by Tom Bosschaert

Nov. 1, 2012

Tom Bosschaert

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we look at a number of exciting developments in the field of future economies, emerging technologies, and science. We also cover key global developments, and much more which can all be found below.

Global News

  • Stone carvings in Morocco's High Atlas mountains dating back more than 8,000 years and depicting the sun as a pagan divinity have been destroyed by Salafists, a local rights group said last Wednesday.
  • The United Nations is set to outlaw female genital mutilation. An estimated 140 million girls and women have undergone FGM, which can cause serious physical and emotional damage. Campaigners liken the psychological effects of FGM to those of rape, and point out that it is practiced more than most people think.  
  • Critical changes in complex systems, such as economy, climate and the human body, are preceded by universal warning signs.

Business & Economy

  • China's top leaders have asked policy think-tanks to draw up their most ambitious economic reform proposals in decades that could curb the power of state firms and give more freedom to the setting of interest rates and the yuan currency.
  • Industrial Robots have a positive impact on employment, says a new study. The statistics mainly point to reduction in employment in manufacturing in the developed countries, but this is often a small reduction. In industrialising countries, there has been a sharp rise in employment in manufacturing, as well as increase in output.

  • Natural disasters can have a paralyzing effect on economies. Hurricane Sandy's economic impact in the United States could exceed $10 billion a day

Energy & Environment

  • Sweden's program of generating energy from garbage is wildly successful, but recently its success has also generated a surprising issue: There is simply not enough trash.
  • Microgrids provide [a new way] to bring energy services to off-grid communities. The question is, will this just be a cute development thing? Or will it become part of mainstream economics?
  • On issues ranging from genetically modified crops to nuclear power, environmentalists are increasingly refusing to listen to scientific arguments that challenge standard green positions. This approach risks weakening the environmental movement and empowering climate contrarians.

Science, Technology, & Design

  • Paralysis may no longer mean life in a wheelchair. A man who is paralysed from the trunk down has recovered the ability to stand and move his legs unaided thanks to training with an electrical implant.
  • A new US start-up, Ambri, is developing a battery for the power grid using molten salt sandwiched between two layers of liquid metal. The battery is still about two years from commercialization, but is touted to provide the "missing link" for renewable energy storage.
  • Taking out computers without any other damage might be a future weapon made real this week. An electro-magnetic pulse can target buildings, to strategically shut-down power, while causing no other harm to humans.

Urban Environment

  • A smart road design that features glow in the dark tarmac and illuminated weather indicators will be installed in the Netherlands from mid-2013.
  • The World's First Commercial Vertical Farm Opens in Singapore
  • Inadequate sewage systems and the lack of toilets in much of the developing world have created a major public health and environmental crisis. Now various innovators are promoting new kinds of toilets and technologies that use little or no water and recycle the waste.

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • Why The Future Is Better Than You Think. An inspiring video that puts the 'ups and downs' human progress into perspective.
  • What do you get when you combine a pumpkin with the classic video game Tetris? Pumpktris! Fully playable, embedded in a pumpkin, and with the stem serving as a controller. Watch the video to see it in action, then read on for the development story.
  • Artificial Intelligence Will Make a Healthier, Wealthier World.


This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except’s people. Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

Nov. 1, 2012