Heroes

See the surfboard that reads the ocean in a way many scientists haven't been able to.

You don't need a background in science to contribute to science. But in this case, you may want to know how to surf.

See the surfboard that reads the ocean in a way many scientists haven't been able to.

This surfboard is so smart, it may change what we know about the ocean.

This may look like an ordinary surfboard but nope — it's the future. Image via Smartfin.


It's called a Smartfin (formerly known as Smartphin), and it's mixing technology with surfing to answer questions about the hardest-to-reach part of the ocean: the area closest to us.

Scientists have a heck of a time figuring out what's going on in the ocean waters nearest to the shore.

It turns out that the part of the ocean that's most accessible for swimming, surfing, and having fun is also the hardest area to collect data from. Who would have thought?

As described in Wired, the effects of constant waves crashing on the shore make it difficult to use equipment that'll last and properly track the waters. Sounds rough.

The water is so mysterious. Image via Thinkstock.

That's where Dr. Andrew Stern and Benjamin Thompson come in.

Stern, an environmental filmmaker and former professor, and Thompson, a surfboard engineer, have developed what they call the Smartfin: a surfboard fin that's embedded with a data-collecting chip that can track crucial data on nearshore waters. According to Wired, it can determine a surfer's location and then measure the temperature, salinity, and acidity of the water.

That sounds like a pretty cool development in itself, but two little words remind you that the effect might be much bigger: climate change.

Nearshore waters can tell us a lot about the kind of effect climate change is having on our oceans.

From a feature in Outside:

"Oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide we've emitted since the dawn of the industrial age, making them around 25 percent more acidic than they were then. That lower pH (higher acidity) impedes the growth of calcium carbonate and is already harming shellfish fisheries and coral reefs."

The Smartfin produces data the science community can use to understand what's happening to our nearshore waters, which tells us about the impact of climate change over periods of time. It can also tell surfers where to find the best waves. A double win!

You may be able to buy one soon. Image via Smartfin.

Smartfin is coming soon to California.

Smartfin plans to pilot its device with 150 participants in San Diego starting in November 2015, says Design Indaba. After a two-month testing period, it should be available for people to buy. So stay tuned!

Surfers and scientists working together on one of the biggest issues of our time? Yes, yes, and yes. A+ teamwork.

Just makes you wonder: What will the next big idea be?

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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