Flexport's founder discusses the personal and business side of building an ambitious startup.
An incredible medical breakthrough, Google ups the ante, and the SpaceX Mars rocket. These are our favorite stories of the week.
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.
Google releases some beautiful VR, human trials of gene-editing technology CRISPR, and importing Cuba's cancer vaccine.
Amazon's new grocery store, Adobe's new tech can make you say anything, and pay for the bus by watching an ad.
Despite 2016 being widely panned, there were also truly good things that happened over the past year. Here are some of the big ones.
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.
Virtual reality users experience more lucid dreams, a paralyzed man gets movement back, and self-lacing shoes. These are our favorite stories this week.
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.
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.
Our weekly take on the best stuff from around the web.
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.
Rethinking the MRI machine, how will Christianity handle advanced tech, and is this 7-year-old the next Einstein?
Breakthrough could mean the end of test animals, violent crime nearly cut in half, and drones that pollinate flowers.
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.
Uber's self-driving beer truck, how a chatbot can help the grieving process, and more of our favorite stories from the week.
Democratizing microscopes, how we heal our political divisions, and BBC's Planet Earth returns. These are our favorite stories of the week.
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.
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...
“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.
A Duke robotics PhD student and his partner think they have a way ease tensions while deep-rooted differences are hashed out.
These suckers grow to be three times larger than other mosquitoes, but they may not be as bad as you think.
For many cancer patients, being treated at home is just as safe, more affordable, and more convenient than being treated in a clinical setting.
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.
Unpacking the science behind human performance with The Sports Gene author David Epstein
These key players are working from outside the system to lead the criminal justice reform movement.
If huge companies and government agencies can't manage the cyber threats, how can ordinary Americans?
How the founders of the "coffin clubs" got started – and their advice for others.
Private companies have worked with NASA for decades. Can the next generation of space companies get by without the government as their biggest customer?
Fleets of small satellites can gather far more accurate and timely data than conventional satellites. And investors are taking notice.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
Throughout history, different organizations, governments, and even individuals have attempted to establish rules for, and ownership of, outer space.
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’re now starting to scratch the surface of the true potential of virtual reality.
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...
Why learning to suck at something is the only way to get good at it.
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.
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.
Officer Tommy Norman's work has drawn national attention recently, but his approach to policing is nothing new.
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....
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.
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?
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.
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 changes have come...
Vitamin D deficiency is an age-old problem, but new techniques from archaeology may be the key to catching it early.
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.
It's not the next Bitcoin (or a path to riches), but it's an intriguing idea.
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.
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...
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...
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.
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...
Bird populations are paying the price for our electric lights. These volunteers are working to change that.
What does it mean for the future of journalism when a computer can turn mounds of data into a cohesive narrative?
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.
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.
From newborn health to AIDS treatment to DNA research, these brilliant women paved the way for incredible advances in the field of medicine.
Regulations forced companies that planned to sell satellites to other countries to register, in effect, as arms dealers.
Greg Shugar, founder of Tie Bar and Thread Experiment, discusses why his businesses wouldn’t have been possible without Chinese factories.
Scott Phoenix, founder of Vicarious, shares insights on the development of artificial intelligence and why this is a great time to be alive.
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.
Linc Gasking, co-founder of VR startup 8i, discusses the day-to-day grind and big picture excitement of being an entrepreneur.
Smári McCarthy discusses his job protecting the work of journalists investigating organized crime and corruption
We're living in a golden age of people exploring high and low tech methods to optimize our bodies.
The world discovered phages before antibiotics, but these lowly sewer viruses are getting renewed attention in the age of antibiotic resistance.
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.
Scientists have developed software that could save one billion dollars (and two million animals) each year.
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.
Forty years later, IVF shows how fears about new technology can fade.
The "secret life of antidepressants" could open up a host of new treatments.
A century after its discovery, insulin is still incredibly expensive, but DIY bio-manufacturing could change that in a big way.
Drugs couldn’t stop her infection — so she asked Ben Chan to get her a virus, instead.
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?
How a pediatric cancer drug went from discovery to clinical trials in five years and just $500,000.
When the New Horizons spacecraft launched in 2006, Pluto was still a planet and the iPhone didn't exist.
DeVitta Briscoe never had a chance to request a lighter sentence for the man who shot her son.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
Every night, young adults pass through the basement door of the Lakeview Lutheran Church, close to the heart of Boystown, the gay neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. Like many institutions in Lakeview, the church offers a place specifically welcoming to the LGBTQ community. These young adults are taking refuge at The Crib, an overnight emergency shelter for people aged 18 to 24 who find themselves temporarily homeless. Founded by The Night Ministry in 2011, The Crib is one of the few places in the city where young LGBTQ adults, especially those of color, can find housing and community with others their age in similar situations.
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.
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,...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Uber rolled out self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, but they're not totally autonomous. Yet. Under Pennsylvania law, every car still needs an operator.
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.
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.
Meet Thomas Weinheimer, an army veteran whose 53-day wilderness experience on a North Carolina trail helped ease his transition back to civilian life.
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.
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?
Spire's satellites fit in the palm of your hand, cost a fraction of their predecessors, and transmit more data than several behemoth satellites combined.
We take a look at a few of the not-so-obviously-bizarre things we've launched beyond the earth's atmosphere.
It’s only a matter of time until the average person can explore space. But, will the average person be ready?
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?
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.
The story of Vicarious' mission to build the world's first human-level artificial intelligence and use it to help humanity thrive.
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.
Are we fetishizing failure? What are the costs of failing? How do we bounce back after it inevitably happens?
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.
The unbelievable story of the day Jordan Riley was declared brain dead and his journey of re-learning how to be human.
There’s a global transformation happening - millions of people are migrating to cities from the countryside.
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 studied information and...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
As much as 40% of American food goes to waste — and much of that comes from companies. The food lab at Drexel University is helping companies “upcycle” unsold products into new ones and find ways to turn scraps or byproducts into great foods people want to buy. Students work with customers and products to create new ideas and products that the companies can produce with food that would otherwise go to waste. It helps give...
We take addresses for granted - but billions of people and places don’t have them, and it’s a big problem. Whether it’s voting, disaster relief, or pinpointing a spot on festival grounds, not having an address makes things that should be simple difficult. Enter Chris Sheldrick, who coordinated events in the music industry where he was frustrated by address-related problems. He created What3Words, a method of dividing the...
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.
“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...
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 better relationships...
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...
There has never been this much energy and momentum behind criminal justice reform as there is today. In nearly every aspect, there is excitement and renewed optimism about delivering real reforms to help those who have suffered from a broken system for far too long. Freethink’s Criminal Justice Reform Week is focused on highlighting the most innovative reformers and ideas that are making real progress in reforming our...
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...
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 for all manner of...
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.
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...
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,...