#1,357 – Magnesite

Seattle has just set a new record for the numbers of days in a year with a recorded temperature of 85 degrees or higher at 27.  Topping the previous record set just last year.  That mind numbing statistic is just the latest proof that Climate Change is very real and teetering on the edge of reaching a point of no return.

If humanity is going to have any hope of saving planet Earth we’re going to need to come up with a scientific and technological solution that saves the environment.  Thankfully, there may now be a way to do just that, thanks to a new lab generated mineral known as magnesite, that may be capable of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a cheap, efficient, and highly scalable method.

As The Independent explains, “Magnesite is a naturally occurring rock used in jewelry and for various industrial processes, and its carbon-storing capacity was already known to scientists…however, while previous studies have explored the potential of storing polluting gases in underground rock formations, the potential of these activities is hampered by the time it takes for new minerals to form.”

Just how much time are we talking?  Try thousands of years.  And time is a luxury that we simply don’t have anymore.  Thankfully, magnesite works much quicker than that.  Just 72 days to be precise.  That’s a significant reduction to say the least.  And best of all, the whole takes place at room temperature significantly reducing the barrier to implementation.

Considering that every ton of magnesite is capable of removing about half a ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere we’re going to need a whole hell of a lot of it if we’re going to stand a chance of reversing Climate Change.  Hopefully, the research into magnesite continues to progress and we get our hands on the stuff as quickly as possible.  The future of the planet may depend on it.

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Is Magnesite the Greatest Idea Ever?

It’s only a matter of time before the wonder material graphene takes over the world.  200x stronger than streel and a million times thinner than a piece of paper, graphene has several unique properties that could enable it to impact nearly every walk of life.  Starting with your wardrobe.  That’s right.  The first place that Graphene could make its presence felt is in your closet thanks to its inclusion in a new jacket that could revolutionize the fashion industry.

According to Fast Company, “At 595 euros ($695) a pop, Vollebak’s new graphene jacket isn’t for everyone. But if even half of what its creators promise is true, it could be worth every cent. According to the company, it shares many of the magical properties of graphene–absorbing heat and then warming you up over time, conducting electricity, repelling bacteria, and dissipating your body’s excess humidity.”

But that’s not all.  We’re only just scratching the surface of what Graphene can do.  As Fast Company explains:

“Its diverse uses are seemingly endless: It can stop a bullet if you add enough layers. It can change the color of your hair with no adverse effects. It can turn the walls of your home into a giant fire detector. ‘It’s so strong and so stretchy that the fibers of a spider web coated in graphene could catch a falling plane,” as Vollebak puts it in its marketing materials.’

Intrigued by these latest extravagant claims I did some digging and found out that, yes, Graphene’s latest tricks really are as amazing as they sound.  First off, in regards to the graphene based hair dye:

“This is how it works: The user applies the graphene dye using a spray, then brushes the hair and dries it. The graphene forms a gentle film around each and every hair strand. Like in a sci-fi movie, your hair will change color before your very eyes as the sheets of graphene attach themselves to your mane. And since the research team says their method doesn’t require toxic solvents, or molecular ingredients, or extreme heat, you don’t have to worry about damaging your hair, skin, or yourself. The color lasts for at least 30 washes, like what you expect from any conventional chemical-based dye. The graphene material will disappear leaving your hair in the exact same state as it was when you applied it.”

But that’s not all.

“The wallpaper comes from China’s Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, where Professor Ying-Jie Zhu and his team are experimenting with graphene applications. Their research, recently published in the journal ACS Nano, describes how they weaved the wallpaper using two types of inorganic materials. The first is ultra-long hydroxyapatite nanowires, which are tiny threads made from a mineral form of calcium apatite commonly found in teeth and bones. The other one is threads of graphene oxide, a form of graphene that can be mixed with other materials.

