Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

We frequently hear that eating fish is a healthy thing to do, because it’s full of beneficial long chain fatty acids. Unfortunately, the Western diet tends to be short on fish and bigger on beef, which contains short chain fatty acids that aren’t quite so good for us. Chinese scientists are creating a work-around, however – genetically-engineered beef that’s high in the “good” fatty acids.

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This cowfish is here to make this a colorful blog post

Fish is a prime source of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, more commonly known as omega-3 oils, which help protect against obesity, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders. The short chain fatty acids in beef are known as n-6.

In order to turn n-6 into n-3, a research team from China’s Northwest A and F University, and National Beef Cattle Improvement Centre, first isolated the fat1 gene from a nematode worm. That gene codes for desaturase enzymes, which play a key role in converting n-6 fatty acids to n-3.

While the research is still ongoing, I wonder how many of us would want to take the plunge and eat this new type of beef.

I guess we could order our “omega-burger” at McDonald’s golden arches and feel that we are eating healthier at least.


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There is yet another alternative to solar panels, fuel cells, muscle-powered dynamos, wind turbines, AC-charged back-up batteries and other portable power solutions.

Drumroll please….

Announcing Blue Freedom, “The world’s smallest hydropower plant” which transforms the power of running water into phone chatting, internet browsing, music listening, GPS navigating and other mobile device activities, and it does so from a package built to fit in a backpack. Judging from the results of their Kickstarter campaign where they raised almost double what they were seeking, I’d say this product is well anticipated.

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Developed in Germany, the Blue Freedom charging kit consists of a 4.7-in (12-cm-) -diameter micro turbine, a 5W generator and a 5,000 mAh lithium-polymer internal battery. The turbine takes a plunge into a running water body and the unit’s base stays ashore, letting you charge devices directly by way of the USB 2A and 1A ports. You can also store energy in the integrated battery for later use. A built-in LED light helps you see at night.

According to the governments of US and Canada, two world leaders in hydropower production, hydropower is the most efficient means of generating electricity, transforming up to 90 percent of available water energy into usable electricity. Compare that to around 15 percent for solar panels, and you can start to see why a portable hydropower charger could prove quite superior.

In addition to charging gadgets during outdoor travel and adventure, Blue Freedom sees its technology as a viable solution for those that live off the power grid. Assuming they have access to running water, they could harvest their own electricity to use for cell phones, lighting and other important everyday devices.

If all goes as planned, deliveries will get underway in October. And for all of you campers, this sounds like a great product to pack for those fishing trips you may be planning.

blog fishing

Happy fishing!


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For those with allergies,  a ‘no pets’ policy can be a welcome salvation.  These types of rules generally apply to 4-legged furry creatures; but, the regulations have been extended as folks have gotten more “creative” in their choice of non-human companions for the home.  I recall (with somewhat of a shudder), the glass box of Tarantulas that graced the bedside table of a guy friend of mine.  Don’t know what became of him – or the arachnids – but, I do know that fish are often in a nebulous gray area when it comes to those pesky pet policies.  Their mini-homes within your home can range from a glass jar filled with water to some really impressive tanks, with all sorts of acoutrements to make the inhabitants feel like they are back in their native locale.

There are a lot of fishy people in the world (I leave the interpretation of that up to you!) Two of them, Yoon Hoon and his friend and co-founder, Andy Zhong, have come up with a nifty gadget to give your finny little friends a CLEAN place to frolic – no human intervention required!!  The product has been debuted and promoted at Hax Demo day in San Francisco and the inaugural CES Asia event in Shanghai last May, as well as the 2014 Mini Maker Faire, in Shenzhen, China.

Read about the




AquaTrek is an all-in-one cleaning, monitoring, and surveillance tool. Much like the Roomba, it is a largely autonomous, utilizing an aquatic scrubber and auto sensing technology to perform its duties.


The pair have a start-up and you can sign up for their email list here: Moai Devices

What a great use of Robotics and Sensor tech!  If you’ve got an idea that seems ‘out there’, maybe reading about these guys will spark you into acting on your brain-child… It might be the next big thing!

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Adidas uses ocean trash to make footwear – and a statement

We’ve all heard the news reports, the world’s oceans are in serious trouble due to a combination of pollution, overfishing and climate change.  Adidas is heeding the warning and has teamed with conservation group Parley for the Oceans to create footwear made with trash harvested from the oceans.

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Parley for the Oceans works with partners such as Adidas to come up with creative solutions to spread the word about the crisis facing the world’s oceans. With this goal, Adidas will produce a line of footwear with uppers made of yarns and filaments recycled from ocean waste and deep-sea gillnets used by illegal fisheries.

Do these ocean-styled Adidas fit in with your style?

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August 17th, 2015

While bacterial spores are not the stuff of everyday delight (at least, not among the vast majority of the world’s population), there’s a conversational buzz about them that might just provide a lot of happy to a lot of the planet.  Producing energy to power our many gadgets and gizmos – not to mention fueling our transporatation and warming or cooling our homes – is a BIG concern.  As we seek new ways that are ecologically-minded to accomplish that goal, there’s research afoot to harness the power in an unlikely source.

Bioengineers from Columbia University have demonstrated a technique for powering small devices using nothing more than changes in atmospheric humidity.  This technique uses ‘water power’, via evaporation, to create ENERGY!  And the hope is that powering these small devices will be scalable to larger applications.  Biology, chemistry and engineering unite and…

“…new research shows that bacterial spores can be used to actively convert humidity into energy and force, potentially powering all kinds of machines and devices.”


Photo credit: Mindbug Studio

Read this piece from Discovery News and watch the videos shared there:

Hot and Humid?


There’s Energy in That


So, next time you’re caught in the sticky weather, think of the uses for all the perspiration you’re enveloped in that’s evaporating without you having to do a thing…  Makes you feel like a human battery charger, doesn’t it?

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