As the world chugs forward, it's hard not to focus on the struggles we as a species are facing. Advances in science and engineering are supposed to make life easier for everyone, but there are plenty of scary new technologies out there that can make us cynical about the future. However, it's not all bad news! Breakthroughs that are helping advance society show all the good that can come from advanced technology when it is properly and responsibly implemented.
These helpful current technologies are changing lives for the better and showing how the social benefits of technology outweigh some of the more negative effects. We are all benefiting from these amazing new inventions and techniques, whether they are helping save lives by manipulating DNA or sucking greenhouse gases out of our atmosphere. These are the best advancements in tech, and they are already making a difference.
- Photo: Nogas1974 / Wikimedia Commons18 VOTES
CRISPR Is Allowing Scientists To Treat Genetic Diseases Like Never Before
Genetic engineering is one of those terms that has been so badly stigmatized by popular media, most people only associate it with mad scientists and horrifying experiments gone awry. The reality of genetic engineering is far less menacing than those B-horror movies would like you to believe, and new advances in gene editing might actually save your life.
CRISPR, which is an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is a new technology that allows for the precise editing of specific strands of DNA. This tool has given researchers the ability to target specific segments of DNA code and alter them at will with precision accuracy. This has led to an explosion of gene therapy treatments that can target genetic disorders right at the source, potentially eradicating them for good.
Researchers in China have already shown how CRISPR can be used to correct defective genes in embryos, and experts are exploring the full range of possibilities. Other scientists are using CRISPR as a disease prevention tool by modifying the DNA of mosquitos that carry deadly viruses like Zika, West Nile virus, and yellow fever. With CRISPR, doctors could be performing DNA surgery on you in the very near future.
- Photo: Senior Airman Areca Wilson / Wikimedia Commons27 VOTES
A Brand New Malaria Vaccine Is Saving Lives In African Nations
The Anti-Vax movement is as strong as it's ever been, but the fear and paranoia surrounding vaccines is both ignorant and dangerous. Vaccines are responsible for saving millions of lives and have eradicated some of humanity's worst plagues. Medical professionals have persisted in developing new vaccines despite the vocal opposition, and that work has been rewarded with a slurry of new vaccines.
Three African nations have been the first to receive a brand new Malaria vaccine, the first victory against a disease that kills over 400,000 people annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) is distributing the vaccine to 750,000 children in Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi, where malaria wreaks havoc on the local populations.
- 37 VOTES
Advanced Stem Cell Research Is Curing "Incurable" Diseases
Stem cell research has been a controversial subject, but it is has been the source of some of the greatest medical advances in modern times. A Canadian woman recently made headlines after a stem cell treatment cured her sickle cell anemia, a disease that many believed could not be completely cured. Researchers are also starting to see signs that stem cells could be used to boost the immune system and help patients stay healthy throughout chemotherapy, an exciting breakthrough for doctors and patients everywhere. While much of the controversy surrounding stem cells has revolved around the use of human embryos, researchers are now able to generate these cells without embryos.
- 47 VOTES
Lab-Grown Meat Will Aid In The Fight Against Climate Change
One of the lesser known culprits behind climate change is the livestock industry, and it's mostly because of farts. Ruminants like cattle produce methane during digestion, which is a greenhouse gas that is many times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Methane emissions from livestock are responsible for a staggering 14.5 percent of global greenhouse emissions, which is bad news for our meat-addicted society.
There is hope however, as scientists have cracked the code of "clean meat" and developed a system to grow meat from real animal cells in a Petri dish. The lab grown meat does not produce any greenhouse gases and is made using stem cells, which replicate and take the form of whatever cut of meat you'd like. An added benefit is that this meat is 100% cruelty free and does not require the killing of any animals. While this miracle meat used to cost over $300,00 per patty, the price has been cut all the way down to $11. If people are willing to give it a try, this meat could end up on dinner plates by the end of 2018.
- Video: YouTube56 VOTES
Carbon Capture Plants Are Pulling Greenhouse Gases From The Air
Most efforts in regards to combating climate change are focused on preventing greenhouse gas emissions, but some people are trying to reverse the damage we've already done. In 2017, the first commercially operational carbon capture plant came online. The site's mission is to filter large amounts of the potent greenhouse carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The station was built in Zürich, Switzerland, and is capable of filtering carbon dioxide at an efficiency rate more than 1,000 times greater than photosynthesis. This single facility is a great start, but scientists believe that we may need hundreds of thousands of these plants to make a significant dent in reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases.
- 66 VOTES
Mr. Trash, The Pollution-Cleaning Robot, Is Cleaning Up Baltimore's Inner Harbor
Meet Mr. Trash! Officially known as the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, this amazing and adorable device was developed to deal with the pollution problem in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. As of 2017, Mr. Trash had pulled 1 million pounds of garbage out of the harbor in the three years it had been operating. Roughly nine million individual cigarette butts were removed from the harbor thanks to the hard work of Mr. Trash. The collected garbage is taken and recycled in an offsite incinerator and gives power to homes in the area. This ingenious invention also has a bit of a playful personality, with two googly eyes mounted the top of the structure.