Scientific studies on climate helped establish...
Scientific studies on climate helped establish a consensus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
BY JOHN MARKOFF

 
Creating a supercomputer that can model the future of the planet is perhaps the most daunting challenge facing climate and computer science experts.

The task would require running an immense set of calculations for several weeks and then recalculating them hundreds of times with different variables. Such machines will need to be 100 times faster than today’s supercomputers. If such a computer were built today, a so-called exascale computer would consume electricity equivalent to 200,000 homes and might cost $20 million annually to operate, contributing to global warming.

For the reason, scientists are waiting for low-power computing techniques capable of significantly reducing the power requirements for an exascale computer.

But Krishna Palem, a computer scientist at Rice University in Texas, believes he has found a shortcut. By stripping away the transistors that add accuracy, it will be possible to cut the energy demands of calculating while increasing performance speeds, he claims.

“Scientific calculations like weather and climate modeling are generally, inherently inexact,” Dr. Palem said. “We’ve shown that using inexact computation techniques need not degrade the quality of the weather-climate simulation.”

To create models, scientists turn the world into a three-dimensional grid and compute the equations. Current climate models used with supercomputers have cell sizes of about 100 kilometers, representing the climate for that area of Earth’s surface. To accurately predict the long-term impact of climate change will require shrinking the cell size to a kilometer. Such a model would require more than 200 million cells and roughly three weeks to compute one simulation of climate change over a century.

“We can’t do a lab experiment with the climate,” said Tim Palmer, a University of Oxford climate physicist. “We have to rely on these models which try to encode the complexity of the climate, and today we are constrained by the size of computers.”

Dr. Palem says computing the rate of global warming may be possible with a computer that would use specialized low-power chips to solve a portion of the problem. He describes his approach as “inexact” computing.

The stated goal of the engineers who are trying to design an exascale computer is to stay within a power budget of 30 megawatts, experts say.

Dr. Palem has been imploring the computing world to back away from its romance with precision for more than a decade. He has recently developed allies among climatologists like Dr. Palmer, who in the journal Nature recently called on the climate community to form an international effort to build a machine fast enough to solve basic questions about the rate of global warming.

Not everyone is convinced Dr. Palem’s computer architecture ideas will be applicable. “For consequential problems, where inexact results could cause a bridge to be mis-designed, or erroneous conclusions about the mechanics of climate, the inexactness is problematic,” said John Shalf, department head for computer science at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Dr. Palem and Dr. Palmer are trying to overcome these objections.

“It’s a trivial amount of money when you think of climate impact being in the trillion of dollars,” Dr. Palmer said. “It’s actually an existential question. If it’s at one end of the spectrum, we can adjust, but if it’s at the other of the spectrum, we’re not going to come out of it unless we cut emissions in the next decade.”


Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, The New York Times International Weekly, May 23, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monetize Your Passion

English: icon for mailing lists
English: icon for mailing lists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
18-May-2015


Have you been wondering how you can monetize your passion? A burning question that has taken you days, weeks, months, or even years, and still searching until now?

Or have tried and joined 'some' groups, only to find that you've been ripped off?

If you are keen to give it another try, to prove that one system really works, with real people, and real results, here is one that I can recommend:

My online business community

You see, I have also been searching, paid a package or two, took a lesson here and there, joined many mailing lists, and in the end, I am still in the same exact scenario: just looking at other make it big.

But if you want to give it another go, rest assured, I know this one. I tried it myself, and what I would get for a free membership, I would already pay $xxxx somewhere else. Even if you do get to become a Premium member, the monthly payment is but just a very small fraction if you were to take a similar course elsewhere.

And the community is great. 200,000+ members can't be all wrong.

To say that the lessons are arranged so learning and doing gives you maximum assimilation is to say the least.

'Nuff said!

Try it, so you prove it yourself, not just because I say so.

You get 2 free websites, to begin with.

My online business community - my internet marketing platform

Leave me comments when you've been there, and how it went.
Will ya?

Thanks!

Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I first posted this in LinkedIn, but I feel that it is appropriate to have it in my blog. Read on...
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March 29, 2015



I am penning this down, to pay my respect for Singapore’s founding father – in a few more years, half of my life would have been lived in the country he has built. I will pay my respect by being a good (foreign) worker, and if I ever become one, a good citizen.

My family and I watched Mediacorp’s airing of Lee Kuan Yew’s achievements and Singapore’s history, up to the coverage of his funeral and the service held at UCC. Here are some pointers that I picked up, and may we all learn from it:

Keep up with the times. When he gave a speech at the US Congress, he was recognized, not simply because he knew how to talk, but because he knew his country, and he knew other countries. He discussed the current issues of unemployment in the US, and so, he earned the recognition of being a leader who knows, not only one who can talk. As many Singaporeans who grew up with him attest, "he (LKY) never gave empty promises. He delivered.

