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Fast DNA Origami Opens Way For Nanoscale Machines
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

Until now, biotechnologists have only been able to make simple forms out of DNA, like tubes, boxes, and triangles. In addition, the process has been laborious and time-consuming. A new study indicates that DNA strands can be coaxed to fold into shapes in a matter of minutes.

The waiting time has been cut down to minutes by Hendrik Dietz, a biophysicist at the Technical University in Munich, Germany, and his colleagues. Until now, scientists had to assemble the shape by heating the DNA and allowing it to cool over a week. Dietz and his colleagues strained the DNA with fluorescent dye and watched what happened as it cooled and folded.

By stopping the reaction at different states, they checked on how far the folding and sticking had gone. They discovered something striking: “It turns out that almost for the entire temperature range, nothing happens,” says Dietz. But when a crucial temperature is reached, the whole structure forms instantly.

Dietz analysed the folding of 19 different DNA shapes, including cylindrical, brick-like and cog-like objects. Each shape folded in a specific narrow temperature range somewhere between 45°C and 60°C. After the temperatures were attributed to specific shapes, the scientists subjected the unfolded DNA reaction mixtures to these temperatures for just a few minutes to see whether they would fold into the desired shape. They did and the scientists obtained a high yield.

DNA-origami experts are excited at the prospect of speeding up their work. “It makes our lives a lot easier,” says William Shih, who works in the field at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, and previous co-worker of Professor Dietz.

Dietz hopes that he will be able to use his findings to build a computer model to predict how to make other DNA objects. He noticed that certain traits of the shapes that he made were correlated with the temperature at which they folded – for example, shapes that used longer binding strands folded at higher temperatures. Dietz’s goal is to design nanostructures with optimal folding temperatures close to 37°C, the temperature at which mammalian cell cultures are grown, so that DNA machines could one day be used in biological settings.

Picture: Core.form-ula
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Kai-Stephan Trienke's profile photo
 
heh, and then the scientists were bored and started doing origami :-P
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SSCAI: AI Bots Face Off In StarCraft Competition
by +Sophie Wrobel, +EuroTech; Germany

At Comenius University in Bratislava, 52 student-created Bots are facing off for 1176 games in a round-robin of 15 minute long, 1-on-1 rounds of StarCraft. The games will be run one at a time, and streamed live for all StarCraft fans to watch. The winner will take home 1000€ – or as much as last-minute Sponsors put into the prize pool, and the top bots will advance to the BWAPI ladder, where they will constantly be facing other Bots around the world.

It seems, though, that the results to date aren’t too promising for this year’s competitors: the leading spot on the board is from a non-student, with a average score of 2.86, belonging to a Zerg AI by Marian Devecka.

What’s behind a bot?
The bots are coded in either C++ or Java. But that’s not the interesting part: the interesting part is how the bots learn, and how they react, to the unfolding gameplay. Strategy may be based on human experience and psychological guesses; more interesting would be a learning network or algorithm behind the bot. A successful bot requires several elements, typically:

1. Data Mining: in order to guess what strategy the bot’s opponent will take, data mining – including training classification and regression models – needs to take place to help anticipate responses and actions from the other player, and adjust development strategy accordingly.

2. State estimation: to estimate what the opponent is up to at any particular time in the game, based on available information.

3. Goal formulation: to be able to formulate goals using a case-based system encompassing the state estimation, data mining, and reactive planning information, phrased in such a way that the AI engine is able to execute a strategy towards the goal.

4. Feedback loop for learning and for adaptive planning: Formulated goals need to be adjusted, or strategy changed, depending on how the opponent reacts. This could be done by using a goal-driven conceptual model to select and model strategy execution.

As you may realize, creating a competitive AI is no trivial feat – despite all the fun which gaming appears to be. 

Good luck to all competitors!

Watch the games live at: www.sscaitournament.com
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Andrew Mcfarlane's profile photo
 
This AI is not learning anything. It's programming is based on a set of rules. Rules which need to be followed. Based on how the rule is programmed within the code, it changes to do something else according to the current game play. This is not in any way a form of "Learning" on the bot's behalf. It is simply following a rule of code, which it must follow, and cannot deviate away. Because the bot does not have choice, it is given its choice for it.
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Team Uses Fractal Geometry To Build Lighter Structures
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

A team made up of members from several European universities has published a paper in the Physical Review Letters describing a technique they’ve developed for using fractal geometry to build structures that maintain their strength despite weighing significantly less. 

