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Everyday Problems Answered

We were tasked as a team to design a machine or process that will better the lives of workers in all occupations. So I want to ask you all, What are some small, but annoying things you wished you had a solution to? It can be things that you problems that frequently occur at work, home, and anywhere you go. Thanks


Jack A Lopez

7 weeks ago

To me, you seem like someone who has arrived on this planet recently.

Either that, or you are someone who is, somehow, blissfully unaware, of the problems that affect ordinary people. So much so, that you actually have to ask... You're going to throw this one out to the crowd:

"Hello peoples of teh internet! What are some, 'problems that frequently occur at work, home, and anywhere you go' ?"

You actually have to ask.

Sure. Why not?

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you."

(Matthew 7:7)

I will try to give you a brief summary of the problems in this World:

Death and Taxes.

The central, vexing, incomprehensible problem of this life, is that no one actually knows what this life is, or why he or she is here. Moreover, this problem is compounded by the fact that everyone has a finite lifespan. That's death.

The central, everyday, annoying, recurring problem of this life, is, for some reason, for humans, life costs money. Moreover, for every transaction, no matter how big or how small, there is a middleman, or middlewoman, or government bureaucrat, or banker, who expects and typically receives, a percentage of that transaction. That's taxes.

I think, in both of those two problem areas, death and taxes, there are vast opportunities for a new, "machine or process", to make people's lives better. However, I am going to focus on taxes, mostly because you said you said you wanted to focus on the, "small, but annoying" problems.

"So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own."

(Matthew 6:34)

So what about breakfast? What about taking out the trash? I think there is some potential for finding common, everyday problems, in these two activities, with respect to money and taxes.

If the food I am eating for breakfast was bought from a store, then that necessarily involved paying taxes, and paying middlemen; i.e. the various people who grow food, process it, transport it, etc.

But what if I owned a machine that could make food, or rather grow food, from freely available water and sunlight? It could be like a small farm, in my back yard, or maybe small enough to fit on a window sill, if I lived in a small apartment.

Also it would be automated, so I would not have to do too much work, because I would really like to get away from that, "painful toil", and "sweat of your brow", type stuff, of traditional agriculture, the way it is described in Genesis 3, like, cursed forever because of a woman who took some bad advice from a snake.


So, a small farm that makes food for me, I think would be a very useful thing to have. Moreover, I want to own that farm, and not just rent it as a franchiseship, from the Wallace corporation, or whoever. The reason I want to own it, is of course, to avoid taxes.

By the way, I can generalize this idea beyond just food. Food is just one form of tangible, material wealth.

Maybe some fuel for the car would be nice.

I mean, obviously, I don't have drive to the store anymore to buy food, because the automated farm takes care of that. But still, it is kind of fun to get in the car, and go places.

So why not build a machine that turns sunlight into gasoline (aka petrol)? It doesn't necessarily have to be octane, because ICEs (internal combustion engines) can be modified to run on other fuels too, like ethanol, hydrogen, fatty acid esters (aka "biodiesel"), or even straight up triglycerides, like vegetable oils.

Actually, I can generalize this further, to suggest that besides just food and fuel, other material commodities might be useful as well.

Like, for example, a machine that change dirty water into pure, clean water, would be a very useful thing to have. And actually there are existing mass produced products for this, but for brevity I won't mention them. Write back, if you want a list.

There are other commodity chemicals too, like mineral acids and bases, and also ammonia, NH3. Ammonia is an interesting one,


because it can be used as fuel or fertilizer, although it is a little tricky to add to the garden directly, since it is a gas (and foul smelling, and toxic) at ordinary temperature and pressure.

I think the easiest trick for putting ammonia into the soil, is to first mix it with water, in low concentrations. Actually the same aqueous solution of ammonia, works well as a cleaning product, especially for cleaning floors and windows.


As I was saying, the kind of interesting thing about ammonia, is the ingredients that go into making it. The major industrial route for making ammonia, Haber-Bosch, takes the nitrogen directly from air, and hydrogen, usually made from natural gas, via water-gas shift.

The trouble with Haber-Bosch, is it requires enourmous scale.

Curiously, a similar process happens at microscopic scale, in nitrogen fixing bacteria, and the only ingredients for this are air, water, and energy.

