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.
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.
Can mind-readers replace passwords and biometric security?
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.
When Maayan Harel paints a portrait, her subject isn't sitting in front of her. She doesn't even have a photograph to work from. Instead, she looks at clues from ancient human DNA. Last month, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem made headlines when they revealed Harel's portrait of a Denisovan, an extinct group of archaic humans that may have lived with Neanderthals. The first Denisovan remains were...
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.
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, they vibrate in...
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.
A new strategy, called host-targeted defense, could help solve antibiotic resistance by upgrading the immune system.
Traditional methods of vaccination have come up against difficult challenges. They can also be expensive and time-consuming to produce, curtailing efforts to control outbreaks or head off a flu season caused by an unexpected strain. A newer type of vaccines, using RNA, could alleviate these issues. Faster, cheaper, and safer, RNA vaccines show great potential to meet evolving threats.
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...
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...
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. To prepare for this future, we'll need to scale up food production in a sustainable way --- without using more land and lowering emissions --- and figure out more efficient farming and...
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 to...
Rethinking the MRI machine, how will Christianity handle advanced tech, and is this 7-year-old the next Einstein?
Working toward sustainability, cities are searching for ways to make funerals more eco-friendly. Green burials and human composting could be the solution.
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...
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 to...
The SpaceX founder gave a rousing presentation on his company’s long-term plan for getting to Mars and establishing a civilization there.
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. "I think...
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...
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 her daughter’s disease--a rare metabolic disorder called Sanfilippo...
Robert is paralyzed from the chest down. But now a robotic exoskeleton is giving him what he calls "a second chance at life."
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...
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...
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 problems by...
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 this...
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 3D, VR...
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, they bring together eight people from across...
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 Space Race is the story of a...
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 take back their independence.
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 when you’re arrested. Now,...
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...
A fascinating interview with Michael P. McLoughlin about bionic arms for amputees and the world of advanced prosthetics. McLoughlin is the chief engineer of research and exploratory development at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.
Meet Thomas Weinheimer, an army veteran whose 53-day wilderness experience on a North Carolina trail helped ease his transition back to civilian life.
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.
Unpacking the science behind human performance with The Sports Gene author David Epstein
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.
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.
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, this...
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...
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 as a disease and 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.
“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.
We take a look at a few of the not-so-obviously-bizarre things we've launched beyond the earth's atmosphere.
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.
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.
With the weather and ice data from old ship’s logs, Dr. Kevin Wood realized it was possible to reconstruct the history of sea ice in the Arctic to better understand climate change.
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.
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.
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...
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.
Businesses have gotten to space; now what?
It's not the next Bitcoin (or a path to riches), but it's an intriguing idea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The FDA banned triclosan from hand soap, but new research shows that it can supercharge old antibiotics.
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 respond to...
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.
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. Asbeck is a real-life Tony Stark. He is an engineer building wearable robots for performance enhancement. He says the technology is on the rise. They...
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.
Margaret Rossiter has made it her lifework to spotlight female scientists who were written out of history books through systematic censorship. Read our Q&A with this groundbreaking historian.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coprolite, aka dinosaur poop, is giving scientists a surprising glimpse into the world of the dinosaurs. Learn what industry leader Karen Chin has been learning from dino dung.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are War, Death, Famine, and Pestilence — what Revelation doesn't tell you is that this last rider sits atop not a horse but a mosquito. The bane of your summer evenings is, in much of the world, a dangerous disease vector; mosquito borne diseases kill hundreds of thousands (and infect hundreds of millions) every year. Mosquitoes carry such dreaded diseases as malaria, yellow fever, West...
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.
How do you bounce back from a life-changing car accident? Adam Gorlitsky decided he would break a world record. 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 training. And racing. And breaking records. What he didn’t realize is how much he would inspire...
We're living in a golden age of people exploring high and low tech methods to optimize our bodies.
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...
Vitamin D deficiency is an age-old problem, but new techniques from archaeology may be the key to catching it early.
