Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Landmine Detecting Flower

And from the Good News Desk:

There is good news out there if you look hard for it. Last week in NYC, the Cooper Hewitt Museum opened up an exhibit of "Inventions for the Poor" which featured such items as a foot operated well water pump, a rolling tire water carrier, and the $100 laptop, rechargeable by pulling on a hand crank.

Among the absolute best products I have seen is the color changing land mine flower. A Danish company, Aresa, has produced a genetically altered plant that respond to the presence of concentrated nitrogen dioxide in the soil. The colors of the flowers change from green to red when they are growing on or near unexploded land mines.

I learned of this fantastic flower from a download of a video of the Ted (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks . Ah the wonders of global technology! From the comfort of your own desk, you can watch video and audio of the world's cutting edge thinkers talking of their life's projects and concerns in 20 minutes or less.

Since I live here in the developing world, my computer speed is not fast enough to listen to the video without serious pausing to buffer so each night I download another talk or two and by the end of the next day after listening, I feel smarter, happier, and far more optimistic about the future.

The information on the land mine flower came from a Ted Talk by John Doerr, a venture capitalist who believes that perhaps, just perhaps, green technology can indeed save the planet.

Try the Ted Talks as an antidote to the evening news.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These are all exciting new models of technology aimed at tackling world problems, but so far, how many of the organizations endorsing these models have actually moved past the model phase and developed successful processes to apply the technology efficiently on a scale that has had a significant impact on the world? I guess every small step ahead helps and certainly inspires others, but it really is an uphill battle to get traction with even the most brilliant new innovations.

For example, Aresa quit their research on this flower and never finished the product. http://greenbio.checkbiotech.org/news/death_land_mine_detecting_flower

Also, Intel dropped out from the $100 laptop program in order to compete against it with a more expensive computer model. http://money.cnn.com/2008/01/04/technology/kirkpatrick_negroponte.fortune/index.htm

That said, the new technologies are already gaining traction and are definitely headed in the right direction. For example, the $100 laptop has been sold around the world, in spite of Intel, and the expanded use of mine-clearing machines seem to be more effective than trying to grow the flowers, but I guess, my point is that folks should not be too self-congratulatory on new designs before the groups behind them have succeeded in making measurable improvements.