I just came across and wanted to share this fascinating video montage of our planet as seen from space that features footage from the BBC’s hugely popular television series Planet Earth.
Generated by Burrell Durrant Hifle (BDH), a multi-disciplinary design company, these scenes stitch together many high-resolution photographs from NASA. It took BDH and the production team over four years to piece everything together – talk about patience.
While this isn’t anything particularly advanced, watching it I’m reminded of just how crazy limited (one little sphere in the universe), but also how crazy dynamic our earth is. In the future I expect that we’ll continue to get better and finer images of the planet, but this six-minute video is well worth the watch and opens the mind to the more radical perspectives that we’ll be generating in the coming years.
For all those who have wondered if they could enjoy the benefits of exercise without the pain of exertion, the answer may soon be yes. Scientists are developing a pill that tricks your muscles into thinking they have just gone through an aggressive workout even though you haven’t left the couch.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have identified two drugs that mimic many of the physiological effects of exercise. The drugs increase the ability of cells to burn fat and are the first compounds that have been shown to enhance exercise endurance.
Both drugs can be given orally and work by genetically reprogramming muscles to maximize energy use. In lab experiments, mice ran faster and longer on treadmill tests. Those that were given AICAR, one of the two drugs, ran an astounding 44 percent longer. The second compound, GW1516, dramatically improved endurance when combined with exercise.
Ronald Evans, the HHMI investigator who led the study, said drugs that mimic exercise could offer potent protection against obesity and related metabolic disorders. They could also help counter the effects of devastating muscle-wasting diseases like muscular dystrophy. Evans and his colleagues at the Salk Institute published their findings July 31, 2008, in the online journal Cell.
While this breakthrough may be especially appealing to couch potatoes, doctors are most excited about the potential benefits to people who aren’t able to exercise due to joint pain, long hospital stays, and other circumstances that keep them from being active.
Imagine living in an ageless, disease-free body with youthful looks, superhuman strength and a brain that can out-think computers. Now further imagine an affluent, happy, crime-free population residing in a world terraformed for comfort without dangerous storms, tsunamis, or unbearable weather.
This is the vision many forward-thinkers believe humanity can achieve during this century. Although life seems to rush by at rocket speeds today, the future will advance even faster. Author James John Bell, in his Exploring the Singularity article in The Futurist says, “We won’t just experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years.”
Scientists describe the Singularity as a point in time when technological progress becomes so rapid that it radically transforms humankind at a faster rate than anyone alive today can comprehend. Biotech, nanotech, infotech, and cognitive science will all interplay causing us to speed towards this Singularity.
Acclaimed futurist and author Ray Kurzweil argues in his book, The Singularity is Near, that we could experience this Singularity by as early as 2045.
Kurzweil predicts over the next 10 to 20 years, biotech scientists will learn to greatly slow aging and eliminate most diseases. In the 2030s, he says, nanotech will “finish the job” allowing for the redesign of the human body into an almost immortal form.
By mid-2020s, techno-enthusiasts claim pollution-free nano-replicators will be available to provide most food, clothing and household gadgets at little or no cost; and fully immersive virtual reality will create make-believe environments indiscernible from reality to satisfy even the most extreme entertainment desires.
With all the technical terms frequently sprinkled about in most futures-related content, it’s a rare day when you come upon a futurist with a totally different and refreshing view on what might be in store for mankind. In this clip, The Hour TV show hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos (try saying in three times fast) interviews famed Canadian science fiction writer Robert Sawyer on his view of the future of travel. On top of his ideas that the elderly may soon retire in space due to safety hazards brought about by gravity (broken hips, arms, legs), I found his view on the future of travel in cities very interesting. Check it out.
The most refreshing thing about this interview is how realistic Robert Sawyer is about the future of travel. For instance, although he admits that cars could be built that could fly, the problem is that if you get into a fender-bender at 300 feet you’re pretty much toast. And as he points out rather comically, “A drunk driver in a flying car is worse than the worst terrorist with the damage he can do.” People already have a hard enough time with two-dimensional driving, imagine adding in a third.
