14 posts categorized "Good news"


Good News #103 - #107 - Materials, Energy, Transportation, Resources

 Hello again,

Ready for some more GOOD NEWS? Below you'll find five GOOD NEWS ideas to inform and inspire you, including...

  • Dandelion rubber?  
  • Nuclear waste storage down deep 
  • Car insurance by the mile 
  • Michelin's Active Wheel 
  • Cleaning water cheaply 

Also two LINKS to share...

Iwant to personally invite you to check out two links below --- the latest edition of our newsletter and our next ONLINE professional development class:

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #103 through #107.

-- Joel

Jab-square-sm Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

GOOD NEWS IDEAS #103 - #107


Dandelion #103 - Dandelion Rubber?
Most of us think of dandelions as yellow weeds. But it turns out one Russian variety may be able to produce rubber as part of its growth cycle. If this turns out to be successful, it could be planted twice a year in good climates and be more productive than the rubber trees that presently provide natural rubber. Because it is a weed, it is tough and resilient. The trick will be to adjust its DNA to produce significant amounts of the rubber. Research is going on both in Germany and in America. 

The Economist Magazine, January 2, 2010 p. 60 



Crystalline basement rock #104 - Nuclear Waste Storage
Just as interest is heating up again for nuclear fission power reactors, so is the ongoing question of where to store the waste. Sandia National Laboratory has a new answer that is surprisingly simple--drill very deep boreholes and bury the waste two kilometers deep (about 1.2 miles) in hard, crystalline basement rock which is available in most of the United States. This means no long distance transportation and a wide dispersal of the waste materials. Why didn't we do this 25 years ago?  We didn't have the drilling technology to go this deep. If this solution works out, it lowers the cost of storage as it makes it much safer.

New Scientist, April 6, 2010 Magazine Issue 2754, page 9
Drilling Deep Under the US to Dispose of Nuclear Wasteby Phil McKenna


IllustrationbyPeterArkle-FC4-2010 #105 - Car Insurance By the Mile

A Texas company named MileMeter is proposing a new way to purchase your insurance--based on the miles you drive. In a sense, you get what you need and no more. And, also, low mileage drivers aren't underwriting high mileage drivers. This idea is very interesting to me because it is also a potential model for how road taxes might be raised for electric cars, many of which will never need a single gallon of gas. Brookings Institute did research on this kind of insurance and found that it will probably lower driving miles by about 8% if it were adopted.

Illustration by  Peter Arkle

Cliff Kukang, author, Fast Company, April 2010, page 32


MichelinActiveWheelSystem #106 - French Cars
Electric Motors in Each Wheel
Even as the first electric cars are rolling out (think Nissan's Leaf), new design ideas are flourishing. One area of focus is where to put the electric motor or motors. Michelin tire company is the leader in the concept of an "active wheel" in which both the electric motor and the suspension are located inside the wheel. That would mean four wheel drive and no need for a special place to put the motor which means more room for storage space and batteries. It looks like the French have done it again. By the way, be sure to watch the video at the site. It is very impressive!



NewScientist-PhilCondit-II-Stone-Getty #107 - Cleaning Water Cheaply
The present paradigm for cleaning water is to use a lot of complex expensive equipment to do it. But maybe not in the future. Research done on the cactus plant indicates that these plants have a very efficient way of removing both pollutants and bacteria from dirty water. Norma Alcantar at the University of South Florida and her team looked into the way the prickly pear cactus gets its water. They found that its "mucilage", a kind of gum it uses to store water, causes the impurities to clump together and settle out. The researchers will now look at the best way to apply this technology cheaply.  

New Scientist, April 24, 2010, page 20
Cactus gum could make clean water cheap for millions by Helen Knight 


Good News #88 - #96 --- TRENDS, Energy, Infrastructure, Technology, Health Care, Images of the Future, Outer Space

Hello again,

Ready for some more GOOD NEWS? Below you'll find nine GOOD NEWS ideas to inform and inspire you, including...

  • top ten technology trends from the past decade
  • three energy innovations
  • building bridges faster, stronger, safer
  • washing clothes with 90% less water 
  • cellphone turns into medical lab
  • vision of the future in America
  • transporting goods to outer space

Also two LINKS to share...

I want to personally invite you to check out our new newsletter and professional development class at the two links below:

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #88 through #96.

-- Joel

Jab-square-sm Joel Barker

futurist, filmmaker, author


Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

Good News #88 - #96


2-1-2010 7-11-26 PM-Invention&Technology #88 - The Decade's Top 10 Technology Trends for Consumer Electronics
There is a little known magazine, "Invention & Technology," that regularly produces in depth stories on new ideas and the history of old ideas. For their 2010 Winter edition, they created a very interesting list of consumer electronics trends between 2001 and 2010. Here is their top ten. See how it matches with your own:

1. Cellphone cameras
2. Applications for cell phones(primarily the iPhone)
3. Digital music
4. DVD/Blu-ray
5. GPS
6. Social networking
7. Laptops
8. Digital video recording
9. E Books
10 Big flat screen TV's

It is easy to forget all of that happened in only the last 10 years.


_46878754_picture106-Stanford-PaperBattery #89 - Paper Batteries
It is the revolution of battery technologies. I have written about new kinds of batteries several times. Now, up comes the most interesting one--a battery based on paper!

Researchers at Stanford University took regular old copier paper, painted it with a coating that contained carbon nanotubes (nano technology is becoming mainstream!), dipped the combination in lithium solutions and some other chemicals and, eureka! -- a paper battery.

