A quick look at everything that tickled my fancy this past week:

Soft Tactile Logic

We assume that having a high level of intelligence is predicated by having a central nervous system but that may not necessarily be the case.

As Science Daily reports, “Inspired by octopuses, researchers have developed a structure that senses, computes and responds without any centralized processing — creating a device that is not quite a robot and not quite a computer, but has characteristics of both. The new technology holds promise for use in a variety of applications, from soft robotics to prosthetic devices.

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DNA Storage

As we continue to create terabytes of information on a daily basis we’re going to need to come up with new methods of being able to store and retrieve that information.  To that end Israeli researchers have reached an incredible breakthrough involving DNA.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “the group demonstrated storage of information in a density of more than 10 petabytes, or ten million gigabytes, in a single gram, while significantly improving the writing process. This, theoretically, allows for storing all the information stored on YouTube in a single teaspoon.

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Universal Blood

It soon may be possible to convert Type A blood into the universally accepted Type O thanks to a newly discovered microbe that resides in our gut.

According to Futurism:

“In a study published on Monday in the journal Nature Microbiology, researchers from the University of British Columbia detail their discovery of microbes in the human gut that produce two enzymes that efficiently strip type A blood of its antigens, transforming it into type O.

The team plans to conduct further studies to ensure the process removes all the blood antigens. If it does, all that converted type A blood would nearly double the amount of universal donor blood available — and we’d have the human gut to thank.”

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New Organ

Speaking of the human body it turns out that we have an additional organ lurking underneath our skin that we were unaware of.  An organ that may be responsible for why we feel pain.

National Geographic explains, “Dubbed the nociceptive glio-neural complex, this structure is not quite like the typical picture of a complex organ like the heart or the spleen. Instead, it’s a simple organ made up of a network of cells called glial cells, which are already known to surround and support the body’s nerve cells. In this case, the glial cells form a mesh-like structure between the skin’s outer and inner layers, with filament-like protrusions that extend into the skin’s outer layer.”

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

Long after humans have gone extinct 3D printers will still be roaming the Earth, completing their tasks, ala the plot of Wall-E.  That’s because three Danish companies plan to create 3D printers that can crawl, swim, and even fly as part of their Break the Grid initiative.

As Futurism explains, “The six-legged crawling 3D printer would skitter across roads, filling cracks in asphalt, while the swimming 3D printer would mix glue with sand from the ocean floor to build coast-protecting artificial reefs. The flying 3D printer, meanwhile, would add thermal insulation to older high-rises.”

These mobile 3D printers would constantly move around the Earth in search of odd jobs, doing important work in hard to reach spots.  The pothole filling printer would be especially valuable in cities with crumbling infrastructure, while the coral reef building printer would be instrumental in the fight against Climate Change.

That’s why it’s easy to imagine an entire fleet of mobile 3D printers going about their business in the near future, surrounded by smaller “worker bee” drones and maybe further down the road a swarm of autonomous nanobots that pick up the remaining slack.  In the past this scenario would have been pure science fiction.  But now thanks to the Break the Grid initiative the groundwork has been laid for an autonomous future.  One in which 3D printing may have finally found a home.

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Is the Break the Grid initiative the Greatest Idea Ever?

Signing up for a free trial is great as you are able to try out a new product or service, or view content that you’re interested in, all without having to pay a cent for it.  Until you check your credit card that is and discover charges for services that you never wanted in the first place, all due to the fact that you forgot to cancel your free trial in time.

Thankfully, there’s a solution in place.  A new app known as Free Trial Surfing that lets you sign up for a free trial without any risk at all.  That’s because you’ll be signing up with a fake credit card that masks your true identity.

As Tech Radar explains, “It uses a virtual credit card number and invented name to let you get a taste for an app’s quality, and then automatically cancels the account before the main billing period kicks in.

Developed by British app creator Josh Browder, the service is working alongside an undisclosed bank, with the virtual cards registered to Browder’s company. As a result, the app is able to forward emails from a service provider to a user without exposing the user’s own email – handy if you do eventually want to use the service in question as a paid subscriber.”

In theory, this app sounds almost too good to be true.  Surely, the companies providing these free trials may eventually want to fight back against this blatant subversion by eliminating the free trials all together.  So it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.  But until that happens there’s nothing to prevent people from taking advantage of free trials, just like they always have, albeit with zero risk this time around thanks to Josh Browder and Free Trial Surfing.

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Is the Free Trial Surfing app the Greatest Idea Ever?

I’m a hypocrite.  I say that I care about the environment.  Say that I am worried about Climate Change.  And yet I still eat meat as often as possible.  Still drive a gas guzzling car.  Still fly around the world, expanding my carbon footprint every chance I get.  Shouldn’t I put my money where my mouth is though?  Finally take the action that I so desperately want others to take?

Well, tomorrow I get my chance.  As do you.  For tomorrow we strike.  That’s right.  For the very first time, everyone, not just school children, will be going on strike to put pressure on governments around the world to take significant action towards curbing Climate Change.

