Here’s what we’re reading/watching Monday:

Solar panels stand in Nicaragua's first photovoltaic park, a joint project between the governments of Nicaragua and Japan, in La Trinidad, Nicaragua, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Solar panels stand in Nicaragua’s first photovoltaic park, a joint project between the governments of Nicaragua and Japan, in La Trinidad, Nicaragua, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

1) The Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) turns two years old Monday, and the White House marked the anniversary with the announcement of more than 20 new initiatives as the MGI heads into its third year.

Listed among the initiatives are Harvard University and IBM’s collaboration and release of Molecular Space, a free database of 2.3 million compounds that could be used in solar energy generation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology also announced a new massive open online course (MOOC) that will focus on, according to the White House, “innovation and commercialization with new materials.” MIT is also collaborating with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Intermolecular Inc. to make new software tools from LBNL available to new users.

The University of Wisconsin and the Georgia Institute of Technology are making an investment of roughly $15 million to create new materials innovation institutes, joining with the University of Michigan to start an “innovation accelerator network.” Meanwhile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the federal agency responsible for implementing industry technology and measurement standards, will form the Center of Excellence on Advanced Materials, committing, $25 million to the project over five years. (The White House / IBM)

2) Last week, Dan Leidl explored five ingredients for innovation in a guest post for Innovations. Meanwhile, Malcolm Gladwell has a long read in The New Yorker exploring the life and work of the late economist Albert O. Hirschmann’s and “the power of failure.” In it Gladwell cites the following observation on creativity from Hirschmann:

“Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.”

(The New Yorker)

3) Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin are going on a space walk Monday outside the international space station. The purpose of the walk is to test and upgrade systems on the space station in the lead-up to the arrival of the new Russian module later this year. The walk started at 9:35 a.m. Eastern time. (via

Watch it live now:

Free live streaming by Ustream

4) The clock is ticking, with Google Reader set to go dark on July 1, and the race to be the next, great RSS reader is well underway. AOL has announced AOL Reader, while the tech world awaits the reveal of Digg’s reader service, and Zite has updated its iOS look. Meanwhile, RSS readers such as Feedly and, to a lesser extent, Newsblur have attracted more than a little attention. Every tech site worth its bandwidth has a Reader-replacement recommendation post. Lifehacker has at least two separate posts with “best” and “top five” recommended Reader alternatives. Oh, and Facebook is reportedly working on its own reader.

So, no, the RSS reader isn’t dead. But if you want your Google Reader data to survive, you should probably start making your move now.

5) And here’s the trailer for “Jobs,” based on the life of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and starring Ashton Kutcher. Note the subtitle card in the promo reading, “The Original Innovator.”

Previews aren’t the best indicators of a great overall performance, but it appears Kutcher has tightly wrapped himself in the technologist’s persona. The film is due in theaters Aug. 16.