Volume 8, Number 10
Edited by John L. Petersen
In This Issue:
At The Arlington Institute, we believe that to understand the future, you need to have an open mind and cast a very wide net. To that end, FUTUREdition explores a cross-disciplinary palette of issues, from the frontiers of science and technology to major developments in mass media, geopolitics, the environment, and social perspectives.
From the Futurist Bookshelf: Check out Edward Cornish’s review of Five Regions of the Future, a new book on the coming age of technology by futurist Joel A. Barker.
- A Los Angeles family became the first in the United States to lease a hydrogen-powered car from Honda Motor Co.
- A woman gave birth to a healthy baby with ovarian tissue that had been removed, frozen and surgically replaced after she had undergone intensive chemotherapy treatment.
- A “talking” wine label could soon tell consumers in Italy everything they want to know about a particular bottle while grocery shopping.
- The U.S. Military is developing firepower that utilizes “Directed-energy” pulses that travel at light speed and can be throttled up or down depending on the situation- like Star Trek.
- The world’s first film substrate-based electronic paper has been created with vivid color images that are unaffected even when the screen is bent.
Singing Benches Let Loose in City
Talking Wine Label to Chat up Italians
Singing Benches Let Loose in City — (BBC — July 9, 2005)
Robotic bins that move and chuckle, benches that flock together and sing when the sun comes out, have been unleashed in Cambridge. The “interactive” technology will allow the street furniture to respond to members of the public. They are what’s called “generative” so that over time they develop more and more personality.
Talking Wine Label to Chat up Italians — (C|Net News — July 6, 2005)
A “talking” wine label could soon tell consumers in Italy everything they want to know about a particular bottle–from its production history to the kind of food it should accompany. The new “label” would consist of a chip implanted in the bottle that could be listened to with a device about the size of a cigarette package in the wine shop or the restaurant.
Bionic Suit Offers Wearers Super-strength
Archaeologists Figure Out Mystery of Stonehenge Bluestones
Spaceplane Shoots for Space Trips by 2007
Archeologists Discover Another Stonehenge
First Hydrogen Plane Tested in US
Teleportation: Express Lane Space Travel
Bionic Suit Offers Wearers Super-strength — (New Scientist — April 9, 2005)
A robot suit has been developed that could help older people or those with disabilities to walk or lift heavy objects. Two control systems interact to help the wearer stand, walk and climb stairs. A “bio-cybernic” system uses bioelectric sensors attached to the skin on the legs to monitor signals transmitted from the brain to the muscles. Dubbed HAL, or hybrid assistive limb, the latest versions of the suit was unveiled this June, and a commercial product is slated for release by the end of the year.
Archaeologists Figure Out Mystery of Stonehenge Bluestones — (IC Wales — June 24, 2005)
Archaeologists have solved one of the greatest mysteries of Stonehenge – the exact spot from where its huge stones were quarried. A team has pinpointed the precise place in Wales from where the bluestones were removed in about 2500 BC. It found the small crag-edged enclosure at one of the highest points of the 1,008ft high Carn Menyn mountain in Pembrokeshire’s Preseli Hills.
Spaceplane Shoots for Space Trips by 2007 — (MSNBC — June 24, 2005)
An Oklahoma space-travel company says it is aiming to win the race to put paying passengers on suborbital trips, with commercial flights scheduled to begin by early 2007. Rocketplane is working on the plans to convert a twin-engine LearJet into a hybrid space plane. The plans put Rocketplane in competition with several other spaceship developers who are also working toward beginning service in the 2007-2008 time frame.
Archeologists Discover Another Stonehenge — (Pravda — July 6, 2005)
Russian archeologist Ilya Akhmedov found an ancient construction resembling the English Stonehenge near the site of ancient settlement of Staraya Ryazan. It was estimated that the construction is four thousand years old. Similar discoveries were later made all over Eurasia within the next two years. As a rule, all of these constructions are based upon the same principle: on the day of the summer and winter solstice the sunrays fall upon some definite spot of a sanctuary made of megalith stones or wood.
