The dream of Cold Fusion

Standard

Martin Fleischmann’s name does not figure in the list of notable Nobel laureates. His arduous work, his years of research, his dedication to science have granted him a place in history, but not the one he would have had, but a somewhat infamous one, at least among his peers.

Martin Fleischmann

Martin Fleischmann, Cold Fusion researcher

In 1989, Fleischmann and his research partner Stanley Pons made two mistakes: One, disrupting the traditional ways of the scientific community, by –according to Fleischmann, accepting the University of Utah’s idea to announce their discovery in a public press conference; and two, presenting as conclusive a project that would later be tested by other scientists and could never be replicated.

Fleischmann and Pons argued, and presented with fanfare that they had achieved Cold Fusion, an incredible revolutionary process (significantly more at that time) by which they could generate the same type of energy produced by our sun or other stars, in a small space, and under normal room temperatures. This was –and continues to be, a holy grail of science, but the experience-turned-fiasco ended up convincing everyone that the whole idea was impossible.

The public humiliation Fleischmann underwent was devastating. His reputation was damaged, lost his job as a researcher and eventually retired. Fleischmann died in 2012 at 85 years of age. Even in his later years, Martin Fleischmann continued to argue his work was valid.

This story is meaningless, except, the dream of achieving Cold Fusion has recently been revived, and there is at least one researcher, Italian Andrea Rossi who claims to have arrived at it. His research is being tested at this very moment, and if it turns out to be real it will turn the technology world of the next 10-15 years upside down. If the experiment proves possible, and most of all scalable, a battery the size of a USB flash drive might be able to power a car for months, and computers, tablets and Smartphones will have enough power to outlast their useable life.

But imagine this technology in the medical field, or even the military applications. Airplanes that can be electrically powered for hours, without using barely any resources!

If this turns out to be real, Fleischmann will be vindicated.

Fleischmann lived for the purpose. He spent his life after an idea, and failed before the world. But if Cold Fusion happens, we will know that his work was worth it.

You might not be a physicist, or a nuclear chemist. But in what you do, in your purpose, would you risk humiliation for what you believe in? Would you work for it despite knowing you might never get the recognition you deserve?

When we see life through that perspective, it is always revealing. I dare you to find something you would do for the passion only, and do it.

Help! (and make a positive difference in your life)

Standard

Do you want to make a huge positive difference in your life? Here is the secret: Make a difference in someone else’s life! 

This is the story of Michelle. I ask you to read it, help, and spread the word. We can pull this off! But She needs you. Please give, pray, and share the link with others. http://is.gd/n6VNTe

 Michelle

Little 6 year old Michelle from Guadalajara, México, started getting red spots around her mouth and other parts of her body. She also started having high fevers that would come and go. After weeks of tests and treatment, doctors said she had to go into the hospital for a deeper checkout. Her diagnosis was Kawasaki Disease. For the next 2 months, while she was getting treatment for this, she developed hepatitis, pancreatitis, swollen spleen, swollen heart arteries, blood loss (she had to receive blood donations) and finally pneumonia. She was at the ICU for two weeks in which her mom got to the point to say goodbye to her explaining to her what heaven was like. Thousands of people around the world started praying for her and her family. Then, miraculously, her health started to improve in a way doctors couldn´t believe, She was out of the ICU for 3 days and we were all happily praising The LORD ! But, then, she got pneumonia again. So she went into the ICU again. This broke her parents´ heart because, even when they know God is still in control of all and He is a GOOD Father, their hope of having her back was again shaken. Today, May 11th., 2013, she is still at the ICU. She has been there for a week now. She just got out of the surgery room at 2:30 p.m. because, since her body was not responding to the medication in a way doctors expected it to respond, doctors decided to do a marrow aspiration and do several biopsies before they could proceed with another treatment. 6:00 p.m. results show she will need chemotherapy starting tomorrow because they found substances that are destroying her blood due to Hemophagocytic syndrome (like cancer). Her parents are exhausted, confused but hanging on. Her sister is trusting God´s will is perfect but is also confused due her parents´ abscence and the whole situation. Her family´s faith is strong but now medical bills have gotten to be too high for them to be able to pay. We are very thankful for your many prayers but now PLEASE consider helping them with this issue as well. THANK YOU and may GOD bless you.


