Artificial intelligence will multiply your own intelligence, in ways that will surprise you.
Scientists have developed software that could save one billion dollars (and two million animals) each year.
For the first time, a lab-grown mini brain has brain waves. Researchers can now launch new ways to study brain disorders. But the question of consciousness in the brain-like organoid could raise concern.
Millions of people are dealing with traumatic head injuries; brain scans show that cognitive training could actually repair damaged neural connections.
A step forward for space tourism, extreme poverty could be on its way out, and illustrating advanced tech. These are our favorite stories of the week.
From how to make good habits (and keep them) to a crisis at the NIH, it's a new edition of our week in ideas.
Why does pain hurt more for some people? Why do others feel nothing at all?
The story of how Charlie Shrem built his business as a Bitcoin pioneer, lost it all, and is now clawing his way back.
Brain regeneration used to be considered a medical fantasy. But research shows that fantasy could eventually become a reality.
Are we fetishizing failure? What are the costs of failing? How do we bounce back after it inevitably happens?
Half of scientists have failed to replicate their own work — but they rarely come forward. A new project wants to change that.
Like the day’s newspaper, the brain has a temporary way to keep track of events.
Drugs couldn’t stop her infection — so she asked Ben Chan to get her a virus, instead.
The unbelievable story of the day Jordan Riley was declared brain dead and his journey of re-learning how to be human.
When nerve cells in the brain communicate, they create tiny electric fields that can be sensed – and sometimes altered – from outside the skull.
Why learning to suck at something is the only way to get good at it.
The experiment breaks the conventional wisdom about what memories are made of.
Can mind-readers replace passwords and biometric security?
Zika can devastate fetal brains; scientists want to turn it against brain tumors instead.
New research suggests that our hyper-connected world might be protecting us against devastating plagues.
A CRISPR skin graft looks like a promising way to deliver gene therapy.
Humanity is locked in an arms race with diseases: we update our vaccines, and diseases evolve new ways to try to sneak past them. Cutting-edge research is exploring how to stimulate immunity without using vaccines, using the new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR.
For Ladar Levison, founder of secure email service Lavabit, everything changed when the two FBI agents showed up at his door.
The maker movement is grieving a big loss with the shutdown of Maker Media. Freethink's Alexandra Cardinale spoke with some of the most creative people at the final Maker Faire.
To feed an additional two billion people by 2050, global food production will have to increase by roughly 50%. While conventional wisdom would only consider habitable land for food production, one couple in the Netherlands is taking a different approach. They have become the operators of the world's first and only floating dairy farm.
Should terminally ill patients be allowed to try experimental procedures? Hear the amazing, true story of the AIDS activists who fought for a "right to try." And won.
Millions of people have no address. They can’t get mail, they can't vote, they can’t get aid, and they don’t have rights. One company wants to change that.
It's a breakthrough for the blind and paralyzed, not the first step toward the Matrix. (Promise.)
From towers that create pockets of clean air to a luminescent bike path that glows like children's ceiling stars and windmills drawing lines of light across the sky, Daan Roosegaarde's entire practice is centered around the beauty of living with nature and removing pollution from urban life.
Scott Phoenix, founder of Vicarious, shares insights on the development of artificial intelligence and why this is a great time to be alive.
Georgia Tech researchers Thad Starner and Caitlyn Seim have developed a pair of gloves for playing piano that can magically get you up to speed in just an hour. They've also taught blind people to read braille in four hours, a process that usually takes up to four months. The gloves work through a process called passive haptic learning, and is another great discovery from Georgia Tech researchers. Basically,…
Luke Kenworthy put everything he had into making his business work. But it didn't pan out. Now he's sharing what he learned through it all.
Metal robots and electric motors don't normally play well with giant magnets.
What happens in your gut in childhood can change how your brain works later in life.
One small step for a mouse, perhaps one giant leap for treating spinal injuries.
How Rory Cooper Built the Custom Wheelchair When people think about using wheelchairs, they probably don’t envision a custom design. Instead, they picture a bulky frame, handicap ramps, special vans for transportation with archaic wheelchair lifts, and a design out of the past. The sad truth is wheelchair technology has changed very little in the last 200 years. And over time, these dated designs can cause physical injury and deplete…
A new strategy, called host-targeted defense, could help solve antibiotic resistance by upgrading the immune system.
It's not there yet, but carbon capture just got interesting.
There are currently over 7 billion human beings alive on Earth --- and in 2050 the world's population will rise by almost 2 billion. That's a lot more mouths to feed considering that roughly 11 percent of the world goes hungry today. "in the next 40 years, we need to produce the same amount of food as we did over the last 8,000 years." Ernst van den Ende , Managing…
Patients stricken with “essential tremors” have their lives upended by this nerve disorder which causes uncontrollable shaking. But doctors at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are helping these patients find relief by “burning out” the problem-causing part of the brain with a high-intensity focused ultrasound. This miracle treatment significantly reduces tremors without the potential for complications posed by more invasive brain surgery. This, along with other neurological advances,…
It sounds like science fiction, but it could save millions of lives.
Superhuman is back with Season 5! Premiering Wednesday, August 7th, we'll be meeting the scientists, cyborgs, and real life heroes who are pushing the frontiers of groundbreaking medical technology. Can't wait until then? Get to know the Superhuman cast below. The Emerging Cyborg Meet Alec McMorris When his cousin’s car skidded into a guardrail on an icy Utah road in 2013, Alec McMorris rushed to help him. While trying…
Rethinking the MRI machine, how will Christianity handle advanced tech, and is this 7-year-old the next Einstein?
The only way to make self-driving cars safer is to take the risk of more testing.
Meet Bryan Dai, the founder of Daivergent--a startup that hires people with autism to train artificial intelligence and helps them start independent careers. His journey began when his mother passed away, and he knew that he would be responsible for helping support his brother with autism. After people with autism turn 21, they often encounter the “support cliff,” after which they stop receiving many forms of government support. The statistics…
The technique could also open up treatments for Huntington's, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.
To hear Hamish Brewer speak is to be inspired. About education. About life. About the possibilities of it all. And for disadvantaged youths that come from poverty and broken homes, the New Zealander with an infectious energy works hard to encourage them to excel, not only in school, but in life. About Hamish Brewer With a shaved head, tattoos, and one of those loud, larger-than-life personalities, Hamish Brewer is hard…
How will artificial intelligence transform medicine?
At the Acton Children's Business Fair, the kids are the entrepreneurs. Wanting to inspire kids to follow their passions, the organizers of the fair created a space where the young business owners can make and sell their own products. "I believe kids are way more powerful than we give them credit for," organizer David Kirby told us. The businesses ranged from an iPhone repair shop, to organic cleaning supplies.…
Around 1 in 60 people on the globe rely on the coffee supply chain for their livelihood. But it’s an antiquated system, rife with uncertainty, unfairness, and even corruption. Bext360 wants to change that. They’re using machine vision, artificial intelligence, and blockchain payments to bring the largest un-automated system in the world into the digital age.
Hamish Brewer, the unconventional principal of Fred Lynn Middle School, went viral and won praise for his work turning the school around. But can he rally the school to the next huge milestone - regaining accreditation? Since moving from New Zealand to the United States, tattooed, skateboarding principal Hamish Brewer has helped inspire teachers and students at lower-income schools to smash people’s expectations. After his success at Occoquan Elementary,…
The SpaceX founder gave a rousing presentation on his company’s long-term plan for getting to Mars and establishing a civilization there.
A Look Inside the Cajun Navy Before Hurricane Katrina hit, the "Cajun Navy" didn't even exist. But in the aftermath of the storm, a group of volunteers that helped rescue thousands flood victims stranded in their homes and vehicles have come together again. Their goal? To work together to better assist people in times of need directly following a natural disaster. They call themselves the Cajun Navy, and their work…
Robert is paralyzed from the chest down. But now a robotic exoskeleton is giving him what he calls "a second chance at life."