First Hydrogen Plane Tested in US — (BBC — July 2, 2005)
A US company says it has successfully completed test flights of a potentially environment-friendly aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen stored on board and oxygen extracted from the air are combined in fuel cells, while the electricity generated drives the propellers. California-based AeroVironment says a full tank of hydrogen would keep the unmanned plane in the air for 24 hours.
Teleportation: Express Lane Space Travel — (Space.com — July 8, 2005)
Thanks to lab experiments, there is growth in the number of “beam me up” believers, but there is an equal amount of disbelief, too. Over the last few years, however, researchers have successfully teleported beams of light across a laboratory bench. Also, the quantum state of a trapped calcium ion to another calcium ion has been teleported in a controlled way.
Scientists Predict Brave New World of Brain Pills
Will DNA Profiling Fuel Prejudice?
Giving Genetic Disease the Finger
New Alzheimer’s Research Shows Reversal of Memory Loss
Frozen Ovary Yields Healthy Baby
Stem Cells May Protect Brain, Nervous System
DNA Scans Reveal Possible Location Of Lung Cancer Genes
Scientists Predict Brave New World of Brain Pills — (Gaurdian — July 14, 2005)
A new report by leading scientists in the fields of psychology and neuroscience argues that, very soon, there really will be a pill for every ill. In the long term, drugs that can delete painful memories could also be used routinely. Although medical advances are speeding the forthcoming of newer and more capable pills, society must decide how to use the new drugs, the scientists said.
Will DNA Profiling Fuel Prejudice? — (New Scientist — April 8, 2005)
In 10 years, the England and Wales National DNA Database (NDNAD) – the largest in the world – has matched nearly 600,000 suspects to crimes. This extraordinary success has been possible because police have unprecedented powers to retain samples from suspects, and other countries are following suit. But some experts argue that NDNAD’s size and power mean it poses a serious threat to civil liberties.
Giving Genetic Disease the Finger — (Wired News — July 5, 2005)
Scientists are closing in on techniques that could let them safely repair almost any defective gene in a patient, opening the door for the first time to treatments for a range of genetic disorders that are now considered incurable. The breakthrough relies on so-called zinc fingers, named after wispy amino acid protuberances that emanate from a single zinc ion.
New Alzheimer’s Research Shows Reversal of Memory Loss — (Minnesota Public Radio — July 14, 2005)
Researchers have figured out a way to reverse memory loss in mice with dementia. The discovery could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Frozen Ovary Yields Healthy Baby — (Nature — June 28, 2005)
The birth of a baby to a cancer survivor has boosted doctors’ confidence that they can restore the fertility of female patients who receive chemotherapy. The procedure involves removing and freezing ovarian tissue from a woman before she undergoes intensive treatments, and then surgically replacing this in her body after the therapy ends.
Stem Cells May Protect Brain, Nervous System — (Reuters — July 13, 2005)
Stem cells may protect the brain and nervous system against damage from tumors and conditions such as multiple sclerosis, researchers found. Experiments with mice with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis showed that stem cells injected into the blood stream migrated to inflamed areas in the brain and spinal cord, killing inflammatory cells. This means a single injection of stem cells could be used to treat many different areas of damage in the body, reducing the clinical signs of the disease.
DNA Scans Reveal Possible Location Of Lung Cancer Genes — (Science Daily — July 3, 2005)
Researchers have found sections of the chromosomes of lung cancer cells where cancer-related genes may lurk using equipment designed to probe the smallest segments of the genetic code. The next step will be to identify the specific genes involved in these alterations. That, in turn, could lead to new diagnostic tests and treatments for lung cancer, by far the most common form of cancer in the United States, and one of the most difficult to treat.
Bionic Man — (BBC News — July 11, 2005)
Jesse Sullivan becomes the world’s first ‘bionic man’, receiving an implant that uses neuro-engineering, a new technology that literally connects people to machines. The four major nerves, which used to go down Jesse’s arms, were dissected from his shoulder and transferred on to his chest muscles. The nerves grew into the muscles, which then allowed him to direct his senses through his own brain impulses.