The paper's acts as both as a structural element and a collector of the electrical charge. And making batteries this way could reduce their weight by 20%. These paper batteries also have another very important property: they can release their energy rapidly which is a requirement for electric car batteries.

Clearly, this is the beginning of a new battery paradigm.

URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8401566.stm

Mg20427366_500-1_300-NewScientist-Tech #90 - Lotus Leaves and Solar Cells
In my book, Five Regions of the Future, I write about a technology domain I call Nature Tech. It uses technology that Nature has developed to improve human designed technology. Researchers at Stanford University have copied a texture from lotus leaves (nanoscale domes that look like eggs touching one another) and applied it to solar panels. 

The results are dramatic reductions in solar energy reflected back into the sky by the solar cell (from 35% to only 6%) and, a surface that is self-cleaning. This makes the solar cell more efficient and reduces maintenance at the same time. What a deal!

New Scientist, November 28, 2009, p. 25, including photo

URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427366.500-lotus-leaf-solar-cells-soak-up-more-power.html

Visit Five Regions of the Future self-learning exhibit at the KNOWLEDGE GALLERY at the Global Dialogue Center.

2-1-2010 7-00-12 PM-icestorms #91 - Power Lines That Protect Themselves From Ice Storms
Having lived in Minnesota most of my life, I have seen ice storms come through the state and coat power lines with ice that ultimately breaks the line. Power goes out in the middle of winter and that is very dangerous.

Now a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College has developed a de-icing system that could stop the damage. He has figured out a way to get the cables to heat up enough to melt the ice off the power cables before they break. It takes between 30 seconds and 3 minutes for the process to work and uses less than 1 percent of the energy running through the lines to achieve this.

This is a revolutionary way to protect the power grid. It saves both money to repair the lines and all the costs of not having power to keep your house warm or your business running during the storm.  China is looking at the system to protect their new national electric energy grid.

Popular Science, November, 2009

URL: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-10/ice-breaker


Inflatable Bridges #92 - Inflatable Bridges
The old paradigm of bridge building required two months to put up a 28-foot bridge strong enough for cars and trucks. The new paradigm makes it happen in 11 days using inflatable forms. The idea is to inflate 32-foot carbon fiber tubes and then bend them using a frame to create an arch. The the tubes are coated with a resin that hardens in four hours, creating a form that is two times stronger than steel.

You take the arches, put them in place arcing over whatever you want to bridge, cut a hole in them and fill them with concrete. Now you have a concrete tube inside a very strong fabric tube. You arrange the arches across the space you want to bridge. You put a small rustproof, salt-proof surface on top of the arches. Add fill to road level and coat it with asphalt or concrete. Eleven days after you started you are done!

These bridges are faster to install, much stronger and safer that the previous bridges, and built to last 100 years, twice as long as the bridges they are replacing. The end result is a better bridge, faster to assemble, and 50% cheaper in the long run.

By the way, 25% of the nation's bridges need to be replaced or repaired.

URL: http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/bridge-cost-cut-with-inflatable-arches.aspx

Popular Science, December 2009, p18


2-1-2010 6-52-54 PM-lesswater #93 - Cleaning Your Jeans
It is easy to get all excited about Gee-Whiz technology like flying cars and solar cells. But technology developments in other areas are also important. For instance a company named Xeros has developed a way to clean clothes with 90% less water. Its secret is plastic beads mixed with a little water and about 1/3 of the usual amount of detergent.

The beads act as scrubbers and collectors of dirt and grime. And instead of using 8 gallons for a 4 1/2 pound load of clothes, you use less than one gallon.

Because water use is becoming a key limiting factor in the growth of cities, this technology could make a big difference.

Popular Science, November 2009, p 30

URL and Photo Credit: http://www.xerosltd.com/ 


2-1-2010 7-17-02 PM-ucla #94 - Medical Lab on a Cell Phone
One of the biggest problems in the developing world is being able to do a quick blood test when you are out in the field. This problem is about to go away because of the ingenuity of scientists who are working with FrontlinesSMS:Medic. This group is bringing cheap, effective medical testing to places that cannot afford standard care.

Using a technology developed at UCLA by Professor Aydogan Ozcan and his team called LUCAS, a picture of a blood sample can be sent via cellphone to a global data base that compares it to other images and offers a diagnosis within minutes.

Ironically, while this technology will appear first in very poor countries, it can also reduce costs of health care in the most developed countries.

Google:  FrontlinesSMS:Medic, LUCAS, Ozcan, Cell phone lab

URL: http://www.intomobile.com/2008/12/28/lucas-imaging-technology-turns-cellphone-into-blood-analysis-tool.html/lucas-ozcan-8


2-1-2010 7-23-38 PM-popsci #95 -  Rebuilding America!
It's no secret that I am a big fan of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics because they are constantly reporting the leading-edge of new technologies and innovations.

The February Popular Science has a wonderful illustrated article on fixing everything that's wrong in the USA. They focus on transportation, water, energy, communications, and sewage. Each topic has several very positive examples of how to make it right.

Lots of good pictures, by the way, so you may want to buy this magazine for your children so they can look at what could be done. I invite the editors to, once a quarter, pick another set of topics and do the same thing. Great work!

URL:  http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-01/heres-what-future-infrastructure-might-look

A great video - High-Speed Trackless Train Technology:


2-1-2010 7-31-05 PM-jhunter-quicklaunch #96 - Big Gun to Shoot Stuff into Space
What would be the cheapest way to get materials into outer space...stuff like food, oxygen, water, parts,etc?  John Hunter, a physicist turned entrepreneur thinks it is with a gun. His company's name is "Quicklaunch."

