Good News #108 - #111 - Health, Transportation, Amazing Discoveries, Energy


In these turbulent times some GOOD NEWS! Below you'll find four GOOD NEWS ideas to inform and inspire you, including...

  • A simple, effective way to purify WATER
  • A "straddle" bus that beats the traffic  
  • A new paradigm on "long life" and access to ancient DNA
  • Better batteries for electric cars

Also a few LINKS to share...
I want to personally invite you to check out the links below --- the latest editions of our newsletter and our next ONLINE professional development class:

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #108 through #111.

-- Joel

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


 Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center


HEALTH photo #108 - Silver Filter cleans Water Fast
Everyone knows how important clean water is to good health. And yet billions of people around the world do not have access to this precious resource.

Now, thanks to Yi Cui of Stanford University, there may be a simple, effective way to purify water. His process starts with an assumption that filtering out bacteria from polluted water is not enough. So his team added two elements to the filter design:  the first is silver nano wires because silver is known to kill bacteria; second is a small electrical current running through carbon nanotubes which are part of the filter design.

The energy used is 80% less than is typically used by filtration systems and it can process a much larger amount of water in the same time. Key to commercializing the process will be the development of low-cost silver wire which will be driven by demand. A couple of big government orders could create just such a demand.

The Economist magazine: Oct 23, 2010, page 98

Google: "Water filter with silver threads"

PHOTO: Cotton fibers dipped in silver nanowires.
Credit: Yi Cui, Stanford University.



ChinaBUSInnovation #109 - China Invents the "Straddle" Bus
How many times have you been stuck in traffic and said to yourself, "If I could just elevate my car and float over this mess!"  Someone in China had the same idea and acted on it.

The idea is simple: the bus is elevated on side walls with wheels inside them so that it rides above the traffic. These vertical extensions are wider than the cars it straddles. While the cars stay in their lanes, the bus passes over them. Now, I see a couple of problems, like drivers wanting to change lanes as the straddle bus passes over them. But that can probably be dealt with by special lighting and sound signals from the bus.

What is important here is that the Chinese are creating another "lane" of traffic for buses on the already existing roadway. And, because they are just building their new highways, they can plan for this technology.

The Utne Reader, Nov-Dec, 2010, page 19

Google: "Straddle bus", "Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co."

URL: To photos and VIDEO source at this link:


ArticBacteria #110 - Really Long-lived Bacteria

Bacteria on the Artic sea floor have been discovered that have been hibernating for up to 100 million years! They were found as part of a study of biological activity in sea sediment by the Norweigans. Their discover changes the paradigm on "long life" and access to ancient DNA.

New Scientist, Sept. 2, 2010, page 16



SEEO-batteries #111 - Better Batteries for Electric Cars
Batteries are so important to moving from fossil fuel to electricity because our major transportation modes of cars and buses and trucks will need better batteries to make the change. A researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has figured out a better way to make lithium batteries, so that they are safer, longer lasting and easier to manufacture.

The researcher, Hany Eitouni, has formed a company, Seeo, and is building a pilot factory to produce his new battery design. This could have positive effects for both transportation and energy storage of electricity produced by wind generators.

Technology Review, Sept/Oct 2010, page 56

URL: http://www.seeo.com/technology.html


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 #97 - #102 - Food, Medicine, Public Health, Materials, Transportation

Hello again,

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

  • two new problem-solving food ideas
  • a medical lab you can hold in your hand
  • at last a solution for cockroaches 
  • a new kind of self-repairing "plastic mud" 
  • lighter-than-air ships are coming

Also two LINKS to share...

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

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #97 through #102.

-- Joel

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


Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

GOOD NEWS IDEAS #97 - #102


Camels#97 - Camel Steaks
Australia is looking to commercialize camel as a healthy, low-fat, tasty red meat for the rest of the world. Camels were introduced into Australia in the 1840's as pack animals, carrying goods across the outback. Some of them were released into the wild and now Australia has the largest wild camel herd in the world numbering around one million. Because they have no predators in Australia, the herd is doubling in size every decade.

This will be the second animal added to Australia's "wild meat" menu, with kangaroo the first. The two big challenges for both are: 1) harvesting them in a sanitary, safe manner and 2) convincing people to eat them. An interesting factoid is that kangaroos produce much less digestive methane than domestic animals, so harvesting and eating kangaroo instead of eating beef or lamb is good for the climate.

It is easy to turn away from these protein sources, but as human population continues to grow, we will have to expand our choices if we want people to have enough to eat.

"Outback Steakhouse," by Marina Kamenev, The Atlantic, April 2010, p 17

Google "Camel steak"


URL: http://www.slashfood.com/2008/02/01/um-camel-steak-tastes-like-beef

Wheatstemrust-sm#98 - New Wheat Is Resistant to Dangerous Fungus

Although it did not make many headlines the last two years, there has been a global threat to wheat. A new kind of stem rust called Ug99 appeared in Africa and began to spread around the world. A world consortium of geneticists and wheat experts, funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, sprang into action and have found a new wheat variation that
is immune to Ug99 and, as an added bonus, has higher yields.

