The phrase “world changing” is overused. Yet how else do you capture the full world-historical influence of an invention like the transistor, or the World Wide Web, or the cellular phone? Some ideas really do bend history. It's too early to know whether carbon-breathing batteries, ingestible robots, quantum satellites, and the seven other ideas described in these pages will have a similar effect. Most plans fail, and the biggest ideas tend to carry the greatest risk. But it doesn't take long for an idea to go from laughable to inevitable. And a few of those, of course, go on to become transformative.

1

Batteries Could Pull Carbon from the Atmosphere

2

How to Make Novel Antibiotics from Scratch

3

Quantum Satellites Are a Big Step toward the Unhackable Internet

4

Ingestible Robots Perform Surgery from Inside the Body

5

Machine-Learning Software Scans Satellite Images to Find Hidden Poverty

6

Fabric Made from Battery Material Cools Its Wearers

7

A Rare Genetic Mutation Might Inspire the First Drug That Fights All Viruses

8

Computers Now Recognize Patterns Better Than Humans

9

Cheap Paper Diagnostics Would Save Lives in Remote, Impoverished Places

10

“Supermolecules” Could Yield Materials the Periodic Table Won’t Allow