Microsoft unveils the worldwide telescope at TED

image We were following the buzz about a revolutionary product that Microsoft was going to debut at the TED conference, which started on February 27th and will run till March 1st. We did our own speculation on what the product might or might not be.

Well the project is out!  It is called the World Wide telescope and is an interactive tapestry that is stitched together with data from the Hubble and several terrestrial telescopes.  During a demo at the conference, the project leaders Roy Gould from the Harvard Center for astrophysics and Curtis Wong from Microsoft, showed how users can zoom in on objects in the night sky, and look at incredibly detailed pictures as well as access information regarding the object from the web.

ted world wide telescope interactive

As with all good applications, the software has social networking woven into it.  Anybody can design a virtual tour of their favorite part of the universe and share it with their friends.

The TED conference brings together thinkers from around the world and let them present their ideas in 18 minutes, at the conference. The big Ted prize (given to 3 people every year) is $100,000 cash plus the "granting of one wish to change the world". Winners get to unveil their wish at the award ceremony at the conference.

This year’s TED prize winners are:

Cosmologist Neil Turok, who has worked on the cosmic ray background in the universe, and its implications on the big bang theory.

Author Dave Eggers who has written the critically acclaimed "A heartbreaking work of staggering genius"

Former nun, comparative religion expert and author of "The spiral staircase", Karen Armstrong.

SimplyShe raises $600k in financing

image Agility Capital recently closed a $600,000 financing to SimplyShe, Inc.  The debt facility is in the form of a growth capital loan.

Located in San Francisco, California, SimplyShe, Inc.  is a branded consumer products company providing fashion-based merchandise to the mass market. SimplyShe™ has multiple business units including: women’s apparel and accessories, children’s apparel image and accessories, pet apparel and accessories, publishing and entertainment. The Company’s brands include: SimplyShe™, SimplyWee™, SimplyDog™, Lulu Pink™, Max-A-Million™, Big Paws™ and SimplySingle™. The Company is on a rapid growth path reporting over $20 million in sales in 2007.

Agility Capital provides innovative debt solutions to Venture Capital backed private companies and Small Cap public companies in the technology/ communications/ medical device and branded consumer products markets in the Western United States.

Organovo: Creating organs might be as easy as printing!

Organovo, a life sciences startup, recently succeeded in "printing" chicken heart cells in a petri dish, that resulted in tissue that actually beat, in the way a real heart would!

organovo organ printing Organovo, is in the process of bringing to market a pioneering 3D tissue engineering process that promises to revolutionize the testing of pharmaceutical drugs and eventually provide a means to build organs for transplantation.

Pharmaceutical companies typically test promising new drugs on animals before undertaking expensive human testing. Often enough, side effects emerge in humans that were not present during the animal trials. Not surprisingly, this process is lengthy and costs pharmaceutical companies millions. Consequently many drugs never reach the consumer market. Also, each year, the number of patients awaiting organ transplantation continues to grow and there is an acute shortage of available human organs.

Funded by an NSF grant, Gabor Forgacs, a biophysics researcher and his team at the University of Missouri-Columbia have, over the last four years, perfected a technique of "printing" 3D tissue structures that represent a first step in addressing these problems.

image In their study, using a printer that extrudes "bio-ink" cells through a micropipette, the researchers at MU printed particles of chicken heart cells onto large sheets of cell friendly gel. Heart cells have to synchronize in order for the heart ot beat properly and when first printed they did not beat in unison. In time, some 19 hours later, the cells had sorted and fused the tissue structure and started to beat just as a heart would. Remarkably the cells knew what to do to build a beating chicken heart in a petrie dish.

This bio-printing technique is faster and cheaper than other tissue engineering techniques that rely on building a "scaffold" of the desired shape and then seeding it with cells that grow for weeks. Despite the early success of this research, the researchers are many years away from printing organs on demand. The greater and more immediate promise of this technology is the ability to build 3D tissue structures for realistic drug trials that forgoes human and animal testing.


Image courtesy Wired. The top two images show magnified views of the bio-ink cartridge, while the bottom images show newly printed bio-ink blots (left) on bio-paper, and their fusion into a circle (right) within about three days

Technorati Tags: organovo,bio-engineering,bio-printing

Entrepreneurship 101 - Value add to existing items

Since the last year, Stanford has been sponsoring Entrepreneurship week contest of being creative and “adding value to existing items.”

And, the drum roll please; this year’s secret item to add value to is: Rubber Band.


The 2008 Innovation Tournament is open to teams of Stanford students, as well as students around the world. Teams can be of any size. Your challenge is to create as much value as possible using rubber bands. You can use as many as you want, of any size, shape, or color. Value can be measured on any scale you choose. Remember, value comes from actually implementing your ideas and delivering results. To be successful, challenge assumptions, seize opportunities, be creative, and Make it Happen!

Last year, the secret item was Post-it Notes. And some of the entries were creative and business worthy.


My favorite entries from the last year were: Braille Note - A Braille Navigation System for Sight Impaired; selling ads on the Post-it was obvious, most sustainable and probably fundable idea; and selling the preemptive prize of the event on Ebay was gimmicky, but a cool thought.

You can see the complete list of winners for 2007 here.

Here are my ideas for the rubber band:

High tech ideas:

  • Rubber band with a ring tone built in. There is already a strip of paper available that can be made to hum any tune. Use the rubber band instead to create a ring tone. Perfect for a packaging for a ring tone card or for birthday card.
  • A rubber band rocket launcher. It might be possible to launch less than 2 lb rocket with rubber band canon. Do it right and win this competition and the Lunar X prize at the same time! :-)
  • Rubber band to monitor the temperature of your computer system. This should be easy to implement. If the temperature goes up, the band becomes softer and stretches more.
  • Use rubberbands to generate energy while you are walking. Essentially, it stores a part of the energy when you are walking and then delivers it back when you need it.

Low Tech Idea:

  • Make a rubber band music video (either as a story to existing number or create music using rubber bands.)
  • If done right, rubber bands can be used as a filteration device. Additionally, they can be self cleaning. After using a bundle of rubber bands as a filter, stretch and release the bundle to auto clean.
  • Rubber band with writable sleeves (ready for ads or customization) would be too obvious, but I think it will work. Printable friendship bands are all around so that doesn’t count.
  • Make crossed rubber bands. I find that to secure something, I need to use two to four rubber bands and attach them in two different directions. A pre-arranged rubbers cluster might be helpful. Also, I hate those metal twist ties on bags. I end up using rubber bands to secure those bags any way. A custom designed rubber band suited to tie bags would be nice. Or, make adjustable rubber bands. When I want to use rubber band, they are never of the right size and don’t provide the right amount of force.

So what can you do with a rubber band? You have a less than a week to come up with an idea, implement it and document it.


Leave a comment if you can think of any other ways to add value to a rubber band.

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