Commercial & Private Sector: December 2008

Combine prize-driven innovation with the vast communication capability of the web and what do you get? Solutions. A July 22, 2008 New York Times article, If You Have a Problem, Ask Everyone, reports that "open source science" is catching on, and cites success stories that show that the technique has promise. One example of a successful problem-solver is John Davis, a chemist who knows all about concrete and techniques to keep it vibrating so that it won't set up before it can be used. Mr. Davis applied his knowledge to a seemingly unrelated problem when he figured out that devices used for vibrating concrete can be adapted to keep oil in Alaskan storage tanks from freezing. He was paid $20,000 for his idea.