Congratulations to legend Elton John and his partner in marriage David Furnish for finally welcoming home a child of their own. The couple have been wanting to have a child for a while now but have been dogged by homophobia in Ukraine from adopting a child. At any rate, the “miracle” baby is here just in time for thh holidays. Cheers to the two dads!
Friday, December 31, 2010
The Aussie singer reveals that being a mom has made her want to expand her family.
Singer is relishing her new role as a mother - and is already making plans to have another child. The Australian pop star welcomed her first baby, son Ethan, with partner Kris Smith in July this year - and she admits becoming a mum has made her want to expand her family.
She says, "I've gone from being not bothered about being a mum to being quite keen to have a second baby. For me, the baby idea came from meeting the right man. And now he's (Ethan) here and he's giggling and smiling. It's an incredible thing."
"I never thought I was very maternal. I was always so busy with work, and a baby just seemed... like something I was never going to do."
No baby shower is complete without an appropriate array of decorations. There are many baby shower decoration ideas that can be molded to fit the theme and budget for your party. By researching on the internet and in party magazines, any baby shower host can come up with an appropriate motif that will best suit their party.
Decorations do not need to be fancy nor traditional if they do not suit the guests’ personality. Your baby shower decoration ideas should reflect the personality of your friends and mom-to-be. Do not feel confined by the way that others have hosted baby showers, this is an opportunity for you to use your imagination and show your creativity.
Baby Shower Decorations: Choose a Theme
Choosing a theme for the baby shower early on will provide focus when you are brain-storming your baby shower decoration ideas. Your theme should be reflected in the decorations that you choose to accentuate the party atmosphere. For example, if you choose a traditional theme you might want to include china, silver, and classic flower arrangements in white wicker.
On the other hand, famous cartoon characters are fast becoming one of the most popular trends for baby showers. Decorations for this kind of shower would include pictures, posters, and themed eating utensils featuring the character of your choice. Party stores have responded to this trend by producing a wide array of affordable decorations.
What Kind of Baby Shower Decoration is Right for You?
You should not feel constrained nor obligated by price when it comes to decorating your baby shower. Your personal sense of style, fun, and creativity should be given free reign when coming up with baby shower decoration ideas. There is no need to go broke.
Simple is often better when decorating for a shower. Small toys, baby-oriented items and seasonal flowers help create a friendly atmosphere for your friends and family without being stifling. These, coupled with a themed set, are more than enough to set the stage for a fun time.
A complex party for larger groups might require additional decorations or more than one party set. Additional flower arrangements or a larger variety of toys can be used to accommodate these kinds of showers, and the extra decorations can be given out to the expecting couple or recycled for future parties like baby’s birthday.
Reasonably Priced Baby Shower Decorations
Many baby shower decorations ideas are very affordable and can be fit into any budget. Balloons, for example, are a thrifty, fun and colorful way to brighten up any party. They can be placed together as the showpiece for a table. You can also anchor them to baby themed items such as small plush toys or theme items like baby bottles.
Theme items can be simple, useful gifts for mom-to-be like rattles or pacifiers. There are many unique ways that you can incorporate them into your baby shower. A small baby bath tub can serve as the punch bowl and the crib can be used to store gifts that party-goers bring for baby. Be sure to decorate these items with stickers and balloons.
You can even make useful, but less baby-oriented gifts, into innovative decorations. Umbrellas will keep mom and baby dry and can be hung from the ceiling, decorated with ribbons and streamers.
There are endless combinations of baby shower decoration ideas that you can use to have a wonderful party. Use your ingenuity to put your personal stamp on the party while staying within your budget.
Visit our website for more information about Planning The Perfect Baby Shower! We are also giving away 20 FREE ebooks, so stop by today.
??Baby Monster- Ultra violence and Beethoven
I have been digging through my music files of the last year and realized a tragedy…? I never shared one of my absolute favorite songs of the year (although released in late 09).? Baby Monster’s “Ultra violence and Beethoven” and its spacey synths are other worldly.? In fact, if there are space people out there somewhere, this is there theme song.? The first comparison that came to mind was MGMT for their psychedelic synths and extremely catchy melodies.? I know, I hate to play the compare game, but lets be honest, this is a music blog.
