|Volume 14, Number 5 – 3/15/11FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS|
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Flash Mob thefts by as many as 50 teens mobbing a store at once: a darker use of Twittering.The world’s first eye controlled laptop has an intuitive interface that relies on the human eyes to point, select and scroll and complements, rather than replaces, existing control interfaces.At the Dolphin Institute in Hawaii, Louis Herman and his team taught dolphins hundreds of words using gestures and symbols. Dolphins, they found, could understand the difference between statements and questions, concepts like “none” or “absent,” and that changing word order changes the meaning of a sentence.The Online Books Page is a website that facilitates access to hundreds of thousands of books that are freely readable over the Internet.
by John L. Petersen
I have some things to say about the situation in Japan, but first, a couple of issues back I was talking about the naked body scanners that the Transportation Security Agency wanted to buy in the next U. S. budget. I picked up a quoted cost of $44 billion for the new scanners but, I missed asking the common sense question about whether $44 billion sounded like it made any kind of sense for 275 machines.
With the size of the numbers that are now commonly bandied about these days – billions and now trillions – it’s easy to let these figures go by your head without stopping to think about them . . . which in this case I did. But not Martin Dent, who not only rejected the putative $160 million per machine (including staffing), but ferreted out the actual cost. One hundred sixty million dollars, he wrote, could get you a nice, front-line fighter plane. It turns out the total Department of Homeland Security budget is $44 billion. The naked body scanners are only $382,000 a piece – a trifling $105.2 million. I’m sorry, but even this causes me to ask: What better might we be able to do with $105 million . . . or even $382,000, which is a nice house in many parts of the country?
TSA still hasn’t published a health report on these machines, by the way. Credible sources suggest that there are negative health implications from this equipment both to those who work around these devices as well, of course, for those air travelers who get the full brunt of the radiation. Now they’re retesting the machines because some have been found to be operating out of limits and exposing people to more radiation than designed. My scientist friends who understand this technology and are privy to ways it is being utilized in other areas of the government warn never to step inside one of those devices.
But wait! It doesn’t end there.
Newly-released documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reveal that the US Department of Homeland Security has been working on plans to roll out a new wave of mobile surveillance technologies at train stations, stadiums and streets. These new technologies will track your eye movements, capture and record your facial dimensions for face-recognition processing, bathe you in X-rays to look under your clothes, and even image your naked body using whole-body infrared images that were banned from consumer video cameras because they allowed the camera owners to take “nude” videos of people at the beach.
What is going on here? What is our government doing to us? There is something very wrong about all of this.
Increasingly our authorities are violating the most fundamental principles and rights upon which this country was built. There is a clear trend here: the Patriot Act, which allows the government to essentially spy on any American for any reason and to monitor all communications, holding prisoners in Guantanamo without any charges for years (and now president Obama’s decision that some can be held permanently — indefinitely — without charge or trial), torturing prisoners and now bragging about it, as former president Bush has done, demeaning and inhuman treatment of prisoners in Iraq, and now, let me tell you what they’re doing to PFC Bradley Manning.
Bradley Manning, as you may know, is the U.S. Army private first class who the government believes leaked classified materials to WikiLeaks that showed soldiers in Iraq killing civilians and participating in many other gross criminal and inhuman violations. Although he hasn’t been charged, Manning is locked up in solitary confinement in the brig at the Marine Corps Quantico Base, south of Washington, DC.
After the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a big show of saying that members of the military who saw something wrong being done had an obligation to make it public . . . and that the government would protect them from retribution. Well, Secretary Gates apparently changed his mind. He now feels that even though the materials made public show videos of helicopter pilots knowingly killing civilians and journalists – and joking about it while doing so – that doesn’t qualify as something that should have been exposed, and certainly the person who made it public shouldn’t be protected.
