See past issues in the Archives
– Conference Announcement
– From Think Links
– The Future in the News…Today
Transhumanity Saving Humanity – Inner Space to Outer Space: a conference to be held in Chicago, July 22-26, 2007. The conference will feature three full days of dialogue with the greatest minds of today about creating the civilizations of tomorrow. TV07 brings extraordinary people from across the globe together with more than 30 distinguished speakers, entertainers and visionaries including: award-winning inventor, futurist, author Raymond Kurzweil; acclaimed longevity scientist, Aubrey de Grey; and Emmy award winning actor, William Shatner. For further information, please see http://www.transvision2007.com/
Here is a quick menu of the conference:
- Day One: Donics
- Day Two: Meta space: Transforming Humanity – Environment, Global Warming, Sustainable Housing, Alternative Energy, AI, Roboticay One: Inner space: Transforming Ourselves – Longevity, Life Extension, Nanotech, Nanomedicine, Bionics, Biotech, SENS, Crys, Virtual Reality
- Day Three: Outer space: Beyond the Planet – Future Humans, Colonizing Outer space, Space Tourism, Future Civilizations
As a friend of TAI, you are eligible for a 40% discount on the conference registration fee. Just enter BlackOps as the promo code to get the special discount.
- Newly discovered fossils show that penguins as tall as 5 feet roamed what is now Peru more than 40 million years ago.
- Using a giant microwave “oven”, plastics can be recycled – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas.
- A long-lasting artificial skin which is “fully and consistently integrated into the human body” has shown promising results in early clinical trials.
- African Swine Fever, which has been almost entirely confined to sub-Saharan Africa since 1990, has suddenly appeared in the Caucasus region.
Increasingly, physicists are constructing materials that bend light the “wrong” way, an optical feat that could lead to sharper-than-ever lenses or maybe even make objects disappear. Scientists at Duke have demonstrated a cloaking device, hiding whatever was placed inside, although it worked only for microwaves. Making a cloak that works at the much shorter wavelengths of visible light or one that works over a wide range of colors is a harder, perhaps impossible, task. Nonetheless, the demonstration showed the newfound ability of scientists to manipulate light through structures they call “metamaterials.”
Plants can recognize when they are potted with their siblings or with strangers, new research shows. When strangers share a pot, they develop a competitive streak, but siblings are more considerate of each other. “The ability to recognize and favor kin is common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown in plants,” said Susan Dudley of McMaster University in Canada.
Bursting from the center of galactic cluster 3C438 is a cloud of energy equivalent to 1 billion exploding Suns, an event that may be universe’s most energetic ever detected. Astronomers who made the discovery have whittled down the cause of the cosmic energy burst to two suspects. They think either two dense galaxies are colliding at 4 million mph, or a super-massive black hole is swallowing the mass of 100 stars each year.
There is a growing body of evidence that the Earth’s magnetic field is about to disappear, at least for a while. One of those signs is that the strength of the field has been falling by 5% per century recently. Other evidence comes from old navigation records showing that patches of abnormal magnetism have been growing off south-east Africa and in the South Atlantic. When? The best guess is that there are still several centuries to go.
A new computer model simulates convection patterns in the deep interior of the Sun in unprecedented detail. The patterns, known as giant cells, play a critical role in solar variability, influencing magnetic storms that take aim at Earth. Giant cells may hold the key to the movement of sunspots and the behavior of solar storms, which can buffet Earth’s atmosphere and affect satellites as well as power and communications systems.
Giant penguins as tall as 5 feet roamed what is now Peru more than 40 million years ago, much earlier than scientists thought the flightless birds had spread to warmer climes. The big bird is larger than any penguin known today and the third largest known to have ever lived.
In late June of 1908, a fireball exploded above the remote Russian forests of Tunguska, Siberia, flattening more than 800 square miles of trees. Astronomers have been left to guess whether the object was an asteroid or a comet, and figuring out what it was would allow better modeling of potential future calamities. Italian researchers now think they’ve found a smoking gun: The 164-foot-deep Lake Cheko, located just 5 miles northwest of the epicenter of destruction.
