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Fast Company ponders Philly as America's next big tech town

Fast Company talks to Technically Philly's Sean Blanda and DuckDuckGo's Gabriel Weinberg, among others, about Philadelphia's bustling technology sector.
 
"Like many cities, Philly has seen a significant increase in all aspects of the startup lifecycle--start, growth, exit," says DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg. "I think we're riding the global trend here, but also we've had great community leaders as well." He continues: "Our community is very tight-knit, which means it is very easy to connect with the top people in the scene."
 
Original source: Fast Company
Read the full story here.


How the magic happens inside a Bethlehem home brewing lab

Gizmodo drinks in the HammerSmith Ale House and Brewery, a shed in Bethlehem belonging to beer enthusiast and home brewer Chris Bowen.
 
Bowen was fermenting and bottling in his basement before he decided to purchase an acre of land in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which contained an old 22 x 14-foot Amish-built shed. He remodeled the structure, which now houses his yeast laboratory, four refrigerators, two sinks, and a sophisticated microbrewery system he designed and built from scratch. With this setup, he can replicate water from almost anywhere in the world to churn out 10-gallon batches of specific styles of beer. That's right: Bowen can reproduce the world's water, matching the mineral content on tap in over 70 countries. 
 
Original source: Gizmodo
Read the full story here.
 

Your iPad can act like a typewriter thanks to Philly engineer

The Toronto Star checks in with 27-year old Jack Zylkin of Philadelphia and his USB Typewriter, which replicates the sound and feel of a typewriter for computer users.
 
"Something was really lost when we moved away from the technology of typewriters," he said.
 
With that in mind, Zylkin began thinking of ways to remake the typewriter he had found. It was while working at Hive 76 – a hacker space where people share tools, parts and space – that he came up with the idea of making the typewriter’s keyboard function as a keyboard for a computer.
 
Original source: Toronto Star
Read the full story here.
 

Inspired by a piano and a banjo, Lancaster area high school student invents land mine detector

Fast Company interviews Marian Bechtel, a Lancaster-area teen who's developed an inexpensive device that uses sound waves to locate land mines.

"My parents are both geologists," she says. "Years ago they got connected with an international group of scientists working on a project called RASCAN, developing a holographic radar device for detecting land mines. During the summer before 8th grade, I met all of these scientists and talked with them about their work and the land mine issue. I was really touched and inspired by what they had to say, and wanted to get involved in science and possibly land mine detection."

Where does a 17-year-old find inspiration for life-saving innovation? In her music practice:

"I noticed that when I played certain chords or notes on the piano, the strings on a nearby banjo would resonate," says Bechtel. "I heard this, and it was almost like the story of the apple falling on Newton’s head -- I thought that maybe I could use the same principle to find landmines. So, I began doing research and talking with scientists in humanitarian de-mining and acoustics; three years later I had built a prototype."


Original source: Fast Company
Read the full story here.

Eyes of Congress are on energy-saving building research in Philadelphia

ClimateWire explains that a construction project at the Philadelphia Navy Yard is a federally funded test case for the future of energy-efficient building design.

Currently, the hub team is outlining its plan of attack. Architects, engineers, contractors and businesspeople are using computer models to figure out where the lights, insulation, furnaces, solar panels and other systems should go. The goal is to make these systems work better together, cutting the building's energy use by half relative to a comparable office building.

GPIC expects to settle on a design in the next six months or so, and then the sledgehammers and buzz saws arrive. Over the next year and a half, Building 661 will be gutted and renovated.

If all goes well, GPIC will make the building its headquarters, a place to continue its research and a "living lab" for green-building skeptics to visit. In 2015, when the hub's first award of federal cash runs out, GPIC will have to convince Congress it's worthy of another five-year endowment; if Congress says no, GPIC will have to find another cash source or scale back its ambitions.


Original source: ClimateWire
Read the full story here.

PA-bred rockers take on side project, bringing new life to vacant Reading outlet mall

Members of the band Live, which soared to stardom in the 1990s, have teamed up with a Lehigh Valley developer to bring residents and high-tech workers to an abandoned building in a former Reading outlet mall.