His gun is enormous -- 3,300 feet long. To make it manageable, he floats it in the ocean using its buoyancy to suspend it in the water at an angle, with the barrel pointed toward space. The 1000 pound "bullet" carries a package of materials to be "shot",  for instance, to a space station. The bullet is expelled from the 3300-foot tube using hydrogen heated to 2600 degrees F. As the expanding hydrogen gas pushes the bullet up to tube, the bullet accelerates to 13,000 mph. A small rocket engine fires to finish the trip to orbit.

This could reduce cost of delivery to orbit from $5000 per pound to $250 per pound, a huge cost savings. One caveat, however: this is not a ride for anything alive since the acceleration generates 5000 G's of force.

Google: "Quicklaunch, John Hunter"

URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17931-blasted-into-space-from-a-giant-air-gun.htm


GOOD NEWS #87 - Multiple Verge Innovation

Hello again!

Here is something special to welcome you to 2010, the beginning of new decade...

Every once and a while someone combines so many things in such interesting ways that it cannot be described in a few sentences. I think you'll be impressed.

Pranav Mistry:
The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology

Learn more: http://www.ted.com/speakers/pranav_mistry.html

-- Joel

Jab-square-sm Joel Barker

futurist, filmmaker, author


A - HTGBI - ICON How to Get Buy-In for NEW IDEAS
...an ONLINE professional development class
that teaches you how to get your ideas accepted
with Executive Instructors Joel Barker and Debbe Kennedy
Learn more and register for MARCH 4, 2010...


Good News #80 - #86 --- Energy, Nutrition, Recycling, Materials, Green Farming

Hello again,

Ready for some more GOOD NEWS? Below you'll find seven GOOD NEWS ideas to inspire you, including innovations in energy, nutrition, recycling, materials, and green farming.

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #80 through #86...

-- Joel

Jab-square-sm Joel Barker

futurist, filmmaker, author

2010 CLASS Schedule - How to Get Buy-In for NEW IDEAS
...a professional development class that teaches you how to get your ideas accepted.



NaturalGas-Shale-NYTimes-MattNager-xmmX #80 - New Sources of Natural Gas
American ingenuity rears its happy head again. American energy companies have developed a system for tapping natural gas in previously unusable shale geology.

Why is this important?  Because, for one it looks like there is more than double the amount of natural gas in these kinds of geological structures in the United States than has been found so far in standard natural gas reserves. And second, natural gas has half the carbon dioxide molecules per energy unit produced than coal or oil, so it is a transitional fuel for power companies to use instead of coal. It can also be liquefied and used by vehicles, cutting down the total carbon released into the atmosphere. 

Of course, this is only a bridge to truly non-carbon-based energy sources, but it is very important because it changes the economic calculus of energy location, production and costs. And it reduces the leverage the Middle East has on the rest of the world through its near monopoly or large oil resources.


Safereactors-Rensselaer-sm #81 - More on Nuclear Power
There is a great debate going on in the energy arena. Very smart people like Amory Lovins are making a strong case for no need to go nuclear. Yet, there is a concern about putting all of our energy eggs in the wind/solar/hydro basket. A useful article on nuclear power can be found in "Discover" magazine, June 2009. The emphasis is on safe nuclear reactors that cannot overheat and become dangerous. I have described other nuclear efforts in earlier comments, so this will give you an added insight into the debate.

Discover Magazine: June 2009  pages 53-57

Also see, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - Safe Nuclear Reactors
Photo Credit: RPI

CoolerPlanet-xm #82 - A Listing of New Technology for Cooling the Planet

It is no surprise how often I am citing "New Scientist" magazine. In their Oct 30th, 2009 edition, pages 36-39, they have a wonderful list of positive solutions to help cool the Earth.



IStock_000008517804XSmall[1] #83 - Eating Like a Squirrel
Squirrels like nuts. Well, squirrels are on to something that we should copy. USDA researchers have found that your brain benefits significantly from just seven to nine whole nuts a day. Improvement in balance, coordination (think of that squirrel up in the tree jumping from limb to limb), and memory are all positively influenced by eating nuts. It is the micro-ingredients in nuts that help our brains so much.

Prevention Magazine: Oct. 2009, page 45



Sweden-SustainableCity-TIME #84 - Garbage Tubes in Sweden
The Swedes are testing out a new way to handle garbage efficiently. In the "eco-neighborhood" of Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm, they have installed pneumatic tubes for sucking away the material to be recycled. The tubes are located in various places in the neighborhood. You bring your garbage and recyclables and send them down various tubes depending on what it is. The organic material gets converted into energy. The paper and metals re-used. And because it is sorted before it goes "down the tube", it is much more useful at the other end. The biogas that is created from the garbage is used to fuel buses, taxis and gas stoves.

Time: August 31, 2009, page 49 - Photo: Time

See VIDEO of story:


LongNanoFibers-DiscoverMag#85 - Nanofibers get long!
The problem with carbon nanofibers is they are so short. No longer. A company in New Hampshire, Nanocomp Technologies, has figured out how to make it by the mile. I am exaggerating a little bit, but it looks like they can make it in very long lengths.

This is important because by mass producing the material, its price drops dramatically. Which means it can be used in more ordinary things like cars and planes and buildings and wind generators and ships and bridges and so many things. Nanofibers are made from carbon and are incredibly strong. This is where oil and coal should be used--as a base for carbon fiber materials which can change the world.  Very exciting!


