Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Low-tech Inventions That Help Change Lives

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the best-thing-since-the-shoelace dept.

Science 174

angelaelle writes "The current issue of Popular Mechanics is featuring their Breakthrough Awards program for inventors. Some of the winning inventions help improve the living conditions for people in third world countries using low-tech materials and assembly methods. Technologies like this cookstove for people in Darfur, and in the case of this Windbelt developed by Shawn Frayne, could be used to provide cheap, clean energy alternatives. The website features fascinating, inspiring videos talking about the inventor's 'eureka moment', focusing on the inventor as well as the technology."

cancel ×

174 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

KISS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946561)

Like most things that have changed life for the better, the bulk have been from a simple premise, such as removal of the handle from the Broad Street pump.


Provide countries with the simple necessities, and life will get easier and more productive.


Cheers



"You've got a chart filling a whole wall with interlocking pathways and reactions to shock and the researcher says "If I can just control this one molecule/enzyme/compound I'll stop the whole negative physiologic cascade of post haemorrhagic shock." Yeah, right."

agfaer (0, Offtopic)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946579)


asdfsaaf s afd sf0f9j reaf
df9nb uea b gf terwa9agf
asd098fja ds9vc jfa9ghareg9
d0sfja 0fjsdf98jafssdfasfi0gjagfjarfge90fjaenf aewfeaf afbw gv9abuwe hthwev9 fens gerpnaggv89heante3gfagv8haerg pauiegubpawehnu4fqawepvip sfdba rivsz zbfv

we0fwheasuivb vf

fgfff

look like ruby code to me! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946667)

ugly, shitty, unworkable..

Re:agfaer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946815)

Shaun Earsome gobbles up nutsacks like he gobbles up sperm... in a hurry!

Drill-style water pump (3, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946597)

One of my favorites was the water-pump that was essentially a spiral "drill" type shape enclosed in a tube. As you rotate the drill, it water in the spirals would be moved upwards through the pipe and - eventually - out the spout at the top.

My understanding was that it's a lot better than many of the bucket+rope configurations used with wells.

Re:Drill-style water pump (0)

dan4surf (1137621) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946661)

Yes the water-pump is great. :) By dan from The gadgets site http://www.gadgets-club.com/ [gadgets-club.com]

Re:Drill-style water pump (4, Informative)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946689)

It sounds like you're talking about Archimedes' screw [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Drill-style water pump (4, Informative)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946701)

I do believe that this invention is known as an Archimede's Screw.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archimedes_screw [wikipedia.org]
The fact that it is named after a dead Greek should tell you how well known the principles of it are.

Re:Drill-style water pump (2, Informative)

tmasssey (546878) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946711)

It's called an Archimedes' Screw [wikipedia.org] . It has advantages (especially in high-torque applications), but it is not very useful for moving water a long distance. Out of a ditch (a few meters), yes. Out of a *well* (tens of meters), no.

Re:Drill-style water pump (1)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948495)

Unless you bring it up to temporary reservoirs, then move it with another screw to the next level, and so on.

Re:Drill-style water pump (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946737)

Is that different from the Archimedes Screw, which has been used for well over 2,000 years? It's pretty clever but it's not exactly new.

Re:Drill-style water pump (5, Informative)

maggard (5579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949971)

Um, no.

Archimede's Screw is not a replacement for a rope & bucket. Or at least, not for the sort of deep well seen in many parts of the world where surface water is unavailable or contaminated.

Archimede's Screw requires substantially more run then rise; making it suitable for moving water up and over from a river to a settling pond or canal. Wikipedia has a good explanation of the mathematics; for the casual reader just figure about a 30 degree angle or less.

On the other hand a rope & bucket is all rise and very little run; it just brings water up, on the very close order of 90 degrees.

So they're substantially different sort of devices, and not interchangeable at all. Nor is either particularly new, Archimede's Screw dates back 2,500+ years, the rope and bucket considerably further.

All of that said, I have to note that not knowing about Archimede's Screw is a pretty spectacular gap in a decent education.

The six classes of simple machines - wedge, ramp, screw, lever, wheel & axle, and pulley, are fundamental to how the machanical world works. I'd have hoped this is covered early on in anyone's education, particularly anyone with any sort of interest in 'how the world works'.

If your educational system neglected this material perhaps a note to them detailing this gap, and resulting gaffe, might inspire the current generation of educators to review the curricula and see if that can't fit it in somewhere.

Re:Drill-style water pump (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950359)

I've found about the Archimedes' screw reading some thing or another on the Internet, a couple of years ago. Had no idea of its existence before

video warnings please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946625)

The links mentioned have heavy video on them. Thanks.

my favorite.. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946695)

The Pot in pot refrigerator [wikipedia.org]

Re:my favorite.. (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946743)

Agreed, that's the one I was thinking of when I read the summary.

Best. name. ever.

