Tag Archives: future

Futurology 21~ possible Dark Matter, not water from comets and more


Space Station shot in Infra-Red
Space Station shot in Infra-Red

Possible Dark Matter spotted — Astronomers may finally have detected a signal of dark matter, the mysterious and elusive stuff thought to make up most of the material universe. While poring over data collected by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft, a team of researchers spotted an odd spike in X-ray emissions coming from two different celestial objects — the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster.
~ It clearly wants to avoid spotting – hope we haven’t annoyed it. 

Comets didn’t bring the water — Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets. Results from Europe’s Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet. The results are published in the journal Science. The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out.
~ It’s just a different flavour – I say embrace it. 

Our Space Station in Infra Red — The above image was taken 70m from the ISS as the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle docked with it earlier this year. Obtained using Laser Infrared Imaging Sensors, the images were obtained to help researchers develop better automated rendezvous procedures for use out in space. (Main picture, above).
~ Can’t see anyone waving, anyway.

Artificial skin feels pressure, dampness, heat — A new, stretchy artificial skin can pick up many of the sensations from the real thing, and could someday cover a lifelike prosthetic hand.
The skin was developed by researchers in South Korea, and combines the ability to sense pressure, temperature, and humidity.
~ Handy. 

Scientists invent a new form of ice — A new form of ice has just been created in a lab. It consists of frozen water molecules spun into a tiny, intricate, empty cage.
~ They did this because, er … there was nothing on TV that day?

3D printed dress — The garment here is a 3D-printed dress, made by design studio Nervous System. Although it’s not the first 3D-printed dress (that honour goes to a burlesque star), it’s one of the first to be made on Nervous System’s Kinematics system, software which can create complex structures composed of articulated modules. What that means is a 3D-printed dress that requires no assembly: take the pile of plastic out of the printer, wash it off, unfurl it, and you’ve got a dress.
~ A dress of sorts, anyway.

Super-duper map — The US Geological Survey and Esri have created a zoomable map that lets you explore all of the world’s ecological land units down to an astounding 250 metre resolution.
~ What? Why isn’t the washing out?!

Futurology 20 ~ Space DNA, cooling paint, solar, spoon, pain switch, Antikythera, huge block


German scientists discovered a huge cut stone block in Baalbek. It's 19.6 meters long by 6 wide, and is at least 5.5 high with a weight estimated at 1650 tons!
German scientists discovered a huge cut stone block (to the right) in Baalbek. It’s 19.6 meters long by 6 wide, and at least 5.5 high with a weight estimated at 1650 tons!

DNA survives critical entry into Earth’s atmosphere — The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere – and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results during an experiment on the TEXUS-49 research rocket mission.
~ DNAlien, anyone?

Scientists develop ‘paint’ to help cool the planet — Engineers at Stanford University have developed an ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings but also directs internal heat away using a system called “photonic radiative cooling.” The coating can reflect away 97% of incoming sunlight. When combined with the photonic radiative cooling system it becomes cooler than the surrounding air by around 9F (5C). The material is designed to radiate heat away into space at a precise frequency that allows it to pass through the atmosphere without warming it.
~ And so it shall pass from Global Warming to Space Warming. Expect an angry missive from the Intergalactic Hegemony soon after. 

Large scale solar farm under construction — Large-scale solar plants are monstrous construction projects that cover hundreds or thousands of acres of land in photovoltaic goodness. This amazing video shows how they go from concept to reality.
~ And what of the land beneath? What happens to the eco-system?

Scotland renewable energy milestone — Thanks to a combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric, along with less-publicized sources such as landfill gas and biomass, Scotland produced 10.3TWh in the first half of 2014, which is more than it generated the dirty way.
~ Crikey, if you can do it there …

Magnifying spoon —  Object Solutions’ Magnifying Spoon lets you inspect your meal up close before you eat. Designed by Ernesto D Morales, Carlos Maldonado and Juan Pablo Viedma, there’s a good chance you’ll offend the proprietor of wherever you’re dining when you pull out the Magnifying Spoon, but that’s a small price to pay if it means you don’t end up with a disgusting spoonful of bugs, cigarette ash or coriander.
~ Shame it doesn’t actually make some meals bigger.

Brain switch turns off pain — Scientists working together from several international universities have discovered it is possible to block a pathway in the brain of animals suffering from neuropathic pain, which could have a huge impact on improving pain relief in humans.
A chemical stimulator called adenosine binds to brain receptors to trigger a biological response, and has shown potential for killing pain in humans.
~ I’ll wait for the app.

Antikythera Mechanism older than previously thought — As if the freakishly advanced Antikythera Mechanism wasn’t astounding enough, a new analysis suggests the astronomical device is older than archaeologists assumed.
~ Genius that hasn’t aged.

Largest stone block discovered — German archaeologists working at Baalbek in Lebanon have uncovered the largest known ancient block. The fully exposed block (main picture, to the right) , which dates back to around 27 BC, is located in a stone quarry at the site of the ancient Heliopolis in Lebanon.
~ The stone was unmoved at its discovery. 

Futurology 19 ~ Waterless life, Vesta mapped, moon lamp, Microsoft robo-security, Chinese sys, Egyptian spells


Hige asteroid Vesta has been mapped in detail
Huge asteroid Vesta has been mapped in detail

Life might evolve on waterless planets — Astrobiologists Nediljko Budisa and Dirk Schulze-Makuch believe supercritical CO2 might be capable of acting as a life-sustaining solvent in a planetary, environment, which means life could evolve without the presence of water.
~ I’ll drink to that. 

Incredibly detailed map of Asteroid Vespa — A beautiful geologic map of big asteroid/minor-planet Vesta has been created (main picture) by a team led by planetary scientist David Williams, from data collected by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft during its 15-month orbit of the oblong object between 2011 and 2012.
~ I believe you can get lotion for bad asteroids. 

Supermoon lamp — An LED lamp designed by Nosigner is based on the March 19th, 2011 Supermoon, where the moon appeared 14% bigger and 30% brighter. It’s also completely accurate to the actual moon. Nosigner used data from the Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya. ~ Have your own full moon every night. 

Microsoft testing robo-security guards — Microsoft is testing five robot security guards. They contain a sophisticated sensor suite that includes 360-degree HD video, thermal imaging, night vision, LIDAR, and audio recorders. They can also detect various chemicals and radiation signatures, and do some rudimentary behavioral analysis on people they see. They weigh about 300 lbs each, can last roughly a day on a battery charge, and know to head to the charging station when they’re low on power.
~ Stop or I’ll shoot! Please wait while Critical Security Update is in progress …

Cern discovers two knew subatomic particles — Particle physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider have detected two new subatomic particles that were predicted to exist but never seen. The discovery of the two new baryon particles stands to deepen our understanding of the universe.
~ I predict there might be another one. 

Intel panning thumb-sized PCs — Intel is shrinking PCs to (big) thumb-sized ‘compute sticks’ for next year. The stick will plug into the back of a smart TV or monitor “and bring intelligence to that,” said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, during the Intel investor conference in Santa Clara, California.
~ Catchy name? Not so much. 

Ancient Chinese pigment eliminates a dimension — Han purple is an ancient pigment that wasn’t reconstructed by modern chemists until 1992. The physicists found the pigment eliminates an entire dimension. It makes waves go two-dimensional!
~ Ancient Chinese cleverness strikes again.

Bike bottle gathers it own water — The weight of water limits how much can be brought on a long bike ride. There isn’t always an option to stop and fill up from a clean stream or drinking fountain, but  Austrian industrial design student Kristof Retezár has created the prototype of a water bottle system that condenses humid air into clean, drinkable water.
~ Fill, damn you!

1300 year old Egyptian spells deciphered — Arcane invocations in the Handbook of Ritual Power, an 8th-century, 20-page codex, has been translated and published by two Australian scholars of religion and ancient history. The researchers, Malcolm Choat at Macquarie University and Iain Gardner at the University of Sydney, believe the 27 spells in the codex were originally scattered among other documents, and later combined with other invocations to form a “single instrument of ritual power.”
~ I have one of those – iPhone 6. 

Futurology 18 ~ Comet mania and other interesting new from the future


The satellite Giotto got to a mere 600 meters of the famous fiery Halley's comet
The satellite Giotto got to a mere 600 meters of the famous fiery Halley’s comet

Can these seven words really define all life in the Universe? We might not know the meaning of life, but a group of scientists working for NASA came up with a definition for it that’s just seven words long: Self-sustaining chemical system capable of Darwinian evolution. But does this truly encompass all life, including the types we have yet to discover?
~ I doubt it. 

A 30-year history of getting closer to comets — How close have we come to comets before? i09 has a roundup. (Main picture: Halley’s comet from just 600 metres away.)

Photographs from the comet — Boulders seem to defy gravity in the view below, apparently clinging to the steep sides of the larger lobe of the comet — although, of course, it is all a matter of the orientation of the image and the local gravity vector.
~ If you ask me, the comet seems to defy gravity too. And what would you eat there? I reckon ‘Philae gumbo.’

Dark Magma — The magma fueling the volcanoes of Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park pipes from deep inside the planet. Scientists have struggled to understand why there are hot spots there, so distant from the grinding tectonic plate boundaries at which volcanoes normally appear. New research chalks the mystery up to ‘dark magma’: deep underground pockets of red-hot molten rock that siphon energy from Earth’s core.
The way heat flows from the core to the mantle could potentially affect the way Earth’s magnetic field evolves over time.
~ My advice it so leave it alone. 

Made of mushrooms, the drone decomposes when you lose it
Made of mushrooms, this drone just decomposes when you lose it (apart from the rotors, wires and battery)

Mushroom drones decompose when the crash land — It may not look much different to a regular drone, but that’s a good thing — because this little UAV is made from biological materials that allow it to biodegrade and simply melt into its surroundings.
~ Hopefully it’s not for military use – imagine the ignominy of being assassinated by a mushroom.

Wikipedia disease forecasting — Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have used Wikipedia logs as a data source for forecasting disease spread. The team was able to successfully monitor influenza in the United States, Poland, Japan, and Thailand, dengue fever in Brazil and Thailand, and tuberculosis in China and Thailand. The team was also able to forecast all but one of these (tuberculosis in China) at least 28 days in advance.
~ Do tell, then. What’s next and where?

The rise of a vaccine-resistant strain of Polio — Globally, Polio has been eradicated in countless countries. It should only be a matter of time before it goes the way of Smallpox, but there are a few hold-outs where the virus is stubbornly hanging on. This story is about a virus’s last ditch effort to survive.
~ Ah, yeah, Congo again. 

Futurology 17 ~ All from nothing after all to ghosts


Picture from the internet telepathy story at Gizmodo
Picture from the internet telepathy story at Gizmodo. On the right – telepathy breakthrough. On the left, mum at the hairdresser watching custard on YouTube. 

All from nothing after all — One of the great theories of modern cosmology is that the universe began in a ‘Big Bang’, but the mathematical mechanism by which this occurred has been lacking. Cosmologists at the Wuhan Institute have published a proof that the Big Bang could indeed have occurred spontaneously because of quantum fluctuations.
~ I’ve often wondered when the Wheeler-DeWitt equation would provide the equation. No I haven’t.

Largest Kepler object is Triton — Out beyond Neptune, the last of our Solar System’s gas giants, the icy graveyard of failed planetesimals lurks: the Kuiper Belt. Among these mixes of ice, snow, dust and rock are a number of worlds — possibly a few hundred — massive enough to pull themselves into hydrostatic equilibrium. The most famous among them are Pluto, the first one ever discovered, and Eris, of comparable size but undoubtedly more massive. But there’s an even larger, more massive object from the Kuiper Belt than either of these, yet you never hear about it: it’s Triton, the largest moon of Neptune – a true Kuiper Belt object.
~ Better buckle up, then. 

Geoengineering could be used to prevent catastrophic climate effects caused by giant eruptions — New research suggests it may be possible to counteract the effects through deliberate emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, dampening the abrupt impact of a massive eruption. Such measures could stave off the perpetual winters that follow these eruptions.
~ I don’t even enjoy the non perpetual winters, personally.

How many parallel processes run in human brains —fMRI data has revealed just how parallel gray matter is. The analysis is complex, but the outcome is simple to state. Georgiou says independent component analysis reveals that about 50 independent processes are at work in human brains performing the complex visuo-motor tasks of indicating the presence of green and red boxes. However, the brain uses fewer processes when carrying out simple tasks, like visual recognition.
~ Or voting.

Telepathy over the Internet is getting real — Researchers at the University of Washington have successfully demonstrated a brain-to-brain interface in a six-person study. This is the second such study, but with more people, more confidence, and enough success to presume that telepathy might just leap out of the realm of sci-fi.
~ I can often tell what’s on a website just by looking at it. 

Robot makes people feel like a ghost is nearby— In 2006, cognitive neuroscientist Olaf Blanke of the University of Geneva in Switzerland was testing a patient’s brain functions before her epilepsy surgery when he noticed something strange. Every time he electrically stimulated the region of her brain responsible for integrating different sensory signals from the body, the patient would look behind her back as if a person was there, even when she knew full well that no one was.
Now, with the help of robots, Blanke and colleagues have not only found a neurological explanation for this illusion, but also tricked healthy people into sensing ‘ghosts‘.
~ Next the ghost of HG Wells will make you feel robots are imminent… Meanwhile ‘mediums’ will carry on tricking themselves and others they can really see ghosts. 

Futurology 16 ~


Perhaps one could practice for colonisation by staying in a line-up of porter-loos.
Perhaps one could practice for colonisation by staying in one of a line-up of porter-loos.

Life on Mars — Motherboard just released its latest documentary, and it asks a very simple question: When will humans live on Mars? The answer is sort of “It’s complicated“, but for now we need better technology to make life on Mars feasible for extended periods of time. Regardless, the peek into the burgeoning space tourism industry is fascinating and getting into the nitty gritty of what it would actually take to colonise Mars is definitely worth 25 minutes of your time.
~ The better question might be ‘Why would humans want to?’

Universal Basic Income will save us from the Robot Uprising — Robots are poised to eliminate millions of jobs over the coming decades. We have to address the coming epidemic of “technological unemployment” if we’re to avoid crippling levels of poverty and societal collapse. Here’s how a guaranteed basic income will help — and why it’s absolutely inevitable.
~ Apart from being 100% morally defensible, of course. 

Sydney saves big time with LEDs — The 4100 LED lights installed since March of 2012 have lowered Sydney’s energy costs by more than a third; public lighting itself accounts for more than a third of the entire energy bill – the dollar saving: $370,000.
~ They generate less heat, too.

Tech brain reading — A group of neuroscientists has figured out how to decode a limited set of words ‘spoken’ by our inner voices from looking at brain activity alone.
~ Now I’m really in trouble. We;ll have to learn inner sign language.

Brick facade is actually snap-on insulation — Dutch company Energiesprond has come up with a way to make houses carbon neutral with easy, snap-on insulation and solar panels. It doesn’t hurt that houses come out looking quite handsome too.
~ The result is also quieter inside.

Solar energy as cheap as fossil by 2016 — A new study on solar energy from Deutsche Bank bears very good news. Thanks to technology and innovation, solar energy will be jusold warmingt as cheap as energy from fossil fuels by 2016. That’s basically tomorrow, and it’s awesome.
~ Meanwhile we’re paying the Sun what, exactly?

Three historic pulses of global warming — A new study shows that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributed to the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago did not occur gradually but rather was characterized by three abrupt pulses.
~ Conspiracy theorists, time to get busy.

Futurology 15 ~ Mars comet, inhabitants, tractor beam, gamer tanks, engineering cells, high Ice age, tattooed cannabis smoker mummy


You can fit all the planets in the Solar System back to back into the distance from the Earth to the moon — about 384,400kms
You can fit all the planets in the Solar System back to back into the distance from the Earth to the moon

Good fit— All the planets in the Solar System can fit back to back into the distance from the Earth to the moon — about 384,400km — with 8030kms to spare. Seeing it visualised (above) really gives you a good idea of how much empty space is out there.
~ And with another million kms, the sun fits too. 

Mars Orbiters survive unprecedented encounter with comet Siding Spring— Last week, comet Siding Spring hurled past Mars at half the distance between the Earth and moon, bringing a massive cloud of dust along with it. To protect its space-based assets, space agencies employed precautionary measures, and they appear to have worked.
~ They did this by tweaking their orbits.

Mission to Mars suits women — A mission to Mars should have an all-female crew, says Kate Green, who participated in a simulated expedition. Over five weeks, the female crew members expended less than half the calories of the men and at mealtimes, the women ate smaller portions. Less food means a lighter spacecraft payload and reduced fuel.
~ And how about the food for the rest of their lonely and stranded lives?

Aussie tractor beam — Laser physicists from Australia built a reversible tractor beam capable of retrieving tiny particles. It’s nowhere near as strong as the beams portrayed in scifi, but it’s the first long-distance optical tractor beam capable of moving particles one fifth of a millimetre in diameter a distance of up to 20cm.
~ Scale it up a few thousand times and it might be useful. Or you could just pick something up with your hands.

Old paper may have had clues to Dark Matter — A paper from an experiment conducted 32 years ago may shed light on the nature of dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to keep the galaxies from flying apart.
~ I am happy or the subject to remain Dark.

British military seeking gamers to pilot tanks — The British branch of the global defense firm General Dynamics is working on a futuristic state-of-the-art smart-tank to replace the British Army’s ageing armoured vehicles, for 2020. The Scout SV will be the first fully-digitised armored fighting vehicle built for the British Army, and is far bigger and more durable than any of its existing tanks, now at least 20 years old. So they’re looking for the type of people who play Xbox games: “tech-savvy people who are able to take in a lot of information and process it in the proper way”.
~ The gamer’s ultimate justification has arrived.

Engineered cells to fight cancer — Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have successfully cultivated stem cells that will kill brain cancer cells in mice without damaging healthy cells.
~ Mice get all the breaks.

Buildings to sweat for cooling — Our reliance on air conditioning, however magical an innovation, has become a serious environmental burden. So researchers in Barcelona have designed a material they say can naturally cool rooms by about 5C using a moisture-absorbing polymer that “sweats” much like our own bodies.
~ Welcome to my hydroceramic home.That smell is deodorant.

ATLAS getting faster and faster at simple human tasks — ATLAS Is Getting Faster and Faster At Simple Human Tasks
Oh, sure, we all pointed and laughed at ATLAS when it was first revealed, stumbling over simple obstacles. But deep down we knew that, like our original iPods, it would quickly evolve into something far more capable. Just over a year later, ATLAS is already tackling simple obstacles with ease.
~ Ah, the fascination with making things do what we do easily. 

Highest Ice Age settlement — Researchers working in the Peruvian Andes have found an ice age camp located 14,760 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level. It’s so high the archaeologists were surprised ancient humans could survive up there.
~ I’m even surprised archaeologists can survive up there.

2500 year old mummy smoked dope and was covered in tattoos — In 1993, Russian scientist Natalia Polosmak discovered the remains of a 25-year-old woman covered in tattoos who came to be known as the Ukok Princess. An MRI has now revealed the young woman was suffering from breast cancer, a bone marrow infection at the time of her death, and scientists have stated she most likely used cannabis to treat herself.
~ Somehow I suspect the tats weren’t a rose, and anchor and ‘Mum’.

Futurology 12 ~ Seafloor, gravity, antiparticle, solar, coal, water-torch, Ebola


Blackout Buddy H2O’s shelf-stable magnesium-oxide battery remains inert until water kickstarts the chemical reaction that provides electricity to the three white LED bulbs
Blackout Buddy H2O’s shelf-stable magnesium-oxide battery remains inert until water kickstarts the chemical reaction that provides electricity to the three white LED bulbs

More accurate seafloor maps thanks to satellites — Using data from satellites that measure variations in Earth’s gravitational field, researchers have found a new and more accurate way to map the sea floor. The improved resolution has already allowed them to identify previously hidden features including thousands of extinct volcanoes more than 1000 meters tall, as well as piece together some lingering uncertainties in Earth’s ancient history.
~ It’s triumph of multiple pings. 

So much ice gone,  Earth’s gravity has been affected — The European Space Agency has been measuring gravity for four years, mapping variations and recording the changes those variations have undergone. Its data indicates “a significant decrease [in gravity] in the region of Antarctica where land ice is melting fastest.
~ They thought that only happened in oil barons’ Pina Coladas.

A particle that’s also its own antiparticle — In 1937, an Italian physicist predicted the existence of a single, stable particle that could be both matter and antimatter. Nearly 80 years later, a Princeton University research team has actually found it.
~ They should call it the Mussolini Particle — both the agent of change and its now  destruction.

Ultrasmall organic laser — Researchers have made the tiniest organic laser reported so far: an 8-micrometer-long, 440-nanometer-wide device which looks like a suspended bridge riddled with holes. It’s carved into a silicon chip coated with an organic dye. Integrated into microprocessors, such tiny lasers could one day speed up computers by shuttling data using light rather than electrons.
~ The light at the end of the chipset.

Mesh solar cell is also a battery —Researchers at Ohio State have announced a breakthrough in solar energy technology that stands to revolutionise the industry. It’s a mesh solar cell that also stores electricity. The new hybrid device runs on light and oxygen, storing electricity with the help of a simple chemical reaction. The best part is that it brings down the cost of a standard solar cell by 25%.
~ Cheaper is better, so we’re less subject to the power monopolies.

World’s first clean coal commercial plant just opened In Canada — Canada has switched on its Boundary Dam Carbon-Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) Project. In is now the only country on Earth with a commercial-scale, coal-fired power plant capable of harvesting its own CO2 and sulfur dioxide emissions.
~ Coal that eats itself.

Tiny emergency torch glows for 72 hours after you add water — Batteries have a limited shelf life, so any torch you’ve been saving for an emergency might not actually work when you need it. But these tiny emergency lights from Eton simply need you to add water to keep them lit for three full days. They cost US$10 each (main picture).
~ Water torch – yeah! 

Ebola vaccine delay may be due to an Intellectual Property dispute — For the past six weeks, about 800 to 1000 doses of an experimental ebola vaccine have been sitting in a Canadian laboratory instead of being dispensed to West Africa. The delay, it would now appear, may be on account of an intellectual property spat.
~ I am SO disgusted by this!

Futurology 11 ~ Space water, Indian Mars, laser hair, Dystopian clothes and more


Laser your hair bike – perhaps while you cycle and listen to music!
Laser your hair back on – perhaps while you cycle and listen to music!

Water 120 light years away — Astronomers have detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet that orbits a star far beyond our solar system. Observations of the Neptune-sized planet, which lies 120 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, revealed its atmosphere was mostly hydrogen with around 25% made up from water vapour.
~ Astronauts, please fill your water bottles here. 

Indian snapshots from Mars — India’s Mangalyaan spacecraft is doing what anyone with that view outside of its window might do: posting a series of quick snapshots back for all its friends at home.
~ Instagram.

Leaf might let us colonise space — Royal College of Art graduate Julian Melchiorri has developed a ‘man-made biological leaf’ made from chloroplasts and a silk product. It produces oxygen the same way a real plant does. As Melchiorri explains in the video, that could be a boon for space exploration.
~ Mm, but teamed with what type of salad dressing?

Clearer, cheaper smartphone screens — The most advanced LED screens look amazing compared to what was on the market even a couple of years ago. But a Princeton engineer found a cheap new way of making LEDs not only brighter and more efficient but also five times as clear, and they’ll last longer. (Professor Stephen Chou is renowned for his 2012 nanotechnology breakthrough that increased solar cell efficiency by 175%.)
~ Once those patents go through … iPhone 7, 1% cheaper than 6.

Dystopian clothes that shield iPhones — British company The Affair has created a number of science fiction-themed fashion lines, but their latest is all modeled on what people wore in George Orwell’s 1984, and comes with a shielded phone pocket made from material that can effectively pull you off the grid. They block Cell, WiFi, GPS and RFID signals to ~100 dB, plus NFC signals. There are a few days left to contribute to The Affair’s Kickstarter, which will get you the outfits of your choice.
~ Now minus 20% more. The tagline is ‘Become Invisible to Big Brother’.

Shinkin’ Arctic ice in one simple graphic — NASA’s Greg Shirah made a great grid graphic using images of the north pole sea ice extent from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. From left to right you go from 1979 to 2014. From top to bottom you can see the months. You can see how the spots are smaller every year. Zoom in and scroll.
~ Someone seriously once told me that global warming was a ;left wing conspiracy’. He failed to elucidate what the left would possibly gain from such a conspiracy.

Recyclable cardboard furniture — If you’re not going to be living too long in a place, decking out your temporary abode in recyclable cardboard furniture makes sense. It’s cheaper than real furniture, you don’t have to bring it next time you move, and with modular TapeFlips sets you can actually build exactly the pieces you need.

2000x the sun — IBM Research and Swiss company Airlight Energy announced a parabolic dish that increases the sun’s radiation by 2,000 times while also producing fresh water and air conditioning. It can generate 12 kilowatts of electrical power and 20 kilowatts of heat on a sunny day — enough to power several average homes.
~ Build your own sunspot.

Hair-growing laser helmet — Apira Science’s iGrow Hair Growth system is now available over-the-counter. The funky looking device (main picture, above) uses lasers and LEDs to illuminate the scalp with red light, which according to the manufacturer is supposed to work.
~ Seems an unproven and light-headed idea to me.

3D printing to restore a Frank Lloyd Wright building — The largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in the world is at Florida Southern University. Depending on how you count, there are 7 to 12 buildings, the most distinctive of which is Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. Time has taken its toll on the chapel’s one-of-a-kind concrete blocks, but it’s the 21st century, and we now have a modern solution to fix them: 3D printing.
Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects (MCWB) was brought on to restore the buildings, and funded by the Florida Division of Historical Resources and $the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures Program, rather than print concrete blocks, the architects printed plastic moulds to cast the concrete.
~ New for old. 

How much a European city has changed in 100 years — A video shows the 100 year difference at Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
~ Interesting video, but all I can think of is ‘mmm, cheese’.

Futurology 10 ~ Rosetta, ant-radio, nanobeads, UFO, solar, exo-pants, DNA advances


A photo of an Earth-origin spaceship over 400 million kilometres away from Earth
A photo of an Earth-origin spaceship over 400 million kilometres away from Earth

Spaceship flying 402.3 million kilometres away from Earth — Above is a photo of a spaceship flying 402.3 million kilometres away from Earth. It’s Rosetta, floating in the black vacuum of space, photographed by its Philae daughtership, a lander that will soon arrive to the object on the background, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
~ Let’s hope it leaves no space-stone unturned.

And now it knows where to land — Site J is the area chosen for its unique scientific potential and minimum risk to the lander. Choosing a landing site was not easy. Comet Churymov-Gerasimenko’s strange, rubber ducky-like shape has presented a host of operational challenges.
~ You’d think the Churymov-Gerasimenkians would have rolled out the red carpet, after all that trouble.

Ant-sized radios — Radios made of silicon and measuring a few millimeters each have been developed by researchers at Stanford University. You can fit dozens of them on a penny and the good news is that they’re dirt cheap to manufacture.
~ I had no idea ants listened to the radio. at least they can carry these ones instead of just having to live inside them.

Nanobeads to sweep your blood — Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created what is essentially an artificial spleen. The device made of wire and plastic may not resemble the fleshy organ in our bodies, but its series of blood channels mimics the microarchitecture of spleens.
Blood passing through these channels encounters magnetic nanobeads coated with a protein called mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a natural immune protein that binds to the surfaces of bacteria, viruses, fungi, pathogen, and toxins.
~ So far only labtest animals are getting the benefits. 

