As I watched the brief video below, completely dumbfounded, I wondered why this isn’t a bigger story.
What looks like a scam is legitimate science. The billboard, designed by UTEC, engineering researchers in Lima, Peru, literally produces water from thin air. Okay, maybe not thin air, but definitely from air.
For a city with over 1 million waterless people, wouldn’t you figure this miracle billboard to be the biggest story in the world? Bigger than the Oscars or Game of Thrones?
Shockingly, few people outside of Lima know about the water billboard.
I learned of the billboard from the YouTube video, which was posted one year ago. It has just over 700,000 hits. A video featuring students hurling themselves across school hallways on their stomachs received over 2 million views. (Of course, this may say more about individual curiosity than it does about the billboard story.)
Even though the billboard cost only $1,200 to erect and is producing a staggering 25 gallons of water daily from desert air, national media seems relatively disinterested. Of course, UTEC researchers originally created the billboard as a publicity stunt, which may have turned off major media outlets. “We want to change the minds of future engineers and inspire them,” a UTEC representative told the BBC.
So, a rogue ad campaign is now giving water to thirsty children in Peru, yet few national news sources care to follow up (I couldn’t find a national story more recent than May of 2013).
Is a truly remarkable story being dismissed? Or am I overreacting?
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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series
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