Nanotubes Inspire New Technique For Healing Broken Bones
Nanowire Networks Route Light
Nanotubes Inspire New Technique For Healing Broken Bones — (Science Daily — July 8, 2005)
Scientists have shown for the first time that carbon nanotubes make an ideal scaffold for the growth of bone tissue. The new technique could change the way doctors treat broken bones, allowing them to simply inject a solution of nanotubes into a fracture to promote healing. The high mechanical strength, excellent flexibility and low density of carbon nanotubes make them ideal for the production of lightweight, high-strength materials such as bone.
Nanowire Networks Route Light — (Technology Research News — July 1, 2005)
Computer chips that use light rather than electricity to dramatically speed computing are probably a long way off, but research efforts aimed at producing nanoscale optics could make chip-scale communications devices and scientific equipment practical within a decade.
WHO Warns Asia Could Become AIDS Hotbed
Lassa Fever Vaccine Gives Complete Protection
U.N.: Bird Flu at Tipping Point
Bird Flu May Soon Land in Europe and Australia
WHO Warns Asia Could Become AIDS Hotbed — (Newsday — June 29, 2005)
Asia could become the next sub-Saharan Africa if it doesn’t get a quick handle on the rising number of people infected with the AIDS virus, a top official from the U.N. Health agency said Wednesday. Health workers face many obstacles in wrangling the disease that’s being spread largely through sex workers and injection of drugs.
Lassa Fever Vaccine Gives Complete Protection — (New Scientist — June 28, 2005)
A new vaccine that completely protects non-human primates against Lassa haemorrhagic fever has been demonstrated. It uses the same technology that researchers recently used to create vaccines for the Ebola and Marburg viruses. Lassa haemorrhagic fever is endemic to several countries in West Africa and is estimated to infect more than 200,000 people each year, killing a few thousand.
U.N.: Bird Flu at Tipping Point — (Associated Press — July 4, 2005)
Asia’s bird flu outbreak is at a critical stage where it could easily become a human pandemic and officials should help prevent that by launching mass vaccinations of poultry, U.N. health experts warned Monday. The virus, which has killed 54 people in Asia, currently appears to spread to people only when they come in close contact with sick poultry, but the virus has behaved in ways that suggests it remains as unstable, unpredictable and versatile as ever.
Bird Flu May Soon Land in Europe and Australia — (New Scientist — July 6, 2005)
Thousands of wild birds in north-west China may have been infected by a bird flu virus closely related to the one that has devastated poultry farms in south-east Asia. Scientists warn that the birds might carry the virus as far as India, Australia and Europe. it is not known how many birds migrate to the farthest reaches of their species’ known ranges. But if some birds carrying the virus remain healthy enough to migrate, the disease could spread far and wide.
Laser Pulses Could Power Quantum Logic Gate
Sony Patent Takes First Step Towards Real-life Matrix
World’s First First Electronic Paper
Gates: Get Ready for Chip Implants
Laser Pulses Could Power Quantum Logic Gate — (New Scientist — July 4, 2005)
An exotic light-wielding computer that should be capable of immensely complex calculations has been designed by researchers, who say that the new design will operate differently and more efficiently that other designs of optical quantum computers. They calculate that the scheme could be used to fashion a fundamental computing component known as a logic gate. Stringing several of these together would then yield more complex components.
Sony Patent Takes First Step Towards Real-life Matrix — (New Scientist — April 7, 2005)
Imagine movies and computer games in which you get to smell, taste and perhaps even feel things. That’s the tantalizing prospect raised by a patent on a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain – granted to none other than the entertainment giant Sony. The technique describes a device that fires pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify firing patterns in targeted parts of the brain, creating “sensory experiences” ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds.
World’s First First Electronic Paper — (Fujitsu — July 13, 2005)
Fujitsu announced their joint development of the world’s first film substrate-based bendable color electronic paper with an image memory function. The new electronic paper features vivid color images that are unaffected even when the screen is bent, and features an image memory function that enables continuous display of the same image without the need for electricity.
Tomorrow’s World — (BBC News — July 2, 2005)
Breathing furniture, a digital paint roller, and a concrete tent are just a few of the projects at this year’s Royal College of Art student show in London. Simply called The Show, this annual event is one of the most popular dates in the design calendar. It offers a glimpse at some of the cutting edge innovations taking place in Britain today, and a chance to see the products of tomorrow.
