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The world's first tunable glasses, invented by retired Oxford professor Joshua Silver, may look clunky and archaic, but their cheap easily-adjustable design could correct the vision of a billion people living in the third world, and may allow them to continue to work. More importantly they will contribute to Third World literacy.  (Source: Engadget)
The world's first fully tunable lenses could soon be making a world of a difference

Here in the U.S. we take for granted many of the necessities of life.  However, across the world billions living in Third World countries and developing nations have trouble obtaining basic needs.  Something as simple as finding clean drinking water can be impossible.  Basic medical care is scarce.  And those with poor vision are forced to endure as glasses are typically far too expensive.

A new invention could fix that last problem and bring vision to as many as a billion worldwide -- the world's first fully tunable prescription-free glasses.

The tunable glasses were invented by retired Oxford University physic professor Joshua Silver.  He devised the lenses in a moment he called a "glimpse of the obvious".  He sees them hitting the market in about a decade and bringing improved vision to about a billion living in poverty worldwide.  With vision a key to literacy, these new lenses could make a world of difference.

The new lenses can be tuned via simple mechanical motions to correct for both near-sighted and far-sighted vision.  Professor Silver has been developing them for over two decades now, ever since a 1985 conversation with a colleague hatched the idea in his mind.

Now at last he has a cheap, easily mass-produced design largely worked out.  His lenses use liquid lenses which inject or remove liquid to adjust the thickness of the lens.  Thicker lenses are more powerful, while thinner lenses are weaker.  By adjusting the thickness, typically done by cutting to a prescription, the proper vision correction is achieved.  However, the new lenses can be adjusted freely.

The glasses' liquid lenses are encased in tough plastic, which protects the delicate lens sacs.  A small dial on each arm pumps a small syringe which adds or removes fluid from the lens sac.  These syringe/dial setup can be easily removed after the proper adjustment is achieved, saving on costs.

Britain's Department for International Development has begun a trial deployment of the glasses, and has already distributed thousand of pairs in Third World countries.  Professor Silver is determined to ramp up production to millions of units.

Professor Silver is touched and inspired by stories such as that of Henry Adjei-Mensah, a tailor in Ghana who fell into poverty when he was forced to retire at an early age for lack of glasses.  He describes, "So he retires. He was about 35. He could have worked for at least another 20 years. We put these specs on him, and he smiled, and threaded his needle, and sped up with this sewing machine. He can work now. He can see."

He is currently readying a program in India which will deploy a million units a year.  He wants to eventually release a level of 100 million units a year, with 1 billion distributed by 2020 as his chief goal.



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RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By masher2 (blog) on 12/23/2008 12:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, I stand by the fact that Britain, along with Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and others helped to create the Third World. By conquering and subjugating the majority of Africa and South America along with India and much of China, these regions saw their existing political and social systems scrapped and much of their natural resources looted.
While it's certainly hard to justify Spanish actions in the New World, British colonialism spread the tradition of rule of law, education, government, technology, and science around the globe. It is indisputable that the lives of literally billions of people in the Third World are now far better off today due to that "evil" British colonialism.

It's illuminating to note that nations such as India which retained the majority of British structures continued to prosper, while those which discarded them sank back into the chaos and barbarism in which they were originally found. The "sad state of conflict" in Sub-Saharan Africa isn't the result of British rule, it was the normal state of affairs before British conquest.

While the belief that "foreign domination" is always bad may be politically correct, it isn't supported by the facts. For someone who hasn't studied history, its may be a bit difficult to believe just how badly off some of these regions were, and how much British rule brought to the lives of people there. And while they were abuses yes, for every abuse the British brought, they suppressed ten others, usually much worse.

As one small example, while most of the rest of the world was still heavily entrenched in slavery, Britain was spending millions of pounds (billions in current currency) to halt the slave trade, preventing Africans from capturing and selling their neighboring tribespeople to foreign traders. And had those foreign traders not existed, they would have simply enslaved them themselves, or killed them outright, the normal practice for centuries before.

Britain's colonialism made it wealthy and powerful. But the real world is not a zero sum game. Brtain's gain did not always correspond to someone else's loss.


By murphyslabrat on 12/23/2008 12:38:25 PM , Rating: 3
Wow, you don't get these editorial spats on the 9 O'clock news -- "DailyTech.com: so balanced, even the writers have public debates"


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By JasonMick (blog) on 12/23/2008 12:48:20 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
As one small example, while most of the rest of the world was still heavily entrenched in slavery, Britain was spending millions of pounds (billions in current currency) to halt the slave trade, preventing Africans from capturing and selling their neighboring tribespeople to foreign traders.


The slave trade was not prevented by colonialism, but rather by social reform. Many slave traders were Europeans, though many were also Africans as you say. I agree that Britain had less control in Africa before 1800s, so you are more or less correct in saying it had a minimal impact on the African side of the slave trade, but colonialism did fuel the slave trade (slaves were used as cheap labor in colonies such as Britain's U.S. and Spain's South American holdings).

