BERKELEY -- Five Big Tech ideas were presented on the Berkeley Repertory Theatre mainstage on Feb. 24 in the form of 12-minute, next-frontier presentations to a full house and a three-judge panel of experts.

The Science at the Theater event was the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's latest science-outside-the-lab expedition and culminated in an old-fashioned/new-fangled vote for the idea with the most societal benefit.

In a world of Shark Tank-imitative competitions, the pretense of the final tally was (impressively) overshadowed by significant and solid science.

The projects developed out of work performed at LBNL.

Smartphone, tablet and paper voting by the audience and markers-on-whiteboard balloting by the judges were to be conducted independently. A post-presentation discussion compared results and offered a Q&A.

Judges Peter Fiskes, Robin Johnston and Braden Penhoet brought perspectives from their varied backgrounds, including environmental activism, shepherding incubator startups, conducting entrepreneurial endeavors and, of course, their extensive careers in the field of science.

Presentations began with biophysicist Sylvain Costes' DNA damage detector; a home kit he predicted will allow everyday citizens to hack their own DNA. "Tracked over time, you can change the pattern," he promised, suggesting the data would cause people to self-regulate and modify their exercise, diet and exposure to toxins.

Better batteries, especially for Dreamliner jet aircraft and electric cars, are the goal of chemist Guoying Chen. Her project's new "switchable polymer" will prevent overcharged lithium-ion batteries from short circuiting and "releasing their energy in explosive, hot incidents," Chen said.

Measuring energy with stick-on sensors applied to circuit breakers is the simple solution to exposing energy hogs, according to applied energy scientist Steven Lanzisera. He said deploying the software would reduce United States energy use by 15 percent and save about $60 billion.

Chemist Gloria Olivier had an equally sticky idea: peptoid nanosheets that mimic Velcro's looping, claw-like design and capture molecules. Real-time detection of dangerous viruses -- in the air, water, human bloodstream -- would be imported into mobile devices.

"We need detection in the palm of our hands," Olivier said. Deploying similarly coated chips to monitor drinking supplies, absorb oils and toxins and "scrubbing them clean" for multiple usage, extended the idea's scope.

The most out-of-this-world idea came from physicist Alex Zettl, who spun a story with Boron-Nitrite (BN), cotton-like puffs of material resembling pillow stuffing.

"It's the strongest, lightest, most thermally-conductive, chemically-resistant fiber," he said, suggesting the material is "poised" to revolutionize the aerospace industry -- no currently available material will allow a human being to be sent safely to Mars.

Zettl said it could be used as a surface for nerves to be regenerated and that toxins could be extruded using BN-lined filters. Efficient electronic field emissions and solar cell thermal conducting offered more applications.

Judges Johnston and Penhoet selected Olivier's "molecular Velcro," citing its multiple applications. Fiske favored Costes' DNA data hacker, saying it is "fundamentally empowering to the individual."

Thirty-nine percent of the audience, arguably swept away by his personalized, humorous presentation and daydreaming of future travel to Mars, voted for Zettl's superhero-BN material.

Molecular Velcro followed, earning 27 percent; DNA repair, 16; energy sensor, 12; and battery polymer, 6 percent.