Baby Monster just recently toured with the Klaxsons and Scott from The Burning Ear “Remix Roundups” was able to catch them live in Seattle.? Our overwhelming opinion is that these guys have a chance to blow the scene up in 11.
Check out their remix of The Good Natured- Your Body Is A Machine
Bury your face in Myspace///Facebook tooTagged as: Baby Monster
Thursday, December 30, 2010
It’s that time of year again: celeb baby name roundup. Whose names were hot in 2010? Rhea Durham and Mark Wahlberg earned high marks for naming their daughter Grace Margaret. On the not-so-hot list was funnyman Will Farrell and wife Viveca Paulin’s baby name: son Axel.
But is Axel really so bad in the scheme of crazy celebrity baby monikers? According to Babycenter that released their best and worst list for the celeb babies born in 2010, there are plenty of worse possibilities out there, if you’ve got a famous mom and dad.
Superstar songstress Alicia Keys and hubby Swizz Beatz gave their son the worldly name Egypt Daoud, which makes Viveca Paulin’s baby name choice seem almost normal. Other odd choices this year were Padma Lakshmi’s daughter Krishna, named after a Hindu goddess, and Celine Dion’s son Nelson, who will no doubt need some tough fighting skills to defend himself on the elementary school playground in a few years.
Not all celebs went wild with creative baby names: some of Hollywood’s A-List stuck with classic, sophisticated names that are quickly rising to the top of the best-of charts. Olivia and Stella were popular choices. Lance Armstrong and Anna Hansen chose Olivia Marie, and Matt Damon and wife Luciana chose Stella for their fourth daughter. Some twists on classic names, like Amy Adams’ Aviana, also made the Top Ten list.
All things considered, Viveca Paulin’s baby name may have landed her and Will Farrell on 2010’s Worst list. But as celeb names go, it doesn’t even come close to the worst out there.
Was 2010 merely a low-key year in the baby name world? Are all the super-crazy celeb baby names gone for good like Moon Unit and Pilot Inspektor? Or are people just getting used to more outlandish names now that unique names are becoming more mainstream? Guess everyone will have to wait for 2011’s list to find out.Please provide details below to help Gather review this content. If it is found to be inappropriate and in violation of the Gather Terms of Service, action will be taken.Please select the part of the post you are reporting.Please select why you are reporting this content.Please enter a description.
– Patrick J. Kiger is the co-author of two books, “Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions and Lore that Shaped Modern America” and “Oops: 20 Life Lessons From the Fiascoes That Shaped America“. This article originally appeared on Second Act. The views expressed are his own. –
Try this free-association exercise. When you hear the word inventor, what names pop into your head? Chances are, you’ll think of some long-dead genius from the 19th or early 20th century, such as Thomas Edison, creator of the phonograph, motion pictures and the first practical light bulb, or Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.
Or maybe, if you’re a little more knowledgeable about the history of technology, you’ll summon up Nikola Tesla, inventor of the alternating current mode of power generation, whose brainchild flows through the outlet that lights your home and illuminates the computer screen upon which you are reading this. Or you might think of Guglielmo Marconi, the early 20th century tinkerer credited with inventing the wireless communication technology that led to everything from garage door openers to the smartphone clipped to your belt.
The inventors of the baby boom generation, in contrast, mostly have labored in comparative obscurity, putting the lie to 19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation that the world would beat a path to a person’s door if he or she built a better mousetrap.
You might recognize 64-year-old Robert Jarvik, the inventor of the artificial heart, and 53-year-old Ajay Bhatt, a co-inventor of the USB port, but only because they’ve been plucked out of the lab and featured in TV commercials. (In Bhatt’s case, his employer, Intel, reportedly had to hire an actor to portray him because he was too busy actually working.) You also might recognize Dean Kamen, the 59-year-old inventor of the Segway Personal Transporter, but probably without realizing that Kamen — the boomer generation’s equivalent of Thomas Edison — also is responsible for hundreds of other inventions, including the implantable insulin pump and the portable dialysis machine.