When Karen Aiach decided to quit her finance job in 2005 in order to find a cure for the rare genetic disease that was killing her daughter, people told her it was impossible. In a weird way, it was just what Karen needed to hear. Because it meant if she didn’t do it, no one else would. She started with a search. The first thing she learned is that…
As hospitals collect more and more data, analyzing it is a challenge and an opportunity. Montefiore Medical Center of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is a case study in how using artificial intelligence in hospitals can help improve outcomes. They’re working with Intel’s Healthcare AI team to develop machine learning algorithms that can see patterns within it. The result, which they call the Patient Centered Analytic Learning Machine or…
Walking after complete spinal cord injury used to be a far-fetched dream. But, with advances in spinal cord implants for paralysis, even paraplegics have been able to regain mobility and walk again. Discover the inspiring stories of spinal cord research breakthroughs today and see the impact spinal implants have on individuals far and wide.
A brain implant connected to electrodes could offer hope to those who have lost function in their limbs.A tragic diving accident while on vacation left Ian Burkhart unable to move most of his body. But a brain implant connected to electrodes on his arm restored his ability to move his fingers and could offer hope to those who have lost function in their limbs.
OpenBCI has developed a 3D-printed headset that allows our brains to interact with software. Want to measure the effect of meditation on your brain? It's possible. Want to control a prosthetic limb with your mind? It's possible. Right now, the only thing OpenBCI's tech can't do are the things we haven't thought of.
The news industry is in crisis. Traditional ad models have not transitioned well to the digital world and many newspapers have closed their doors. Clickbait has risen as the pressure to get views at any price rises and quality suffers. People trust the media less and less, which has made it increasingly easy for special interests to manipulate public opinion. But Civil, a new startup, wants to help solve these…
Frequently seen being hauled by semi-trucks on the highway or stacked on the decks of cargo ships, these shipping containers are now being used in a different way, as a portal to connect people across the globe and facilitate conversation. Step inside and you can be instantly connected to someone on a different continent, with whom one can talk and share music, thoughts, and ideas. The creator of Portals hopes…
It feels like we've never been more divided. Yet amidst our most intense religious, political, and cultural conflicts, there are people around the country who are working tirelessly to forge connections. It’s not easy and the odds of success are far from certain, but for some, accepting things as they are just isn't an option. Freethink presents a new original series, “Crossing the Divide.”
Ladar Levison’s email service counted Edward Snowden among its users. But, when the FBI demanded Levison hand over Snowden’s communications, Levison destroyed the company’s servers. Now, he’s back with a more secure version of the service that could make mass surveillance obsolete.
Brain surgery is never easy -- for the doctor or the patient. Now, virtual reality is changing the game. Surgical Theater has created a revolutionary new tool, powered by Intel technology, that allows surgeons and patients to prepare for complicated new surgeries in ways never before possible. Surgeons have previously had to rely on 2D images and their imagination to visualize a surgery, but now they are able to use…
In the wake of the 2016 election, Tria Chang and Justine Lee felt frustrated and confused by the results. But they also realized that they didn’t know a single Trump voter. And most of their friends didn’t either. Tria and Justine wanted to find a way to get out of their bubble and talk to people who had different views. So they started Make America Dinner Again. At each dinner,…
In July of 2011, the U.S. suspended its decades-long Space Shuttle program, officially ending an era of space exploration that began over half a century ago. Some have mourned its passing as a sign of the times – as evidence that we could no longer dare to dream. But unbeknownst to many, a new era of private space exploration has already begun... and it’s firing on all cylinders. The New…
Superhuman is a Freethink original series about the amazing advances in medical innovation that are making the present look more like a sci-fi depiction of the future. Join us as we meet the engineers, entrepreneurs, doctors and patients who are giving people a new lease on life today, while building our superhuman future of tomorrow.
Across the globe, entrepreneurs are racing to develop new businesses that could dramatically improve people’s lives. But startups are hard work, and success is far from guaranteed. Join us as we profile the next generation of challenger companies on their journey to transform an entire industry—and change the world.
There’s an invisible war being waged. Foreign governments are hacking major corporations. Major corporations are collecting massive amounts of consumer data. And the NSA is listening to everything. But a new generation of programmers armed with powerful technology is rising up and fighting back.
Scott Phoenix, cofounder of Vicarious, believes smart machines could one day cure cancer, create new forms of energy, and solve virtually every problem that humans simply can’t. With the support of investors like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, Vicarious is striving to bring about this future in our lifetimes.
Jerral was serving in Iraq, his tank was hit by a roadside bomb. The attack left him paralyzed and without his left arm. But rather than letting his injuries define him, Jerral is fighting back with the help of the world’s most advanced prosthetic arm. He’s working with a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins to test the arm that could help Jerral and many other wounded vets like him…
Late at night on the NYC Subway, he was arrested for the heinous crime...of not having a working subway ticket. Fortunately, he had an ace in the hole - 1-833-3-GOODCALL (1-833-346-6322), New York City’s free lawyer hotline. In America we all have the right to a lawyer. But news flash: not everyone can afford one, and even fewer have a number memorized for the legendary “one phone call” you get…
Out of a small hangar in the Mojave Desert, XCOR is developing a rocket ship designed to fly to space four times a day, five days a week.
Meet the programmers on the frontlines of the war over security and privacy.
The "secret life of antidepressants" could open up a host of new treatments.
These key players are working from outside the system to lead the criminal justice reform movement.
Creating a civilian review board to oversee police conduct seems like a straightforward solution to disciplinary issues on the force. But why is it so hard to implement?
Severe spinal cord injuries (SCIs) -- often called complete injuries by clinicians -- are ones where no readable signal from the brain reaches the spinal cord beneath the trauma, resulting in total paralysis. The possibility that a patient with this type of severe injury might regain movement was once considered so remote that rehab has traditionally seemed a waste of time. And yet, in a handful of patients spanning multiple…
A fascinating interview with Michael P. McLoughlin, the chief engineer of research and exploratory development at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
Is the solution to dangerous drugs... making them safer?
For the first time in a long time, there's a new direction for potential Alzheimer's treatments.
Two scientists explain why the flu is still such a problem, a century after it killed 50 million people — and what we can do stop it.
The world's richest and poorest people are teaming up against our deadliest predator.
Unpacking the science behind human performance with The Sports Gene author David Epstein
Air travel takes longer today than it did 40 years ago. That's about to change.
There are a lot of different levels of artificial intelligence being applied in a lot of different ways. Here's a primer for starting to wrap your head around it all.
A shocking amount of scientific studies can’t be reproduced. Do we need to change the culture of science?
DeVitta Briscoe never had a chance to request a lighter sentence for the man who shot her son.
Neuroscientists say that we may be ignoring a basic fact that could defuse the "screen-time wars" between parents and kids.
Gangs are a major cause of violence and organized crime. Here’s why countries should think twice before trying to smash them.
Before he was director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Rory Cooper was customizing his own wheelchairs for racing. His racer was lighter than traditional chairs, optimized for racing on the road, but many of its modifications have since become commonplace in wheelchairs designed for everyday use. Cooper's chair demonstrated the importance of performance and functionality, ensuring that the user's quality of life is improved by restoring or augmenting…
A Freethink update: It's been several months since we first brought you the story of journalist Jamie Kalven and his influential "Sixteen Shots" expose in Slate that depicted a corrupt Chicago police department in the midst of a cover-up following the racist killing of teenager Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. Since then, Kalven has written another critical piece,…
After studying a team of canvassers, two researchers found that a single conversation can have a significant and lasting impact on a person's opinion.
