Consumers have become increasingly aware of how wasteful food packaging has become, along with the impact on our environment, due to the amount of natural resources taken to make our plastic bottles, for instance. Many companies have caught on and developed products made out of biodegradable materials, like bamboo or plant-based resin, such as Fabri-Kal’s innovative line of Greenware plant-resin drinking cups. But what if you could eliminate waste completely by actually eating your cup? The future of food packaging is literally found in the taste.
Scratch and Sniff stickers and scented erasers are still among the coolest things to stick with a kid’s school supplies. For some people, however, that just wasn’t enough. Forget scratching and sniffing, it’s all about tasting for McVitie’s, a baked goods company in the U.K. Their Willy Wonka inspired wallpaper lines an office elevator and encourages passengers to take a taste of its insides.
What looks like flat scratch and sniff style paper is actually food. Jaffa cakes, which are little sponge cakes filled with orange jelly and coated in chocolate, are what line the elevator walls. All instinct and everything our mothers warned us not to do should keep most sensible people from wanting to lick any kind of wall, but McVitie’s friendly invitation might change some minds. About 1,325 lickable cookies line the walls of the elevator and McVitie’s actually did have a bit of forethought on the sanitation front. Once licked, each cookie is removed and replaced with another. Epidemic averted, maybe.
It’s common knowledge that any amount of money can spin scientific results into desired conclusions. When it comes to studies about drugs or alcohol, readers perk up; because aren’t most Americans waiting for that magic pill that will allow us to eat or drink anything we want and never gain weight or let those recessive genes prevent our goals?
Yes, every week there seems to be some new study telling us that something ridiculous is actually good for you, or there’s been a cure for something and the news never really seems to stick. A couple months ago we reported on a study that claims vodka increases creativity and verbal skills.
In Singapore this week, hugging a Coca-Cola vending machine will get you a free soda. No, it’s not a sudden outreach from the robots we’ve created. It’s part of a campaign started by Coca-Cola called, appropriately, the ‘Open Happiness’ campaign. It’s not the weirdest campaign Coca-Cola’s taken on and it certainly doesn’t trump Pepsi’s social networking vending machines. Still, it’s raising eyebrows and bringing a little joy all over Singapore.
On a list of things we thought we would need a robot version of, jellyfish were somewhere around the absolute bottom. Science, however, works in some mysterious ways. Our latest advancement in technology is a robot that continuously propels itself, without really ever having to come back into human contact for a recharge. It just so happens that the creature whose shape best suited the experiment happened to be one of our prettiest and most gelatinous sea critters.
The “Robojelly”, which thankfully comes without any stinging power, is bell-shaped and relies on a combination of oxygen and hydrogen gases to contract and release its appropriately jelly-looking “muscle”. This “muscle”, according to an abstract featured in the April issue of Smart Materials and Structures consists of “nano-platinum catalyst-coated multi-wall carbon nanotube sheets, wrapped on the surface of nickel—titanium shape memory alloy.” While that’s practically Schi-Fi jargon for many to take in, the important part is that this combination makes the device capable of moving around in water. It makes its structure very close to that of a living jellyfish.
Every good foodie has scoffed at the idea of eating the mystery meat served in most cafeterias, but what if that meat was genetically engineered from stem cells? So, it’s meat. Truly, but kind of, sort of not. Our apologies to the Fleur Burger 5000, test tube hamburger patties may have just taken the prize for the world’s most expensive hamburger coming in at a staggering price of $350,000 (there's a $355,000 price different between the two).
Finally, there’s a way to party and prepare that thesis you’ve been holding off on, thanks to science. Recent research shows that a moderate amount of vodka increases word association skills and verbal creativity. This means that you’re slightly more on your toes and creative when buzzed on vodka. A buzz loosens up the mind enough so that we’re less likely to be inhibited by a deliberate approach to problem solving, but not so intoxicated that we can’t think logically. Anyone could guess that a little alcohol loosens us up verbally, but no one could guess that it would make us better poets or smoother speakers.
Many of us fondly remember ant farms and the little picnic visitors of our childhoods. They were friendly and tiny and would cart off any bit of sugar that you threw their way. They’re pretty downright cute for things that can lift over 50 times their own weight. Science, however, has a way of making things a little bigger and a little badder. They’ve taken normal sized soldier ants and made them bigger and stronger, forming what’s called the Supersoldier Ant.
Apple has long been one of our country's top technology innovators. (We're still just getting acquainted with Siri.) And now, the next chapter in their book of ground-breaking design appears to be iThings powered by Hydrogen fuel cells.
According to the Telegraph, 'A hydrogen fuel cell converts hydrogen and oxygen into water and electrical energy.' The technology isn't unique to electronics. It's also being explored by auto companies and the military.
Facebook hasn’t exactly been a helping hand in keeping people smart on the internet. Status updates, game invites, and being tagged in embarrassing pictures doesn’t do much for the learning process. Robots given their own social network, however, can apparently learn a lot, according to Carlos Asmat, the project coordinator for MyRobots.com. The project aims to see what different types of robots or even household objects can learn or effectively communicate to one another and their owners by updating their statuses.