an edge over traditional STEM learning.

With Pixar in a Box students can learn:

  • How combinatorics are used to create crowds, like the swarm of robots in WALL’E.
  • How parabolas are used to model environments, like the forest in Brave.
  • How weighted averages are used to create characters, like Buzz Lightyear and Woody.
  • How linear and cubic interpolation are used to animate characters.
  • How trigonometry is used to create the worlds in which Pixar stories take place.
  • How simultaneous equations are used to paint all of Pixar’s images.

Pixar in a Box is free and while the first year focuses on math, future Pixar in a Box lessons will explore science, computer science, arts, and humanities. It will be interesting to see how this new curriculum impacts students as they progress through their education and onto their professional ambitions. I will keep an eye and report back on this development.

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Slideshow of Jodo Mission #BonDance 2015

August 17th, 2015 · culture

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