Monday, February 05, 2018

New Direction

One of the things I've struggled with a great deal over the past decade has been our cultural descent into the anti-knowledge abyss. What was once a nation that surged to the forefront of innovation by pushing boundaries and remaining forever curious has become a nation that is, at least partially, hostile to facts and intellectual curiosity.

While in the middle of a 10 mile run through the snow yesterday (BTW, thanks to the many who gave me space on the side of the road so I didn't have to run through 2" of slushy water) I heard a chorus that figuratively struck a chord with me:

"Don't be silent.
Stand up, speak out."

No, this is not a political rant but rather a pro-science, pro-innovation rave.  The US still has the greatest network of higher education in the world, but we managed to fall outside of the top 10 on the list of innovative countries for the first time in 2017.  If we don't turn the tide soon, it may be too late.

So, to that end, I am going to try to highlight positive & amazing breakthroughs that I read about every day.  Yes, I'll still talk about the economy and the markets when appropriate, but I think we all need a little good news in our lives and reminder that many people are working incredibly hard to make our lives and the lives of others around the world better.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do!

Today's topic: Auto-correct

In much the same way that we have all forgotten how to spell as a result of the pervasive nature of auto-correct in our lives, scientists seem to be working on ways to make a wide variety of items in nature "auto-correct" in an effort to save time, money and improve the lives of those living outside of the first world.

1) Scientists are working on SELF-HEALING teeth!  By stimulating stem cells in teeth with certain drugs known to enhance molecule to molecule communication the researchers were able to coax teeth to regenerate completely in mice. Imagine the day in 2030 when you tell you grandchildren that the dentist used to fix cavities with a drill instead of telling you just chew a gummy vitamin.

2) Killing them (mosquitoes) softly.  Researchers identified a bacteria, which when present in male mosquitoes, makes the resulting eggs of the female die.  Thus, communities could reduce the population of mosquitoes carrying potentially dangerous diseases without the use of potentially harmful pesticides. 

3) Kids will never have to worry about breaking their mother's back - This research out of Binghamton University (Go NYS Public Education!) is really mind-boggling.  Researchers discovered a fungus which when mixed with concrete lies dormant.  However, when a crack appears in the concrete, water and air enter the crack and the fungus springs to life where it produces a byproduct - calcium carbonate - which is sufficient to fill in cracks.  It's very early stage, but the implications for the construction industry are tremendous!

Yeah science!

Kudos to those who see the status quo and ask how they can make the world a better place.


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