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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

Transportation
Electric Garbage Trucks Are (Quietly) Coming
electric garbage trucks
Transportation
Electric Garbage Trucks Are (Quietly) Coming
With Mack Truck’s electric garbage trucks set to be delivered in 2021, your mornings may be getting quieter soon.

With Mack Truck’s electric garbage trucks set to be delivered in 2021, your mornings may be getting quieter soon.

Clean Energy
Mini Nuclear Reactors Take Big Step Forward in the U.S.
Small Modular Reactors
Clean Energy
Mini Nuclear Reactors Take Big Step Forward in the U.S.
NuScale Power’s small modular reactors generate less energy than full-sized nuclear reactors, but they might also be cheaper and safer.

NuScale Power’s small modular reactors generate less energy than full-sized nuclear reactors, but they might also be cheaper and safer.

Bionics
Run Faster, Think Better: Hugh Herr on the Future of Bionics
Run Faster, Think Better: Hugh Herr on the Future of Bionics
Bionics
Run Faster, Think Better: Hugh Herr on the Future of Bionics
Hugh Herr, head of Biomechatronics research at MIT and hailed as a bionic pioneer, is working to close the gap between synthetic limbs and the brain.

Hugh Herr, head of Biomechatronics research at MIT and hailed as a bionic pioneer, is working to close the gap between synthetic limbs and the brain.

Space
Want to Visit the Moon? NASA Is Accepting Astronaut Applications
Want to Visit the Moon? NASA Is Accepting Astronaut Applications
Space
Want to Visit the Moon? NASA Is Accepting Astronaut Applications
NASA has announced plans to begin accepting applications for its next class of Astronaut Candidates, some of whom may go on to visit the moon or even Mars.

NASA has announced plans to begin accepting applications for its next class of Astronaut Candidates, some of whom may go on to visit the moon or even Mars.

Dispatches
What's the Deal with the Giant Mosquitoes after Hurricanes?
What's the Deal with the Giant Mosquitoes after Hurricanes?
Dispatches
What's the Deal with the Giant Mosquitoes after Hurricanes?
These suckers grow to be three times larger than other mosquitoes, but they may not be as bad as you think.
By Michael Reiskind

These suckers grow to be three times larger than other mosquitoes, but they may not be as bad as you think.

Superhuman
How 3D-Printing Is Revolutionizing Heart Surgery
How 3D-Printing Is Revolutionizing Heart Surgery
Watch Now
Superhuman
How 3D-Printing Is Revolutionizing Heart Surgery
When a young boy was facing a complicated and dangerous heart operation, his doctors created an exact model of his heart to plan the surgery. And it probably saved his life.
Watch Now

Joseph had one of the most complicated heart conditions his doctors had ever seen. He faced a long and dangerous operation or a heart transplant. Without either, he wouldn't survive. Opting for surgery, Dr. Petros Anagnostopoulos at the American Family Children's Hospital prepped like few have ever done. He and his team 3D-printed a copy of Joseph's heart that they could explore and understand. It was another step forward...

The Smartwatch That Could Save Lives
The Smartwatch That Could Save Lives
Watch Now
The Smartwatch That Could Save Lives
Epilepsy can be a scary and dangerous condition. Could this seizure-detecting smartwatch provide peace of mind and save lives?
Watch Now

A start-up called Empatica has created a watch that can sense when an epileptic user is having a seizure. The device will then send the data to the individual's smart phone, which in turn will notify a pre-selected caregiver via phone call or SMS message. Having someone on call at all times to assist an individual with epilepsy can be incredibly comforting to that person and can even save his or her life. Additionally, the...

DIY
Treating Diabetes with a DIY Pancreas
Treating Diabetes with a DIY Pancreas
Watch Now
DIY
Treating Diabetes with a DIY Pancreas
A group of coders created an open source, DIY pancreas to help people with diabetes manage their condition.
Watch Now

Diabetes is a high maintenance and high stakes disease requiring constant monitoring and precise decision-making. What if we could outsource that workload to a machine? That’s what one couple decided to do. They made a homemade pancreas that eases the burden of diabetes care… and then released the design to the public for free.