Epidemiologist Dr. Gary Slutkin of Cure Violence says we need to treat violence like a public health crisis and employ the same types of strategies we use in medicine to treat violence.
Deepfakes have ignited fierce media criticism and call into question the public’s ability to discern fact from fiction. But the technology behind Deepfakes, called GANs, has enormous potential to drive innovation beyond fake social media videos. Read more to find out some of the amazing things being done with this technology.
American cities are safer than they used to be, but they’re still quite violent, and many economists think they’re under-policed. More police could help reduce crime, but only if people trust them to do a good job.
CBT is a promising way to reduce violence, so why has it been so hard to scale?
“Whether you live in the developed world or the developing world, the further you travel outside of a major city, the harder it is for you to access the medicine you need to stay healthy and alive.”
His daughter couldn’t go on school field trips with her classmates, so Craig Chaytor designed a virtual reality adventure just for her.
How a pediatric cancer drug went from discovery to clinical trials in five years and just $500,000.
Researchers claim that BrainNet is “bringing us a step closer to a ‘social network of brains.’”
We take a look at a few of the not-so-obviously-bizarre things we've launched beyond the earth's atmosphere.
As the founder of Fathers New Mexico, Barry McIntosh is on a mission to help young fathers understand how important the early parenting years really are.
For amputees, the sensation of a ‘phantom limb’ can be a terrible or disorienting experience -- feeling a hand, arm or leg that isn’t there anymore. But researchers at Johns Hopkins have recognized that these sensations are a clue, and they’re using it to restore the sense of touch.
Gene therapy uses a virus to replace missing or defective genes. It sounds counterintuitive, but it could be the key to curing previously incurable diseases.
From newborn health to AIDS treatment to DNA research, these brilliant women paved the way for incredible advances in the field of medicine.
In a lab in Arizona, dozens of bodies sit preserved at 320 degrees below zero. They each paid $200,000 to be frozen on the hope that, one day, medicine will advance far enough to once again bring them back from the dead.
Forty years later, IVF shows how fears about new technology can fade.
The Ebola outbreak sparked more medical innovation in two years than TB has in decades, even though TB is killing millions of people a year.
The evidence suggests that most murderers get away with it. Here's what we can do about that.
Private companies have worked with NASA for decades. Can the next generation of space companies get by without the government as their biggest customer?
There’s a global transformation happening - millions of people are migrating to cities from the countryside.
What you need to know about this genetic disease, explained by someone who knows it inside and out.
When the New Horizons spacecraft launched in 2006, Pluto was still a planet and the iPhone didn't exist.
As police departments look for ways to rebuild trust with their communities, an increasing number are turning to new community policing programs. But are they effective? As with most things, it depends on what you measure.
Her organization is bringing together a new generation of prosecutors with a shared vision of fair, compassionate, and responsible criminal justice reform.
The immersive world of VR may have therapeutic benefits for people combating phobias, anxiety, and PTSD.
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…
Despite rigorous prep, astronauts often have to improvise when things go wrong in space. And a lot more duct tape is involved than you may expect.
Throughout history, different organizations, governments, and even individuals have attempted to establish rules for, and ownership of, outer space.
Regulations forced companies that planned to sell satellites to other countries to register, in effect, as arms dealers.
A Duke robotics PhD student and his partner think they have a way ease tensions while deep-rooted differences are hashed out.
As more and more former football players exhibit symptoms of CTE, one company thinks their new helmet can address the problem of player safety.
The world discovered phages before antibiotics, but these lowly sewer viruses are getting renewed attention in the age of antibiotic resistance.
Your body began with a single cell and a single genetic code. But it didn't stay that way for long.
It is the first of "a wave of advances that have the potential to transform medicine."
Businesses have gotten to space; now what?
It's not the next Bitcoin (or a path to riches), but it's an intriguing idea.
SpaceX is out in front, but the race for global satellite internet is getting crowded.
New proposed regulations from the FDA would effectively shut down private stem cell clinics in the U.S.
Greg Shugar, founder of Tie Bar and Thread Experiment, discusses why his businesses wouldn’t have been possible without Chinese factories.
Officer Tommy Norman's work has drawn national attention recently, but his approach to policing is nothing new.
The package is simple and dirt-cheap—a plastic bag with a condom, a syringe, a rubber tube, and a card with instructions—but it can mean the difference between a mother living and dying.
Flexport's founder discusses the personal and business side of building an ambitious startup.
If huge companies and government agencies can't manage the cyber threats, how can ordinary Americans?
Growing Home’s organic urban farms use agriculture as a vehicle for providing job training for people with employment barriers, whether due to prior convictions, medical concerns, poverty, homelessness, or any other issues which make gainful employment difficult.
What does it mean for the future of journalism when a computer can turn mounds of data into a cohesive narrative?
We dive into the viability and future of nuclear energy in the U.S. and around the world with Leslie Dewan, CEO of nuclear power startup Transatomic.
We've all heard it before: "I was hacked!" But that can mean a lot of things. We take a look at some of the big ones.
While the press tends to emphasize bad news, there are less covered stories of people from different backgrounds and beliefs coming together.
Researchers at Cambridge University have finally figured out how the brain stops stressful thoughts and memories from taking over our minds.
Hey, it works!
When lives are on the line, inspiration can come from the most unlikely places.
How the founders of the "coffin clubs" got started – and their advice for others.
The FDA banned triclosan from hand soap, but new research shows that it can supercharge old antibiotics.
MaCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda’s design studio, Alleles, began as an unorthodox college thesis project. It is now a premier boutique where amputees can be fitted for fashionable limb covers that make their prosthetic limbs stylish and eye-catching. These designers hope their fashions will help reduce the stigma that comes with prosthetics.
Basic science funding is a mess. Fixing it could radically improve the pace of innovation.
People who suffer extreme brain trauma sometimes fall into what is known as a "persistent vegetative state." What is a vegetative state and how is it different from a coma? Unlike a coma, where the patient is completely immobile and unconscious, people in a vegetative state will sleep, wake, and open their eyes — without showing any sign of awareness or consciousness. They don't speak, move on their own, or…
What can lift 500 pounds in each hand, walk for miles and miles with a heavy load, or leap over obstacles in a single bound? Humans - with the help of wearable robotics. Alan Asbeck anticipates in less than a decade, everyone will have seen somebody donned in a robot suit. “I've wished I had one when moving from house to house or when shoveling snow,” he said. Asbeck is…
A recycled road has been paved with asphalt that contains the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of plastic bags, along with thousands of glass bottles and printer cartridges’ worth of waste toner. In addition to the sheer amount of recycled materials the process will divert away from landfills, these longer-lasting roads also help to reduce the carbon footprint of construction.
A paralyzed woman runs a half marathon in an exoskeleton, Sri Lanka defeats malaria, incomes are rising. Here's some good news since most of what we hear is just the bad.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, improvements to infrastructure shift focus from cars to micromobility. The city’s transportation plan calls for hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes and pedestrian pathways for increased safety.
Billions spent on projects of questionable benefit - like the plan to capture an asteroid - raises the question: Should NASA take a back seat in the 21st century space race?
Scientists have figured out how to hack the brain's memory.
For centuries, prosthetics didn't change much at all, but the past 10 years has seen an incredible leap forward in the way they look and work.
Computer-game simulations can train self-driving cars to navigate in the real world.
Right now, assistive bionic technology is really cool and really expensive. This is how it will get better and cheaper.
After a 30-year struggle, Atlantic salmon modified with a growth hormone gene from Chinook salmon has been approved by the FDA. Its producers say it solves problems related to climate change, ocean pollution, and food scarcity. Skeptics call it playing god. Both call it the Frankenfish.
