Turing's water filter could soon be used to solve the world's water problems

The mathematician and codebreaker invented a water filter that only just got build recently. Could it make the ocean's drinkable?

Flickr, christopher_brown

Alan Turing has often been described as the "godfather of artificial intelligence", less-so in the mafia boss way and more-so due to the fact that his test, the Turing test, is used to measure how smart computers are. He was, if you'll pardon my language, so mind-f**kingly intelligent that we are still barely just catching up to his brilliance.  


But he wasn't just a brilliant computational mind. He also wrote lone one biology paper back in 1952, describing a system that desalinates water 3-times faster than, well, the methods we use today. Thanks to a sudden advancement in 3D printing technology, his desalination process was never put into practice until very recently by a team of South Korean scientists

The key is the shapes within the filter, made up of hundreds of thousands of tiny tubules shaped like a Turing pattern. Common water filters tend to be made up only of peaks-and-valleys (think corrugated cardboard). 

Left is a dot filter, right is a Turing filter. Image credit: Z. Tan et al./Science

The method is fantastic at filtering out most things, but the only unfortunate thing is that the current implementation isn't as reliable for filtering salt as it is everything else, which takes it out of the running — for now — to be widely implemented as a desalination method. And make no bones about it: the human race is in dire need of a good, fast, reliable desalination method as only 2.5% of the world's water is actually safe to immediately drink. Turing's invention could create a major industry overnight and create a literal and metaphorical ocean of possibilities for developing nations.

Mankind has been trying to figure out how to make the ocean's drinkable for centuries; it'd be poetic justice if Alan Turing was the one to make it happen. 

Yug, age 7, and Alia, age 10, both entered Let Grow's "Independence Challenge" essay contest.

Photos: Courtesy of Let Grow
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • The coronavirus pandemic may have a silver lining: It shows how insanely resourceful kids really are.
  • Let Grow, a non-profit promoting independence as a critical part of childhood, ran an "Independence Challenge" essay contest for kids. Here are a few of the amazing essays that came in.
  • Download Let Grow's free Independence Kit with ideas for kids.
Keep reading Show less

Divers discover world's largest underwater cave system filled with Mayan mysteries

Researchers in Mexico discover the longest underwater cave system in the world that's full of invaluable artifacts. 

Divers of the GAM project. Credit: Herbert Meyrl.
Technology & Innovation

Keep reading Show less

Archaeologists find largest-ever Mayan complex hiding in plain sight

Researchers discover a massive ceremonial structure of the ancient Mayans using lasers.

3D image of the site of Aguada Fenix.

Credit: Takeshi Inomata
Surprising Science
  • Archaeologists use laser-based aerial surveys to discover the oldest and largest Mayan structure ever found.
  • The 3,000-year-old complex in the Mexican state of Tabasco was likely used as a ceremonial center.
  • Researchers think the site showed a communal society rather than one based on worshipping elites.
Keep reading Show less

Engineers 3D print soft, rubbery brain implants

Technique may enable speedy, on-demand design of softer, safer neural devices.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Surprising Science

The brain is one of our most vulnerable organs, as soft as the softest tofu. Brain implants, on the other hand, are typically made from metal and other rigid materials that over time can cause inflammation and the buildup of scar tissue.

Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…