Tag Archives: innovation

Deaths That Don’t Have to Happen: The Relationship Between Knowledge and Health

Editor’s note: As part of  a writing class I took this summer, I had to do a group project addressing a social issue within our society.

Part of that assignment was writing an essay that promotes activism to address the issue.The research inspired me, so I decided to share that essay with you. Hope you enjoy! 


Knowledge, and the desire to use it to better our own lives, as well as the lives of everyone else. This is what has made our species so great.

Fire, the wheel, internal plumbing, electricity, refrigeration. All of these creations were the result of intelligent people with an insatiable drive to solve major problems that affected everyone within their communities.

As the world progressed into the modern era, more and more of these advancements came from the realm of medicine. For thousands of years, smallpox was a scourge that regularly plagued populations all over the world.

A close-up of the smallpox virus. Click to enlarge. Magnification: x28,500

In the 19th century, the disease was killing 400,000 Europeans every year. In the 20th century, it accounted for an estimated 300 million deaths worldwide.

Now, consider this: the vaccine for smallpox was discovered, by a man named William Jenner, in 1796. However, it took more than 160 years for the World Health Assembly to pass a worldwide resolution to eradicate the disease in 1959, and another 20 years for the disease to be completely eradicated.

There hasn’t been a single documented death from smallpox since 1980, but it took nearly 200 years to make that happen.

Click to enlarge

Our modern world is no different. Every year, 3 million people die from vaccine-preventable diseases, half of that being children 5 years old or younger.

Other preventable diseases, like diarrhea and pneumonia, claim the lives of another 2 million children who are simply too poor to afford things like clean water and basic treatment.

If you’re keeping track, that’s 3.5 million children dying every year from basic problems that we solved ages ago. Another way to think of it: imagine every kid enrolled in public school in New York City, Los Angeles and Houston dying this year. Imagine, just for a second, all the human potential that we are losing along with these children.

I know you may be thinking that it’s somewhat inevitable that developing countries lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to new vaccines, treatments or procedures, so chew on this for a second: out of a list of 18 developed countries, the United States was at the very bottom when it came to deaths from preventable causes.

For people under the age of 75, these preventable causes account for 23% of total deaths for men and 32% of total deaths for women.

Preventable disease per 100,000 citizens. Click to enlarge

How many more people are we going to let die simply because they lack access to resources that are so plentiful that they are taken for granted by the rest of us?

We have to always remember that the position of privilege we find ourselves in only exists because someone at some point in history fought for our right to good healthcare.

So now, it is our responsibility, our duty, to use this position of privilege to extend this same basic human right to health to the countless people still living without it, not only in our country but across the globe.

The Pope Just Released A List of 10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person and They Are Spot On

In a recent interview with the Argentine publication Viva, Pope Francis issued a list of 10 tips to be a happier person, based on his own life experiences.

The Pope encouraged people to be more positive and generous, to turn off the TV and find healthier forms of leisure, and even to stop trying to convert people to one’s own religion.

But his number one piece of advice came in the form of a somewhat cliche Italian phrase that means, “move forward and let others do the same.” It’s basically the Italian equivalent of, “live and let live.” You can check out the full list below.

The Pope gives a thumbs up to an audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (Photo: CSV)

The Pope’s 10 Tips for a Happier Life

1. “Live and let live.” Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, “Move forward and let others do the same.”

2. “Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

3. “Proceed calmly” in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist — gaucho Don Segundo Sombra — looks back on how he lived his life.

4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said “consumerism has brought us anxiety”, and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn off the TV when they sit down to eat.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because “Sunday is for family,” he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. “We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs” and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation “is one of the biggest challenges we have,” he said. “I think a question that we’re not asking ourselves is: ‘Isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?’”

8. Stop being negative. “Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, ‘I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,’” the Pope said. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy.”

9. Don’t proselytise; respect others’ beliefs. “We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: ‘I am talking with you in order to persuade you,’ No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytising,” the Pope said.

10. Work for peace. “We are living in a time of many wars,” he said, and “the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive” and dynamic.

Courtesy of the Catholic News Service.

This New Pen Will Allow You To Draw With Any Color You Can Find

Many artists (and wanna-bes, like myself) dream of being able to sample colors directly from their environment and transfer them to canvas.

Well that dream will soon be a reality, with the Scribble Pen. The innovative has an RGB (red/green/blue) color sensor at the top- point it at any consistent shade and press the button on the side and the pen saves that shade into its internal computer.

The computer then uses the pen’s five-color ink cartridge to create the sampled color.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The pens are powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and have 1 GB of capacity, enough to hold 100,000 colors, according to its designers. They are also equipped with a micro-USB port, allowing you to connect them to a computing or mobile device (they’re compatible with iOS, Android and Windows phones) .

Scribble offers the pen in two forms: the classic pen, which can draw on paper, or a stylus pen, which allows you to doodle on your tablet. They are not yet for sale, but if you’re interested, you can sign up for an alert that will let you know when they’re available.

Click to enlarge

In a press release, an anonymous spokesman had this to say about the new technology:

“For the color blind, kids, interior decorators, homeowners, teachers, artists, photographers, designers and students the Scribble color picker pen will make copying an exact color, any color from any object an absolute breeze.”

You can visit Scribble’s homepage here to learn more.

(h/t IFL Science)

How A “Drinkable Book” Might Just Drastically Improve the Lives of Millions of People (Video)

Dr. Theresa Dankovich is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Virginia. Dankovich, whose specializes in chemistry, recently designed a new type of paper which is coated in silver nano-particles which not only filter the water but actually kill the bacteria of common (yet deadly) water-borne diseases like typhoid and cholera.

The paper has been proven to remove more than 99.99% of bacteria in the water, and it costs just pennies to produce, making it cheaper than any other filtration devices on the market.

The paper is printed with important information and tips about water health and safety and then bound into a book which not only educates people about water safety but actually provides them with the filters they need to purify their own water.

For more on the Drinkable Book and other creative solutions to the clean water crisis in underdeveloped countries, visit waterislife.com.

Giant Mirrors Bring Winter Sun to Norwegian Town for the First Time

Giant Mirrors Bring Winter Sun to Norwegian Town for the First Time

(click link above for full story)

Rjukan is a small town located at the bottom of a valley floor in the mountains of southern Norway. Because of it’s location in the valley, the town never received sunlight during the winter, when the sun would never rise above the peaks of the mountains on either side of the town. That is until July, when three giant mirrors were installed at the peak of one of the mountains to reflect sunlight down into the town. Each mirror is equipped with a sensor that allow the mirrors to change their angle as the sun moves so as to keep the sunlight concentrated on the town.