No, our government, although they can’t (or won’t) charge PFC Manning is treating him worse than could be justified for a convicted rapist or murderer in ways that many countries consider torture. Just what does that mean? For a long time (perhaps they are still doing it) he was woken up at night every five minutes (supposedly to assure that he was “all right”). He has nothing to read, no common things that prisoners are given. He’s not allowed to sleep in the daytime. They’ve taken his prescription glasses away, so he is effectively blind. They’re giving him antidepressants to counter the depression that they are producing. Now he’s forced to sleep naked, without sheets and stand at attention without any clothes in the morning. His attorney explains why, as the result of a sarcastic comment, he is now stripped of his underwear. This is sick, sadistic stuff. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus should have a hard time sleeping knowing that his people are treating people this way.
Oh, and by the way, President Obama says that this is “appropriate” treatment.
Read this CNN report on Daniel Ellsberg and his comments about this despicable affair. Ellsberg says that “I was Bradley Manning” when he exposed the Pentagon Papers that ended the Viet Nam war.
If that’s not enough, PayPal has now frozen the account of Courage To Resist, the organization that is supporting Manning. Please explain this to me? Who does PayPal work for? Who’s calling the shots here? First they shut down the WikiLeaks account so that they can’t generate support and now they eliminate the ability of this legal organization that is exercising their constitutional rights to raise support for a prisoner who hasn’t been charged.
There’s a very interesting part of the CNN report where Ellsberg “. . . who has gone over and over the instant messages from the alleged leaker (who hasn’t been identified), is struck by one particular phrase.
“Says the messenger alleged to be Manning: “its important that it gets out… i feel, for some bizarre reason … it might actually change something … …I just… dont wish to be a part of it… at least not now… im not ready… i wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much …
“Lamo: What’s your endgame plan, then?
“The messenger: ‘hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms …if not… that we’re doomed … as a species.'”
Got that? Manning, or whoever the leaker was, thinks that the future of the species is at stake because of the broad-based, corrosive on-goings within our and other governments.
I find that fascinating. Here is another deep, fundamental trend, which, like big changes in energy, climate, finance, economy, technology, cosmic, solar and earth changes, and geopolitics, suggests that we are rapidly moving closer to the point where the present system cannot sustain itself and starts to implode, as one after another piece of the highly interdependent organism fails. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that the future of the species is at stake.
You are drawn as well to that potential scenario by looking at the scale and direction of what is happening in Japan. Keep in mind that Japan is the third largest economy in the world and that all of the rest of us, some more than others, are dependent upon its state of health.
Right now, they’re shutting off the lights in Tokyo. One third of the electrical power for Tokyo used to come from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. My friends there say that the power is out for four hours every evening in Tokyo. Here’s a piece from the Telegraph: Japan earthquake: country on brink of massive blackouts; Millions of Japanese people are bracing themselves for massive blackouts as the country’s power system struggles to cope amid the nuclear crisis. Already Toyota, Honda and Nissan have shut down factories. It could be years before the electrical infrastructure can be rebuilt to supply the power that was available before the disaster.
You can see the systemic nature of the problem when you consider that GM has already shut down a truck plant here in the U.S. because of a lack of parts from Japan.
The concerns aren’t just economic, of course. There is a lot of uncertainty about how much progress is being made to control the spread of radiation from the damaged plants. Here’s a good site for an up-to-date summary.
The amount of radiation being spread outside of Japan is really quite small and many concerns, particularly in the U.S., seem far overstated – especially in light of the extraordinary damage that Japan has experienced from the tsunami. If you nevertheless are worried about possible radiation effects, here are a couple of alternatives, one conventional and one unconventional that may serve you well.
If it’s all a system and significant parts of the system aren’t working, where might this go? Chris Martenson has developed a scenario that merits consideration. He believes that there is a nuclear-economic meltdown in progress as we speak.
There are other contributing pieces of the global puzzle that are increasingly in play. Geologists are concerned that the Japan earthquake may presage more earth change activity in the Pacific “ring of fire”, particularly off the coast of the Oregon and Washington states in the U.S. Here’s one expert’s perspective.
Also, when you try to get up at altitude and look down on all of this, you have to take into consideration things like the extraordinary drought that is taking place in China and the effect that that might have on the financial and psychological state of the system.