Re:my favorite.. (1)

quick_dry_3 (112334) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948231)

that sounds very much like a coolgardie safe

(and I remember reading ina kids book when I was little about keeping things cool using a wet terracotta pot - is the pot in a pot really that big a leap?)

Re:my favorite.. (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948581)

Nope, but I didn't think of it, and I'd guess you didn't, either. I'm clever, and I'll assume that you are, too; it's invention-worthy.

Re:my favorite.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949389)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coolgardie_safe [wikipedia.org]

Over 100 years older, and it would seem to more effective (wind + water cooling) as opposed to just water evaporation.

Don't these award people have the internet?

Hexayurts (5, Informative)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946707)

A lot of these sorts of technologies were aggregated [archive.org] (PDF) by the Hexayurt folks. The hexayurt is itself one of these technologies. A roomy shelter costing just over $200, takes just a few hours to build, and has the R-value of a typical house.

http://hexayurt.com/ [hexayurt.com]

Re:Hexayurts (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947419)

"A roomy shelter costing just over $200, takes just a few hours to build, and has the R-value of a typical house."

Apparently longer than they spent on their website. Seriously, why does it read as a random gob of sentences about the Hexayurt, yet not answer my basic questions?

Re:Hexayurts (2, Insightful)

replicant108 (690832) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947667)

Fascinating videos. The last one especially is excellent.

Ghandi+Bucky Fuller+FOSS = interesting stuff!

This is a page with more info on the Hexayurt:

http://www.appropedia.org/Hexayurt_Project [appropedia.org]

Re:Hexayurts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949677)

This site smacks of hippie collectivism/environmentalism rather than Slashdot-approved OSS libertarianism.

Just give a prominent link to the damn build specs already, don't burden users with burning man / shelter / refugee bafflegab.

Re:Hexayurts (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949785)

Great - paint it camoflage - add sand bags around the sides (for incomming rounds) ----- the perfect post apocolypse dwelling

#1 invention (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946763)

The condom should be at the top of that list...

Re:#1 invention (5, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947007)

The problem is that invention can be countered by the Roman Catholic! :-P

Re:#1 invention (1)

ACS Solver (1068112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947059)

It shouldn't. It's not something that is made by primitive techniques from low-tech materials. Clay pots are just that, condoms aren't. Unless, of course, you consider polyurithane a low-tech material.

Condoms (2, Informative)

ChameleonDave (1041178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947487)

Read up on condoms. You'll find that they have also been made of lambskin and other materials. They are not necessarily high-tech.

Re:#1 invention (2, Insightful)

Mikachu (972457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947591)

Wrong on that one. [wikipedia.org] Condoms have been in use since ancient Egyptian times. The oldest known physical condom was found in 1640, made of animal intestine. I'd hardly call that high-tech.

Ancient Chinese Condoms (1)

evought (709897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949591)

Wrong on that one. [wikipedia.org] Condoms have been in use since ancient Egyptian times. The oldest known physical condom was found in 1640, made of animal intestine. I'd hardly call that high-tech.

I cannot find an online reference for this, but I read a (dead tree) journal article a good while back about archaeologists in China who found a (relatively) well preserved oiled-silk condom in the bottom of an old latrine on the order of a few thousand years old. There was speculation on whether it was effective for anything or used more as a fetish.

condoms (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948627)

It shouldn't. It's not something that is made by primitive techniques from low-tech materials. Clay pots are just that, condoms aren't. Unless, of course, you consider polyurithane a low-tech material.

Ah but as with many other things made today condoms used to be made by "primitive" materials. At one tyme condoms were made from rubber, which spawned their nickname, "rubbers". And originally rubber, like plastics, were made from plants. Rubber [wikipedia.org] is the sap of trees, and plastic [wikipedia.org] was made from plant cellulose [wikipedia.org] . Kodak [planet.nl] , the photography business, did some research on making plastics from trees. After all film was made from plastic.

Falcon

Re:#1 invention (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949445)

The condom should be at the top of that list...

Or, for purposes of not ending up with a child, just have an abortion. If that doesn't count as an invention then let's put the coat hanger at the top of the list, as well as the gun and knife since those kill people too.

Chimney starter (1, Insightful)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20946803)

The "high efficiency stove" is just a chimney starter [wikipedia.org] using pots the right size to fully close the top. Yeah, I applaud them for trying to find ways to help, but these really aren't "inventions," just re-applications of existing items and concepts.

Re:Chimney starter (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946883)

these really aren't "inventions," just re-applications of existing items and concepts.
Um, what? 99.99% of inventions are "just re-applications of existing items and concepts", including such boring and inconsequential devices as the car, the airplane, and the atomic bomb.