Build for the future, not just today. LKY looked at Singapore, and as he went around to build bilateral relationships and to attract investors, he realized that to be viable, Singapore has to take up English as the primary language. English became the primary language in trades and in government offices. Even then, for Singapore not to lose its racial culture and tradition, mother was made a requirement in schools. As he put it, he himself rediscovered the treasure of the Chinese language and culture when he learned Hokkien and Mandarin. He only didn’t see today, but he saw 10-, 20-, 30-years into the future.

> I love this one. Being in the software development business, I would often tell myself, and some colleagues, to build for the future, not just today. I practiced the habit of designing and developing applications that can and will stand the test of time.
Choose to be unpopular. Doing what is right will make you an easy target for critics, especially if the change you are making is going to impact so many. And doing what is right means becoming tough and firm, and this could be easily construed as being rigid and uncompassionate. But doing what the people wants, or what your supporters suggest, of what the masses mandate, isn’t always the best way to ‘please’ the people. As it was stated by the speaker, “If you want to be popular, you will misgovern.”

Know what you are dealing with. Perhaps the most significant of the traits of the system that Singapore has is because it ‘borrows’ from the world’s best-in-class practices. As I’ve often heard from fellow management leaders, what LKY did was to study the different system of the world’s governments, and to pick on what is the best practice, and what can be applied to Singapore, and that he did.

Be pragmatic. Even then, when he knew what he was doing, he didn’t immediately executed plans and actions. He had his fellow leaders to consult with, and they slowly built and planned, and planned and built. They had all the data to support their plans, and yet, they moved slowly – but surely.

Be firm. When a plan is put into action, and there are hiccups along the way, or some things don’t work out as planned, be firm. Even when things go along the way they were expected or planned to be, there will always be unsatisfied observers and detractors. If you easily cave in to the pressure, you lose.

Be clean and honest. When you go up the ladder of leadership, and many doors open up to you, don’t be tempted to gorge on your ‘rights and privileges’. Always remember that when you have served your term, or when you have lived your life, the history you leave behind will not only be in your name, but in your family’s, and in your nation’s.

Practice integrity. It was very commendable how he practiced integrity, and fought against corruption. And having lived a life of integrity, it wasn’t difficult for him to tell others of the same high mandate for a leader. If not, detractors will easily find a spot and make it their point of argument against you.

Be tough. Having made integrity his own personal mandate, LKY required it of his nation. He set up CPIB, and anybody who is found to be corrupt, or doing something illegal and is caught and makes a bribe, will have a heavier and harsher punishment.

Surround yourself with equally honest leaders. He didn’t look at the skin color, or the spoken language, but he offered the same chance of becoming a leader to serve the people to potential citizens, who perhaps showed the same qualities as he possessed. I didn’t hear or read of a cabinet member or an MP who was found to be corrupt or debased. A stark contradiction of many leaders past and present.

Include opposition. It was very revealing that while many accused LKY of being close-minded who didn’t entertain others’ views, one fellow leader said that he wouldn’t like you and wouldn’t listen to you anymore if you agreed to everything he said. He wanted somebody who will oppose him and give the other side of the story, and to reason out with you, present the idea and provide the basis for doing so. Indeed, what better way to see the same scenario from somebody else’s eyes! A devil's advocate, anyone?

Listen to others. No matter how smart you are, you will not always see the whole picture on your own. And when you close your ears to others, and gets puffed up in your own proud heart, your downfall is imminent. Be humble, remain humble and always look back from whence you came.

Delegation. Don’t be power hungry. Don’t think you will live forever, and that even all your life, you will stay in power. Train new leaders, and learn to let go. Prepare for your own future by preparing new leaders, and therefore, ensure the continuity of what you have started. That he did, and saw to it that everything is in place, even long before he passed away.

Frugality. It is quite contrary to know that LKY lived his life in frugality, especially that the wealth of Singapore is open to him. He also didn’t abuse his power and privilege. Actually he didn’t need to spend a single dime, only to speak up and request for a new set of clothes, a new set of furniture, the latest TV or computer set, and stores would be on their toes to give him what he asks for – free of charge. Yet he did not. A 60-year old sofa set. A vacuum-tube monitor and an outdated PC. A very simple 2-storey house. And for his contemporaries, borrowed pair of shoes, borrowed coat. Are we missing something here?

Practicality. A chair is a chair, and if it serves its purpose, why seek an elaborate one. And if it still serves its purpose, why replace it and throw it away?

