The Wonders of Technology

The ppl over at lifeboat foundation are totally awesome. Not only for their beautiful webdesign, but because their content is super interesting.They’ve done a list on 10 materials to watch for in the (+/-)future. Can you imagine diamonds used as building materials? How about floating cities made from a foamed-up titanium/aluminum mixture? I’d actually love to hear your imaginings of a world with diamond buildings and floating cities – leave a comment if your imagination runs wild.

Special Report

10 Futuristic Materials

by Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member Michael Anissimov.

1. Aerogel

Aerogel protecting crayons from a blowtorch.

This tiny block of transparent aerogel is supporting a brick weighing 2.5 kg. The aerogel’s density is 0.1 g/cm3.
Aerogel holds 15 entries in the Guinness Book of Records, more than any other material. Sometimes called “frozen smoke”, aerogel is made by the supercritical drying of liquid gels of alumina, chromia, tin oxide, or carbon. It’s 99.8% empty space, which makes it look semi-transparent. Aerogel is a fantastic insulator — if you had a shield of aerogel, you could easily defend yourself from a flamethrower. It stops cold, it stops heat. You could build a warm dome on the Moon. Aerogels have unbelievable surface area in their internal fractal structures — cubes of aerogel just an inch on a side may have an internal surface area equivalent to a football field. Despite its low density, aerogel has been looked into as a component of military armor because of its insulating properties.

2. Carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes are long chains of carbon held together by the strongest bond in all chemistry, the sacred sp2 bond, even stronger than the sp3 bonds that hold together diamond. Carbon nanotubes have numerous remarkable physical properties, including ballistic electron transport (making them ideal for electronics) and so much tensile strength that they are the only substance that could be used to build a space elevator. The specific strength of carbon nanotubes is 48,000 kN·m/kg, the best of known materials, compared to high-carbon steel’s 154 kN·/kg. That’s 300 times stronger than steel. You could build towers hundreds of kilometers high with it.

3. Metamaterials

“Metamaterial” refers to any material that gains its properties from structure rather than composition. Metamaterials have been used to create microwave invisibility cloaks, 2D invisibility cloaks, and materials with other unusual optical properties. Mother-of-pearl gets its rainbow color from metamaterials of biological origin. Some metamaterials have a negative refractive index, an optical property that may be used to create “Superlenses” which resolve features smaller than the wavelength of light used to image them! This technology is called subwavelength imaging. Metamaterials would used in phased array optics, a technology that could render perfect holograms on a 2D display. These holograms would be so perfect that you could be standing 6 inches from the screen, looking into the “distance” with binoculars, and not even notice it’s a hologram.

4. Bulk diamond

We’re starting to lay down thick layers of diamond in CVD machines, hinting towards a future of bulk diamond machinery. Diamond is an ideal construction material — it’s immensely strong, light, made out of the widely available element carbon, nearly complete thermal conductivity, and has among the highest melting and boiling points of all materials. By introducing trace impurities, you can make a diamond practically any color you want. Imagine a jet, with hundreds of thousands of moving parts made of fine-tuned diamond machinery. Such a craft would be more powerful than today’s best fighter planes in the way an F-22 is better than the Red Baron’s Fokker Dr.1.

5. Bulk fullerenes

Diamonds may be strong, but aggregated diamond nanorods (what I call amorphous fullerene) are stronger. Amorphous fullerene has a isothermal bulk modulus of 491 gigapascals (GPa), compared to diamond’s 442 GPa. As we see in the image, the nanoscale structure of the fullerene gives it a beautiful iridescent appearance. Fullerenes can be made substantially stronger than diamond, but for greater energy cost. After a “Diamond Age” we may eventually transition to a “Fullerene Age” as our technology gets even more sophisticated.


6. Amorphous metal

Amorphous metals, also called metallic glasses, consist of metal with a disordered atomic structure. They can be twice as strong as steel. Because of their disordered structure, they can disperse impact energy more effectively than a metal crystal, which has points of weakness. Amorphous metals are made by quickly cooling molten metal before it has a chance to align itself in a crystal pattern. Amorphous metals may the military’s next generation of armor, before they adopt diamondoid armor in mid-century. On the green side of things, amorphous metals have electronic properties that improve the efficiency of power grids by as much as 40%, saving us thousands of tons of fossil fuel emissions.

7. Superalloys

A superalloy is a generic term for a metal that can operate at very high temperatures, up to about 2000 °F (1100 °C). They are popular for use in the superhot turbine areas of jet engines. They are used for more advanced oxygen-breathing designs, such as the ramjet and scramjet. When we’re flying through the sky in hypersonic craft, we’ll have superalloys to thank for it.