Re:Chimney starter (4, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947195)

They went out, and studied the needs, and the current stuff they used, every thing from the size of pots, to the long stick they use to stir it, and that women would leave villages for hours looking for wood, and get their arms chopped off by bad people. So, they tailor made and engineered something stable, cost effective, designed for the size/style of equipment they already use, and it uses 1/4 the fuel, meaning less trips out into the dangerous woods.. they are not just a store bought BBQ starter..

Re:Chimney starter (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949757)

In keeping with the Slashdot culture of pointing out when things have been done before I'll note that there are scads of similar stoves all over Africa, and scads of relief organizations who have done what you describe. Why Pop Sci picked out these particular ones I have no idea.

I've seen a lot of Hedon stoves. Someone developed something they call the Ugandan Rocket. Both of those came about from some effort to design a more effective stove. Any town close to an abandoned mine or oil facility will have communal stoves made from 55 gallon drums, and smaller jinkos made from cut down drums that are great to carry into the bush.

Since everything gets recycled in Africa they are quite skilled at fabrication.

Re:Chimney starter (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947297)

>just re-applications of existing items and concepts.

  Cars are just horseless carriages. The web is just a BBS with better graphics. Heart surgery is just hand surgery with more blood.

Reapplication of existing items and concepts it almost the definition of invention.

Re:Chimney starter (2, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947583)

And everything is just an extension of Object. So what?

Re:Chimney starter (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947689)

Yeah, I applaud them for trying to find ways to help, but these really aren't "inventions," just re-applications of existing items and concepts.
Isn't that what all inventions are?

Re:Chimney starter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20947703)

Essentially nothing is really an "invention" by your own metric (you're likely just unaware of the history in some cases, perhaps). Actually, you've hit upon the Big Lie of the patent system.

"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20946997)

Twenty-five years ago, my mom bought a commercial bbq grill that looks exactly like the "Save Darfur Stove" in the article. The only thing that makes this "newsworthy" in the eyes of Popular Mechanics is the association with "the poor" and the current crises in Darfur. Which is dumb: The biggest reason African countries have problems (HIV AIDS, hunger, poverty, suffering ) is because of the Africans themselves. From http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/africa/10/11/africa.billions.ap/index.html [cnn.com] :

Report: African wars cost billions
October 11, 2007

Story highlights
Report: Africa's wars in recent decades have cost about $18 billion a year
Report examined 23 African nations in wars between 1990 and 2005
Report estimates fighting cost at total of about $300 billion
Report excludes Somalia, in war since dictatorship overthrown in 1991

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- About $18 billion a year has been drained from Africa by nearly two dozen wars in recent decades, a new report states, a price some officials say could've helped solve the AIDS crisis and created stronger economies in the world's poorest region.

"This is money Africa can ill afford to lose," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wrote in an introduction to the report by the British charity Oxfam and two groups that seek tougher controls on small arms, Saferworld and the International Action Network on Small Arms.

"The sums are appalling: the price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of solving the HIV and AIDS crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment for tuberculosis and malaria," Sirleaf added. "Literally thousands of hospitals, schools, and roads could have been built."

That war makes economies suffer is nothing new, but few have tried to estimate the real cost across Africa.

Compared to peaceful countries, war-battered African nations have "50 percent more infant deaths, 15 percent more undernourished people, life expectancy reduced by five years, 20 percent more adult illiteracy, 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient and 12.4 percent less food per person," the report estimates.

On average, the economies of African nations wracked by armed conflict contracted by 15 percent, and the impact generally worsened the longer a war lasted, the report said.

The report based its figures on the ill effects on economic growth by estimating what growth might have been in countries if they had not suffered conflicts. During Guinea-Bissau's 1989-99 war, for example, projected growth was 5 percent, but the economy decreased 10 percent, it said.

"This methodology almost certainly gives an underestimate," the group said in a joint statement.

"It does not include the economic impact on neighboring countries, which could suffer from political insecurity or a sudden influx of refugees. The study only covers periods of actual combat, but some costs of war, such as increased military spending and a struggling economy, continue long after the fighting has stopped."

The report looked at 23 African nations that had wars between 1990 and 2005, estimating the fighting cost a total of about $300 billion.

"This is a massive waste of resources -- roughly equivalent to total international aid to Africa from major donors during the same period," the report said.

The report did not include Somalia, which has been in a state of anarchy and war since a dictatorship was overthrown in 1991 but for which no statistics were available.

The group blamed the availability of small arms for fueling fighting in Africa. It said about 95 percent of the weapons used in African wars -- mostly the ubiquitous Kalashnikov automatic rifle -- are imported from outside the continent.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



Unfortunately, for almost half-a-century, a whole industry has grown up trying to "save Africa", whether it's international aid organizations, benefit concerts, prestigious university scholarships, and George Clooney/Bono types. They are trying to use Band-Aids to cure cancer. Sure, it makes the aid workers "feel good", but most of their work is only prolonging the problem. A case in point is how Bono campaigned developed countries to "forgive the debt" of underdeveloped countries, and thus BILLIONS of dollars went unaccounted for (well, probably to fund the warring squabbles).