As far as "law and order" it was very selective. In India, the majority in the countryside were left to judge each other based on preexisting laws. However whenever the British natives were involved a different standard of justice was applied, one that was punitive to any Indians that committed crimes while going lightly on the Brits.

Again, I wasn't singling out the British, and additionally my opinion there was one that you may not agree with, but is backed by many historians. Every industrialized nation has committed its share of atrocities or misguided acts, and most have also committed great things to the world -- Britain is no exception.

However, this does not pertain to the topic at hand -- the comment has been removed.

The important thing here is the invention of cheap eyeglasses that could bring sight and the opportunity for literacy to millions if not billions.

Let's try to stay on topic for the rest of this discussion


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By masher2 (blog) on 12/23/08, Rating: 0
By hellokeith on 12/23/2008 6:09:24 PM , Rating: 5
Reg:
All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Xerxes:
The aqueduct.

Reg:
Oh yeah, yeah they gave us that. Yeah. That's true.

Masked Activist:
And the sanitation!

Stan:
Oh yes... sanitation, Reg, you remember what the city used to be like.

Reg:
All right, I'll grant you that the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done...

Matthias:
And the roads...

Reg:
(sharply) Well yes obviously the roads... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads...

Another Masked Activist:
Irrigation...

Other Masked Voices:
Medicine... Education... Health...

Reg:
Yes... all right, fair enough...

Activist Near Front:
And the wine...

Omnes:
Oh yes! True!

Francis:
Yeah. That's something we'd really miss if the Romans left, Reg.

Masked Activist at Back:
Public baths!

Stan:
And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now.

Francis:
Yes, they certainly know how to keep order... (general nodding)... let's face it, they're the only ones who could in a place like this.

(more general murmurs of agreement)

Reg:
All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?

Xerxes:
Brought peace!

Reg:
(very angry, he's not having a good meeting at all) What!? Oh... (scornfully) Peace, yes... shut up!


By nah on 12/24/2008 8:28:58 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
On the contrary, the British Charter Act of 1813 banned abuses like thuggee (religious ritual murder), the act of 1833 give India its first laws banning religious discrimination, the Act of 1843 banned slavery, etc, etc, etc.


No doubt this is why on the front of most of the British Clubs in India signs were posted stating 'No Dogs or Indians Allowed '--for reference see Nehru's comment on the Byculla Club in Bombay in the 1920s and 30s. Also no doubt why racial discrimination was practiced on a massive scale--as of 1890--nearly a century and more after the start of British rule in India--there were exactly 4 Indian officers in the elite ICS--I could add some more

quote:
How many civil wars has the region fought since independence in 1947? Four?


A civil war occurs, by definition, between factions existing in a country--not between countries


By Spinne on 12/24/2008 9:15:53 AM , Rating: 2
Sure buddy, of course you're right.


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By subhajit on 12/23/2008 12:59:45 PM , Rating: 3
I agree that British rule was somewhat beneficial to India at that point of time (mainly because at that time India was ruled by Islamic rulers who were also foreigners).
However I find it ridiculous that you think all of these civilizations were built on chaos and barbarism. All the greatest civilizations of the old world has turned into third world countries. And this is somewhat natural, a civilization reaches its peak and then corruption sets in and it gets taken over by someone else.
You have to agree for hundreds of years Britain has taken away huge amount of resources and their education policy was formulated to create a bunch of clerks and yes men and as an ultimate gift they created Pakistan (a Islamic state) before they left as a permanent source of conflict.


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By masher2 (blog) on 12/23/08, Rating: 0
By subhajit on 12/24/2008 3:00:26 AM , Rating: 3
Please masher I am from India and my grandmother was a freedom fighter. I know the kind of suffering and torture we had to go through. If you don't believe please go through some of local history written by Indian historians and social workers from that time. Do you know anything about 'Nilkar'. The farmers had to cultivate whatever the British used to decide they used to buy that at a fixed price which was decided by the 'Sahib' and if the target was not met the brutality and torture was unbelievable. From the outside or from even UK people wouldn't have known what was going through inside India.


By Spinne on 12/24/2008 9:18:43 AM , Rating: 2
That just isn't true masher - part of the policy of the Raj was to pit various ethnic groups against each other.


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Connoisseur on 12/23/2008 2:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
Masher. To be completely fair, I believe your example for India is a little bit incorrect. After the British left in the 40's, India was left with extreme turmoil for a good 50 years due to various factors, such as forced relocation of different cultures, extreme corruption etc. Only in the past 15 or so years are there signs of development and modernisation and yet there are still issues of corruption, extreme poverty, and conflict with the surrounding nations (Bangladesh and Pakistan for ex.). A lot of these issues are due to many, less than wholesome parties filling a vacuum left over after the British left.

In short, you couldn't give the British all the credit for a developing India after they subjugated the masses for so long. I also don't believe it's possible to say that India WOULDN'T have been prosperous on its own had the British not colonized it.

To relate back to Jason's comments, I believe he has a valid point. Colonization by the European nations and the artificial division of land by the world powers forced cultures together which would have otherwise been separate which is a recipe for civil war. In addition, they didn't provide the natives the tools and knowledge necessary for successful self-government after they left... but then again, no empire does this. I am NOT saying that Africa would have been any better or worse had the Europeans not colonized, but I am saying that this isn't necessarily just the "normal state of affairs" in Africa.


