Glimpsing The Future

One of the things that’s going to change the world is finding ways of interacting with computers other than standard keyboard and mice. As we get closer to the digital world and the physical world overlapping, we’ll need new ways of connecting the two. Recently a group has created a device that looks like a thick band that you wear on your arm. If you tap different parts of your body it measures the differences in sound to know where the tap came from and allows your body to be transferred into an interface without the need of any implants.

Skinput turns your hand into a touchscreen and your fingers into a keypad.
via Gizmag

I’ve recently read a book titled “Lilith’s Brood” by Octavia E. Butler. It’s a fascinating story about aliens who come to earth after most of humanity has destroyed itself in a massive war. These aliens have direct control over DNA and cells and as such their entire society (buildings, spaceships, tables, etc.) is grown instead of built. This talk by Rachel Armstrong reminds me of it. She talks about her work on protocells (manufactured, sort-of-but-not-really living things) and how they can be used to grow structures that can be integrated with the architecture of buildings and cities.

Architecture that Repairs Itself
via TED

The scientists who, awhile back, created a section of rat brain on a computer are now working on making an entire human brain in a computer. They expect to have it done within ten years.

Supercomputing the Brain’s Secrets
via TED

Meta materials have been doing some sweet things lately, like making light waves bend around them to make them invisible. In this new application, scientists have set it up such that it has the mathematical properties if a black hole (well, just for light, not for gravity and thus space itself). It can absorb light in all directions and none of it gets out. The energy of the light does get emitted as heat, though. I wonder how efficient of a solar panel this thing would make…

Artificial Black Hole Created In Chinese Lab
via Technology Review

A camera has been made that is so small that it can fit inside a single cell and can take 1,000,000 frames per second video. This means that we can now watch protiens folding to see how they do it. This is going to be huge for cellular biology.

Megaframe Camera Is So Small It Can Go Inside Neural Pathways, oh, and It Shoots At 1,000,000 fps
via Crunch Gear

Rats were paralyzed by severing their spinal cord. Using a treatment of drugs and electrical stimulation, scientists were able to get them to walk 10 minutes later. For rats that had been paralyzed longer, it only took a few weeks for their muscles to regrow to the point of carrying their own weight again.

Paralyzed Rats Sprint
via New Scientist

{September 22, 2009}   Carnivorous Machines

Small machines are being built that power themselves by eating flies or mice. I guess as we delve into energy sources away from fossil fuels, looking at how nature eats things seems to be a path towards engineering the future.

Carnivorous Robots
via New Scientist

It took off when I was growing up and is far and beyond what it ever has been before. It’s a trend that I’m hoping doesn’t take us into the future, but which I haven’t seen much opposition to.

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood
via Sociological Images

{September 2, 2009}   Give Augmented Relative a Try

I found this neat website where you can give augmented reality a try. What you need is a webcam and a printer (or monitor or marker and paper). Print out the image (or put it on your monitor or draw it on a piece of paper, all of those worked for me) and move the webcam so it can see it, at which point a little alien looking guy will appear. You can move it around by moving the webcam or paper. It’s a pretty neat demo and is the beginning of things to come.

Augmented Reality

{September 2, 2009}   Getting Solar Power from Space

Japan is spending 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) on a solar power station to be located above the earth’s atmosphere. I’m interested to see how this pans out.

Mitsubishi, IHI to Join $21 Bln Space Solar Project

et cetera