Readings: Counterfeiters, The Virtual University, NASA

Here are some interesting articles I’ve read over the weekend…

(1) “Outfoxing the Counterfeiters” [Wall Street Journal] – a really interesting piece on the redesign of the $100 bill, as well as a brief history of the evolution of currency in the United States. The article is written by Stephen Mihm, an associate professor of history at the University of Georgia and the author of A Nation of Counterfeiters (I haven’t read this book, but after reading this thoughtful article, I have put the book on my to-read list). The two most interesting tidbits below.

On private currency that circulated in the United States during the Civil War era:

Santa Claus, sea serpents and rampaging polar bears, to name a few—showed up on these private currencies.

What’s the new redesign of the $100 bill?

The centerpiece of the redesign is a purple strip that runs from top to bottom of the bill. The strip is coated with hundreds of thousands of microscopic lenses in the shape of the number “100” and what seems to be the Liberty Bell. Thanks to some complex optics, these thousands of lenses combine to create a single, larger image. When the bill is angled one way or another, the strip comes alive, making it seem as if the images can move.

(2) “The Virtual University” [The American Prospect] – a thought-provoking piece by Anya Kamenetz on why cash-strapped colleges should embrace the online classroom. What are your thoughts on this topic?

(3) “Reinventing NASA” [The Washington Times] – an excellent op-ed piece, written by the president of Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. George “Bud” Peterson, about the current state of NASA, and its future potential. [via]

The key takeaway, I think:

A commitment to working with start-up companies to develop the technologies and hardware necessary for success will inspire and create a new generation of businesses and technology-focused jobs and will nurture and strengthen our top research institutions. With this new emphasis, NASA will return to its roots as an important catalyst for innovation and economic expansion for the U.S. economy.


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