Imagine seeing your child struggling or completely unable to enjoy normal recreational activities. Water parks, merry-go-rounds, theme parks - all childhood activities that unfortunately, many kids don’t not get to experience. Gordon Hartman couldn’t find an amusement park that would accommodate his daughter, a person with special needs. So he did one any father would do. Using the money from the sale of his successful insurance business, he created one. Hartman built a completely accessible amusement park for kids with special needs in San Antonio, Texas called Morgan’s Wonderland. And this massive, “ultra-accessible” amusement park has all of us wanting to buy tickets.
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now the second deadliest on record. The epicenter is in North Kivu, a conflict-torn province which shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Ugandan Ebola cases were the first to cross borders from the current Congo outbreak. Now, a new trial study in Uganda could hold the key to stopping the spread of this devastating disease.
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.
We're living in a golden age of people exploring high and low tech methods to optimize our bodies.
Vitamin D deficiency is an age-old problem, but new techniques from archaeology may be the key to catching it early.
How do you bounce back from a life-changing car accident? Adam Gorlitsky decided he would break a world record. In a weird way, it’s a good time to be paralyzed Adam Gorlitsky Adam was paralyzed from the waist down in a terrible wreck and thought his track and field days were over. But once approved for an experimental exoskeleton, he gained the ability to walk again and decided to start…
A new kind of radar could direct drone traffic safely around city skies.
We finally have a detailed picture of an enzyme that could play a key role in fighting both aging and cancer
Over 600,000 people will leave prison this year; here's how we can help them never return.
An incredible medical breakthrough, Google ups the ante, and the SpaceX Mars rocket. These are our favorite stories of the week.
With a growing population, changing consumption behavior and a climate crisis, how will we feed our future world? The answer may not be increasing resources--land, water, and employees--but rather improving production efficiency. The key question: How do we increase the amount of food we produce while using the same or fewer resources? In the first episode of our original series, Future of Food, we take a look at sustainable agriculture.…
The vaccine works great at preventing infection—let’s hope it can also prevent media panic too.
The discovery cracks open a 7,000-year history of human-virus warfare. And it's raising weird questions.
The bacteria in your microbiome ward off infections and help keep your skin healthy.
Half of genes linked to schizophrenia are primarily involved in the placenta, not the brain.
The event will seek to answer one of the most interesting technology questions of the early 21st century: How close are we to integrating humans with machines?
We need a lot more calories to feed a growing world, and these scientists may have figured out how to get them.
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.
A very small number of very daring people are responsible for all of the world’s antivenom.
This mobile lab, run by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, is one of several workarounds developed by US researchers to study cannabis outside the confines of campus, where federal law has stymied research of the drug.
Volunteers worldwide are documenting the world's rarest, nearly dead languages in a project called Wikitongues. Over a thousand volunteers (and counting) from around the world make videos of people speaking their native language — introducing themselves, providing an oral history, or just talking about their culture — then upload it to an online database. The archive is available on the web as a free language encyclopedia. Soon they will also be available at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
As talk of space colonization heats up, is it time to have a serious conversation about conflict resolution in a place where few rules or laws exist?
For a couple decades people thought nuclear power was the answer to pretty much everything. And they came up with some ideas we’ll generously call visionary.
Robots can make hundreds of tiny copies of your organs, allowing doctors to test many different treatments at the same time.
A pill instead of a needle would be the "holy grail" for diabetes treatment.
Could exoskeletons help us do our jobs? Should we actually be afraid of robots taking our jobs? These are the latest stories from the frontlines of the robotic world.
A century after its discovery, insulin is still incredibly expensive, but DIY bio-manufacturing could change that in a big way.
The "Human BioMolecular Atlas" will map the active genes in over 200 types of cells and 80 different organ systems.
Companies gather to discuss impact of A.I. A possible neural lace breakthrough. And unmanned cargo ships. This is the coolest stuff we've read this week.
Hero Pups is an organization providing support dogs for military veterans and first responders. Now, prison inmates are helping train them - with great results. In this video, Freethink reporter Michael O’Shea meets a veteran of the Iraq War who was struggling with PTSD. He was fortunate enough to receive a service dog from Hero Pups, and it’s helped relieve the stress and anger that used to keep him from…
The "Ride Home Program" sends drivers to pick up former inmates on their first day of freedom to help ensure a smooth transition in those first few critical hours.
“Everyone - no matter their age, race, or background - needs a network of supportive relationships to help them thrive.”
Uber rolled out self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, but they're not totally autonomous. Yet. Under Pennsylvania law, every car still needs an operator.
Reimagining how we get medicine to people, using genetically modified mosquitoes to fight Zika, and selfies as passwords. These are the stories that got us talking.
An arm implant to treat opioid addiction, teaching hair stylists with VR, and a potential Amazon Prime game changer.
Amazon's new grocery store, Adobe's new tech can make you say anything, and pay for the bus by watching an ad.
We’re now starting to scratch the surface of the true potential of virtual reality.
A step toward human organs in animal embryos, the Hubble Telescope was a game changer, and Americans aren't doing much to protect themselves online.
Smári McCarthy discusses his job protecting the work of journalists investigating organized crime and corruption
A new pill can make cancer cells glow under infrared light, and it could eliminate for mammograms.
Reliable power straight from the sun looks more achievable than ever.
How might your life change if you lost an arm? After losing his right arm in an electrical accident, Jason wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to drum again.
If you thought dragons existed only in the domain of historical fantasy fiction like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, think again. Dragons are real and their blood just may be our biggest hope when it comes to tomorrow's antibiotics. Dragons Are Real The largest of any earthly lizard, Komodo dragons walk the earth to this day. They’re not only real, but they’re also much like their larger,…
In the fight against TB, sometimes it's better to just get along.
Uber turned off the emergency braking function in its self-driving cars because of "erratic vehicle behavior."
Consumer Reports failed the Model 3's braking system. A week later, Tesla beamed a fix to the entire fleet.
Two studies find that CRISPR'd cells tend to become cancerous. Here's what that means for biotech medicine.
Engineering bacteria in the microbiome could fix previously untreatable genetic disorders.
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.
Fleets of small satellites can gather far more accurate and timely data than conventional satellites. And investors are taking notice.
Research shows people don't take extreme weather predictions seriously. And don't take the necessary precautions as a result.
Uber's self-driving beer truck, how a chatbot can help the grieving process, and more of our favorite stories from the week.
Ladar Levison spent 10 years building his business, then destroyed it all in one night when the FBI came knocking.
For decades, Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by a repressive military junta. Then, in 2011, things began to change.
From virtual hearts to immersive battlefields, doctors and scientists are using virtual reality to transform medicine
How can we make humans pay attention when a machine is doing our job for us?
A new discovery upends what we thought we knew about premature births and could point the way to entirely new solutions to prevent them.
Two years ago, she had two months to live.
The plant-based preservative could radically change the game on food waste.
Computer hackers exploit flaws in code to access systems and take what they want; plant diseases work the same way.
Bioengineered fish have been known to cause mixed feelings. Unnatural, right? Well, after 30 years of debate on whether we should be eating “Frankenfish,” this funky food source is finally coming to a store near you. Like it or not, GMO salmon and possibly other genetically engineered animal meats will soon be on the shelves of your local supermarket. And, these new futuristic foods may be revolutionizing the global food…
Conor Russomanno’s interest in his own brain started with a bump on his head. A concussion he sustained during a game of rugby altered his perception of the world for months afterward. And that change got him thinking about the relationship between his physical brain and the way he thinks. To help him better understand himself--and to help other people understand themselves--he partnered with Joel Murphy to start OpenBCI--which is…
For many cancer patients, being treated at home is just as safe, more affordable, and more convenient than being treated in a clinical setting.