But ask the average person to name who dreamed up the Web, DNA fingerprinting or the lithium-ion battery, and most likely you’ll draw a blank stare. That anonymity is deceptive. Boomers’ inventions — ranging from the now-ubiquitous World Wide Web to the synthetic cell and the nanoscale motor — promise to reshape the world of the 21st century as surely as Edison’s and Tesla’s set the stage for the 20th.
Here are 25 of the most intriguing scientific and technological innovations, and the boomers who created them.
1. The scanning tunneling microscope
IBM physicist Gerd Binnig was born in 1947 in Germany, where as a child he played in the ruins of buildings destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II. As a high school student, he had to choose between two loves — physics and writing and playing songs for rock bands. While the world could have used another Teutonic rock virtuoso like Klaus Voorman, we’re better off that Binnig chose physics. In 1981, he helped develop a device that allowed scientists for the first time to visualize individual atoms, an advance that has paved the way for the development of super-small nanotechnology. Binnig, along with fellow scientists Heinrich Rohrer and Ernst Ruska, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics.
2. DNA fingerprinting
Sir Alec Jeffreys was born in 1950 in Oxford, UK, and attended Oxford University, where he earned a doctorate in biochemistry. He went on to become a professor of genetics at the University of Leicester, where in 1984 he discovered sequences within strands of DNA that differ from one individual to the next in a way as unique as the ridge patterns on fingertips. “We could immediately see the potential for forensic investigations and paternity, and my wife pointed out that very evening that it could be used to resolve immigration disputes by clarifying family relationships,” Jeffreys recalled in a 2004 interview. Just as importantly, Jeffreys also developed a technique for identifying those sequences. His invention revolutionized criminal justice and the courts by making it possible to link criminal suspects to crime scenes and to absolve those falsely accused. DNA fingerprinting also has helped solve historical mysteries. For example, such analysis proved that Louis XVII, the son of executed French King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette, died in 1795, and did not somehow escape prison and survive, as various imposters of the “Lost Dauphin” had claimed in the 1790s.
3. The Jarvik 7 implantable artificial heart
Dr. Robert Jarvik, born in 1946 in Michigan, was a prodigy who invented a surgical stapler and other medical devices while still a teenager. While Jarvik was an undergraduate student at the University of Utah in 1964, his father needed to have surgery for his ailing heart. That family ordeal helped influence Jarvik, who went on to earn his medical degree at Utah, to turn his curiosity, inventiveness and problem-solving skills toward finding a method of saving patients with stricken hearts until they could receive a transplant. While he wasn’t the first to develop an artificial heart, Jarvik’s 1982 creation, the Jarvik 7, was the first such device that could be implanted inside a person’s body. Jarvik continues to work toward the development of a device that could serve as a permanent replacement organ.
4. Bacterial cement
Sookie Bang was born and raised in South Korea. She graduated from Seoul National University in 1974 and earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of California-Davis in 1981. As a professor and researcher at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, her specialty is bioremediation — for example, using bacteria as an ingredient in a sealant to fix cracks caused by weathering and freezing water in concrete buildings’ exteriors. Bang and colleagues figured out how to speed up a naturally occurring process in which bacteria extract nitrogen from urea, which produces carbon dioxide and ammonia as byproducts. The CO2 and ammonia then react with other ingredients — water and calcium — to form calcium carbonate, which is better known as limestone. The patch created by the bacterial process seals the crack from the inside out and integrates with the porous concrete, making the repair more effective.
5. The Apple II
Steve Wozniak, who was born in 1950, and his future partner Steve Jobs, born in 1955, both grew up in the San Francisco area and got to know each other as summer interns at electronics manufacturer Hewlett-Packard. Though neither finished college, they helped launch a technological revolution that transformed our culture. In 1977, they created and marketed the Apple II personal computer, which included color graphics, a sound card, expansion slots, and other features that made it the earliest machine to resemble today’s PCs. It arguably did more than any other product to usher in an age in which computers would become as ubiquitous as TVs and telephones.
