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By: Benjamin Jones, Mohammad Ahmadpoor

What does hailing a ride with Uber have to do with 19th-century geometry and Einstein’s theory of relativity? Quite a bit, it turns out.

Uber and other location-based mobile applications rely on GPS to link users with available cars nearby. GPS technology requires a network of satellites that transmit data to and from Earth; however, satellites wouldn’t relay information correctly if their clocks failed to account for the fact that time is different in space—a tenet of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. And Einstein’s famous theory relies on Riemannian geometry, which was proposed in the 19th century to explain how spaces and curves interact—but dismissed as derivative and effectively useless in its time.

The point is not just that mathematicians don’t always get their due. This example highlights an ongoing controversy about the value of basic science and scholarship. How much are marketplace innovations, which drive broad economic prosperity, actually linked to basic scientific research?

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By: Laurel Thoennes @ Quality Digest

There’s nothing like a splash of cold water to wake you up. Imagine what a 33-trillion-gallon splash would do. Maybe 24 hours of wind at 185 miles per hour would sweep you onto your feet. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma said, “Wakey wakey,” and we can’t afford to nod off.

How do you recover from disaster when you can’t count on insurance companies for relief, and dashed are beliefs that government is acting in your best interest? First, recognize that disaster provides the opportunity to disrupt the status quo, to seek change when problems are apparent and foremost in people’s minds. Before problems can be defined, they must be accurately described. Ask questions. Start conversations within your community.

Help is out there—for short-term measures and long-term efforts—but it begins with citizens taking responsibility for their health, safety, and community development. The following information points to it.

Anthony D. Burns’s picture

By: Anthony D. Burns

I had humble, that is, poor, beginnings. I didn’t even know the taste of real ice cream until later in life. One of the first impacts I felt of the luxury that technology brings was the diode my father bought for me to replace the cat’s whisker on my crystal radio. My high school was lovingly called “shack town.” I spoke as much English as a European refugee, because I had a stammer worse that King George VI.

I was admitted to the hallowed halls of one of the country’s biggest companies, shortly after it ended the compulsory wearing of hats. (Down here in the antipodes we have been a little slower than in the United States to shrug off the vestiges of British colonialism.) My employer, in fact, was the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. It was fortunate that hat-wearing had ended, because I didn’t own a hat. But I was fortunate I wasn’t a woman, since the first women the company employed were kept in a locked room.

Unlike the 100 other internees, I didn’t have a white handkerchief in my lapel pocket, speak with a plum in my mouth, or have a private-school education. They let me in simply because I was smart.

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By: MIT News

The first of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) half online, half in-person supply chain management master’s degree programs is making a profit and bringing dozens of new degree-seeking students to campus.

The results from the blended program in supply chain management are beginning to influence how MIT accepts students and offers graduate-level education. New programs are “bubbling up through the system,” one administrator said. And the institute’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, which offers this program, is “giving serious thought” to changing its admission processes, says Yossi Sheffi, the professor of engineering who serves as the director of the center.

“We are so impressed by what we are seeing that there’s a debate within the Center for Transportation and Logistics if we should replace standardized tests like the GMAT and the GRE with taking one full [online] course and seeing how [students] do,” Sheffi said in an interview.

Tony Uphoff’s picture

By: Tony Uphoff


The U.S. manufacturing industry—once one of the most robust and powerful economic engines in the world—is now in a state of atrophy. Baby boomers are retiring in record numbers, taking their unique knowledge and skills with them as they head out the door for the final time. The people taking their place in the workforce—millennials and Generation Z—don’t have the training necessary to fill the void on the shop floor. As a result, owners are faced with the painful choice of asking competitors for help or shutting their shops for good.

I speak with our clients every day and, unfortunately, this is the reality facing many shops across the country. But it doesn’t have to stay this way. By analyzing how we got here, it’s possible to develop a plan to turn the tables on the skills gap and build a prosperous path for U.S. manufacturing going forward.

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By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Our August 11, 2017, episode of QDL looked at the role of technology in after-market service, stairs that help you up, Fidget Cubes, and more.

“Climbing Stairs Just Got Easier With Energy-Recycling Steps”

These stairs actually help you go up.

“The Curious Case of the Fidget Cube”

How a product almost went from a million-dollar success story to a footnote in under a year.

“How Technology Is Disrupting the After-Sales Service Industry”

Two new technologies are helping companies make the most of their after-market service.

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By: Bruce Weinberg

Science funding is intended to support the production of new knowledge and ideas that develop new technologies, improve medical treatments, and strengthen the economy. The idea goes back to influential engineer Vannevar Bush, who headed the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II. And the evidence is that science funding does have these effects.

Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest’s picture

By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

Our July 28, 2017, episode of QDL we looked at science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) education for the deaf and hard of hearing; Quality 4.0; and cloud computing.

“Teaching STEAM Skills to Deaf Kids Using Drones and 3-D Printing”

The deaf and hard of hearing are underreprented in STEM vocations. The University of Alabama at Huntsville, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, and the Rochester Institute of Techology are looking to change that.

“Lessons From the Merchants of Venice”

By studying Venice’s supremacy in long-distance trade and success in opening new markets over the centuries, we can see the importance of network effects, contractual innovations, and coordination among players involved in commercial relationships.

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By: Dirk Dusharme @ Quality Digest

I n our June 23, 2017, episode of QDL we look at STEM education, personal kanban, and common mistakes when using SPC.

“ASME Supports STEM Opportunities Act of 2017”

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has introduced H.R. 2653, which promises to increase engagement of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. But with STEM programs being cut left and right, will it get funding?

“How Your Bonus Affects Your Colleagues’ Behavior”

Researchers get a rare opportunity to run a natural social experiment comparing two types of employee compensation systems: commission vs. fixed salary. The results are not what you would expect.

Iffet Turken’s picture

By: Iffet Turken

The world faces a new crisis situation more or less every day—be it political, economic, or humanitarian. Wherever a crisis is experienced, echoes are felt around the globe. In the digital age, social media conveys crises in real time, resulting in rich portfolios of pictures, videos, written records, and more.

In this hyper-connected world, executives face unprecedented challenges regarding crises. With mobile phones in hand, not only do executives encounter problems constantly, they also are now expected to solve them straightaway.

As people become more connected, the mobile messaging application, or app, is emerging as the instant form of communication. As of 2016, more than 1.4 billion people were predicted to use mobile messaging apps. With more than one billion users, one of the most popular, WhatsApp, connects people via text, images, video, and audio. Users are also forming social groups through the app, as well as specific interest and business groups.

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