Mind Over Matter Improvement » Mind Over Matter
Making Things, Science News, Technical Communicators
Andrea Rossi has convincingly demonstrated his E-Cat reactor that produces more energy from a reaction than from a purely chemical process. Nickel plus hydrogen, 80 watts in, 15,000 watts out and no radioactive residue to get rid of afterward, only a little copper.
Strangely, the scientific press are remaining silent on this discovery. Perhaps having been burned by previous “cold fusion” claims that remained unproven, they are twice shy. However, when scientific heavyweights no less than Nobel prize winner for Physics Brian Josephson of Cambridge University talk about an invention, we need to pay attention. Rossi is clearly on to something. Given the size of the reaction chamber, it can’t be other than…fusion.
I am surprised that the scientific media are declining to cover this story. It is their responsibility to publicize science news so that the broader scientific community can become aware, then question, probe, investigate and even validate any claims. If something attracts the attention and support of respected scientists such as Josephson it deserves its moment in the spotlight.
According to NASA Chief Scientist Dennis M. Bushnell, reactors of the Rossi type are already in production and may be capable of “completely changing geo-economics, geo-politics, and solving climate and energy.”
I often tell my students that as technical communicators, we are professional gadflies. It is our job to buzz persistently, and bite when necessary, to get certain things done. We cannot move forward with documentation on a product that is languishing, so we interact with the developers to see how things are going. We ask for prototypes and working versions. We query them about deadlines, especially “When’s code freeze?”.
Endorsed Development, a new way of attracting a market for products we want to create.
Since the Stone Age, products have been developed based on need. They were meant to solve problems and assist us in completing tasks. To begin with, it was survival tasks, soon followed by transportation tasks, trading tasks, and leisure tasks. In design, form closely followed function.
As we developed greater technical skills, we began to innovate. We refined designs to be more usable and more attractive. Occasionally, because of cost and demand for the products, designs were adjusted based on ease of manufacture. When we had to get something to market quickly, we concentrated on making it work and shipping it as soon as we could.
With automation and the assembly line, speed of manufacture was handled so we concentrated once more on making things attractive as well as functional. We were still tied to the products-as-solution imperative, but we could add features that we thought were fun. Features became selling points, even though marketers kept reminding us that it was benefits, not features, that sold products.
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I was listening to the radio and heard a report on morale among airport security screeners. They are subject to the anger and nasty comments of scores of passengers every day. Nobody likes the procedures for airport security screening. The shoe removal and pockets emptying is bad enough; if you happen to require a full body pat down, that’s even worse. But this report noted that it’s bad for the screeners too. They hate it just as much as we do, if not more because of the rude comments they are subject to while just doing their jobs.
If you use air travel, whether for work or pleasure, what do you say when you’re going through airport security screening? Is your attitude one of cheerful co-operation or surly resentment? Do you treat service personnel in a hotel or restaurant that same way? Think about it.
As a working technical communicator, I often found myself as one of the few people (and sometimes the only one!) in the company who knew exactly what products we were working on and where they fit into the company’s vision. To do my job of documenting the products and consulting on their usability (how a product helps users achieve their objectives with it), I spoke to every department in the company at one point or another.
I was mostly involved with the research and development departments, but I frequently spoke to or worked with marketing to understand the customer they were trying to reach, and to sales to find out what aspects of the product(s) buyers were most interested in. This information gave me a sense of who the end user would be and what their needs were for the product or service they were purchasing. In that way, I could orient my documentation more effectively toward the user’s tasks.
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