Fooey.

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947503)

Here's a fun read on the matter, a bit dated now but certain to destroy any optimism you had concerning the African situation-

Lords of Poverty by Graham Hancock

http://www.google.com/search?num=30&hl=en&c2coff=1&safe=off&q=lords+of+poverty+graham+hancock&btnG=Search [google.com]
~

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20947937)

Two things: 1) What created this situation? 2) Does the fact that African countries
have had terrible, brutal, war-mongering leaders mean that we should have no
sympathy for the majority which would rather live in Peace?

Also, Africa is composed of many countries, some of which are peaceful and have
been peaceful for quite a few decades now. For example, Ghana. Ghana has not
engaged in a war since colonial times, and yet the majority of the population
is poor, and many could benefit from such inventions, attention and better
international policies.

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949073)

....Two things I'd point out:
1. Ghana is the exception. A lot of people wonder why it is, but it is. What "better international policies" would they benefit from?
2. The book's premise is that (over the last ~30 years, and now we might say the last 45 years) whatever has been done as "international aid" has not had a positive impact on the overall situation.

I wouldn't claim to know any solution, but would agree that what's intended as aid by foreign countries isn't working.


From what international news I've seen, there seems to be a tendency towards populist African leaders choosing short-term non-solutions.
Mugabe's white farm seisure efforts to redistribute wealth have been a glorious, comical disaster by everyone else's accounting. Who is keeping him in power?

What MOST Africans are still struggling to invent is a slippery little thing called "rule of law", specifically of the non-religious variety.
~

stupid (4, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947783)

Which is dumb: The biggest reason African countries have problems (HIV AIDS, hunger, poverty, suffering ) is because of the Africans themselves.
I'm sorry, the answer was colonialism [bbc.co.uk] . But thanks for playing.

Re:stupid (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948201)

Funny how much "colonialism" is self-imposed.

Re:stupid (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948229)

It might have, at one time, been an impetus for revolt, but I don't hear of many countries outside of Africa trying to conquer the continent these days and enslave it's population. No, sir, the reality is Africans commiting genocide.

Third to last paragraph in the link you posted...

Clearly, Africa does need the world's help. But Africa's destiny can be changed for the better only by Africans themselves.
I think that's the point the GP was trying to make and I tend to agree.

Re:stupid (1)

MrMarket (983874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948531)

It might have, at one time, been an impetus for revolt, but I don't hear of many countries outside of Africa trying to conquer the continent these days and enslave it's population. No, sir, the reality is Africans commiting genocide.

Third to last paragraph in the link you posted...

Clearly, Africa does need the world's help. But Africa's destiny can be changed for the better only by Africans themselves.
I think that's the point the GP was trying to make and I tend to agree.
I like an over-simplification that absolves my conscience as much as the next guy, but your cop-out overlooks a few things.

A lot of these wars stem from arbitrary state lines that combine rival ethnic groups into single states where one group usually feels the need to assert its authority over another. Guess who drew the lines in the dirt, propped up the post-colonial governments, and generally intensified blood feuds by playing various ethnic groups off each other in order to keep the exports flowing? The colonizers.

Yes, I agree that African leaders need to get their sh!t together, but don't forget who's machinations stoked the flames.

Re:stupid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20948293)

Yes, the problem is still the white man's fault, not:

Robert Mugabe, imprisoning farmers and giving their working farms to friends. Zimbabwe will be in crisis in a couple years.

Omar Bongo, head of Gabon and one of the wealthiest leaders in the world. Has vast estates in France. Nice.

Blaise Compaore, of Burkina Faso became prez when the previous guy had an "accident."

Joseph Kabila, of the Congo. A general in the bloodiest conflict since WWII.

And I didn't even mention: the Janjaweed, AIDS, pirates, and diseases that the Western world has eradicated.

I'm sure you will still blame all this on white colonialists. Because they are a product of it. But come on, white people haven't ruled in years. What does it take until we are no longer to blame?

Re:stupid (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948335)

At some point you have to take responsibility for yourself. The African nations have been getting progressively worse off since the end of colonialism. It is time to stop excusing bad government in Africa because of what the colonial powers did. The problems in Africa today are a product of bad governments. Much of Asia was colonial as well and doesn't suffer to the same degree that Africa does. If the cause of Africa's problems is colonialism, why is India wealthier today than it was when it was a colony, but Africa is poorer? BTW the article you link expresses a similar sentiment to the post that you are replying to: it is time for the First World (Europe and the US) to stop thinking that it has the duty or the ability to solve Africa's problems; the only ones with the ability to solve Africa's problems are Africans. At least that is what the wrap up of the article reads like to me.

