We humans

A teeny tiny bike, and other stories you should read today

May 19, 2014 /

In today’s Need to Know, a very small folding bike, the suggestion of a new way to tackle climate change, and a happy trip down memory lane to look at a time when drug companies and governments could work together successfully.

A bike the size of an umbrella
Yep, the prototype “Sadabike” has an alumnium alloy frame and 26-inch wheels — and folds down to the size of a brolly. The hubless wheels and frame then fit in a backpack. Neat. Now, can the designer make it a commercial reality?

Don’t attack coal, Stanford?
Interesting take on the university’s decision to divest its investments away from coal companies. (See our story Meet 3 people who might just save the world, for a mini-profile of Bill McKibben’s organization 350.org, which is calling for just such moves.) Frank Wolak in the LA Times argues that such gestures are more symbolic than helpful, and he issues a challenge of his own for universities looking to take a stand on climate change.

The power of partnerships
The remarkable decades-long story of a drug developed to fight river blindness, a disease that used to be one of the leading causes of blindness in developing countries and is now on its way to becoming a rare curiosity. In this tale, a Merck drug was distributed in ever greater quantities, because of an astonishing collaboration and commitment from a diverse group of people and groups. “We can never become too jaded to simply be amazed at what a coalition can do,” writes health advocate Bill Foege.