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Move the World.

Welcome to another edition of the Cool Stuff Roundup, where we share with you the fun stuff we’ve been sharing with each other on the Freethink Slack channel. This week’s edition kicks off with an incredible medical breakthrough.

Starting in the spring of 2017, people with Type 1 Diabetes will be able to buy an artificial pancreas. Currently, these patients have to give themselves insulin--which their pancreases don’t make--either with manual injections or by programming a pump attached to their bodies. But Medtronic’s MiniMed 670G promises to do a lot of that work for them by monitoring their blood glucose levels and using an algorithm to automatically administer insulin. It’s not a perfect system--patients will still have to manually check their blood sugar to make sure the device is properly calibrated--but it’s a huge step in an amazing direction.

artificialpancreas
Artificial pancreas via Medtronic

Google just changed the translation game. (Again.) Google Translate has been around for years, but the new system the company is rolling out promises to reduce errors by 60%. How, you ask? Google has introduced machine learning to its translation algorithm, and that means Google Translate is now capable of self-improvement over time. As in, the program can literally learn to translate better. Keep your eye on this topic--machine learning is basically the next step in the quest for artificial intelligence.

How Big is the Mars Rocket SpaceX is Building? Really big. If you’re not subscribed to Wait But Why, you’re missing out on one of the best email digests the Internet has to offer. And this week’s issue is a perfect example: WBW founder Tim Urban takes a deep, detailed, and enthusiastic dive into Elon Musk’s vision for settling Mars. “One day,” Urban writes, “we'll be those old people who remember a time when humans only lived on one planet and the population of Mars was zero—and people will find that fascinating.”

spacexrocket
An illustration of the Mars rocket via SpaceX

All of Ray Kurzweil’s crazy ideas are finally in one place. Computer scientist Ray Kurzweil has spoken for years about the possibilities that will arise from the accelerated pace at which humans are creating new technology. Singularity University, where Kurzweil gives some of his best talks, has created a new YouTube channel where you can get a small dose of Kurzweil on just about any topic. It’s called the Ray K Q&A, and watching it will make you feel like anything is possible.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz-xaNyC9s_oEfJrkEt1KjtGnm7T89r82

Now for something lighter: What makes camping gear “bear-proof”? If you’ve gone shopping for hiking or camping gear in the last few years, you may notice that some items--coolers, for instance--claim to be “bear-proof.” Turns out there’s more to that label than just marketing: “If a manufacturer of outdoor gear wants to market its product as bear-resistant, there is one way to know for sure. Bear keepers fill the container with a treat such as peanut butter, fish or meat, set it out in the grizzly enclosure, then let the bears out of their gated dens and stand back.”

Up Next

Neuroscience
"Off-Switch" in Mouse Brains Offers New Hope for Pain Relief
Pain Relief
Neuroscience
"Off-Switch" in Mouse Brains Offers New Hope for Pain Relief
A newly discovered part of the mouse brain appears to naturally stop pain processing, and it could lead to more robust pain relief options in the future.

A newly discovered part of the mouse brain appears to naturally stop pain processing, and it could lead to more robust pain relief options in the future.

Public Health
A List of the Coronavirus Symptoms, and When to See a Doctor
what are the coronavirus symptoms
Public Health
A List of the Coronavirus Symptoms, and When to See a Doctor
Here is the latest information on coronavirus symptoms and how to distinguish COVID-19 from allergies, the flu, or a common cold.

Here is the latest information on coronavirus symptoms and how to distinguish COVID-19 from allergies, the flu, or a common cold.

Health
New Lasers See Into The Brain to Detect Concussions
concussion test
Health
New Lasers See Into The Brain to Detect Concussions
Researchers are attempting to improve the age-old concussion test with a device that can measure CCO levels in the brain using infrared lasers.

Researchers are attempting to improve the age-old concussion test with a device that can measure CCO levels in the brain using infrared lasers.

Environment
The Robot Racing to Study Antarctica’s Massive Ice Melt
The Robot Racing to Study Antarctica’s Massive Ice Melt
Environment
The Robot Racing to Study Antarctica’s Massive Ice Melt
Icefin, a semi-autonomous research vessel, is on a mission to search for clues about one of the continent’s fastest melting glaciers, the Thwaites Glacier.
By Sarah Wells

Icefin, a semi-autonomous research vessel, is on a mission to search for clues about one of the continent’s fastest melting glaciers, the Thwaites Glacier.

Dispatches
Finding a New Drug in One-Third the Time and One-Thousandth the Cost
Finding a New Drug in One-Third the Time and One-Thousandth the Cost
Dispatches
Finding a New Drug in One-Third the Time and One-Thousandth the Cost
How a pediatric cancer drug went from discovery to clinical trials in five years and just $500,000.
By Teresa Purzner

How a pediatric cancer drug went from discovery to clinical trials in five years and just $500,000.

Dispatches
Two Billion People Have TB. What Should We Do about It?
Two Billion People Have TB. What Should We Do about It?
Dispatches
Two Billion People Have TB. What Should We Do about It?
In the fight against TB, sometimes it's better to just get along.

In the fight against TB, sometimes it's better to just get along.

Dispatches
Scientists Want to Rewrite the Entire Human Genome, from Scratch
Scientists Want to Rewrite the Entire Human Genome, from Scratch
Dispatches
Scientists Want to Rewrite the Entire Human Genome, from Scratch
What if we could rewrite our entire genetic code to make us invincible against viruses?

What if we could rewrite our entire genetic code to make us invincible against viruses?

The New Space Race
Here's What Happens to the Human Body in Outer Space
Here's What Happens to the Human Body in Outer Space
The New Space Race
Here's What Happens to the Human Body in Outer Space
As the idea of colonizing space becomes mainstream, it’s important to keep in mind that traveling in outer space...
By Mike Riggs

As the idea of colonizing space becomes mainstream, it’s important to keep in mind that traveling in outer space does some crazy stuff to our bodies.