Drinking Nasty Swamp Water (to save the world)

About a year ago, I read about this powderYou could add to super muddy water like this, and then you stir it up and five minutes laterthe mud has separated from the pure clean drinkable water. And as a man of scienceI see this and it feels like nothing short of magic. I only make 12 videos a yearso I am really picky about what topics I will cover and even though I usually just focus on using science and engineering to maketo make totally ridiculous things At least once a year, I try to make the casethat these same science and engineering principlesare also being used to actually changethe world for the better. For example last yearI met with Madhu Prakash from Stanford who was disappointed to realize the typical microscope and centrifuge to diagnose malariacost tens of thousands of dollars and needs to be plugged in. So he invented a paper microscope and a paper centrifuge that cost 68 centsthat can diagnose malaria and require no electricity. So today we’re gonna find out how this was inventedHow the heck it works and how it’s being used to help people all around the worldBut first to demonstrate this isn’t some kind of smoke and mirrors trickI located the nastiest water I could find near my house and met up with some intrepid field scientists. So todayI’m joined by my friends Cole, Kaden, Rainy and Max I promised them they could be in a videoBut I didn’t tell them which one or what we’d be doing. And here’s the deal guys. We need to go into that pondThat’s all gross and nasty and fill it up with muddy water. Can you do that? Do you guys think this would be good to drink this? No. What would you guys give me if I take a sip of thisumm20 bucks. 20 bucks? Okay, we’re not gonna do anything to this one, but I’m gonna do something to this oneSo then we can compare the two. Okay, so I’m gonna take a little bit of this powderI’m gonna put it in here you guys see this and then we’re gonna take turns shaking it for like five minutes, okay ewLet’s see what happensIt looks betterOkay, I’m gonna put my thumb at the water level so you know I’m not tricking you guys okayEww It’s some high quality H2O right there. All right, where’s my 20 bucks Rainy?Mommy
Chances are if you’re watching this video you have essentially an endless supply of clean water atThe pull of a lever. And because this is so easy, we tend to forget just how critical water is for usYou can live three weeks without food but only a few days without water and it’s not just us from plants to ants to bacteria,anything that is biological and living needs water to surviveIt sounds crazy but there are no exceptions to this rule because of this when NASA is looking for evidence of life outside our planetWe first start by looking for evidence of water given all thatIt’s a total bummer that nearly 1 billion people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Today, drinking contaminated water causes more deaths than HIV, AIDS, and malaria combinedAnd so that’s why the powder in this packet is a really big dealIt was invented by a guy named Philip SouterHe’s a laundry scientist at Procter & Gamble who was originally trying to figure out a way to separate dirt from used laundry water and I wantTo be clear here. They are not sponsoring this video in any wayI just think what they’re doing is really awesome and they deserve some creditSo I was actually able to track Philip down and he told me all about how it worksSo essentially as three processes there’s coagulation then the next phase is flocculationAnd then the last piece is the disinfection. You start with clean water like thisBut now it’s all brown because it’s filled with lots of dirt particles, parasites, and bacteria. So you dump the powder in the water and as Phil explained, the coagulant part of the powder goes to work firstIt’s basically seed crystals that are positivelycharged and because the dirt in the water is negatively charged, these seed crystals act like dirt magnets. These dirt magnets grow until they’re eachabout a millimeter in size. The next part of the powder to activate is the flocculent,which is a polymer which you can think about as having huge long arms that wrap up all the littledirt magnet clumps and now they form bigger chunks as large as a centimeter. These chunks now are so bigThey’re just slightly more dense than the water, which means they sink to the bottom. and finally, the chlorine is released and it goes to work on killing the99. 9999% ofAll the really tiny viruses and bacteria that are left in the water that didn’t get wrapped up and sink to the bottomso now you’re just left with safe drinking water at the top. This isn’t just some PR stunt for P&G since2004, millions of people in over 90 countries have used these packets and they’ve saved untold thousands upon thousands of lives. In fact, they’ve cleaned enough water to fill a swimming poolthat is the typical five feet deep by 15 feet across only the length would need to stretch all the way across the United States,over 13 times. These packets cost them pennies to make which they sell at a loss and that feels like the right thing to do, but it bringsup the question:Is there a case to be made beyond altruism where it’s in the bestinterest of the rich countries to help out the poor countries? To answer this questionI wanted to speak with someone in the technology sector who had some experience in this kind of thingAnd he’s a bit of an obscure up-and-comer named Bill GatesBut first I had to do a little bit of research in order to get myself up to Seattle When I arrived they told me I was free to make myself at home while I waited for him to show up,so I did what any rational person would do given the circumstances, I made the richest man on planet