Dr. Gill Samuels was born in 1945 in Bury, Lancashire in the UK. As she told a newspaper interviewer in 2005, “I always wanted to know how things worked. My mother used to despair of me as a child. If she gave me a doll, I’d take it to pieces to see how it had been put together.” She went on to earn a degree in physiology from Sheffield University and experimental neuropharmacology from Birmingham University, and joined pharmaceutical maker Pfizer in 1978 as a research scientist. While at the company, she worked on the development of a number of drugs, including Viagra, a revolutionary treatment for male sexual dysfunction. “It’s changed people’s lives,” she has said. “I’ve had letters from men saying that it stopped them wanting to kill themselves.” In 1989, she became Pfizer’s director of cardiovascular biology, and in 1995 became director of science policy. She also has been a board member and advisor to the World Health Organization and various science education groups.
7. The World Wide Web
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, born in London in 1955, grew up around computers; his parents both were mathematicians who worked on the Ferranti Mark I, the first computer to be sold commercially. Berners-Lee also liked to tinker with electronics and built his own computer while he was an undergraduate physics student in the mid-1970s. After graduation, he became a software consultant for CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, in Switzerland. While at CERN in the 1980s, he tackled the problem of how to organize and link different sources of information — text, pictures, sound and video — and make them easily accessible to users of the then-new internet. Berners-Lee came up with the concept for what became the Web, which he laid out in a 1989 paper. He developed a software language to create web pages and the first web browser, which he made available to others in 1991. Since then, his invention has spread across the planet and become perhaps the most powerful means of communication ever developed.
8. The ambulatory infusion pump
Dean Kamen, born in Long Island, N.Y., in 1951, was an inventive prodigy. While still a college student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1972, he decided to come up with a solution for a problem that his older brother had encountered as a medical student — the dilemma of how to deliver precise, controlled doses of medication to patients for long periods. Kamen invented a programmable device that patients could wear on their bodies wherever they went. His creation has changed the lives of many diabetics, freeing them from having to worry about injecting themselves with insulin at the right time.
9. The portable dialysis machine
After inventing the ambulatory infusion pump, Dean Kamen tackled another medical dilemma — the need for patients with severe kidney disease to travel to dialysis centers for the treatments they needed to survive. Kamen invented a portable dialysis machine with few moving parts that regulated flow by controlled air pressure rather than by counting drops in a drip chamber, as the bulky existing devices did. Kamen’s device even enables patients to give themselves dialysis treatments at home, while they sleep. In 1993, the engineering publication Design News recognized Kamen’s creation as “Medical Product of the Year.”
10. The Segway Personal Transporter
Dean Kamen attracted intense media curiosity in the early 2000s when word got out that Silicon Valley investors were flocking to a revolutionary new device, code-named “Ginger,” that Kamen was developing in secrecy. When the invention was unveiled in 2001, many were shocked to discover that it was a scooter. But Kamen’s Segway PT was designed to be much more than simply a two-wheeled form of recreation, but rather a convenient form of transportation that would reduce pollution and traffic congestion. The electric-powered Segway PT incorporates sophisticated electronics and a gyroscope that enables it to self-balance, and it’s able to maneuver based on the driver’s subtle body shifts. While Segway PTs have yet to become ubiquitous, Kamen’s concept of environmentally friendly personal transportation already has spurred competitors such as Toyota to develop similar vehicles.
11. Optical character recognition and text-to-speech technology
Ray Kurzweil, born in 1948 in Queens, N.Y., dreamed of becoming an inventor even before he started elementary school. By the time he was 15, he had built and programmed his own computer to compose original songs — an achievement that led to his appearance on the TV show I’ve Got a Secret. After graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a double degree in computer science and literature in 1970, he founded his own company in 1974 and led the creation of a system that enabled computers to read and recognize printed or typed characters, regardless of the font or print quality. In 1976, he developed the Kurzweil Reading Machine, the first device capable not only of deciphering printed and typed documents, but of reading them aloud as well. Kurzweil’s innovations not only made it possible for vast printed libraries and storehouses of documents to be digitized and made available on the internet, but he also made it easier for blind people to access the printed word.