Re:stupid (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950625)

At some point you have to take responsibility for yourself. The African nations have been getting progressively worse off since the end of colonialism. ...
___
Nations? You mean the arbitrarily made boundaries made with a rule by whities so that many different tribes with different languages, that had been killing each other for millenniums are now called a 'nation' are supposed to work?

You think it should work as good as the Iraq 'Nation'?

Re:stupid (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948575)

I'm sorry, the answer was colonialism. But thanks for playing.

I know, right? Like those "New World" American colonies. Look what a shithole those ended up as... The UK's little experiment-that-rebelled, barely able to feed the rich, nevermind the poor; Canada, France's version of the same, we have to accept that they always had the climate against them anyway; And the mishmash in South America, man, a real sob-story with the Spanish taking their gold and the Vatican taking their souls.



Colonialism makes a nice "White Man's fault" excuse. Yet, I'd have to say that we really don't have a lot of examples that do anything but contradict that stance. Europeans found Africa in a state of savagery, and such has it stayed (though they've upgraded the weaponry used in tribal warfare - Though they need to thank (or curse) the Europeans even for that humble advancement).

The closest Africa ever came to pulling itself out of the mud (Biafra), it excised like a tumor. And how does it view attempts at Western aid to its woes? They seriously believe we've sent them condoms poisoned with AIDS to kill them all off (on a good day - On bad days, they accuse us of witchcraft).

African dictators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20950047)

Yet, I'd have to say that we really don't have a lot of examples that do anything but contradict that stance.

Most of the post colonial/post independence Africa was cursed by dictators supported by Western powers - which meant even the independence granted by the West was not useful in institution building, free and fair elections and so forth. Mobutu Sese Seko is a good example. South Africa became independent recently. So it is indeed a "White Mans Burden".

If you reimburse Africa and other colonized Asian countries for the plundered loot, most of the Western Europe would be bankrupt.

Re:African dictators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20950525)

Europe will be bankrupt, and instead of enriching the African poor, the great African leaders will simply use the money to buy MORE weapons and fund MORE wars and buy MORE US$2 million cars while their populace die of AIDS.

One example. (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950391)

ANGOLA. [wikipedia.org] Particularly as it relates to UNITA [wikipedia.org] and FNLA. [wikipedia.org] You might want to do a bit of reading on how that little fuck-up created that other raging mess that is currently known as Congo and our direct relationship to that evil son-of-a-bitch Mobutu Sese Seko [wikipedia.org] as late as ten years ago. ...and that's just one long-enduring example. I mean, come on, we actively funded and armed them to the teeth to ensure they wouldn't become socialists, which, predictably, wasn't exactly successful, except in totally destroying what little development there was. Hell, even South Africa is now run by a socialist-communist coalition. So, when do we storm the beaches of Durban?

Re:stupid (1)

KJzTMC (568816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950449)

I know, right? Like those "New World" American colonies.
Comparing the colonialization of North America to that of the African continent is faulty by default. When North America was colonized the ingiginous people was all but eradicated. When Africa was colonized, boarders were made where none had ever existed - down through tripes, gathering some and spreading others. Just looking at a map of Africa you will clearly see the unnatural borderdesign.

Colonialism makes a nice "White Man's fault" excuse. Yet, I'd have to say that we really don't have a lot of examples that do anything but contradict that stance.
First example: When the "White Man", as you gently put it, forced the Rwandan population into two imaginary tripes (from measuring the width of their noses) having the one tripe rule over the other for decades I do believe that some blame is to be put on the western society.

And how does it view attempts at Western aid to its woes? They seriously believe we've sent them condoms poisoned with AIDS to kill them all off (on a good day - On bad days, they accuse us of witchcraft).
This is just tabloid BS. From my time working with development aid in Uganda and Tanzania I have never herd but Western media speak of these blames. The are nothing more then the spin of a few local fairytale made up in despair of seeing the world fall apart. Frankly, your points of view are border-lining racism at best.

Re:stupid (4, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948621)

But before they were colonized, Africa was still fraught with violence. Violence, war, and general disorder are hardly a uniquely European invention. African tribes have been fighting amongst each other for thousands of years. Their problems are the ancient problems of society and mankind.

Not that colonization helped or anything.

Re:stupid (3, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949349)

I'm sorry, the answer was colonialism . But thanks for playing.
You did read your own link, didn't you?

All the same, nearly 50 years since the end of the colonial era, is it time perhaps for us to stop blaming the trauma of that encounter for all our problems? Who truly is to blame for this?

To my mind, many of Africa's most profound problems stem from the way Africans look at themselves: all too often, Africa suffers from low self-esteem.


I'm sorry, it looks like you didn't. But thanks for playing.