Both materials are fire-resistant, but it’s the latter that turns this fire-resistant wallpaper into a fire alarm. That’s because graphene oxide is an electrical insulator at room temperature–but when it’s heated to high temperatures, it becomes conductive. In their design, graphene oxide sensors woven into the wallpaper are connected to an alarm system. When it’s exposed to heat, the circuit is closed and electricity moves through the system–setting off the alarm.”

When it comes to graphene the news just keeps on getting more and more exciting.  These latest inventions, from clothing to hair dye to wallpaper, are likely just the beginning.  There’s even a graphene based sneaker hitting the market soon.  Which begs the question: what other life-altering, game-changing graphene based innovations are headed our way?!?

Are any of these graphene based innovations the Greatest Idea Ever?

I recently discovered the greatest TV show of all-time.  A TV show that is even better than Lost, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Westworld, Dark Matter, or even my latest obsession, Rick and Morty.  A show that is fast-paced and hilarious, featuring razor sharp wit and epic performances.  A show that knows no bounds and has no equals.  Unfortunately, it’s also a show that most people can’t watch.

A cross between Seinfeld, Mad Men, Sex in the City, and Gilmore Girls you’d be hard-pressed to find a better show that the Emmy award winning Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.  And yet there are still a ton of people out there who haven’t seen it and never will.  And unless you currently have Amazon Prime you are likely one of those people.

What can you do to change this fact?  You could take a page out of Midge’s playbook and make a brisket to offer to Jeff Bezos in hopes of improving your situation.  Or you could suck it up and pony up for an Amazon Prime subscription, which is quite frankly, worth having anyway.  But if neither of those two options work for you, there really is nothing else you can do, unless if you want to risk trying to stream the show on the dark web through nefarious means.

I get why Amazon does it this way.  If you create exclusive content that people just can’t live without, they’ll be forced to sign up for Prime.  And the more people that sign up for Prime, the more money you’ll have to create even more programming that people can’t live without, and the cycle will continue.

But this bothers me.  Award winning content shouldn’t be hard to find.  It shouldn’t be locked away behind a pay wall, available only to those who can afford to watch it.  Simply put, this isn’t fair.  Because as good as the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is, it’s not worth busting your budget for.  Neither is Stranger Things or anything offered on Showtime or Starz for that matter.  Nothing is.  And yet there is plenty of content on each of these platforms that is worth watching.  For instance, I would have loved to watch the new Star Trek on the new CBS streaming service but I wasn’t going to pay a separate fee to do so.  When Disney launches their own stand-alone streaming service in the near future that’ll be yet another service that will feature content that I may be interested in but would never pay for.

Of course, there are some workarounds.  You might be able to swap subscription service passwords with a friend.  Trading your Netflix password for access to Hulu and vice versa.  But that’s not going to cover all your bases.  There are too many disparate services nowadays to make swapping a viable option.  Not to mention the fact that these services could crack down on that practice if they wanted to.  No, what you need is a better option.  A way to ensure that you’ll be able to watch content on any platform, any time you want.

What I’m proposing then is the creation of a MoviePass for TV platforms.  A monthly subscription (say $20 a month) that will get you limited access to every streaming platform that there is.  If you’re a Netflix power user you’d still need to keep your Netflix subscription to ensure that you’ll be able to watch obscure documentaries to your heart’s content.  But if you’re not into all that, and you only want to binge watch House of Cards or Orange is the New Black when they come out, then you’d be covered with this cross platform pass that will let you binge a limited number of shows per platform per month.  In theory, this pass wouldn’t cut into the existing user bases for these platforms.  Rather, they would just add users who wouldn’t otherwise be crossing their borders.

Just think about how great this PlatformPass would be.  If you’re politically inclined you could use this pass to watch Who Is America on Showtime and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO, without having to subscribe to either HBO or Showtime.  If you’re a Sci-Fi nerd you can use it to watch Star Trek on CBS, Dark Matter on Netflix, and Future Man on Hulu, all without need to subscribe three different services.  It’ll be the dream of A La Carte programming come to life, the dream that we’ve always wanted Cable TV to deliver for us.

