2063 A.D.: Future Predictions from the Past: Space Travel, Lunar Bases and Cheap Energy

January 20 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

2063 BookletOnline book publisher Lulu.com has a great look at past future predictions in its 'Paleo-Futures' storefront:

The booklet 2063 A.D. (Free PDF download; $25.30 print) was published by General Dynamics Astronautics, and placed into a time capsule in July of 1963.

Only 200 copies were ever printed. The 50 page book contains predictions by scientists, politicians, astronauts and military commanders about the state of space exploration in the year 2063.

As you'd suspect, given General Dynamic's business, there are many predictions about space travel, lunar bases and cheap energy resources. (So there is still time yet for their forecasts to come true!)

Lulu's edition is a reprint made from scans of the original 1963 book.

If you like this type of historical futures also check out the blog Paleo Future

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[Video] Sony pushes ahead with next generation flexible OLED displays

January 19 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2012   Rating: 2

Sony made recent headlines when it offered the first real commercial OLED (organic light emitting diode) commercial display product.  The 11" wide screen is a 3 mm thick, and it only represents the beginning.  Now the company is going to a thinner, flexible platform.

CEO Howard Stringer recently demonstrated a foldable display screen that is 0.2 mm thick. Sony is not holding back on its vision of future content consumption on displays that will be flexible, transparent and able to be read in sunlight.

Meanwhile, researchers around the world continue to advance the field of carbon-based or 'organic' electronics beyond thin film solar, OLEDs, fuel cells and batteries. IBM believes we might see 'spray on' solar within five year!

Video: IDG News Service

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Surge of Hybrid and Electric Cars in India, China

January 13 2009 / by amisampat
Category: Environment   Year: 2009   Rating: 3 Hot

By Ami Sampat240_tatanano.jpg

The Nano car, created by Tata Motors, has not yet gone on sale but an affordable micro-hybrid version is already gearing up to hit the market. In this micro-hybrid, the engine would automatically stop running once it has gone idle. This feature would cut fuel and gas emissions by 10 to 15 percent.

The Nano which was first introduced in January 2008, was said to be on the market by late 2008, but is now expected to roll into the market early this year. The Nano will cost an affordable $2,500, which may increase due to the added micro hybrid-system.

The introduction of Tata's Nano was meant to create the first reasonably priced, environmentally friendly car, in order to help the densely populated and polluted urban areas India. Having the hybrid being affordable will also make it more accesible to not just the rich class, but the middle class as well.

Meanwhile, China is producing hybrid cars of its own. Chinese automakers, BYD, will display their hybrid car at the Detroit auto show this month. At the auto show, BYD will be given a main floor, rather than a hallway which it had last year. BYD will displaying its plug-in hybrid.

Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd is also making its first appearance at the show.

China is certainly making waves to make its car companies known. However it will be five years before Chinese automakers are able to compete in the U.S. markets.

India and China's venture into hybrid cars is a preemptive step of the automakers to reduce pollution and make a name for itself in the North American auto industry. As these country's launch their respective cars in their homeland and the U.S, it will certainly cause a sensation for the rest of the world.

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[Video] Visions of Future Urban Landscapes

January 13 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: Beyond   Rating: 2

 

[Via Fast Company]

 

MemeBox on Fast Forward Radio

January 08 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 3

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This week Garry Golden, Jeff Hilford and I had the pleasure to participate in the latest of The Speculist's outstanding Fast Forward Radio series (audio below the fold).  Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon led us through a comprehensive exploration of the year ahead of us and then (of course) encourage a bit of speculation about events 10-30 years out. 

Garry shared his energy and transportation policy insights and predictions for 2009 (a must listen), and ventured some suppositions for the future including the possibility of converging on a space-based Dyson Sphere.

Jeff discussed the ongoing rise of social media and the future meme, then offered up a longer-term prediction concerning Actuarial Escape Velocity, aka the point in time that medicine becomes capable of extending the average lifespan quicker than nature can take it from us.

I of course got into the steady growth in prosumers, intelligence amplification and a bit of simulation theory.

