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July 6th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

Next Big Thing: Engineer's Life Mission

The images of oil spoiling America's shores has folks thinking more seriously about alternative energy sources. One man has made it his life's mission to wean America off big oil. As part of our "The Next Big Thing" series meet Lonnie Johnson– a former NASA engineer with two potentially world-changing inventions.


Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Next Big Thing • Tony Harris
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Southgate Butch

    Our sun can sustain and supply us with enough energy to live comfortably on our planet. Our science just isn't capable of capturing this energy in a way that is useful to us. We are a primitive society just emerging into a slightly more technical one. We only learned to fly a little more than a hundred years ago. We are taking small steps but steps in the right direction. Hydrogen is the key ...we just need to find the lock :)

    July 6, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  2. Lionel Durant

    Mr Johnson is an unsung hero for all Inventors and African Americans. It amazes me that people are just now learning about him and his many inventions. How many of you have heard of the Super Soaker Water Gun? I wonder how many knew that it was a "Black Invention".

    I hope that this story makes people pause and take note that African Americans have contributed far more to our nations success that has been acknowledged. The Modern Black Inventor brings more to the table than the General Public cares to see. It is my hope that this story sparks a wider interest in Mr. Johnson's many inventions as well as brings other Modern Black Inventors to the forefront.

    July 6, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  3. Zack

    The segment on Mr Johnson was great! Where can I find information on ways to invest in his project?

    July 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
  4. Angilynn Taylor

    I am very excited to see what Mr. Johnson is up to these days. After learning about Mr. Johnson, his inventions and other black history facts years ago, I became empowered to pursue a law degree and attorney's license. I used to give supersoaker water guns away at my son's February birthday parties because of Mr. Johnson. I pray with all my heart that he receives the funding needed. If he is on the verge of a clean energy breakthrough such as this, the whole world should be behind him. Certainly, it is worth looking into. Thank-you CNN. You keep me inspired to venture outside of the box with your stories and updates like Lonnie Johnson. I offer another thanks for not letting race interfere with the stories you cover. Bless you!

    July 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  5. Chas Pitts

    This is a real investment opportunity, (Using the Obama model) Money can be raised/invested to bring this company to a competitive level. Let's contact Mr. Johnson. With 20,000 of us investing $25 a month will fund him and position us as key investors. Who's ready? I am.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  6. Mike Warner

    Why do you have to specifically call out that this guy is "black"? And call it a "black invention". I understand that you are trying to show that you are not a racist and that you appriciate black people, but in doing this you are in fact perpetuatiing the problem. You are basically saying, "see look, black people do good stuff, we should appreciate them.". Which is more insulting to them, then just saying nothing about the racial origins of the person doing the good thing.
    And by calling it a "black invention" you are promoting the same segregation that you think you're trying to fix in our society.
    No, I didn't know that the super soaker was a "black invention". But who cares who invented it, black, white asian, whatever. If a white guy invents something, nobody goes around calling it a "white invention".
    By the nature of the comments you made about this story, you are more of a racist and a segragist than the people who watched thisand just said nothing.
    Most people are probably watchying this and the fact that this guy is black is not even crossing their mind. Our society would be fine and the racial issues would be over, if guys like you would just stop bringing it up.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
  7. Ronald Lucien

    Wow !!! I want to meet this guys !!! That is our future :)

    July 6, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  8. Bill

    I have a contribution to this area of interest. I am involved with a new company that has developed a devise that will increase the efficiency of gasoline engines by as much or more than 25%. With this devise installed, cars can travel 25% further per gallon of gasoline.

    Tony, this is a "scoop" that I am sending your way. Please contact me for details. This is a GREAT story!

    July 7, 2010 at 7:34 am |
  9. Jamaal Davis

    This is an awsome story and one to tell my children. To the fellow that wonders why people mention black inventions is because we get overlooked on so many idea's if not over looked people take our idea's and use them for there benefit. The same reason why they mention Obama as the 1st black president, should they not? Open a history book they mention nothing at all about U.S black inventors. They speak about slavory tho cant leave that out. Its a must people know that we can and were good at it when we put our minds to it. "Mr Warner" think of the stereotypical things that your parents taught you and your friends about black people i bet its not about being inventors or presidents.

    July 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  10. L. MATTHEWS

    I agree with Mr. Pitts above, this is cutting edge technology that needs to be supported not only by our government, but regular folks like us. I too am willing to contribute even $50 a month to projects such as this one. Please put me in touch with Mr Johnson and his company. Thank you

    July 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
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