12. The Kurzweil 250 musical synthesizer
The first customer who bought one of Ray Kurzweil’s reading machines was pop music superstar Stevie Wonder. The two men became friends, and during a visit to Wonder’s studio in 1982, the musician asked the inventor if it would be possible to create an electronic machine that would have the ability to control and manipulate sound the way existing synthesizers could, but that also was capable of replicating the sounds of acoustic instruments such as piano and guitar. With Wonder as an advisor, Kurzweil went to work. In 1983, he unveiled the Kurzweil 250, a digital musical instrument that was able to duplicate the sound of a grand piano. Kurzweil went on to develop a succession of other digital keyboards that have been used by artists such as Paul McCartney and Earth, Wind and Fire.
13. The Flex-Foot prosthesis
Van Phillips was born in 1954 and grew up in Lake Forest, Ill. He was a broadcasting student at Arizona State University in 1976 when he had a horrific waterskiing accident in which a motorboat ran over him and severed his left leg just above the ankle. Phillips was outfitted with an artificial leg, but the clumsy, stiff prosthesis made it difficult for him to engage in his favorite sports. But his predicament turned into a game-changer for him and scores of other disabled athletes. Phillips switched schools and enrolled in a biomedical engineering program at Northwestern University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in 1981. He then went to work inventing a new type of artificial limb, inspired by the C-shape of a cheetah’s hind leg, that would be flexible, resilient and strong, and would enable its users to run and jump. Made of lightweight carbon graphite, it had an L-shaped foot that acted like a spring, allowing the user to push off as if it were a flesh-and-blood appendage. Phillips’ device and others based on its concept now are used by amputees around the world, including an estimated 90 percent of Paralympic athletes.
14. Controlled drug release technology
Robert S. Langer, born in 1948 in Albany, N.Y., earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Cornell and a doctorate from MIT in 1974. He went on to become one of the most prolific researchers and inventors in the history of medical technology. According to his MIT web page, he has authored more than 1,100 scientific papers and has received approximately 760 patents worldwide. As a graduate student at MIT, he began working on a way to use plastics to administer cancer drugs at a controlled pace inside patients’ bodies. Langer’s efforts eventually led to the development of devices such as magnetically controlled drug release implants, transdermal ultrasound drug delivery and other innovations in treating cancer, heart disease and other conditions. His citation for the 2008 Millennium Technology Prize noted that an estimated 100 million patients worldwide have benefited from his work.
15. Synthetic skin products
Gail K. Naughton, who was born in 1955 in New York, earned an undergraduate degree in biology in 1976 from St. Francis College in Brooklyn and a Ph.D. in hematology from New York University Medical Center in 1981. In the early 1980s, she began working with laboratory cell cultures and found a way to “trick” cells into responding as if they were actually inside a human body. For example, growing tissue could be pulled and stretched so that it secreted proteins to make the tissue stronger. Eventually, Naughton’s discovery led to synthetic skin that can be used to temporarily cover a patient’s burn wounds until the body recovers sufficiently to grow skin on its own, and another variation for treating diabetic foot ulcers that grafts itself onto the patient’s own tissue and becomes part of the patient’s body. Naughton’s work has helped lead to a growing range of treatments that encourage nerve regeneration, heal bone and cartilage, and help patients regain their health in other ways. She holds close to 100 patents. In addition to her scientific career, Naughton also earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Southern California in 2001, and since 2002 has served as dean of the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University.
