May 30

Cool Tech: Kodak Laser Digital Cinema Projector

Photograph of Kodak's new laser-based cinematic projector

This past Tuesday I got to see a demo of Kodak’s new laser-based digital cinematic projector prototype. The venue itself was pretty impressive: Kodak’s “Theater on the Ridge.” When we entered the lobby my friend (and fellow cinema-geek) Paul said, “Did we just walk through a time machine to the 1950s?”, and he meant that in the best possible way. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. The theater is a classic, enormous, and built-to-last… think late 50’s Cadillac (without the fins).

Although Kodak is principally promoting their laser projector’s reduced total-cost ownership, the projector has three striking technical advantages over a conventional cinematic projector. Read the rest of this entry »

May 27

Do Not Adjust Your Sets…

My graphic designer (Jeremy DZ from form+type) is about to start tweaking this site. There is a chance that things will occasionally look a bit weird while he experiments with themes and performs CSS magic.

May 23

On the Importance of Contacting Your SBIR Topic Author

In just three days the window of opportunity for applying for the new round of DoD SBIRs will open. More importantly, though, the window for talking privately to the topic authors will slam shut. Any business that is planning to submit a proposal would be foolish to miss that opportunity. Talking to the “technical point of contact” (TPOC) is not required to win an SBIR contract (I’ve won two without talking to the TPOC, and some agencies don’t allow it anyway), but it does something almost as valuable: It can keep you from losing. Applying for an SBIR is time-consuming, and TIME  IS  MONEY. Preparing a top-quality SBIR proposal requires about three weeks of professional effort. If you do not have a grant-writer on staff (or have not contracted one… just sayin’), then grant-writing is going to fall on your engineering staff. If your engineers are writing a proposal, that means they are not doing the work that directly pays the bills, which means that there’s a hefty opportunity cost on top of payroll costs. That’s fine. That’s an investment, but you want to make darn sure you’re investing in something that can win. That is why it is important to call the TPOC. Simply put, some topics are just not the pony you want to bet onRead the rest of this entry »

May 16

STEM Required for SBIRs to Bear Fruit

Last week at the SPIE Optifab conference, Chris L. Koliopolis of Zygo Corporation made the radical pronouncement, “There is no unemployment in the tech industry.” He stated that the unemployment rate in the optics industry is 2.5%. That means that unemployment in the tech sector during the worst recession since 1982 (which was the worst since the Great Depression) is better than the unemployment rate of the general population in 1953, when the U.S. economy was arguably at its strongest ever. (Look at this fun bit of data mining I made using Wolfram Alpha.) Translation: The worst unemployment rate in the science/technology/engineering/mathematics (STEM) sector is better than the best unemployment rate in the general sector.

So you gotta ask yourself: Why do so few people in the United States pursue STEM careers? I’ll get into some of my thoughts on what’s going wrong and how that relates to scientific funding opportunities, but first let’s get a grasp on just how bad this problem is. Read the rest of this entry »

May 08

Weird Science SBIRs

Weird Science film logo, 1985

It’s not a secret that I love the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program.  At some point I’ll write a bit more on the history and motivation of the SBIR program, but the short version is that SBIR grants and contracts foster radical and risky innovation… stuff that is more likely to come from a garage-based small start-up company. Right now I’m sifting through the current Department of Defense call for proposals, which was posted on April 26. Most of the topics are highly technical, and not interesting to a general audience. Some though, are just plain weird… or cool… or both… those terms are not mutually exclusive. In celebration of the new SBIR topics, here are a few unusual ones that caught my attention this season. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 23

“Mad Science” Returns to NASA (updated May 9, 2011)

original NIAC banner archived by Universities Space Research Association (USRA)

Original NIAC banner, archived by Universities Space Research Association

Once upon a time, in the land of Georgia, there existed a tiny little program called the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, or “NIAC.” NIAC was not directly concerned with shuttles or satellites or space-stations. NIAC was about the future, and by “future” I mean the far future. I mean “Antimatter Driven Sails for Deep-Space Missions.” I mean “Redesigning Living Organisms to Live on Mars.” I mean “Controlling the Global Weather.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 17

Hello world!

Welcome to DIEHL Research Grant Services.

Real website coming real soon.

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