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Ringold on 12/23/2008 2:59:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In short, you couldn't give the British all the credit for a developing India after they subjugated the masses for so long.


You'll find in development economics literature references to India's English heritage, such as education system and english language, that has allowed India to much more easily engage in world trade. Thats considered a big deal; all else being equal, between two countries with much lower cultural barriers more trade will take place.

India's failure to take off sooner was probably largely the fault of India's turn to Marxism. Many countries made that mistake, not sure if that's the fault of former masters.


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By nah on 12/24/2008 8:40:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You'll find in development economics literature references to India's English heritage, such as education system and english language, that has allowed India to much more easily engage in world trade. Thats considered a big deal;


Neither Japan nor China were ever colonies of Britain or experienced the 'light' of British colonialism (Cough)--yet their exports as a % of GDP and in absolute terms are much higher than India's


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Ringold on 12/24/2008 3:24:18 PM , Rating: 3
Did you even bother to think of why?

We rebuilt Japan after WW2 in our glorious capitalist image. The nation was barred from having the capacity to so much as ruffle the feathers of a bird, and they turned to industry.

China did have a taste of British colonialism (as well as our own), but not as much as India, obviously. But Hong Kong did. Feel free to compare Hong Kong and the rest of China!

You're going to have to try a little harder if you're going to rewrite economic history and theory. :P


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Ringold on 12/24/2008 3:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and I think as I explained, it still comes down to India's shift to Marxism. They still have a strong communist party, and a slow to move mountain of red tape. All the advantages in the world would have a hard time overcoming that.


By nah on 12/24/2008 9:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
Colonialism economic practice was worse than mercantilism--Britain choked off India's economic growth so that Indians would be forced to buy British manufactures--even the American economic mission sent during WW2 (1942)suggested to the British in no uncertain terms to allow India to grow economically instead of making it reliant on England--

quote:
Oh, and I think as I explained, it still comes down to India's shift to Marxism


That has to be the vaguest statement I have ever read up on India--it was from it's inception--and still is--the world's biggest democracy--sure it had government interference in the economy from 1947-68--when it achieved extraordinarily high rates of growth--but from the 80s the economy was liberalised--it's about as far from a Marxist country as any--infact there are Marxist guerrillas trying to overthrow a state government by force-


By Spinne on 12/24/2008 9:19:50 AM , Rating: 2
India was far better off before Britain came along.


By Sulphademus on 12/23/2008 2:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It is indisputable that the lives of literally billions of people in the Third World are now far better off today due to that "evil" British colonialism.


Reminds me of the old Life of Brian "What've the Romans ever done for us?!" arguement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaE3EaQte78


By oTAL on 12/24/2008 7:19:54 AM , Rating: 2
I find it amazing that two intelligent and educated people can discuss colonialism and 16th century expansionism without mentioning the Portuguese role in so many situation where it obviously should be mentioned.

The Portuguese were the first nation to start the practice and had a major impact in everything you discussed (good and bad) from politics to religion to the creation of third world countries (Brazil, Angola and Mozambique just to name a few large ones).

Mentioning France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands without mentioning Portugal.....!? Check your history guys....


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By nah on 12/24/2008 8:12:21 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
t's illuminating to note that nations such as India which retained the majority of British structures continued to prosper, while those which discarded them sank back into the chaos and barbarism in which they were originally found .


Like good old USA ? It was one of the first British colonies to throw off the yoke of British tyranny and found new institutions which were a dramatic improvement over the old--what did the British do in return--burn Washington DC in 1812--yes, tremendously civilized work


RE: Opinion doesn't belong in straight news...
By Ringold on 12/24/2008 3:51:47 PM , Rating: 2
New institutions? I don't know about that, looks vaguely similar to me..

We've got a chief executive, who the framers recognized needed to exist and who thought occasionally may have to wield wide powers. We've got a Senate and House, which seems vaguely similar to the House of Lords and House of Commons - just a bit more democratic.

Of course there are many other influences, but we didn't exactly have a huge rupture from our British history.

Not sure what the War of 1812 has anything to do with, well, any of it.. though I still have a certain song from the war stuck in my head..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyXrxfjEOhs


By nah on 12/24/2008 9:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
looks vaguely similar to me..


Anything can look vaguely similar--from a distance one may resemble a Martian-the British system did not consist of the checks and balances which make up the US model--why don't you read up on the Federalist issues written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson ?

quote:
but we didn't exactly have a huge rupture from our British history.


Becoming independent wasn't a huge rupture ? That's news

quote:
Not sure what the War of 1812 has anything to do with


revenge for the cumulative actions of the Americans upto that time


By Spinne on 12/24/2008 9:14:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'd like to point out that India's economy was much stronger before Britain came along. Two major reasons why Britain was able to create an empire were a. the political situation at the time was ideal - the mughal empire was in the process of breaking up, and b. Britain was going through industrialization. Pre-industrial Indian goods, while of better quality, were not price competitive.


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