Gates: Get Ready for Chip Implants — (Associated Press — July 5, 2005)
Technological advances will one day allow computers to be implanted in the human body and could help the blind see and the deaf hear, according to Bill Gates, whose company is spending more than US$6 billion on research and development this year to stay a world leader in software development. The fantasy is coming closer to reality as advances in technology mean computers are learning to interact with human characteristics such as voices, touch — even smell.
Marine Crisis Looms Over Acidifying Oceans
Warmer Air May Cause Increased Antarctic Sea Ice Cover
Nightmare Vision of Underwater Britain
New Direction? — (BBC News — June 30, 2005)
The environment itself is not the burning issue at the White House – but the price of gas is. The pressure on the US president to do something on global warming along the lines sought by other world leaders comes not from traditional green activists, but from rising oil prices. So Mr. Bush is proposing a raft of proposals in an energy bill, some of which might please traditional environmental activists and some that might appall them.
Marine Crisis Looms Over Acidifying Oceans — (New Scientist — June 30, 2005)
Levels of carbonic acid – the reaction product of water and carbon dioxide that is found in soda water – are increasing in the oceans at a rate one hundred times faster than the world has seen for millions of years. In addition to devastating marine ecosystems, the knock-on effects of increasing acidification include harm to major economic activities such as tourism and fishing.
Warmer Air May Cause Increased Antarctic Sea Ice Cover — (Science Daily — June 30, 2005)
Predicted increases in precipitation due to warmer air temperatures from greenhouse gas emissions may actually increase sea ice volume in the Antarctic’s Southern Ocean. This finding from a new study adds evidence of potential asymmetry between the two poles and may be an indication that climate change processes may have varying impacts on different areas of the globe.
Nightmare Vision of Underwater Britain — (The Scotsman — June 28, 2005)
A new study suggests that the planet’s rapidly changing weather patterns would have a devastating effect on the UK, should sea levels rise uncontrollably. The worst scenario is the 84-metre rise, which could occur as a result of three major ice sheets melting. The team pointed out that this would only happen if the world did nothing about carbon gas emissions, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect.
TERRORISM AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Tech’s Part in Preventing Attacks
Beam It Right There, Scotty
Decoys Suggested for Pentagon Network
XM Satellite’s Network Could get Drafted
Tech’s Part in Preventing Attacks — (C|Net News — July 7, 2005)
A Los Altos, Calif.-based company has created software that uses visual pattern recognition and search technologies to match archived still or video images with pictures gathered from security cameras or other sources. The software can also pick out anomalies–someone walking with a large box, or a truck that keeps coming back to the same spot–in hours of video footage.
Beam It Right There, Scotty — (Associated Press — July 10, 2005)
For years, the U.S. military has explored a new kind of firepower that is instantaneous, precise and almost inexhaustible: beams of electromagnetic energy. “Directed-energy” pulses can be throttled up or down depending on the situation, much like the phasers on Star Trek could be set to kill or merely stun. Such weapons are now nearing fruition. But logistical issues have delayed their battlefield debut.
Decoys Suggested for Pentagon Network — (Washington Post — July 4, 2005)
Two of the Pentagon’s leading technologists propose defending the military’s Global Information Grid by using decoy networks and “honey pots” to fool hackers. The goal is to lure intruders into these areas and away from operational networks. These systems will collect information on methodologies, techniques and tools while providing a realistic ‘playground’ for the intruder.
XM Satellite’s Network Could get Drafted — (Associated Press — June 26, 2005)
XM and Raytheon Co. have jointly built a communications system that would use XM’s satellites to relay information to soldiers and emergency responders during a crisis. The Mobile Enhanced Situational Awareness Network, known as MESA, would get a dedicated channel on XM’s satellites that would be accessible only on devices given to emergency personnel.
Lifelike Robot Repliee Q1 May Need Voight-Kampff Test
Will RFID-guided Robots Rule the World?