Focus at the task in hand. He always made it a point to be never lingering around issues, but always focused at the task in hand. No wasted time, no wasted opportunity.

Career and family are both equally important. It was with amusement that I watched the open forum where LKY was conversing with a lady, aged 27, who is currently taking up PhD D. She is not married, and she doesn’t have a boyfriend. She would be around 29 by the time she finishes her PhD D, and if she does enter into a relationship after a few more years, and gets married, she’d be around 35 by the time she gets pregnant. LKY stressed that at that age, the dangers of pregnancy, especially for the baby, is increasing. And yet, he didn’t tell her not to pursue the PhD D. He did remark that having a family is more satisfying than a PhD D, but in the end, he jokingly told her, “I hope you catch your PhD D and your boyfriend.”

Keep up with your family. Even when his tasks as a leader was so exacting, he made it a point to have a time together with his family – regularly. Needless to say, he was successful, not only as a leader, but also as a father and as a grandfather.

Fidelity. He married the woman he loves, and he loved the woman he married. No return, no exchange. His wife became the strong support who goes with him anywhere he goes. As it was told, where he is seen, there she was. Yet at the start, they were competitors, she scoring higher than him. But along the way, they became friends, then a couple. Together, they forged the Singapore we all know today is.

Have nothing else to prove. He didn’t show off his status with new gadgets. He didn’t brag about his status with shining cars. He didn’t declare his wealth with huge mansions. He didn’t attend sessions wearing designer clothes. In fact, he had to mend the tear on the jacket that he wore for years and years. Why? Because he had nothing else to prove. Having done what he should, and with an overwhelming mark of excellence, he didn’t need anything else to add on. His work is proven, and he didn’t need to speak about it.

He has passed away, and he is gone. We will miss him. As said in an artist’s epitaph, the same can be said about Lee Kuan Yew:

If you are looking for his work, look around Singapore.

INSEAD
INSEAD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Working with people from all places and races, it is always a challenge. And in my experience, language is the first barrier to be broken down - it is tantamount to knowing the culture by knowing the language. But then again, it may not always be the case.

What your experience?
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ERIN MEYER


I teach cross-cultural management at the international business school Insead, near Paris. For 15 years, I have studied how people in different parts of the world build trust, communicate, make decisions and perceive situations differently, especially in the workplace.

While traveling in Tokyo recently with a Japanese colleague, I gave a short talk to 20 managers. At the end, I asked whether there were any questions or comments. No hands went up. My colleague asked the group again: “Any comments or questions?”

Still, no one raised a hand, but he looked at each person in the audience. Gesturing to one of them, he said, “Do you have something to add?” To my amazement, she responded, “Yes, thank you,” and asked a very interesting question. My colleague repeated this several times.

Afterward, my colleague was unsure how to explain the phenomenon. Then he said, “It has to do with how bright their eyes are.

“In Japan,” he continued, “we don’t make as much direct eye contact as you do in the West. So when you asked if there were any comments, most people were not looking directly at you. But a few people in the group were looking right at you, and their eyes were bright. That indicates that they would be happy to have you call on them.”

That is not something I learned from my upbringing in Minnesota, or during my years spent in living in Europe and Africa.

After the trip I returned to my classroom, where the students are managers from all over the world. I felt both embarrassed and unsettled to see that I had been missing a lot of bright eyes.

In Japan there is an expression, “kuuki yomenai,” which refers to someone who is unable to read the atmosphere. On my trip I was reminded that, with a little curiosity and some help, I could improve my ability to read the Japanese atmosphere.

In today’s economy, an Italian might be negotiating a deal in Nigeria or a German could be managing a team of Brazilians.

In France, I was surprised to hear Americans complain that their French teammates were disorganized and always late. Yet some Indian colleagues were frustrated about those same people being rigid and unadaptable.

I map cultures on eight behavioral dimensions: communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling.

For example, the French culture falls between the American and Indian cultures on the scheduling dimension – hence the opposite impressions about chaos versus rigidity.

If you lead a multicultural team, you need to find the flexibility to work up and down these dimensions: watch what makes local managers successful, explain your own style, and perhaps, learn to laugh at yourself. Ultimately, it means learning to lead in different ways.

Focus on understanding behavior in other cultures, and keep finding the bright eyes in the room.


Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, The New York Times International Weekly, September 27, 2014
English: These termite mounds were most impres...
English: These termite mounds were most impressive. From the park sign: Cathedral Termite Mound This mound is home to a colony of grass eating termites, Nasutitermes triodiae. It's about 5 meters high and could be over 50 years old. Kingdom:Animalia Phylum:Arthropoda Class:Insecta Subclass:Pterygota Infraclass:Neoptera Superorder:Dictyoptera Order:Isoptera Family: Termitidae Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, Australia i09_0501 027 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is definitely a science feature, but there is something to learn, especially for leaders. We don't always get to give. It is what we are, how we do, and where we thrive. That will spell our survival for the next milleniums to come...
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By NATALIE ANGIER


The giant termite mounds that rise up from the sands of the African savanna are so distinctive it is tempting to give them names, like “Trumpeting Elephant” or “Flagrantly Obvious Fertility Totem.”

Whatever the metaphor, the megaforms dominate their landscape, and not just visually. As scientists are just beginning to appreciate, termites and their habitats are crucial to the health and robustness of an array of ecosystems: from deserts to rain forests to your local park.

Researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey reported in the journal Science that termite mounds may serve as oases in the desert, allowing the plants that surround them to persist on a fraction of the annual rainfall otherwise required and to bounce back after a withering drought. The mounds could prove potential bulwarks against climate change, preventing fragile dryland from slipping into lifeless wasteland.

“Even when you see desertification start to happen between the mounds, the vegetation on or around the mounds is doing so well it will keep reseeding the environment,” said Corina Tarnita, a professor at Princeton and an author of the report.

While the public may view termites as pale, blind, centimeter-long vermin that can damage homes, only a handful of the 3,000 or so known termite species are pests to people. Many of the rest, you can thank for the ground beneath your feet, which is where the majority live and work. The closer scientists look, the longer grows the list of subterranean tasks that termites take on.

“They’re the ultimate soil engineers,” said David Bignell, an emeritus professor at Queen Mary University of London.

By poking holes as they dig, termites allow rain to soak deep into the soil rather than run off or evaporate. Termites mix sand, stone and clay with organic bits of leaf litter, discarded exoskeletons and the occasional squirrel tail, a blending that helps the soil retain nutrients and resist erosion.

The stickiness of a termite’s feces and other bodily excretions lends structure and coherence to the soil, which also prevents erosion. Bacteria in the termite’s gut can fix nitrogen, extracting it from the air and converting it into a fertilizer, benefiting the termite host and the vast underground economy. “Over all, termites are extremely good for the health of the soil” on which everything else depends, Dr. Bignell said.

Termites also provide a model for understanding the origins of social life, the division of labor, and a sort of altruistic, self-abnegating behavior. In a new study of “panic escape” behavior among termites as they seek to flee from danger, researchers at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center determined that the one thing the termites do not do when disturbed is panic. They don’t start running, pushing and shoving, or clambering over the fallen. They don’t behave like people in a crowded theater when somebody yells fire, or like ants whose nest has been harrowed.

Instead, the researchers found that when they placed 110 termites on round plastic dishes and gave the plates a shake, the termites started running in an orderly fashion, depending on whether they were ordinary workers or soldiers dedicated to nest defense. The workers fell into single-file formation. The ones infront decided whether to turn left or right, and the rest followed at a uniform speed and spacing.

The soldiers migrated to either side of the flow, snapping their mandibles as though preparing to do battle. If one termite stumbled or slowed, those behind would stop and wait for it to right itself.

That organization distinguishes termites from their more famous counterparts among social insects, the ants. “Ants will crowd over each other and get trapped at exits or intersections,” said Gregg Henderson, an entomologists at the agricultural center and an author of the report, which appeared in the journal Insect Science. “But I’ve seen no evidence of selfishness in termites.”

That may be because they have had a lot of practice. Termites, Dr. Henderson said, “were the first animals to form societies,” starting about 200 million years ago, some 50 million years earlier than the ants and their hymenopteran cousins, the bees.

With the help of symbiotic bacteria and protozoa packed into their stomachs at what might be the highest microbial densities in nature, termites thrive by eating what others can’t or won’t: wood, dung, even dirt.

The great termite artists of Africa, the mound builders, cultivate a fungus in tunnels and galleries deep inside vast palaces built of sand, clay and termite excretions. The termites eat a small portion of the fungal spores and use the fungal enzymes to help break down fibrous food sources.

The termites, in turn, offer their fungal partners water, nourishment and a temperate and well-ventilated haven free of competing fungal strains. The mounds also protect their builders against the sun, the seasonal rain and predators.

The largest African mounds can measure nine meters high and house millions of termites. In Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park, antelope congregate around termite mounds, and not just for the grazing opportunities.

“The mounds are cooler in the heat of day and warmer at night,” said Robert Pringle, an ecologist at Princeton and an author of the report in Science. “They’re a very pleasant place to hang out.”


Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, The New York Times International Weekly, March 14, 2015