VerticalFarm.com-photo #86 - Farming in a skyscraper
Designers and engineers are getting serious about an idea that Dickson Despommier, a professor at Columbia University, proposed years ago: farming inside high rise buildings. In an excellent article in Scientific American, the professor explains all the advantages both for humans and for the environment. Here are a couple:  no long transportation needed when the food is grown "in town."  You can use human waste to fertilize the system after you sterilize it. You can use recycled water to water the plants instead of irrigating with river water. You can control the weather inside the building and minimize damage to the plants. And it goes on and on.

We humans are taking up more and more of the natural world to grow food. Maybe it's time to change the paradigm.

Scientific American: November 2009, pp 80-87 (great pictures)

URL:  http://www.verticalfarm.com/

Photo: verticalfarm.com  


Good News #72 - #79 --- Trash, Transportation, Energy, Sustainable Fishing, Bugs, Healthcare and a NEW CLASS

Hello again,

There is so much going on to support the need for GOOD NEWS. Below you'll find eight more GOOD NEWS ideas to inspire you.

RELATED: ONLINE Professional Development Class 


October 15 - 1:00 pm - 2:30 p.m. EDT
Executive Instructors:  Joel Barker and Debbe Kennedy

In the last three INNOVATING in HARD TIMES webinars that Debbe and I have held this year, how to get buy-in for new ideas has been a top issue all around the world. Here's why: when you have an innovation, it is a 50-50 proposition. 50% is the idea. 50% is in how you present it. If you blow the second 50%, you can have a great idea that never gets accepted. Our October 15 webinar is designed to give you detailed guidelines and detailed examples that demonstrate how to get your ideas accepted. It is high-value content for those of you that are internally or externally working in your organizations to get acceptance for a new idea (e.g, new strategy, new product, new service, new offering, new organization, or a change initiative). Both, Debbe and I have dealt with this issue for the last decade helping organizations and individuals spread the good news for their new innovations and we are excited to share what we've learned. Tuition is significantly discounted for everyone if you register before October 1, as well as discounts for groups, seniors, and students.
To learn more about the class and to register CLICK HERE
or go to http://tinyurl.com/y984hn2 

Hope you can join us!

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #72 through #79...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author

#72 - Converting Trash to Energy
What if you could take all the trash that is being produced every day and turn it into fuel for trucks and cars?  And clean up the environment at the same time?

Several companies are working hard at doing exactly that. They are commercializing a new process that can turn the filthiest waste into clean and green energy. How does it work? Using plasma gasification, a kind of controlled, giant lightning bolt, which takes household waste and, at very high temperatures of up to 10,000 degrees celsius, converts the material into a gas that can be burned. This gas, "syngas" as it is called, can be converted to ethanol and synthetic diesel at costs that can compete with petroleum. Instead of ash as a waste product, any remains turn into a kind of glassy solid which could be used as a filler material in various products.

The plasma process kills two birds with one lightning bolt: it gets rid of the waste and produces useful fuel. If you consider the mountains of waste Americans produce each year, this is a good deal.

There is also a smaller, simpler, cheaper gasification system that can be used by small towns to produces gas without needing the plasma process.

As we keep innovating new ways to produce energy and get greener at the same time, we can see a pathway to a world where living the good life doesn't mean messing up the environment.

Google:"IST Energy", Inentec






#73 - More Tiny Cars

Tiny cars are catching on. Designed in the UK, the "Riversimple" hydrogen powered urban car is very good looking and very efficient. It needs only 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of hydrogen to go 320 kilometers(about 200 miles). It can carry two people comfortably and has a top speed of 50 miles per hour. For a city-only car that top speed isn't a problem. And increasing it to 70 mph shouldn't be a big deal if it is required.

The little car uses a fuel cell to convert the hydrogen to electricity to drive four electric motors, one in each wheel. These motors are also regenerators so when you step on the brakes, they convert the rolling energy back into electricity which is stored in small batteries. The fuel cell of choice is small and cheap compared to what US car makers are planning to use. How soon it will hit the road isn't clear.

Google:  "Riversimple Urban Car"

URL: for pictures, http://images.google.com/images?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=s&hl=en&source=hp&q=%22Riversimple+Urban+Car%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=gB-QSv_CG5PIMdKA6a8K&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4




#74 - A Small Matter
It looks like the power-converter block that many of us use to power our computers, our wireless phones in our homes, and our cell phones are going to get a lot smaller.  So much smaller that the converter will be able to fit inside the apparatus instead of being separate.

The secret: a new technology using transistors made of gallium nitride instead of silicon ones. Not only are they smaller, but they use less energy as they convert the energy to the proper voltage.

Now, think about billions of cell phones and hundreds of millions of portable computers and think of all the energy that will be saved.

Thank you Fujitsu, whose scientists came up with this better technology.

Google: "Fujitsu AC converters made gallium nitride transistors"

URL: http://www.i-micronews.com/news/Fujitsu-Develops-GaN-HEMT-Power-Supply,3265.html



#75 - Good Stewardship Gets More Fish

About 37% of the oceans are under protective stewardship to keep those areas from being overfished.  The results are very promising as the fish populations in those areas are coming back strong.

The remaining 63% still are still being overfished, but, as the "overfishermen" see the success of doing the right thing, hopefully they will join in the committment to keeping our oceans alive and healthy. This is one place where having a global regulation system would be good for everyone and all the living things in the ocean.

Google:  "Sustainable fishing"

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx + photo credit





#76 Sweet Dreams, Termites

Too often toxic chemicals are the solution to getting rid of unwanted bugs. Mark Bulmer, a researcher at Towson University in Maryland has discovered that glucose, a form of sugar, switches off the termite immune system which allows fungi to attack and kill them.  Because glucose is simple, nontoxic, degrades quickly in the environment, and cheaply available it offers a highly beneficial approach for farmers who have to cope with termites.

