First Interview

Here is the transcript of an interview I conducted today for our next assignment.

Me: What is biotechnology to you? What does it mean to you?

Jon: I think it is any technology that shares a relationship with any biological system. When I think of biotechnology, I think of nanotechnology, sanitation, pacemakers, and stem-cell research.

Me: Are you in favor of industrial research in this field?

Jon: Sure, just think it needs to be done ethically.

Me: Can you say why you feel this way?

Jon: I feel that any field of technology is neither good nor bad. All technology has the ability to help humanity and that same technology possesses the ability to destory us as well. But as for biotechnology, if it is implented ethically, I feel that the benefits outweigh the possible risks.

Me: What is your major?

Jon: Civil engineering.


Norfolk, Reimagined!

The projected number of people living on the world is expected to reach around 8 billion in the near future. This vast increase in population will push our already struggling environment to the breaking point. This stress on our environment must be alleviated before it can no longer sustain life. We can start by changing how much impact we here in Norfolk have on the surrounding environment.

My plan for Norfolk involves changing how we generate power and use fuel. Instead of being reliant on fossil fuels, automobiles will run off of biofuel made from algae. We will build tanks that will grow all the algae needed to supply vehicles on the roads. To maximize the space available in Norfolk, new buildings will combine residential and commerical life. All the needs individual’s have will available to them within walking distance. The buildings themselves will also be more sustainable. All buildings will have solar panels on top to power and heat them and will be fitted with reflective blinds to cool them. This will reduce the impact they have on the environment.

The idea behind these changes was that Norfolk did not need to be radically different. These new technologies and ideas are a great start to helping save our environment without completely changing the city. I believe these basic changes will move our city and possibly in the right direction towards a stronger and safer environment.

link to prezi

The Shareable Future of Cities

  • How many people does Steffen estimate we will have living in or near cities by mid-century? About 8 billion, and perhaps more.
  • Explain how you agree or disagree with Steffen’s point that our energy use is “predestined” rather than “behavioral”. I agree with this statement because I live on campus here at school and with so many places close by, I rather use anything other than my bike to get anywhere. I feel that this would be the case for other people in other cities. If there is no need to use things like cars or motorcycles to get places, then a large portion of people will not.
  • What correlation does Steffen make between a city’s density and its climate emissions? Denser places tend to have lower emissions than less dense places
  • What are the “eco districts” that Steffen mentions? How you see these as feasible or unfeasible in a city likeNorfolkHe defines eco districts as sustainable neighborhoods. I believe that this could work in Norfolk. There are already natural divides and communities established in Norfolk. We would just have to increase the density in areas to increase sustainability.
  • Explain how you agree or disagree with the “threshold effect” that Steffen discusses related to transportation. I agree with the “threshold effect” because I am a person that would fall into that category. With some much around campus within biking distance, I seldom feel the need to drive anywhere. I find it more of a hassle to find somewhere to park that I do to find somewhere to lock up my bike.
  • What does Steffen mean by the idea that, “…even space itself is turning into a service…”? Can you provide any examples that you see here in Norfolk or elsewhere? What he means is that people are leasing space that they currently aren’t using. An example would be like if an apartment in an apartment complex came with two parking spaces, the owner of both could sell one of the spaces to someone else with more than one car. This would make sense in any crowded area. Or you could look at self-storage businesses. They literally rent space to other people so they can store items there.
  • Describe your understanding of Steffen’s argument that, “…it’s not about the leaves above, but the systems below…”. What he means is that when people think of “green” cities, the first thing that comes to mind is a modern city covered with vegetation. For a city to truly be “green”, it should have the infrastructure to reuse most of the resources available to it. These would be things like heating with sunlight, cooling with breezes, capturing rainwater, and have water filter back into the soil to help sustain vegetation in a city.
  • Finally, overall in what way(s) do you see Steffen’s ideas working / not working here in Norfolk? I feel like this idea has potential in Norfolk. First, Norfolk is a city of water. Anyone who has lived here for some time would realize the amount of rain and flooding that comes through this area. I feel as if we could harness that energy and those resources to benefit the area. We could use that rainwater to help cut down on water costs for the city. I think Norfolk is a perfect candidate for Steffen’s idea about tentpole density. We could increase the density of areas like the ODU campus, Ghent, or downtown. Raising the average density in the city would cut down on emissions. I do however feel that this would be very difficult to implement in Norfolk.    I feel that it would require massive overhaul in some areas and that might deter the city from starting such a process.

Abstract 1: Technology Overview and Impact


Kaplan, D. E. (2001). A New State of Fear. U.S. News and World Report. 131 (17): 14-18

The methods used by terrorists to carry out destruction have changed between the 20th and 21st centuries. The paradigm of small-scale attacks fueled by political goals has shifted to religiously motivated attacks focused on murder of colossal proportions.  Packages and letters laced with the deadly bioweapon known as anthrax have been sent to offices all across the United States. Some employees have died due to the illness caused by anthrax while many others have had to been quarantined to protect those around them. The anthrax threat has received national attention. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is devoting huge numbers of personnel to help combat the threat. This heightened awareness of security will protect people living in the United States. This high level of security can and will put other people in danger. With the United States now being heavily protected, other areas outside the U.S. will become more likely targets for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. These other sites, such as military bases located in other countries, should be more cautious and vigilant to protect themselves from terrorist attacks.

I do believe this article had a good point. It does make sense that other areas outside of the U.S. are more likely to be attacked. This article focused heavily on the anthrax attacks in our nation’s recent history. There are other attacks and scares that happened during this time that the author could have accounted for in his article. It was a worthy read but I think it could have covered more information.

Technology and Me


Technology and Me

I have to preface this discussion with the fact that I love anything technology. The phrase “Technology” is applied to many things in society, but instead of listing everything I find fascinating, I figured I would be lazy and say I love it all. Even though I do love technology, some aspects of it elude me. Mainly anything that has to do with medicine. Some compounds in everyday foods are just too ridiculous to even pronounce. When it comes to food, I prefer to just keep it simple and try not to eat anything that has too many of those crazy words in it. With food, sometimes I get tired of technology and want to get back to basics.