Sunday, July 26, 2009

26 Big Ideas That Can Change The World and Counting

This is a collection of "Big Ideas" that can and may change the world ahead.

Courtesy of and Manchester International Festival's expert panel on the most promising ideas for tackling global warming:

  • Concentrated solar power - Gerry Wolff explains how concentrating solar power in deserts could supply enough electricity to power the whole of Europe.
  • Thorium nuclear power - Switching from uranium to thorium as our primarily nuclear fuel could lead to cheaper, safer and more sustainable nuclear power.
  • Carbon capture plants part-fired with wood - If affordable carbon capture and storage technologies can be developed, the prospect is there for "carbon negative" power plants that burn a mix of coal and wood.
  • Ceramic fuel cells - Domestic fuels cells are super-efficient mini power stations that can efficiently and cheaply provide electricity and hot water.
  • Sequestering carbon and boosting crops with biochar - Turning crop wastes and other biomass into charcoal and spreading it on tropical soils can sequester carbon and boost crop productivity.
  • Marine energy - Marine turbines are like underwater windmills than can extract energy from fast-flowing tides or deep ocean currents.
  • Regenerating grasslands - Grazing cattle in a way that imitates the movements of wild herds could lock huge quantities of CO2 into the world's dry soils.
  • Efficient cooking stoves - Simple and inexpensive biomass cooking stoves can slash emissions, save forests and avoid lung disease.
  • Universal family planning access - Global investment in family planning and female education could slow down global population growth, reducing future emissions and tackling climate change vulnerability.
  • Enhanced geothermal power - Enhanced geothermal systems, or 'hot rocks', can be exploited in a larger number of locations and operate 24 hours a day.
Courtesy of Fast Company ten ideas that could change the world.
  • LifeStraw - The straw-like device is a highly portable, personal water-purification tool that turns even the dirtiest water into safe drinking water. (The Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas)
  • Speaking Books - By using an adaptation of a children’s book technology – the talking book – the South African Depression and Anxiety Group aims to surmount the barrier of illiteracy.
  • Acuset IV - provides a cheap and precise alternative to the $2,000 microprocessor-controlled syringe pumps that are used to ensure accurate and safe medicine and re-hydration fluid delivery by intravenous infusion in the first world. Because about 2.5 billion IV sets are used annually throughout the developing world -- and when administering potent drugs even a 3mm mistake can be fatal – the $6 controller could save millions of lives.
  • One Laptop Per Child - The OLPC Foundation aims to provide every child in the developing world with one of its laptops, with the goal of eliminating illiteracy and poverty through education.
  • Restoring Sight To The Blind - A project of the Harvard Medical School, this still evolving idea was featured among this year's finalists because it has the potential to provide the blind with sight. The idea is to overcome the problem of a diseased, damaged or no longer working retina.
  • Brain-Computer Interface - The Wadsworth Brain-Computer Interface enables paralyzed people to communicate and control their environment by using brain signals alone.
  • PerspectaRAD - a system that aims to overcome the difficulty that arises when a procedure that is inherently three-dimensional has to be planned on a 2-D display.
  • Crossbreed Collapsible Wheel - The Crossbreed Wheel circumvents the difficulties of storage and transportation of wheelchairs and bicycles.
  • Printing Skin and Bones - While it is currently difficult for surgeons to reconstruct any complex disfiguring of the face using CT scans, this ink jet based technology aims to build a fragment which will fit exactly, by placing cells in any designed position in order to grow tissue or bone.
  • Village Phones - Consisting of a mobile handset and SIM card, an external antenna, a power source, and marketing materials, the kit allows rural entrepreneurs to rent the use of the phones to their communities.
Courtesy of Esquire, the six ideas researchers are still working on to change the world.
  • Breaking Down the Firewall
  • Electronic Skin
  • The Pollution Magnet
  • Machines That Fix Themselves
  • Burying Our CO2
  • The Next Plastic
The list will be expanded. So let me know your suggestion on the next "Big Idea".

photo credit Cherrylynx

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