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3 posts from January 2009


Good News #16 - #20 - Cancer Detection, Solar Cells, Fabric, Nano Stuff, Science Policy


The good news keeps coming!

Note: In this edition, we have reversed the order of the posts so the newest post will be first. 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 the good news ideas you'll find here.

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #16 through #20...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author



Duarte-Medicine12 #16 - Military Technique adapted for Cancer Detection
The Navy developed a way to spot mines in the ocean based on how different elements in the ocean distorts a sonar signal. Michael Duarte has taken that software and modified it to work with mammogram machines to improve its resolution. The result should be more accurate and earlier identification of cancer tumors. This is an excellent example of innovation at the verge as well.

Google: Michael Duarte, "Advanced Image Enhancement"


13-Energy-Robert DiMatteo,MTPV #17 - Plastic Solar Cells?
Another route to inexpensive solar cells made of plastic has been found by researchers from Switzerland and China. These kinds of cells are flexible, made of inexpensive material and can be PRINTED rapidly. To be useful they must be at least 10% efficient (that is, convert 10% of the solar energy falling on them into electricity)which they do. Now they will be tested for their durability and longevity in harsh conditions.

Technology Review January/February 2009 p 85;
online - http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21981/?a=f 
Photo: Robert DiMatteo, MTPV

Google: Gratzel cells, printed solar cells

URL: www.technologyreview.com


14nevergetwet #18 - Never Get Wet Fabric
It is a simple problem: how to keep dry in a downpour. Stefan Seeger, a Swiss professor has patented a way of using silicon nano-filaments to keep water from soaking in while it lets any fabric breathe normally. It works on nonfabric materials, too. The technology can also be used on solar cells to help keep them clean.

Google: Stefan Seeger, waterproofing

URL: http://www.geek.com/articles/news/swiss-chemists-create-never-get-wet-fabric-20081128/

Nanobot-15 #19 - NANO STUFF
Nano researchers are starting to do amazing things. For instance, a University of Oxford team has built a a two-legged molecular machine tht can walk following a DNA strand. They have also fiured out a way for it to carry a molecular package between its legs. This, of course, is very early research but it begins to demonstrate the range of possibilities in the nano world.

Google: molecular machines, Niles Pierce, DNA feet, nanobot

URL:  www.newscientist.com

OBAMA #20 - Scientists Picked by Obama to Lead Agencies
After eight years of science and technology being put on the back shelf, President Obama has changed direction dramatically. His appointments in all areas of science have been scientists. Since so much of US innovation is a direct result of the scientific research done in our universities and government labs, it only makes good sense to have people in a leadership roles that understand science. It may be the most distinguished set of appointees in the last 50 years.

Google: Obama science appointments, Steven Chu, Jane Lubchenco

URL: www.newscientist.com



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


#6 thru #10 - C2C Follow-UP - Terra Preta, Super Battery, Global Warming, Climbing, Honey Bandages

A week into the New Year and a three days after appearing on Coast to Coast radio show (C2C).  I am wonderfully overwhelmed by the response.  More than 21,000 people have visited the site to see what was there. Hundreds emailed me directly with questions and comments about the radio show. 

Check my previous posts on this blog for information on Buckypaper, Nanopaper, Pollution Eating Concrete, Electricity Improves Mileage, and Algae to Oil. Below I have posted reference points for all the other innovations I talked about on C2C. Lesson Learned: Next time I do a radio show, I'll prepost everything to save you all the time of emailing me.

Scroll down to see good news # 6 through #10...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author

Joel Barker's GOOD NEWS #6 through #10

Terra-preta MATERIALS 
#6 - Terra Preta--super soil!
On C2C we started by talking about this innovation and it triggered the most emails.  Terra preta, also known as "biochar" is a special kind of "invented" soil found in the Amazon.  It was invented by the indigneous people who lived there and it has profound properties. It is wonderfully black, full of nutrients, and amazingly long-lived.  It seems to regenerate itself so that plots that are known to be over 40 years old, are still growing plants with no added nutrients. To find this soil in the Amazon contradicts what Western scientists thought was true about Amazonian soil.

While we are still trying to figure out exactly how it is made, it is clear that the Amazonians mixed in dead plants, household garbage, human waste and then lit it afire but kept it from full combustion and keeping the temperature low. This created charcoal within the soil mix and that is why the soil is so dark and so resilient.

The next step is to see if modern day farmers in the developing world can make their own terra preta. If they can, it could create a revolution around the world by revitalizing the impoverished soil in Asia and Africa and Australia.  Oh, there is one more huge benefit (as if that weren't enough): Terra Preta captures large amounts of carbon and sequesters it for centuries.  As we create new Terra Preta, we could also be helping with the CO2 problem!

We may need to offer thanks to those inventive Amazonians, who, thousands of years ago, invented Terra Preta.

Google words:  "Terra Preta"  biochar


Smarterenerg-smller ENERGY
#7 - Australian super battery
Lithium-ion batteries are very good and very expensive. The expense keeps electric cars from being cheaper to buy.  Research done in Australia has married good old lead acid batteries(very cheap) with a thing called a "supercapacitor."  A capacitor is simply a strorage device for electrons. By combining these two ingredients into one, the Aussies have created what they call, "The UltraBattery."  It solves two problems:  lead acid batteries degrade if they are rapidly charged and discharged which happens with hybrid cars as they generate electricity by braking  and when they accelerate.

By having the capacitor act as a short term storage device, you only have to tap the lead-acid battery for cruising. The result is a lifetime equal to lithium-ion batteries but much cheaper. This hybrid battery lasts four times as long as the best lead-acid battery while producing 50% more power. And it costs one-sixth as much as lithium-ion batteries.

One more benefit. (I always love to see two-for's) This kind of battery would allow wind generators to store energy created at night when the electricity is NOT needed and save it to be released during the day when it is needed, thus smoothing out the uneven generation that is typical of wind power.

Next step: more testing in real-life situations and more manufacturing design to simplify the system.

Google words:  UltraBattery,  Lan Trieu Lam (he is the lead researcher)


Whiteroof-smaller GLOBAL WARMING
#8 - Painting the rooftops white
Sometimes good ideas are simple ideas.  This one also demonstrates how a lot of little efforts can make a world of difference. Spanish researchers have been studying temperature trends near one of the largest greenhouse expanses in the world. From their research, they have concluded that painting the rooftops white of houses around the world, especially in the temperate zone, could significantly impact global warming by reflecting sunlight back into outer space.

What an interesting approach:  the west would supply the reflective paint for free. Individual home owners would do the work on their own houses. Their houses would be cooler. And they would have helped the world.

Google words: "Pablo Campra" of the University of Almeria, "White Roofs global warming"


Climbingtogether-sm PEOPLE
#9 - Climbing a Steep Hill Easier
How important is it to have a friend next to you when you climb a steep hill?  Based on research done by Simon Schnall at the University of Plymouth, UK, it makes the climb easier.  The longer you have known your friend and the better the friendship, the less steep seemed the climb. Schnall found that just thinking about your friend made the hill seem up to 20 per cent gentler.

Too often we underestimate the power of friends.

Google words:  "Simon Schnall steep hills"


Honeybandages MEDICINE
#10 - Honey Bandages
Honey, from the right plant, can kill superpathogens that our best antibiotics can't.  Honey from the Manuka Tree of New Zealand is being infused into bandages to fight infection.  The irony of the "discovery" is that honey as an infection fighter has been known and used for thousands of years. The Eygptans used it.  No matter what, it offers a new pathway for dealing with pathogens that are growing more common every year.

Google words:  manuka honey bandage


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