Why video games are key to modern science
November 7th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Why video games are key to modern science

By John D. Sutter, CNN

Camden, Maine (CNN) - Video gamers spend tons of time - for many it's 10,000 hours by age 21 - battling mythic monsters, shooting aliens and rescuing princesses from digital castles.

Adrien Treuille, appearing at the PopTech conference here, wants to put those efforts to better use.

The Carnegie Mellon computer scientist is the creator of two online games - Foldit and EteRNA - that put video gamers to work solving epic scientific puzzles.

His aim is to make super-boring-sounding scientific mysteries like "protein folding" and "RNA synthesis" fun and challenging for gamers.

The results have been staggering, as Foldit and EteRNA players - there are about 430,000 of them between those two games, most of them playing Foldit - continue to make discoveries that had eluded scientists and their supercomputers.

Read the full story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Events • Innovation • Thinkers
November 7th, 2011
02:18 PM ET

Why the West is losing out

It says it all when Europe turns to China for a bailout. That was what happened last week when the man in charge of the European Financial Stability Fund flew to Beijing to see if he could interest Chinese investors in propping up the finances of the eurozone.

How the mighty are fallen. Thirty-five years ago the average German was roughly 15 times richer than the average Chinese. Today the ratio is less than 3-to-1. Back in 1980 the Chinese economy accounted for just 2.2% of global economic output, one third the size of Germany's share. By 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund, the Chinese share will be 18%, six times larger than Germany's.

We are living through an extraordinary reversal of economic fortunes after 500 years when the big story was what historians call "the great divergence." Beginning in 1500, Europeans and European settlers in North America began to get richer than Asians (and everyone else, too). The gap between the "West and the Rest" widened at an accelerating rate until the later 1970s. But then - on our watch - that trend went into high-speed reverse.

Read the full article on CNN.com

Apple patent uses 3-D gestures to control iPad
November 7th, 2011
02:17 PM ET

Apple patent uses 3-D gestures to control iPad

Forget relying solely on touch to control your Apple device. On future iPads, you may be able to control your tablet from across the room using 3-D gestures, such as a swirl or swipe of the hand.

As suggested by a newly uncovered Apple patent, you would be able to manipulate and control graphical elements on your display, such as icons, media files, text and images. The gestures themselves could take many forms: geometric shapes (e.g., a half-circle or square), symbols (like a check mark or question mark), the letters of the alphabet, and other sorts of predetermined patterns.

One interesting application the patent highlights is video annotation and editing via a gesture-based toolbar. The toolbar would provide pre-set options for beginners, but would also allow more advanced users to customize their own gestures.

Read the full story on CNN.com

November 7th, 2011
02:17 PM ET
November 7th, 2011
02:17 PM ET

Why inequality is bad for everyone

People have always known that inequality is divisive and socially corrosive. What is surprising, now that we have the data to compare societies, is how clear the effects of inequality are.

A wide range of social problems are worse in societies with bigger income differences between rich and poor. These include physical and mental illness, violence, low math and literacy scores among young people, lower levels of trust and weaker community life, poorer child well-being, more drug abuse, lower social mobility and higher rates of imprisonment and teenage births.

Read the full story on CNN.com

Could 'Earthscraper' really turn architecture on its head?
November 7th, 2011
02:14 PM ET

Could 'Earthscraper' really turn architecture on its head?

A team of Mexican architects have designed a 65-story glass and steel pyramid to sit in the middle of Mexico City's most historic plaza. But, if it ever gets built, you won't see it anywhere on the skyline.

That's because it would be the world's first ever "earthscraper" - a 300-meter deep office and living space with ambitions to turn the modern high-rise, quite literally, on its head.

"There is very little room for any more buildings in Mexico City, and the law says we cannot go above eight stories, so the only way is down" explains Esteban Suarez, co-founder of BNKR Arquitectura, the firm behind the proposals.

Read the full article on CNN.com

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Filed under: Innovation
Welcome to 'What's Next'
November 7th, 2011
02:04 PM ET

Welcome to 'What's Next'

Welcome to "What's Next."

Launching today, this blog will be the home for a forward-leaning look at the people, ideas and inventions on the cutting edge of innovation.

While other areas of CNN.com focus on the ways technology, science and other fields impact our lives, "What's Next" will introduce you to the people helping create tomorrow's reality.

There will be a focus on technological breakthroughs - from promising start-ups to cutting-edge gadgets. But innovations in the fields of medicine, transportation, commerce and environmental research (among others) will also be featured here.
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Filed under: Innovation • The Next List • Thinkers