Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here Comes Tesla

Tesla Motors has just announced that they will build a factory in Northern California. The company will build at this location its 5 passenger Model S all electric car that will go 225 miles on a single charge. It makes you wonder if this is the end of the decrepit American auto industry as we have known it.

Instead of talking of bailing out the obviously non-innovative and oil industry entrenched auto industry of old, the government should send that money to companies such as this to get these types of cars into production faster. Ford, GM and the likes are not moving fast enough to bring us alternative vehicles. These companies are too entangled with unions that they are unable to deliver us from the gas guzzling behemoths as quickly as another company might be able to. With all the talk of delivering us from our oil dependence it appears that politicians are ignoring the new and trying very hard to hang on to the old. I guess the old can afford more lobbyists.

And if you think electric cars have to be dorky, look at some of the vehicles Tesla has been putting out:

Tesla Motors Website

Monday, September 15, 2008

God Must Hate Bush

Shortly after hurricane Katrina many a christian and conservative stated that God was punishing New Orleans because the city was evil much like the biblical cities Sodom and Gommorah. Every christian knows that God controls the weather and the weather during the Bush administration has been very nasty. Either God hates Bush or he hates the American people because he keeps slamming the south (populated mostly by conservative christians) with these devestating storms, and he doesn't seem to just have his sites aimed on New Orleans. Ike has just slammed into Galveston, and I am sure has hit some pretty nice people that love God just fine and live good lives. It seems as if these storms are just aimed at whatever location God chooses.

In addition to devestating hurricanes, God has also cursed Bush with a bad economy that is getting worse as we speak as Merill Lynch sales off and Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy. Bush was cursed with faulty intelligence with the weapons of mass destruction, the horrible events of 9/11 and two long drawn out wars.

The high gas prices also seem to be hitting Bush rather hard. Not only are they hitting bush hard, but they are hitting the pickup truck and SUV driving south hard as well. Again, God seems to be focusing so much negativity towards the south, but with the economic woes the way they are, everyone is starting to feel the pain of Gods hatred for Bush.

I think God is sending us a message that maybe conservatives are making him mad and their way of life is not the direction he would like us to move.

Maybe God wants us to live better. Maybe we should take better care of the Earth and work harder to retain our Allies abroad while dealing with enemies where they are and not where we lie about them being. Maybe we should buy what we can afford and stop living above our means. Maybe some of us should realize that we have conflicting beliefs floating around our brains that are making us a nation that appears slightly insane to the rest of the world.

We must assume that God really hates Bush; otherwise, he would have granted him a next to flawless 8 years. I again state, maybe God wasn't punishing New Orleans during Katrina or Galveston during Ike, he might have been punishing Bush.

Let's hope he likes the next president better.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Left and Right: Same Goals Different Views

There's a strange co-mingling of ideas coming from the far right and the left and landing squarely all over America. The other day I saw an add on TV talking about rampant consumerism and how it is bad for everyone. It wasn't an anti-consumerist or environmental group flipping the bill for the add, it was a Southern Baptist Church. Now the probable reason for the church running the add is that they would rather see you donate your dwindling funds to the church (the recession has to be hurting them too) instead of buying that new pair of pants, but the message is still the same. In these hard economic times it appears as if America is awakening from a long slumber of 30 years and discovering something new. We don't have to buy everything we can get our hands on to be happy, family and community is more rewarding than a big screen TV. If we do buy everything within our reach, we're starting to realize that it isn't necessarily a sustainable practice and one day we may actually run out of the core stuff needed to make a bunch of not only useless stuff, but much needed stuff as well.

Not only can you see a convergence in thought when it comes to the lack of need in consuming large amounts of goods, but you may also see an amazing coming together in the areas of fossil fuels and the need for alternative energy as well. As fuel prices go up we see people ditching their SUVs and Trucks at an increasing rate. The losses posted by the U.S. auto manufacturers is proof as they are finding it hard selling their large inventories of gas guzzling behemoths. The message that our dependency on oil is not only funding terrorists, but is putting us at risk as the wells start to dry up. Not to mention, all that carbon spewing into the atmosphere is not all that great for us all either. People are buying more fuel efficient vehicles now just as they did in the 70's. The difference now is that we have technologies that are better and even more capable of delivering us from the dark ages of moving material around and putting us into a brighter cleaner future. In the green movement of the seventies, people had to give up their lifestyles in order to be truly green. Now with technology it is an easier and more logical move to change a few habits and a few light bulbs to save your self some money while inadvertently changing the world.

We have oil men (T. Boone Pickens) putting up wind mills and Southern Baptist Churches advertising the woes of unchained consumerism. We have retailers (Wal-Mart) and suppliers (Milk Produces and Toy Companies) changing packaging and their core products to reduce waste while still delivering low cost products. It is a changing world and the converts are growing at an alarming rate. It is highly possible that we are truly awakening into a new age where we think before we purchase and want to live less wasteful and more fulfilling lives. It will be nice to see further adoption of sustainable ideas by various groups regardless of their ultimate reasons. As long as we all see the same thing regardless of point of view and are willing to tackle it, then we will all benefit and be a stronger nation and world because of it.