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948661)

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

I love the way you included the copyright notice at the end, flaunting your evil piracy for the whole world to see :-P

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (0, Flamebait)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948703)

I call their grill a waste of energy, and masturbation at beast. Engineering demands my ass. We learned how to cook with high efficiency like what that crackpot is going on about in the video. It's called a coffee can (or similar size). You simply take some tin snips to it. But then again, it doesn't take someone with a PHD to come up with something like that. I like how at the end they mentioned the stoves cost $20 a piece (vs a couple bucks at best with a coffee can), and the families that got them, had to buy them.

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (1)

bingoathome (1027034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949263)

Hi You obviously have spent some time on that and I believe much of what you say could be true. However I do believe Europeans are not with out some guilt for the state of Africa today.

Re:"Save Darfur Stove" is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949357)

But i thought America was to blame for everything?????





or maybe that was Microsoft........

Old is new (1)

wrwetzel (543389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947001)

I love the belt generator - simple, few moving parts, no bearings, etc. But it is far from new. I remember reading about such a device in a science fiction article back in the late 1960's. The real problem expressed in the story is that these things will make an awful lot of noise when they are scaled up in size or count to practical levels.

Re:Old is new (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947189)

The belt generator is far from ideal.
A wind generator can only extract power from the flow it recieves, which relates to the cross-section that it sweeps. Compared to most other types of windmills, a belt/ribbon generator doesn't sweep very much cross-section.

~

You are right, however... (1)

heybiff (519445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947411)

...the desired application is low cost, low consumption, lots of wind. Under those conditions, this device seems fine enough. Most of the Carribean recieves a pretty constant breeze year round, sometimes too much. So more area isn't much of an issue assuming efficiency is kept high enough to support the intended current draw.

Simple, cheap, not very dangerous, sounds like a winner.

Heybiff

Re:Old is new (1)

pragma_x (644215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948731)

The point, as I saw it, was not to achieve the ultimate in efficiency in terms of converting Watts of wind power to Watts of electricity. It's all about the cost of materials and maintenance - both up-front and down the road.

Look at it this way: the only reason why automobiles are so popular in the 1st world is that gasoline used to be dirt cheap, and not because cars are particularly efficient at anything. Cheap trumps efficient every time. To that end, the concerns in the "developing" and war-torn places on the globe are much more immediately fiscal and resource constrained than anything else.

Besides, the design is geared towards low wind applications where turbines are less cost efficient. At that point, it doesn't matter how inefficient you design is since it still gives you more bang for your buck than anything else given the circumstances.

Mousetrap (5, Interesting)

wandm (969392) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947053)

Have you ever tried to catch mice?

If you have, you will know how brilliant idea the normal mousetrap actually is. It's ridiculously cheap and efficient, and has practically remained the same for almost 100 years. Here is a link to the pantent:

http://inventors.about.com/od/weirdmuseums/ig/History-of-Mousetraps/James-Doubt---Mousetrap-Patent.htm [about.com]

Re:Mousetrap (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947227)

I seem to recall seeing a statistic somewhere (Harper's list in utne, mayhaps?) that had the number of patent applications for mousetraps one specific year being around 4. The following year, when the Emerson said the thing about "build a better mousetrap...", there were a ton more.

Mod me off topic, (karma to burn, yadda yadda...) but I thought this crowd would appreciate it...

Re:Mousetrap (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950731)

I read a report where some university or other tried various methods of controlling mice: different designs of lethal and non-lethal traps, poisons, non-lethal repellents &c.

The best results taking all factors into account were obtained using a cat.

Appropriate Technology (4, Insightful)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947181)

My master's degree is design of an appropriate technology vehicle -- turns out, the appropriate technology movement was abandoned, even to the point of making the phrase a faux-pas in the engineering community based on the idea that it provided mediocre solutions, and that the modern world was simply trying to placate the developing world with sub-par solutions. After projects like the OLPC however, I think it's become evident that applications of simple technology to problems that demand it deserve just as much attention. Giving someone who can't afford gasoline or buy spare car parts a car is like giving Robinson Caruso a cell phone where he can't get reception.

Re:Appropriate Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20947569)

"Robinson Caruso" He was also known as "the singing castaway", wasn't he?

More about Shawn at MIT (1)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947559)

here [umsl.edu] is an article about Shawn at MIT, in a class where they come up with this kind of stuff. Article is by Pagan Kennedy [google.com] in the New York Times.

even more :More about Shawn at MIT (3, Interesting)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947701)

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/10/65276 [wired.com]
A MacGyver for the Third World
http://www.flickr.com/photos/aidg/612856202/in/set-72157600466239024/ [flickr.com]
flickr
http://instapundit.com/archives2/010388.php [instapundit.com]
instapundit is blogging the conference
http://www.aidg.org/component/option,com_jd-wp/Itemid,34/p,33/ [aidg.org]
some blog
Shawn Frayne is the founder of Haddock Invention LLC and its recent spin-off company, Humdinger Wind Energy, LLC. The mission of these companies is two-fold. First, to create technologies that can address long-standing problems in developing countries; and second, to leverage the novel aspects of those inventions through licensing deals in capital-rich nations such as the U.S., thereby generating a self-supporting revenue stream for the projects.

