World Science Fest 2010: Modern McGyvers Recap

Despite the lecture hall’s bandbox environment, and the heatstroke humidity that suffocated me for nearly all of the 90 minutes, World Science Festival's Modern McGyvers presentation at the Museum of Arts and Design was an interesting introspection into what creativity, modest translation, and fundamental good will can achieve in the developing world. Below is a quick rundown of each of the innovations highlighted from this talk as well as the story behind them.


Benjamin West’s StoveTec cooking device is a technology with multiple benefits. Using 50 percent less fuel and burning 70 percent cleaner than the open fire alternatives being used in many developing countries, the stove has a positive effect on decreasing deforestation and from a human health perspective, cuts down on pneumonia and the the casualties of overexposure to smoke. Already present in 45 countries and going for no more than 20 dollars tops (8 dollars sans a fan), StoveTec certainly is a basic, yet vital improvement on the developing world's cooking regiment.

(I so sounded like an infomercial there)

Make sure to check the vid spotted over at Solar1 for more on how these super stoves work.



Dr. Winston Soboyejo’s solar powered camel refrigerator, which I highlighted and spotted at Inhabitat months back, is clearly not available at your local store, but its certainly some of the most innovative and groundbreaking tech out there. Kenya and Ethiopia have already started using these "camelfied" fridges to deliver vaccines and medicines to remotes areas, a reality that was practically an impossibility in the past due to the damage caused by the desert heat.


Pamela Ronalds’s work with biotechnology in the rice rich regions of Bangladesh and the Philippines, have shown the advantages of what science can bring to the future of our food. The manipulation of super seeds isn't only creating tastier and long lasting crops, it's also making them immune to things such as flooding and disease.

You can find out more on Ronald’s work at FORA TV.


Hugo Van Vuuren’s dirt powered batteries was by far the highlight of the night for me. At under ten dollars, the battery lasts 8-12 months and is the closest thing to Richard Dean Anderson you can get in terms of ingenuity. The batteries are already being used in electricity starved areas of Namibia and Tanzania, where the presence of outlets and nearby electric sockets are pretty much non-existent.

For a more charismatic and "geniusy" breakdown of this innovation, listen to his lecture over at PopTech.

Digital Ninja. Constant Gardner.