Smart Homes of the Future

Over the past century technology has made incredible advances that earlier inventors could have never predicted. We now use a word that was once used to describe humans to describe technology… at that word is “smart.” However, when it is applied to technology, it is not just a word that gives it a level of respect, it is also an acronym standing for “Self-Monitoring Analysis And Reporting Technology.” The main purpose of SMART is to keep your hard drive running smoothly and prevent it from crashing. But to us commoners with little technological knowledge, our smart devices do so much more than that. So far smart technology, mainly in cellular phones, can do everything from arming our security systems in our homes when we aren’t there to taking us reservations at our favorite restaurants. While these developments are impressive, they have yet to reach their full potential. The future has many more SMART things in store for us including cars that can drive themselves, robots that can help us walk, and even houses that can clean themselves. 

There have been steps toward the development of a SMART house in the present day with things like an all-in-one remote that can turn on lights, control the television and stereo systems, and even arm the security system. But the goals in the future and the predictions that are being made about the full capabilities of SMART house are impressive, exciting, and electrifying.

Engineers who are in the process of advancing SMART homes predict changes in almost every aspect of the home. It starts with the construction of the home itself. They are developing ways to make self-assembling homes that are earthquake proof. They are trying to make windows and walls that can allow and adjustable amount of sunlight, fresh air, warmth, and heat in. They are also make developments in soundproof rooms and windows as well as soundproof energy fields that can be walked through (no more noise complaints!).

In the bedroom, engineers predict self making beds, artificial sunrises personalized to the time in which someone wants to be waken up, a suggestions from a computer in the closet on outfits to wear based on the weather, activities for the day, and someone’s style.

Engineers are working on bathrooms that can eliminate waste on their own and ultrasonic showers that can remember the temperature each individual in the household likes. As well as heated floors, lit mirrors, heated towels, and even a device that can perfectly put on a female’s makeup. Some also predict hair styling devices and toothbrushes that work by themselves to get the best clean for its user.

Advances in the kitchen include things like faster cooking that can boil water in seconds and cook a full thanksgiving turkey in under an hour. The kitchen is said to be equipped with a recipe database that cannot only suggest recipes, but side dishes and other courses that will compliment a meal. The kitchen will be able to take an inventory of items it has and record items it needs as well as create personalized diets for each individual within the household. One day, the kitchen will have its very own robot chef who can either cook a full meal or order out, pay, and layout take out food.

Décor wise, the SMART house will have shape-shifting furniture that can be suitable for any occasion or can be hidden within the walls when not being used. The walls, floors, and fabrics around the house will be able to change color so remodeling will never be the hassle it is today.

There are many more possibilities that include computers, new electricity plans, environmental adjustments (like a house that uses artificial chlorophyll as an oxygen generator), advancements in security, and even houses that come with virtual medicine that monitors your health through tiny, invisible, wireless wearable computing devices.

While all these advancements seem amazing, to me they are scary. It seem like technology is taking over and through all these machines and new technologies, humans are going to become completely dependent and therefor helpless. We have all seen the movies where robots and technology take over (my favorite being Disney’s Wall-e), and with advancements like the SMART home we will no longer need to cook, clean, brush our own teeth, and even pick out our own clothes. The question remains: How much technology is too much?

 

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REFERENCES:

http://www.futureforall.org/home/homeofthefuture.htm

http://www.techterms.com/smart

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The Pill

The pill, or oral contraceptives as they are more formally referred to, were introduced to the American public in the early 1960’s. But the idea, research, and development for an oral contraceptive was in the works well before this. From 1914-1921 women’s right advocate Margaret Sanger coins the term “birth control, opens America’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York and forms the American Birth Control League to help young women take control of their bodies. Although she was curious about bringing some kind of new birth control to her clinic, she didn’t have a new product to push. It wasn’t until 30 years later in 1951 when she met endocrinologist Gregory Pincus at a dinner party and was able to convince him to develop a birth control pill that could be taken daily to prevent pregnancy. Meanwhile, in Mexico, chemist Carl Djerassi creates a birth control pill by synthesizing hormones from Mexican yams. On a chemical level, the pill has been invented, but Djerassi isn’t equipped to test, produce or distribute it. Simultaneously, gynecologist John Rock has already begun testing chemical contraception in women and Frank Colton, chief chemist at the pharmaceutical company Searle, also independently develops synthetic progesterone. After receiving $40,000 from biologist, women’s rights activist and heiress to a great fortune from Katherine McCormick, Pincus and Rock join forces and being testing their combined products on a group of 50 women in Massachusetts. Their pill works! but due to regulations form the US government, the duo are forced to continue their experiments and research in Puerto Rico where there were no anti-birth control laws on the books. After three years of large scale testing the pill is deemed 100 percent effective, however there are some serious side effects like depression, weight gain, blood cots, and death that were not released to the public or FDIC when they approved the pill in 1957 to treat severe menstrual disorders. Three years later in 1960, the pills as approved as an oral contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. Instantly the pill was a hit reaching record numbers of 1.2 million Americans women only after two years of being on the market and 2.3 million after three years. in 1965, after being on the market for only five short years, 6.5 million American women are on pill, making it the most popular form of birth control in the U.S.