Rethinking Autism: Interview with NeuroTribes Author Steve Silberman
Why This Hacker Was Arrested The super-secretive hacker known as MalwareTech became famous when he dismantled the WannaCry computer virus, one of the most alarming privacy threats in recent memory. But the praise was cut short when the hacker was arrested by the FBI for creating a virus that gave digital thieves access to people’s banking credentials. Was he just doing research to stop criminal activity or engaging in criminal…
Any father would do whatever it takes to save their child’s life. So when Steve Levine found out that his daughter was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease, he started thinking of any way he could help. The problem was that his daughter was born with reversed left and right ventricles, the weaker of which would run the risk of giving out as she aged. She had a pacemaker installed…
Opioid addictions have become a dangerous side effect for many that take medications to treat chronic pain. To address this, doctors are exploring alternatives to prescriptions pain medicine. As part of this movement, Dr. Brennan Spiegel at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles has spear-headed some pretty fascinating research. He and his team are using virtual reality to reduce pain. Not only is it surprisingly effective when a patient has the…
Borderlands Books is the largest English-language sci-fi, mystery, and horror book store in the world. Mission: Comics and Art is a combination comic book shop and art gallery. Both were preparing to close up shop in a tough retail environment as costs rose. Alan Beatts called a community meeting of his customers. A new idea came out of it - selling store memberships. After an outpouring of support, he sold…
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…
The average American is one medical accident away from being destroyed financially. These bill collectors woke up to the brutality of their industry - and are using their insider knowledge to save strangers from hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. Jerry Ashton was a debt collector working on Wall Street when the Occupy Wall Street movement started. He became interested, and eventually partnered with them and his friend Craig…
In addition to healing injuries, the approach could be useful for repairing skin damage, countering the effects of aging, and modeling skin cancer.
More than one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime; new discoveries are helping them fight back.
The project, named AlterEgo, intentionally crosses the line between what's "out there" and what's in your head.
The Israeli group's moon mission will be ride-sharing on a SpaceX rocket.
“T-bone steak, cheese eggs, and Welch’s grape.” Yo Stay Hungry competitions are simple: teams of contestants prepare dishes mentioned in rap lyrics, coached by a professional chef mentor.
With Thanksgiving winding down, take some time to join us on a journey to the frontier of medical technology.
Deepfake videos use video manipulation to show people saying and doing things they never have. These engineers are using blockchain technology to separate fact from fiction. Deepfakes, fake videos generated using artificial intelligence technology, could be the next frontier in misinformation. While news video has historically been the gold standard of veracity, an era where video can be easily created could further erode trust in information and media. Deepfakes of…
Zach Weinersmith, creator of the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic and Kelly Weinersmith, professor and scientist, explain how to think about the future - a focus of their new illustrated book “Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything.” The New York Times best-selling book has been praised for its exciting and nuanced looks at ten technologies that could change the world dramatically. In this interview, they explain their…
Dance to Be Free is a program helping female prisoners overcome trauma with dance. While the inmates at the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Corrections are physically incarcerated, the freedom that comes through dance helps them open up, enjoy themselves, and regain self-confidence. Founder Lucy Wallace began teaching dance in prison in order to help inmates, who often had unaddressed PTSD from physical or emotional trauma, regain ownership over their…
“Society gave up on us” - but this community didn’t. Meet UTEC, the organization breaking the cycle of recidivism by helping hardened previously imprisoned gang members walk a better path in Lowell, Massachusetts. UTEC - or United Teen Equality Center - is a non-profit dedicated to stopping gang violence. Obviously, it’s not easy - in Lowell, MA there are over 25 gangs operating, and many gang members have been in…
Sharing nude selfies with partners is increasingly common. Too often, though, these images end up posted online without consent. BADASS Army is an army of volunteers getting these images taken down and punishing people who upload them without consent—whether they’re exes posting revenge porn, a hacker releasing them, or someone stealing them through other means. What is Revenge Porn? Revenge porn, also known as nonconsensual image sharing (NCIS), is a…
Jacquie Berglund considers herself more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker, yet she is building an empire around the beer brand, Finnegans. When Berglund purchased the brand for only a dollar, she knew that if Finnegans were to make an impact, the beer needed to be in every pub in Minnesota. Now you can find Finnegans in four Midwest states. But Finnegans is more than a beer company.…
The story of Vicarious' mission to build the world's first human-level artificial intelligence and use it to help humanity thrive.
Our weekly take on the best stuff from around the web.
Breakthrough could mean the end of test animals, violent crime nearly cut in half, and drones that pollinate flowers.
Created by the Tor Project, the app gives internet users a new way to monitor and report online censorship around the world.
Emily Bazelon's new book Charged: The New Movement To Transform American Prosecution And End Mass Incarceration is an incredible tour de force that guides readers through America's broken criminal justice system through the eyes of two young people as they go through the system. The book reveals the breathtaking amount of power prosecutors wield in our modern legal system and highlights the ways that some reform-minded District Attorneys are using…
Amidst our most intense religious, political, and cultural conflicts, there are people around the country who are working tirelessly to forge connections
Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common movement disorder in children, and nearly half of kids with CP can't walk own their own. As bones grow and muscles set incorrectly, walking becomes progressively more difficult. Extensive and repeated surgeries are often required to provide relief, but they can't solve the underlying problem. Now, engineers in the Biomechatronics Lab at Northern Arizona University are hoping that robots can lend a hand.…
Scientists aren't exactly sure yet what the "virome" is up to, but it's probably important.
These suckers grow to be three times larger than other mosquitoes, but they may not be as bad as you think.
"Scientists work in high-security buildings that are banned to the public and then wonder why they are misunderstood."
Doctors told Vanna she was permanently blind. But thanks to an experimental procedure, she can see.
The story of how one man gave his space-loving best friend a final resting place in the final frontier.
A future of eating meat without ethical or environmental implications is more real than ever before. While plant-based alternatives are growing in popularity, the real black horse with game-changing potential seems to be actual meat… grown in science labs. The question at this point is not whether this approach is viable or scalable, but simply: will people want to eat it?
Meet the proud, hopeful, ambitious people determined to build the life they’ve dreamed of.
Building a new, community-based foster care system
Clean meat is becoming a more widely known, and much loved food category. But do you expect to see it on your gourmet plate any time soon? These chefs think yes.
Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded after a perilous journey at sea, they exemplify the risk that refugees are willing to take in search of a better life. Men, women, and children arrive at Lesbos by the hundreds --- sometimes, as many as 500 in one day. Many come across the Mediterranean, where war or other factors threaten…
Democratizing microscopes, how we heal our political divisions, and BBC's Planet Earth returns. These are our favorite stories of the week.
It’s been 44 years since a human stepped on the moon, and a new generation of entrepreneurs is laying the groundwork for us to go back.
Many think of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island when they hear nuclear power. But nuclear's struggle to gain a foothold in the U.S. is more nuanced than isolated safety problems.
Max Ventilla on why he thinks its time for a new way to educate kids and how his startup could be a way to do it.
It’s 5am in New York City. Most people aren’t awake yet; a few might still be up from the night before. But a group of people with a special organization is gathering for a morning run. Back on My Feet is a nonprofit community that’s helping people struggling with homelessness or recovering from drug addiction begin their journey towards self-sufficiency: employment, housing, and a sustainable income. While members might not…
There's more to your DNA than just letters, and mutations can lurk in that genetic "dark matter."
Karen Aiach isn't a doctor and has never worked in medicine. But when doctors said her daughter wouldn't live past adolescence, she knew she had to get to work.
Coalfield Development is a nonprofit on a mission to unlock the resources and potential of coal country. Partnering with local entrepreneurs, they've helped launch six new businesses and trained hundreds of workers across Appalachia. They provide education and training for unemployed workers, from college courses to trade skills, and partner with businesses to help them succeed on the job. The coal jobs might not be coming back, but they believe…
We could be on our way to a fast, reliable, portable test for almost any virus or cancerous mutation.
