By: Ben Moon, Director of Space and Technology
Technology is like the brother of magic. At least it seems that way. Everyday humans are making scientific leaps and bounds, turning science fiction into science reality. It’s really quite fun to follow the progress. Let’s talk about some recent advancements shall we?
We can turn oily algae into fuel. We can grow plastics from plants. We can slow down a beam of light and stop it in its tracks. We can grow diamonds in a lab in just a few days. We can video chat with people on the other side of the world, for free.
While it’s interesting to talk about this stuff, it’s more fun to see it in action. So I will present to you some new technologies with video and pictures to showcase them.
First up: Touchable Holography. This technology utilizes a concave mirror to create holographic images, Wiimotes to track the user, and and “Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display” that allows you to actually feel the holographic images. Crazy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-P1zZAcPuw
Eyeborg. Rob Spence, a one-eyed Canadian filmmaker and Kosta Grammatis, his engineer friend have created an eyeball camera that fits into Spence’s empty eye socket. They’re making a movie from that perspective. Weird. http://eyeborgproject.com/home.php
Super computing (for real). Graphene is an extremely strong experimental material with extremely high conductivity. It's essentially a one-atom-thick honeycomb fabric of carbon. It’s better than silicone for computer chips and MIT researchers claim that it may be able to boost the clock speed of computer chips into the 500-GHz to 1,000-GHz range. You’re overclocked 8-GHz silicon chip in liquid nitrogen just shed a tear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YbS-YyvCl4&feature=related
Electromagnetic Railgun. Current naval ship guns generate about 9 megajoules of muzzle energy. The electromagnetic railgun developed at Naval Surface Warfare Division in Dahlgren, Virginia is an 8-megajoule prototype, but the one to be used on Navy ships will generate a massive 64 megajoules. The top-secret gun the Navy used to destroy Devastator in Transfomers: Revenge of the Fallen was not science fiction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y54aLcC3G74 and http://www.nswc.navy.mil/ET/railgun/
DARPA is developing something their calling “Silent Talk” for soldiers. Using an EEG to read brain waves, they’re attempting to analyze "pre-speech" thoughts , map people's EEG patterns to his / her individual words, then see if those patterns are common to all people. If they are, then the team will move on to developing a way to transmitting those patterns to another person. It’s basically telepathy! http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/05/pentagon-preps-soldier-telepathy-push/#comments
The Sun…On Earth! There is a laser housed at the National Ignition Facility (or NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, that is the size of three football fields. It will aim to create a "star" on earth by focusing 192 beams at a pea-sized target, generating temperatures over 100 million degrees and pressure over 100 billion times the earth's atmosphere. The process will create nuclear fusion -- the reaction that powers the sun and the stars. Hot! http://www.physorg.com/news162827599.html and https://lasers.llnl.gov/programs/nif/about.php
Allow these things to mystify you until mid November when the Large Hadron Collider creates a mini-black hole that will swallow the Earth. Cheers!
Ben Moon is the Manager of Space and Technology at McWane. He is a total geek and loves space, shiny things, technology, gadgets, video games, sci-fi and zombies. He is married and just had his first child! His favorite movie is The Rocketeer. He wishes he had telekinesis.