After kindly facilitating our output :), the hosts also got into the speculation game, with Phil tackiling issues including Global Quantification and Cancer Containment (very cool conept), and Stephen venturing the prediction that the first generation of life extension technologies are much closer to reality that we may suppose.

All in all, it was a wonderful brain-fest that I encourage you check out whenever you've got a spare hour on your hands.  And be sure to add The Speculist to your RSS as they've got a steady stream of great future content, including their weekly podcast, flowing through regularly. -- (Audio is below the fold.)

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If I Could Talk To TED

December 14 2008 / by Will / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 2

Cross-posted from Where There's A William by Will Brown.

In his 2005 book FAB, author Neil Gershenfeld introduced the world to the possibilities of our potential near future.

If I could talk to TED, I would remind them of this and point out that there is likely to be a longish wait for whole-object fabrication technology to be affordable and reliably available to the general public. And, that it isn't really necessary to wait for that happy day either. We humans are long established tool users already, so how unreasonable is it to seek to develop the fab technology to create replacement parts for our existing technology and simply replace the worn bits as necessary? The technology already allows for the used parts to be de-constructed on-site for re-use in later fabrications as well.

If I could talk to TED, I'd remind them that guys like me, in our 50's now, along with our wives and children are the initial target market for this technology to achieve ultimate universal acceptance and application. I would suggest to my fellow TEDsters that a useful mechanism for achieving that goal would be a video campaign that visually demonstrates the technology and its application process to any potential additional user. I would also point out that there is a wide-spread lack of understanding of why adoption of new scientific advances takes so long to come to market; watching as the early attempts fail, and explaining the complexities involved, will be an express objective of this video campaign also, with the eventual objective of showing ultimate success of course.

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Intelligence Rising: Climbing the Stairs of Abstraction

January 06 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 3 Hot

A variety of thinkers have converged on the notion that humans rely on what is essentially "software" to build our simulation(s) of the world around us. 

Abstractions Driving the Flynn Effect: Cognitive historian James Flynn attributes the steady rise in IQ over the past 100+ years (known as the Flynn Effect) to better human abstraction abilities, not to any significant increase in physical brain power: glowing_brain_290.jpg

Our brains at conception are no better than they ever were. But in response to the evolving demands of society, we can attack a far wider range of problems than our ancestors could. It is like the evolution of the motor car in the 20th century. Are automotive engineers any brighter than they were 100 years ago? – no. But have cars evolved to meet modern demands for more speed and entertainment while we drive (radios, tape decks, etc) – yes. Our brains are no better but our minds have altered as dramatically as our cars.

Flynn's observations line up nicely with both the concept of memes & temes advanced by Dawkins and Blackmore, as well as philosopher Terence McKenna's theory that culture is in fact an operating system.

In other words, the abstract thought frameworks that we drill into our children during critical periods, including math, science, biology, maps, businesses, social networks, new language, etc, are in fact a form of software that affects our IQ and ability to navigate the world.

This simple yet powerful abstraction (npi) is a critical paradigm shift in our definition of what it means to be human and opens the door to additional metaphors for social, economic and intelligence studies. 

Particularly intriguing is the question of how quickly and/or regularly we (individuals, groups, societies, nations) experience software upgrades, akin to loading the latest Windows or Linux versions.

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Speeding Up The Drug Cycle

January 05 2009 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

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The University of Michigan announced recently that they had made artificial bone marrow that can continuously make red and white blood cells.  According to Nicholas Kotov, the PI of the lab, it uses 3D scaffolding that mimics the tissues that support bone marrow in the body.

In addition to possibly providing an inexhaustible source of blood for transfusions, which in and of itself would be great, it has the potential to simplify the pharmaceutical drug-testing process.  As the world of discovery speeds up, the process of safely testing and bringing to market drugs and treatments in less than the standard 7-10 years is a difficult obstacle to overcome and one which is in great demand. 

