Rob Rhinehart, a time-starved computer programmer, was frustrated by how often food preparation was taking him away from coding. So the 25-year-old did a little troubleshooting: he bought every substance the body needs in raw, chemical form and combined them into a thick, beige meal-replacement liquid he calls Soylent. (The name appears to reference the 1970s cult film Soylent Green, in which humans ate a strange food that turned out to be other humans, but Rhinehart says that in the book version, soylent was made of soya and lentils.) The powdered drink allows you to be in peak physical shape for less than $2 a day, he says, making it a possible antidote to world hunger. In the developed world, it could even help reduce obesity (for those game to trade burgers and fries for a colourless slurry). Financed via $2 million in preorders and $1.5 million in venture capital, it starts shipping in March.