Technology Massoud Hassani is on a mission. He wants to rid the world of unexploded landmines, safely and quickly. Now an industrial designer, he spent his childhood in Afghanistan, which is plagued by up to 10 million of them. “Every destroyed landmine means a saved life and every life counts,”he says.
The 32-year-old came up with his first invention in his final year at college in the Netherlands, where he now lives. Inspired by the lightweight paper toys that he made as a child, he devised a giant ‘puffball’ made of bamboo rods with plastic feet (above). Light enough to be blown by the wind, but heavy enough to detonate a mine, the so-called ‘Mine Kafon’ can detect minefields without danger to humans.
Hassani’s latest project is even more ambitious. The Mine Kafon Drone, which has raised more than €170,000 in crowdfunding, is able to map, detect and detonate mines. It’s intended to be safer, cheaper and faster than current demining technologies, and testing should begin later this year. Hassani’s target? “To clear the world of mines in the next ten years.”
Finland’s friendly postmen
Society As mail volumes fall in the internet age, the Finnish postal service, Posti, is finding new ways to keep its workers busy. Its latest idea is to offer an “outdoor buddy” scheme, taking elderly people out for walks.
“The purpose is to bring vitality and conversation to the elderly,” says Posti’s head of home services, Petri Kokkola.
Buddy walks can be arranged once or twice a week—but at a cost. Four visits of 40 minutes cost €69.
This latest scheme follows the announcement last April that Posti’s workers would be available to mow lawns during the summer months.
Sadly, not all Finns have greeted the company’s new activities favorably. “Don’t start cutting lawns and taking people outdoors until you learn to take packages to the correct addresses!” was one of several less-than-friendly comments on Posti’s Facebook page.
A cleaner class of train
Environment The world’s first emissions-free hydrogen train is scheduled to start carrying passengers in Saxony in December. The ‘hydrail train’ carries a hydrogen fuel tank on the roof and exudes only steam and condensed air.
Soldier’s life-changing commitment In 2003, British soldier Wayne Ingram was serving in Bosnia when he met four-year-old Stefan Savic. The boy had been born with a rare condition that left his face painfully deformed and requiring major surgery, which his family could not afford.
Wayne resolved to help him. Back in the UK, he set about raising the £140,000 needed to treat Stefan.
Now, 13 years and six operations later, Stefan has a new face.
Wayne recalls the moment the bandages were removed and Stefan looked in the mirror. “He had tears in his eyes,” he says. “It was truly beautiful.”
“All I can say is thank you,” adds Stefan. “Over and over again.”
Sources: Technology: BBC.com, 18.11.16. Society: BBC News, 25.11.16. Environment: Good News Network, 2.11.16. Heroes: Daily Mirror, 18.11.16