The pill, even with staggering numbers, still has many serious critics in the late 1960’s. In 1967, African-American activists claimed that Planned Parenthood (Sanger’s organization of birth control clinics) was providing the pill directly to poor, minority neighborhoods as a way to keep them from reproducing, therefore committing genocide. In 1969 Barbara Seaman publishes The Doctor’s Case Against the Pill, which exposes the previously hidden side effects of the pill including the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, depression, weight gain and loss of libido.

Through the 1970’s, a series of senate hearings are held to determine the safety of this pill. Sales drop by 24% as many angry women demand to be heard by the senate on the issue. To make a comeback, the pharmaceutical companies that sell the pill release a new low dose pill that is not only a pregnancy preventer, but treatment for acne, and provides a decreased risk of  ovarian cancer, iron deficiency anemia and pelvic inflammatory disease. And by the 2000’s a new pill called Lyrbel makes the option of zero to four mental periods per year.

The development of the birth control pill has reflects the change in female sexuality of the 20th century. As women broke free from their traditional family norms, they experimented with sex and for the first time sex became a common act outside of wedlock. When the depression hit America, women were unable to provide for their children. And many babies were born into poor families due to the lack of birth control. As an answer the pill was developed as distributed especially to the poorer families who did not have the funds to provide for more children. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Social Eugenics movement also called for a new form of birth control, since their former method of sterilization had been deemed monstrous by the public. With so many powerful advocates for a pill, a wide marketable group to sell to, and scientific support, the pill became the answer for social Eugenics supports, sexually curious females, and families in poverty that did not desire any more children.The impact of the pill was enormous in its early time reaching record numbers of women and quickly becoming the most common form of birth control. It created many long term consequences like a new market for the pharmaceutical companies that still thrives today, especially under Obama Care where many oral contraceptives are free and an increased female sexual openness in today’s society. What I mean by the last statement is that many younger females experiment sexually without being in serious committed relationships. With the birth control pill being heavily marketed, openly acceptable, and easily obtainable, girls feel like it is ok to be more promiscuous. The pill also allowed for clinics like Sanger’s planned parenthood to remain open for decades. 

 

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Resources:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/a-brief-history-of-the-birth-control-pill/480/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/timeline/timeline2.html

 

 

 

 

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Percy Spencer and the Microwave

Renowned American inventor Percy Spencer was born July 19, 1894 in Howland, Maine. When he was only 18 months old his father died and mother abandoned him leaving him to his aunt and uncle. When Spencer was seven years old, his uncle died, forcing him to leave grammar school to get a job to support himself and his aunt. By age 12, Spencer was working sunup to sundown in a spool mill. At age 16, Spencer heard of a local paper mill that was going to begin using electricity, which was a rare new technology in his small remote hometown. The idea of electricity peaked Spencer’s curiosity and encouraged him to learn all he could about the developing technology. Soon after Spencer applied for this work at the paper mill and was one of three people who were hired to install electricity in the plant, even though he never received any formal training in electrical engineering and did not even finish grammar school. It was here that Spencer learned his basic electricity knowledge that he would later use to invent his microwave oven. At the age of 18, Spencer joined the U.S. Navy when he became interested in wireless communications after learning about the wireless operators aboard the Titanic when it sank. While standing watch at night on the navy ship he was assigned to, Spencer read every text book he could get ahold of, subsequently teaching himself trigonometry, calculus, chemistry, physics, and metallurgy.
Right before WWII, Spencer went to work with Raytheon, a contractor for the United States Department of Defense, as the chief of the power tube division. Known in the US Department of Defense for his brilliance, Spencer managed to help Raytheon win a government contract to develop and produce combat radar equipment for M.I.T.’s Radiation Laboratory. This was of huge importance to the Allies and became the military’s second highest priority project during WWII, behind the Manhattan Project. At that time, magnetrons were being used to generate the microwave radio signals that are the center of Radar technology. While working there, Spencer developed a more efficient way to manufacture these microwave radio signals by punching out and soldering together magnetron parts, rather than using machined parts. Over the next few years, Spencer would grow Raytheon from 15 employees to over 5,000 and his improvements increased magnetron production from 17 to 2,600 per day. For his work he was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award by the U.S. Navy in 1939.
One day while at work, Spencer noticed that the magnetrons he was building had melted a candy bar he had in his pocket. Spencer and his colleges had noticed that heat came off of the active radar sets, but Spencer was the first to investigate farther into their observation. Spencer experimented with this heat by using corn kernels and eggs. After having an egg explode in his face, Spencer attached a high-density electromagnetic field generator to an enclosed metal box, creating the first microwave oven. Raytheon filed a patent on October 8, 1945 for a microwave-cooking oven, eventually named the Radarange. In 1947 the first commercially produced microwave oven was about 6 feet tall, weighed about 750 pounds, and cost between $2,000 and $3,000. In 1947 the public was introduced to this new food-heating box, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the microwave would become a countertop kitchen appliance that was affordable and relatively easy to use. By 1975 over one millions microwaves had been sold in the United States alone, causing several companies to join this growing market. Many of these companies were military based due to their familiarity with the magnetron. In 1986 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that roughly 25% of American homes and restaurants had microwaves, increasing to 90% by 1997. It would be safe to say that the percentage has risen since 1997 making the microwave one of the most popular home appliances not only in the Unites States, but internationally as well.

