I laid an atlas out in front of you and said “pick a city.” You smiled at me and the ink bled into your hands where you touched it.
What I didn’t say was, pick a city where I can hold those hands. Where we can walk the streets and people will only stare because your fingers are the land and mine are the sea and they’re finally coming together. Where people won’t look twice, simply because you are a girl and I am a girl and didn’t Aristophanes once say that humans are two halves of a whole?
No one should call us wrong for being brave enough to let our hearts wander and return to a person who feels like home.
Princess Diana left this earth eighteen years ago on August 31. The People’s Princess is best know for her philanthropic efforts. Causes close to her heart include: leprosy, HIV/AIDS, cancer, homelessness, land mines, mental illness, and helping those addicted to drugs. In 1999, TIME named Diana one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.
Hassani, a product designer from Afganistan, build (by hand) a wind-powered device that trips land mines as it rolls across the ground. It is made using bamboo and biodegradable products.
Many of these mines are active and near populated areas in countries like Afganistan and are hard to remove. The UN says that one mine clearance specialist is killed, and two injured, for every 5,000 mines cleared.
Hassani’s cheap and easy to make method has been achieving great results.
In an age of shooting sprees and suicide bombings, landmines seem a distant threat. But in the last week alone, seven people were killed
when they came into contact with the explosive devices: an 11-year-old boy in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, one person in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, and at least five were killed
in Paksitan’s Balochistan province. Often decades old, landmines litter
the terrain of resolved conflicts and pose continuing threats to those
who live in their midst.
Undetonated land mines are a serious form of pollution that leaves large geographical areas virtually uninhabitable and injures or kills thousands each year. That’s why locating and removing them from former war zones is so important. Trouble is that few human volunteers are willing to risk their lives to uncover them. Enter the rat brigade, specifically, African giant pouched rats.
These fast-learning rodents, dubbed HeroRATs — which are too light to set off land mines — are being trained to sniff out buried explosives. The group is also training rats to locate people buried under rubble from natural disasters, as well as detect leaking gas lines and even the presence of tuberculosis in human sputum samples.
Planting landmines is easy and cheap, but the costs (both human and financial) of finding and removing them later can be vast. One possible solution, proposed by Afghan design graduate Massoun Hassadi, is the Mine Kafon. It’s a concept for a wind-powered minesweeper, or an artificial tumbleweed that can – through the serendipity of the wind’s random gusts – clear a blight from the land that kills and maims hundreds each year.
The Mine Kafon looks a bit like a bunch of plungers attached to a central ball. It’s light enough (70kg) to be propelled by a normal breeze, while still being heavy and big enough (190cm in diameter) to activate mines as it rolls over them. When released by its owner, the Kafon will roll around wherever the wind takes it, tracing a path through the sand and able to survive the loss of many of its legs in several explosions before it loses structural integrity.
Wired.co.uk spoke to over the phone to Hassadi in Eindhoven, where he lives after graduating from the city’s Design Academy. The Mine Kafon was his final graduate project, but it’s deeply inspired by his childhood – he grew up on the outskirts of Kabul, in a community where landmine deaths and injuries are common. There are usually hundreds of landmine deaths a year in Afghanistan, thanks to the country’s sad history of conflict over the past few decades.
The Kafon idea came about as part of some “sketches” Hassadi did around the themes of elements – “air, water, fire, the basic elements”, he explains. “I was trying to integrate these, in a physical way. And I also did a project about my childhood in Kabul, where I would make all kinds of things.” Some of those things, as you can see in the video embedded in this story, were toys powered by the wind.
Combining the two ideas led to “12 or 13 toys, or prototypes – one was a helicopter, and another was a sail-powered model”. He spent a couple of months tinkering with designs – and finishing his design internship – before he settled on the current tumbleweed-esque design for the Kafon. Hassadi said: “I worked it up for my final project, and proposed new features and ideas, and we realised that the most interesting was the one that was moved by the wind. It was more personalised, like the toys that we played with in Kabul, outside the house. I was just playing around, and I said ‘maybe I can make one bigger’, as a kind of joke to my tutor, and they said 'why not?’”
Now that Hassadi has finished his degree he has time to work on the Kafon in earnest. The basic shape and idea is almost there for the first prototype – it has light, strong legs, with feet at the end, and in the middle is a GPS chip. As the Kafon meanders along it transmits data about its journey back to the user. That should allow the plotting of routes through minefields that are safe.
There are over 110 million anti-personnel land mines scattered across 70 countries. Many of these mines have been underground for +30 years, and still remain active.Massoud Hassani has developed a cheap, effective method to combat this devastating problem. His ‘Mine Kafon’ is a cheap, light, wind-powered mine detonating device.It’s composed almost entirely from bamboo and biodegradable plastics. At 70 kilograms, his invention is light enough to be propelled by a normal breeze, while still being heavy and big enough to act.
“I was humbled to be asked to work with War Child, the charity who support children affected by war around the world. The three installations above were created for 20 Years of War Child, a new exhibition celebrating 20 years of the charity’s work. The show is being staged at The British Music Experience museum of popular music at the O2 in London, and will feature my works alongside photography and album artwork showcasing War Child’s long-running collaboration with the great and good of the music industry. The exhibition opens on Tuesday 19th February and runs until 28th March."
This baby elephant was given a prosthetic leg after losing her leg from a land-mine in Thailand. The documentary “The Eyes of Thailand” chronicles two elephants and their caretaker’s journeys to the elephant’s recovery after prosthetic legs were developed to help them walk again.