The World Health Organization estimates that around one sixth of the world lacks access to clean drinking water. Since those billion people are also the poorest people in the world, water purification techniques need to be cheap to help those most in need. Since it activates under plain visible light, this new water-purifying photocatalyst may help bring purer water to the world's neediest people.
Star Trek introduced the world to a wide range of fictional technology, most of which, like beaming or warp drive, will likely remain fiction. However, a team of scientists from the University of Canada has taken the phaser, the show's famous stun-laser, out of the TV and into reality. Unfortunately, right now it only works on worms.
I wear glasses, but don't own contact lenses. And while this normally doesn't make a difference, staring into the midday sun often leads me to think about switching to contacts simply so I can wear sunglasses.
Finally: a flash camera without all the usual problems. By using a flashbulb that emits ultraviolet and infrared light (neither of which the human eye can detect) instead of visible light, New York University's Dilip Krishnan and Rob Fergus have come up with dark photography that will neither blind your subject nor produce the unwanted glare of a harsh flash in the developed photo.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.