Percy Spencer and his invention:

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Old Radaragne microwave:

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References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_oven

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Spencer

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/08/the-microwave-oven-was-invented-by-accident-by-a-man-who-was-orphaned-and-never-finished-grammar-school/

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Levi Jeans

Levi Strauss was a Jewish German immigrant who came from Bavaria to New York in 1851 with his mother and sisters to join his two older brothers, who owned J Strauss Brother &; Co, a wholesale dry goods business. A few years later in 1853, Strauss chased the Gold Rush glory to San Francisco where he set up and ran the West Coast branch of his brothers’ company renaming it Levi Strauss &; CO. Strauss started off selling fine imported goods like tools, tents, linens, clothing, combs, purses, and handkerchiefs. Strauss not only targeted the rich people of San Francisco as clients, but the miners in search of riches as well.

In 1873, Strauss partnered with one of his long term and loyal customers, Jacob Davis, to manufacture and sell a new item: Denim pants. Davis was a tailor from Nevada who had a good reputation for making durable pants for his working clients. Davis came up with the idea to use a copper rivet at the stress point of a tough material to make a pair of sturdy work pants for gold miners. The duo chose to use denim because it was known to very strong and did not wear quickly in spite of many washes. After receiving a patent from the US government for “an improvement in Fastening Pocket-Openings”, the pair started producing this works pant which were called jeans.

Early pairs of Levis were called “waist overalls” because they came equipped with a set of brown canvas duck fabric that went over the soldiers and connected to the front and the back of the pant. this was to hold the pants up while the men who wore them were hard at work. However men often found that these strapped would slide off their soldiers and became an inconvenience. After only a few years the straps were dropped from the Levi brand.

By the 1920’s their company had become one of the most successful workman’s clothing provider in America. by the 1950’s Levi expanded his company to sell nationally and reached out to more than just workers. He created a new pant made out of the jean material which were light weight, more comfortable, and used not only in work but in the every day life. By this time other companies like Wrangler began to pop up selling a similar product with its own signature fit. After WWII jeans boomed as celebrities started to wear them, making them an icon for the 50’s generation. in the 60’s and 70’s jeans were embraced by the “hippy movement” as the trend shaped into a personalization and embellishment of a pair of jeans with patches and other decorative materials. Jeans would soon become a sign of independence and western decadence and would be tied into the anti-communist movement. in the 70’s jeans began to target the youth by creating various styles like bell bottoms, hip huggers, and pre washed jeans. in the 80’s the term “designer jeans” emerged transforming the jean forever. Jeans became high fashion when designers like Calvin Klein, Sergio Valente, and Jordache get involved creating a tighter, butt hugging, slimmer and sexier pair. The 90’s experience a downfall in popularity with innovations like khakis, but the jean would forever remain in American society and culture, as well as world culture.

At the beginning Levis were for the working man and showed hard work and determination. However they quickly grew in America implanting themselves as part of our culture. Currently it would be safe to say that nearly every American owns, adores, and loves a pair of jeans whether they be Levi, designer, or Wrangler.

Image of gold miners wearing overalls

Image of gold miners wearing overalls

Levi Advertisement

Levi Advertisement

Resources:

http://www.jeans-and-accessories.com/history-of-blue-jeans.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi_Strauss

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/1800b.shtml

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The Telegraph

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When populations began to spread over continents, the ability to send messages easily and quickly became a necessity.  By today’s definition the telegraph is an “outdated communication system that transmitted electric signals over wires from location to location that translated into a message” (about.com). However back in its day the telegraph was a fantastic invention that allowed people to send textual messages without the act of physically exchanging an object, like a letter, that contained a message, making it the first text message if you will.

