If you could invent anything you liked, and could guarantee it would work as intended, what would you choose?

3 Answers

Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass , Concerned citizen of planet Earth, answered

I'd like to invent a cheap and efficient way to desalinate water.

Not only would inventing this be beneficial to all mankind; but it would also guarantee wealth, fame, and a place in the history books!


Inventing the Desalinator 3000

The reasons for inventing an efficient desalination process are simple.

The FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation)  predict that by 2025, 1.9 billion people will be living in regions of the planet with absolute water scarcity.

It's also though that an increasing number of people in the developing and developed world will find themselves suffering from water stress.

This seems like a crazy situation to be in, especially considering 72% of the earth's surface is water.

However, of that 72% - only 0.036% of that is located in rivers and lakes (where we can get to it). The rest of the freshwater on this planet is locked up in glaciers, or located deep underground.

Finding a way of desalinating the oceans would:

  • Increase the amount of potable water available for human consumption
  • Make farming livestock and crops cheaper, reducing the cost of food (and thus helping fight malnutrition around the world)
  • Minimizing territorial disputes and wars that center around control of water resources.
  • Encourage and aide biodiversity on the entire planet.

Why has no-one thought of this before?
They have.
Seawater desalination programs already exist, with the world's largest operations located in Australia and Dubai.
However, the current process requires a considerable amount of energy, making it expensive and inefficient.
If I could invent a way to remove salt from water in a more energy-efficient and cost-effective manner, then that would help sidestep the major hurdle holding us back from rolling the project out on a global scale.
Thinking about it now, this may hinge on the invention of a more sustainable and cheaper-to-access energy source than we already rely on - because energy is the main cost-driver in the desalination process.
Perhaps unlocking the secrets of nuclear fission and harnessing atomic energy more efficiently would be a better answer to this question!
Nevertheless, I've assigned myself the mission of desalinating the oceans, so I must plough on:

Why it might not work
I first came across the idea of desalinating the oceans after watching a BBC documentary called Wild Arabia - a wildlife documentary that was filmed in the Sahara Desert.
One segment of the documentary portrayed Arabia as it would have been immediately after the last ice-age: A land of lush green forests, wildlife and abundant vegetation.
It just seemed strange to me that the Arabian Peninsula - which by definition is surrounded by water on three sides - is still so parched and dry.
This lead me to research the problem of global water scarcity, which is when I came across a rather depressing statement by the FAO, that suggested that there is in fact enough water to sustain the entire planet!
Instead, the main causes of water scarcity that it identified were all human social flaws, namely:
  • corruption
  • lack of infrastructure and economic investment
  • bureaucracy
  • management inefficiencies
  • greed

2 People thanked the writer.
View all 4 Comments
Jekku M
Jekku M commented
Kass, i encourage you to read "Water Wars" and watch "Blue Gold" http://www.bluegold-worldwaterwars.com/ Your desalination project would come in very handy to help keep Nestle from stealing all of the world's fresh water!
Yo Kass
Yo Kass commented
Thanks Jekku, will lot out!
Yo Kass
Yo Kass commented
*check it out
Dan Banks Profile
Dan Banks , Bad traveler., answered


If I could invent anything at all it would have to be a teleportation machine. I would choose to invent a teleportation machine because I find conventional traveling extremely mundane!

Teleportation.

Not only would the advent of teleportation deal with my dislike of long car journeys and flying, but it would also be a huge benefit to the entire human race and our planet!

  • For the first time in the history of mankind there could be true freedom of movement, as long as a network of these machines was created.
  • Cars and aircraft are two of the planet's biggest polluters. Teleportation machines would render these obsolete, which would be a huge environmental boost for our planet.
  • Trade and business would be completely transformed by the invention of a teleportation device. No longer would the ocean be dotted with huge oil tankers and cargo ships. Instead, the everyday commodities we enjoy could simply be teleported into our homes!

On an entirely selfish note, if I did event a teleportation machine, it would be in such demand that it would make me extremely rich!

1 Person thanked the writer.
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
Thanks for this! It was on my list, too - and was the reason I specified that it had to be something that would work as it was intended to. I've no wish to become Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly".
Jekku M
Jekku M commented
Dan you stole my idea! :) I agree with everything you said (and Melinda as well). Transporter travel would truly revolutionize the planet like nothing else. Do away with all types of polluting travel (actually ALL types of travel); instantaneous arrival to a given location; not to mention just think how much TIME could be saved by not using conventional travel - millions of hours! You could sleep in 1, 2 hours later and still get to work in the nick of time; travel to anywhere in the world on a weekend; party late with friends and not have to drive home; visit family any time; garages, hangars, train tracks, even streets themselves could become a thing of the past. The whole theory is quite fascinating!
Jekku M Profile
Jekku M , Foodie, Thinker and lover of all things Sci-Fi, answered

Since the Transporter idea was already taken, and Kass has already figured out how to desalinate water, another Star Trek related product that hasn't yet come to pass is the food replicator/synthesizer.

Granted, there would be a lot of moving parts to this idea, but I'm thinking that the main questions would be: Where does the food actually come from? Is it "real" food, or something fake or synthetic, like "processed cheese food" or GMO corn? 

I'm thinking that there would have to be some type of "food encyclopedia" housed somewhere, with the DNA of any and every food item (and potential combination of items) in order to create the requested item; combined with technology similar to the Transporter (or the Jetsons if you like your food in pill form) to make the food "appear" in front of you, whole and intact, like magic.

We're already there in terms of food in pill form: Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and minerals can all be readily found in pill form. But what fun are those to eat? No chewing, no tasting, no dripping cheese, or ice cream piled high with whipped cream; no yummy, mouth-watering flavor or appetizing smells, just a bland pill...or 10. Ho hum. We'd all be bound to lose weight out of sheer food boredom!

The food replicator I'd invent would manufacture real, healthy, wholesome (GMO free!) food at the touch of a button; not some faux, "printed" food made from plastics or petrochemicals.
Kind of like this... But without the mess: 

Answer Question

Anonymous