16. The nanoscale motor
Alex Zettl, born in 1956, received his undergraduate degree in physics at the University of California-Berkeley in 1978 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1983. Zettl, who joined the faculties at Berkeley and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, became a pioneer in nanotechnology, a field involving the creation of incredibly small materials and devices. In 2003, a team led by Zettl created a functioning electric motor that was just 500 nanometers across. It was about 300 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair — so tiny that it could ride on the back of a virus. In 2007, he led the creation of a similarly tiny radio receiver that played Eric Clapton’s song “Layla” to demonstrate its abilities. Zettl’s work sets the stage for a future in which nanoscale machines may perform intricate surgical operations, speed up computers and generate solar energy more efficiently.
17. The suspended-load backpack
Lawrence Rome was born in Boston in 1952 and earned an undergraduate degree in biology from Dartmouth in 1974 and a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard in 1981. He later became a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In the mid-2000s, Rome led the development of an ingenious backpack that utilizes the up-and-down movements of a wearer’s body to generate electricity to power cell phones, computers and other devices. It’s an invention that may turn into a lifesaver for soldiers, rescue workers and others who depend on headlamps, GPS systems and mobile communications equipment in places where there are no outlets or generators to recharge them.
18. The Universal Serial Bus port
Ajay Bhatt was born in 1957 in India, where he received an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the M.S. University in Baroda. After emigrating to the U.S., he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the City University of New York in 1984, where he worked on technology to power the Space Shuttle. After joining Oregon-based electronics giant Intel in 1990, he was working on his PC at home one night when he got an inspiration. What if connecting peripheral devices to a computer could be as simple as plugging an electrical cord into a wall outlet? Bhatt and his team eventually turned that idea into the Universal Serial Bus, which made it vastly easier for people to use a wide array of computer-related gadgetry, from printers and keyboards to external hard drives and digital cameras. Bhatt became most famous, however, playing himself in a humorous Intel commercial that portrays company staffers swooning in his presence as if he were a rock star.
19. Improved rechargeable lithium-ion batteries
Yet-Ming Chiang was born in 1958 in Taiwan and emigrated with his family to the U.S., where he earned an undergraduate degree in materials research and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 and a doctorate in ceramics from MIT in 1985. In 1990, he became the youngest tenured professor in the history of his department at MIT. Starting in the mid-1990s, he began grappling with how to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries, which had been invented back in the 1970s by chemist and materials science researcher M. Stanley Whittingham. Chiang eventually hit upon the idea of using a nanoscale phosphate cathode material with high electronic conductivity. His innovation gives today’s lithium-ion batteries greater power and longer lives at a relatively low cost.
Robert Metcalfe was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and earned undergraduate degrees in engineering and management at MIT before receiving a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1973. He joined Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), a hotbed of creativity that spawned numerous inventions, such as the graphical user interface that led to both the Mac and Windows operating systems. While at PARC in the mid-1970s, Metcalfe worked with others to develop a technology that allowed people to hook up a group of computers with switches and coaxial cable and to send packets of digital data through the network. The system they developed has become so ubiquitous that about 250 million new Ethernet switch ports are shipped annually worldwide, enabling a vast number of computer users to share documents, printers and connections to the internet.
21. The Nakao Snare
Dr. Naomi L. Nakao was born in Jerusalem in 1948 and earned a medical degree from Stony Brook University in 1976. In addition to being a practicing gastroenterologist, she is an inventor of medical technologies who holds more than 50 patents. In 1991, she developed a solution for the problem of lost polyp syndrome. When a polyp, the precursor to colon cancer, was removed during a colonoscopic procedure, about 10 to 15 percent of the time it slipped away and was lost in the colon, requiring the doctor to search for it. That caused a patient additional discomfort, and if the doctor couldn’t recover the polyp, it was impossible to do the needed tests to determine if it was cancerous. Nakao invented the Nakao Snare, a tiny device that both severs the polyp and captures it in a net. She received a patent for the invention in 1993. Nakao subsequently founded a company, Granit Medical, which brings her medical innovations to market.