His work has so far focused in the fields of solar water disinfection, inflatable packaging, food preservation, charcoal-production, and wind power generation, with several products successfully licensed or sold. It was during his time as a student in MIT's D-Lab that Shawn first became convinced that the key inventions of the next century won't necessarily be born in wealthy countries. Rather, the new industries of the coming years will be founded on breakthrough technologies invented in Haiti or Zambia or Guatemala, where the hardest problems in the world will yield the greatest inventions.

Re:even more :More about Shawn at MIT (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948943)

His work has so far focused in the fields of solar water disinfection, inflatable packaging, food preservation, charcoal-production, and wind power generation, with several products successfully licensed or sold. It was during his time as a student in MIT's D-Lab that Shawn first became convinced that the key inventions of the next century won't necessarily be born in wealthy countries. Rather, the new industries of the coming years will be founded on breakthrough technologies invented in Haiti or Zambia or Guatemala, where the hardest problems in the world will yield the greatest inventions.

I disagree with that. The hardest problems remain in the developed world. It's because the problems of the poorer countries have already been solved by the developed world. The inventions above are more ways to help progress to the massive technological infrastructure of the developed world.

Having said that, I could see in the not so distant future, an extremely wealthy, long-lived person or group taking over one of worst of these regions and carrying it into the future. I think all you need is a combination of low corruption government and significant resources in order to push things forward. The financial gain from the huge increase of value in the inhabitants' labor as well as the increase in value from new infrastructure could make such a plan highly profitable assuming you can put 50-100 years into it.

Re:even more :More about Shawn at MIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949963)

new industries of the coming years will be founded on breakthrough technologies

That is, if the fundamental principles behind these inventions were not patented, already.

Re:even more :More about Shawn at MIT (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950739)

Three things you really need to know about patents:
  1. They wear off after 20 years
  2. They are specific to a jurisdiction
  3. Governments can annul them at anytime before that

Water purification (4, Informative)

Amoeba (55277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947737)

I read an article some time ago which outlined a very low-tech way to help purify water in countries with high incidences of Malaria, Dysentery, etc. By painting the surface of huts/housing flat black and placing clear plastic water bottles on them for a few hours. The sun & UV help to kill off most parasites and biological pathogens quite effectively and at a price much cheaper than other filtration solutions. Nice low-tech solution which is cheap, effective, and requires no special equipment.

Re:Water purification (2, Interesting)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948875)

I read an article some time ago which outlined a very low-tech way to help purify water in countries with high incidences of Malaria, Dysentery, etc. By painting the surface of huts/housing flat black and placing clear plastic water bottles on them for a few hours. The sun & UV help to kill off most parasites and biological pathogens quite effectively and at a price much cheaper than other filtration solutions. Nice low-tech solution which is cheap, effective, and requires no special equipment.

Several years ago I read an article online about how some group was purifying water will ceramic, clay, pots. Water would be put into the pots then it would slowly seep through, when it did contaminants were removed. I just did a quick Google of purify water ceramic OR clay pots [google.com] to see if I could find TFA and the first result was Oxfam on the border: Where the crisis in Darfur meets Chad and Central Africa [oxfamamerica.org] with a paragraph on how pots with sand in them are used to purify water. Those making the pots are able to create an income in making them.

Falcon

Re:Water purification (3, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949051)

By painting the surface of huts/housing flat black and placing clear plastic water bottles on them for a few hours. The sun & UV help to kill off most parasites and biological pathogens quite effectively

You've got that wrong, one way or another...

For UV sterilization, you want a highly reflective surface, that will reflect the UV back through the water a second time, as most organisms are already adapted to handle 1X sun-levels of UV. Better yet, of course, is a solar concentrator that will focus several more times as much UV at the water.

"Black" sounds like an attempt to use solar heat to raise the water temperature, but if so, it's unlikely to confer much of its heat to the bottle of water in this manner, and especially in winter, I doubt it will get near enough to boiling to do a good job of sterilization. Plus, it's not uncommon for such methods to have difficulty killing larger hardier organisms (parasite/insect larva).

Personally, I'm a much bigger fan of an even cheaper and simpler method; percolating water through a couple meters of fine sand to naturally remove 99% of contaminants. Instead of just killing biological contaminants, it also removes suspended solids and similar contamination that causes water to taste terrible. And it's so simple and uses widely and cheaply available materials (quite unlike paint or polished metal) even the poorest individuals can replicate sand filters.

The WHO apparently agrees: "Under suitable circumstances, slow sand filtration may be not only the cheapest and simplest but also the most efficient method of water treatment."