Without this discovery, the wheat crops throughout Africa, India and Asia could have been devastated in the next two years leading to world famine. Three cheers to the Gates Foundation and the scientists who worked so hard for this success!

Google: "Stem Rust Resistant Wheat"




Claros Diagnostics #99 - Medical Lab in Your Hand
I've written earlier about paper lab tests and cell phone connected lab tests. This arena of technology is exploding. April Popular Science reports on a micro-laboratory that is the size of a credit card costing only $1.00 that can test for dozens of diseases simultaneously. The "lab card" reader is the size of a book. Battery powered, this device costs $100.00 and replaces machines that can cost $100,000.00! The company behind this is Claros Diagnostics working with bioengineer Sam Sia from Columbia University. Great pictures and diagrams, by the way, at the Popular Science article.

"The Lab that Fits in Your Hand" Pop Science, April 2010, p.48-49

Google: Claros Diagnostics




Flames-sm #100 - Cockroach Hell
Cockroaches have been the bane of humanity forever. They carry disease. They bite. They smell. They spoil food. And a lot more. The problem is they are also extremely hardy. In one space experiment, cockroaches were subjected to outerspace vacuum for hours and revived almost immediately when given oxygen. Now it looks like their pestering days are going to be over, at least inside human habitats. It looks like a pest control company, Rentokil, has found a non-chemical, quick way of killing the insects no matter where they are hiding. The do it with heat. The raise the temperature of the building to 56 degrees C, which leaves the household goods like furniture, drapes and bedding, unharmed. But the heat is lethal to insects at all stages of their life cycle from eggs to adulthood.

The challenge is to make sure all parts of the dwelling get heated to that temperature. But with thermal recorders as part of the process, that house can be monitored to make sure that happens. And some pieces of furniture, like mattresses, may have to have special treatment. Oh, the heat kills bed bugs, too.

"Anyone for Fried Cockroach?"  New Scientist, March 6, 2010, p. 17

Google:  Rentokil heat treatment

URL: http://www.rentokil.com/blog/turn-up-the-heat-for-cockroaches-and-bedbugs/


Plastic-mud #101 - Plastic Mud?
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have been experimenting with nano materials and found a very interesting concoction that may be able to replace plastic in many uses. Believe it or not, it is made up of a mixture of water and clay plus a tiny quantity of a thickening agent called sodium polyacrylate and an organic molecular glue. The material is transparent and elastic with significant mechanical strength even though it is really 98% water! It has one more amazing quality: if it fails, it can repair itself and regain the strength it had before the failure.

"Smart Mud Could Be the New Plastic" New Scientist, January 23, 2010, p. 17





500x_LockheedLEMVConcept-SM #102 - The Dirigibles Are Coming!
I have been watching and waiting for the return of lighter-than-air ships--blimps and dirigibles--and two projects are moving this technology closer to reality. Ohio Airships is planning in the coming year to build a big lifter that can carry 22 tons and deliver it where there is no air strip or significant infrastructure. This could be good, not only for businesses, but also emergency relief situations like Haiti. And, while Ohio Airship is working on their design, Lockheed Martin is also designing a 21st century hybrid airship, the P-791. Their funding comes from the military, but it is clear that there are many commercial applications awaiting this technology

"The Floating Freighter" Popular Science, March, 2010, p.30

"Dirigible Dreams" by Lane Wallace, The Atlantic, April 2010, p.27

Google:  "Ohio Airships", "P-791

Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin EMV Concept 






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 #67 - #71 --- Cooking Safely, Old Sneakers, Cheaper Solor, Fuel Economy, 21st Century Master's Degree

Hello again...

Below are five more GOOD NEWS ideas that expand the possibilities for the future...

I teamed up again with long-time colleague, Debbe Kennedy for INNOVATING in HARD TIMES 2, an ONLINE global dialogue where we continued the discussion about innovating at a special place I call "the verge". If you missed it, you'll find the recorded audio/visual program at the following link: http://www.puttingourdifferencestowork.com/dialogues-library.html

I also invite you to see an online VIDEO preview of my 2009 video release, INNOVATION at the VERGE at http://www.innovationattheverge.com. On the site, you'll find information on supporting materials, including a VIDEO Book Review I created to share my thoughts about the book, Putting Our Differences to Work by Debbe Kennedy related to innovating at the verge. 

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #67 through #71...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


CleanCooker-sm#67 - Clean Air Cooking
for the developing world.

Very few of the readers of this blog have to worry about dirty air in their dwelling from cooking fires. But for almost half the world's population, it is a problem because their fires produce carbon monoxide (deadly) and benzene(noxious). More than one million people each year are killed by these gases.

At Colorado State University in Fort Collins, led by Professor Bryan Willson, a team of researchers have developed an inexpensive indoor stove that cuts bad emissions by 80% and uses less fuel doing it. You can buy the stove for as little as $10 in some countries.

This kind of technology is easy to ignore, yet it makes the lives of billions of people better.

Google:  Bryan Willson, "B-1100 Cookstove"



AirJordanGreen-sm #68
Nike Going Green
It is good to see sustained commitment by global companies to make their products and processes greener. Nike continues to focus their product development on greener shoes. But, they don't talk about it much because some of their customers think it means a lesser quality product.

