Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Those of a certain age will fondly remember the recorded messages left for Jim Phelps and his Impossible Missions team which self-destructed after being listened to.  And who hasn’t seen a TV episode or movie where a character is forced to eat a hastily scribbled message to keep others from reading it?  In the new digital age, pressing the delete key can wipe your thoughts from a screen so they are never actually communicated.  Maybe there are certain things that shouldn’t be kept forever…

Whether you think it’s a good thing or not, the printed page will fade over time, but here’s a twist on making the printed page cease to exist in a much shorter period of time!  From FOXNews Tech:

Scientists invent erasable printer paper

The “paper” (actually a film made of glass or plastic, Engadget reports, though a paper version is in the works) comes in red, blue, and green, and the printing process bleaches it where text doesn’t appear, instead of adding ink where it does. Exposure to oxygen eventually “erases” the text by returning the bleached sections to their original color.

American businesses are so entrenched in keeping hardcopy as ‘backup’; this game-changer could eliminate the rows of filing cabinets that people feel are key to their work function.  Reducing waste is a key component in becoming a Smarter Planet!

Any other potentially stagnant office materials that spring to mind? Can you bring your scientific knowledge to the party to find a reusable spin for their usage?

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January, 22nd 2015

Along with all of the latest buzz about asteroids following the December 3 launch of Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, NewScientist has published an article describing the advances that have been made in space farming.

If you want to start a space farm, head for an asteroid. It seems there’s enough fertilizer zipping around the solar system to grow veg for generations of space colonizers – and researchers are already beginning to grow viable, edible plants in space.

Wieger Wamelink and colleagues at the Alterra research institute, part of the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, reported this year that they grew a veritable salad – wheat, tomato, cress and mustard – for 50 days with no added nutrients. The plants even grew better in the simulated space soil than controls grown in poor quality Earth soil.

Asteroid soil is highly nutritious for plants, according to Michael Mautner of Lincoln University in New Zealand. He has grown edible plants directly in material from c-type asteroids, which fell to Earth in meteorites. He simply ground up the meteorite and added water.

I found this cute ad:

blog space garden

How does your garden grow?

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January, 21st 2015

Medical technology keeps advancing.  Lenses have been produced to magnify, concentrate light sources, for photographic applications, and a host of other usages.  Benjamin Franklin is credited with the invention of bifocals, which gave ‘new vision’ to the reading population of the 1700s.  Contact lenses came along in the 20th century to replace glasses worn on the bridge of one’s nose.  Eye surgery to correct vision impairment has been steadily changing over the past quarter century.

Here’s a story about a new intraocular lens that may be “music to the eyes” of our aging population (you’ll have to pardon the rather bad pun I’m using…I couldn’t resist!)  Introducing the



WHAT ARE INTRAOCULAR LENSES?  An intraocular lens, or IOL, is a lens that is surgically implanted to replace the natural lens of the eye, following cataract extraction. There are numerous styles of IOLs.  The Symfony lenses are made of plastic and should, in theory, last a lifetime.

TECNIS Symfony lensVisit the TECNIS site for more information about the product and its availability in the U.S. and abroad.

If you’re pursuing a career in the burgeoning healthcare field, what advance will you bring to our future?

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There are a number of new designs on the market to address the concern of reserving body heat, one with nano technology.

One such design is self-heating nanowire clothing.  Yi Cui of Stanford University in California and his colleagues want to change the way we keep warm. The team has developed a technique for coating textiles in a network of silver nanowires by dipping cloth in nanowire “ink”.

“The process of making the nanowire cloth is as simple as dyeing,” says Cui. “The nanowires stayed on the cloth and formed a conductive network which can reflect human body heat radiation and keep us warm.”

blog nanowire

Ordinary clothes provide an insulating layer that traps heat against your skin, but the material can still lose heat to the surrounding air. The nanowire cloth acts as a reflecting surface for heat, keeping you warm, but is porous enough to let water through so you don’t feel sweaty.

Another clothing innovation is Podz Gear.

YouTube Preview Image

If you live anywhere where it drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celcius), you’ve probably used the disposable hand and feet warmers for sale in so many stores.  And with this Podz Gear technology, it’s pretty inexpensive to replace your heat source by providing those same hand and feet warmers into the sewn in pockets of the garment.

So those designers out there, do you have any great ideas that combine any of our natural biology with technology to produce the next sustainable technology?

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Congratulations to

Lumbini Engineering College, Nepal for “GPS/SMS Vehicle Tracking System”

Istanbul Technical University, Turkey for “ITU Solar Car Team – making the electric car road ready and touring Turkey to promote alternate fuels”

Chanhassen High School, Minnesota, USA for 5 projects:

  • Meshwork:  decentralized internet communications
  • Eco-Friendly Zamboni:  Zamboni with reduced emissions and water reuse
  • The PSC4: solar-powered game console
  • Custom John Deere Ice Resurfacer: Zamboni with complete water/ice reuse
  • Human Powered Bicycle Mower: zero emissions mower



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