An incredible medical breakthrough, Google ups the ante, and the SpaceX Mars rocket. These are our favorite stories of the week.
In the face of a changing climate, coral reefs are dying all over the world. Coral reefs make up the foundation of ocean life, and yet 50% of them have been lost in the last three decades. Are coral reefs in danger of disappearing forever? A group of innovative researchers and divers is racing against the clock to save them.
How many Mozarts and Tiger Woods are there in any given generation? A generalist himself, bestselling author David Epstein says you have to give yourself permission to choose the wrong pursuit or work in a job that’s not your ultimate dream career. These small “failures” are actually major learning experiences that help you inch closer to greatness.
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.
Volunteers worldwide are documenting the world's rarest 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 leaving the...
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.
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
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, fictional counterparts, fit...
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.
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
Computer hackers exploit flaws in code to access systems and take what they want; plant diseases work the same way.
In addition to healing injuries, the approach could be useful for repairing skin damage, countering the effects of aging, and modeling skin cancer.
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...
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...
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...
At current trends, more than 90% of the world’s coral reefs will be massively degraded by 2050. Researchers have found a species of stoney coral that has sparked new efforts for coral reef restoration.
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 at age two, and doctors gave her...
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...
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 hundreds of...
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 fast spectacle where drone pilots fly quadcopters...
More than one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime; new discoveries are helping them fight back.
For many cancer patients, being treated at home is just as safe, more affordable, and more convenient than being treated in a clinical setting.
Climate change is increasingly reshaping our world, but communities across America aren’t losing hope — they’re taking action. Learn how 18 communities are using science to guide community-based decision-making.
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...
Rethinking Autism: Interview with NeuroTribes Author Steve Silberman
Amidst our most intense religious, political, and cultural conflicts, there are people around the country who are working tirelessly to forge connections
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...
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...
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."
The Israeli group's moon mission will be ride-sharing on a SpaceX rocket.
Doctors told Vanna she was permanently blind. But thanks to an experimental procedure, she can see.
“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.
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. From combating food insecurity to...
“Ecoacoustics” is an emerging field of research. Instead of chasing down isolated animal sounds, researchers are using all of the acoustic properties of a location to answer ecological questions.
Bird populations are paying the price for our electric lights. These volunteers are working to change that.
Brian Finn tattoos over scars from self-harm, violence, or human trafficking for free or at a discounted rate in order to help people heal.
The story of how one man gave his space-loving best friend a final resting place in the final frontier.
With Thanksgiving winding down, take some time to join us on a journey to the frontier of medical technology.
“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 prison...
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...
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...
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.
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...
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...
Meet the proud, hopeful, ambitious people determined to build the life they’ve dreamed of.
Building a new, community-based foster care system
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?
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.
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 a safe way of life. Now,...
By 2050, there may be more plastic by weight in the ocean than there are fish. To add to that, 1.3 billion tons of the food produced each year globally is wasted or lost. Canadian innovator Luna Yu hopes to transform these problems by turning waste into biodegradable plastics.
Let's imagine aliens exist. You have the extraordinary task of crafting a message that they might conceivably understand. How would you do it? And what would you say? Daniel Oberhaus has a few ideas.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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 different, known as immunotherapy. This...
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.
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 piano. But his...
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.” It’s been a problem for a long time. Urban youth without college educations find few opportunities, and often get stuck in menial jobs. On the other...
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. We also meet Tonya Ratcliff, a mother of 13 children who felt...
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.
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...
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 only treatment for retinoblastoma is surgical removal of the eye—but scientists may have found another way: cancer-killing viruses.
It's a muggy Wednesday morning in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, the temperature and humidity rising before the sun. Lena, decked out in her eye-catching slate shirt and chartreuse vest, leans slightly out into the busy rush-hour traffic, sweeping litter (wrappers, cups, lots of cigarette butts) from the gutter into her dustpan. On the sidewalk, she empties her collection into a cart. As she moves down the street,...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flexport's app is built to make global trade easier. If they're successful, it could mean everything you buy will cost less.
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.
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. ...
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...
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 captures the initial...