Google: Termite Immune system, glucose

URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/31/12652

Photo Credits: www.internet4classrooms.com/susan/termitepics.htm 



#78 - Quick Test for TB

Tuberculois has been on an advance around the world because of a new resistant strain.  Using a new approach with nanoparticles, Harvard Medical School has developed a test that takes just 30 minutes to find out if you have the disease. The old test which used to take two weeks, allowed a sick person to continue passing on the disease because there were no test results.

This test will be very important because it can be used, for instance, at an airport to quickly test an incoming passenger who is suspected of having TB.

Google: Nanoparticle Test for TB

Image: CDC Phanie/Rex Features from New Scientist




#79 - Cleaning Up the Trucks

Too often when we think of transportation, we think of cars and planes. But trucks make up a hugely important part of the global transportation structure and have contributed large amounts of pollution and CO2 to the planet. Now, thanks in part to Amory Lovins (he should be given a knighthood from the Queen), trucks are about to become much more energy efficient and less polluting. For starters, think about this fact: today's heavy trucks are no more energy efficient than they were 40 years ago! Why didn't we write legislation to force them to get more energy efficient?  They had a great lobby.

So, how much better can we make them. Using a hybrid system like Toyota introduced, trucks could become 20% more efficient. If we were to capture the waste heat a truck produces and use it to drive a steam engine as secondary power, we could get a 40% fuel savings. If we add proper aerodynamic technology, we could pick up another 11% in fuel savings. All in all it looks like relatively inexpensive technology available today could double or triple fuel efficiency in trucks with a corresponding reduction in CO2 generation and pollution. The real question is: why did we wait so long?

Google: Truck fuel efficiency

URL: (this is AGREA (Analysis Group for Regional
Energy Alternatives)
 article, by the way)





Good News #50 - #58 --- Smart Drugs?, 3 New Materials, Energy, Fuel Efficiency, Space, Healing Breakthroughs


These nine GOOD NEWS ideas open our minds up to new possibilities and think through hard questions:

  • "Brain-booster" drugs bring up a hard question.
  • Smoothing bumpy roads to last much longer.
  • A battery that can handle 10 times more electricity than any other in the world.
  • Two new ways to speed and enhance medical healing.
  • Saving billions of gallons of fuel for trucks and reducing CO2 production too.
  • The importance of discovering water on Mars.
  • Two new materials with far-reaching possibilities.

REPORT BACK #2:  Based on interest and feedback about the INNOVATING in HARD TIMES online dialogue held last month with over 425 in attendance, we compiled a HIGHLIGHTS web page. It also includes information on two upcoming related dialogues May 19 and June 16. Here is a link to our announcement: http://tinyurl.com/MARCH31Highlights  

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #50 through #58...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


Smart drugs-75 #50 - Smart on Drugs?
This is an idea that carries both promise and threat.  A serious conversation is growing over the use of "brain-booster" drugs. These are drugs that improve your concentration and perhaps even raise your IQ. The chemicals that do this are being tested and look to be both safe and effective. 

Now, this is the HARD QUESTION:
If some kids take them and some choose not to take them, what happens to the meaning of grades and test performance, and ultimately being accepted into high ranking colleges and universities. Are these drugs just "super caffeine or something fundamentally different?

The good news: An ability to enable people to perform at higher mental levels.
The bad news: A new kind of competition for best schools and best jobs.

I think this is an important discussion for parents and kids.

Google: "brain-boosters", Henry Greely, Standford Law School, Julian Savulescu, neuroethicist

URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/21776/?a=f
Photo: Credit: Reid Parham


Bumpy-roads #51 - Smoothing Bumpy Roads
Mix concrete and a special polymer and you have E-Krete, a special coating that is applied to asphalt roads that need resurfacing. The result is a smooth surface that extends the life of the road by 10 years or more. And because it comes in light colors, it reflects sunlight thus reducing heat absorption in parking lots and streets. I wrote about painting roofs white and how that could help on global warming. So could light colored streets.  E-Krete is an excellent example of saving money and resources by making something last longer and helping with climate issues. Another two-fer!

Google:  E-Krete,  PolyCon Manufacturing, Madison WI

Photo: The Product Guy Blog - Nick Bajzek


Liquid Battery #52 - Liquid Battery:
a Whole New Approach
Leave it to MIT to come up with a great idea. This one is a liquid battery whose active ingredients are molten instead of solid.  I won't go into all the chemistry of this fascinating solution to big batteries because you can get that from the MIT article itself.  This battery can handle 10's of times more electricity than any other battery in the world. It is cheap and easy to manufacture because the materials are inexpensive and the "parts" are layers of liquids.

The really big deal is that this battery is so efficient that, for the first time, we can think about building a back-up for the entire national electrical grid! These batteries are great for solving the intermitency problem that wind generators have. When the wind blows at night, no one wants electricity. No big deal with this new battery. You just capture that nighttime energy with a liquid battery. It looks like five years from now, they will be commercialized.  I bet it happens faster.

URL: Technology Review published by MIT

Graphic Credit: Arthur Mount


Vomaris #53 - Electrical Healing
The paradigms keep shifting in medicine. A new pathway is "electrical healing," stimulation by electricity that causes wounds that were intractable to heal completely. The company, Vomaris has developed this technology which is being used by . Soon they plan to have an over-the-couner product. Their webs site has "vivid" pictures of before and after if you want to see the results.  This is very important for those people who have lingering sores that don't heal.