Daniel Rayneau-Kirkhope, Yong Mao and Robert Farr  have developed a theoretical framework that assesses the advantages of hierarchical structures in general. They began with a hollow tube as their “generation-0” element and varied the diameter and thickness to obtain the strongest tube with the least amount of material. To assess the strength, the team considered different ways that a tube could fail when squeezed along its length, such as bowing out like an archery bow (Euler buckling) or crumpling up along its axis (Koiter buckling). As an initial check, their calculations showed that a chair leg made of a hollow steel tube can be nearly 10 times lighter than an equally strong solid rod.

In the first step of their analysis of hierarchical structures, they looked at a larger-scale beam made of a triangular framework of generation-0 tubes, which they call “generation-1.” A generation-2 structure would be one made up of generation-1 struts assembled into a larger triangular frame. Theoretically, the process can be repeated as many times as is desired or is possible, depending on scale. The calculations showed that the more hierarchical levels one adds (up to about generation-3), the less material is needed to support a given load.

As an example the researchers suggest that a solar sail made with a solid metal 100 meter beam could be made to be 10,000 times lighter if a generation-3 beam were used instead. In other regimes, however, the weight savings of fractal designs may be smaller. For example, spongy, or “trabecular,” bone only provides about a 10 percent reduction in weight, but apparently that was enough for evolution to prefer it.

Still, to be useful for engineers, the weight savings need to outweigh the cost and complication of fabrication on multiple levels. Moreover, hierarchical structures are more sensitive to mechanical imperfections. A small error in the fabrication process can be catastrophic when there’s no “extra” material around – to shoulder the added stress. The group is currently studying ways to incorporate error tolerance into their models. “The work is certainly important and timely considering the current interest in development of lightweight multifunctional materials,” says Ashkan Vaziri of Northeastern University in Boston.

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Narayana Wijaya's profile photoCurtis Dobyns's profile photoPanah Rad's profile photoKai-Stephan Trienke's profile photo
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I'm really not understanding what's new about this?  It's smaller than we could make last year?  
I don't get it...
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Dry Your Hands At The Sink
by +Sophie Wrobel, +EuroTech; Germany

Dyson has come up with a new, concept way to wash and dry your hands without leaving the sink.

How it works
Their patent application features a modified faucet with infrared sensors below the faucet, as you may expect, to automatically turn on the water when you wash your hands. When you are done, simply move your hands upwards – one hand on each side of the faucet – where jets of air emerging from nozzles on both sides of the faucet remove the remaining water from your hands.

The importance of drying your hands
According to Rob Green, a Dyson engineer, “Drying hands is just as important as washing them: damp hands can spread up to 1,000 times more bacteria than dry hands. The best way to ensure hands are dry is for facilities managers to provide a drying method that is fast and hygienic.” Many facilities managers will concur that the best way to encourage people to dry their hands is by putting hand dryers (or paper towels) next to the sink – the closer the better. And what could be closer than directly at the sink itself?

High-speed hand dryers
Dyson already has a sensational hand dryer on the market: the Dyson Airblade. It is capable of drying your hands within 10 to 12 seconds – possible by introducing air knives into consumer hand drying technology. Air knives are high-intensity, thin sheets of airflow used to separate materials in industry. In the Dyson Airblade, this same technology is used to scrape water off of hands – without the need to heat up the air, thus saving energy over conventional hot-air dryers. The air knife sheets operate at a 400 mph airflow, and are powered by a 88,000 rpm digital motor. To put that into perspective, that motor is turning five times faster than a motor in an F1 racecar.

Will we ever see this on the market?
Although it is not clear if Dyson will be creating a product out of the patent at this time, or if air knives will be incorporated into a such product, the idea certainly is appealing. This has the potential to create more sanitary, environmentally-friendly restrooms of the future.