Charlie Shrem went from multi-millionaire to having almost nothing. Shrem was a Bitcoin pioneer. And it paid off big time. Until he was sent to jail for allowing a customer to resell bitcoin on Silk Road. Now, he’s out and wants to convince the world that Bitcoin is the future of finance.
Pheo Coffee isn’t your everyday coffee company — it’s paying for critical medical treatments in developing countries. Founder and physician Larry Istrail saw that millions of people worldwide were suffering because they couldn’t pay for basic medical care — while in America we're drinking millions of cups of coffee a day. He decided to make a difference by starting a coffee company whose proceeds would go toward creating a sustainable…
Fertility medicine may be on the edge of a breakthrough.
Our best tool for preventing disease is the least effective in the places where it's most needed.
Virtual reality users experience more lucid dreams, a paralyzed man gets movement back, and self-lacing shoes. These are our favorite stories this week.
Dr. Giovanni Borromeo dreamed up a brilliant scheme that saved dozens of Jewish families in Rome from Nazi persecution.
At its peak, NASA’s shuttle flew to space a few times a year. XCOR wants to be something more like Southwest Airlines for space. They're working on a spacecraft prototype with a very ambitious goal: four daily flights to space, five days a week. If XCOR is successful, they could take more people to space in six months than NASA did in 30 years.
The Master’s Apprentice is an organization that recruits young people from rough backgrounds - and gives them the skills to find quality careers in the trades. “There’s a huge gap between youth looking for an opportunity... and businesses looking for quality employees.” “There’s a huge gap between youth looking for an opportunity... and businesses looking for quality employees.” It’s been a problem for a long time. Urban youth without college…
Twenty people die every day in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. There aren’t enough organs for the 100,000 people waiting for one. And there likely never will be… unless we can find a better way to source them. Enter: the pigs. A team of scientists has figured out how to grow human organs in pigs. It might make you feel weird. But it also might save countless lives.
In a lab in Arizona, dozens of bodies sit preserved at 320 degrees below zero. They each paid $200,000 to be frozen on the hope that, one day, medicine will advance far enough to once again bring them back from the dead. While many may scoff at the idea, supporters feel taking a bet on a long shot is better than the alternative.
23andMe has won the right to tell you what your genes say about you. It's a landmark legal achievement that could help usher in a new age of personalized medicine.
Someday, diabetics could use caffeine to trigger insulin production, thanks to specially designed kidney cells.
The story of how 3D printing gave Ryan Hines a chance to regain his independence for $150. And how he's now offering the same chance to others.
The drug has been proven effective at reducing seizures from certain types of childhood epilepsy.
The only treatment for retinoblastoma is surgical removal of the eye—but scientists may have found another way: cancer-killing viruses.
Josh Feldman was on his honeymoon when he felt a lump on his neck. Returning home after the best month of his life, his doctor gave him the news: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. There was no cure, and it was about to get much worse. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy failed to stop his tumors from growing, Josh went to see Dr. John Timmerman, an oncologist at UCLA who is trying something…
When doctors told Karen there was no cure for her daughter’s brain disease, she took matters into her own hands. With no scientific background, she created a gene therapy business that can fix the faulty genes in patients like her daughter. Now she’s racing against the clock to extend her daughter’s life and improve the lives of others.
Jason Barnes lost his arm in a horrible accident... and then he became the fastest drummer in the world. Now he’s working with doctors and engineers who are designing ultrasound sensors that could give him back fine motor control. Join us as he sits down to play piano for the first time since his accident. Today, the one-armed drummer has his sights set on conquering his next musical instrument: the…
Drone technology is fundamentally changing the way we respond to natural disasters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, rescue teams used drones extensively to map and triage affected areas, while utility and cellular providers used them to inspect damage and prioritize repairs. Cheap to operate and with the ability to cover widespread areas, drones are changing the game when it comes to cleaning up disaster zones. Already credited with saving…
Most people are afraid to even talk about death, but New Zealand’s Kiwi Coffin Club is facing it head on. Founded by Katie Williams, a former midwife and hospice nurse, members build and then decorate their own customized coffins as a way of celebrating their lives and highlighting their unique personalities. "Death's pretty natural, you know," says Williams. "It shouldn't be a frightening sort of situation. It's part of living."…
Peppers Ranch is a community of a dozen families raising at least five foster kids. Is it a model for providing better foster care to more kids? In this episode of Catalysts, we visit Peppers Ranch and meet some of the people and families who call it home. We talk to foster child Scott, who was close to aging out of foster care but unprepared to live on his own.…
For over a decade, ever since police killed his son, Michael Bell has been trying to get an independent investigation into the shooting — and he's fighting to make sure that every family is entitled to one, whenever police use lethal force. In November 2004, his son, Michael Bell, Jr., was pulled over in front of his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin, for an alleged traffic violation. Although a dashcam video…
Baltimore’s kids are obsessed with dirt bikes. Some people think that's a problem, but teacher Brittany Young is using dirt bikes to get kids into engineering and STEM education. Her organization, B-360 Baltimore, aims to use dirt bike culture to help end the cycle of poverty, disrupt the prison pipeline, and bring together communities — while giving dirt bikes a better reputation. Dirt bikes are a controversial issue in…
Chef Chad Houser was a rising star in the Dallas restaurant scene, but after volunteering with kids in the criminal justice system, he felt a calling to do more. He gave up his job to start Cafe Momentum, a restaurant staffed by kids from the criminal justice system. They’re given year-long paid internships where they are taught the skills to succeed in restaurants and society. It’s his way of trying…
UV light destroys bacterial DNA from the inside out, eradicating the toughest pathogens in minutes.
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…
After an accident, Robert Woo was paralyzed from the chest down. Woo spent the next four years in a wheelchair and in therapy. But even as he learned how to live his new life, he couldn’t stop asking one very simple question: How could humans build skyscrapers, but not something better than a wheelchair? Then Woo heard about bionic exoskeletons. And it changed his life.
Linc Gasking, co-founder of VR startup 8i, discusses the day-to-day grind and big picture excitement of being an entrepreneur.
Despite 2016 being widely panned, there were also truly good things that happened over the past year. Here are some of the big ones.
Ben Chan searches sewers, lakes, and pig farms all around the world for bacteriophages (bacteria-destroying viruses) that could help fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs.” Paige is a young woman in Texas with cystic fibrosis who is suffering from a drug-resistant infection; Ben’s experimental phage therapy is her last resort. We follow Ben as he travels from his laboratory at Yale to Lubbock, Texas, to deliver the treatment —…
Jerral lost his left arm in Iraq. Now he's working with a team from Johns Hopkins to test a prosthetic arm that works by reading signals in his skin.
Flexport's app is built to make global trade easier. If they're successful, it could mean everything you buy will cost less.