8. Metal foam

Metal foam is what you get when you add a foaming agent, powdered titanium hydride, to molten aluminum, then let it cool. The result is a very strong substance that is relatively light, with 75–95% empty space. Because of its favorable strength-to-weight ratio, metal foams have been proposed as a construction material for space colonies. Some metal forms are so light that they float on water, which would make them excellent for building floating cities, like those analyzed by Marshall T. Savage in one of my favorite books, The Millennial Project.


9. Transparent alumina

Transparent alumina is three times stronger than steel and transparent. The number of applications for this are huge. Imagine an entire skyscraper or arcology made largely of transparent steel. The skylines of the future could look more like a series of floating black dots (opaque private rooms) rather than the monoliths of today. A huge space station made of transparent alumina could cruise in low Earth orbit without being a creepy black dot when it passes overhead. And hey… transparent swords!


10. E-textiles

If you meet up and talk to me in 2020, I’ll likely be covered in electronic textiles. Why carry some electronic gadget you can easily lose when we can just wear our computers? We’ll develop clothing that can constantly project the video of our choosing (unless it turns out being so annoying that we ban it). Imagine wearing a robe covered in a display that actually projects the night sky in realtime. Imagine talking to people over the “phone” just by making a hand gesture and activating electronics in your lapel, then merely thinking about what you want to say (thought-to-speech interfaces). The possibilities of e-textiles are limitless.

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Futurist Profile: Nick Kaloterakis

Nick Kaloerakis is an amazing designer with a mind for futuristic development. Very focused on metallic streamlined designs, Nick’s work is indicative of a trend towards envisioning melded technologies: electronics with engineering and elegance. For example, Nick draws a stunning image of hypersonic jets, streamlined to make trips from New York to Tokyo in 2 hours. Check out his work for an insight on how awesome designers are viewing future technologies: http://kollected.com/.

You can find Nick’s work gracing the covers and insides of Popular Science, National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Data is Power by Nick Kaloterakis

 

Mars Rover by Nick Kaloterakis

Deus Ex Machina by Nick Kaloterakis

 

Rad Technologies Projected or Being Developed

23 incredible new technologies you’ll see by 2021

By On October 17, 2011 

Down the cybernetic rabbit hole we go. Photo by Harold Hoyer.

The Maya said we’re due for a shake-up soon. Turns out, they were right.

****This post is brought to you in partnership between Matador and [their] friends at Intel. Join [them] in the conversation on Twitter with #IntelEMP.

WHEN LOOKING AT THE present as an indication of where we’ll stand a year from now–much less a decade–feeling optimistic may not come easy. We look out to the universe and see an infinite, lifeless abyss enfolding upon our own small pocket of civilization, while the people we look to for guidance and information seem to be little more than straight-faced bearers of bad news.

Yet while we can’t predict what the future holds for our unending political discourses, we can look at how far we’ve come with technology in merely the last decade and realize the present we know now will, very soon, find itself memorialized in nostalgia. Here’s some technology emerging down the road that’s poised to change your life on a much greater scale than any outcome of a political debate.

2012

Ultrabooks – The last two years have been all about the tablet. Laptops, with their “untouchable” screens, have yet to match any tablet’s featherweight portability and zippy response times. However, by next year, ultraportable notebooks–Ultrabooks–will finally be available for under $1000, bringing a complete computing experience into areas of life which, until now, have only been partially filled by smaller technologies such as tablets and smartphones. They weigh around three pounds, measure less than an inch thick, and the hard drives are flash-based, which means they’ll have no moving parts, delivering zippy-quick startups and load times.

The Mars Science Laboratory – By August 2012, the next mission to Mars will reach the Martian surface with a new rover named Curiosity focusing on whether Mars could ever have supported life, and whether it might be able to in the future. Curiosity will be more than 5 times larger than the previous Mars rover, and the mission will cost around $2.3 billion — or just about one and a half New Yankee Stadiums.

The Brain Cap, from U of Maryland.

The paralyzed will walk. But, perhaps not in the way that you’d imagine. Using a machine-brain interface, researchers are making it possible for otherwise paralyzed humans to control neuroprostheses–essentially mechanical limbs that respond to human thought–allowing them to walk and regain bodily control. The same systems are also being developed for the military, which one can only assume means this project won’t flounder due to a lack of funding.

2013

The Rise of Electronic Paper – Right now, e-paper is pretty much only used in e-readers like the Kindle, but it’s something researchers everywhere are eager to expand upon. Full-color video integration is the obvious next step, and as tablet prices fall, it’s likely newspapers will soon be fully eradicated from their current form. The good news: less deforestation, and more user control over your sources.