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Alex Schleber's profile photoJacques J.J. Soudan's profile photochris vighagen's profile photoKai-Stephan Trienke's profile photo
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This is a horrible idea. I've never liked those air dryers in the first place.
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A New Type Of Matter
by +Sophie Wrobel, +EuroTech; Germany

Shortly after the Big Bang, the universe was made out of a hot, radioactive soup. This soup contained a type of matter called color-glass condensate – which the Large Hadron Collider may have recreated.

Color-glass condensate
Two years ago, Raju Venugopalan and Kevin Dusling from Brookhaven National Laboratory theorized that proton-proton collisions could produce a wave of gluons in a liquid-like state – the kind of state that looks like a solid but behaves like a liquid, as glass does. Based on this state property, this state has been dubbed color-glass condensate. At normal energy levels, protons consist of three quarks. At higher energy levels, the protons gain an accompanying cluster of gluons, whose wave functions can be correlated with each other in an entangled state. The entanglement allows the particles to share information – such as flight path direction.

LHC Experimental evidence
In lead-proton collisions, some pairs of particles flew away from each other even though their respective directions correlated. That surprised the scientists, who didn't expect this – lead-proton collision data is typically used as baseline data with which they compare experimental data, an surprises in baseline data suggests something interesting taking place. The closest explanation at the moment seems to be the color-glass condensate theory, supported in proton-proton collision tests two years ago. Additional heavy ion collisions are planned to verify the existence of the color-glass condensate and further confirm theoretical expectations.

Where color-glass condensate existed in the universe
Color-glass condensate is theorized to be a universal form of matter that describes the properties of all high-energy, strongly interacting particles. It could be an explanation for many unsolved problems such as how particles are produced out of energy, and how matter itself is distributed between the created particles.

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Picture: Two sheets of Colored Glass after their collision. The fast gluons in the sheets have not yet fragmented, but have become dusted with color electric and color magnetic charge. This produces longitudinal electric and magnetic fields, shown in the figure. (www.bnl.gov)
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/cc +fan tai 
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PRotos X400, The Largest Commercial 3D Printer
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

German RepRap has just launched their new PRotos X400 at the Euromold trade fair in Frankfurt – the largest 3D printer currently on the market.

As the company name suggests, their printer is built on the open source RepRap 3D printing solution. It is also a highly customizable solution, providing maximum access to mechanical components following a modular design and thus allowing custom components to be added to the printing process. With the size and resolution currently available, 3D printing has created not just a way to replicate objects cheaply,  but also a way to create more intricate sculpted structures than is possible with conventional machinery. 

The PRotos X400 has an overall dimension of 65 x 65 x 70 cm (W/D/H), weighs about 35 kg and is assembled on a stable aluminium frame. A housing and a substructure are available as an option. Additionally, the printer can be equipped with a deformation-free ceramics heated bed.

This improved RepRap combines the advantages of the OpenSource technology with a performance and a quality “Made in Germany”. A layer thickness up to 0.1mm and a printing space of 400 x 400 x 350mm, allow the printing of precise models with a volume up to about 56 liter. Thereby, the PRotos X400 reaches a printing speed as far as 15 cubic millimeters per second, depending on the used material, the resolution and the complexity of the respective printing object. The Direct-Drive-Extruder (1,75mm or 3mm), which is already included as standard, allowing the addition of a second extruder for printing separate support material or two different materials or colors. The filament spools are accommodated nicely in the housing of the printer.

The PRotos X400 kit will be introduced for a price of 1589,00 € excl. VAT, valid for orders at Euromold or online two weeks after, until Dec. 15, 2012.

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Lebogang Kagiso Kgaladi's profile photoGeorge 'Ray' Read III's profile photochris vighagen's profile photoPer Siden's profile photo
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This has piked my interest. Thanks for the article!
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Solar Power From Windows: The EPFL Convention Center
by +Sophie Wrobel, +EuroTech; Germany

The EPFL’s Convention Center in Lausanne, Switzerland is going to be the first public building to install stained glass solar power generating windows. These windows are powered by Grätzel cells, a type of dye-sensitized solar cell co-invented by EPFL’s Michael Grätzel in 1988.

