#5 Scuba Farming
To avoid arid land and protect crops from pests, Italian diving enthusiasts have gone underwater to grow their favourite herb: basil. Close to the surface, the plant benefits from sunlight without suffering from changing temperatures. In its July 2015 issue, Technologist described the promises of high-tech farming.
#4 Smell that cancer
An electronic nose can now differentiate malignant from benign esophageal cancer. By smelling distinctive volatile organic compounds produced by tumour cells, it can also detect stomach cancer. The new instrument developed by a team of Czech and British researchers is 90 per cent accurate, inexpensive and gives results in minutes, vs. 4-6 hours for previous techniques. In its April 2015 issue Technologist described how dogs could sniff out cancer.
#4 Hackers connect
Two Dutch computer programmers, Michiel Prins and Jobert Abma, are among the co-founders of HackerOne, a platform that connects hackers with the companies in which they have found security vulnerabilities. Their idea is that hackers deserve a legal way to receive payment for flagging important flaws. Technologist’s April 2015 issue reported on various ways hackers earn money illegally.
#3 Toxic plastics no more
The first tests to remove plastic garbage from the seas will begin in early 2016 in coastal water between South Korea and Japan, according to the Ocean Cleanup Initiative. Later stages will involve deployment of a 100-km-long system to remove the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. The technology, invented by Dutch student Boyan Slat, was described in the December 2014 issue of Technologist.
#1 Speed with graphene
A photo-detector composed of a single layer of carbon atoms could become one of the first real-life applications of graphene, the wonder material described in the July 2014 issue of Technologist. Developed by scientists from the Institut de Ciències Fotòniques in Barcelona and affiliated with Europe’s Graphene Flagship project, the detector converts light to electricity at phenomenal speed. It could be used in ultrafast communications and light detection.