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This article is from the In-Depth Report World Changing Ideas 2013
See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 6

World Changing Ideas 2013

10 ways science may jazz up our gadgets, help to solve our most intractable problems and save lives
World Changing Ideas Intro Image



Marek Haiduk

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Scientific advances can be smart, tantalizing, bizarre— and still never make it out of the lab. To change the world, a new idea must have a path from drawing board to practical products and manufacturing processes: in the parlance of Silicon Valley, it must “scale.” Nobody can predict the future, but each of the 10 breakthroughs on the following pages has the potential to make it big. We begin with a full-length article on a new way to design materials atom by atom, using supercomputers and the equations of quantum mechanics, which could take much of the perspiration out of innovation. We continue with a fast-paced look at “metamaterials” that promise cell phones as thin as credit cards; genomic therapies that turn ordinary gut microbes into weapons against disease; planes and bridges made of ultralight pieces that snap together like Legos; an antiseptic that could prevent 500,000 infant deaths a year; and other good ideas. Look for them in the years ahead.

How Supercomputers Will Yield a Golden Age of Materials Science

A Vault for Carbon Dioxide

Snap-Together Planes and Bridges

Soft Robots that Deform as They Move

Smart Phones as Thin as Credit Cards

Genetic Cures for the Gut

Protecting Your Data on The Cloud

The End of Bad Meds

Antiseptic Saves Newborn Lives

Plastic-Wrap iPads

This article was originally published with the title "World Changing Ideas."

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