Saturday, May 19, 2012

Recent Reasons for Optimism

A few optimism-inspiring stories from the past week or so:

1) Researchers at UBC have taken the first step towards a universal flu vaccine.

2) Claire Lomas, paralyzed from the chest down, completed a full 26.2-mile marathon with the help of a bionic suit (video here).

3) Cathy Hutchinson, a tetraplegic who cannot move her arms or legs, was able to lift a bottle to her mouth for a drink with a robotic arm controlled through a brain implant (video here).

4) I've heard of wearing your heart on your sleeve, but how about carrying your pancreas in your hand? A new device billed as a "hand-held artificial pancreas" could soon be improving life for diabetics (ht Innovations).

5) Moving away from bionics, Bob Murphy highlights the case for energy optimism, focusing on proved oil reserves that have continued to grow even as we use more oil than ever before.

6) On the same topic, Mark Perry at Carpe Diem shares some data showing global oil production has now surpassed 75 million barrels per day, and after a few years of apparent stagnation, is now higher than ever before.

7) Randal O'Toole, aka The Antiplanner, recently took a ride inside Google's self-driving car, which I've covered before.

8) From The Economist's Free Exchange blog, researchers in India and Bangladesh have found that sometimes what the poor need most is optimism and hope. The belief that they can improve their lives gives them the ability to actually do so. Small interventions that provide hope, such as providing an $8 bus ticket, decreased depression and spurred the poor to take more action on their own.

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