Often the way this happens in nature, is by way of a symbiotic relationship between a plant, and some tiny colonies of N-fixing bateria, living on little structures on that plant's roots. The bacteria are actually stealing energy from the plant, in the form of simple sugars, but they give something back too, specifically fixed nitrogen, in the form of ammonia, or nitrates, or glutamates, or something like that.

The big advantage of Haber-Bosch, is I get an output that is a pure storable commodity, fertilizer I can put in bottles, or bags, or tankers on rail cars.

The trouble with natural nitrogen fixation, is the product is almost always mixed with all kinds of other organic matter, like whatever I would find in typical mulch or manure. Certainly it makes good fertilizer, but I cannot easily burn it in an engine, and I definitely can't clean windows with it.

By the way, if you are interested in manure or mulch quality fixed-nitrogen, one of the easiest ways to grow it is to grow an aquatic plant called, azolla


I think I learned about azolla, by reading about an organization named, Garden Pool.


Their mission is (and you might have guessed this) to show you how to build a small farm in your backyard, for the purpose of growing your own food, to become more self sufficient.

Tracking back, this to where I started, with the problems of the day, like breakfast, and taking out the trash. I wanted to talk more about the trash.

Like, maybe I should not be just giving the trash away. Maybe I should be turning the trash into compost, to put on the garden.

Or maybe the old newspapers, or cardboard can be converted into fuel, by way of microbes that can make ethanol from cellulose.


Turning old cardboard and junk mail into hooch! That'd be a neat trick, huh?

Or just burn that old biomass in a gasifier,



to make some heat, or electricity, or motive power.

Returning briefly to the subject of ammonia, did you know the ancient Romans, made a commodity of fermented human urine?


Fermented urine is still easy enough to make, and I suspect it could be purified via air stripping, to make a product more closely resembling pure ammonia water, which, as I claimed previously, can be used for cleaning floors and windows, or as fertilizer.

By the way, if you like to build machines, you may have something in common with Open Source Ecology.


They like to dream big, and build machines, specifically small machines that do big things. They call this set of machines, their "Global Village Construction Set"


You might wonder at me calling a machine like a tractor, a "small" machine, but these machines truly are small, compared to the factory sized versions.


I think I am going to finish this meandering manifesto, with a brief return to the topic of money, and also a return to that quote from Mathew 6, about not worrying about tomorrow, and focusing on the troubles of the day.

"So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own."

I think I said something about the curiosity of humans needing money to live and pay rent, and this being something unique to the human world. After all, plants and animals don't worry about making money to pay rent, or buy food, do they?

The following, is a the complete passage from the end of Matthew 6. It is Jesus's, "Don't Worry" speech, and it's almost out of character, because it seems like most of the time Jesus is telling His followers to be responsible, and watch out for your brothers, etc, but this passage is like He's channeling Bob Marley, in particular, the song, "Three Little Birds", with the refrain, "Don't worry, about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright... "

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat
or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to
life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in
the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your
heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And
which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? Why do you
worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow;
they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all
his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes
the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire
to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little
faith? So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we
drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these
things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all
pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be
given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow
will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own."

Again I am going to ask you if plants pay rent? Obviously they do not pay with money, but there are material exchanges. I mentioned that some plants give water and simple sugars to small colonies of bacteria living on their roots. And in return, the bacteria give the plant usable nitrogen.

So maybe plants do pay rent, but with molecules instead of money.

Or maybe that is what real material wealth is.

There is a quote, attributed to Nikola Tesla,

"It is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature."

But I have often wondered at that quote: Is nature made of wheels? Or is it made of living cells?

Anyway, that is about all I have to say in my attempt to answer your request for ideas for machines to solve "everyday" type problems.

This is my message to you.


8 weeks ago

So you are part of a teacm and only registered here so someone can help you with the project!?
If I wouldn't know better I would suggest to ask your teacher again about using this option ;)


Reply 8 weeks ago

Well, yea. We were free to ask whoever we want, so where better to ask then here and Reddit? Also its not a graded assignment, so I don't feel bad at all to post it. She just to us to ask whoever we want about a problem that they may in everyday life to discuss.