To date there are 5,225 events taking place in 156 countries on all 7 continents.  Hundreds of companies are giving their employees time off to participate.  Thousands of websites are shutting down as well.  All while millions of people participate in what will be the largest climate protest in history.  In fact, events are already underway in Australia as the festivities kick off.

It’s all part of the global movement started by autistic teenager Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish climate activist who recently made headlines by sailing across the Atlantic to deliver speeches to the U.N. and U.S. Congress.  Unafraid to tell it like it is to powerful adults Thunberg has kick-started a global movement culminating in this historic global strike on the eve of a three day U.N. Climate Summit that could very well be a significant turning point in human history.

With roughly ten years left before the planet is ruined irreversibly it’s now or never to take a stand. Something that we all should be doing, even if we were hypocrites up until now.  So hopefully these protests show our politicians in power just how dire this situation is.  And just how important it is to us that they take this threat seriously.   So, whoever you are, wherever you are, please join me in going on strike tomorrow.  For our future, our children’s future, and the future of the planet.  

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Is a global climate strike the Greatest Idea Ever?!

Millions of people who suffer from male pattern baldness hide their thinning hair and receding hairlines underneath a baseball cap.  For now that’s just a self defense mechanism.  Something done to hide their embarrassment.  But in the near future wearing a baseball cap will do more than just hide one’s hair.  It’ll actually serve to regenerate it.

According to Futurism, “A newly-invented baseball cap may be able to reverse balding by mildly shocking your scalp for hours on end.  The hat is really just a fashionable covering for a thin patch that generates electricity when it bends and twists, New Scientist reports. The patch may someday be able to reverse baldness without the pain, expense and inconvenience associated with hair restoration surgery or stem cell treatments.”

This is truly a remarkable invention as it is able to provide a cure for something that millions of people suffer from all while doing so in fashionably acceptably manner.  After all, nobody would want to walk around with electrodes hanging out of their head, calling attention to their ailment.  But wearing a baseball hat?  That’s something that is already a socially acceptable practice.  Something that a lot of people do anyway as a matter of course.  I for one would be more than willing to wear a hat that would regrow my hair.  Even if it means having to trade in my beloved Yankees hat.

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Is a baldness curing hat the Greatest Idea Ever?

#1,556 – ClearUP

I’m hesitant to call them migraines but I do get bad headaches.  On a daily basis no less.  The likely culprit: sinus pressure. An often overlooked ailment that is responsible for ruining people’s lives with infections, colds, and allergies along with the aforementioned debilitating headaches.  Thankfully, there’s help on the way.  And best of all it’s a solution that contains zero side effects and doesn’t involve swallowing any pills.

According to CNET, “If you suffer from allergies, or often get colds, you know how miserable it can feel when your sinuses are inflamed and full of mucus. While medication, steaming your face and blowing your nose often might seem like the best solution to clear them out, they don’t always relieve the problem. ClearUP, a new product from Tivic that debuted at CES 2019, offers an alternative and it goes on sale today for $149 on Tivic’s website.

According to Tivic, the device uses a ‘proprietary microcurrent waveform that stimulates sinus nerve fibers under the skin.’ Stimulating those nerves can reduce swelling, which can help open your airways and relieve pain.  ClearUp is FDA approved and Tivic promises that it produces zero side effects.”

That’s right.  In the future, clearing up your sinuses may be as simple as rubbing a device over your face.  If it truly does work as well as advertised this could be a real game changer for the millions of people around the world who have suffered from sinus related ailments.

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Is ClearUP the Greatest Idea Ever?

The wonder material graphene is capable of some pretty amazing feats. It’s 200 times stronger than steel despite being a thousand times thinner than a piece of a paper.  In fact, a single sheet of it is strong enough to support the weight of an elephant concentrated onto the tip of a pencil.

In the near future it may replace silicon in computers, be used to create flexible displays and more efficient solar cells.  It’s a building block like no other, the very lifeblood of the futuristic society we will soon find ourselves in.

As time goes on more and more uses are being discovered for it just as more and more of its amazing properties are being unlocked. The Graphair water filter that can make ocean water drinkable is one such use.  But as it turns out there are plenty of other uses for graphene.  Uses that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Lucky for us one of those uses has already been discovered.  And it addresses a problem that is near and dear to all of our hearts: repelling mosquitoes. That’s right.  Graphene can now be used to create a line of clothing that would deter mosquitoes.

As Engadget puts it, “Graphene, the highly flexible supermaterial used to build solar cells (and perhaps one day foldable phones), is also a powerful mosquito repellent. A team of researchers at Brown University discovered that graphene-lined clothing not only is an effective physical barrier to mosquito bites, the carbon-based material also changes their behavior. The study, which was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that graphene blocked the chemical signals that draw mosquitoes to other living beings in the first place.”

This is a truly remarkable discovery furthering graphene’s place in the Idea Hall of Fame.  And begging the question: what else is it capable of?!

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Is mosquito repelling graphene clothing the Greatest Idea Ever?