Working through their Lancaster-based company, Think Loud Development, they said they plan to spend more than $36 million to make the project happen.

A crucial, formative piece was securing a major corporate tenant. (Developer Bill) Hynes said Think Loud, formerly known as Think Spot Development, has signed an agreement with an undisclosed high-tech company that will occupy at least 50,000 square feet of the 320,000-square-foot structure.

Hynes said a confidentiality agreement prohibited Think Loud from revealing the identity of the company. It will be disclosed in the next few months, he said.



Original source: Reading Eagle
Read the full story here.

Philly schools receive national green building award

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the city's school district was given a national award for green features like microfiber mops and green roofs.

Another showplace is (11th-grader Manny) Ortiz's school in Kensington, which opened two years ago on a weedy, trash- and tire-pocked lot. Compared to his former school, "this is bright, and there's more room," he said. "We're able to move from class to class without getting crushed in the halls."

He and special-ed teacher Joshua Kleiman gave a tour Thursday, pointing out green roofs whose native plants hold rainwater and spare the city's overloaded sewer system. Rain that falls on the gym is stored in two cisterns that provide the water used to flush the toilets.

The insulation is so tight the architects were able to place the performance spaces in the front of the building, across Front Street from the tracks of the El, whose trains pass with a dull roar.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.

Pittsburgh-area startup specializes in custom-made 3D scanners

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on threeRivers 3D, a company that makes three-dimensional scanners for customers from physicians to museums.

Sandra Olsen, who heads the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's anthropology department, field-tested a scanner in January on rock carvings in Saudi Arabia.
 
The device recorded grooves in the rock faces, even at below freezing temperatures in the middle of the night. (CEO Mike) Formica provided training before the trip, Olsen said, and the scanner "worked well, in conditions he thought were beyond the limits." Images will be used on a website tied to an exhibit on horses in the Near East, which will open next year at the British Museum, Olsen said.


Original source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Read the full story here.

Silk mill built in 1800s reborn as center of education and economic activity

The News Eagle reports that a 19th-century silk mill in the Poconos has been transformed into a center for business, higher education and employee training.

Lackawanna College President Raymond Angeli showed off their top floor campus, meeting a need for education centrally located for Wayne and Pike counties. Chief among their prime curriculum include Hospitality & Tourism Management; Physical Therapist Assistant Program and their Ecological Sustainability Degree program.
 
He said they are seeking funds to place a first class teaching kitchen on a lower level of the Silk Mill. Between the kitchen and internships at Ledges Hotel, they will be well positioned to provide hospitality and culinary arts students, and in turn meet the employment needs of Pocono resorts.
 
The Hawley Silk Mill is currently bristling with activity, with five businesses on the first floor and 10 on the second, as well as the college on the third. Mark Mitchell, Facility Manager, said they are at about 80 percent capacity.


Original source: The News Eagle
Read the full story here.

Rockefeller Center display to feature first Christmas tree from PA

The fact that a spruce from the small Columbia County town of Mifflinville was destined for New York City's Rockefeller Center has been a poorly kept secret, the New York Daily News reports.

John Broscious, 70, who lives across the street from the tree, said rumors began swirling about six months ago.
 
"Soon after a bunch of people showed up taking pictures of the tree," Broscious said. "Then last summer, these large tank trucks began coming up here spraying all kinds of chemicals on the tree."
 
In recent days, a team of arborists arrived and wrapped every branch as if getting it ready for transportation.


Original source: New York Daily News
Read the full story here.

Design and construction firm in south-central PA builds custom stages for world-famous performers

Fox43 visits Tait Towers, a Lancaster-area company that builds custom-designed stages for performers like Lady Gaga and the Rockettes.

"Rock 'n roll is meant to be spontaneous, a young man`s business and doing crazy things. But we kind of mold and shape those ideas so they are practical without losing any of the edge," (owner Michael) Tait said.

The work starts with the design team. Computer renderings pump out the concept. Then, it's time to cut the aluminum, piece together the decking and the towers and whatever bells and whistles the groups desire. The end product typically takes 8 to 12 weeks to finish.