As I’ve said before, I’m not chronicling these possibilities to generate fear. I believe that being knowledgeable about what is happening and might be on the horizon is about surprise anticipation. If you haven’t thought about a big possible event, then when it happens it is a surprise. When we are surprised, we don’t respond very well.
This is about preparation. We are entering a period of extraordinary change, more so possibly than at any time in history. That means that we all have to learn how to become different people because we need to do things differently. We need to learn how to see ourselves and our world in a new way. If we don’t, the available options will certainly seem limited and the outcomes dire.
This – right here and now – is an extraordinary opportunity to evolve. This is your chance to become a new human. That is probably the only way to transcend the coming change with your physical and psychological self largely intact. It is also the way to become one of the designers of the new world that will emerge out of this massive transition.
You, and only you, get to decide how you respond to all of this uncertainty. If you see it as an extraordinary opportunity for personal development – a chance to rise to the occasion – then that intention will rapidly begin to provide you with solutions, custom designed for your situation. If you trust the process, it will deliver.
Alternatively, if the only option that seems available to you is to fear, then the same intention-manifestation process will work to assure that you get the world that you think is coming.
It’s funny how it works: we get to decide – the universe responds.
Satellite Photos That Set Off Protests in Bahrain – (Business Insider – March 2, 2011)
A few years ago, Bahrain’s oppressed and overcrowded Shiite majority began using Google Earth to view palaces and other estates that make up 95% of the country. As these images churned up discontent, the government blocked Google Earth. However, an anonymous PDF guide was distributed by email. The New York Times‘ Tom Friedman names these images in a list of “not-so-obvious forces” that fed the mass revolt. Article includes link to representative sample of images.
Magnificent Mile Shops on Alert after Flash Mob Thefts – (CBS Chicago – March 3, 2011)
Stores on the Mag Mile are on alert after several thefts involving flash mobs. In each case, a group of teens create a disturbance, steal items and then run from the stores. Apparently they’ve been Tweeting each other. They pick a spot to meet and then go as groups to carry out their crimes. You can see mob robbery videos on YouTube. In one tape, 50 teens are seen entering a St. Paul, Minnesota convenience store. Within minutes they take whatever they want and leave. As part of a growing phenomenon, the same thing has been happening in Chicago along the Magnificent Mile.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
The Skin Gun – (You Tube – February 1, 2011)
The skin gun is a pluripotent stem cell treatment that uses a person’s own stem cells harvested from the surface of the skin. It then sprays the stem cells on areas of badly burned skin to facilitate rapid healing and regenerative skin growth.
Printing Out New Ears and Skin – (BBC News – February 21, 2011)
Three-dimensional printing is a technique for making solid objects with devices not unlike a computer printer, building up line by line, and then vertically layer by layer. While the approach works with polymers and plastics, the raw ingredients of 3D printing have been recently branching out significantly. The same technique is being investigated to create new body parts. Bioprinting repairs in damaged animal bone has already been accomplished. But the method is still in its infancy, and several technical hurdles lie between the groups’ current efforts and a future in which injured body parts are repaired digitally on-site or simply printed out fresh.
Scientists Claim Peanut Allergy Gene Flaw Link – (BBC News – March 11, 2011)
A gene defect that can triple the risk of a child developing an allergy to peanuts has been identified, scientists have said. The gene responsible – Filaggrin – has already been shown to be a factor in causing eczema and asthma. Peanut allergy affects 1-2% of children in the UK and can be life-threatening. The number of people affected by the condition has increased dramatically over the past 20 to 30 years. Dr. Sara Brown, a fellow at Dundee University, said investigating whether Filaggrin was a cause of peanut allergy was the “logical next step” after a link with eczema and asthma had been established.
