"In November 1, 2008, a man named Satoshi Nakamoto posted a research paper to an obscure cryptography listserv describing his design for a new digital currency that he called bitcoin. None of the list's veterans had heard of him, and what little information could be gleaned was murky and contradictory. In an online profile, he said he lived in Japan. His email address was from a free German service. Google searches for his name turned up no relevant information; it was clearly a pseudonym. But while Nakamoto himself may have been a puzzle, his creation cracked a problem that had stumped cryptographers for decades. The idea of digital money - convenient and untraceable, liberated from the oversight of governments and banks - had been a hot topic since the birth of the Internet. Cypherpunks, the 1990s movement of libertarian cryptographers, dedicated themselves to the project. Yet every effort to create virtual cash had foundered. Ecash, an anonymous system launched in the early 1990s by cryptographer David Chaum, failed in part because it depended on the existing infrastructures of government and credit card companies. Other proposals followed - bit gold, RPOW, b-money - but none got off the ground.
One of the core challenges of designing a digital currency involves something called the double-spending problem. If a digital dollar is just information, free from the corporeal strictures of paper and metal, what's to prevent people from copying and pasting it as easily as a chunk of text, 'spending' it as many times as they want? The conventional answer involved using a central clearinghouse to keep a real-time ledger of all transactions - ensuring that, if someone spends his last digital dollar, he can't then spend it again. The ledger prevents fraud, but it also requires a trusted third party to administer it.
Bitcoin did away with the third party by publicly distributing the ledger, what Nakamoto called the 'block chain.' Users willing to devote CPU power to running a special piece of software would be called miners and would form a network to maintain the block chain collectively. In the process, they would also generate new currency. Transactions would be broadcast to the network, and computers running the software would compete to solve irreversible cryptographic puzzles that contain data from several transactions. The first miner to solve each puzzle would be awarded 50 new bitcoins, and the associated block of transactions would be added to the chain. The difficulty of each puzzle would increase as the number of miners increased, which would keep production to one block of transactions roughly every 10 minutes. In addition, the size of each block bounty would halve every 210,000 blocks - first from 50 bitcoins to 25, then from 25 to 12.5, and so on. Around the year 2140, the currency would reach its preordained limit of 21 million bitcoins."
(Benjamin Wallace, 23 November 2011, Wired Magazine)
"Students get plenty of teacher interaction: Finland and New York City have the same number of teachers. But Finland has nearly half the number of students. Standardized testing is kept to a minimum: before a New York student reaches high school, he or she will have taken 10 standardized tests. Collectively, US students take 100 million standardized tests a year. Finland's only standardized test is taken when students are 16 years old. Kids have more time to be kids: an average us 5th grader has 50 minimum of homework per day. Finnish students rarely do homework until their teens. And while us elementary students average 27 minutes of recess students in Finland get about 75 minutes a day). Finland knows good teachers are essential: teachers in Finland are all required to have a Master's degree (which is fully subsidized by the state)."
(OnlineClasses.org, 21 January 2013)
"Six months on from one of the world's most devastating tsunamis, Panorama returns to Japan to hear remarkable tales of survival amid the epic destruction. Piecing together new footage of the wave, reporter Paul Kenyon tells the dramatic stories of those who managed to escape when so many did not. The film also follows those returning briefly to homes abandoned within the radioactive no-go area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and asks what the future holds for the thousands affected."
(BBC One - Panorama)
First Broadcast 18 September 2011 20:30 BBC News Channel, length 29 minutes.
"Art & Media Course in Information Design Department of Tama Art University manages various kinds of art forms by utilizing digital technologies and bio medias, such like interactive installations, audio & visual performances, software arts, bio arts, digital animations, and future cinemas. Through the background of recent dynamic changes of relationship between technology and human society, we aim to bring up new types of multi-skilled creators who can transcend the traditional boundaries of fine arts, science, engineering, mathematics and philosophy.The Course has established unique creative environment configured by four individual laboratories which has their own research themes."
"Cultivating new media creators in a variety of fields IAMAS was opened in 2001 both as a hub for training new creators in an information society, and as an educational institution that fuses together advanced technology and artistic creativity to produce new culture. Since then IAMAS has graduated a large number of information technology specialists who are active in the broad field of media culture and industry, garnering high praise not just in Japan, but internationally as well. The school's activities cover many disciplines and offer new possibilities to industry. These activities include interaction design and media products that lead to collaboration with industry, media art that constantly explores new methods of expression, social research and design, as well as new publishing ideas. All of these endeavors exemplify the spirit of pioneering into new fields. The Department of Media Creation at IAMAS is a place where people with the desire to create something new are able to meet, collaborate, and challenge each other."