• Armed with Science… and Magic

    by  • November 23, 2011 • Everything Else • 1 Comment

    I have been written up on Armed with Science, a Department of Defense web site.

    Vinay Gupta probably did not expect to serve as an inspiration for a DoD research project. As a programmer, master of Nepalese magic, editorial staff-member at the Rocky Mountain Institute and, most recently, the founder of the Hexayurt Project – where he promotes easy-to-assemble shelters for disaster-stricken communities – Vinay’s background doesn’t smack of a strong connection with the U.S. defense community. Regardless, in his work with Hexayurt, he has approached disaster-relief with a “6 Ways to Die” model, which argues that humanitarian aid is most effective when targeted at the 6 top causes of human death: extreme heat, cold, thirst, hunger, illness, and injury. Little did he anticipate that it would help inspire the STAR-TIDES project (Sharing to Accelerate Research, Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support) at the National Defense University, and guide our efforts to assemble a searchable database of low-cost, sustainable technologies for a variety of missions. [emphasis mine]

    I really owe Van Barker a debt for writing this – it perfectly captures the ambiguity and complexity of my relationships with the military, particularly the US branch who have been, without a doubt, more faithful in their conscious efforts to support my humanitarian innovations than anybody else. It’s not an easy situation at times, but unlikely collaborations always been the core creative process at the heart of institutional innovation.

    The piece also captures an unlikely nuance, Master of Nepalese magic. I think that text originated in the Boing Boing interview I did with Woody Evans. It’s not perhaps how I’d describe myself, but there’s more truth to it than I typically tell. The line between the non-obvious bits of yoga and outright sorcery requires a practiced eye from an appropriate standpoint to see. “I am not a magickian. The universe is magic, and I am standing in a vantage point to see it” might be closer to what I would have said about the matter if quoted, but I will accept the unlikely situation of acknowledged as a Master of the (Nepalese) Art in a Department of Defense publication.

    Armed with Science, indeed.

    You can read the whole piece here. It’s a very good summary of the State of Play at STAR-TIDES, and has finally provided a definitive way for me to explain my experience with the Department of Defense. Thank you!

    And, no, I cannot make you rich or turn you into a frog! I know a man who can, though.

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    One Response to Armed with Science… and Magic

    1. Pingback: Vinay Gupta’s Science & Engineering in the Public Interest « Appropriate Solutions

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