4G will be the new standard in cell phone networks. What this means: your phone will download data about as fast as your home computer can. While you’ve probably seen lots of 4G banter from the big cell providers, it’s not very widely available in most phones. However, both Verizon and the EU intend to do away with 3G entirely by 2013, which will essentially bring broadband-level speeds to wireless devices on cell networks. It won’t do away with standard internet providers, but it will bring “worldwide WiFi” capabilities to anyone with a 4G data plan.

The Eye of Gaia, a billion-pixel telescope will be sent into space this year to begin photographing and mapping the universe on a scale that was recently impossible. With the human eye, one can see several thousand stars on a clear night; Gaia will observe more than a billion over the course of its mission–about 1% of all the stars in the Milky Way. As well, it will look far beyond our own galaxy, even as far as the end of the (observable) universe.

2014

A 1 Terabyte SD Memory Card probably seems like an impossibly unnecessary technological investment. Many computers still don’t come with that much memory, much less SD memory cards that fit in your digital camera. Yet thanks to Moore’s Law we can expect that the 1TB SD card will become commonplace in 2014, and increasingly necessary given the much larger swaths of data and information that we’re constantly exchanging every day (thanks to technologies like memristors and our increasing ever-connectedness). The only disruptive factor here could be the rise of cloud-computing, but as data and transfer speeds continue to rise, it’s inevitable that we’ll need a physical place to store our digital stuff.

The first around-the-world flight by a solar-powered plane will be accomplished by now, bringing truly clean energy to air transportation for the first time. Consumer models are still far down the road, but you don’t need to let your imagination wander too far to figure out that this is definitely a game-changer. Consider this: it took humans quite a few milennia to figure out how to fly; and only a fraction of that time to do it with solar power.

The Solar Impulse, to be flown around the world. Photo by Stephanie Booth

The world’s most advanced polar icebreaker is currently being developed as a part of the EU’s scientific development goals and is scheduled to launch in 2014. As global average temperatures continue to climb, an understanding and diligence to the polar regions will be essential to monitoring the rapidly changing climates–and this icebreaker will be up to the task.

$100 personal DNA sequencing is what’s being promised by a company called BioNanomatrix, which the company founder Han Cao has made possible through his invention of the ‘nanofluidic chip.’ What this means: by being able to cheaply sequence your individual genome, a doctor could biopsy a tumor, sequence the DNA, and use that information to determine a prognosis and prescribe treatment for less than the cost of a modern-day x-ray. And by specifically inspecting the cancer’s DNA, treatment can be applied with far more specific–and effective–accuracy.

2015

The world’s first zero-carbon, sustainable city in the form of Masdar City will be initially completed just outside of Abu Dhabi. The city will derive power solely from solar and other renewable resources, offer homes to more than 50,000 people.

Personal 3D Printing is currently reserved for those with extremely large bank accounts or equally large understandings about 3D printing; but by 2015, printing in three dimensions (essentially personal manufacturing) will become a common practice in the household and in schools. Current affordable solutions include do-it-yourself kits like Makerbot, but in four years it should look more like a compact version of the uPrint. Eventually, this technology could lead to technologies such as nanofabricators and matter replicators–but not for at least a few decades.

2016

Space tourism will hit the mainstream. Well, sorta. Right now it costs around $20-30 million to blast off and chill at the International Space Station, or $200,000 for a sub-orbital spaceflight from Virgin Galactic. But the market is growing faster than most realize: within five years, companies like Space Island, Galactic Suite, and Orbital Technologies may realize their company missions, with space tourism packages ranging from $10,000 up-and-backs to $1 million five-night stays in an orbiting hotel suite.

The sunscreen pill will hit the market, protecting the skin as well as the eyes from UV rays. By reverse-engineering the way coral reefs shield themselves from the sun, scientists are very optimistic about the possibility, much to the dismay of sunscreen producers everywhere.

Back from extinction. Image by JenJeff.

A Wooly Mammoth will be reborn among other now-extinct animals in 2016, assuming all goes according to the current plans of Japan’s Riken Center for Developmental Biology. If they can pull it off, expect long lines at Animal Kingdom.

2017

Portable laser pens that can seal wounds – Imagine you’re hiking fifty miles from the nearest human, and you slip, busting your knee wide open, gushing blood. Today, you might stand a chance of some serious blood loss–but in less than a decade you might be carrying a portable laser pen capable of sealing you back up Wolverine-style.

2018

Light Peak technology, a method of super-high-data-transfer, will enable more than 100 Gigabytes per second–and eventually whole terabytes per second–within everyday consumer electronics. This enables the copying of entire hard drives in a matter of seconds, although by this time the standard hard drive is probably well over 2TB.

