Generally speaking, our society values the ability to "think outside the box" and come up with unexpected solutions to pesky problems. But some of the ideas that come sailing out of left field are so bizarre that you're not sure whether they're awful or awesome. Here are a few ways we're using straight-up stoner logic to solve the world's problems.
The ice caps are receding at a quicker rate than Jude Law's hairline. Antarctic ice loss has tripled in the past 25 years, declining by 3.15% every decade. Venice is already mostly underwater, and if the trend continues, more low-lying major cities like New York, London, and Shanghai will soon be part of Aquaman's kingdom. That's to say nothing of the impact on the Arctic and Antarctic environments. Yes, it's a huge deal, but rest assured that the scientific community's best and brightest have come up with a plan: massive snow cannons.
We can't say for sure how many edibles it took to reach this idea. We're assuming that it beat out "Can we train penguins to fart snow?" and "What if Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat, but real?" At any rate, scientists from Germany and the United States think we can stop Antarctic ice loss by installing a "system of snow cannons" across the continent. The plan would involve desalinating the surrounding seawater, pumping it inland, and blanketing the ice with fresh snow to keep it from melting. According to the simulations, it would take an eye-watering 7,400 gigatons of artificial snowfall over the next 10 years to stabilize the ice sheet, as well as tens of thousands of wind turbines to power the whole operation.
For many of us, the ability to balance is something we use all the time but don't think much about, like your parents' Netflix account. But for those with physical limitations, an inability to stay upright is a clear and present danger which can diminish their quality of life. And while wheelchairs and canes and walkers all have their uses, some members of the scientific community have dared to dream of a better solution ... in the form of a wearable robotic tail.
A team at Keio University in Tokyo decided that since tails help animals balance, the same should totally be true of people. To that end, they've constructed a large tail for humans to strap to their backs that will ideally help keep our clumsy asses from falling over. Because when you're struggling to get around, what you need most is an extra appendage to break all your stuff and accidentally hit other people in the crotch. Here's hoping it comes with a quick release for bathroom breaks.
The team based the tail on that of a seahorse, because science is still too cowardly to make our dreams of becoming Sonic's sidekick a reality. lt's covered in "vertebra-like plates" and twists and twitches like a real tail. Internal sensors detect the wearer's movements, while artificial muscles respond by moving in the opposite direction to serve as a counterbalance. This honestly just seems like the first step to full-on Dr. Octopus tech.
The world's coral reefs are dying. Or to be more specific, we're killing them. Over 50% of reefs have died in the last 30 years, and up to 90% more could die over the next century if we don't change our ways. In some parts of the world, tremendous and heroic efforts are being made to save and restore injured reefs, from literally gluing coral back together to guarding nurseries so new reefs can grow. But some scientists have taken a different, more chill approach. According to them, what an ailing reef needs most of all is Lo-fi Hip-Hop Beats To Grow/Rebuild Coral To.
Scientists from the UK and Australia worked together to address the problem currently facing many reefs: how alive they aren't. But unlike dead scientists, dead coral isn't necessarily gone forever. If fish can be lured back to a reef, they can help jump-start recovery and get the ecosystem going again. But how do you get fish to suddenly think a dead empty reef is the scene and want to move in? Since it's not a party without the music, the team set up underwater speakers and started playing the fish a dope playlist -- a collection of recorded sounds from a lively, healthy reef. And indeed, the fish actually started to return.
The team continued this "acoustic enrichment" at a number of sites over 40 days. At each site, the number of fish present on the reef doubled, and the number of different species increased by 50%. While this development doesn't solve the underlying issues causing the damage, it's helpful to know that all it really takes is an underwater house party to entice some fish back into the neighborhood.
While we're busy shooting Antarctic ice loss in the dick with cannons, rest assured there's an equally bong-inspired plan to keep Santa's glaciers up north from melting as well. Scientists for "Ice911 Research" (Ice420 was already taken) determined that if the heat from the sun shining on the ice makes it melt, what we really need to do is to reflect that heat away.
According to researchers, our best hope for Arctic ice is to go full Mardi Gras and hurl millions of tiny glass beads at it. Sprinkled on the ice, they should increase its reflective properties, which should create an overall cooling trend and keep the ice from melting. And while dumping stuff near the ocean is usually a terrible idea, these balls are made of silicate glass, so they're basically pretty sand that breaks down in the already-sandy seawater. Scientists say they're too big to harm birds and too small to harm mammals ... hopefully. So far, tests conducted in northern Alaska have yielded promising results. Even if it doesn't end up working, it's a much cheaper bad idea than snow cannons.
Water pollution is a huge issue, and even the unseen contaminants like microplastics and chemicals can wreak havoc in the environment. Often it's not even a case of someone being a dick and dumping stuff on purpose. If drainage systems get hooked up incorrectly or are damaged, wastewater from homes can drain into waterways right along with rainwater and runoff. This happens so frequently that a study conducted by the University of Sheffield focused not on where or why local waterways are contaminated, but on the cheapest and easiest way to track contamination to the offending plumbing. They determined: "Dude, if you want to soak up water, just, you know, shove some tampons down there."
Tampons have exactly one job, and that's to soak up liquid. They're also not picky, so they'll soak up whatever they're exposed to, be it your blood or contaminated water. A majority of household products like detergents and toothpaste contain chemicals called "optical brighteners," which keep things appearing white. They also make those things glow under a UV light. So if white cotton tampons are dropped into water that's contaminated with wastewater from a home, they pick up the trace amounts of detergent and start glowing under a UV light. Like floating little CSI scenes in the fight against pollution.
So despite sounding like the punchline of a straight-to-streaming teen sex comedy, the tampon system actually works extremely well -- better than expensive equipment designed specifically for testing water. Anchored at the edge of waterways or tied to manhole covers, they light up like signals at the first sign of detergent. Working upstream, researchers can then narrow down the source and determine which home needs a plumber and/or gynecologist.
For more, check out The Obvious Solution To The Airline Problem (United Airlines):
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