Example: the newest Air Jordans' sole is made up of old Nike sneakers that have been ground up. But their customers are looking for fashion and feel, so being friendly to the environment isn't important to them.

As a result, Nike doesn't advertise the environmentally good side of Air Jordans. Here's a thought: why not have Mike come back and be the spokesman for Eco-Nike efforts?

Google:  "Nike eco-friendly"




Solararray #69 - It's Getting Cheaper!
Even as Congress is trying to stimulate green energy, the marketplace has changed so dramatically that the key ingredient for solar cells--crystaline silicon--is getting cheaper faster. Two reasons for this:
1) demand overall for silicon is down in the down economy, and 2) new plants have just come on line. CEO of SunPower, Richard Swanson, believes that within five years, his company will be able to produce solar panels that generate electricity at $1.00 per watt which is almost 50% less than today.

Solar roofs are looking more likely every year. Think about what it would mean to have your house generating much of the energy you use. That's where we are headed with solar.

Google: SunPower, Exelon




Fastkins-470-0509-smller #70 - Golf Balls and Little Cars
Those who play golf know that golf balls have tiny little dimples on them to make them fly through the air better. A company out of Dallas, Skinzwraps, has developed second skin for cars that use the same technology--little dimples that cover the car like a skin.

The end result is 20% better fuel economy. It costs $1800 to do a wrap right now, but, of course, that cost will go down if it gets popular. And that's the problem: it doesn't look cool. But, who knows, maybe some celebrity will get his or her car "fast-wrapped" and it will become an energy saving craze!

Google:  fastskinz,  golf ball aerodynamics




Mathandscience #71 - Professional Science Master's Degrees
Sheila Tobias, a columnist for Science News,  presents a powerful argument for the importance of a special kind of science degree for the 21st century, the Professional Science Master's Degree. She believes such a degree will be the equivalent of an MBA in the 20th century. I agree with her. Those who have a firm grasp of science and math will have great advantage in leading technology firms and firms who interface with technology.

The heart of this new degree is a combination of graduate level science and math coupled to a new field of science and/or technology with management training. Think about the power of someone educated this way and trained to be a scientist/manager/leader, not just a scientist/technologist.

By the way, this is another "verge" where two very different sets of disciplines are coming together to create a new kind of manager/researcher.

Google:  "Professional Science Master's degree"


Visit the Joel Barker's COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center 


Good News #59 - #66 - Video Games, Digital Decor, Stronger Concrete, Auto Energy, Robotic Wheel Chairs, Digital Duds, Cow Power, Solar Plane


Below are eight GOOD NEWS ideas that again show us new possibilities...

Based popular demand,  INNOVATING in HARD TIMES 2 will be held on JUNE 16 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT at the Global Dialogue Center. I will again be joining my longtime colleague, Debbe Kennedy to take our discussion to the next level. Hope you can join us!  LEARN MORE and REGISTER at this link: http://tinyurl.com/JUNE16Dialogue  Allow a few seconds for the url to open; login info will be sent via return email. 

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #59 through #66...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author



Videogames #59 - Videos Games Help Your Eyesight
It actually started six years ago with Daphne Bavelier's research on gaming and its effects on children's eyesight. She concluded that action gaming actually made eyesight more acute and better at doing certain tasks. Now, her team has shown that playing action computer games improves your ability to perceive contrast, which is especially important in dark situations.

The improvement from playing action games was 43% over those who just played non-action games like the Sims. This improvement may lead to a treatment of "lazy eye" or amblyopia which 3% of people in Europe and North America have. Already tests are starting to see if it can be effective.

Google:  Daphne Bavelier, Video game eye improvement, "lazy eye"



Digitaldecor #60 - Digital Decor for Kid's Bedrooms
I had been tracking digital clothing which allows you to change the color or pattern of your clothes but I missed an obvious use for digital materials--wallpaper!  "Smartbricks" is a material developed in Israel to make wall tiles that display full-color images. The really cool thing is that once you have chosen the image, it stays with no additional power. You only need to add power to change it. The tiles reflect light rather than produce it, so when you turn the lights off, there is nothing to distract you.

The company that developed this technology is now working on smart tiles that can show moving images. Smartbricks will debut in Japan by the end of this year thanks to Shimizu, a construction company. Right now it is very expensive--about $2500 per square meter; however, we know that as manufacturing ramps up that price will plummet. 
A thought: is this the beginning of the "holodeck" from Star Trek?
Google:  Shimizu,  "smartbricks"

URL:  http://www.screens.tv/article/11643/SmartBricks_will_turn_walls_into_displays.html



Nanoconcrete#61 - Nanomaterials Improve Concrete

Making concrete last longer and be stronger is an important goal for the 21st century. I wrote about a coating developed in Wisconsin that extends the life of concrete. Now comes a “nano” additive that dramatically reduces the penetration of salt into concrete. By reducing this penetration, the concrete stays stronger and breaks down much more slowly. And,  in the long run, this saves money for taxpayers!

This is actually a verge product because the concrete engineers got their inspiration from emulsifiers that are used in foods to thicken and give texture. My father was a scientist whose specialty was emulsifiers.