Of course PlatformPass will never come to fruition.  And even if it did, it probably would never work, ala MoviePass. But that’s not going to stop me from hoping.  From wishing that there was a better way.  A way for everyone in the world to enjoy the greatness that is the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, regardless if they have Amazon Prime or not.

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Is PlatformPass the Greatest Idea Ever?

Here’s a quick look at everything that caught my eye this week:

Fat Transplant 

Want a quick and easy way to lose weight?  Try a fat transplant!

As New Atlas puts it, “There’s good fat, and there’s bad fat – although we mostly only hear about the latter. Finding ways to decrease levels of bad (white) fat and increase good (brown) fat could help us lose weight and avoid obesity-related illness, and now researchers at Columbia Engineering have developed a transplant method, where white fat is removed from the body, cultivated in a lab for a few weeks, then reinserted into the body as brown fat.”

This method could be a real game-changer when it comes to managing the ever worsening obesity epidemic in America. 

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A Car That Runs On Air 

A group of Egyptian students have designed a car capable of running purely on oxygen.  

According to Reuters: 

“The students say their vehicle can hit 40 kilometers an hour and last 30 kilometers before needing to be refueled, and it only costs about 18,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,008.40) to build.

‘The operational cost of the vehicle… will be almost nothing. You are basically using compressed air. You are not paying for fuel and also you do not need cooling,’ said Mahmoud Yasser, a student who helped design it.

The team is now looking to raise funding to expand the project and mass produce the vehicles. They believe they can eventually get the vehicles to top 100 kilometers an hour and run for 100 kilometers before needing to come up for air.”

Hopefully their claim isn’t full of hot air.

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The Future of Car Dashboards

Speaking of cars two tech giants are working on ways to enhance the entertainment options you’ll have available to you during your drive.  We’ll start with the news from Apple.

As Fortune puts it:

“Apple tends to be tight-lipped about its research and development efforts, especially when it comes to car technology. But a patent application filed by the company this month gives a glimpse into an intriguing product it may offer in the future: a smart windshield.

According to Patently Apple, a blog that scours the latest patents filed by the Cupertino giant, Apple filed a patent last week in Europe for an augmented-reality powered windshield system, which it termed a Heads-Up Display.

While innovations detailed in corporate patents often don’t see the light of day, some of the ideas that Apple is exploring are interesting. Notably, its AR windshield may allow passengers in different vehicles to conduct FaceTime calls with each other.”

Meanwhile, Amazon is working on a way to integrate Alexa into your car’s dashboard.

As Mashable puts it, “Amazon doesn’t just want to compete with Google and Apple in your home. It’s coming for your car, too. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant will soon be “Hey Alexa” ready through the car infotainment system — a territory Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have inhabited for years. “

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Speed of Light Object Recognition

One of the main pushes in today’s cutting edge Artificial Intelligence research is to imbue computers with senses, for example, with the ability to see. Current attempts to do so are a little bit clunky, as you first need a camera or other sensor to record an image, then have the computer try to figure out what it is looking at, and then act on that information.  It all happens in a manner of seconds but that’s not good enough when it comes to putting AI in control of life and death situations, such as with Driverless Cars.  Thankfully, there’s a new 3D printed device, modeled after the human brain, capable of identifying objects at the speed of light.

Nexpected explains:

“…a driverless car using the technology could react instantaneously – even faster than it does using current technology – to a stop sign. With a device based on the system, the car would ‘read’ the sign as soon as the light from the sign hits it, as opposed to having to ‘wait’ for the car’s camera to image the object and then use its computers to figure out what the object is.

Technology based on the invention could also be used in microscopic imaging and medicine, for example, to sort through millions of cells for signs of disease, researchers said. ‘This work opens up fundamentally new opportunities to use an artificial intelligence-based passive device to instantaneously analyze data, images and classify objects,’ said Aydogan Ozcan, a professor at UCLA.”