Researchers have made a crucial step toward building biological computers, tiny implantable devices that can monitor the activities and characteristics of human cells. The information provided by these “molecular doctors,” constructed entirely of DNA, RNA, and proteins, could eventually revolutionize medicine by directing therapies only to diseased cells or tissues.
European scientists are developing clothing which they say will be able to monitor your health. The “intelligent textiles” contain embedded sensors designed to monitor body fluids such as blood and sweat.
Stem cells have obvious appeal as targets for gene therapy, in which genes are inserted into an individual’s cells in order to treat a disease. Once modified to carry a therapeutic gene, stem cells should continue to divide as normal, replenishing themselves and producing specialised daughter cells that will carry the same gene. By contrast, most other cells have a limited lifespan and capacity for division – one reason why gene therapists have so far struggled to achieve effective and lasting treatments.
Researchers studying Neanderthal DNA say it should be possible to construct a complete genome of the ancient hominid despite the degradation of the DNA over time. There is also hope for reconstructing the genome of the mammoth and cave bear, according to a research team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Debate has raged for years about whether there is any relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans. Some researchers believe that Neanderthals were simply replaced by early modern humans, while others argue the two groups may have interbred.
A long-lasting artificial skin which is “fully and consistently integrated into the human body” has shown promising results in early clinical trials. The technology could revolutionize the treatment of burns and skin damage, offering a less painful alternative to skin grafts and reduced scarring.Called ICX-SKN, the artificial skin mimics the process of natural wound healing. It is made up of a matrix of fibrin, which is a protein found in healing wounds. Fibroblasts – cells that produce collagen in natural skin – are integrated into the matrix.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have demonstrated that neurons cultured outside the brain can be imprinted with multiple rudimentary memories that persist for days without interfering with or wiping out others. The results set the stage for the creation of a neuromemory chip that could be paired with computer hardware to create cyborglike machines capable of such tasks as detecting dangerous toxins in the air, allowing the blind to see or helping someone who is paralyzed regain some if not all muscle use.
Google, the world leader in Web search services, is the focus of mounting paranoia over the scope of its powers as it expands into new advertising formats from online video to radio and TV, while creating dozens of new Internet services. As people spend more time online and realize just how much information Google is collecting about their habits and interests, the fear develops that true or false revelations of the most personal, embarrassing or even intrusive kind are no more than a Web search away. For several years now, friends, enemies and first-time daters have had to face up to the inconvenient truths that turn up with a little Web snooping — dubbed Google-stalking.
Doctors have backed away from a controversial proposal to designate video-game addiction as a mental disorder akin to alcoholism, saying psychiatrists should study the issue further.
Addiction experts strongly opposed the idea at a debate held at the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual meeting saying further study is needed before excessive use of video and online games – a problem estimated to affect about 10% of players – can be considered a mental illness. The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the $30 billion global video-game industry, agreed with them. However, such a move would ease the path for insurance coverage of video-game addiction.
The median U.S. download speed now is 1.97 megabits per second — a fraction of the 61 megabits per second enjoyed by consumers in Japan. Other speedy countries include South Korea (median 45 megabits), France (17 megabits) and Canada (7 megabits). Broadband speed is a function of network capacity: The more capacity you have, the more speed you can deliver. Speed, in turn, allows more and better Internet applications, such as photo sharing and video streaming. Superfast speeds are imperative for critical applications such as telemedicine.
Rising seas, spreading deserts, intensifying weather and other harbingers of climate change are threatening cultural landmarks from Canada to Antarctica, according to the World Monuments Fund. This year’s list of the 100 most endangered sites includes 59 countries. The United States is home to more listed sites than any other country with seven sites noted.
It took only days to create what was touted as the world’s largest artificial reef in 1972, when a well-intentioned group dumped hundreds of thousands of old tires into the ocean. Now divers expect to spend years hauling them to the surface. The tires turned out to be a reef killer, turning a swath of ocean floor the size of 31 football fields into a dead zone.
Drought, a fixture in much of the West for nearly a decade, now covers more than one-third of the continental USA. And it’s spreading. Dry episodes have become so persistent in the West that some scientists and water managers say drought is the “new normal” there.
Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the US have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilization itself is threatened by global warming. They conclude that we have about 10 years to put into effect the draconian measures needed to curb CO2 emissions quickly enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperature. Otherwise, the extra heat could trigger the rapid melting of polar ice sheets, made far worse by the “albedo flip” – when the sunlight reflected by white ice is suddenly absorbed as ice melts to become the dark surface of open water.
China’s emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world’s biggest polluter, for several years. But according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, soaring demand for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to push China’s recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US already. The new figures only include emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production. They do not include sources of other greenhouse gases, such as methane from agriculture and nitrous oxide from industrial processes, or other sources of carbon dioxide, such as from the aviation and shipping industries, as well as from deforestation, gas flaring and underground coal fires.
The Swiss agrochemicals group, Syngenta, has announced a joint research agreement with a leading Chinese research institute to develop genetically-modified, drought tolerant crops for use on global markets. The five year project with the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology in Beijing would lead to the development of “novel agronomic traits including drought tolerance” for corn, soybean, wheat, sugar beet and sugar cane.
A new technology in Japan could let you control electronic devices without lifting a finger simply by reading brain activity. The “brain-machine interface” developed by Hitachi Inc. analyzes slight changes in the brain’s blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals. Hitachi’s scientists are set to develop a brain TV remote controller letting users turn a TV on and off or switch channels by only thinking. Honda is keen to apply the interface to intelligent, next-generation automobiles. The technology could one day replace remote controls and keyboards and perhaps help disabled people operate electric wheelchairs, beds or artificial limbs.
Scientists can now directly convert sugars ubiquitous in nature to a replacement source for those products that make oil so valuable, with very little of the residual impurities that have made the quest so daunting. The process converts glucose directly in high yields to a primary building block for fuel and polyesters. That building block, called HMF, is a chemical derived from carbohydrates such as glucose and fructose and is viewed as a promising surrogate for petroleum-based chemicals.
BP’s recently published study shows that the world still has enough “proven” reserves to provide 40 years of consumption at current rates. The assessment, based on officially reported figures, has once again pushed back the estimate of when the world will run dry. However, scientists led by the London-based Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, say that global production of oil is set to peak in the next four years before entering a steepening decline which will have massive consequences for the world economy and the way that we live our lives. Clearly the experts are not all on the same page in this matter. However, everyone agrees that demand is surging.
A US company is taking plastics recycling to another level – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas. All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and – hey presto! – a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers). Key to GRC’s process is a machine that uses 1200 different frequencies within the microwave range, which act on specific hydrocarbon materials.
Southeast Asian nations are battling a surge in dengue cases, amid signs that climate change could make 2007 the worst year on record for a disease that often gets less attention than some higher-profile health risks. The threat of dengue is increasing because of global warming, mosquitoes are becoming more active year by year and their geographical reach is expanding both north and south of the Equator. Even Singapore, which is so affluent and modern, can’t exercise adequate control.
Diseased bees usually have mites or amoebas, perennial pests of bees. Instead, bees that have died of Colony Collapse Disorder have an unusually large number of pathogens suggesting that the bees’ immune systems had been suppressed, allowing the proliferation of infections. Possibly contributing to the problem, the honeybee genome has only half as many genes to detoxify poisons and to fight off infections as other insects have.
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious, generally fatal, viral disease of pigs. It does not affect humans. “This is a dramatic development in the international distribution of African Swine Fever, which has been almost entirely confined to sub-Saharan Africa since 1990,” said an FAO Senior Animal Health Officer. It is a transboundary animal disease with the potential for wide international spread. There is no vaccine against the disease; stamping out is the only remedy. It is probable that the virus has entered Georgia (the country, not the state) through imported frozen or processed pig meat. In the past, in some countries swill feeding, in particular swill originating from aircraft and ships, has been incriminated as a major source of infection.
At least 30,000 U.S. hospital patients may have the superbug at any given time, according to a survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The estimate is about 10 times the rate that some health officials had previously estimated. The superbug known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus cannot be tamed by certain common antibiotics. The potentially fatal germ, which is spread by touch, typically thrives in health care settings where people have open wounds. But in recent years, “community-associated” outbreaks have occurred among prisoners, children and athletes, with the germ spreading through skin contact or shared items such as towels.