URL:  http://ciks.cbt.nist.gov/~bentz/PartIpaperfinal.pdf


#62 - Energy for automobiles
From an unlikely source, MIT engineers have found a way to make electricity to power the electronics and charge the batteries in heavy vehicles. They have combined shock absorbers with electric generation. They call it GenShock. It converts the up and down actions of the shock absorber into electricity thus reducing the work of the alternator. The end result for heavy vehicles is a 10% improvement in gas mileage. For companies like Wal-Mart, Fed Ex, UPS, and Coca Cola, this could be millions of dollars per year in savings while reducing CO2 emissions.

Levant Industries, the company the students started,  is producing the shocks under a license with MIT. This is another great example of innovation at the verge!
You gotta love those MIT folks. They are really contributing to a better world!

Google: GenShock, MIT electric shock absorber

URL: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/shock-absorbers-0209.html




RoboticWheelChair #63 - Robotic Wheel Chairs

Most of us don't have to use wheelchairs as a form of transportation. But for those who do (including some of our soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan), new developments offer profound possibilities. At the University of Zaragoza in Spain, researchers have developed a wheelchair that responds to the thoughts of its rider.

A computer interacts with the rider/driver and the powered wheelchair. It starts by using a laser to scan the area in front of the wheel chair creating a 3-D map of that space on a computer screen. The "driver" then looks at a specific point on the map to indicate where he or she wants the chair to go. The computer matches up the location the eyes have identified with the map and drives the wheelchair to that location, avoiding any obstacles that might be in the way. For those too disabled to even use their hands, this will be a godsend.

Google: "thought-controlled Wheelchairs" (Image: University of Zaragoza)

 URL:  http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227065.900-robotic-wheelchair-controlled-by-thought-alone.html


Ink-tshirt #64 - New Digital Duds for Dudes

In #60 above, I wrote about digital wall covering and joked about digital clothing. The joke's on me because a Japanese company has developed a way to put a flexible light-emitting ink onto a cloth surface. The ink is tough enough to withstand multiple washings. The process is still very rough--only one color at a time and chunky pixels. But the company is experimenting with using ink jet printers to put down the glowing ink in much finer detail and believes that within five years they will have a commercial product. The light-emitting, digital T Shirt is on its way!

Google: Light emitting T Shirt (Image: Dai Nippon)

URL: http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2009/04/light_emitting_poster_from_dai_nippon_printing.html



Cowface #65 - Cow Poo Power & Fertilizer

Cow manure has been a big problem for at least the last 25 years as more cows have been put into larger and larger facilities. Now a Canadian company, EarthRenew, has solved the poo problem while also creating electricity. Their goal was to convert manure to a dry fertilizer which can be more easily stored and moved than just wet manure.

What they have done is simple genius. They start with natural gas to power a gas turbine generator to produce electricity. They sell 90% of the power into the grid at a profit. Then they take the waste heat coming from the gas turbine and use it to dry the cow poo which is then compressed into manure granules. The heat also kills the pathogens that may be lurking in the liquid manure.

Rich in nutrients, these granules slowly release the fertilizer over time, reducing the need for repeated doses.

EarthRenew believes that this could work for pigs and maybe even for human waste.  This is a great example of turning a problem into an opportunity.

Google:  EarthRenew

URL: http://www.earthrenew.com/



Solarpoweredairplane #66 - Solar-Powered Airplane
This is a dream for environmentally concerned pilots. An electric airplane powered by solar cells and some back-up batteries for night flight. This is a Swiss project led by Bertrand Piccard whose family has a long history of flight. The plane will carry one pilot, has 12,000 solar cells coating the wings, and four 10 horsepower engines that move it along at a leisurely 45 miles per hour.

Piccard's goal is to circumnavigate the world over a period of weeks, landing periodically to show off the technology and change pilots. The around-the-world target is for sometime in the year of 2011, but they plan first flight for September of 2009. I'm betting it will get huge publicity. It is from experiments like this that big ideas have come.

Google: "Bertand Piccard", "solar-powered airplane" (Image: Graham Murdoch)

URL: http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-amp-space/article/2009-05/racing-sun

Check out another electric plane: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2008/08/the-company-cla/


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 #41 - #49---Energy, Research, Materials, Medicine, Transportation, Ecosystems, Climate Change


This time, I'm sharing NINE "good news" ideas that will be shaping our future. I've included:

  • a source of a great overview on ENERGY
  • a breakthrough battery
  • a new ocean exploration vehicle
  • a paint that "heals" its own scratches
  • an electronic pill
  • a new antibiotics paradigm
  • how asphalt is being created from old tires
  • an answer to how do you make more fertile soil?
  • news about whiter clouds cooling the earth

On March 31, as I previously mentioned, I teamed up with long-time colleague, Debbe Kennedy for an online dialogue at the Global Dialogue Center on the timely topic of  "Innovating in Hard Times" We explored the ideas explored in my new 2009 film, Innovation at the Verge and five qualities for leadership that are essential for innovation in the 21st Century. I wanted report back that over 400 leaders and innovators turned out for this important conversation. They came from across industries and areas of expertise from 20 countries, including at least one person from all 50 states in the United States. We shared best practices and learned a great deal from one another. Based on the value attendees expressed, we plan to do an encore. Should you want to be included, please leave a comment to let us know how to reach you. 

