Cleaning up the garbage patch

It looks like the young inventor Boyan Slat has improved his incredible design to efficiently extract plastic from the Pacific gyre. The project goes into action next year. And if all goes as planned, the enormous pile of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean will be reduced by 50% in 5 years.

Considering the Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers such a huge area, that is simply amazing.

How many credit cards DO we need to carry around?

Apparently, just one. Seen Coin yet? Brilliant idea.

And who would have thought you’d find out by following Adam Lisagor (of the “You Look Nice Today” podcast) on Twitter? Talk about monetizing silliness.

Pollution-free solution to our energy needs?

I’ve often wondered what’s been happening with the idea of harnessing the powerful, predictable movement of the oceans’ tides to create electricity.

It seems obvious, but then you’d have to look at how to actually do it, and how to keep it all maintained and functioning. Machinery below the waterline is subject to everything from electrolysis to corrosion to barnacles. Just keeping a boat hull working decently requires a lot of maintenance. What about a giant generator?

Well it looks like somebody’s figuring it out. And to maintain this thing, you bring it up the surface, clean it off, and then lower it back down. At least that’s what seems to be happening in this video.

Sure hope this works! It could be part of the solution to global warming.

(Thanks, Eric!)

Quora: What are the best new products that people don’t know about?

African kids using Lifestraw

Yeah, this Quora article title is ripe for self-promotional mediocrity.¬†But much of it is actually amazing. Some brilliant — even life-changing — solutions to everyday problems. I couldn’t stop reading.

  • A bicycle made of cardboard that’s waterproof, fireproof and will cost third-world riders $9.
  • A smart pitcher that tells you when your milk is sour — invented by sixth-graders.
  • A genome sequencer that costs about $1,000 and can sequence an entire human gene set in a few hours, vs. the 13 years and $4 billion it took to do the first one 8 years ago.
  • The wonderful, practical Bobble water bottle that filters your water as you drink it (we own two of them).

And so much more. Check it out — it’ll get added to as people discover the page.