Google: Vomaris, Procellera, electric wound healing

URL: http://www.vomaris.com/



Trucks-diesel #54 - Diesel Electic Field
In January, I wrote about an experiment that improved fuel efficiency by 10% for diesel engines using a simple, small electric field generator that thins fuel which allows it to vaporize more completely. California-based Save the World Air, Inc. has taken this idea and created the Elektra fuel pump add-on, making this concept practical. For a standard truck going average over-the-road miles, this could save 2000 gallons of diesel fuel per year and significantly reduce CO2 production by that truck. Now, just think about the millions of trucks on the road and you have billions of gallons of fuel saved! The company is testing a smaller unit that could be used on diesel cars as soon as 2011.

Google: Save the World, Inc., Elektra fuel pump

URL:  http://cncmachining.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/3-clever-innovations-for-a-greener-future/


4-19-2009 5-20-01 PM-mars #55 - Water on Mars?
When I was growing up, I assumed human beings would be living on Mars by the end of the 20th century. Now new research suggests that Mars may have a lot of water easily accessible.

Why is that important? Because by breaking apart water we get oxygen so we can breath on the planet and hydrogen which will provide fuel for land rovers and our space ships. If they don't have to carry fuel for a return flight but, instead, can make it when they get to Mars, it changes the whole equation of how big the Mars space ship needs to be and what else it can carry to Mars instead of fuel.

Google:  water on Mars

URL: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/mars_water_000620.html


Anti-matter #56 - Antimatter easy to make?
Lawrence Livermore National Lab has developed a cheap and easy way to make lots of antimatter. For outer space devotees, this is a big deal because if you can store it, you have the ultimate fuel. Mix a little antimatter with water, for instance, and you get a whole lot of thrust as atoms anhilate one another. Next to antigravity, antimatter is a big deal for space travel.

Google: antimatter, Lawrence Livermore

URLS: http://www.nanotechwire.com/news.asp?nid=6920 and




-shell-sm #57 - Seashells by the Nanoscore
balone shell is one tough material. Made from simple elements and a living animal. Pretty amazing when you think of it. Now, using nano and microscale elements, human beings have created a hybrid material that mimicks sea shell. Lightweight and strong and tough, a great combination. California researchers teamed together to use aluminum oxide and a special polymer to mimic the natural shell. The result is 300 times tougher than either of the materials by itself. What would you like to make out of this stuff?

Google: Antoni Tomsia, nacre imitation, microscale bricks

URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22138/page2/


Laser-bonded-healing #58 - Invisible Scars
Surgeons at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massecusetts General Hospital have devised a way to use lasers to seal up surgical wounds with almost no scaring. Using the heat a laser can precisely generate, they carefully weld skin back together with the results being hard to see with the naked eye. This new technology will allow surgeons to do their work in places that have been too public for scaring before. And since the "welding" seals up everything with no stitches to worry about, it is less likely to get infected and more likely to hold up to the stresses of everyday behavior.

Google:  laser-bonded healing

URL:  http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/nano-sutures-laser-bonded-healing


GOOD NEWS #26 - #30 -- Personal Helicopter, SkyBike, 3-D TV, Growing New Teeth, Wasps as Teachers

Hello again!

The good news ideas keep coming our way. This time I've included new ideas in transportation, highlighted how 3D TV is changing communications, advances in growing new teeth, and how nature continues to serve as a great teacher.

Again, if this is your first time visiting my GOOD NEWS Blog, you may want to read my first two posts, An Epiphany and Joel Barker's New Ideas to Consider. They will introduce you to what you'll find here when you visit.

Remember: We have reversed the order of the posts so the newest post will be first.

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #26 through #30...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author



Tilt-roter #26 - Personal Helicopter
I remember when I was a kid and everyone talked about flying cars. Well, we are a lot closer today. And every time I have discussions with youngsters, someone asks me about flying cars.  Popular Science in November has a delightful article about a tilt rotor vehicle that lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane by tilting the propellers. It is also powered by a hybrid system so it is very fuel efficient.

It only exists right now in the designer's computer. But it would be fun to look at and talk to your children about the good things of being able to have a flying car and the bad things about having a flying car.  This is an especially good topic to get your children to start thinking about long term implications instead of just short term ones.

No matter, what, if I could get one that was safe, environmentally friendly, and quiet, I sure would consider it.

Google: personal tilt rotor

Pop Science November, pp70-71 


Skypebike #27 - The SkyBike
Here is another really cool looking vehicle that can fly and also be driven on the road.  Go the website with your children so they can see the great graphics.  The simple idea is wings that telescope in and out, so that when you are driving, you can't even see the wings. But when you intend to fly, they extend and off you go.  And, it is really a great looking vehicle, besides. (This is also a verge innovation.)

The company is serious about producing them. No matter what, it is a hoot!

Google: skybike




3-D-TV #28 - 3D TV
Here is another "Gee Whiz" idea coming to fruition--3D TV.  In January 3D TV was tested with on network TV show, The Office. haven't heard how it was received, but it marks the beginning of the next wave for television. Now, there is always a catch to this stuff: you need a "3D capable" TV (special models are already on the market) and you need to wear polarizing glasses to make it work, but those who have seen it say it is impressive. 3alty Digital is the name of the company leading the development effort.

So, what kinds of programs work well with 3D, besides scary, reach-out-and-grab-you movies?  Those who have watched football games in 3D say it is an incredible experience. Movie theaters may very well take the lead in this because their electronic projectors are 3D capable. And it is a great way to bring people back to the theaters where the big screen coupled with 3D sporting events makes sense. A ticket is really buying you something you can't get at home.

What is clear is that TV manufacturers are racing to add 3D capability to their systems, so we will have it in our homes in the next three years.