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #41 through #49...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


NGcover_energy-sm #41 - A Great Energy Overview

National Geographic has produced an excellent energy overview as part of its March 2009 issue. It covers the spectrum of solutions, both for producing sustainable electricity and liquid fuels.

National Geographic  March 2009  "ENERGY: Repowering Our Planet."

Online URL: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/energy-issue/table-of-contents



Battery-MITNews-Donna-Coveneyv2 #42 - A Breakthrough Battery
We should give MIT a special award from the nation for all the good ideas it is generating. Now, its researchers have found a new way to make lithium batteries that allows them to be charged in a matters of seconds instead of hours!  This a true paradigm shift because it so dramatically changes the boundaries of batteries and the kinds of problems batteries will be able to solve.  Charging your car after 250 miles of driving will take less time than going instead the station to buy a cup of coffee. And, of course, this new approach may work with other battery technologies as well.

One caveat: you need to be able to push a lot of electrons into the batteries to get fast charging. You won't be able to do that at home, even with a 220 circuit, but it will still be faster than the old batteries and you won't care because your car is charging overnight.  But, the need for lots of electrons fast keeps the value of the "gas" station. If it is properly retro-fitted, you could recharge your car there rapidly. And you will be happy to pay for the convenience. So, it could be a win/win/wi--for gas stations, for car owners and for the environment.

Google: MIT battery breakthrough, fast-charging lithium batteries
Photo: MIT News Donna Coveney




4-5-2009 6-38-50 PM #43 - Sailing the Oceans Blue
Most people never think about the following fact:  we know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about the floors of our oceans. A new vessel has been designed and commissioned by NOAA to start to change all that. Its permanent mission is to explore the deepest parts of the seas. It will be using an advanced sonar system to map the oceans' floors and deploying robots to examine unexplored territory. It will also be communicating back to home base using a very high bandwidth which means video signals from the robots will be good enough for television. And, of course, it will be inventorying creatures that have never been seen before.

For your children who want adventure and exploration, the ocean is one of the two most important last frontiers.

Image: NOAA - Ocean Explorer Site





Nissan-Scratch-Guard-Coat #44 - Paint that Fixes Its Own Scratches

The end of scratches on cars could be just around the corner. A company in Illinois has developed a technology that lets car paint fix itself, almost like blood clotting. While cars will probably be is most visible use, it will have a huge impact on paints that are used to protect very expensive machinery, heavy equipment, even oil rigs where the paint is being constantly attacked by the weather.

Google: self-healing paint  "Autonomic Materials"





IPill-Phillips-v2 #45 - "The Electronic Pill"
Think about swallowing a pill to take care of an illness. Except this pill is unlike any other because it is electronic. As it passes through your digestive system, it takes measurements of your health and then releases specific drugs to heal you with just the right dosage at just the right place. And when it is done, you simply pass it out.

Google: iPill; electronic pill




The-Next-Phage-part #46 - A Whole New Paradigm of Antibiotics
Here's the short form of this new concept: Phages(a special form of viruses) can kill drug resistant bacteria safely. The long form can be found in an extraordinary article in Popular Science April 2009. It turns out that Eastern European countries have been using, cultivating, and improving phages for antibiotics for decades. Yet, in the USA, they are not allowed. The irony is that prior to the rise of penicillin, doctors in the USA routinely used phages.

We have a antibiotic resistance problem in 70% of hospital-borne infections in the USA. It is clear phages open a new pathway to stop that problem. But, because it is a different paradigm, there is substantial resistance. The good news is you can fly to Europe and buy phages over-the-counter. The bad news is, you can't do it here yet.

This is going to be very important, if for no other reason, the climbing costs of hospital infection.

IMAGE: Full image and story: http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-03/next-phage

Google: Phage,  bacteriophages 

(this will take you to the Popular Science article itself)


Tire-Road #47- Where the Rubber Meets the Road

A Spanish company named Repsol has developed a new technology that turns old tires into an advanced asphalt that last longer than standard asphalt and improves its grip.  Given the fact the the United states, all by itself, creates 190 million used tires every year, this could be another Two-fer: get rid of the tires while reducing the need to use new material to create asphalt. It would be interesting to see if Repsol has done a count of their "raw materials."  It has got to be in the billions of tires.

(A little research shows that this is an old technology, but not broadly used. Yet. So, Repsol is starting the conversation again. Maybe this time, it will catch on.The third reference below is a report from the city of Phoenix where they have been using rubberized asphalt since the 1960's with very positive results.)

Google: Repsol,  tires into asphalt





Soil-fertility #48 - Diversity and Fertility: How to Get Better Soil

The University of Minnesota , my alma mater, has been leading the world in ecological research at its Cedar Creek Facility. Most recently work done there demonstrates that biodiversity increases soil fertility. The old paradigm of soil fertility suggested that it takes decades for soil fertility to come back after the nutrients have been take out. Now it looks like it can happen much quicker if there is a high diversity of plants engaged in restoring the soil. This also suggests that using a variety of prairie plants could increase crop yields for cellulosic biofuels even as the soil is being made healthier at the same time.  Add this research to the research on terra Preta (see my earlier post) and we may be heading toward a new golden age of soil, the life blood of all civilizations!