The Convention Center was initially planning to use shaded glass blinds on its western facade, but decided to replace those blinds with power-generating ones instead. The installment will include 1500 artful red- and orange-shaded 35x50cm modules over a surface of 300m², built by the Swiss solar cell manufacturer Solaronix, which acquired the rights to the Grätzel cell in 1994. Not only will the colored cells look catchy, but they serve two important purposes: (1) to reduce solar radiation and thus regulate the temperature inside the building, and (2) to produce renewable energy. With an expected energy output of 8,000 kWh per year, the installment should contribute only a small part of the building’s actual energy requirements. But it certainly is going to be the most artistic power generator in the building.

Grätzel cells contain two glass electrode planes separated by 20-40 µm, between which photosynthesis takes place. Each electrode is coated with a transparent, conductive layer, such as a 0.5 µm-thick coating of fluorine-doped tin oxide. The anode typically is then coated with a 10 µm nanoporous titanium dioxide layer, on top of which is a thin, light-sensitive dye. The anode is coated with a catalysing layer, such as platinum. The remaining space between the two electrodes is filled with a redoxelectrolyte – such as a solution comprised of iodine and potassiumiodide. But unlike plant photosynthesis, the Grätzel cell doesn’t operate in the visible spectrum. It absorbs light from the UV Spectrum at around 3.2 eV, i.e. a wavelength under 400nm. This creates a valuable advantage: the cells not only generate energy and let visible light through, but also protect underlying structures from UV radiation.

The cells are not completely new – you may recognize the technology from a previous iOS Backlight Keyboard, where Grätzel cells recaptured part of the emitted backlight energy. But it certainly is exciting to see them in a larger scale installation.

Picture: Solar wall prototype made by Hevron (Courtételle, Switzerland) using Solaronix (Aubonne, Switzerland) dye-sensitized cells. © Hevron.
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MILAN VUKOVIĆ's profile photoSophie Wrobel's profile photoIrving Drommond's profile photoPer Siden's profile photo
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Beautiful.

The idea behind subsidizing new and better technology with great potential is to shorten the time until it can replace older technology, to the benefit of society. A better alternative to subsidizing renewable technologies would of course be to end subsidizing the fossil and nuclear industry and to a much higher extent make those industries carry their health and environmental costs for a fair competition.

In the mean time, solar production costs keeps falling at an ever faster pace. It is already as low $0.70/W (standard PV, not the Grätzel ones) and is expected to reach $0.48/W already by 2017 (previous estimates by the U.S. DOE were $0.50 by 2020):
https://portal.luxresearchinc.com/research/report_excerpt/12243

Solar is already in the process of overtaking the production costs of (new, not already existing) coal and nuclear power. But we often overlook that solar power does not necessarily have to compete against the production costs of say hydro power or gas, it does not even have to beat wholesale prices of already existing conventional power. Since it is installed and commissioned locally it just have to beat utility prices.

Solar is experiencing the same cost and efficiency race as we have gotten used to in computers. "Moore's law" seem to apply to solar as well. I think we are in for a revolution.
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Algae Lamps
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

Shamengo pioneer Pierre Calleja has invented a light powered by algae that absorbs CO2 in the air at the rate of 1 ton per year. The microalgae streetlamp has the potential to provide significantly cleaner air in urban areas and revolutionize the cityscape. With the figures provided, roughly every five of these lights in use would counter the CO2 emissions of one car based on average mileage. 

For the last 20 years, Calleja has focused his attentions on species of mixotropic algae, versatile little buggers that generate electricity not only from the preferred source of most plant life – sunlight – but also by absorbing CO2: “the lamps are composed of a tube containing microalgae, as well as a battery… during the day, the batteries are charged via photosynthesis of the algae, using both solar power and CO2.” This means that Calleja’s microalgae not only suck those pesky carbon molecules from the air, they also convert them into a ready source of energy to power his street lamps. The lamps, for their part, contain a murky mix of the greenish algae and a growth medium (water).

Remarking that car exhaust accounts for around 25% of global CO2 emissions, Calleja suggests that the Microalgae Lamps will address two social problems at once: “absorbing an estimated ton of emissions per year,  the lamps represent a viable electricity-free lighting solution even for locations where there is no or little natural light, such as underground parking garages – at night, the stored power is used for lighting.”

