Skip to main content
Move the World.

Welcome back to another edition of This Week in Ideas, where the Freethink team shares our favorite stories from the week gone by. Obviously, these are our favorite stories from other people, but you should also check out the ones we’ve told ourselves in the Coded series. (It’s shaping up to be an incredible primer on the state of cybersecurity, which means there’s plenty of tips on how to protect yourself from both malevolent hackers and overreaching spy agencies.)

Is it time to disrupt the MRI? “MRIs aren’t perfect. They require a gigantic magnet that can weigh several tons. The magnetic field produced by the device is so powerful it can throw a metal chair across a room. And the whole apparatus can cost several million dollars. Matthew Rosen and his colleagues at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging in Boston want liberate the MRI. They’re hacking a new kind of scanner that’s fast, small, and cheap. Using clever algorithms, they can use a weak magnetic field to get good images of our brains and other organs. Someday, people may not have to go to hospital for an MRI. The scanners may show up in sports arenas, battlefields, and even the backs of ambulances.”

**The next Einstein could be a home-schooled seven-year-old from Maryland: ** “Romanieo began exhibiting his understanding of elements as only a child could. One day, he used his popcorn snack to create model atoms, his father said. With his little hand forming a nucleus, he used popcorn kernels as protons, neutrons and electrons to make elements such as nitrogen and lithium.”

einstein
Is a 7-year-old from Maryland the next Einstein?

Is AI a Threat to Christianity? “While most theologians aren’t paying it much attention, some technologists are convinced that artificial intelligence is on an inevitable path toward autonomy. How far away this may be depends on whom you ask, but the trajectory raises some fundamental questions for Christianity.”

aiaggpiece
Will the rise of artificial intelligence pose questions for Christianity?

Your uplifting story of the week: “ A firefighter helped save a Boston Marathon bombing victim. Now they’re getting married.”

And for the outdoor types: Field & Stream tells you how to build every type of outdoor fire.

Feature image via STAT

More About

The Sound of Science
This Musician Transforms Scientific Data Into Elaborate Melodies
This Musician Transforms Scientific Data Into Elaborate Melodies
The Sound of Science
This Musician Transforms Scientific Data Into Elaborate Melodies
When we convert complex data into sound and listen to it, quite often what emerges is something we can understand through sound, even though we could never understand it visually.
By Teresa Carey

If you think staring at rows of numbers and graphs seems humdrum, these musicians agree. They are on a mission to expose new scientific information through sound, by turning flat datasets into musical scores --- creating the soundtrack for science:

Listen to Mark Ballora’s sonification of singularity with flutes and electronics:

Jenni Evans first met Mark Ballora at a Penn State social gathering. Both were professors at the university, but…

Culture of Change
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing
Watch Now
Culture of Change
Drone Racers Are A Thing and They’re Amazing

Blistering speed. Big money. 11-year-old world champions. Is drone racing the next big sport?

Watch Now

Yes, drone racers are a thing and they’re amazing. The Drone Racing League has gone from a dream to ESPN in a few short years. We met world champion Paul Nurkalla, aka Nurk FPV, and got an inside look at how the DRL is striving to be the next big sports league.

Somewhere between esports, NASCAR and Star Wars sits drone racing, also known as FPV racing. It’s a breathtakingly…

Innovation
Who Will Save Your Parent’s Life Story?
Who Will Save Your Parent’s Life Story?
Watch Now
Innovation
Who Will Save Your Parent’s Life Story?

When her dad had Alzheimer’s, this journalist wrote his life story to help his caregivers understand him. Now, she’d doing…

Watch Now

Memory Well is a new service where professional writers work with the elderly to tell their life stories online. It preserves their memories - and improves the care they receive in hospices and nursing homes.

It started on the difficult day when MemoryWell founder Jay Newton-Small put her father into a long-term care home. She realized that the staff wouldn’t know him like she did - so, as a journalist,…

#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'
#fixingjustice - Harm Reduction
A Day in the Life of a 'Violence Interruptor'

Freethink followed Andre T. Mitchell, the founder of Man Up!, and his violence interrupter team for a day in Brooklyn…

By Michelle Frankfurter

Freethink followed Andre T. Mitchell, the founder of Man Up!, and his violence interrupter team for a day in Brooklyn as they responded to a recent shooting in a nearby neighborhood.

Grandkids on Demand
Grandkids on Demand
Watch Now
Grandkids on Demand

A new service provides “grandkids on demand.”

Watch Now

Seniors often need help or companionship - but there might not be anyone to call. Papa is a new service that connects them with college students for help with household tasks, transportation, technology--and companionship.

This allows seniors to maintain independence and stay in their homes rather than assisted living facilities. It also provides college students with a great way to earn extra cash and develop work experience on a flexible…

Dispatches
Why a Third of Antidepressants Are Prescribed for "Off-label" Problems
Why a Third of Antidepressants Are Prescribed for "Off-label" Problems
Dispatches
Why a Third of Antidepressants Are Prescribed for "Off-label" Problems

The "secret life of antidepressants" could open up a host of new treatments.

By Leah Shaffer

The "secret life of antidepressants" could open up a host of new treatments.

Dispatches
Why Don’t Vaccines Work as Well in Poor Countries?
Why Don’t Vaccines Work as Well in Poor Countries?
Dispatches
Why Don’t Vaccines Work as Well in Poor Countries?

Our best tool for preventing disease is the least effective in the places where it's most needed.

By Dan Bier

Our best tool for preventing disease is the least effective in the places where it's most needed.

Crossing The Divide
How to Negotiate the Nonnegotiable
How to Negotiate the Nonnegotiable
Watch Now
Crossing The Divide
How to Negotiate the Nonnegotiable

Insights on working through conflict with Harvard's top negotiation expert.

Watch Now

Have you ever found yourself in an argument that was so frustrating that no resolution felt possible? Harvard’s top negotiation expert, Dr. Daniel Shapiro, says it’s not what we’re arguing about that’s the problem, it’s how we’re arguing. Dr. Shapiro is author of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable and has committed his career to giving people a framework for resolving their most emotionally-charged conflicts. As political and cultural tensions continue to heighten…

Culture
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD
Culture
This Army Sergeant Started a 24-Hour Hotline For Service Members with PTSD

First Sgt. Landon Jackson battled with severe PTSD and turned his experience into a 24 hour hotline that gives service…

By Mike Riggs

First Sgt. Landon Jackson battled with severe PTSD and turned his experience into a 24 hour hotline that gives service members an outlet whenever they need it.