22. The CMOS active pixel image sensor
Eric R. Fossum was born in 1957 in Connecticut and earned an undergraduate degree in engineering from Trinity College before receiving his Ph.D. in engineering from Yale University in 1984. While working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California in the mid-1990s, he invented the “camera on a chip” that enables digital cameras, cell phones and other devices to take pictures. He left JPL in 1995 to co-found Photobit Corp., which grew to a business with 100 employees and $20 million in revenues before it was acquired by Micron Technology in 2001. Since then, he has worked as a corporate executive, consultant and researcher. Fossum has published more than 240 technical papers and holds more than 130 U.S. patents.
23. Foxfibre naturally colored cotton
Sally Fox, who was born in 1955 in Palo Alto, Calif., took up spinning at age 12, using babysitting money to buy her spindle and making thread from all sorts of found materials, from the cotton in medicine bottles to her dog’s fur. She went to Gambia as a Peace Corps volunteer before returning to the United States to receive a master’s degree in integrated pest management from the University of California-Berkeley in 1982. While working to develop pest-resistant strains of cotton, she learned about naturally colored strains of cotton that native peoples in Central and South America had spun for centuries. That cotton wasn’t suitable for modern machine spinning, but Fox got the idea of breeding and marketing her own varieties of higher-quality colored cotton, which was not only more attractive than bleached white cotton, but more environmentally friendly as well.
24. The automated external defibrillator (AED)
Seattle-area engineers Carl Morgan (born in 1947), Tom Lyster (born 1952), John Harris and Clint Cole (both born in 1962) teamed with Gen Xer Brad Gliner to develop the concept of an automated device that would guide an ordinary, untrained bystander in reviving a person stricken with cardiac arrest. When their then-employer, a company that made equipment for emergency workers, declined to back their idea, they quit and formed their own company, Heartstream, in 1992. They maxed out their credit cards and nearly went under before attracting a $5 million investment from a venture capital fund that enabled them to move forward. The inventors came up with a paradigm-shifting discovery: Instead of shocking a small woman and a big man with a standard dose of electricity, as medical guidelines called for at the time, they developed a new, safer technology that automatically calculated how much of a shock the person actually needed. Even after gaining U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the AED in 1996, they had to battle to persuade the American Heart Association to change its defibrillation standards so that the device could be used without liability risk. But they succeeded, and today, federal regulations require airplanes to have AEDs, and they are found in many public places.
25. The disposable cell phone
Randice-Lisa Altschul was born in 1960, one of five children of an immigrant English mother and a German father in New Jersey. She had such a gifted intellect that by seventh grade, she stopped attending school; instead, the district provided a tutor for her. Despite having little technical background, she became a successful inventor of games and toys for both children and adults, and by age 26 she was a millionaire. One of her numerous brainstorms: a breakfast cereal that comes in the shape of action figures, which soften when milk is added. In 1996, Altschul was driving down a highway when she got the inspiration for the invention for which she would become best known — a disposable, pre-paid mobile phone, about the thickness of three credit cards, and made from recycled paper products. While other companies picked up on her lead and began making their own disposable phones, she gets credit for the idea.
Anxious to receive their Medicare benefits after years of paying taxes into the system, baby boomers say they’re willing to sacrifice to preserve the scope and level of coverage.
The first boomers will be old enough to qualify for Medicare Jan. 1, and a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds them worried about the future of the giant health care program that has helped their parents and grandparents live longer, healthier lives in retirement.
By a ratio of 2-to-1, baby boomers say they fear they won’t be able to rely on Medicare throughout their own retirement. Yet the poll found that boomers, and Americans of all ages, are willing to accept trade-offs if that helps keep benefits from being cut.
Take the contentious issue of Medicare’s eligibility age, fixed at 65, while the qualifying age for Social Security is rising gradually to 67.
Initially, 63 percent of boomers in the poll dismissed the idea of raising the eligibility age to keep Medicare afloat financially. But when the survey forced them to choose between raising the age or cutting benefits, 59 percent said raise the age and keep the benefits.
“I don’t mind the fact that people may have to work a little longer,” said Lynn Barlow, 60, a real estate agent who lives outside Atlanta. Especially if there’s time to plan, laboring a few extra years allows people to save more for retirement.
