Tuesday Topsight, April 15, 2008
Because I'm in meetings all week...
Going Around in Circles: What's the secret to improving fuel efficiency, cutting emissions, and saving gas money? Don't turn left. At least, that's how the UPS routing software does it. No, really:
Time studies led UPS to discover that avoiding left-hand turns would save time, conserve fuel, reduce emissions and reduce the potential for accidents. UPS managers (who for years planned routes by physically driving each one and plotting on maps) began experimenting with their routes to see if right hand turns would increase efficiency. It worked. For decades, UPS has designed routes in a series of loops with as few left-hand turns as possible.
Janice had a good question when I told her of this: if you're in a vehicle with auto-stop (like a hybrid or a growing number of high-mileage regular cars), how much of a difference would routing like this make?
Sterling on Spimes: As usual, Chairman Bruce gives good rant, this time at the "Innovationsforum Interaktionsdesign" conference in Potsdam at the end of March. It's about a 40 minute talk, but worth checking out.
Bruce Sterling from Innovationsforum on Vimeo.
Excellent new term coming from his talk: meta-medium -- a new medium that embraces a variety of ostensibly unrelated earlier media. Example: the mobile phone.
(Paraphrasing Bruce) Mobile phones are a "meta-medium" - they eat practically everything. phone. camera. web browser. video gaming. fax. radio. gps. pedometers. barcode readers. car keys. etc.
(Via Posthuman Blues)
The Copyfight Moves to Space: Patents killed an off-course communications satellite last week.
The AMC-14 comsat didn't quite make its geostationary orbit when launched in March, falling into a survivable but non-useful orbit. The owners understandably wanted to try to salvage it, given the success of earlier satellite rescues involving flinging the satellite around the moon. Bad news:
...a plan to salvage AMC-14 was abandoned a week ago when SES gave up in the face of patent issues relating to the lunar flyby process used to bring wayward GEO birds back to GEO Earth orbit. [...] SES is currently suing Boeing for an unrelated New Skies matter in the order of $50 million dollars - and Boeing told SES that the patent was only available if SES Americom dropped the lawsuit.
Industry sources have told SpaceDaily that the patent is regarded as legal "trite", as basic physics has been rebranded as a "process", and that the patent wouldn't stand up to any significant level of court scrutiny and was only registered at the time as "the patent office was incompetent when it came to space matters".
So let me get this straight: Boeing has patented orbital mechanics?