Bird House

Two years ago in London, some really smart folks took a bunch of waste feathers, some soy-based epoxy, and other agricultural byproducts, and built a whole, functional circuit board. With this whole we're-running-out-of-oil situation everyone's talking about lately, a few big thinkers are setting out to put to good use the things we have too much of. In this case: chicken feathers.

Feathers are a, until now, worthless byproduct of chicken farms. They take up space in landfills, generate greenhouse gases when incinerated, and could potentially spread [cue ominous music] Avian Flu. But the latest feather-based innovation meant to make this waste into worth is a new construction material devised by a Filipilo scientist Menandro-a compressed-cement-and-chicken-feather composite intended for residential architecture. Replacing wood chip-based board, Acda's material is resistant to termites, doesn't call for cutting down trees, and addresses the region's national dilemma of feather disposal.

In the meantime, at the University of Nebraska, fashion-minded scientists are working to turn chicken feathers and other farm excess, like rice straw, into fabrics.

Note: In three paragraphs, chicken feathers just went from something you never think about, to a huge problem of excess, to something you wear, live in, and check your email with. Yes, the world's an incredible place.