Australia and South Africa are to share the world’s biggest telescope – the Square Kilometre Array.

After an intense six-year battle between the two bidding nations, a split-site solution for the giant radio telescope has been reached, with antennas to be built in both countries.

The decision was made on Friday night at a meeting in Amsterdam of the board of directors of the international  SKA Organisation overseeing the telescope’s construction.

It had been feared Australia would miss out, after an independent scientific panel in February narrowly recommended South Africa as the preferred site.

To be one of the great scientific projects of the 21st century, the array  will be so sensitive it could detect an aircraft radar on a planet 50 light years away.

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It will be able to look back to the dark ages just after the Big Bang, and could help answer some of the big question of the cosmos, such as whether we are alone, and the nature of mysterious dark energy and dark matter.

Due to be fully operational by 2024, the internationally funded project will provide a significant  economic boost to both countries, particularly in the construction, engineering and IT sectors.

In a majority determination it was decided that most of the dishes that will comprise the array in the first phase will be built in South Africa and combined with a 64-dish telescope planned  there called MeerKAT.

More SKA dishes will be added to a 36-dish telescope almost completed in Australia called the Australian SKA Pathfinder.

A second set of mid-frequency antennae will be built in South Africa and a third set of low frequency antenna will be built in Australia.

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Your Guide To Travelling Australia

The core Australian site is in the remote shire of Murchison, in Western Australia, a radio-quiet zone about 300 kilometres north-east of Geraldton which has only about 100 people in an area larger than Holland.

In South Africa, it is in the Karoo desert in the Northern Cape.
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The decision to share the telescope, which will have three types of antennas including 3000 dishes, was made by five of the organisation’s eight member nations – Italy, the Netherlands, Britain, Canada and China.

The concept of building a mega-telescope with a square kilometre of collecting area was proposed 20 years ago.
Australia and South Africa were shortlisted as potential hosts in 2006.

In March, the Herald broke the story that the independent scientific panel had recommended South Africa.

However a final decision was delayed while a new scientific working group investigated the possibility of an ‘‘inclusive approach’’ that would ‘‘maximise the value from the investments made by both countries’’.

On Friday, before the decision to share the telescope was made, the Minister of Science, Chris Evans, said the Australian government had ‘‘continued to argue Australia’s case right up to the 11th hour’

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In Creating innovators, Harvard University’s Tony Wagner sets out to describe the crisis facing education in a society that requires innovative workers and thinkers. He presents a systems perspective, and explores what parents, teachers, and employers must do to develop the capacities & capabilities of young people to become innovators. To make it happen, he argues we must invest more in enabling play, passion, and purpose in the lives of learners — and focus less on industrial modes of production (i.e., refocusing away from standardized tests).

Featuring interviews with innovators, thought leaders, and people working to make change happen in schools & public institutions, the book does not serve to produce new knowledge. It instead serves as a primer to what innovation is, why it is important for nations, and some of the best practices we can & should engage in now.

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As a nice addition, the book incorporates in-line video content that can be viewed through a mobile device. While the book claims they use QR codes, the scannable codes appear in a proprietary Microsoft format, and require readers to download an app from Microsoft. For users of non-Microsoft platforms (i.e., iOS or Android devices), this could present problems in the future. Thankfully, videos will be also made available at the book’s website,

While the book provides a nice survey into some of the thinking of innovation in education, it revolves around legacy models of what schools are, and falls flat when it looks toward the future of innovation as it still relies on these old structures. Wagner would have done better to ponder what a continuously innovative society looks like — and might even question whether we need “schools” any more. - Free SMS Mobile Community

Maintaining a sharp focus on the old conceptualizations of education, Wagner focuses the bulk of his discussions on what to learn (i.e., STEM), rather than how to learn. Perhaps by exploring the how issues, the book could have provided critical insight into which skills and competencies are critical for success in a society that is driven by continuous, disruptive innovation. Play, passion, and purpose are just fine (and alliterate well), but their usefulness could be constructed within a broader framework (i.e., together with soft skills development) that enables contextually beneficial expressions of personal knowledge.

The bottom line: Creating innovators is an enjoyable primer for those who are just catching on to the innovation bandwagon, but it is not a jumping point for developing new ideas and practices that will transform our education futures.

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With the publisher’s permission, here is an excerpt:

How Do We Develop Young People to Become Innovators?

In the past, our country has produced innovators more by accident than by design. Rarely do entrepreneurs or innovators talk about how their schooling or their places of work — or even their parents — developed their talents or encouraged their aspirations. Three of the most innovative entrepreneurs of the last half century — Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid instant camera; Bill Gates; and Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook — had to drop out of Harvard to pursue their ideas. Apple’s Steve Jobs; Michael Dell of Dell Computer; Larry Ellison, founder of the software giant Oracle; and the inventor Dean Kamen are other famous high-tech college dropouts.