This project is part of the Shamengo program, a french program aiming at present 1000 pioneers who make the world better. A team of journalists, engineers and computer scientists brings together people involved in all aspects of building a more just society and a better way of life. Originating in the words ‘shaman’, ‘men’, and ‘go’, Shamengo acts as an intermediary between humankind and nature and encourages us to change our relationship to the world. This collection of video portraits includes pioneers in green technology and social entrepreneurship as well as artists, scientists, and therapists–anyone for whom happiness and personal fulfilment are measured by more than money, power, and the values of consumer society.

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vladimir betcher's profile photoIrving Drommond's profile photoEuro Maestro's profile photoReinout van Schouwen's profile photo
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"versatile little buggers"... a technical term... :)
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Stopping Climate Change With A Stratospheric Shield?
by +Sophie Wrobel, +EuroTech; Germany

British Matthew Watson and his team think they have found a solution to stop climate change. They would like to construct a stratospheric shield to pump 100,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere every year – at a construction cost of $24 million, and an operating cost of $10 million per year.

The idea consists of rubber hoses attached to weather balloons, rising 20 kilometers into the atmosphere. Through these hoses, the team could pump reflective aerosols directly into the stratosphere, deflecting incoming solar radiation and thus cooling the planet. They were planning a 1/20th scale test involving sending a helium balloon up one kilometer carrying a water-filled hose – which would simulate the weight of an aerosol-filled hose rising 20 kilometers – but this experiment was called off, although they are still proceeding with lab-based experiments of the initial idea.

How likely are large-scale geoengineering projects to proceed?
The United Nations have had two conventions concluding that geoengineering projects should not be allowed to proceed. But implementing such regulation seems close to impossible: Dr. Watson’s project still received public funding, and other projects have attracted little to no negative response from public officials. 

Among those experiments are:
– large-scale aerosol spraying over UK
– iron dust dumping: IronExII created a 10,000 square kilometer algae bloom, reviving fish stocks, and binding an estimated megaton of CO2

Given the lack of public policy surrounding geoengineering, but significant public funding support and lack of public administration criticism, chances are high that entrepreneurs continue with geoengineering project – caution be damned.

Good? Bad? Desperate measures? Insanity?

Picture: volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/s02aerosols.php
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Tyrian Dunaédine's profile photoAlex Schleber's profile photochris vighagen's profile photoEllen Molenaar's profile photo
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Aight, fine by me.

Nice chat though.
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The Keret House
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

Three years have passed since the first presentation of a slightly impossible artistic concept during WolaArt festival in 2009. Now Keret House proves to be a possible venture. 

Everything seemed to stand in its way: the space’s narrowness, the infrastructure, law, and money. But since its creators were persistent and devoted to the vision, they’ve managed to convince and persuade other people: neighbors, authorities, administrators, sponsors and builders. Today the house, or rather an art installation of some 14m2 stands between two buildings at Żelazna St. in Warsaw.

In the crack between the buildings on 22 Chłodna St. and 74 Żelazna St., the Etgar Keret House designed by Jakub Szczęsny is the narrowest house in Warsaw, its interior measures a tight 133 centimeters in the widest spot.

The house will be a workplace, an hermitage created for an outstanding Isreali writer, Etgar Keret. Besides, it will also fulfill a function of a studio for invited guests – young creators and intellectuals from all over the world. The residence program will take place during the next four years. Two types of visits by artists of various fields will be realized: from literature, film to visual arts. The first will be of expert nature – and shall consist of short visits of the most genius artists together with lectures and presentations. The second type of visit will be the studio visit. In 20 days, young artists chosen in a competition, will familiarize themselves with Warsaw’s cultural and social life. This is a unique way of stimulating the cultural production of the capital and a chance of opening the city to new creative energy.

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No pictures? :-(
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Be ready, LeWeb Paris is coming up on December 4th, 5th, and 6th!
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

Leaders and influencers who shape the future of the Internet gather at LeWeb. On stage, industry leaders and visionaries. In the audience, a perfect mix of entrepreneurs, large companies, influencers, VCs and journalists.

