If I were a religious person looking for something to prove the existence of god, I would not waste my time with things like the bacterial flagellum or the blood clotting mechanism or other esoteric phenomena that few other than biologists really understand. I would instead point to the properties of water.
Water is amazing. Not only is it abundant, its properties seem to be perfectly designed for nourishing life. Just the very fact that as its temperature drops below 4oC it stops contracting and begins to expand as it begins to form ice is what prevents our oceans and lakes from freezing solid in winter.
Of course, the idea that water was designed to facilitate life is fallacious thinking, similar to fine-tuning arguments. But the fact that it is essential for our survival is also the reason that it can be deadly. Water-borne diseases due to the consumption of impure water is likely the most common cause of disease in the world so I was interested in this documentary about Dean Kamen’s invention for a water purification device called Slingshot (also the name of the documentary) that can extract pure water from the filthiest source.
Jason Dorrier has an interview with Paul Lazarus, the maker of the documentary. One question that I could not find the answer to is how all the stuff extracted from the dirty water is periodically taken out of the device and disposed of.
Kamen’s idea is to be able to make it cheaply and reliably enough that it can be provided to communities all over the world. He has partnered with, of all entities, Coco-Cola that has the resources in distribution and marketing and has a self-interest in it because it has received great criticism around the globe for depleting drinking water supplies to make its drinks.
Kamen, most famous for his invention of the Segway, has been working on this device for about fifteen years. He appeared on The Colbert Report back in 2008 demonstrating an earlier version of the same device.
(This clip aired on March 20, 2008. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)