Go here to help http://is.gd/n6VNTe

 

Processes and Activities Part II

Standard

In my previous post, I talked to you about Processes and Activities. I explained that focusing on activities was inefficient and that we should instead set out to change the processes, or programs that define our operations.

Willam Edwards Deming, a really cool Quality guru came up with a simple method to process improvement. The PDCA cycle.

Basically, Mr. Deming stated that we can look at every process (remember what I told you about processes as plans?) and make or improve that plan. Then, go Nike and just do it, but check everything about it (measure it, quantify it), and finally, act. Make changes to improve that process, once you have made these changes, go back to revise your plan, and repeat the cycle.

Another way to approach process improvement, is by focusing on the “in-between” times. The idle times are the best! Find a bottleneck in the process. When we do laundry, the dryer is the bottleneck. It takes too long! So sorting, washing, and folding are activities that have idle time. Two loads can wash in the time one load dries. This is efficient!

In the time it takes for the coffee to brew every morning (if your coffeemaker is as old as mine, this point is significantly more relevant), this is your bottleneck, other activities can be combined in their idle times!

In the office, the bottlenecks are not too obvious, but they do exist. The time it takes your computer to boot up, the time you spend on hold with a supplier or customer, the time you are spending on walking across campus to another location etc. These are all bottlenecks that allow you the gift of idle time.

Now, this is not a go-nuts and never take a break type of post, this is actually the opposite! I want you to free more time by compressing your activities in blocks as often as possible. I want you to defragment your days (if you are a geek you will understand).

What happens when you do these two things? Yes, there were two, the PDCA was the first one! When you improve your process, and you optimize your idle time by finding your bottlenecks, you will have more time to write a blog, photoshop a landscape, write a poem, play with your kids, catch up with your friends or simply relax. Life is less complicated that way.

If you love blogging, if you love writing, photography, poetry, music, reading, or if you love spending time with your children, process thinking can be a good tool for you.

Processes and Activities, part I

Standard

A process is a planned sequence of related activities. This clearly means that a process is not the activities themselves, but it also means that a process is not an “overall activity” which we’ll call operation, but instead, a plan of activities that have something to do with each other.

ImageFor example, if we determine that baking a cake is an operation, then, mixing, heating up the oven, getting the ingredients, etc. are the activities that form part of that operation, and the recipe, is the process.

Going to buy groceries is an operation, it is composed of many activities, checking the pantry, the fridge, and the cabinets, driving to the store, writing the shopping list, and if you are anything like my wife, finding the best bargains are all activities that are part of the operation, but the process is the planning of these activities.

Not every activity is part of an operation. When I go into the kitchen and grab a snack in between meals, I didn’t plan it, and it is not preceded or followed by any other related activity. It is typically a bowl of cheezeit’s and nothing more.

Activities are very specific. We push a button, we type a blog post, and we scan the Twinkies at the self-register… scratch that, we scan the gansitos at the self-register (now we are talking!), and we place the clothes in the washer machine (This is the point where my wife gives me the look and asks: “What exactly do you mean by we?”).

Many of us spend a great deal of time and effort trying to be more efficient in our activities. That is okay, but it produces poor results. Why? For two reasons:

  1. Motivation: People need motivation. Unless you are an alien reading my blog from another galaxy (which would be pretty cool despite how dumb it sounds), you and I need motivation. When we attempt to improve on an activity and we see little progress, we get discouraged and lose motivation. That little circle that spins with the word “buffering” when you try to watch the “Goats Screaming like Humans 2, Super Cut edition” video (the first one was better, but I have heard the book was even better), is there so you can see  some progress going on, and stay motivated to watch it. Without seeing progress, we lose motivation.
  2. Activities are efficient: Most activities are already efficient (didn’t I just say that?), there is not much you can improve to washing a pan, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes in the morning. Yes, perhaps there are little things here and there you can do, but not enough to affect the entire day.
So what if we started looking at our days as entire operations? Most of us spend a great deal of time managing activities, attempting to make these more efficient so we can have more free time to enjoy, or so we can fit more activities in our day. We try to squeeze the most out of our work, our school and our home activities, but fail to understand the limited capacity we have to make these more efficient.

