Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2

New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.

CBC Music Past Shows



Today In Nerdy Cool Stuff: How A Shower, A Tower & Skunk Power Could Change Your Life
February 19, 2013
submit to reddit


Predicting the future ain't easy. Even James Cameron, the king of the world, jumped the gun by suggesting that Skynet would become self-aware on August 29, 1997 - that's not actually going to happen until 2022. You heard it here first.

But sometimes it's fun to take a look at where technology seems to be headed, and imagine what the future might hold.

Here are a few possibilities.

Disappearing Packaging

Photo: Aaron Mickelson

Every year, a lot of packaging ends up in the garbage. We don't have an accurate figure for how much packaging is thrown away in Canada - a 1996 Stats Can report on waste didn't offer specific data on packaging, and there haven't been any wide-ranging studies since.

But in the U.S. in 2010, about 76 million tons of waste came from discarded packaging.

So, how do we change that? Well, what if the packaging just... disappeared?

That's the thinking behind designer Aaron Mickelson's master's thesis, 'The Disappearing Package'. He's taken 5 common household items - tea, bouillon cubes, detergent, garbage bags, and soap - and designed packaging for them that will dissolve in water, preventing any leftover waste.


Although it's at the conceptual stage right now, Mickelson built working prototypes for his thesis, using ink and paper that don't cause damage when they're washed down the drain.

Obviously, the concept wouldn't work for everything (cookies in the shower, anyone?), but every little bit helps.

Via Wired

3D Printing Your House, And Your Doodles

Image: Softkill Design, via DeZeen and PopSci

Every day, it seems there's a new story about 3D printers and the things it can be used for. Like the concept drawing above for a 3D-printed house, which looks a little like it's made out of spiderwebs.

The idea comes from an architecture collective called Softkill Design. It's called Protohouse 2.0, and it would be printed in pieces off-site, then built in a given location in just one day.

On a smaller scale, there's the 3Doodler, a 3D-printing pen.

It's basically a pen and a printer, all in one, allowing anyone to "doodle" with plastic in three dimensions.

The team behind it started soliciting funding on Kickstarter today. They've already raised $125,000 as of this writing, on an original goal of $30,000. Maybe the pen prints money too.

Photo: 3Doodler

Via PopSci

Will Fusion Power Get Here Sooner Than We Think?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ever since the 1950s, scientists have been trying to develop a nuclear fusion reactor. Unlike fission (the type of nuclear power we have today), fusion is said to be cleaner, safer, more efficient, and easier to contain.

Plus, with fusion power, it's very difficult to use the waste it generates to build nuclear weapons. Which is a good thing.

The only problem is, no one's been able to create a dependable power source using fusion.

Well, the problem isn't solved. But a division of Lockheed Martin called Skunk Works claims it's getting closer to a realistic working fusion reactor.

Check out a recent talk delivered by Charles Chase, the team leader at Skunk Works. He discusses the challenges facing the world in terms of energy use, and the possibilities of fusion power.

Skunk Works' design is more compact than previous attempts - it could be transported by truck, but still generate enough power for 100,000 homes. Officials are hoping to have a test model available by 2017.

Via Icosa


THIS WEEK IN FUTURE SCIENCE: Infinite Human Eggs, A Baby Quantum Internet, Ultra-Fast Cyberweapons

WTF: What's the Future? Robo-Rats, Flying Machines and Face Replacement

The Future Of Scanning Physical Books? This Robot Can "Read" 250 Pages A Minute


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.