The world of the Internet mirrors the real-world in myriad ways: there are members (we call them populations), websites (destinations to visit), acquisitions of companies (redrawn political boundaries). So what if the Internet could be visualized like our global politics? That’s exactly what designer Martin Vargic did in this cartographic experiment which treats mega-companies such as Google, Microsoft, HP, and Apple like empires, on a classic world map. To explain the dominance and relationships of these entities, Vargic created a visual hierarchy that gives prominent treatment to companies with the most users (or sites with the most visitors), surrounding them with smaller states and townships named after adjacent businesses. "My map is divided into two distinct parts,” Vargic told The Independent. “The eastern continent, the Old World, showcases software companies, gaming companies, and some of the more real-life oriented websites.
Drones don’t have the greatest reputation, thanks to the fact that they’ve mostly been used for spy missions and as remote killing machines. But a team at Ideo.org thinks that the technology--which they prefer to call "intelligent flying robots"--could also help solve the world’s biggest health challenges. Some of the ideas they suggest in this video, like delivering medicine in places that are hard to reach by roads, have already been tested in some areas and may be close to becoming reality. Others, like real-time imaging, have been used by industries like mining and agriculture, and could easily be adapted to serve the greater good.
In a disaster, a glider could quickly fly over impassable roads, making a map with photos of survivors. In remote areas, a drone floating high in the air could improve connections to the outside world, so a village nurse could talk to doctors at a distant hospital. As more drones are used to help people, their image may slowly begin to change. For decades, the green movement has been chasing the wrong ball.
If only we could cultivate so-called "advocates" (pejoratively dubbed "treehuggers") then we could scale the market for sustainable goods and tip the business paradigm toward more conscious capitalism. Wishful thinking. The data couldn’t be clearer: Advocates will never be more than 20% of the consuming public. But that’s okay. There’s a new kid in town, one who cares about style and shopping and status and . . . wait for it . . . doing right by the planet. The discovery in 2013 of a high-velocity segment that BBMG and Globescan have named Aspirational consumers is significant for many reasons, but mainly because they are the largest consumer segment globally (39% of the population representing nearly 2 billion people) and the first to unite materialism, sustainability, and cultural influence.
But this article isn’t about the research, which you can find here. Manifesto: Give Them Something to Believe In. Jack Andraka, the high school junior behind this Intel Science Fair-winning cancer sensor and this handheld device that can detect explosives and environmental contaminants, is now back with yet another invention: a biosensor that can quickly and cheaply detect water contaminants. Andraka's microfluidic biosensor, developed with fellow student Chloe Diggs, recently took the $50,000 first prize among high school entrants in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge. The pair developed their credit card-sized biosensor after learning about water pollution in a high school environmental science class.
"We had to figure out how to produce microfluidic [structures] in a classroom setting. We had to come up with new procedures, and we custom-made our own equipment," says Andraka. According to Andraka, the device can detect six environmental contaminants: mercury, lead, cadmium, copper, glyphosate, and atrazine. This isn't the only project that Andraka has been working on. Bike locks aren’t cute. And they’re usually not that convenient, either heavy to carry or easy to forget. (Have you ever forgotten your bike lock when you’re out running errands? It will ruin your day.) While it’d probably be better for everyone if bike locks were something that you never had to look at or think about, a new lock being marketed on Kickstarter is like the bike lock for the person who hates bike locks—it disappears into the design of the bike itself, so it’s always there when you need it. Named the InterLock, this sexy new device consists of two retractable cables stuffed inside a seat tube.
Long enough to extend around a post and through the bike frame, the two cables come together to lock. My main concern when I watched the Kickstarter video was whether the cable will hold up against thieves. Kickstarter backers can pick one up for $39 before the campaign ends on February 5. Knocking down a concrete building usually takes brute force: Wrecking balls, huge excavators, or explosives rip apart walls while fire hoses spray water to keep the clouds of dust down.
It’s an energy-intensive process, and after everything’s been torn apart, the concrete often ends up in a landfill or has to be trucked to a recycling facility. But a new concrete-erasing robot may eventually transform the messy business of demolition. The ERO (short for “erosion”) robot uses water to disassemble concrete and then sucks all of the separate components--cement, sand, and aggregate--neatly into different packages for reuse. “High-pressure water jets attack the micro cracks on the concrete surface, making it come apart,” explains Omer Haciomeroglu, a student at Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden, who designed the robot last year. "You can reutilize it within the city, without actually sending it far away to be crushed down, separated, and all of that mess," he says. What's the nutritional value of your food? If you buy your food pre-packaged, answering this question is easy: Look on the side of the packet. But a head of broccoli, a cheese sandwich, a meatloaf?
Not so easy. The Situ is designed to help people work out what's in home-cooked meals. It's a scale linked to an app via Bluetooth. Situ is currently on Kickstarter. "It’s a learning tool to reorient people how many calories and nutrients are in their food," says Michael Grothaus, an ex-Apple staffer who developed Situ with his friend Jose Farinha.
Grothaus, who has struggled with weight himself, claims that Situ helped him lose 60 pounds. An early-bird version (for the first 700 Kickstarter backers) is available for $83. Grothaus says the app currently covers about 5,000 food items, including everything from exotic fruits, to meats like ostrich and elk. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations group that issues reports on the latest climate science, has put out its latest dire warning for humanity in the Working Group II report, which examines all the predicted impacts that climate change will have on the planet. Unfortunately for anyone actually interested in reading the report, it's incredibly boring. Here are some of the most salient points that are worth paying attention to: In short, things are going to get very, very bad. No one will escape unscathed Climate change doesn't just affect poor countries, though they are generally less equipped for adaptation.
Africa will deal with more water stress, crop productivity issues, and "vector and vector-borne diseases", but North America doesn't have it much better, threatened by loss of ecosystems, heat-related deaths, urban floods, and water quality issues. Climate change is inevitable Here's what the two scenarios look like on the map: Adaptation is important. Every year, around 87 billion plastic bottle caps are made in the U.S. alone— and most end up in the trash. A company in Brazil hopes to help change that with this line of caps that you might actually want to keep: Each turns into a Lego-like block that can be used as a toy or to build furniture. "I wanted to develop a sustainable cap, and I think it’s better to innovate by looking for a problem than by looking for an idea," says Claudio Patrick Vollers, the CEO of Clever Pack, the company that makes the new caps.
"I looked at the whole lifecycle of packaging, including the recycling process, and looked for the biggest environmental problem. " Recycling, he noticed, takes quite a bit of energy, both for transportation and the electricity used to melt plastic. So even if a cap makes it to the recycling bin (an unlikely event in the U.S., though it’s a little more likely in Brazil) it still has an environmental impact. But do we actually need 87 billion new Lego-like blocks every year?