The charred remains of a multi-million-dollar mansion crumbled under Randall Griffin's work boots. "The entire neighborhood was burned to ashes," he says. "There was literally one home left." Now, less than two years after Griffin surveyed the aftermath of the wildfires that destroyed more than 3,000 homes in Southern California, his group at the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate is testing a deployable tent that could shield homes from the most ferocious fires.
Fires that raged through Australia earlier this year killed 173 people, many of whom were caught in the blaze while trying to save their house. "People put themselves in harm's way because they want a fire truck in front of their home before they will evacuate," Griffin says. "Quick Cover could save lives while protecting property."
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.