            Although history gives credit to Samuel Morse for inventing the telegraph, there were many prototypes that predated his advancements. Technically the first successful system that sent a message over a distance of land without using an object containing the message itself was in 1794 by Claude Chappe in France. His system was visual based and required the recipient to be within sight of the object. Chappe used a flag based alphabet to send messages, making this the first optical telegraph. Next in 1809 was the crude telegraph, invented by Samuel Soemmering in Bavaria. According to history “He used 35 wires with gold electrodes in water and at the receiving end 2000 feet the message was read by the amount of gas caused by electrolysis” (about.com). While this telegraph was successful, it carried a high rate of mistakes and was very confusing for recipients. The first working electronic telegraph was invented f Francis Ronalds of England in 1823.

            Samuel Morse did not patent the telegraph apparatus in the Unite States until 1837. After receiving the patent from the government, Morse and his assistant Alfred Vail continued to attempt sending messages over a 2-mile range. It was here that Vail created Morse code while signaling to his boss. The first telegram in the United States was sent on the 11 of January 1838 in Morristown, New Jersey. It wasn’t until 1844 that Morse and his assistant perfected their invention enough to take it to the Capital in Washington to show off with a message stating “WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT” (Wikipedia). After proving to the members of the government that Morse could send message across land within a few seconds, his invention and a new mass communication industry took off.

            Government funds were given to Morse to expand his telegraph lines while small telegraph companies started to pop up all over the country. Soon enough there would be lines reaching from coast to coast connecting people that had thousands of miles between them. This would be the first time that people in state governments could connect with those in the capital, the first time that families who did not live together could send quick messages, the first time that the United States participated in the mass communication that was the future.

            The telegraph had many implications for its time, it created communication companies, lead to new inventions and innovations, connected people spread through continents, but also eventually connected the world, making quick communication a global phenomena. The telegraph allowed America to fulfill manifest destiny. It resulted in many other inventions such as teleprinters, oceanic telegraph cables, recordings, wireless telegraphy, the Internet, emails, and cell phones. Without that first successful telegraph, communication on the massive level that we Americas and the rest of the world have access to everyday would not be around. World

 

 

 

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegraph

http://inventors.about.com/od/tstartinventions/a/telegraph.htm

 

 

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SDSU and the New Deal

The campus of San Diego State University would not be the prestigious establishment it is today without the funding provided by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. During a time of economic chaos and severe depression in the United States, President Roosevelt drafted a series of economic programs that would provide jobs for the jobless and flood the economy with money in hopes of its recovery. Among these economic programs was the Works Progress Administration that retained mostly unskilled men to carry out public works projects such as the construction of public buildings, roads, parks, bridges, and the preservation of historical sites throughout the states.  For San Diego the WPA provided funding to finish the new campus for SDSU that could accommodate the increase of applicants. This funding provided numerous things including new classrooms, a lecture hall, a basement, finished walls, roadways, paved walkways lined with over 50 benches, a music building, the sports arena known as Aztec bowl which contained a press box, bathrooms, a turf field, and a flood lighting system. WPA funding provided extensions to the science buildings, the library, a Greek-style Open Air Theater, an evacuation plan and route, a sewage disposal system, gutters, drainage facilities, bathrooms throughout campus, landscaping, and a upgrades to the power plant building to provide enough power for the new campus. It was this funding and the developments made with it that allowed SDSU to open its doors to over 34,000 students with over 78 undergraduate degree possibilities making it largest and oldest university in San Diego. 

 

SDSU circa 1930

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SDSU current day

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Remembering WWII

My great-grandmother, Ann Bell, was a German who moved out of Germany after Hitler took power, even though she would not have been killed or treated badly by the Third Reich. She and her two small children, Ruth-Ann and Fredrick, moved to a small house in Miami so live a peaceful life. However once America got involved in the war, their story drastically changed. Ann and her children, because they were German, were forced to move away from the beach, give up all their electronics including radios, TV’s (if they had one, I’m not sure if they did), their telephone, and even their mail privileges. They were forced to stop speaking German and were threatened with imprisonment if they were caught breaking the rules placed upon them by a wartime government. Although they were treated badly, my grandma made it a point that neither her, her mother, or brother were bitter about their treatment. They understood why they were being treated this way and understood the potential threat they posed, being German citizens and who knew maybe even spies to people that didn’t know them. 

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