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Texas Innovator Winter 2009
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“I don’t believe in
team motivation. I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on a field and be prepared to play a good game.”
– Tom Landry, former Dallas Cowboys coach

Innovator Online

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A Message from
Comptroller Susan Combs

When technology and creativity intersect, the end result is a global community that lives and works smarter. Texas Innovator gives Texans a sneak peek into the most exciting innovations taking place in our own communities.

Researchers are working to predict earthquakes hours in advance. Others are leveraging the power of mobile technology to make public transportation schedules easy to find while on the go.

Texas grapefruit is already loved all over the world, but new research shows it could be a powerful ally in cancer prevention. You’ll find that and more in our Web-exclusive content. As their stories inspire the innovator in you, we invite you to share your thoughts with us at txinnov@cpa.state.tx.us.

Susan Combs


TexasEMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Hello...earthquake calling

New techniques pioneered by researchers at Rice University, the Carnegie Institution for Science and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have been used to predict small movements that precede earthquakes, potentially giving hours of advance warning before a tremor.

The technology could lead to a long-sought goal – a way to predict destructive earthquakes before they happen, perhaps saving hundreds or thousands of lives. At present, scientists typically have only seconds of warning before an earthquake occurs. More than 2,700 U.S. earthquakes were recorded in 2007.

The method involves the use of ultra-precise new instruments placed deep in the ground. Using these instruments, the research team can measure slight changes in the speed with which seismic waves travel through geological formations, changes caused by air being forced out of minuscule cracks in rock undergoing stress.

Tests along California’s San Andreas fault in 2005 and 2006 found that these tiny changes predict minor earthquakes as far in advance as 10 hours. The team announced its results in the journal Nature.

Rice University seismologist Fenglin Niu says scientists have attempted to predict earthquakes by measuring changes in the speed of seismic waves since the 1970s, but the precision needed for such measurements has only become available with new instruments and advanced signal enhancement techniques.

The research team is collaborating with Chinese and Japanese researchers to determine whether the technique works in other areas of seismic activity, Niu says.

For more information, contact Fenglin Niu, niu@rice.edu.

TexasMATERIALS SCIENCE

Sunrise lights the way

Lighted bricks could soon work their way into construction projects ranging from homes to sidewalks and rural airfields.

San Antonio-based Sunrise Solar Corporation’s solar light brick generates its own electricity through solar cells and retains it in an embedded energy storage device. Along with a crystal lighting system, all are enclosed in a square or rectangle. The brick operates without connection to any electrical grid, automatically activates after dark and can be designed to light in any color.

For more information, visit www.sunrisesolarcorp.com.

TexasTRANSPORTATION

Bus schedules made easy

U.S. mass-transit ridership is up 32 percent from 1995, and Texas entrepreneur Roger Cauvin is helping Capital Metro bus riders find their way around Austin with www.dadnab.com. The Web site helps riders find bus routes and running times.

“I created the Dadnab service because I am a frequent rider of public transportation and believe that it can be more convenient than driving an automobile if the right tools are in place,” says Cauvin.

“A couple of years ago, I found myself constantly studying bus schedules to determine the most efficient way to reach my destinations. Since no such service existed, I decided to create it myself.”

Users send text messages from their cell phones to austin@dadnab.com, stating where they are and where they want to go. A reply is sent containing information on the nearest bus stop, what time the bus comes and where the bus drops off. The service is free, but text rates may apply.

Dadnab operates in Austin, the San Francisco Bay area, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Portland, Seattle and the tri-state New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region.

For more information, e-mail Roger Cauvin at rcauvin@dadnab.com.


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