Apollo 11 computers, net cables for Africa, and bamboo bicycles

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Draper Lab, MITSorry it’s taken a while for Tech Podcast 251 to reach your earbuds. I was suffering from the (not aptly-named) condition known as Benign Positional Vertigo. Nothing benign about it, in my opinion, at least not in my case. But that’s not what you’re here for. You want some global technology, and you’re in luck, because we’ve got some cracking stories for you. In the midst of my vertigo spins, I missed two major news stories. The first was the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Now, I know that there was, to put it mildly, and abundance of coverage of different aspects of the anniversary. I was lucky enough, though, to have a heads up on a story by my BBC colleague Jonathan Fildes. He wrote a terrific piece looking back at the computer systems that were, quite literally, woven together for the Apollo 11 mission. I missed the chance to run it when all the moon landing hoopla was going on, but you know what? The story is so good that it still leads the podcast this week.

Adama Univ_June2009The other story that I missed was on the undersea fiber-optic cables that went live in East Africa last week. Again, my friends at the BBC were really across this story, and so I devote a large chunk of the podcast to reaction and analysis from various parts of Africa. There is hope, some say a still distant hope, that faster, cheaper Internet access is on the horizon for Africans. Then again, just ask West Africans how fickle undersea cables can be. And we stay in Africa to end the podcast this week. We have a great little story on Zambikes, a Zambia-based organization that builds…wait for it…eco-friendly bikes made out of bamboo. That’s right, bamboo. The cycles are apparently quite popular in the local market, and now the organization has its eyes set on foreign shores. The first shipment of Zambikes is due to arrive in the United States this week!

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(Bottom photo courtesy of Laura Rumbley)

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 12:37 PM and is filed under Technology Podcast. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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