Topic: innovation

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Cooling without polluting: Two new green air conditioning innovations

The starry night sky seems remarkably distant from the topic of air conditioning, but it’s revolutionizing the field in quite an unexpected way. In this episode of "The Spark," watch how scientists from across the glo...

The Ocean Cleanup technology and challenges explained

The Great Pacific garbage patch in the northern Pacific ocean holds an estimated 1.8 trillion hard-to-see pieces of plastic that float around on or just below the water's surface. They're kept swirling in an area that...

Geothermal energy in Iceland

Iceland is a geothermal energy pioneer. Their unique geology, thanks to volcanism along a rift in the Eurasian tectonic plate and North American tectonic plate, provides a sustainable advantage: Heat from the ground. ...

The Solar Grandmothers of Ambakivao, Madagascar

Not having access to electricity, life in Ambakivao, Madagascar was dark. A group of grandmothers decided to change that, bringing light to their community by becoming the village’s first solar engineers. With the hel...

3D-printed structures that shape-shift with magnetic microparticles

These small, soft 3D-printed structures can shape-shift—expand, contract, wrinkle up, roll, and move about—thanks to the magnetic microparticles within their silicone-based rubber bodies. This is the latest iteration ...

These tiny origami robot transformers use magnetic fields to walk, roll, sail, and glide

This small cube can transform into a walking, wheeling, boating, or gliding bot with the help of origami exoskeletons that fold around it to create a new form and function. These are tiny shape-shifting robots from re...

Liquid Printed Pneumatics: 3D printing stretchy silicone structures

Imagine 3D printing a balloon of sorts, a stretchy material that can expand or contract with the air that's pumped into it. MIT’s Self-Assembly Laboratory, in collaboration with BMW, has developed a new way to print s...

Plastics 101: What is plastic and how is it made?

Once a completely natural product, much of today's plastic is man-made and largely dependent upon fossil fuels. From polymers to nurdles, learn how plastic is created and what we can do to slow the lasting repercussio...

Origami Changes Everything: Mass-producing an ancient art with 3D printing

Can origami, the art of folded paper, be used to 3D-print parts for our cars, pieces of clothing, art that we display, and other products? Can we build machines that can create patterns based on scans, and then cut, f...

Fungus: The Plastic of the Future

In 2014, Ecovative Designs was working to combine mycelium with local crop waste to make a compostable biomaterial for packaging, and continue to expand their efforts. One example: A collaboration with Netherlands-bas...

An innovative edible spoon, a smart alternative to plastic waste

Plastic cutlery has been around for years, widely considered the only choice for cheap, disposable cutlery. Knowing the threat plastic poses to our environment and health, Narayana Peesapaty created a tasty and nutrit...

What is public life?

In parks, at bus stops, on the sidewalk, in playgrounds, in street and farmers markets: These are just some of the public spaces where we can participate in our city's diverse and thriving public life, where people fr...

The Exhale Bionic Chandelier: Microorganism-filled ‘leaves’ that ‘breathe’

An air purifier, an art object, and a piece of lighting design all in one living, 'breathing' chandelier. This is London-based inventor and bioengineer Julian Melchiorri's Exhale Bionic Chandelier, a microorganism-fil...

Magnetic fields make this tiny robot roll, jump, swim, and wriggle

This very small elastic strip is a robot that can walk, roll, jump, swim, and wriggle like a worm. Infused with magnetic particles, it responds to the strength and direction of magnetic fields surrounding it. As scien...

Is Your Fleece Jacket Polluting The Oceans?

When you hear “plastic” pollution, you might picture six-pack rings wrapped around seagulls or beaches littered with plastic bottles. But now, researchers are discovering a new menace -- microfibers. They’re tiny stra...

The Courage To Invent: A NASA Roboticist Tells Her Story

When educator, researcher, and innovator Dr. Ayanna Howard was a kid, she decided that she wanted to invent robots. When she grew up, she made that dream come true with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and a job at N...

Lisa Winter, Robot Builder

When Lisa was 10, she built Doughboy, her first robot. For her, it’s all in the family — her father’s a robot builder and her mother collects them. But she really got hooked when her father came home from a Robots War...

How A Children’s Toy Led To An Essential Medical Device

"We were out in a primary health center talking to health care workers [in Uganda] and we found a centrifuge used as a doorstop because there's no electricity." The workers said that they really needed a powerful cent...

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