Google: Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, University of Minnesota soil fertility, David Tilman



White clouds #49 - Creating Whiter Clouds to Cool the Earth
John Latham, atmospheric physicist and engineer Stephen Salter has designed a special ship that sails the seas to change the temperature of the atmosphere. It sprays seawater droplets up into the atmosphere where they would increase the density of the clouds. The increased density makes the clouds whiter and therefore reflects back into space more heat. End result, the temperature of the planet is lowered. The best deal about this idea from my point of view is it is completely controllable. You aren't doing something so vast that you can't stop it. We will need that kind of ability to fine-tune because there is still a lot we don't understand about the global warming issue.

Google:  John Latham, Clouds for cooling

URL: http://www.wfs.org/Jan-Feb%2009/VisionariesMA09.htm (Neat picture)   http://www.ucar.edu/communications/staffnotes/0405/latham.html      http://www.planetwork.net/climate/cooling/Global%20Cooling%204-08.pdf



GOOD NEWS #36 - #40--AIDS, Fingerprints, Solar Power, Hydrogen, <$ Insulin

Hello again!

Five more "good news" ideas to expand the possibilities for a promising future.
If you're new to this blog, check out my first two posts, they will introduce you to what you'll find here.  1st post  2nd post

If you missed this announcement...
On March 31, I'm joining my long-time colleague, Debbe Kennedy, at the Global Dialogue Center ONLINE Conference Center for a conversation on INNOVATING in HARD TIMES as part of Debbe's Economic Conversation Series. If you would like to join us ONLINE, here are the links to learn more about our conversation and details to register to attend. No fees.

See web-based invitation to the MARCH 31 Dialogue:
NOTE: Allow a few seconds for the URLs below to open.



Scroll down to see my good news ideas #36 through #40...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author



-genetic #36 - One Shot to Eliminate AIDS?
AIDS has been the most daunting of infections in the last 50 years (polio before that) and has killed millions of people.  Millions more, worldwide, are carrying the virus like a death sentence. That is why the latest news suggests that there may be a way to completely clear the body of AIDS. Two approaches offer such hope. One comes from Germany where a man with HIV received a bone marrow implant which resulted in the complete clearing of the virus. The donor of the marrow just happened to have two copies of a gene that prevents HIV from invading white cells.

Other researchers are making progress in altering a person's own white cells to teach them to conquer HIV. This is especially good news because the HIV vaccines have not yet lived up to expectationsl. Think about a one time only genetic therapy "shot" instead. What we may be witnessing in two converging trends, the trend toward genetic medicine and the trend toward the end of the HIV scourge.

Google: HIV Gene Therapy, Gero Hutter 

URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081205171007.htm


Fingerprints-sm #37 - Why Fingerprints?
I like puzzles being solved and it looks like "the purpose of fingerprints" has been solved. Of course, for a long time, it was assumed they were there to help pick up things...little traction pads. And that is correct. But now, Sliman Bensmaia of Johns Hopkins University has found another purpose: they help us feel things more accurately like surface texture.

And, more accurately, the finger prints interact with the surface and create specific frequencies of vibrations into the skin. It turns out that the finger print pattern improves the ability to sense texture. Why the swirls?  Because the sensory system only works when the finger motion is 90 degrees to the fingerprint. The swirls allow it to work in any direction. Oh, an unintended consequence of this clever sensing system, turns out to be an identification system which we use to find criminals.

Google: fingerprint vibrations, Sliman Bensmaia

URLS:  http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/40376/title/Fingerprints_filter_the_vibrations_fingers_feel



Powerplastic-sm-gray #38 - Plastic Solar Power
Every weeks there is an energy breakthrough, it seems. And that's good because to solve both climate change and the recession in the USA, we will need new sources of sustainable energy. Konarka, a start-up company, has developed "Power Plastic" a solar cell system that is flexible and light weight. You can roll it up and store it, you can carry the roll some other place and roll it out and start generating electricity.

$145 million in venture capital has already been put into this technology, and if the trends toward solar energy continue, this could be a big hit. The company produces the solar rolls using a converted printing press, so the cost of production is low and the volume of production is easy to expand. The US Army is thinking about solar powered tents with Konarka's Power Plastic on the outside as just one example of use.  It looks like it may be possible to put it on windows so that even as you look out through the transparent solar cell, it is generating power for the building.

If Konarka has any drawback, it is that its process is only 6% efficient at converting sunlight into electricity right now. But it is so cheap that you'll just buy more of it to get the electricity results you want. And, it doesn't last as long as other solar cells. But, again, if it is cheap enough, it won't make a difference for many applications.

Google: Konarka, Power Plastic



Vincent-Crespi-PennStateUPhysics #39 - Cheaper Ways to Produce Hydrogen
Hydrogen is still looked at as the "golden" fuel because when burned it produces water vapor and no pollutants with carbon dioxide in it. The big problem is the energy costs of producing hydrogen.  Until very recently one technique was to use platinum as a catalyst to reduce the amount of energy needed. But platinum is very, very expensive.  Now researchers at the University of Dayton, Ohio have found that carbon nanotubes doped with nitrogen work better than platinum nanoparticles. The importance of nitrogen in the process is a big surprise, but the results are significant: carbon nanotubes are cheap to make and we have LOTS of nitrogen on this planet.

At nearly the same time, Penn State researchers have found a way to dope carbon nanotubes with titanium and produce hydrogen using solar energy. So, we now have two new pathways to cheaper hydrogen. It keeps getting better, doesn't it?

Carbon Nanotube Photo: Vincent-Crespi - Penn State U Physics

Google: nanotubes for hydrogen production

For the U of Dayton research:
http://www.greenoptimistic.com/2009/02/07/nitrogen-doped-carbon-nanotube/   http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/02/nitrogen-doped.html

For Penn State:


Safflower_plant051228 #40 - Cheaper Insulin from Plants
As Diabetes continues to grow as a health problem across the planet, a second problem is also growing: access to inexpensive insulin.  That problem may have been solved by Sembiosys Genetics, a Canadian company. They were able to insert human insulin genes into safflowers, creating the capacity to produce a compound called "pro-insulin." They then used enzymes to convert this into a specific type of insulin that is identical to human insulin. Testing continues to make sure it is compatible. If it is, it creates a significant new way for manufacturing insulin for human use. And, of course, the obvious question is: what else can be made this way?

Photo:  CBCNews.ca

Google: Sembiosys Genetics,  SBS-1000




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at the Global Dialogue Center


GOOD NEWS #31 - #35 - Weather Protection, Cooling the Planet, Nanowires at Work, eBooks Getting Better, Moving Water

Hello everyone,

Five more "good news" ideas! If you're new to this blog, check out my first two posts, they will introduce you to what you'll find here.  1st post  2nd post

ALSO, on March 31, I'm joining my long-time colleague, Debbe Kennedy, at the Global Dialogue Center ONLINE Conference Center for a conversation on INNOVATING in HARD TIMES as part of Debbe's Economic Conversation Series. If you would like to join us ONLINE, here are the links to learn more about our conversation and details to register to attend. There are no fees.

See web-based invitation to the MARCH 31 Dialogue


Scroll down to see my good news ideas #31 through #35...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author



Hurricane-Protection#31 - A New Anti-Hurricane Material
Protecting your windows from flying objects is a big deal in hurricane country which includes two of America's most populous states. New fabric has
been developed from the same stuff that is used for bulletproof vests that can hang in front of windows as a kind of hurricane curtain. Two-by-fours that were shot at half-inch plywood and went right through, yet they could not penetrate the fabric.

Not only is it very strong and easy to deploy, it is also translucent so 80% of the sunlight comes through. If the power goes out, you can still have light during the day.





Reflection-Global-Warming #32 - Growing Crops to Cool the Planet
United Kingdom researchers are looking at a surprising new way to cool off Earth as part of the response to global warming.  Andy Ridgwell's team at the University of Bristol have identified what crops could be modified so that their leaves would reflect more sunlight back into outer space. It turns out it has significant effect, especially in the termperate zones where most people live and where most farmland is. It could drop temperatures by as much as 2 degrees Celsius during the summer. The best part of this idea is that is comes automatically with the planting of the crops.




Nano-DNA-Strand #33 - Nanowires as Testing Kits for Disease
Nanomaterials are creating a new paradigm for solving all sorts of problems.  Penn State researchers have figured out how to align nanowires so that they can be used as testing kits 
for all sorts of things--in particular identification of diseases.  Using electrical charges in really clever ways, Christine Keating and her colleagues were able to draw specially coated nano wires into specific locations on a testing tray. 99% of the wires went where they were supposed to which is more than enough to build a successful testing system.

This approach is revolutionary because of the level of control and alignment of nano materials. The process could be used to create a cheap testing device for many diseases simultaneously and in a matter of seconds. And it also shows the way for aligning nanowires for other uses.  If you want a careful description of how this all works, go to the New Scientist URL given below.



KINDLE2#34 - eBooks Keep Getting Better

Amazon.com has come out with their second generation ebook, the Kindle. It is selling very well and suggests that we are about to move to another technology breakthrough in education and information access. Because the Kindle can tap into the 3G telephone network around the country, it can wirelessly and at no connection cost, download new books, newspapers, magazines, etc. almost anywhere. The Sony eBook has not yet adopted this important capability. 

Where is this heading?  Well, for starters, it is getting people to read on a new medium--the ebook screen. Second, it lowers the costs of buying a book to $9.99 for a new best seller, instead of $25-$30, typical of a hard cover. It also allows you to access your newspaper (as a result, maybe eBooks will be the saviors of daily newspapers since there is no paper cost or delivery cost. )

As the price comes down and a color screen becomes available, eBooks will begin to replace textbooks for all schools. Keep in mind that by the time a students has finished 12 grades, the textbook cost can be over $1000 for that student. And those textbooks go out of date faster every year. With eBooks, the textbook can be updated every fall at minimal costs to the publisher.  For the rest of us, the Kindle and the other ebooks permit us to be more environmentally thoughtful by buying electrons instead of paper.  Wouldn't it be interesting to see what kind of price school systems could get if they ordered 10 million at a time?