Staying Optimistic May Keep Your Heart Healthy – (USA Today – March 1, 2011)
A study in Archives of Internal Medicine that followed 2,800 heart patients shows that those with more positive attitudes about their recovery had about a 30% greater chance of survival after 15 years than patients with pessimistic leanings. Although other studies have looked at how long it was before patients returned to normal activities, this is the longest, largest study to track survival, says lead author John Barefoot, professor emeritus at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
Stomach Pacemaker Could Help Obese Lose Weight – (Huffington Post – March 3, 2011)
So far, about 65 patients in two studies have received the device from U.S. pacemaker manufacturer Intrapace. Only about half of those have had the pacemaker for at least a year, and most lost about 20% of their weight and kept it off. Other stomach pacemakers are on the market but most are used to relieve nausea and vomiting, not to fight obesity. Appetite is partly controlled by signals sent from nerves around the stomach to the brain; the stomach pacemaker taps into that communication system, sending a message to the brain that the body is full after a relatively small amount of food is consumed.
Scientist Under Attack: Genetic Engineering in the Magnetic Field of Money – (Bibliotecapleyades – October 13, 2010)
Billed as “a political thriller on GMOs and freedom of speech”, “Scientists Under Attack” is a film by the German film-maker Bertram Verhaag and tells the stories of two scientists, Dr Arpad Pusztai and Dr Ignacio Chapela, whose research showed negative findings on GM foods and crops. Both suffered the fate of those who challenge the powerful vested interests that dominate agribusiness and scientific research. They were vilified and intimidated, attempts were made to suppress and discredit their research, and their careers were derailed. Pusztai found that the internal organs of rats fed GM insecticidal potatoes either increased in size or did not develop properly compared with controls. His experiments turned up no less than 36 significant differences between GM-fed and non-GM-fed animals.
Dangerous New Organism Found, Linked to GM Foods – (Free State Voice – March 9, 2011)
Researchers at Bristol University have showed that plant wounds, such as those created by insect bites, abrasion and other mechanical damage, are hotspots for gene trafficking due to the wound hormones produced by the plant. Under such circumstances, the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which causes crown gall disease in plants, could enlarge its host range to infect fungi, and insert foreign genes into the fungi’s genome. This has large implications on the safety of GMOs already widely released into the environment. A. tumefaciens is probably unique among natural plant pathogens in carrying out horizontal gene transfer between species during an infection, and it is this ability that has been widely exploited for creating GM crops, grown on an estimated 134 million hectares worldwide in 2009, and “jumped’ another 10 percent in 2010. (Editor’s note: this article has solid information if you dig past the “noise”.)
Solar Flare Warning for South Africa – (I Africa – March 7, 2011)
The Hermanus Space Weather Warning Centre (SWWC) recently said a large solar flare was being experienced in South Africa and would result in higher radiation levels from the sun. SWWC’s forecaster Kobus Olckers said people should be careful when they go outside. “People must wear high sunscreen factor at the moment or preferably go shopping,” he said.
Magnetic North Shifting by 40 Miles/Yr. Might Signal Pole Reversal – (Mother Nature News – March 7, 2011)
The magnetic pole is moving faster than at any time in human history. Ever since the magnetic north pole was first discovered in 1831, geologists have been tracking its progress. Unlike true north (which is marked by the Earth’s axis), magnetic north is constantly on the move due to changes in the planet’s molten core, which contains iron. The thing that makes the pole’s current movement unusual is the speed that it is shifting. In the last decade alone, movement has increased by a third, throwing off compasses by roughly 1 degree every five years. The rapid shifting has prompted some experts to speculate that the Earth’s entire magnetic field may be preparing to “flip.” In geological time, pole reversals are relatively common, typically occurring every 400,000 years or so, however it’s been 780,000 years since the last flip.
World’s First Eye Controlled Laptop Presented – (IT Portal – March 1, 2011)
Computer manufacturer Lenovo has partnered with Swedish startup Tobii Technology to launch the world’s first eye controlled laptop. The prototype is a fully functional model and according to the manufacturer provides with a more intuitive interface as it relies on the human eyes to point, select and scroll and complements, rather than replaces, existing control interfaces. Henrik Eskilsson, CEO of Tobii Technology, says that it is only a matter of years before the technology becomes an integral part of the average computer as the tracking technology is mature enough and only needs to be miniaturized and mass produced to cut down on price.