Google: 3D TV




Growth-teeth-sm #29 - Growing New Teeth
When you lose an adult tooth these days, you get an artificial one to replace it. Not for much longer if expert Dr. Jie Chen and his associate Dr. Ying Tsui from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta have anything to say about it.  They have discovered that low intensity ultrasound (that is sound that is way above our ability to hear) can stimulate the growth of new teeth.

They have developed a miniaturized device that can be applied for 20 minutes a day sending pulses of ultrasound into biological matter, such as gums, muscles or bones to increase healing or stimulate growth of new tissue--a new tooth! It takes four months to regrow a tooth, but that's a whole lot better than losing your tooth forever.(This is also a Verge Innovation.)

If the testing goes as planned, the device will be on the market in two years.

Google: ultrasound tooth regrowth



WASP-SM #30 - Wasps as TEACHERS
Wasp Tail Teaches Surgeons How Bore Better Holes
Biomimicry is defined as copying the way Mother Nature does something.  Researchers at the Imperial College in London have taken the boring process of the female wood wasp 
and adapted it to bore holes in the brain. The technique allows the "drill" to be flexible and to change directions while doing minimum damage to the brain tissue. (All biomimicry is 
verge innovation.)

Google: wasp drill



Visit the Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
Joel Barker's Innovation at the Verge Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center


#11 thru #15 + Catching Up on EMAIL QUESTIONS - Patents, Hybrids, Medicine, eBook, and Green Toner

Hello to everyone,

Lots of emails have been coming in especially from inventors. So, let me say something to all of you. First, way to go! It takes courage and creativity both to try to invent something, but, I can't help you do the process stuff you need to do. As I said on C2C (Coast to Coast raddio show), it costs about $5000.00 to file a patent properly. This means with a thoughtful, honest, IP lawyer as your partner. I got an email saying that was way too much, so I called my guy and he said $7000.00 is closer to it on relatively simple patents. I have a software patent that is right now well over $50K, but it is very complex.

So, look around the Internet for "inventor's clubs." You may have a peer group that meets near you, where they don't talk about their ideas, they talk about the process and vett good and bad lawyers. I've also asked my attorney to recommend some books for inventors. When I get his list I'll pass it on.

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #11 through #15...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


Eaton #11 -
Another Kind of Hybrid--American Made!
Some of you may have seen my film on paradigms. In the classic version, I show an example of a hydraulic car that was first developed in 1974 by a group of students and their teacher, Ernie Parker, at Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. It got 60MPG. Guess what, Car and Driver, February, 2009, reports on Eaton Corporation's hydraulic drive system for cars and trucks. I won't go into the details of exactly how it works, but instead of storing electricity in a battery, its stores hydraulic pressure. And the hydraulic motors that drive the wheels are also the hydraulic pumps that capture the energy ordinary vehicles turn into heat when braking the vehicle. (Google image: Eaton.com)

Here's the big deal: first, it is American technology and we are ahead of the rest of the world. Second, it works great on trucks and in town. Third, it captures 70% of the wasted energy in braking while electric hybrids capture only 25%. In one application it improved the vehicle's mileage by 85%!

Google words:  Eaton hydraulic hybrid;  UPS hybrids

URL: http://www.eaton.com/EatonCom/ProductsServices/Hybrid/CT_190984

Car and Driver.com has nothing on this technology online, so you'll have to buy the magazine. Sorry.

Ford-Fusion-Hybrid #12 - Ford Surprises in hybrid-electric showdown
Again, Car and Driver provides some very good news.  They ran a comparison of Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, and Ford Fusion hybrid electrics for 2009. When all was said and done, Ford's Fusion walked away with the competition in almost all areas. Of course, the quality issue is always there with American cars, but Ford's new crop of vehicles have scored quite well. No matter what, who would have guessed that Ford could out-hybrid Toyota first time out of the gate. They will be applying the technology to their other cars as quickly as possible, we can hope.

Google words:  Ford Fusion hybrid

URL: For the comparison, You'll have to buy the Februry Car and Driver. For info on just the Ford Fusion:  http://www.autonews.com/article/20090111/ANA02/901119979/1115/FRONTPAGE
(may required subscription and/or registration)


Malaria-CDC-sm #13 - Malaria Vaccine Almost Here
Most people in the USA don't ever think about catching malaria. But for millions of people around the world it is a killer. Creating a vaccine has been very tricky because of the complex life cycle of the bug. But now, GlaxoSmithKline has a vaccine dubbed RTS,S, that gives 50% protection. That means half the people receiving the vaccine will be protected. While it is not 100%, it is way better than 0%. Large scale testing will be done beginning 2009 and if all goes well, 2012 could be the roll-out.
Google Image: Malaria Plasmodium - CDC

Google words:  malaria vaccine,   RTS,S



Plastic-logic-reader #14 - E Books Keep Improving
A new competitor for Sony's ebook and Amazon's Kindle ebook is heading our way. Created by Plastic Logic, it has a 8.5 X 11 inch screen. It has its circuitry printed on the back of the screen which keeps their ebook very thin--slightly more than 1/4 of an inch. The screen is both touch sensitive and durable. And it is very light. It also has a wireless connection like Kindle, so downloading books and magazines anywhere near a hot spot will be possible. It also allows you to "mark up" what you are reading.How soon to market? Later in 2009 is their plan.How much?  No clear word yet.

Google words: Plastic logic Reader

URL: http://www.plasticlogic.com/FAQ.html


Soy-beans #15 - Organic Toner for copiers
Soy based ink for newspapers has been a reality for almost a decade. Now comes toner made in the same way. Since toner has been made from petroleum based products that release volatile gases into the air, this is a much greener solution. Way to go Soyprint!