Google: Kindle, eBook




If you want to take a look at the Sony eBook:  http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=8198552921644523779&XID=O:kindle:corp_reader08_gglsrch


ENERGY-2-27-09 #35 - Wiggle Power from Moving Water
The movement of water, ocean waves, rivers flowing, has always been a potentially huge source of sustainable energy. But, much of that water moves slowly, especially in the ocean making it unharvestable by standard means. A new energy harvesting machine that goes by the initials, VIVACE,  has been developed by University of Michigan engineer, Michael Bernitsas, that creates whirlpools in the slow currents and then captures the power of the whirling water. Because of its simple design, it is easy to deploy and causes minimal damage to the environment.

Google:  VIVACE energy,  Michael Bernitsas

http://www.vortexhydroenergy.com/  NOTE: This site has cool videos! 


Visit the Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

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



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


GOOD NEWS #21 - #25 -- Best Ever Start-UP, Bamboo Bridges, EcoRock, Natural Plastic, Improving Neighborboods

Hello again!

Five more good news ideas. They offer great promise for the future for organizations, sustainability, the environment, and our neighborhoods.

Remember: 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 #21 through #25...

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author


OOF-bookcover#21 - The Most Successful Start-up Organization in the World!
Mondragon is a cooperative in Spain that is employee owned, more than 50 years old. It has a track record of 80% of their start-ups being successful over the long term.  No other organization in the world is even close!  I believe we can learn many lessons from their paradigm.

Below is a link to an article about them. I wrote it for the Peter Drucker book series. Enjoy!

URL: www.globaldialoguecenter.com/Joel-Barker-Mondragon-article.pdf


Bamboo-bridge #22 - Bambo--High Tech?
Why has this taken so long?  Yan Xiao, engineering professor at USC and born in China, has developed a process to transform bamboo strips into structural beams. "GluBam", as he calls it is a very sturdy material. He has built bridges with the material and sees it as a perfect material to cheaply reinforce homes against earthquakes. Because it grows so rapidly and in so many parts of the world, bamboo used this new way could trigger a sustainable industry that could replace much of the forest harvesting that is going on now.

Google: GluBam, Yan Xiao, bamboo bridge

URL: www.popsci.com  http://www.timesfirst.com/Product/203957/Glubam.html

Ecorock22 #23 - Drywall Improvement

Drywall is not usually an exciting topic, but producing it creates enormous amounts of CO2, something we're trying not to do. A company named Serious Materials has invented "EcoRock", a drywall that doesn't require high temperatures to cure. Their formula uses materials that are industrial by-products combined under pressure instead of heat, so only 20% as much energy is used in creating it. It is also impervious to terminites and mold.  This is another example of getting what we need in a much greener way.

Google:  EcoRock, Serious Materials

URL: www.seriousmaterials.com

#24 - Natural Plastic
Switchgrass is a plant that is being seriously considered for a sustainable cellulose basee from which liquid fuel can be generated. But Metabolix, a Massachuetts company, has figured out a way to make it grow plastic inside its leaves. By splicing certain genes into the plant, it forms granules of plastic that can be harvested easily. The plastic known as PHB is very durable over a wide range of temperatures so it can be used for many purposes. The leftover switchgrass can be used to make biofuels. Commericialization looks about five years out.

Google:  Metabolix, switchgrass plastic, switchgrass PHB

URL: popsci.com


Graffitti #25 - Graffiti-Free Neighborhoods
This doesn't sound like good news, but the conclusion is, trust me.  It turns out, from both old research (google: broken window theory) and new research in the Netherlands that when an environment is treated badly, other people coming into that environment think that they don't have to take care of it either. One of the reasons for the disrespect is that once the mess begins, it seems to give permission to others to do the same.  Now, here is the good news: if you keep the environment clean, other people tend to keep it clean, too.

A personal note: Three times a week, when we are in Minnesota, my wife and I walk down a street where there are no homes and where people throw things out of their cars. We pick it up--usually two bags of stuff every time. But over the years, as we have done this, we have seen less and less stuff littering the street. We are removing the "permission" to throw things out of the car and it makes us feel good because we are making a difference, too. Remember little things add up!

Google: broken window theory, Kee Keizer



Visit the Joel Barker COLLECTION at the Global Dialogue Center

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at the Global Dialogue Center


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
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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


#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

#2 - Nanopaper--As strong as Iron and made out of wood

Nanopaper In Sweden, another kind of "paper" has been invented.  Using a very old material, cellulose extracted from wood, Swedish researcher, Lars Berglund have changed conventional paper into a much stronger material. He has figured out a way to make celluose nanofibers and then use a standard paper making process to make paper out of these fibers.  The result is paper stronger than cast iron and almost as strong a structural steel.

Here, again, we see a common, easy to grow material, provide new and important qualities of strength simply by finding a new way to process the material.  The concept of a "paper house" stronger than steel is very interesting.


Google: nanopaper 
or http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080609090706.htm

Source: Science Daily

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

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