background preloader


Facebook Twitter

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. 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 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. 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. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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.