Google words: Soyprint; soy-based toner; soy toner

URL: http://www.inkjetcartridges.com/_soy-based-laser-toner.html


Visit the Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
Joel Barker's Innovation at the Verge Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center


#5 - Algae to Oil--a gusher

J0437683-MSCA-GlobalGreen A Texas company claims it can grow algae at such volumes that they can produce 100,000 gallons of "algae oil" per acre per year. This compares to corn which yields only 200 gallons of ethanol per year.  The secret is a vertical system that allows a 3 dimensional growing space for the algae and a closed-loop system that keeps contanimants out and re-uses water with more than 90% efficiency.  Given the numbers, one-tenth of New Mexico could supply all the land necessary to provide 100% of the United States' transportation fuel needs, assuming all vehicles can burn diesel fuel.
The really impressive thing about this company is that they are not seeking public funding and have many venture capitalists waiting to help.  This is a project that could change the face of the earth because it takes carbon out of the air (via the algae) to create the lipids in the algae that are then converted to bio-diesel. And anywhere there are moderate temperatures and good access to sunlight, you can have a "factory."
Category: ENERGY
Google: Vertigro 
or http://www.globalgreensolutionsinc.com/s/VertigroFAQ.asp
Source: Global Green Solutions;
graphic: Microsoft Office Home

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center

#4 - Electricity in the right places improves engine mileage!

4-Electricity Research done at Temple University confirms that an electric field generated near the fuel injectors of a diesel engine can improve mileage by as much as 20%. It looks like it should work for standard gasoline engines as well. That means a 20% decrease in fuel consumption across the boards for all internal combustion engines.  No comment on whether old engines could be retrofited, but, from the research, it sounds possible.
Category: ENERGY
Google:  electric field, gas mileage
or  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080925111836.htm
Source: Science Daily
Joel Barker's Good News Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center

#3 - Pollution Eating Concrete

J0234555[1]-MSCA-TX-Active An Italian company has invented a concrete that takes pollution out of the air. It is self-cleaning so it always looks white. But more than that, it neutralizes air pollutants thus improving the quality of the air nearby.  In the United States its first use will be near schools to reduce the effects of pollutants.


Google: TX Active cement   
or http://www.engadget.com/2006/11/11/tx-active-a-new-pollution-eating-cement-for-europe/
Source: Engadget;
graphic: Microsoft Office Home

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center

#1 - Buckypaper: super strong and super light

Buckypaper Florida State University researchers have developed a new kind of material made out of carbon nanotubes that promises to be 10 times lighter than steel of the same thickness and potentially 500 times stronger!  Nanotubes have been manufactured for years, but this is the first time someone has assembled them into a sheet.

Each tube is 50,000 times smaller than a human hair but extremely strong.  Buckpaper is made like paper except, instead of wood fibers, it is made up of layers of nanofibers. Of course, we are just at the beginning, but, just like computer chips, once we figure out how to make it, it will improve dramatically.

Think of the impact of a material made out of a highly abundant material--carbon that is so light and strong.  Airplanes, bridges, buildings, cars--all will be stronger and lighter. For cars and planes, it means much less fuel needed to go from point A to point B.  For buildings, it means cheaper foundations, or much taller buildings. And safer, lighter, longer-lasting bridges. Just when we were worrying about the cost of iron ore, along comes Buckypaper which could make steel, if not obsolete, used a lot less than it is now.


Google Search: buckypaper
or http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/10/17/buckypaper-material.html

Source: Discovery Channel - Discovery News

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center

Joel Barker's New Ideas to Consider

New-ideas-postit This is the beginning of a long exploration. It is a response to people asking me where they can find good news about the future. This will be one place, though it won't be exhaustive.  I will add new items as I see fit on my schedule, so the examples will grow in fits and starts.  My goal is to give you as a parent or a grand parent or an older sibling, a place for find stories that give the younger children and adolescents around you reason for being positive about the future.

I went through more than 200 positive articles to sort out the first 10 new ideas to share with you.  I'll try to add betweeen 5-10 each week which means about 300 stories a year that show how human beings around the world are working to make it a better place.  Of course, it is my definition of "better" and I am sure some of you will disagree with my choices. That's what's nice about a free market. You can disagree with me at no cost.

One more thing: if you have a report on some positive idea for the future, feel free to drop me a note about it. If it meets my own criteria, I'll happily include it with a reference to you.

I will always try to give you a URL to go to to gather more extensive data and, if there are pictures, I'll try to include them since kids love pictures!

See the posts that follow to  to see my first 10 new ideas for you to consider.

Here we go!

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author

Joel Barker's Good News Blog
at the Global Dialogue Center

An epiphany

IStock_000005020723XSmall[1]-boyinredshirt-smlstThis blog is the result of me having an epiphany.

Over the years, I’ve exhorted my audiences to make sure they share positive news about the future with their children to demonstrate that good things are being done all over the world by good people. People have asked me where to find this good news and I’ve given them a vague answer like, “It is scattered all over the media.” One day I realized that I read all over the media and I know the good news. Why the heck wasn’t I summarizing it for others to read?

So, that’s what this blog is about: the good things I run into as I read and research more than 45 publications a month, plus the stuff I run into on the Internet. My goal is to put five to ten stories each week about something that I consider good news. You can follow up if you want more information by visiting often:

If you have some good news that I am missing, you send me a note. I’ll be happy to take a look at it. If I agree, I’ll post it.

So, for those of you who are tired of running into bad news on the front pages and lead articles, here is an antidote:

Some good news about the future!

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


Subscribe via Email

Enter your address: