The Pentagon is being very hush-hush about it, but a secret weapon we posses in the US military is a solid rocket-fuel incendiary fireball. Meant to take out chemical weapons labs or underground bunkers, these fireballs burn up anything located inside the structure without blowing it up. “These are hollow spheres, made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno.” If there’s one thing that could ruin a persons day, it’s a bunch of solid rocket-fuel fireballs bouncing around in a small area.
Due to the secretive nature of the new weapon, not much is being said, but Wired, who initially reported the story, says that it’s quite possible the fireballs (named “CrashPAD” and “Shredder”) have been put into some sort of low-rate production. One wonders if this was the secret military weapon Bob Woodward was talking about a few months ago.
IBM held its Third Annual "Five in Five" which looks at emerging trends as well as what IBM itself is developing in their own labs around the world. Here's the vid.
While previous predictions given by these "Five in Five" releases can be somewhat fanciful (like mind-reading cellphones for instance), this latest list has the refreshing feel of being very near and very possible.
Solar technology will be built into everything
IBM states that within five years we could be seeing thin-film solar technology built into everything around us. This includes sidewalks, driveways, paint, windows and even clothing. Their belief is that thin-film solar will get so cheap that it can be applied everywhere in our lives. It's ability to be flexible also makes it easy to wrap around our daily devices which could benefit from a little extra power boost. It's interesting to think that while some people are clamoring for white asphalt and roofing tiles to reflect the Suns energy and save on lighting, another faction will emerge that will want solar film instead. Of course the question remains: are you going to want to hook a battery up to your clothing?
Your health can be pre-determined
Mapping DNA keeps getting faster and cheaper as the years go along. It only makes sense that very soon people will begin to use that genetic information to look for hereditary traits that could impact your health. In finding out you have a high chance of becoming diabetic, you may try and change your diet to avoid or delay its effects. Basically, it's the movie GATTACA without being able to actually alter the DNA before birth. I wonder how you'll take the news when they tell you that the junk food you so love is literally killing your body and taking years off your life.
In a recent mock battle between two armored brigades (“Red” and “Blue”) in the Chinese Army, the Red Army was the victim of a virus attack which erased all their orders for re-supply.
“During the exercise, the Red Army basic command post, command and control station, received information from the main attack force that 3/4 of their ammunition had been depleted. A resupply order was immediately sent to the rear command post. However, after transmission, the order form appeared blank.”
Follow-up requests for ammunition were answered with the response that the request had been processed. The Red Army eventually lost the exercise once their ammunition ran out. It makes one wonder if all the money we’re pouring into the latest military gadgets could be compromised by a programmer working on a virus that would cost a few thousand.
It’s crazy to think that an army could be waylaid by a computer virus, but with our increasing reliance on technology for better and more efficient armies is was only a matter of time. You may have heard about how when Russia invaded Northern Georgia they preceded the attack by hacking Georgian systems as well as flooding Georgian government sites, shutting them down. There’s no doubt that cyber attacks are now a part of a nations battle-chest. This is the future of war.
Late last week, it was announced that NASA had, pardon the pun, pissed away $154 million by creating a urinal/water fountain system that didn’t work. To witness how a more simple technology can have huge implications down here on this planet, watch this amazing video (Note: it is a little graphic, but it helps to remember that these are the real life conditions under which billions of people must actually get their water):
The Linux community could be described as a group of people across the globe with the best of intentions, but even within the Linux community there are still splits and divisions.
While the idea is to create community-based software that is free to everyone, getting quality software can be hard since instead of working on one program which can, let's say, edit video, there are multiple programs out there to perform this function. This has always surprised me about the Linux community. I always figured there would be just one program developers would work on to make the best instead of wasting their resources by working on multiple programs that perform the same function.
Why are there tons of media players when there should just be one? Why are there various operating systems when there should be just one? Even Ubuntu has multiple off-shoots which is understandable since people want to gear their computer towards gaming or speed specifically. But a media player?
But now it seems we might be seeing one platform dominating a field where previously there had been over 50 varieties.
Android has made Linux users happy with their Open Source Operating System. You can tell by looking through many of the different forums or sites Linux users use. Just about anytime you see a reference to a mobile phone operating system, Android is referenced in spades. A team of developers recently put the Linux kernal onto the iPhone. The reaction? People couldn't wait to try and put Android onto the iPhone. And while Apple has tried its best to keep the iPhone from being re-programmed, it may prove futile in the end.
The only hope Apple has now of avoiding the loss of its operating system (and becoming only a hardware manufacturer) is if it too opens up its programming to users and generates support from the community. As of now the iPhone is a novelty that, once Android is able to replicate or exceed, will eventually wear off. Then again, it may already be too late for Apple.
The Clean Energy Prize Competition was founded with the goal of using clean energy technology from the labs to actual use. DTE Energy, in conjunction with the University of Michigan, want the contestants to create the best business plan for bringing clean energy technologies into stores and the market. The team with the most creative module receives $100,000 plus the grand prize of $65,000.
The competition started with 20 teams and is now down to 14.
This contest prepares the participants with the experience and knowledge of what it takes to start a clean energy business.
The business proposals include: "Aeolian is involved in the design and manufacture of air-powered automotive engines", "CTW International would develop land-based projects that have climate, biodiversity, and community benefits", "Husk would convert agricultural waste into high-grade insulation" and "Potential Energy would create clean, sustainable storage for wind energy".
The competition is judged by leaders from different sectors. In the first round, the judges came from companies such as Google, the Michigan Public Service Comission, and Next Energy.
The next round in the competition is creating a financial overview which must be submitted by January 16, in which six teams will be eliminated. The next judging, the semi-finals, will take place on February 13 and on March 20 the final will be held.
Once nanotechnology, stem cell research, and genetic engineering were able to converge upon the same laboratories it became clear that a wide variety of deadly and debilitative diseases share their origin: damaged or failing tissues, organs and bodily systems. Some are chronic due to aging, others are more acute, but they have correlated pathologies after all. The interrelationships between the biggest 20th century killers of humankind became astonishingly clear, as did the road to the regenerative medicine to cure nearly all of them.
The booklet 2063 A.D. (Free PDF download; $25.30 print) was published by General Dynamics Astronautics, and placed into a time capsule in July of 1963.
Only 200 copies were ever printed. The 50 page book contains predictions by scientists, politicians, astronauts and military commanders about the state of space exploration in the year 2063.
As you'd suspect, given General Dynamic's business, there are many predictions about space travel, lunar bases and cheap energy resources. (So there is still time yet for their forecasts to come true!)
Lulu's edition is a reprint made from scans of the original 1963 book.
If you like this type of historical futures also check out the blog Paleo Future
Elon University recently unveiled a series of future scenarios they've compiled from asking industry leaders, analysts and activists a series of questions about major tech advances they expect by 2020. You can find good snippets from the report here at Pew Internet.
One thing the report goes over is the increasing use of mobile internet as the method of connecting to the World Wide Web. "The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020." The go on to cite various examples such as the increasing computing power of mobile phones, how applications are increasingly easy to use and operate, and of course the cost of phones drop everyday (anyone heard the rumor that Wal-Mart would be selling the iPhone for $99?)
On one hand I feel bad for those '$100 Laptop' people who tried so hard to make a cheap laptop and have pretty much failed, but on the other hand we have amazing products that do even more for the same price, and they're small. While the idea of a third world student dutifully doing their homework on a cellphone may seem strange, by 2020 we'll be seeing developments of amazing heads-up displays as well as the nearly complete removal of the touchscreen as a device. Infrared beams can replace a touchscreen and rolllable OLED screens will allow for larger displays in much smaller gadgets.