Water, water, everywhere,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
– The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Coleridge, 1798
Water, water, everywhere,
The talking points of this, my second sojourn into writing what will be a monthly editorial piece for this fledgling new column, Chorus of Change, are twofold. First, I would like to acquaint those of you whom are unaware with Dean Kamen’s newest invention: the Slingshot; and how it’s potential for global good is beyond anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. Secondly, I am taking this opportunity to voice my frustration with how difficult it has been to come by this information: what Kamen and his team have managed to accomplish in the conception and realization of this glorious contraption.
I believe that the only real downside to this story is the fact that you can go to the Google News’ search engine and type the search string, “Dean Kamen” and the word “Slingshot” in combination, and only two articles will appear (as of the writing of this article). Both of these commentaries belong to Wired News, the second article whimsically titled, “Dean Kamen Saves the World, Again.” I especially enjoyed the comédie noir writer Charlie Sorrel utilizes in this piece’s title because it seems to me that Kamen’s inventions, which are mostly medical in nature, are so often either overlooked or under-reported on, and are nothing less than spectacularly epic in their proportions and genius.
However, it seems that the only credit to Mr. Kamen’s good name, widely known publicly, on any tangible level, is his Segway mobile transportation devices. You’ve all seen them magically whipping and dashing about on television, seeming to defy the known laws of both physics and gravity. Of course, few realize that this plaything was only an afterthought, built on the medical technology of the iBot. The iBot is a “mobility system,” built from the same principles of gyroscopic compensation you’ve seen in the Segway devices; however, this modern miracle takes a wheelchair-bound individual and gives a sort of freedom-of-movement and dignity-of-engagement that, within the boundaries of our current sciences, is as close to restoring a person’s legs as we’re capable of. The ability to allow the owner to climb stairs, traverse difficult terrain, and the restored humanity of being able to “stand” near a person and engage him, at eye-level, are only a few of the attributes this medical marvel is capable of performing. But, alas! The public knows not of this divine sanction; nor of Mr. Kamen’s Stirling cycle-based 1-kW electrical generator, the AutoSyringe, a new type of mobile dialysis system for medical applications, and the first insulin pump, to name a few.
While all the major news networks, hijacking our airwaves, perpetually berate me with relentless updates on Britney Spears’ never-ending vortices of personal tragedies, Paris Hilton’s latest appearance on Rodeo Drive or some other dead-behind-the-eyes, rehab-bound, train-wreck of a life misspent, ad nauseam; news stories such as Kamen’s never get so much as a top-of-the-hour nod. Why is that?
Faithful worship of such media junk has become the essential ingredient in the dumbing down of Americans. Any person with even the slightest hint of cognitive lucidity can see what’s being done, plainly and openly, before our very (glazed over) eyes. Apathy is the cancer eating away at the American Spirit. We lay down when fraudulently elected leaders take office. We change the channel when the statistics of dead civilians from our current invasion are reported. We order another “biggie size” combo-order from our local heart disease dealers and tune out the radio announcers citing that the current “war” is costing the American people ($12,000,000,000.00) twelve billion dollars per month.
What I am commenting on, here, specifically is the media’s hijacking of free-thought. The manipulated masses complacent, yearning for more trivial news-junk, de jour. The media anchors? Thou talk’st of nothing. They report celebrity. …Which are the children of an idle brain. Begot of nothing but vain fantasy, which is as thin of substance as the air and more inconstant than the wind. (Thanks there to “Bill” for always providing some appropriate wording.)
An informed population would be concerned about the matters at hand. The depletion of everything from our rainforests to the ozone layer. Here, the informed individual citizen is vital to the protection of such resources.
An estimated 1.1 billion people in the world (20% of every person on the planet) go to sleep every night without clean water to bathe in or drink. The water they do have is tainted. One point one billion, with a “b.”
“Eighty percent of all the diseases you could name would be wiped out if you just gave people clean water,” says Kamen. “The water purifier makes 1,000 liters of clean water a day, and we don’t care what goes into it. And the power generator makes a kilowatt off of anything that burns.”
• The Slingshot’s advanced Stirling Engine can run on any combustible product, propane or …even cow dung (Wired)
• The Stirling Engine, which is still considered a mystery to most engineers, can generate 1 kilowatt, or enough electricity to light 70 efficiency light bulbs according to Wired, and can be used as an electrical generator producing 200 watts of electricity and 800 watts of waste heat (TED)
• The Slingshot weighs less than 60 pounds (TED) and is smaller than a portable washing machine (Wired)
• The Slingshot uses vapor compression distillation to completely remove pure water from any “wet substance” (Wired) using just 2% of the power of anything that is currently in production
• The Slingshot can produce 1,000 liters of fresh water per day
• The heat from the purified water is recovered with a “counter-flow heat exchange” process and recycled to the next batch of water (TED)
• There are no filters on the Slingshot to replace, no carbon filtration system, no fluoride or chlorine necessary, and no ion extraction process is utilized (Wired)
• The Slingshot can use any water source available, safely: the ocean, bio-hazardous water sources, lakes, chemical waste dumps, removing everything from arsenic, hexavalent chrome, poison, heavy metals, etc.
The Slingshot is one of those once-in-a-lifetime inventions that truly can save the world. It takes any contaminated source of water, even pure raw sewage, and blasts the water out of the source by vaporizing it, extracting it, and storing it. The contents that have been extracted from the water is deposited in a separate bin and can even be used as a combustible to power the engine!
My favorite quote of Kamen’s is the following, “Not required are engineers, pipelines, epidemiologists, or microbiologists. You don’t need any -ologists. You don’t need any building permits, bribery, or buræucracies.” Sounds like my kinda guy…
Kamen says that the prototype device is hand-machined at a cost of $100,000 – however, his goal is through mass production to lower the cost to $1,000 per unit.
Kamen named the Slingshot in reference to the duel between the biblical characters of David and Goliath, putting the power back into the hands of the little guy through the use of a small piece of technology, a slingshot.
Once a fluid has passed through this device it’s actually pure, distilled water. Any bottled water that you can buy off-the-shelf has far more minerals and other contaminates than you’ll find in this clean liquid-gold. It really doesn’t matter what the input source was, the export is pure, clean water. Generally, water is taken from its source, then chlorine along with other chemicals are added to disinfect it to make it biologically inactive. When these units are a thousand dollars a pop, sign me up. I’d prefer the water processed by this machine to anything I’m drawing from my faucet, and nuts to paying three dollars a liter for off-the-shelf bottled water that’s nowhere near as clean!