7 Reasons to Believe Things Are Getting Better
1. Innovations in Prosthetics: People that have above-the-knee leg amputations can now walk more easily, thanks to new technologies developed by researchers from ETH Zurich and the Universities of Belgrade and Freiburg.
The innovation is a prosthetic leg with sensors at the knee and sole, along with electrodes implanted into the residual nerves of the thigh. After 3 months of training, users reported much improvement in walking, significantly fewer missteps, and, surprisingly, a marked reduction in phantom pain, a common problem with amputations.
2. No Checkout Shopping: A new technology is being rolled out in supermarkets that will make shopping easier and quicker. It’s a portable gizmo that lets supermarket customers scan items as they drop them in their cart.
In addition to making shopping easier and quicker, the technology will reduce personnel costs as well as the cost of theft – and that should eventually reduce the cost of shopping. It will also provide greater retailer-collected consumer data, which could make marketing decisions easier.
3. Success in Treating the Ebola Virus: In a recent clinical trial, REGN-EB3, a triple-antibody cocktail made by pharmaceutical company Regeneron, reduced the mortality rate for Ebola virus victims that received the drug early. The new drug was derived from a human Ebola survivor whose immune system had been able to fight off infection from the Zaire strain.
REGN-EB3 is made up of three antibodies that glom onto the virus, preventing it from replicating inside the host’s body and triggering the host’s immune system to kill the infected cells.
4. Developing Countries Are Planting Trees: On July 29, 2019, Ethiopia smashed the world record for tree planting, with 350 million trees in 12 hours. Two weeks later, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh almost surpassed that record, planting 220 million trees in 24 hours.
5. US Crime and Murder Rates Are Down: Crime rates declined last year in the USA’s 30 largest cities, according to researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.
* The 2018 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estimated to have declined by 8% from 2017.
* Overall crime is estimated to have declined slightly, falling by 3.5%.
* The violent crime rate is estimated to have declined by 4%.
Some cities – e.g., Chicago and Baltimore – are still struggling with violence, though the 2018 murder rates in those two cities dropped by nearly 12% and 9.1%, respectively. “This is further evidence that anyone who claimed we were experiencing a ‘crime wave’ in America was just plain wrong,” said Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.
6. 3D Printing of Human Organs: Back in 2002, scientists at Wake Forest University 3D-printed the first kidney capable of filtering blood and producing urine. In 2010, Organovo, a San Diego-based bioprinting outfit, created the first blood vessel. And today, San Francisco-based 3D tissue printing company Prellis Biologics is achieving record speeds in its pursuit of printed human tissue with viable capillaries.
If successful, these breakthroughs could forever end our shortage of donor organs.
7. Japan Is Rebuilding Fukushima: Japan is now working to revamp the Fukushima nuclear meltdown zone to once again produce electricity – a but this time, they’re using solar and wind power. Eleven solar plants and 10 wind farms are expected to be producing about 600 megawatts of electricity by March of 2024. That’s enough power for about 114,000 average American homes.
Interestingly, the plants will be located on the 143 square miles of land that was designated a “dead zone” as a result of the Fukushima disaster.