The fact that science and technology turn fantasy into everyday reality is no longer surprising. Humanity faces a lot of challenges. And the way we cope with them will determine our future life.
Reducing emissions is an important task, but the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is already critical, its very presence raises the temperature on Earth and brings global warming closer. Collecting and utilizing carbon dioxide is an expensive process, and there is not yet a concrete decision on what to do with such a huge amount of it. More and more startups are exploring ways to process carbon dioxide into useful products, including synthetic fuels, polymers, carbon fiber and concrete.
Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar energy, are becoming cheaper and more used. But still, they do not generate electricity when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow. The energy they produce is still not enough for humanity to abandon coal and gas. Even more, batteries are needed, but the cost is so astronomical. Scientists and startups are working to develop cheaper forms of storage, which can cost less and work longer. Promising ideas: flow batteries or molten salt containers. In any case, we urgently need a cheaper and more efficient way to store electricity.
Universal Flu Vaccine
An influenza pandemic that covers vast areas is rare, but usually kills millions of people. At least 50 million people died in 1918 from the H1N1 pandemic. A particularly powerful virus can multiply faster than a vaccine can help cope with it. A universal influenza vaccine that protects not only against relatively less harmful options but also against a violent outbreak once a century, is an important public health issue.
More than one of 10 Americans over 65 has Alzheimer’s disease; a third of those over 85 suffer from this disease. Alzheimer’s disease remains poorly understood: definitive diagnoses are possible only after death, and even then doctors discuss the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Nevertheless, advances in neuroscience and genetics provide insight into how to slow down or even stop the devastating effects of this condition.
Cleaning the Ocean
Billions of small pieces of plastic — microplastic — are currently floating all over the ocean. Most of this waste is formed from sachets or straws, which eventually break up into small particles. They have already been found even in groundwater. It poisons birds, fish and people. Because pollution is widespread globally, it is difficult to handle with it. There are developments in dealing with ocean debris, but there is no solution for dealing with land debris, in rivers and underground.
Our brain remains an absolute mystery to neuroscientists. Everything that we think and remember and all our movements must somehow be encoded in the billions of neurons in our heads. But what is this code? There are still many secrets and mysteries in understanding how our brain stores and conveys thoughts. Decoding this code can lead to a breakthrough in research on mental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. This may allow us to establish a direct interaction of the brain with computers or even other people, which will definitely improve the lives of people who are paralyzed as a result of injuries or with degenerative diseases.
We can predict hurricane days, and sometimes weeks, but earthquakes still come as a surprise. Predicting earthquakes with some confidence in the medium term will allow planners to find long-term solutions. At the very least, a warning in a few hours would allow people to leave dangerous areas, and it would save millions of lives.