So what would it mean if we were to intentionally develop the entrepreneurial and innovative talents of all young people — to nurture their initiative, curiosity, imagination, creativity, and collaborative skills, as well as their analytical abilities — along with essential qualities of character such as persistence, empathy, and a strong moral foundation? What can parents do to nurture these qualities? What do the most effective teachers and college professors do, and what can they — and the young people themselves — tell us about how schools and colleges need to change to teach these qualities? Finally, what can we learn from those who successfully mentor aspiring entrepreneurial innovators? These are the driving questions in this book.

How Do We Develop Young People to Become Innovators?

If we agree on the need to develop the capabilities of many more youth to be innovators, and if we agree that many of the qualities of an innovator can be nurtured and learned, the question now becomes, what do we do? Where do we start as parents, teachers, mentors, and employers?
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Encourage Play

Research shows that human beings are born with an innate desire to explore, experiment, and imagine new possibilities — to innovate.

How do children learn such skills? In a word — through play.

And it’s not just infants and children who learn through play. Joost Bonsen, who is an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently serves as a lecturer in the world-famous MIT Media Lab, talked about the importance of the famous tradition of pranks at the university.

“Being innovative is central to being human.” Bonsen told me. “We’re curious and playful animals, until it’s pounded out of us. Look at the tradition of pranks here at MIT. What did it take to put a police car on a dome that was fifteen stories high [one of most famous MIT student pranks], with a locked trapdoor being the only access? It was an incredible engineering feat. To pull that off was a systems problem, and it took tremendous leadership and teamwork.

“Pranks reinforce the cultural ethos of creative joy.” Joost added. “Getting something done in a short period of time with no budget, and challenging circumstances. It’s glorious and epic. They didn’t ask for permission. Not even forgiveness.”

These students were playing — just doing something for the fun of it. Play, then, is part of our human nature and an intrinsic motivation.

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Encourage Passion

Passion is familiar to all of us as an intrinsic motivation for doing things. The passion to explore, to learn something new, to understand something more deeply; to master something difficult. We see these passions all around us and have likely experienced them for ourselves.

In more than one hundred and fifty interviews for this book — lengthy conversations with innovators and their parents, teachers, and mentors — passionwas the most frequently recurring word.

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Encourage Purpose

Pure passion, by itself, is not enough to sustain the motivation to do difficult things and to persevere — in love or in work! In my research, I observe that young innovators almost invariably develop a passion to learn or do something as adolescents, but their passions evolve through learning and exploration into something far deeper, more sustainable, and trustworthy — purpose.
The sense of purpose can take many forms. But the one that emerged most frequently in my interviews and in the interviews by the authors of “the Innovator’s DNA” is the desire to somehow “make a difference”

In the lives of young innovators whom I interviewed, I discovered a consistent link and developmental arc in their progression from play to passion to purpose. They played a great deal — but their play was frequently far less structured than most children’s, and they had opportunities to explore, experiment, and discover through trial and error — to take risks and to fall down. Through this kind of more creative play as children, these young innovators discovered a passion. As they pursued their passions, their interests changed and took surprising turns. They developed new passions, which, over time, evolved into a deeper and more mature sense of purpose — a kind of shared adult play.
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These young innovators did not learn these things alone. They received help from parents, teachers, and mentors along the way. Their evolution as innovators was almost invariably facilitated by at least one adult — and often several. What these parents, teachers, and mentors did that was so helpful may surprise you. Each, in his or her own quiet way, is often following a different, less conventional path in his or her role as a parent, teacher, or mentor. They acted differently so that the young people with whom they interacted could think differently.

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This post was originally published on Mashable.

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A new video game system from Sega takes playing video games while you’re in the bathroom to a whole new level. Called Toylet, the urinal-mounted game system not only has you play games while you’re in the bathroom, it’s powered by urine.

Rather than use a traditional controller, the gaming system has a sensor that measures the volume and pressure involved in your…flow, and uses that to control a game.A Toylet system installed in Japan.

A Toylet system installed in Japan.

Games are less than a minute and are displayed on a small eye-level screen. Not exactly a video game system for the kids, games involve doing things like filling a coffee can or blowing wind up an animated reporter’s skirt.
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The system can only be used on urinals – so there’s no option out there for the ladies – and equipment reportedly starts at 140,000 yen (roughly $US1750), with individual games running 10,000 yen ($US125). Costs are for the gaming system, and not the actual urinal.

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An optional box can be purchased to accept payment from potential game players, turning the urinal into pay-to-play bathroom arcade. Advertisements can also be sold for and displayed on the Toylet after each completed game.

Sega initially tested the gaming systems in Tokyo last winter, and received enough positive reviews that it has decided to roll out the gaming systems across the country. According to the company people using the Toylet make less of a mess while they’re taking care of business, and the businesses that advertise on the Toylet sell twice as much.
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