By 2015, experts believe, tiny microchips placed under our skin will enable us to control consumer electronic devices and browse the Internet with just our thoughts. BT Futurologist Ian Pearson says we could place these chips into the upper layers of the skin and arrange them into useful circuits to power and control our electronic world.
Researchers propose a five layered architecture, referred to as active skin. A master chip, installed deep in the skin, would connect with blood capillaries and nerve endings; and would eventually, as technology develops, exchange data directly with the brain. The master chip would communicate with temporary chips placed higher in the skin that would wash or wear away after a few days.
These non-permanent chips would be created in thin polymer membranes that adhere to the skin like invisible stick-on patches. The combination of layers would allow gadgets to be built linking us to our entire electronic world and the Internet.
Computers, cell phones, music players, and other devices could be implanted on our wrists and hands, with full keyboards. These would remain invisible until our touch made them light up. The circuitry itself would be made of dispersed groups of invisible devices.
Medical sensors could be implanted to stave off heart attacks and strokes, monitor blood chemistry 24/7, and alert hospital computers to any emergency. They could also remotely administer drugs to precise body locations.
Movies like Time Machine,
Back to the
Future, Terminator, and
“One Moment in Time”: bring out the little child inside us. We love
to fantasize about going back in time to see what might have been,
or to alter some predicament in our life. Scientists get excited
over this fantasy too – some even believe we can turn this
fictional genre into reality.
Einstein stated that people traveling at near light speeds would
age more slowly than those remaining stationary. Inhabitants of a
fast-moving spaceship would experience forward time travel. And if
traveling faster than light, they would go backwards in time.
Atomic clocks flown in space proved Einstein correct, and many
top physicists now express views that time travel could someday
Cal-Tech’s Kip Thorne was the
first to publish a scientific paper with the words “time machine”
in the title. Thorne worried that reporters might ballyhoo the
article causing colleagues to ignore it – but instead, his work
brought other scientists out in the open.
World famous physicist Stephen Hawking, Cosmologist Igor
Novikov, and others began publicly debating the pros and cons of
Thorne focused on the actual time machine. He suggests that if
we create a wormhole, accelerate one end to nearly the speed of
light and bring it back, we would have a time machine. We could
enter the machine and travel to both past and future.
But a recent Better Humans article suggests
our frail bodies could not stand up to wormhole pressures.
Solution: upload our mind and travel as information; then
reassemble on arrival using nanotechnology.
We’ve seen the future … and we may not be doomed. The just
published 2008 United Nations report, with input from 2,500 experts
from around the world finds life is improving for people worldwide
– but governments are failing to grasp the opportunities offered.
“This is a unique time in history. Mobile phones, the Internet,
international trade, language translation and jet planes are giving
birth to an interdependent humanity that can create and implement
global strategies to improve its prospects,” the report states. “It
is increasingly clear that the world has the resources to address
our common challenges. Ours is the first generation with the means
for many to know the world as a whole, identify global improvement
systems, and seek to improve them.”
The world is about to enjoy a prosperous future with an
unprecedented ability to extend lifespan and increase the power of
ordinary people. The life extension movement is growing
exponentially and could be the next significant field targeted by
venture capitalists as alternative energy and clean tech wane.
Made possible by soaring healthcare costs, unfunded
Medicare-type liabilities in every industrialized nation, and the
demographic aging of populations, the rapidly expanding life
extension industry encompasses the commercialization of scientific
findings from stem cell, genetic engineering, regenerative
medicine, human enhancements, and other areas of health
“Advances in science, technology, education, economics, and
management,” the report continues, “seems capable of making the
world work far better than it does today.” Medical breakthroughs
are offering the hope of defeating inherited diseases, tailoring
cures to individual patients – and even creating replacement body