Bring up benefit cuts and Barlow isn’t nearly as accommodating. “I started working when I was 16 and I expect a benefit after putting into it for so many years,” she said.
The year 2011 will usher in a demographic shift. Baby boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of more than 10,000 a day for the next 19 years. They took a running dive into adolescence and went on to redefine work and family, but getting old is making them nervous.
Forty-three percent say they don’t expect to be able to depend on Medicare forever, while only 20 percent think their Medicare is secure. The rest have mixed feelings.
As Medicare reaches a historic threshold, the poll also found differences by age, gender and income among baby boomers. For example, baby boom women, who can expect to live longer than both their mothers and their husbands, are much more pessimistic than men about the program’s future.
Medicare is a middle-class bulwark against the ravages of illness in old age. It covers 46 million elderly and disabled people at an annual cost of about $500 billion. But the high price of American-style medicine, stressing intensive treatment and the latest innovations, is already straining program finances. Add the number of baby boomers, more than 70 million born between 1946 and 1964, and Medicare’s fiscal foundation starts to shake.
Here’s the math: When the last of the boomers reaches age 65 in about two decades, Medicare will be covering more than 80 million people. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to support the program will have plunged from 3.5 for each person receiving benefits currently, to 2.3.
“The 800-pound gorilla is eating like mad and growing to 1,200 pounds,” said economist Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, warning about the imbalance. “The switch from worker to retiree status has implications for everything.”
The government can’t balance its books without dealing with health care costs, and Medicare is in the middle. Some leading Republicans and a few Democrats have called for phasing out the program and instead giving each retiree a fixed payment — or voucher _to help buy private medical insurance of his or her choice. The poll found doubts about the idea, and a generational debate.
Overall, a narrow majority (51 percent) of Americans opposed the voucher plan. But those born after 1980 favored it by 47 percent to 41 percent, while seniors opposed it 4-to-1. A majority of boomers were also opposed, with 43 percent strongly objecting.
However, younger boomers like RoxAnne Christley of Roanoke, Va., were more likely to be favorable.
“I think that’s a possibility if it brings choices and competition,” said Christley, 47. “We don’t need to stimulate the government; we need to stimulate the economy. A lot of people have different choices when it comes to medical coverage, and I see nothing wrong with that at all.” Christley is self-employed, counseling new mothers on breast-feeding.
Changes that don’t involve a full-scale re-engineering of Medicare tended to draw more support in the poll, especially when the survey forced people to choose between giving up benefits or making some other kind of sacrifice.
For example, 61 percent of Americans overall favored raising Medicare taxes to avoid a cut in benefits. The current payroll tax is 2.9 percent on wages, evenly divided between workers and their employers. The new health care law added a surcharge of 0.9 percent on earnings over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples filing jointly.
When forced to choose, even a majority of Republicans said they would rather pay higher taxes (53 percent) than cut benefits (38 percent). Among adults in their 20s, who’d face a whole career paying higher taxes, 61 percent said they would be willing to pay more to preserve benefits. Only 29 percent of boomers said keep taxes the same but cut benefits.
“If people are forced to the wall and something has to be done about the financial shape of the program, they would rather take their medicine by raising taxes and moving the eligibility age than having the benefits cut when they retire,” said polling analyst Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health.
A narrower majority of Americans — 54 percent — also favored requiring people on Medicare to pay higher copayments and deductibles so that payments to doctors don’t have to be cut.
Support was surprisingly strong among seniors, 62 percent of whom said they’d be willing to pay more so that doctors’ fees don’t have to be cut and more doctors keep accepting Medicare payments.
“In its present form, Medicare will be insolvent before my grandkids get there,” said Fred Wemer, 73, a retired dentist from Seattle. He says Medicare’s biggest problem is that it rewards inefficiency by not paying doctors enough to keep people healthy and then paying for just about everything — even botched procedures — when patients get into trouble.
“We’ve got a discrepancy in how doctors are paid,” said Wemer. “Primary care doctors, the ones who listen to you, they’re underpaid. But specialists get paid way over what they’re worth.”
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Nov. 18-22, 2010, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.