Insect-sized robot spies aren’t far off from becoming a reality, with the military currently hard at work to bring Mission Impossible-sized tech to the espionage playground. Secret weapon: immune to bug spray.

2019

The average PC has the power of the human brain. According to Ray Kurzweil, who has a better grip on the future than probably anyone else, the Law of Accelerating Returns will usher in an exponentially greater amount of computing power than every before.

The Web Within Us. Image by Anna Lena Schiller.

Web 3.0 – What will it look like? Is it already here? It’s always difficult to tell just where we stand in terms of technological chronology. But if we assume that Web 1.0 was based only upon hyperlinks, and Web 2.0 is based on the social, person-to-person sharing of links, then Web 3.0 uses a combination of socially-sourced information, curated by a highly refined, personalizable algorithm (“they” call it the Semantic Web). We’re already in the midst of it, but it’s still far from its full potential.

Energy from a fusion reactor has always seemed just out of reach. It’s essentially the process of producing infinite energy from a tiny amount of resources, but it requires a machine that can contain a reaction that occurs at over 125,000,000 degrees. However, right now in southern France, the fusion reactor of the future is being built to power up by 2019, with estimates of full-scale fusion power available by 2030.

2020

Crash-proof cars have been promised by Volvo, to be made possible by using radar, sonar, and driver alert systems. Considering automobile crashes kill over 30,000 people in the U.S. per year, this is definitely a welcome technology.

2021

So, what should we expect in 2021? Well, 10 years ago, what did you expect to see now? Did you expect the word “Friend” to become a verb? Did you expect your twelve-year-old brother to stay up texting until 2am? Did you expect 140-character messaging systems enabling widespread revolutions against decades-old dictatorial regimes?

The next 10 years will be an era of unprecedented connectivity; this much we know. It will build upon the social networks, both real and virtual, that we’ve all played a role in constructing, bringing ideas together that would have otherwise remained distant, unknown strangers. Without twitter and a steady drip of mainstream media, would we have ever so strongly felt the presence of the Arab Spring? What laughs, gasps, or loves, however fleeting, would have been lost if not for Chatroulette? Keeping in mind that as our connections grow wider and more intimate, so too will the frequency of our connectedness, and as such, your own understanding of just what kinds of relationships are possible will be stretched and revolutionized as much as any piece of hardware.

Truly, the biggest changes we’ll face will not come in the form of any visible technology; the changes that matter most, as they always have, will occur in those places we know best but can never quite see: our own hearts and minds.

Beam Them Up, Scotty

Chinese Physicists Reportedly Break Teleportation Record

We’re not at ‘Star Trek’ transporter level yet, but the achievement represents a big step forward in the field of quantum cryptography.
By Kate Springer | @katespringer | May 15, 2012 |
Getty Images

Getty Images

Harry Potter and Star Trek fans, rejoice! Teleportation is real. Using powerful lasers and optics to manipulate photons, or units of light, researchers in China set a record for teleporting a photon more than 10 miles (16 km), TIME reported in 2010. Now a different team of physicists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai says it has shattered that record, claiming to have sent a photon more than 60 miles (97 km).

Quantum teleportation, which has been around since 1997, is a little different than what you see in sci-fi movies. Considered “one of the holy grails of practical quantum communication,” as the scientists write in their abstract, teleportation is the ability to essentially move one object from one place to another without traversing the space in between. But as Forbes explains, the actual object is not moving from point A to point B. Rather, the distant photon mirrors the information contained by the original photon, essentially becoming an identical twin.

The team’s greatest contribution is not necessarily the distance it made the data travel but the method it used to harness the 1.3-watt laser beam that carries it. The longer a beam of light travels, the more it spreads out, causing the photon to lose information and trail off course. To keep the beam on target, the researchers created a technique that focuses and steers the laser. Though beaming up humans and animals à la Star Trek is not on the agenda anytime soon, as the technology becomes more sophisticated, it will likely be applied to military communication.

What’s the big deal? As Matthew Luce, a researcher at the Defense Group Inc.’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, told TIME in 2010:

Theoretically, this method “cannot be cracked or intercepted,” says Luce. If the photons in the laser beam are observed by a third party, the particles themselves will be altered due to a law of physics called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that measuring a particle alters it. As such, the sender and receiver would be immediately informed that someone was snooping.

As Technology Review notes, “these guys clearly have their eye on the possibility of satellite-based quantum cryptography, which would provide ultra-secure communications around the world.” Experts say this all-but-unbreakable code would be a perfect way to transmit classified information such as military directives or codes.
Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/05/15/beam-them-up-scotty-chinese-physicists-reportedly-break-teleportation-record/?iid=obinsite#ixzz1wVGfGQPV