The 1960s TV Series UFO predicted today’s cutting-edge military tech — This classic TV show created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson had its share of late-’60s, early-’70s schlock, such as military officers whose mini-skirt uniforms included purple wigs. But U.F.O also had strong characters, nuanced plots and extremely cool technology that, in retrospect, was decades ahead of its time.
~ And the cars!

Solar tech enhances oil recovery — Glasspoint Solar Inc installs aluminium mirrors near oil fields to concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell has invested heavily into this.
~ Cynical or what?!

Exoskeleton pants — Exoskeletons that give you superhuman strength sound incredibly awesome but also look incredibly awkward and bulky and uncomfortable. So what about a soft exoskeleton that you wear like a pair of pants?
Harvard researchers recently won a DARPA grant of up to $US2.9 million to develop the Soft Exosuit – so far, it’s created a proof-of-concept suit that resembles black leggings, threaded with cables and attached to a bulky battery pack at the waist.
~ Also excellent for extended dancing sessions. 

Europeans came from three ancestry groupings — A recent study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Tübingen in Germany has found that present day Europeans are descendants of three different groups of people: a near-eastern farmer group, an indigenous hunter-gatherer group, and an ancient North Eurasian group from Siberia.
~ In my case it was mum, dad and, er …

And if that’s interesting … Check out this story about what they can gather from your DNA these days.
~ Modern-day hunting and gathering. 

Futurology 06 ~ Mars, microbes, Microsoft & Peak Meat


Researchers discovered a microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911
Researchers discovered a microscopic oval object within the Nakhla Mars meteorite, which fell to Earth in Egypt in 1911

Astronomers discover a planetary impact outside our own Solar System — In a study published in the latest issue of Science, astronomers led by graduate student Huan Meng, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, announced the discovery of remains of a mammoth planetary collision.
~ Space likes safe drivers too.

Weird microscopic structure found In martian meteorite — Scientists have found a strange structure resembling a microbial cell inside a Martian meteorite, but they’re not claiming that it’s evidence of Red Planet life (pictured above).
~ Interplanetary coincidence is all?

NASA sets a 2018 launch date for the rocket that will take us to mars — Three years after its unveiling, NASA managers have approved the development of the rocket that will carry astronauts into deep space. Called the Space Launch System (SLS), the heavy-lift rocket will be the most powerful ever built, and is designed to launch the next generation of space explorers to deep-space worlds well beyond Earth’s moon.
~ I’ve told you before, I’m not going!

NASA will reformat Mars rover from 200 million kilometres away — NASA’s Opportunity rover is still trundling across the surface of Mars, more than 11 years after its 90-day mission began. But its software is getting bogged down, so NASA’s doing a full system backup, memory wipe and reboot. It’s just like your routine computer clean-up, just from the next planet over.
~ Security Update.

Every internet-connected device on a map — This map was made on August 2 by John Matherly, the founder of Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices. Matherly, who calls himself an internet cartographer, collected the data to put it together by sending ping requests to every IP address on the internet, and storing the positive responses. A ping is a network utility that sends an echo-request message (known as a packet) to an IP address — the internet’s version of “hey, are you there?”
~ I can see your device from here.

Microsoft defies court order, will not give emails to US government — Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.
~ Every now and again Microsoft does good things. 

Ebola’s initial outbreak pinpointed — One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it’s changed in any significant ways. … Researchers have revealed they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. Among their findings, the researchers discovered the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years.
Using genetic sequences from current and previous outbreaks, the researchers mapped out a family tree that puts a common ancestor of the recent West African outbreak some place in Central Africa roughly around 2004.
~ Awesome work. The world salutes you. 

Peak meat — We may be about to hit ‘peak meat’? Globally, meat production has skyrocketed since the ’60s. But though our appetite for meat shows no signs of slowing, our ability to devote huge swaths of land, water, and feed to its production may be hitting its limits.
~ Don’t look at me, I haven’t touched the stuff in 25 years.

Futurology 04 ~ Space, the robots are winning, sponge-bone & ancient skeletons


Harvard's swarm of Kilobots
Harvard’s swarm of Kilobots

NASA scientists find the first interstellar space particles —NASA has identified for the first time seven rare, microscopic interstellar dust particles . They date to the beginnings of the solar system. The particles have been identified amongst samples obtained by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft, which returned to Earth back in 2006.
~ At least they were looking in the right place. 

Origami Solar Panels — Brian Trease, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is working with researchers at Brigham Young University to construct a solar array that uses origami principles for deployment. Such devices could one day beam power down to Earth — and folding them into a small size could minimise launch and assembly costs.
~ And if it doesn’t work, there’ll be a job opening for an Astronautical Origami Unfolder.

