• Ten Billion People, 208 Pages

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Ten Billion book cover

    In 2012, Stephen Emmott, head of the Computational Science Laboratory based at Microsoft Research Cambridge, took the stage in London for a one-man show called Ten Billion that underscored the challenges the world faces in a century when the global population is expected to surpass that figure.

    It was a riveting experience—for those who got a chance to experience it.

    On July 11, that circle will begin to expand dramatically. Penguin Random House, the newly conjoined combination of publishing powerhouses, will release Ten Billion, a trade paperback that will bring his cautionary message to a much broader audience.

  • Royal Society Shines a Light on Ecological Conservation

    Posted by Rob Knies

    Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition logo

    Animals hold a particular fascination for Lucas Joppa. Since he was a child, he has been fascinated by their comings and goings, the mysteries behind their living patterns, their prospects as species.

    Now, as a scientist in the Computational Ecology and Environmental Sciences Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, he gets a chance to put his infatuation with fauna to good use, such as his participation in the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, being held July 2-7 in Carlton House Terrace, just southwest of Trafalgar Square in central London.

    The exhibition is one of the most prestigious celebrations of science and research in the United Kingdom. In 2012, more than 10,000 people—including members of the Royal Family, business and academic pioneers, members of Parliament, and school groups—visited the free, annual event, the Royal Society’s biggest public gathering of the year. Attendees get an opportunity to interact with scientists and ask questions about their work.

    The exhibition will feature the official launch of Technology for Nature, a collaboration between Microsoft Research, the Zoological Society of London, and University College London that is focused on understanding and responding to human impacts on nature.

  • Summer in St. Petersburg: Art and Innovation

    Posted by Bill Buxton

    Imagine Cup 2013 logo

    Bill Buxton, a principal researcher for Microsoft Research and a relentless advocate for innovation and effective design, is sharing his experience as a judge for the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.

    While the Fourth of July is not a holiday in Canada (our national day is on July 1), for me, this year the day is nevertheless not your usual day: I flew to St. Petersburg, Russia, to act as one of the judges in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. Given how much time I spend traveling, one could be forgiven for asking, “So what’s the big deal?” The answer is not as simple as the question.

  • Building a Strong Foundation

    Posted by Bill Buxton

    Imagine Cup 2013 logo

    Bill Buxton, a principal researcher for Microsoft Research and a relentless advocate for innovation and effective design, is sharing his experience as a judge for the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals.

    We arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia, at mid-afternoon Friday—a little worse for wear after a night flying over the Atlantic, followed by changing planes in Frankfurt. But overall, the journey was fine, and given how things have been going, well worth the trip.

    Our hotel is a way from the heart of the city. The Imagine Cup is larger than I ever imagined: 309 student competitors from 71 countries, in addition to judges, faculty, support people, press, and space for them all to set up and present their work. There are few places large enough to accommodate such a traveling circus, and the facilities more than make up for the slight inconvenience of not being within walking distance of town.

  • Judging and Then Some …

    Posted by Bill Buxton

    Imagine Cup 2013 logo

    Editor's Note: Bill Buxton, a principal researcher for Microsoft Research and a relentless advocate for innovation and effective design, is sharing his experience as a judge for the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals. See Part One and Part Two.

    Tuesday and Wednesday were intense and busy days for students and judges alike. These were the days of judging. The projects in the competition fell into three main categories: Games, World Citizenship, and Innovation, each of which had its own international panel of judges, typically four per panel. Furthermore, there were additional prizes, each of which also had its own set of judges.

    I was a judge for the World Citizenship competition, a category sufficiently large to be split across two panels of judges. The two days of judging were quite different. Day One consisted of each student group presenting its project to a judging panel. The structure consisted of 10 minutes of setup, an uninterrupted 10-minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A with the judges. Enforcement of the timing was rigid—but the students were so well prepared that, in virtually all cases, they nailed it almost to the second. While sessions were open to spectators, few students were to be seen among them. Those not presenting were busy refining their own presentations for either this or the following day, an activity that seemingly went on all hours of day and night!