The secret behind CAPTCHAs

If you’ve ever tried to create an account or leave a comment on most websites, you’ve likely been stopped by a CAPTCHA image. CAPTCHAs are the annoying little strings of numbers and letters that websites ask you to read in order to verify that you are a human. And, while everybody can agree that trying to read what seems like Greek symbols off of a tiny screen is very frustrating, most people don’t realize that there is actually a deeper purpose to these images.

In his TED talk, Luis von Ahn, one of the creaters of the CAPTCHA and a founder of the sebsequent program ReCAPTCHA, talks about how filling in CAPTCHAs actually helps computers read and record old faded books, and how they’ve taken a seemingly impossible task (digitizing millions of old books and texts) and broken it down word by word among the billions of people on the internet each day.


For more information, click here to view a transcript of Luis’ TED talk on the subject, and learn how each day you contribute to a world-scale project that you didn’t even know existed!

Ocean Cleanup Initiative

An amazing innovation that will accelerate the clean up of  plastic debris in the ocean like never before!
Large floating barriers harness the ocean’s natural currents to funnel plastic waste into concentrated areas for easier collection.  Best of all, it was specifically designed so that neutrally-buoyant sea-life will pass underneath  without being caught and destroyed!

This is a huge improvement over the existing method that involves individual boats with nets, manually scooping up plastic debris. It reduces accidental environment damage while increasing collection efficiency exponentially!

Check it out.  The website does a great job of explaining the problem and offering a step-by-step overview of this brilliant solution!

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Off the West Coast, out in the Pacific Ocean, there’s a huge area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Within this area, there are not one, but TWO literal islands of garbage that have accumulated in the ocean. These bodies of floating waste, mostly discarded plastic, are so large, if they were landmasses people could easily colonize and live on them.

If we don’t dramatically change the way we deal with our trash disposal, problems like this will get worse, not better. If we don’t think green, our future is black.