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IPhone Dreamin' and DIY

December 29 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 3

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I mentioned in my post yesterday that we were moving towards a time when the powers that be that influence tech Zeitgeist are seeing their reach and effect increase in a profound fashion.  One manifestation of this can be seen in the nimble teams of developers that are and will assemble to make a proposed or roughly designed product or prototype quickly.  This coincides closely with the trend towards DIY and making.  In this post by leading gadget blog Gizmodo, they lay out a mock-up of a next generation Iphone.  The Dream IPhone Pro basically combines the features people would like to see most in today's personal communicators - a Blackberry style qwerty keyboard combined with the full size touch screen beauty and facility of the Iphone  (plus a couple of other requisite additions such as wholesale improvement of camera/video).  It's a pretty simple idea and one that would satisfy a lot of folks (me included).  As a result, there are probably a bunch of people tearing apart Iphones, Blackberry's and Nokias as we speak trying to create a hack.

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Space Program Reinvigorated with Expansive Space-based Solar Energy Policy

December 24 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4 Hot

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Many people will say that pursuing a space-based solar power energy campaign is too ambitious, that there are more immediate solutions to get us through our economic/energy crisis until a time when spaced-aged, science fiction-inspired future tech can be safely explored further.  They might say that we already have a head start with nuclear, oil and coal, as well as other greener alternatives like wind, water and Earthbound solar.  They would be dead wrong.  The truth is...

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No End in Sight for Moore’s Law and Its Impact

December 18 2008 / by Covus / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 5 Hot

 

Intel Roadmap

Gorden E. Moore, in a landmark 1965 paper, observed that the density of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years and with it comes increased performance and lower cost. It has been a hallmark for computers and information technology for decades. We have exploited this phenomenon to create amazing artifacts and tools which are just emerging to solve our exponentially increasing problems and it doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon.

As we move into 2009 with Moore’s Law intact, we are pushing the boundaries of computational power. We’ve already reached the petaflop in processing power and we set our sights on the exaflop. While I remain optimistic, Moore’s Law has been in danger of hitting a brick wall for quite awhile now. We’ve had problems passing the 4 GHz barrier (in the consumer market) because of power consumption and heating issues, and it is getting increasingly difficult to create transistors at the sub 30nm level. However, the industry has sidestepped some barriers and kept Moore’s Law alive by using multi-core and high-k metal gate technology. While MCT has kept performance very high, it is creating some major headaches in the IT field.

There is hope. New research at UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) shows that advanced techniques applied to magnetic semiconductors should help extend Moore’s Law even longer than previously thought.

Senior Research Scientist at NPL Dr Olga Kazakova said “The solution lies in changing not only the material but also the structure of our transistors. We have worked mainly with germanium nanowires that we have made magnetic. Magnetic semiconductors don't exist in nature, so they have to be artificially engineered. Germanium is closely compatible with silicon, meaning it can easily be used with existing silicon electronics without further redesign. The resulting transistors based on NPL's germanium nanowire technology, which could revolutionize computing and electronic devices, could realistically be 10 years away." 

 

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Dow Corning adds fuel to growing solar industry, invests $3 billion in polysilicon materials

December 17 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2012   Rating: 4

Polysilicon from Dow

The Solar industry is growing up and going global.  Now materials giant Dow Corning is investing $3 billion into basic materials for traditional photovoltaics and thin film solar.

The Chemistry side of Solar
The full potential of solar energy depends on our ability to make big advances in materials science. 

How quickly solar can grow depends on our ability to design nanoscale structures that maximize the conversion of photons into electricity, photons into heat, or photons into hydrogen.  And how many utilities and consumers take the leap!

So when we see 'Big Chemistry' companies get involved in the solar industry materials market, that should be a signal of growth (and growth pains) ahead!

Dow goes Green by Being Black
Dow Corning Corporation has announced several billion dollars of investment to provide critical materials to the fast-growing solar technology industry for both glass based solar and carbon based thin film.

Dow Corning and its Hemlock Semiconductor joint venture will begin manufacturing high purity monosilane, a key specialty gas used to manufacture thin-film solar cells and liquid crystal displays (LCDs).  Combined with the new $1.2 billion build up at a Clarksville, Tennesee facility and the $1 billion expanded monosilane plant in Hemlock, Michigan operations may add up to 34,000 metric tons of polysilicon capacity for the fast-growing solar industry. Construction of both the Michigan expansion and the new Tennessee site will begin immediately.

What to watch: Oversupply of Polysilicon

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