Anemia affects up to ⅓ of the world’s population, but tests are expensive and require complicated devices. Now, an app is able to screen for anemia without even drawing blood. It’s the brainchild of Rob Mannino, a postdoctoral fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology who has anemia himself. He wanted to fight the disease, so he teamed up with Wilbur Lam, an associate professor at Emory. Recognizing the number…
Richard Bronson’s story could inspire a movie—and that’s not far from what happened. He worked for the firm depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street before getting charged with financial crimes and spending 2 years in prison. While incarcerated, his eyes were opened to the inequities prisoners faced and how daunting re-entry to society was. He decided to do something about it. He started the website 70 Million Jobs,…
She’s a veteran, a single mom, and a trucker, who used to have to wait around for hours for her cargo. Now, a revolutionary solution from SAP and Uber Freight is getting her back on the road and home to her son sooner. Almost every good we use was at some point transported by truck drivers. Trucking is a $700 billion dollar industry in America, employing millions of people. However,…
Derrick Campana isn’t your typical... anything. He’s a prosthetics engineer helping animals walk again - or walk for the first time - with artificial limbs. In the old days when an animal had a broken leg, they would often be euthanized--and only if they were very lucky would they wind up with a leg cast. Derrick Campana wants to put those days in the past. He’s creating prosthetics and casts…
When Will Aliva got out of prison, he’d paid his debt to society - but that didn’t help him pay his bills. Like many ex-cons, he struggled to find companies that would take a chance on hiring him. Too often, this roadblock results in ex-cons winding up back behind bars as they turn to old illegal activities to make ends meet. He decided to tackle the problem head on and…
“Welcome to the land of broken dreams” Just a few years ago, there were only 16 public showers available for 7,500-12,000 homeless people across the city of San Francisco. This left most of them with no place to shower, use the restroom, or a place to get privacy. A hot shower means a fresh, clean, and renewed start. Cleanliness can be the difference between a spot in a shelter or…
Essam Daod is a child psychiatrist using a groundbreaking approach to help Syrian refugee children handle their trauma effectively by narrowing in on the key moment that can prevent PTSD in children. The world news over the past few years has been filled with coverage of the Syrian civil war. Caught in the crossfire of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and various rebel and terror groups, millions of Syrians have fled…
When their autistic son fell in love with a virtual reality headset, Vibha and Vijay Ravindran got an idea: could this unlimited digital world help people who have trouble engaging in the physical world? Together, they founded a company called Floreo to develop VR programs for people with developmental disabilities, helping them break free from the constraints of their bodies and the typical pressures of their learning environment. Like many…
MIT scientists say eating good bacteria can prevent, cure, and diagnose cholera—cheaply.
Sending things into space is really expensive. But what if we didn't have to? What if everything in space was made in space?
Google releases some beautiful VR, human trials of gene-editing technology CRISPR, and importing Cuba's cancer vaccine.
OpenBCI has developed technology that allows you to control the world outside your body with your brain waves.
Some of the predictions might look outlandish now, but at the time they actually seemed quite plausible.
As a girl growing up in Afghanistan, Roya Mahboob was offered few opportunities for a life outside the home. Her conservative society had limited options for women and actively discouraged dreaming bigger. But Roya knew she wanted more. When she went to an internet cafe as a teenager and saw a world outside of her town, she realized technology could be her ticket to the life she dreamed of. Roya…
“People need to be cared for in order to keep them from corroding,” says Jeanne Selander, who helps run the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm. The farm functions as an zoo for exotic animals. But this isn’t a normal zoo. It’s staffed entirely by convicted felons. Selander has seen the experience transform the inmates. The work gives them purpose and being around animals seems to have a calming effect.…
Why we should teach kids how to hack and encourage them to use their new-found talents for good.
Some people who are legally blind can still see, but images can be blurry and in low contrast. eSight has created a headset that can give sight to the blind through three technologies. First, an HD camera captures video. Second, a built in computer increases contrast and clarity. Third and finally, the image is projected on displays in real time. 15 years after marrying his wife, eSight helped a legally…
To address rising health problems in the 1980s, scientists and policymakers developed the US Food Pyramid to encourage healthy eating. But despite a massive public education campaign, obesity and diabetes continued to rise. What happened? How did we get it so… wrong?
How can we make progress on a problem as huge and seemingly intractable as poverty? How can we not? There is no silver bullet to eradicating poverty, but all across the country, a diverse array of social entrepreneurs are doing their part to take on this monumental challenge, building amazing organizations that are having a real impact in their communities. Catalysts, a Freethink original series presented by Stand Together, will…
Thinking about cyborgs in real life typically conjures thoughts of pop culture works like The Matrix. Terminator. Bladerunner. Hollywood loves to sensationalize merging the body with advanced tech. But will it really be so bad? We sat down with Adam Piore, author of The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human to discuss why we should stop freaking out and embrace our cyborg future. Spend any amount of…
When building robots, scientists often struggle to perfect the robot's movements. They turn to the natural world in order to solve this problem, finding inspiration from animals such as spiders, dogs, and even humans. However, studies show that even though we live in a world that is largely built for humans, robots that appear to be too "human-like" make people uneasy. Thus, researchers at Carnegie Melon developed a robot that…
At a maximum security prison in Oregon, select inmates watched 60 minutes of nature videos every day for a year. Inspired by the research of Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, the study was intended to measure the psychological benefits of exposure to nature. The results were incredible. Nearly half the inmates said the images soothed them, while violent acts in the prison dropped by 26%. Additionally, guards reported the inmates seemed…
The world is changing. Fast. And it’s changing because people are changing it. People with new ideas and new perspectives. People who aren’t satisfied with the status quo and aren’t afraid to think differently. At Freethink we’re building a movement. Of rebels, hackers, pioneers, idealists, engineers, tinkerers, scientists, geeks, nerds, influencers, outcasts, artists, activists, do-gooders, disruptors, troublemakers, peacemakers, skeptics, challengers, risk takers. And you. We’re reimagining media for a generation…
After Californians voted against gay marriage in 2008, Dave Fleischer, head of the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, knew he had to do something different to reach people. Dave and his team embarked on an ambitious task to talk to as many people who who disagreed with them as they could. They used a technique called “deep canvassing” where activists connect with people using personal stories to…
Veterans returning home with PTSD often face many of the same stigmas around getting help that civilians face and aren’t always able to access the care they need to recover. But Headstrong, a nonprofit founded by veterans to help other veterans, believes that trauma is treatable. They provide veterans with free access to quality therapists who offer them the tailored support they really need to get better and adjust to…
Water is in short supply in much of the world — but what if we use seawater? It’s been a dream for years, but now technology is making it possible. This new seawater greenhouse uses a clever cardboard design to distill fresh water from salt water cheaply and efficiently. It’s helping grow crops in Somaliland, and could help stop the water crisis in Africa and other parts of the world…
When you think of homelessness, you typically don't picture homeless children. However, every year, approximately 2.5 million children experience homelessness. Homeless children can't learn when they don't know where their next meal is coming from, or what is waiting for them at home. They often struggle in public schools where they feel out of place, or unable to keep up because they've missed schooling in the past. Positive Tomorrows is…
In the heart of cold and flu season, it's natural to reach for the Vitamin C. But we may want to think twice. While it has ballooned into a billion dollar business and crystallized as an all-powerful supplement in our collective conscious, countless studies have showed that Vitamin C’s ability to cure is questionable at best, and may even increase your risk for certain diseases. Did we all really get…
Teen pregnancy is highly linked to poverty and lower educational outcomes. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22, compared with 90% of women without a teen birth. This is a vulnerable population who often have nowhere to turn. Early and effective intervention can give mothers the tools to continue their education and become self-sufficient, giving them a path to self-sufficiency changes lives for…
Smoking kills off good bacteria and upsets the balance of power your gut.
What if we could rewrite our entire genetic code to make us invincible against viruses?
From advanced plant-based meat alternatives to real meat grown in a lab, the days of eating meat from once-living animals could be numbered.
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.