Vital communications and navigation satellites could be more vulnerable to missile attack than previously thought. After China’s deliberate destruction of one of its own satellites in January 2007, two specialists in infrastructure vulnerability set out to determine whether a rogue state or terrorist group with access to an intermediate-range ballistic missile could also destroy a satellite. Using a satellite-tracking program available on the internet, plus some university-level physics, they were able to recreate the Chinese shoot-down – minus, they point out, an actual missile. “It is doable with basic knowledge and off-the-shelf information,” says Adrian Gheorghe, a systems engineer at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Virginia.
A new type of memory device has been made by attaching individual viruses to tiny specks of semiconducting material called quantum dots. The hybrid material could be used to develop biocompatible electronics and offer a cheap and simple way to make high-density memory chips, the researchers say. Each hybrid unit can be operated as a memory device with conductive states that can be switched between high and low, corresponding to a 1 and a 0, by applying a low voltage. These states are “non-volatile”, meaning data is stored even when the power is switched off.
NASA is joining a Japanese team in a space experiment that uses a “reverse origami” tether to keep satellites in their proper orbits, or to return spent rocket stages quickly to Earth. This tether will have to be strong considering its gossamer construction. Looking like a strip of aluminum foil, almost like a tape measure, the tether is 1 km (3280 feet) long, but only 0.05 mm thick and 50 mm (close to 2 inches) wide.
Scientists who want to see how a crowd behaves in an emergency can’t exactly shout “Fire!” on a city street and watch everyone panic and run. But a newly developed computer model can. For example, a prototype of the software can model the evacuation of a crowded area during a fire when there is only one point of escape or a situation in which a disease spreads through casual contact. Still in development is the capability to create scenarios in which agitated crowds turn into unruly mobs.
Almost all the hip young Indians working inside the country’s multinational call centers hail from India‘s upper and middle castes, elites in a highly stratified society. As India’s economy surges, one of the country’s most serious and stubborn challenges is how to combat entrenched caste prejudice. Dalits (“untouchables”) along with other “backward” castes make up the majority of India’s 1.1 billion people, and these groups are being left behind.
A new breed of inventors is turning Mother Earth’s marvels into remarkable real-world products. Pioneering a relatively new field called biomimicry, they’re taking a close look at nature’s marvels and reverse-engineering them into real-world products. Take a look at the 11 winning entries in a design competition, all of them versatile, elegant, eco-friendly, and successful – for example: gorgeous high-end pre-fab homes. http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/biz2/0703/gallery.bottom_line_design.biz2/2.htm
In its annual report, the Bank for International Settlements noted that the conditions that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Asian crises in the 1990s are reflected the current environment. The BIS, the ultimate bank of central bankers, pointed to a confluence of worrying signs, citing mass issuance of new-fangled credit instruments, soaring levels of household debt, extreme appetite for risk shown by investors, and entrenched imbalances in the world currency system. ‘Tail’ events affecting the global economy might at some point have much higher costs than is commonly supposed. It also rebuke the US Federal Reserve and, borrowing a line from Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, noted that China’s growth was “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable”.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report confirms that Bush’s use of presidential signing statements are, in fact, utterly without precedent. Though they’ve been used by American presidents for about 200 years, signing statements – edicts issued by the president to declare his intent to construe a provision within a law differently than Congress does – are constitutionally questionable. But George W. Bush’s use of them far exceeds his predecessors’, both in number and in severity, and he has consistently used them to flout the will of the legislative branch.
Three-century-old manuscripts by Isaac Newton calculating the date of the apocalypse, detailing the precise dimensions of the ancient temple in Jerusalem and interpreting passages of the Bible – exhibited for the first time – lay bare the little-known religious intensity of a man many consider history’s greatest scientist. In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of Daniel to calculate the date for the apocalypse, reaching the conclusion that the world would end no earlier than 2060. “It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner,” Newton wrote. However, he added, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”
The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.
Rainer Maria Rilke
A special thanks to Bernard Calil, Ken Dabkowski, Free Energy News, Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, Trevor Goldstein, Humera Khan, KurzweilAI, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane C. Petersen, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell and Adrian Taylor, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.