SWB members at work

A field researcher for SWB member organization INDEPTH collects health data for later use in vaccine testing in the rural village of Kokmua in Ghana.

J Carrier/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The late Carl Sagan famously described science as a "candle in a demon haunted world." Today, much of the developed world is aglow with the illumination of science, and the future only promises to burn brighter as science and technology exponentially improve daily life. Yet there are still vast regions on the planet where shadows of superstition, strife, poverty and pollution hold sway.

The answer, inevitably, seems simple: Why not share the scientific might of the developed world with those in the developing world. Fortunately, the United Nations and a variety of aid groups labor to do just this, bringing money, goods and essential technology to those who need it. Founded in 1971, Doctors Without Borders brings highly trained medical personnel to people in need of their expertise. Now, a new organization aims to do the same with scientific minds and resources.

Scientists Without Borders (SWB) is often described as an international matchmaker, connecting scientific minds with problems in the developing world. If there's a village in the Sudan that needs a method of reclaiming polluted wells, then there might be a willing scientist in the United States with some ideas on how to solve the problem. If there's a medical clinic in Ghana that needs new equipment, there might be a Japanese hospital with a surplus of resources.

Just as the name implies, SWB exists to break down the political, geographic and economic barriers between real-world challenges and many of the scientific minds and resources that can help tackle them.

In this article, we'll look at the history and organization of Scientists Without Borders, as well explain how you can get involved.