This surgeon, Dr. Sunil Singhal, is making tumors glow to help doctors ensure they have removed all of the cancer cells at the surgery site. Completely removing cancer tumors can be difficult, and if a small amount remains, the cancer can recur. Sunil, the director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, came up with the idea of using glowing tumors to advance cancer surgery after…
After he was diagnosed with life-threatening prostate cancer, Intel’s Bryce Olson sequenced his genome which offered clues to new treatments for his disease. While the current standard of care for cancer patients includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, genetic sequencing opens the door for new possibilities beyond these traditional approaches. Bryce explains his personal mission to encourage others to get their genome sequenced, how to do it, and why cancer patients…
Art Enables helps artists with special needs create and sell their artwork. Only 20% of people with disabilities participate in the workforce. This program counters that by providing both an art studio for people with disabilities to make art and career and vocational training to market and sell their artwork. It helps these artists express themselves creatively, socialize, and earn flexible income to increase their independence and build careers. In…
These people are meeting biological relatives for the first time, thanks to a group of volunteers. The Search Squad group on Facebook has around 100 volunteer “search angels” who scour birth records and websites to find the birth relatives of adoptees. Many people who were adopted as children would like to meet their birth relatives, but it can often be an extremely expensive and time-consuming process. Search Squad, on the…
Imagine if you could climb Mount Everest and go on stage at a Beyonce concert with your friends...before breakfast. Linc Gasking and his team of visual effects experts at 8i thinks they can make holograms of humans so real, that VR will go mainstream and they’ll alter the human experience forever.
Our new show will introduce you to the people and the technology that could make humans a multi-planetary species in the coming century.
Twenty years from now, humans could live in space permanently. As companies work feverishly to develop the tech needed for this galactic future, the New Worlds annual gathering brings together space lovers of all ages to brainstorm, fantasize and—more importantly—prepare for life off Earth.
Vanna started to notice a change in her vision. Six months later, she was legally blind. But Vanna never lost hope, and enrolled in an experimental clinical trial. Her doctors injected stem cells from her hip into her optic nerve. Afterwards, she started to regain her vision. Amazingly, Vanna can now see. This is the story of reversing blindness.
Love is important to all of us - so why aren’t we better at it? Nate Bagley, host of the Loveumentary podcast, interviewed hundreds of successful couples. He found many traditional ideas of love are wrong. In this interview, he explains how to have better relationships and reveals key insights about love that aren’t taught in school. He hopes that by improving our love lives, we can learn to foster…
Often the biggest barrier to leaving an abusive relationship is its cost. Without the means to support themselves or their children, or as a result of economic abuse, many people end up suffering domestic violence for far too long. FreeFrom was founded by Sonya Passi, a law student who’d co-founded the Family Violence Appellate Project to provide pro-bono legal representation for survivors of domestic violence. She recognized that many of…
1 in 10 people in the world today can’t read. Pratham’s innovative approach is helping kids in developing countries learn to read in as little as 50 days. Pratham’s methodology centers around teaching children based on their level rather than their age or grade. It began in India, where most kids are in school - but many aren’t able to read at grade level. The success of the core approach…
There are thousands of diseases known to modern medicine without any cure or treatment. Many are too rare to get much attention from doctors, governments, or drug companies. But the gene editing tool CRISPR is offering hope for people with rare and hard to study diseases, like the genetic disease known as NF1. There are tens of thousands of Americans with this tumor-causing nerve disease, but because it has over…
Johnny Matheny has been working with doctors at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab to test a prosthetic arm that is controlled with your thoughts.
What do you get when former Bloods and Crips gang leaders come together? Original Gangsters United, a pathway to ending gang opposition, promoting peace, and saving younger generations from senseless violence. Antong Lucky is a former Bloods gang leader in Dallas, Texas. Like most children, Antong never aspired to be a part of a gang or to end up in prison. But sadly, many communities affected by peer pressure and gang violence leave kids with no choice. When Antong left prison, he began working to bring opposing Dallas gang leaders together to put an end to gang violence. And it worked.
While community policing programs are nothing new, they fell out of popularity after a big push in the early 90s due to shifting priorities and budget crunches of the Great Recession. But with growing scrutiny of police and their often strained relationships with minority communities, police departments are increasingly looking to community policing programs to bridge the gap and rebuild trust. The Rockford Police Department (RPD) is no exception…
Team Rubicon is a group of military veterans who volunteer to respond to natural disasters. They’re helping disaster victims - and helping each other heal. Many people join the military to serve their country, and still feel called to serve after they get out. In some cases, they may have experienced trauma or have PTSD from their time in the armed forces. Enter Team Rubicon, the volunteer organization that’s responded…
When we encounter ideas we don’t like, we often shut them down. John Inazu, the author of Confident Pluralism and the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University School of Law, explains why that’s a bad thing and what we can do to fix it.
People often have a bad perception of hackers, conjuring up images of either 20-somethings in their parents’ basement or sophisticated criminals responsible for massive data breaches. Nico Sell, founder and chairman of the Wickr Foundation, wants to change that. She thinks not only are hackers some of the smartest, most creative people around, but also that hacking will prove to be the most powerful tool for our tech-dominated future. And…
Do you want to change the world? Olivia Leland, founder and CEO of Co-Impact, shares 3 lessons learned from organizations, philanthropists, and social change leaders that move the world forward. When we think about changing the world, we make a few mistakes over and over again. We think it’s a matter of voting, or giving to charity, or starting a business - but historically, many of the world’s biggest…
Saltwater Brewery was a regular microbrewery that made great craft beer - packaged with the usual plastic six pack rings. As fishermen who saw firsthand the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean, though, they felt they needed to make a change to help marine animals. They came up with the idea to create edible six pack rings made of biodegradable materials left over from the brewing process. Now, they’ve…
The latest hacker game: solving missing persons cases for points. It’s the brainchild of Rob Sell, founder of Trace Labs. Sell is a professional search and rescue tracker who has also worked in computer security. Frustrated at the enormous number of missing persons with nobody searching for them, he began crowdsourcing hackers’ skills in computer forensics to follow the digital footprints of cold cases from the missing persons database. This…
Enter the Kentucky Reptile Zoo—one of the largest collections of venomous reptiles in the world—and meet Jim Harrison, the man that spent his 42-year career milking King Cobras for anti-venom and saving lives across the globe. He’s a former cop, bounty hunter, and professional kickboxer - but for decades now his main focus has been extracting venom from snakes, or “snake milking.” He and his wife, Kristen Wiley, run the…
Recently the media was abuzz with talk of ‘Disease X,’ a mysterious illness that could spread across the world. And then...nothing happened. It turns out that people had misinterpreted the World Health Organization’s List of Blueprint priority diseases, which identifies the world’s most dangerous diseases in terms of potential for outbreaks or epidemics. There are diseases that are already known - like Ebola, MERS or SARS - and then a…
California is burning like never before, with wildfires damaging nearly one million acres in 2018 alone. Despite the State’s best efforts, preventing forest fires doesn’t seem possible from the top down. With climate change accelerating the frequency and scale of these wildfires at an alarming rate, experts are turning to private citizens to help with forest fire prevention and control. Or as we like to say, to help fight fire…
It’s only a matter of time until the average person can explore space. But, will the average person be ready?
Mobile Loaves & Fishes is an organization with a new approach to tackling homelessness - putting community first. Their Community First! Village provides affordable, long-term housing for the chronically homeless. They find through housing and a community that emphasizes respect and relationships, chronically homeless individuals are able to finally heal from trauma and begin to thrive, work, and live better lives. Social entrepreneur Alan Graham started Mobile Loaves & Fishes…
8i takes video and converts it into virtual realities that are nearly indistinguishable from real life.
In 2006 bees started disappearing. Beekeepers reported to losing up to 90% of their beehives. And no one knew why. Nearly every news outlet raised the alarm, warning of an imminent beepocalypse that would devastate our food supply. But while alarm bells rang, things turned around. And bee colonies are now at a 20 year high. How did we get the beepocalypse so… wrong?
Displaying the power of unique technological abilities combined with dogged investigative journalism
After criminals hijacked the term, Sell is on a mission to change our perception of hackers.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg wants to make sure people understand the hidden secrets in the DNA they leave behind everywhere they go.