Instead, I suggest that you look at the processes behind these. It is not easy, it requires a shift in our thinking process itself, but it is worth it. Take some time and think of the steps in the plan instead of the activities. What activities can be done simultaneously? What activities can we simply ignore and yet achieve the same results?

Think of what causes you to do certain activities that are not productive, identify that problem and do something about it. This form of thinking will let you see a clearer picture of everything you do, and will allow you to have a better idea of how you can manage your life more efficiently.

Looking at my life as processes that can be improved, rather than as isolated activities has been a valuable tool for me and I hope it helps you just as much as it has helped me.

Gansitos

They are better than Twinkies

(This photo is for my reader in another galaxy and anyone else who doesn’t yet know what gansitos are)

Leadership

Standard

Leadership is not a subjective term. It is more than being able to command, manage or direct people. It is actually a measurable, clearly defined, ability to influence others, and motivate them to their inner core. It is the power to effect their convictions into following the path one has devised for them.

Being a leader carries with it the responsibility, to always be considerate of other’s views and values, and to continually work on improving the skills that allow us to effectively connect with these followers. At the same, it demands that we correct the issues that get in the way of earning the trust and loyalty of those we lead.

In order to accomplish my mission, I must remain humble enough to always and continuously evaluate myself and assume the results of these analyses. This will serve me to be better prepared to lead, and that in turn, will reaffirm the success of my life’s mission.

Pareto for anyone

Standard
Pareto Norsk

Pareto Norsk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In yesterday’s post (http://is.gd/YYFBbS) I gave you three unconventional ways you can use to overcome laziness. While these tips are fun and can work, there are infinite other, more serious ways to get the ball rolling and have you doing what you must, but don’t feel like doing.

One such ideas is known as the Pareto Principle. This is basically the 80/20 concept, and it states that 80% of your problems are caused by 20% of the reasons, or that 80% of your income is produced by 20% of your efforts, or that 80% of your weight gain is caused by 20% of the foods you eat, so on and so forth.

This Pareto principle is very useful in Operations Management, in fact, there is an entire science to it, charts, tables and formulas behind it, and it is engrained in the Lean Process improvement philosophy all over the world. And while it is not a precise concept, the general idea is almost always true.

So in order to improve efficiency (are you getting bored yet? Hang in there), businesses survey what are the causes of defect, delay, problems etc., and select the top 20%, then they can narrow these down to find the causes for those 20% again and when they are done, they have found a very specific problem to attack.

Let me give you an example: Work in my office is getting piled up, I have stacks of paper all over my desk and I do not know where to start. There are invoices to mail, cash receipts to apply, checks to cut, reports to generate etc. So instead of rolling up my sleeves and getting to work on just any of these things, I decide I will make my tuition expenses worth their ridiculous fees, and conduct a Pareto Analysis (am I the only one who thinks of ice cream when reading the word Pareto?). So I start looking at the causes for my work lagging. I list these and tally up the number of causes each time these are repeated.

· I spend time with people who stop to chat at my office

· I am spending too much time on menial tasks

· Computer is crashing or not working correctly

· I spend too much time correcting someone else’s mistakes

· I am absent or away from the office too often

Once I have listed these, I start counting the number of times each one of these happens in a day, week or whatever cycle you want to measure.

I then list these by most frequent, to least, and if you want to get fancy, calculate the percentage of times these occur as part of the total number of problems.

Once you have the top 20%, you can then conduct another Pareto (vanilla, strawberry or chocolate anyone?) analysis of what causes are behind these 20% and attack the top 20%.

Inevitably, you will see an improvement. This improvement will be exponential (will grow more than 20%) because as you have more available time, you then move on to attack the next top cause in your list, and so on.

As you can see, this Pareto principle can be adapted to any circumstance. Starting my blog, I decided to attack the causes that kept me from posting frequently, the top one was finding the best time to write, so I found a solution for that cause and that cleared the way to work on other causes.

Of course, if this seems like too much work, or overly complicated, you can always go back to my post from yesterday and follow my other, more unconventional methods http://is.gd/YYFBbS.