When the sun goes down on almost 1.3 billion people around the world, the only respite from the darkness is fire. These are the people who have no access to electricity. If children want to study, or adults want to remain productive, or families want to sit and talk, most must do it by light of a flame.
But light sources like wood, candles, or hydrocarbons like kerosene oil, which was burnt at the rate of 38.7 million gallons a day in 2010, are far from the best solution. Combustion is dirty, releases toxic chemicals and can be expensive.
“A fifth of the world’s population earns on the order of $1 per day and lacks access to grid electricity,” wrote Evan Mills, a Lawrence Berkeley National Lab staff scientist, in the 2012 technical report Health Impacts of Fuel-Based Lighting. “They pay a far higher proportion of their income for illumination than those in wealthy countries, obtaining light with fuel-based sources, primarily kerosene lanterns. The same population experiences adverse health and safety risks from these same lighting fuels.”
This week on Txchnologist, we looked at the wide range of innovations that could prove to be disruptive to a number of fields. First, University of Washington researchers have developed a software that accurately predicts changes in faces from babies to senior citizens.
We looked at how sound waves could revolutionize medicine in the coming years. Doctors have treated tumors using focused ultrasound, a way of delivering energetic high-frequency sound waves that are sent into the body without surgery. The technology is cost-effective and could be extremely useful. Staying with medical devices, Txchnologist also looked to the past to appreciate the roots of one of the most advanced imaging tools available, the PET scanner.
The Department of Energy has made a map that highlights wind power growth in the United States. Wind turbine farms grew in number from just one in 1975 to 815 in 2012.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee civil engineers have developed a mixture of concrete that is water-resistant, flexible and promises to keep bridges and roads intact for up to 120 years.
Research in subatomic particles is at the forefront for a number of scientists. A facility in southern China called the Daya Bay Neutrino Experiment is studying the electrically neutral neutrino and attempting to understand one of the building blocks of the universe using six huge detectors.
Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.