From video components to stage decking and everything in between, Tait brings together the whole entire stage experience. That type of variety really allowing the company to look up towards a positive future. "I started with one person in the shop and today we have over 220 people," said Tait.


Original source: Fox43
Read the full story here.

Neighbors reimagine vacant Philadelphia railway as city park above the streets

The Associated Press reports on a proposal that would transform an abandoned Philadelphia railroad bed into an elevated park.

"An asset like this will never be built again," said (John) Struble, a woodworker who has called Callowhill home since 1997. "There's too much potential to let it go away. When landscape architects see it, they get very excited -- it's a blank slate."

Walking on the viaduct, with its 360-degree views, it's easy to see why. The railway, already overtaken by small trees, flowering plants and tall grasses waving in the wind, resembles a meadow weaving among a series of huge old buildings -- some redeveloped, some vacant. The entrance to the viaduct is gated and locked but mattresses, liquor bottles and other detritus make it clear that people frequent or live along the rusting tracks.

"This is a neighborhood with no parks, no green space," Struble said. "The viaduct as a park would make it a much more welcoming, pleasant place to be."


Original source: Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Natural beauty of brain cells inspires Penn graduate student's artwork

The Daily Mail showcases artwork by Greg Dunn, a Penn doctoral student who illustrates brain cells in a style of traditional Japanese painting.

'I particularly love minimalist scroll and screen painting from the Edo period in Japan,' says Dunn on his website -- he has also exhibited in galleries in his native Canada.

'I am also a fan of neuroscience. Therefore, it was a fine day when two of my passions came together upon the realization that the elegant forms of neurons (the cells that comprise your brain) can be painted expressively in the Asian sumi-e style.'

'Neurons may be tiny in scale, but they possess the same beauty seen in traditional forms of the medium (trees, flowers, and animals).'


Original source: Daily Mail
Read the full story here.

Penn prof says virtual tactile simulations could alter medicine and mobile devices

SmartPlanet interviews University of Pennsylvania professor Katherine Kuchenbecker about her research on applications for haptics engineering, which allows people to feel different sensations with virtual simulations.

Our goal is to capture how things feel in the same way that photography captures how things look. We accomplish this by recording what doctors and dentists, in particular, see, hear, and feel as they treat patients.

For example, in the field of anesthesiology, new doctors have no idea what to feel for when inserting an epidural needle for the first time. It can take up to 30 minutes for a doctor to do this procedure when he or she is just starting out. We hope that we will be able to use haptography to help accelerate physicans’ experience long before they try out an injection on a patient.

Another field we’re focusing on in haptography work is dentistry. Dental students must learn to detect very subtle differences in tooth enamel. A certain number accidentally leave cavities unfilled or fill where there are no cavities. Haptics can help dentists feel the different textures, as tiny as the differences may be, so they make fewer mistakes on real patients.



Original source: SmartPlanet
Read the full story here.

 


Bucknell film professor restores and reopens art-deco movie house in Lewisburg

Film Journal International reports on the extensive restoration of the Campus Theatre, an art-deco movie house near Bucknell University in Lewisburg, and its upcoming reopening.

Lewisburg claims about 6,000 residents, Bucknell about 3,500 students, but the Susquehanna Valley, which encompasses four counties that border the river, boasts a population of 500,000, with a surprising number of universities and a major medical center within an hour’s drive of the theatre. “Coming to central Pennsylvania from Los Angeles, where I worked before Bucknell, was a culture shock,” (owner Eric) Faden recalls, “but I was blown away by the fact that audiences showed up for challenging films.” (public relations representative Mark) O’Brien, a more recent transplant from Washington, D.C., describes life among the rolling hills and farmland as “country living with city tastes” and sees the Campus’ reincarnation as part of the area’s cultural coming of age.

“What better way to assure the vitality of the community than to make sure its art scene is vibrant?” says O’Brien. “Bringing in manufacturing was once the way to go, but today seeding the arts is the preferred method of economic development. My dream is that within five years, partnering with the university, which has a gorgeous performing-arts center and another smaller theatre, Lewisburg will have an arts festival that will be an annual event. The city will become a destination, and the cinema will act as an economic engine.


Original source: Film Journal International
Read the full story here.
 

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