Denmark to Swap Stamps for Texts – (BBC News – March 11, 2011)
Starting 1 April, the Danish post office is introducing a service that does away with stamps for standard sized letters. Instead, people can send a text to the post office and get back a code they write on the envelope. Sweden’s post office said it was also considering introducing the service and is planning trials. Danes sending a text bearing the word “PORTO” to the 1900 number will get in return a code that must be written on a letter in the place they would usually stick a stamp. Initially only letters up to 50g in weight can bear the mobile postal code. Getting a code will cost the standard rate for a letter, plus the usual cost of a text message. The charge for the code will be added to the mobile user’s phone bill.
Fox News Lies Keep Them out of Canada – (Reader Supported News – March 1, 2011)
Canadian regulators announced last week they would reject efforts by Canada’s right-wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news. Canada’s Radio Act requires that “a licenser may not broadcast … any false or misleading news.” The provision has kept Fox News and right-wing talk radio out of Canada.
Company Making Diesel with Sun, Water, CO² – (Yahoo – February 27, 2011)
A Massachusetts biotechnology company says it can produce the fuel that runs Jaguars and jet engines using the same ingredients that make grass grow. Joule Unlimited has invented a genetically-engineered organism that it says simply secretes diesel fuel or ethanol wherever it finds sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. The company says it can manipulate the organism to produce the renewable fuels on demand at unprecedented rates, and can do it in facilities large and small at costs comparable to the cheapest fossil fuels. National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientist Philip Pienkos said Joule’s claims of efficiency are undercut by difficulties they could have just collecting the fuel their organism is producing.
Cold Fusion May Not Be Madness – (Tech News World – February 22, 2011)
Cold fusion — the largely discredited science of making more energy from less — may be making a comeback. Controversial yet high-profile demonstrations in Italy last month purported to show a cold fusion device turning 400 watts of heat power into 12,400 watts. The eye-popping 31-fold increase – also known as an “excess heat effect” – illustrates why lay observers say cold fusion is the “holy grail of energy independence” and why many scientists doubt, some to the point of apoplexy. See also: this article.
U.S. Jihadists to American Muslims: You Suck – (Wired – March 9, 2011)
The evangelists of al-Qaeda’s narrative are lamenting the moderation of Muslims in America; that tells you something about the market for their ideas. But the numbers tell the story of jihadis’ marginality in America in better detail. In a forthcoming report, Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior advisor at the Rand Corporation, updates a previous study on the subject and counts the number of Muslims in America who’ve participated in jihadist-related crimes from 9/11 through 2010. 181 Muslims have either been indicted, arrested or self-identified (such as through suicide bombings in Somalia) as participating in jihadist-related crimes since 9/11, according to Jenkins’ study. Estimates on the number of Muslims in America’s population are numerous and inconsistent; the Pew forum fixes the number at 2.6 million, Jenkins uses a figure of 3 million. In either case, the figure lies between 0.007 to 0.006 percent of American Muslims – an extreme minority in the fullest sense of the words.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
The Perfidy of Government – (Global Research – March 1, 2011)
This article is about three recent books that explain how we lost our economy, the Constitution and our civil liberties, and how peace lost out to war. The first book featured is by Matt Taibbi, the best – certainly the most entertaining – financial/political reporter in the country. There is no better book than Griftopia (2010) to which to turn to understand how stupidity, greed, and criminality, spread evenly among policymakers and Wall Street.
Understanding Saudi Stability and Instability – (CSIS – February 26, 2011)
Saudi Arabia is scarcely immune to protest and dissent, and has long struggled with the challenges of reform. What is most striking about the Kingdom over the past weeks of crisis, however, has been the lack of any major challenge to government and the way it functions. As other countries in the region have shown all too clearly, a history of stability is no guarantee for the future, but it is important to note that Saudi stability has been the product of the fact that its government has dealt with each wave of change by making the reforms that are critical to maintaining popular support.
WikiLeaks: Saudi Royal Welfare Program Revealed – (Huffington Post – March 12, 2011)
Cables obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters provide remarkable insight into how much the vast royal welfare program has cost the country – not just financially but in terms of undermining social cohesion. Besides the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives, the cables detail various money-making schemes some royals have used to finance their lavish lifestyles over the years. Among them: siphoning off money from “off-budget” programs controlled by senior princes, sponsoring expatriate workers who then pay a small monthly fee to their royal patron and, simply, “borrowing from the banks, and not paying them back.”
