An article in the NYTimes today on the invention of a solar-powered flashlight being distributed to refugee camps in Ethiopia:
I find it hard sometimes to explain the scope of the problems in these camps with no light,” Mr. Bent said. “If you’re an environmentalist you think about it in terms of discarded batteries and coal and wood burning and kerosene smoke; if you’re a feminist you think of it in terms of security for women and preventing sexual abuse and violence; if you’re an educator you think about it in terms of helping children and adults study at night.
Quite clearly, this flashlight will be put to all these uses and many more. But the interesting question is: would the environmentalists, feminists, and educators all have arrived at this solution for their respective problems separately? And if so, then why not work together if one innovation can solve this multitude of difficulties?