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Stephen Hawking's Brave New World, Episode 4: Perfect City

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The creativity of scientists across the world continues to astonish me. In this week's episode the team and I investigate new technologies that are going to improve our lives by making things easier, more efficient and much faster.

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Our episode begins in France where Jim Al-Kahili is investigating the science behind PaveGen, a technology that is turning footsteps into electrical power. One of the biggest inspirations behind PaveGen is that we are not utilizing the full potential of energy sources around us. A single step generates approximately 10 joules of energy, which would power a 10-watt light bulb for one second. On a small scale this doesn't seem like much at all, but what about at the scale of 750,000 people per day? This is an inspirational new technology that aims to utilize power sources that are already in place: people!

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The average person spends approximately 2.5 hours per week grocery shopping. What if there was a way to eliminate this 'waste' of time? Chris Eliasmith investigates the Kiva= system, which is comprised of hundreds of robots to do the shopping for you.

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Daniel Kraft spends some time developing a one of a kind digital avatar that's essentially a copy of himself. A company in California is using photorealization to create realistic 3D renderings of people in real time. This kind of animation could have massive applications in the gaming and teaching worlds, and Daniel's virtual self is almost indistinguishable from the real thing!

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In this week's episode, I visit an engineering lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh where technology is being developed to make virtually any surface interactive. Imagine being able to sit on your couch, create a digital interface on the arm of your chair and control your multi-media. You will never have to search for the remote control again!

Many major cities have a major problem -- massive rat populations. They carry disease, they have negative impacts on food supply, and they smell really terrible. Rat poison and trapping have proven ineffective in many cities across the world. Aarathi Prasard investigates a new technology that is limiting rat populations by limiting their reproductive capability. The method is safe, humane, and extremely effective!

Episode 4 of Stephen Hawking's Brave New World airs on Friday, December 6 at 8pm EST/10pm PST on Discovery World. Come join us!