Lifelike Robot Repliee Q1 May Need Voight-Kampff Test — (Technovelgy.com — June 14, 2005)
The ultra-lifelike robot Repliee Q1 made quite an impression at the 2005 World Expo in Japan. Repliee Q1 has silicone for skin, rather than hard plastic. It has a number of sensors to allow it to react in a manner that appears natural; it appears to flutter its eyelids, chest movements correspond to breathing, and other tiny shifts in position that mimic unconscious human movement.
Will RFID-guided Robots Rule the World? — (C|Net News — July 8, 2005)
Robots with radio frequency identification, or RFID are being used as resources where humans were traditionally required, with applications ranging from taking warehouse inventory to watching the playground. This sensory perception allows robots to better interact with people and objects around them. Companies hope to continue implementing practical RFID robots in areas with potential for development, like healthcare, where robots might eventually help families in assisting elderly or disabled relatives.
‘Carbon Free’ Power Station Planned in Scotland
Thorium Fuels Safer Reactor Hopes
Purdue Findings Support Earlier Nuclear Fusion Experiments
Simulated Oil Meltdown Shows U.S. Economy’s Vulnerability
Honda Leases First Fuel Cell Vehicle to a Family
The Dotcom King & the Rooftop Solar Revolution
‘Carbon Free’ Power Station Planned in Scotland — (Reuters — June 30, 2005)
ET Energy major BP and three partners are planning to build a plant in Scotland which would be the first in the world to generate “carbon free” electricity from hydrogen, the companies said on Thursday. The project would convert natural gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2), then use the hydrogen to fuel a power station and ship the CO2 to a North Sea oil field to increase oil recovery and for storage ultimately.
Thorium Fuels Safer Reactor Hopes — (Wired — July 5, 2005)
Fueling nuclear reactors with the element thorium instead of uranium could produce half as much radioactive waste and reduce the availability of weapons-grade plutonium by as much as 80 percent. The naturally occurring element is more abundant, more efficient and safer to use than uranium. Plus, very little of it breaks down into plutonium as it is used, meaning that governments have access to less material for making nuclear weapons. But the nuclear power industry needs more incentives to make the switch, experts say.
Purdue Findings Support Earlier Nuclear Fusion Experiments — (Purdue University — July 12, 2005)
Researchers at Purdue University have new evidence supporting earlier findings by other scientists who designed an inexpensive “tabletop” device that uses sound waves to produce nuclear fusion reactions. Nuclear fusion reactors have historically required large, expensive machines, but acoustic cavitation devices, like the ones utilized in these experiments, might be built for a fraction of the cost. Researchers have estimated that temperatures inside the imploding bubbles created in the device reach 10 million degrees Celsius and pressures comparable to 1,000 million earth atmospheres at sea level.
Simulated Oil Meltdown Shows U.S. Economy’s Vulnerability — (Washingto Bureau — June 24, 2005)
What impact might potential spikes in overseas oil prices have on American and global economies? In this hypothetical circumstance, a simulated economic scenario is narrated as American drivers see higher prices at the pumps as a result of political instability and terrorist strikes. Two former CIA directors and several other former top policy-makers participated in the simulation to draw attention to America’s need to reduce its dependence on oil, especially foreign oil.
Honda Leases First Fuel Cell Vehicle to a Family — (Reuters — June 29, 2005)
A Los Angeles family became the first in the United States to lease a hydrogen-powered car from Honda as the company introduces consumers to the zero-emission technology. Honda, which already leases nonpolluting FCX fuel cell cars to several cities, said the initial consumer test was critical toward eventual commercial viability.
The Dotcom King & the Rooftop Solar Revolution — (Wired — July 11, 2005)
The Sunflower Solar Concentrator, a solar power generator scaled down for installation on household rooftops, is undergoing development by entrepreneur Bill Gross. For lab testing It will endure showers of fake hailstones fired from air guns, snowdrifts simulated with water-saturated foam-rubber blankets, and 25 years’ worth of punishing ultraviolet radiation.
Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons. —Unknown, Popular Mechanics, March 1949
A special thanks to Philip Bogdonoff, Bernard Calil, Humera Khan, Deanna Korda, KurzweilAI, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane Petersen, John C. Petersen, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell, and Thomas Valone, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks. [email protected]