The 18 Countries Most Likely to Default – (Smart Economy – March 6, 2011)
A recent survey of the data from CMA Datavision and Bloomberg shows that Europe remains in the crosshairs of investors, with little confidence eurozone leaders are going to sort out a package that will provide certainty for the region. While Europe and the Middle East are making the headlines, some old risks remain, including big South American sovereigns. For this list, we’ve ranked countries by the market price to insure their debt. There may be other methods, but this gives a good take on the current market view of the fiscal and political stability of these countries. Ratings are based on the size of the risk premium for 5-year collateralized debt securities. Most of the countries near the top of the list come as little surprise – except for #1.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Proust was a Neuroscientist – (Guardian – February 12, 2011)
Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer asks why, when it comes to understanding the mind, neuroscience has been beaten to the punch, not once, but time and time again, by writers, artists, composers and cooks, especially those working in the early part of the 20th century. For example, in the most powerful, well-argued and carefully condensed of his biographical essays, Lehrer says of the paintings of Paul Cézanne: “Instead of giving us a scene of fully realised forms, Cézanne supplies us with layers of suggestive edges, out of which forms slowly unfurl. Our vision is made of lines, and Cézanne has made the lines distressingly visible.” In other words, Cézanne got the eye right, long before Hubel and Wiesel transformed our understanding of the visual cortex in 1959.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
We’re All Aliens… How Humans Began Life in Outer Space – (Independent – March 1, 2011)
A growing body of evidence is now pointing to deep space as the possible source of the raw materials that formed the building blocks of life. The latest study, which focused on a class of meteorites that fell on to the Antarctic ice sheet, also suggests that life’s origins may have been extraterrestrial. An analysis of the meteorites has revealed that these rocks can be induced, under high pressures and temperatures, to emit nitrogen-containing ammonia, a vital ingredient for the first self-replicating molecules that eventually led to DNA, the molecule at the heart of all life.
Sun’s Deep Physics Explain Sunspot-Free Days – (Universe Today – March 2, 2011)
A new computer analysis may have come up with a fairly simple explanation for the sun’s long lull in sunspots at the end of Solar Cycle 23. Lead author Dibyendu Nandy, of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and colleagues report that the long string of sunspot-free days between solar cycles 23 and 24 may directly correlate with the speed of north-south flow of plasma toward the sun’s equator.
Britain’s Actual X Files Released – (AOL News – March 3, 2011)
Britain has just released more of its massive collection of X-Files — over 8,000 pages of documents detailing UFO investigations, eyewitness testimony and military concerns about possible extraterrestrial visitors. These mainly cover the period from 1997 to 2005 and include photographs, drawings and descriptions of flying saucer sightings, as well as letters the Ministry of Defense sent eyewitnesses in response to their accounts. The files include pages of UFO sightings and reports, color photographs and drawings, UK Royal Air Force investigations, unusual radar detections, briefings to lawmakers and documents on the government’s policy on UFOs disclosed for the first time.
To Talk with Aliens, Learn to Speak with Dolphins – (Wired – February, 15, 2011)
If humanity someday arrives at an extraterrestrial cocktail party, will we be ready to mingle? At the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida, researchers train for contact by trying to talk with dolphins. Behavioral biologist Denise Herzing started studying free-ranging spotted dolphins in the Bahamas more than two decades ago. Over the years, she noticed some dolphins seeking human company, seemingly out of curiosity. Herzing said. “Many studies communicate with dolphins, especially in captivity, using fish as a reward. But it’s rare to ask dolphins to communicate with us.” When trained, they have a remarkable capacity to pick up language. At the Dolphin Institute in Hawaii, Louis Herman and his team taught dolphins hundreds of words using gestures and symbols. Dolphins, they found, could understand the difference between statements and questions, concepts like “none” or “absent,” and that changing word order changes the meaning of a sentence. Essentially, they get syntax.