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

Here’s a quick look at everything I’ve been thinking about lately:

The Oscars are getting criticized for adding a new category called “Achievement in Popular Film”, which is a way for the Academy to acknowledge the accomplishments of a movie that isn’t critically acclaimed yet still becomes a blockbuster.  Black Panther would have swept this award last year. Infinity War will likely be the favorite this year.  But there’s a different category that I wish they would add an award for: Achievement in an Opening Credit Sequence.  These montages set the mood for the movie or make me completely lose interest in it before it starts.  Some of them are really quite spectacular.  It’s time that we acknowledged their greatness.

I always try to slip on my shoes, even if the laces are already tied, and even if they aren’t slip-ons, rather than just untie them and retie them like a normal person.  I’m sure I can’t be the only one who does this.  Perhaps sneaker and shoe companies should consider this phenomenon when designing shoes and make the back heel of shoes collapsible so as to make them easier to slide on.

I wish there was an IMDB for writers so that I could know what my favorite authors were working on next.

Here’s a new dating concept: Escape room dating.  Put groups of 6-8 single people in an Escape room (3 or 4 members of each sex) and set them loose to try and problem solve their way out of the room.  It’ll be a fun ice-breaker as you’ll get to see everyone in a relaxed atmosphere.  You’ll also get to see how everyone responds to pressure and how well they can play with others.  You can rule out dating the hyper-competitive know-it-alls and give a chance to the shy, quiet type that you worked really well with, the same person who you might have otherwise never spoken to if not for the game.

Here’ a new restaurant concept: Roast master.  A restaurant specializing in Roast Beef, where the theme of the restaurant is insult comedy.  Comedy Central Roasts play in the waiting room while you wait for your table and live roast battles take place on the stage while you dine.  In between battles, the waiters and bus boys come around to serve you food, refill your drinks, and insult you to your face.  On the way out you can try to throw a tomato at a heckler just like at a Renaissance Festival or get revenge on your waiter while they sit in a dunk tank hurling even more insults in your direction.

Speaking of roasts I think it would be great if Comedy Central roasted a regular person, not just an over the hill celebrity like Bruce Willis.  The knock on this idea is that comedians wouldn’t be interested in roasting someone they didn’t know, and the audience wouldn’t watch a roast when they wouldn’t know any of the inside jokes, etc.  But as Roast Battle shows you don’t necessarily need to know the person to laugh at a good insult.  Plus you could minimize some of that by introducing the roastee via a video montage at the beginning of the show.  I would even volunteer myself to be the very first roastee!

One of my biggest pet peeves is that some of the photos that I take, which look great when viewed on my phone, don’t translate into the smaller window frame on Instagram.  Case in point: a recent full length shot of a 200 foot tall tree in Olympic National Park.  When viewed on my phone’s gallery you can see the whole tree.  When trying to post to Instagram you have to crop out half the tree if you want to post the image.  This is annoying.  I wish there was a way when lining up the shot that I can see what portion of it was going to fit on Instagram.  Perhaps I could have changed the angle of my shot accordingly.  I wonder then if there is a way to create a plug-in that you could download that would overlay an Instagram optimization frame over your phone’s view finder.

Is it just me or are electric razors really loud?  I feel like I’m disturbing my neighbors every time I shave in the morning.  If I was married I would most definitely be disturbing my spouse.  Perhaps we should invent a silencer for electric razors to muffle the sound?

Speaking of neighbors I think it would be cool if there was a way to create a CB radio network for apartment buildings, like there is for truckers, so that you could communicate with your neighbors.  This way you can send out an open-ended message to anyone in the neighborhood that you are down to hang out to watch the big-game if anyone wanted to come over, or, more importantly, so that you can yell at a noisy neighbor to keep it down, without having to confront them face to face.

Considering how much we use our hands throughout the day (and how dirty they could get) doesn’t it make more sense to greet one another, not with a handshake, but by touching our shoes together?  As popular as soccer is around the world I’m surprised there aren’t more greetings that involve foot to foot contact.

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Is a roast themed restaurant the Greatest Idea Ever?


