“There’s a lot we can learn from being endlessly inquisitive—dare I say ‘childlike’? It’s not that long-held notions about the wisdom of elders are wrong, but more that they’re deleteriously one-sided, often casting the young as reckless hotshots. Let’s instead think of them as mavericks. Change agents. Bar raisers. This collection of stories highlights clever ways of thinking that attack some of our toughest problems from new angles.”—Corinne Iozzio, Editor-in-Chief
The Brilliant 10, one of Popular Science’s signature awards programs, is back after a five-year hiatus to honor the early-career scientists and engineers changing the world around and ahead of us. This year’s class features a meteorologist pointing out a hole in our climate models, a biomedical engineer developing microscopy methods that can detect cancer cells within minutes, a neuroscientist helping to untangle generational trauma, a chemist removing “forever chemicals” from our drinking water, and so much more. “These are the people who are changing the way we think about and tackle key issues, all while educating the next generation of innovators. With such incredible work already underway at such early points in their careers, we at PopSci can’t wait to see what the Brilliant 10 will do next,” says Executive Editor, Rachel Feltman.
The search for a fountain of youth has obsessed humankind for millennia, but the secret may have been running through our veins all along. Contributor Kat McGowen took a close look at some of the most provocative aging research in decades: the effects of fusing old and young blood. “Previously, only a very few rare individuals reached 90 or 100. Now, in wealthy nations, it’s becoming downright common. With antibiotics, vaccines, public health measures, and a steady food supply, the industrialized world made the long, slow goodbye of aging commonplace—and, along with it, the consequences, such as brittle bones, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart failure. Young-blood research, like some gory fairy tale, whispers to us that there could one day be a magic pill that can fix it all. The plot twist: That bloody fountain of youth was inside our bodies all along” writes McGowen.
Generational labels have been around for what feels like forever, but the contemporary struggle to decide who belongs in which camp often leads to confusion…and tension. Yasmin Tayag takes a hard look at everything from “Ok, Boomer” to “Cheugy” and highlights the inherent flaws in continued attempts to lump a diverse population into buckets. Consider, she writes: “How does one categorize a 34-year-old climate justice advocate who’s definitely a Gryffindor and knows every word to Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour? Asking for a friend.”
To try to zap bias from AI, educators are teaching ethics to middle schoolers. Instructors base their lessons on an initiative called DAILy (Developing AI Literacy), shaped over the past few years by MIT educators, grad students, and researchers to help everyday people be better informed about AI. Their hope is that, by including ethics as a fundamental facet early in future coders’ educations, we can craft a future with more equitable AI.