The LeWeb'12 theme is THE INTERNET OF THINGS. iThings, data everywhere, M2M, connected objects, Web 3.0, are not just buzzwords touting the next big thing. It is said that the “Internet of Things” (IoT) will likely be one of the most important technological advances of this century. By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. This hyperconnected world is fueling the creation of an IoT that will bring devices, systems and people closer together. It’s about a melding of the physical world and the virtual world.

The LeWeb program will explore the IoT from all angles. We will see the hottest new technologies, learn how entrepreneurs are adapting and talk to industry visionaries about whether or not they think this next version of the Internet is truly the second Renaissance.

LeWeb will again have a digital business track with world experts from digital brands and be the center of innovation with 16 startups that will compete on the startup stage. 

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Kellya Clanzig's profile photoEuro Maestro's profile photoRandy Resnick's profile photo
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This is a very good idea! I'm just not good at preparing this kind of things... +Sophie Wrobel +Alexander Becker any help?
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How Ogilvy Recrutes Software Pirates
by +Kellya Clanzig, +EuroTech; France

Today's young web designers need to buy very expensive application suites in order to create. So they are tempted to download these suites on illegal pirate websites. To prevent them from not only becoming criminals but also wasting their creativity in the numbness of unemployment, Ogilvy Brussels uploaded a file supposed to be the wanted application suite. For free. But when the web designers downloaded it, they didn’t found the new suite. They found a much stronger offer: a job opportunity at Ogilvy...

Ogilvy Group Belgium creates award-winning public policy and corporate sector communications, advertising, public relations, social media and digital communications for a mix of institutional and major brand clients.

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... and that's how you beat crisis & kick bankers' behinds.
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Have them in circles
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fictitious official center of Europe, Bernotai, Vilniaus, Lithuania
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Europe needs to enhance its presence in the technology sector. Discuss and share news here.
Introduction
Europe should be more visible on the tech map as the largest economy of the world
if you are an European you will be aware that Europe is technologically very capable, but hardly visible on tech blogs
Europe has very capable engineers, an excellent education system, the best digital infrastructure in the world and a long tradition of outstanding creativity, but all of this goes mostly unnoticed. 

Galileo will be the most advanced GPS system in space, CERN is revolutionizing science and companies like Ubisoft, Crytek and RockStar North make the most fantastic games played all over the world. And oh, yes, Angry Birds is made by a Finnish company.

However as a continent we are hardly covered in tech mags or tech blogs. We fail to create a climate in which start-ups flourish, we fail to use our advantages and go mostly unnoticed in the fast moving world of digital technology. 

Remember: The European Union as a whole is, by far, the wealthiest and largest economy in the world even at a time of great economic slowdown. Europe in the broader sense has more than 700 million people. Looking at science in general Europe is dominant in the world and still growing while the US seems on a decline. A good illustration can be seen in this video.

We feel that the US is an example of how tech news can be covered and shared and that Europe should strive to get on that same level. Instead of complaining about it +Max Huijgen took the initiative to form a group of like minded people to change this.

There are many fantastic start-up´s, inventors and developments on the tech front in Europe which lack exposure to a larger audience. We believe self awareness and improved communication can go a long way to get to an European Tech scene.

If you feel we should have our own tech buzz, our own stream of news and recognition for the many innovations made by European inventors, engineers and programmers subscribe to this page.

Share your news, your new cool apps, the latest on the patent wars in Europe, great new products or hints and tips about startup funding with this page. 

Subscribe and you will meet like minded people who work in tech but during European business hours. Make friends with fellow Europeans with a keen interest in everything tech related. 

On G+ the majority is currently American, but there are millions of Europeans who use it daily. We struggle with features which are US only, with activity which peaks at US business hours and with sometimes a different take on events. However there is plenty of European tech news, there are interesting start-ups, major breakthroughs and unfortunately just as many patent problems as elsewhere.

We want to unite the Europeans on G+ and get all the techies, the investors and the journo´s on the same page :)

Subscribe and help build a EuroTech community. If you want to participate in maintaining this page let me know by PM as it will be impossible for one man to maintain such a large undertaking. 

Share this with your friends, circle it and make sure we all get on the same page!

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