#1,352 – Pioneer

A new venture capital fund, known as the Pioneer Fund, aims to give funding and opportunity to aspiring entrepreneurs who may be going overlooked in today’s society.  Women, minorities, and people from low-income families could stand to benefit the most from this initiative.

Pioneer plans on doing so by creating a search engine for people.  Sort of.  Pioneer’s goal is it make it easier for talented people, such as aspiring entrepreneurs and budding scientists, to get discovered, and to then nurture their talent.  In addition to receiving funding, selected “Pioneers” will also have access to expert advisers in a variety of fields to serve as mentors and role models.  In return for setting them on a path to success, Pioneer will receive a small stake in the companies they are starting.

In today’s day and age of information overload, where access to tools have enabled everyone and their mother to become a creator, the marketplace has become flooded with content making it harder for people to get discovered.  How do you separate out the wheat from the chaff?  That’s where Pioneer would come in.

The New York Times explains:

“The group, which is being announced on Thursday, plans to use the internet-era tools of global communication and crowdsourcing to solicit and help select promising candidates in a variety of fields, along with evaluations by experts. Its goal is to put more science and less happenstance into the process of talent discovery — and reach more people, wherever they are in the world.

‘We’re trying to build a kind of search engine for finding great people with talent, ambition and potential,’ said Daniel Gross, 27, the group’s founder.

Pioneer joins a growing number of efforts by foundations, nonprofits and some companies to address the ‘opportunity gap’ in America and worldwide. They all begin with the recognition that skills and talent are far more evenly distributed than opportunity. Talented people suffer — one study called them ‘lost Einsteins’ — but so does the economy from the loss of ideas and wealth they could have produced.”

I for one am curious to see if Pioneer will succeed in their mission.  Hopefully, they will, and thousands of “Lost Einsteins” from around the World will finally get their chance to shine.  Myself included?

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Is Pioneer the Greatest Idea Ever?

I’ve always had a fascination with collecting things.  It started with baseball cards when I was a kid, then morphed from there.  A few years ago I became obsessed with collecting back issues of Wired magazine.  Nowadays, the objects of my affection are antiques and used books.  I have four bookcases in my apartment now, one a converted closet, one a converted magazine rack, and two revolving cases capable of spinning around on an axis when you want to show off your collection or just gaze upon it lovingly when bored.

Gazing upon my collection is something that I do often.  Actually reading the books not so much.  Perhaps, I’m just lazy or maybe I just like the idea of books more than the actual book itself.  I’m not sure.  But either way I get made fun of for collecting things that I’ll never use.  And that’s okay by me.  That’s because I’ve always maintained that there was a method to my madness.  That I wasn’t alone in my hoarding ways.  And now it turns out that maybe I was right.  Lots of people do what I do – collect books, magazines, and journals with no intention of ever reading them.  There’s even a name now for this phenomenon: the antilibrary.  And it’s something that everyone should have.

As Inc. puts it, “An antilibrary is a powerful reminder of your limitations — the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half-know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself toward the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning.

‘People don’t walk around with anti-résumés telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did,’ [author Nassim Nicholas] Taleb claims.

Why? Perhaps because it is a well-known psychological fact that it’s the most incompetent who are the most confident of their abilities and the most intelligent who are full of doubt. (Really. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.) It’s equally well established that the more readily you admit you don’t know things, the faster you learn.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I do actually read books on occasion.  About twenty or so per year.  I’d like to get to the point where I can reach my goal of 52 per year, or one per week, but that’s been a hard sell so far.  I recently sold my PS4 to help remove one potential distraction from my life, but I’ll likely have a much harder time getting rid of all the mountains in the world that continue to beckon me.  It’s comforting to know though that I no longer have to stress about not getting through my reading list.  Just having one is all that matters.  So today, in honor of National Book Lovers Day, get out there and start creating your very own antilibrary!  After all, you haven’t really lived until you’ve surrounded yourself with books you’ll never read.

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Is an Antilibrary the Greatest Idea Ever?