Almost 500 years ago, one scientist started to change the way we think forever. Nicolaus Copernicus was taught from birth that the Earth was the centre of the universe. But when he looked at a model of the system devised by the Ancient Greeks, he didn’t simply accept what he was taught. Instead he continued to ask questions and consider alternatives.
Copernicus wasn’t convinced that the Earth was in the centre of the system, he knew about eclipses, sunsets and stars, and he wondered what would happen if he put the sun at the centre of the model instead. What if we were circling the sun, and not the other way round?
By switching the position of the Earth with the position of the Sun in that model, Copernicus gave us the basis of what we now know as our Solar System. This ability to consider other perspectives and look at the bigger picture to identify the problem, is a fundamental principle of the NXplorers Programme.
“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”
India is the largest jackfruit producer in the world, but only a small amount is harvested and sold. Most of the fruit is left to ripen and spoil. This means less money for the farmers, a waste of valuable resources and increasing the risk of diseases spread by mosquitos attracted to the rotting fruit.
NXplorers students saw this problem in their community, and realised the potential in transforming a waste product into an eco-friendly fuel option. Using NXplorers thinking skills they were able to connect the local problem of rotting fruits to the global issues of carbon emissions and fuel production.
While our NXplorers students in India were solving the problem of wasted jackfruit in their small community, across the oceans a team of top researchers were also realising that alternative fuel from food waste has the potential to work in jet engines.
Using food waste to power jets cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 165% - from reducing the carbon that jets emit as well as the emissions that are avoided when food waste is diverted from landfill. So, perhaps without quite realising the massive implications of their idea, our students had solved not only the rotting jackfruit problem but joined the international journey towards reducing carbon emissions.
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