Duct tape (2, Funny)

so many toms (me too (1115419) | more than 6 years ago | (#20947829)

Yeesh... enough said.

Did they talk about THAT??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20948005)

The steel that could be melted by jet fuel fire?

imagine what we could find (0, Troll)

SoyChemist (1015349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948043)

So much great science could come from sifting through old peer reviewed literature and picking up where old scientists left off.

Another idea. (0, Flamebait)

Zero_Independent (664974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948115)

The living conditions of Dafurians could also improve if they stopped acting like niggers.

Chinese Type 72 (1)

hedley (8715) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948415)

This nefarious landmine I wound not say has 'helped' but it surely has changed lives. Its a plastic mine very little metal content, inexpensive and is the most widely seeded mine in the world. This is the kind of change the world did not and should not ever have needed. Perhaps one day, a high tech soln can dispose of these low tech scourges. There has been a lot of progress but still, its the de-miner with the stick and a face shield that gets them out today.

Use them NOW (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948465)

Use these energy saving systems NOW in countries like the USA and Europe. Conserve energy NOW, especially oil and natgas. Oil can be made into all kinds of amazing substances and burning it up as fuel is like making logs out of $20 bills. Natgas is great for making into fertiliser. We need oil for materials and natgas for food. We need to use Other Technologies for electrical generation (Solar, Wind, hydro, nuke, geothermal, whatever) so we can stretch out our supply of petrochemicals as long as possible.

People can do their part by using these personal conservation technologies in their own lives.

A few times a week, I set out a big pot of stew or chili or soup in my solar cooker. Even in the dead of winter, I come home to a hot meal at the end of the day. It Works. And it's awesome.

RS

Re:Use them NOW (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950387)

I thought corporations and free market took care of optimal usage of fossil fuel and only big-govt Democrats'd advocate subsidies for ethanols and all those bullshit alternatives... oh, wait...

Gotta say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20948649)

That wind belt generator is pretty damn clever.

Other Great Low Tech Stoves (4, Informative)

codeknitter (1172483) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948723)

The Stoves BioEnergy Discussion List (web site http://www.bioenergylists.org/ [bioenergylists.org] ) is a really great resource if you are interested in the global effort to build better, cheaper, low tech cooking stoves. Appropriate technology isn't dead, it's thriving in a lot of these areas where there are limited resources, and not a lot of press coverage. This is My favorite Darfur stove: http://www.bioenergylists.org/en/taxonomy/term/909 [bioenergylists.org] It can be built in the refugee camp instead of shipped there, and it can easily be modified to handle charcoal. Fuel flexibility is important when there are limited resources.

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949113)

This is the better story than the submitted one.

A cook stove: band aid for war torn Darfur (-1, Flamebait)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948915)

The problem is tribal war, yet their solution is a cook stove put together from scrap metal. These feel good do nothing fluff solutions really make the western world look like a bunch of assholes.

Re:A cook stove: band aid for war torn Darfur (0, Flamebait)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950653)

To the person who modded me Flamebait, my URL pic is for you.

low tech invention harms lives (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948949)

The lowest of them all: politics.

I prefer (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20948963)

... Popular Mechanic's older, hi tech [about.com] solutions.

Re:I prefer (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949251)

Why does a computer need a steering wheel?

2D and 3D printing (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949209)

TFA showed an open-source 3D printer. Hell, I cannot even get a decent 2D printer that does not con me into buying a new ink cartridge every 6 months whether I use it or not. I'm still waiting for a 2D breakthru.

Winiarski Rocket Stove (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20949495)

This is a very inexpensive stove design that can be produced for around $1.

http://www.repp.org/discussiongroups/resources/stoves/apro/designp/Design%20Poster.pdf [repp.org]

It's basically a chimney stove, but adds insulation to keep the temperatures
higher in the combustion chamber which causes complete combustion (no smoke)
and tries to keep the cross sectional area of the chimney constant even as it flows
around the pot by making the hot gasses pass very close to the pot.
This results in higher heat transfer

These principles can be used in many different stoves. Here is one
cleverly developed by Ken Goyer which uses 6 bricks made from local
clay, fired and then wired together and can be produced for around 1 dollar. He has
produced 10,000 of these.

http://www.aiduganda.org/cgi-bin/s-mart.pl?command=showpic&currpic=Stoves/lira01454.jpg&start=0 [aiduganda.org]

More information can be found at the approvecho research institute

http://www.aprovecho.org/ [aprovecho.org] or by googling for "rocket stove"

Time for some new contracts (1)

HW_Hack (1031622) | more than 6 years ago | (#20949827)

Has anyone informed Halliburton of any of these things ..... I'm sure they can fluff them up and make a tidy profit.

Re:Time for some new contracts (1)

bestiarosa (938309) | more than 6 years ago | (#20950621)

Please mod parent up. I mistakenly modded it flamebait. It obviously isnt. Sorry, parent.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>