Super computer windfarm for Mexico — It’s being built by Spanish company Iberdrola, and will be located on a 2.4km high spot in Puebla state, one of the windiest parts of Mexico. The supercomputer used a simulation system called SEDAR (a Spanish acronym for “high resolution wind power simulator”) that calculates airflow and solves complex problems like where turbines should be situated.
~ Honestly, they can’t work out where’s windy themselves?

A thousand tiny robots swarming into shapes like intelligent insects — Since the first crude automatons running on clockwork mechanisms, mankind has been working to build the perfect artificial copy of ourselves for centuries. Researchers at Harvard University, inspired by the idea that one day life can be recreated using countless tiny robots, have been developing and building their Kilobots for years now. The Kilobots started off with just twenty-five units all working together to accomplish a task, then a hundred, and now a thousand (pictured above).
~ Sounds frighteningly close to ‘killerbots’ to me. 

Very fast camera — Japanese researchers have recently designed a motion picture camera capable of capturing 4.4 trillion frames per second, making it the fastest camera in the world. The technique that allows for such speed is called STAMP (sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography). The research paper, published in the journal Nature Photonics, has the full details.

Robots have already taken over — If you think it’s just a joke that robots are going to replace humans, it’s not. It’s going to happen. In fact, CGP Grey explains in ‘Humans Need Not Apply’ how it’s already happening around us right now. You might not notice it but you will after you watch how we’re following historical patterns towards obscurity.
In reality, as CGP Grey shows us, real change happens when last decade’s shiny and fancy and new and expensive stuff becomes cheaper and faster.

Limits to smaller, faster computing — In a [paywalled] review article in this week’s issue of the journal Nature (described in a National Science Foundation press release), Igor Markov of the University of Michigan/Google reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, in principle and in practice, using today’s and emerging technologies. “Understanding these important limits,” says Markov, “will help us to bet on the right new techniques and technologies.”
Luckily Ars Technica does a great job of expanding on the various limitations that Markov describes, and the ways in which engineering can push back against them.

 

Corsair's super DRAM4
Corsair’s super new DDR4

Super futuristic DDR4 RAM — A new chipset and memory combination will blow away anything that came before it. DDR4 is the brand new memory standard, soon to replace the now seven-year-old DDR3 as the overclocker’s RAM of choice. Corsair’s new DDR4 RAM, along with other brands’ and the next-gen motherboards that support it, will go on sale at the end of this month.
~ And it looks pretty super!

Sponge could help fill gaps where bone can’t regrow itself — Your bones are masterful self-healers, but certain injuries and defects can leave a gap too wide for new bone cells to fill in. Texas A&M’s Dr Melissa Grunlan and team have come up with a solution, a biodegradable polymer sponge that supports new bone cell growth, then disappears as it’s replaced by solid bone.
~ I still want a third hand with three fingers and two thumbs in the middle of my chest that reaches my mouth so I can eat a sandwich while I do something else, personally. Grow me one of them, Dr Grunlan!

Historians rediscover Einstein’s forgotten model of the universe — In 1931, after a 3- month visit to the US, Albert Einstein penned a paper that attempted to show how his theory of general relativity could account for some of the latest scientific evidence.
Einstein had met Edwin Hubble during his trip and so was aware of the latter’s data indicating that the universe must be expanding. The resulting model, now translated into English, is of a universe that expands and then contracts with a singularity at each end. He wrote the paper in only 4 days, and this model was ultimately superseded by the Einstein-de Sitter model published the following year.
~ Er, yeah, I’ll read it later.

How a 1920s feminist imagined our futuristic high-tech world —Josephine Daskam Bacon was an author known for her adventure serials that featured female protagonists. But in 1929, she took a break from her regular fiction and slipped on futurist goggles for an article in Century magazine titled ‘In Nineteen Seventy-Nine’.
Bacon imagined just how much progress women will have made fifty years hence — and whether her granddaughter would be able to “have it all” as some people here in the future might say.
~ Here’s a comment from Bacon: “No, the most the aeroplanes can do is to ease the traffic a little, and spread the accidents over a wider surface.”

Wyoming cave yields loads of interesting bones — Scientists excavating an ancient Wyoming sinkhole containing a rare trove of fossils of Ice Age mammals. It contains hundreds of bones of such prehistoric animals as American cheetahs, a paleontologist said on Friday.
The extensive excavation that began late last month uncovered roughly 200 large bones of animals like horses that roamed North America from 12,000 to 23,000 years ago and an uncounted number of microfossils of creatures such as birds, lizards and snakes.
~ I too have some interesting bones. My favourite wraps all around my brain.