earth some pizza rolls. Hi. Good to meet you. Yeah, thanks for doing this. They gave me free reign of your kitchen and as a token of hospitality,I whipped up a batch of pizza rolls. Oh wow. I’ll try it. It’s not what I normally eat. Its really hot, actually. They’re kind of like lava in the middle. Not bad. They’re ok right?A little bit of cardboard. What do you got here? This is plan B because I wasn’t expecting you to actually eat one of those. Dick’s burgers. Love dick’s. It’s a Seattle phenomena. Truth be told I actually knew this after seeing a picture of him on reddit. He’s standing line by himself to buy one of their hamburgers for less than two bucks. Hate to disappoint you there’s no Dick’s burgers in here. Okay. We have some liquid refreshmentThat’s pretty dark looking. So I took out the powder and explained to him how it worked and then I set up the bottles, and here’s where we stoodafter a minute or two. Looks like we’re making some progress on the top there. I’d rather eat these than that so far. Why should we care about developing nations?Well the amount of resource that rich countries spend in helping poor countries is pretty small. It’s well less than 1% of their budget. I defend that because that money is so impactful. You’re saving lives for less than$1,000 per life saved. If you help the country lift itself up then countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Indiaget successful enough, they grow their economy. So they no longer need aid. They graduate. Okay. Look at thisIt’s amazing the way that is small,Isn’t it crazy? amount of this thingIt’s like magic and I like his answer that basically teaching a man to fish is better than just giving a man a fish. What about the extreme case of a person who’s just superself-absorbed who might think I just don’t care if a poor country has a fish or not, It doesn’t affect my daily life. I asked what he would say to that person. The benefits are strong even if the pure humanitarian empathetic partisn’t the key reason. So then bill told me two main reasons we should try and help developing nationseven from a selfish standpoint. The first is for our own safety. If a poor country receives aid,it fosters education and economic opportunity,which makes it more stable and there’s a less of a reason for people to become desperate,which is a breeding ground for radical ideologies and terrorism. All America’s top generals agree that foreign aid creates stability, which reduces the need for military spending and makes the world a safer place. Additionally, Bill told me there’s the issue of diseases. When the next pandemic comes, there’s a good chanceit will be far worse than Ebola and it will spread quickly into the rich countries. There’s a huge benefit to us in helping these developing nations get their health systems to the point where they can detect and treat badstuff before it has the chance to go global. The second selfish reason for helpingdeveloping nations that we discuss together was for our own prosperity. After World War II, we think hey, do we care about Japan?Well, hey then Japan, you know Sony and Toyota they’re making good products. Yeah, let’s not forget Nintendo. It’s a win-win situation, you know where we wantJapan to do well and make great products and you know, they’re buying Boeing Jets, Microsoft softwareand so having “hypothetically”hopefullyThe idea that other countries doing well, it’s not a zero-sum thingwhere okay if they do well, that means that it’s it’s bad for us. Basically, we needed to get the Japanese back to a point where their brains could benefit the world again as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it’s a waste of human capital and the world never knows Super Mario Brothers. Which raises an interesting point if you ask people who is the most intelligent person to ever live, you get various answers like these:Albert EinsteinEinsteinAlbert EinsteinEinsteinAlbert EinsteinMark RoberDid I tell you to say that? What, you-! But the fact is with 100 billion people to have ever lived on planet Earth,it’s a statistical certainty that Albert Einstein wasn’t the most intelligent human. It was some random personyou’ve never heard of probably born a long time ago who spent most of their daily energyjust trying to survive. That’s why these packets are a huge deal when you have nearly 1 billion people spending their timejust trying to find clean water every day, that’s a huge waste of untapped brainpower. Now these packets and other aid efforts like them allow parents to stay healthy and gives them time to provide for their families. Which gives their kids the opportunity to get educated which in turn creates more opportunities for the following generationand so eventually, over time, the entire world starts reaping the benefitfrom the contribution of this previously untapped human capital. In this way some massive breakthrough in solar technology,or maybe the cure to cancer or HIV might come from a poor country who is just a developing nation today. And I find that to be incredibly inspiring and a worthy goal. I want to thank Bill and Melinda Gates for partnering with me on this video. They just released the brand-new Gates annual letter. I will leave a link to it in the video description. It’s a great read if you want to learn how life has, and will continue to improve for the world’s poorest. Plus, you get tobe inspired by people who have just made it their life’s mission to make the world a better place. You know I get to learn a lotyou know, I’m gonna be working on these diseases the rest of my life. Bill Gates, living legend, eater of pizza rolls. – Yeah, not bad. – That was fantastic. Thanks so much, bro. Now we drink.

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