July 20, 2016

Recent Scientific and Entrepreneurial Solutions

By Chelsea Follett
Coding Information Atom by Atom

“Atomic-scale memory” may represent a breakthrough in data storage. The innovation stores information by arranging chlorine atoms on a bed of copper in a cold environment. The pattern of spaces between the chlorine atoms can then be translated into regular binary code. Right now, reading the stored information takes too long for practical application and information cannot be stored in warm temperatures. By testing different surfaces besides copper and different types of atoms besides chlorine, researchers hope to improve the device’s stability and practicality.

Lab-Grown Tissue Allays Arthritis Pain

Lab-grown “living hips” may soon ease Arthritis sufferers’ joint pain. American medical researchers have generated hip-shaped tissue implants that are genetically engineered to release arthritis-soothing anti-inflammatory molecules when the patient takes a drug. This technology holds the potential to one day prevent, or at least postpone, standard metal and plastic prosthetic joint replacements—which last only two decades and carry a risk of infection. The new biological implants are grown using a patient’s own stem cells, so there is no risk of rejection, and are as strong as regular human joints.

Sunflower Salvation in Burundi

Burundi is a country marked by poverty, political instability and violence. Despite these conditions, a large cohort of mostly women farmers has managed to tap into a hitherto ignored but largely profitable resource – sunflowers. By cultivating and processing the plants with the help of local charity Warubizi, many in the group have been able to profit from this venture and improve their standard of living. With better access to capital, the group hopes to expand production into the future.

Smart Villages in India

Social Entrepreneur Ashok Das is pioneering a project which could help to bring solar energy to some of the more than 200 million rural Indians who live off-grid.  He was inspired while visiting relatives in a non-electrified village. "I remember asking my niece, 'what can I bring you?'” recalled Mr. Das, “[She said] 'Uncle, I have everything, just bring me light.'" By designing and implementing smart grid technology, which can be managed remotely, Mr. Das has been able to bring power and light to villagers who had been living without both, providing energy for important tasks such as irrigation in agriculture and new microenterprises.