Will “Chindia” Rule the World in 2050, or America After All? – (Telegraph – February 28, 2011)
With a small tweak in assumptions and the inexorable force of compound arithmetic, Citigroup and HSBC have come up with radically different pictures of what the world will look like in 2050. Which of the two is closer to the mark will determine whether the West hangs on, or disappears as a relevant voice in global affairs. Citigroup’s Willem Buiter offers some astonishing projections. The Muslim powerhouse of Indonesia will alone match the combined GDP of Germany, France, Italy, and Britain by mid-century. The economies of China and India will together be four times as large as the United States, restoring the historic order of Asian dominance before Europe’s navies burst on the scene in the 16th Century. Or maybe not.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
A Day Made of Glass – (You Tube – February 7, 20110)
Take a look at Corning’s vision for the future with specialty glass at the heart of it: data transmission via touch screens incorporated into practically anything. And that’s just for starters.
How To Turn A Laser Into A Tractor Beam – (Technology Review – February 28, 2011)
A photon has a small momentum which it can impart to anything it hits, as Arthur Compton and Peter Lebedev discovered at the beginning of the last century. We now know that photons can be used to push anything from electrons to solar sails. Today, Jun Chen from Fudan University in China and a few pals demonstrate the counterintuitive result that photons can pull things too. In other words, they’ve worked out how to generate a backward pulling force from a forward propagating beam.
Cells in Living Color – (Technology Review – March, 2011)
One of the dirty secrets of biology is that most of the cells we study are dying. The laser light scientists use to take gorgeous images of cells causes fatal damage, in addition to quickly bleaching out the fluorescent proteins that appear in the image. Now scientists at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm, in Ashburn, Virginia, have built a microscope that can take 3-D movies of living cells that are not only highly detailed and fast but also nontoxic. By shining a thin sheet of light through a sample, Eric Betzig and colleagues greatly reduced a cell’s exposure to toxic laser light. By pulsing the light on and off rapidly, they were able to get a set of overlapping images from which a computer program can subtract fuzziness. For speed, the microscope can switch to another mode and take nearly 200 images per second.
Your Incredible Shrinking Paycheck – (Time – February 28, 2011)
Paychecks are likely to keep shrinking even if unemployment starts to inch down. Along with that, the term Marxism has been trending upward on Google ever since the end of December, the conclusion of a year in which workers’ share of the U.S. economic pie shrank to the smallest piece ever: 54.4% of GDP, down from about 60% in the 1970s. It’s been more than 100 years since the German philosopher predicted that capitalism’s voraciousness would be its undoing – as bosses invest more in new technologies to make things more cheaply and efficiently and less in workers themselves. And indeed, technology-driven productivity is increasing not just in manufacturing but also in services.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
The Ruins of Detroit – (Denver Post – February 7, 2011)
Up and down Detroit’s streets, buildings stand abandoned and in ruin. French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre set out to document the decline of an American city. Their book “The Ruins of Detroit”, a document of decaying buildings frozen in time, was published in December 2010. Unless you’ve seen Detroit recently, the architectural decay occurring in sections of this American city is startling.
JUST FOR FUN
The Online Books Page – (University of Pennsylvania Website – no date)
The Online Books Page is a website that facilitates access to books that are freely readable over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development of such online books, for the benefit and edification of all. Major parts of the site include: an index of hundreds of thousands of online books freely readable on the Internet; pointers to significant directories and archives of online texts; special exhibits of particularly interesting classes of online books; and information on how readers can help support the growth of online books. One person is responsible for this entire collection: John Mark Ockerbloom, a digital library planner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sapporo Beer Commercial – (You Tube – June 2, 2010)
Brilliant computer animation. Another commercial so engaging that it has gone viral.
A FINAL QUOTE…
I dwell in Possibility. – Emily Dickinson
A special thanks to: Kenton Anderson, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Terah Collins, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Ray Goodman, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, T. Roberts, Cory Schrekengost, Carole Schwartz, Schwartz Report, Gary Sycalik, David Treinis and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen
A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change
by John L. Petersen
Former senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart has said “It should be required reading for the next President.”
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