I’ll show you mine, if you’ll show me yours

Most of us were taught to share at a very early age. What happened? A big chunk of the world’s population still starves every day, even though we know that when we do share, we all benefit. Especially when it comes to scientific learning.

Sharing among professionals is called collaboration. And as the world gets more complex and our challenges more daunting, services like our own IdeaConnection arise to enable and encourage collaboration among scientific minds around the world.

Likewise, the more we discover and invent, the more critical it becomes that we not only help each other solve problems but that we share what we learn. Recent advances in the highly complex field of genetics illustrate the need for an open-door policy of collaboration.
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The Speed Vest

Sometimes someone comes up with something that makes everyone else think “Why didn’t I think of that ?”

Have you ever outpaced cars and been honked at? Had a car almost wipe you out while making a turn? Do you ever ride your bike so fast that you wish that everyone else could know how close to the speed of light you were? Or sometimes are you riding your bike, cars honking impatiently behind you, wishing that they knew you were actually going more than 10 mph? Or maybe you just want to show off to your buddies that you left in your dust!

Enter… the speed vest!
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The Angular Boxfish and The Mercedes Benz Bionic Car

Man borrows a lot from nature in his application of technology, like when the bat provided inspiration for sonar – a system using transmitted and reflected underwater sound waves to detect and locate submerged objects or measure the distance to the floor of a body of water.

Bionic engineers are specialists in translating nature’s solutions into human technology and attempt to answer questions such as why nocturnal animals like bats which are known to be blind can adapt to use echolocation by which they navigate and hunt prey.

Daimler AG, the automotive manufacturer that claims to act responsibly towards society and the environment and to shape the future of safe and sustainable mobility with groundbreaking technologies, too use bionics to design their top-end cars.


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Lapdesks Provide Some Comfort for Schooling Under a Tree

Imagine a class under the shade of an acacia in a sun-scorched village of Africa or Asia? Not a Biology or Natural Science field class for junior high school students in Toronto.

This is a ”normal” class of third graders who probably ran 5 kilometers to school on an empty stomach in the morning and who have no desks to write on. Many kids in poor rural communities in Africa have found themselves in this situation.

Even many more urban slum dwellers are forced to study entirely under trees for lack of adequate schooling resources.


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I have known UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund – to be working mainly to help provide children in vulnerable communities around the world with education opportunities.

But to have a prototype of a portable solar-enabled communication hub that would serve as a tool kit in emergency situations as well as a video-conferencing tool in remote village schools for easier interaction in the learning environment is a plus for the UN agency.
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Literally Cool Inventions

Crosley Icy Ball
Crosley Icy Ball

In an earlier post, Old invention deserves a new life, I dug up the Crosley icy ball–a way to refrigerate without electricity. Since then, I’ve found some even cooler approaches to refrigeration. They also deserve some life.

Science News reports a Chip-size refrigerator that could fit inside future laptops. It still runs on electricity, but a lot less, and it removes a lot more heat than the current fans system in your laptop. How it works:
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Thar’s gold in them thar crowds!

Crowd Sourcing by Jeff Howe
Crowd Sourcing by Jeff Howe

Warning: It’s coming. Whatever you do to make money, no matter how innovative, crowdsourcing will deliver it cheaper from the world at large. If not today, soon.

Just ask any professional photographer who has labored to peddle pics to stock photo houses. What they used to get paid $300 a shot for, buyers now can get for a dollar.

Crowdsourcing is sort of like outsourcing with a captialistic vengence and technological superpowers. So it goes with innovation.
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Innovator makes bicycle bumps a bonus

Kanak Das
Kanak Das

I’m tempted to make this post one of those “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” lessons. But I won’t, because there’s so much more to the story. It begins this way: a poor, yong man in India realizes that the bumps on the rugged, rural roads he travels might be converted–literally–into foward motion.

So Kanak Das retrofitted his bicycle. Now the shock absorbers convert the energy they absorb, when the moving bike hits bumps in the road, into force that assists the pedals.
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Old invention deserves a new life

In 1858 Ferdinand Carré invented a cooling device, based on the work of Michael Faraday, that can work without electricity.

More recently an enterprising Adam Grosser proposed re-introducing his redesigned version Carré’s invention to parts of the world where refrigeraion is not available and where it could save lives.

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Added-Function Funnels

Why did it take so long to put wheels on luggage? Why did we have to go through so many seat-belt contraptions before we settled on the current, easy-pull, easy-stow version? Remember passive restraints?