The terrorists may have inadvertently created a stronger America. We now have a common direction that is driven mainly by the desire to drop the oil and the need to save money. Our incompetent president may have inadvertently set us up for success through recession. Without the high prices of gas and the dire economy, people may not be so willing to embrace more sustainable lives. Even though the left and the right are obviously charged and at opposite ends of the spectrum at the moment, they may actually have more in common than they think. The things they have in common are beautiful and is something that our nation should latch on to and use to keep us moving forward into the future. Reducing our need for oil will make us stronger and less resistant to foreign control. Our reduction of waste will change the way less wasteful countries see us. Sustainable energy and sustainable communities will give us stronger brighter futures and make us a healthier happier nation.

Talk to your friends and neighbors and discuss ideas on how to save money. Chances are, by saving money, you are also saving valuable resources that our country can use to propel us into the future. If we all started talking about saving money and coupled that with saving the planet we could find common grounds that will bring about the goals of everyone (except for the terrorists).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Trusting Those that Promise to Cure Us

Two articles have just been released (see links below) providing further evidence that pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money and are willing to take risks to raise profits even if it means killing a few customers in the process. You usually trust your doctor, but when he hands you samples for a drug and a slip of paper containing a prescription you have to wonder if he truly believes that it is the best drug for you. Is he basing his decision on his own research or has he been psychologically persuaded to dish out the drugs because some beautiful twenty-something pharmaceutical sales rep took him out to dinner and gave him a bunch of documentation on the drug that is slanted in favor of the company that manufactures the drug?

It seems that Baxter International was selling Heparin to people that contained a "heparin like" substance that was cheaper to produce. Now, Baxter says you can't blame them. They didn't intentionally alter the formula, it was their Chinese manufacturers that decided to taint the drug to make a profit. This raises a valid question. Should we trust a company that hires a factory in a foreign country to provide medicinal components to the drugs we take on a daily basis? We're already told to be weary of lead tainted toys, now we have to worry about the medicine that we may rely on to keep us alive. Where are the labels on our prescription bottles stating "Made in China"? The consumer has a right to know if their medicine is being off shored in order to cut costs for the producer of the drugs. When you think of China made goods, you think of cheap labor and often substandard materials. These two ideas are not what we should be equating with our prescription drugs.

Another appalling example of the direction drug manufacturers are taking is the case brought forth against Merc and their drug VIOXX. It seems that Merc hired outside "professional writers" to write what they provided as "solid academic research". This "professionally written" material was delivered to doctors as valid scientific information. These for profit pharmaceutical companies are hiring for profit writing firms to produce material that is marketed towards your medical provider in the hope that he/she can be manipulated into prescribing the medication to you. It is in the best interest of the pharmaceutical company to sell the drug. They market medications as if they are marketing a pair of shoes or a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee or a pair of shoes won't necessarily kill you, but a drug manufactured and marketed based on lies could.

The government is not helping regulate this to the extent that it should. It seems that our capitalistic system lets the consumer down hard when it comes to health. Drug companies should not finance studies into their own products. Doctors should research medicines and should not allow pharmaceutical sales reps into their offices, no matter how pretty they are and how many baseball tickets they offer or how many free lunches they provide the staff. The concept of ethics has deteriorated all the way around.

Visit the Google health news feed for at least a year and take note of the news stories there. You may come to the conclusion that things are good for you one week and bad for you the next. Breakthroughs are mentioned and then never heard of again. It seems that health news is hard to put your trust into because the medical field has lost its way. The truth is that these economic powers are wrestling to keep you buying what they have to sell. It appears that they don't care if it is good for you or not. They market to you and manipulate you and in the end they say it was your decision to take the medicine or to smoke the cigarette or to drink the soft drink. It's hard to make your own decisions when you have been brainwashed since your youth while you innocently watched your Saturday morning cartoons along with the heavy dose of commercials pushing goods in order to build brand recognition in your developing sense of self. We are just fodder for the systems we have developed. We are a renewable resource that feeds the non-sustainable consumerism machines.

One must be paranoid when it comes to health and trusting the "system". We must all wonder if we are given drugs to just simply "maintain" our illnesses. If a cure for something is discovered, then the pharmaceutical companies lose. They don't want to lose. They sell drugs and want to continue selling those drugs. It is in their best interest to develop drugs that offer a way of providing relief without providing a cure. It may sound sinister, but it is basic economics.

Further reading:
Hired Writers, not Scientists, Create Information for Doctors
Drug Altered for Profit
Fighting the Drug (Ad) Wars

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Garbage Warrior....Sustainable Housing

The "Garbage Warrior" is a man named Michael Reynolds. Michael is a non-traditional architect who has been making houses out of non-traditional materials with his rag tag team of workers for the past 30 years in Taos New Mexico. He makes you question why we have been building houses roughly the same for the past hundred years.

The problem with being a radical thinker, like Michael, is that people often want to stick their fingers in their ears and not hear from you and some want to shut you up completely by barring your every move. The houses that Michael and his crew have built have been evolving in complexity over the past several decades and are self contained habitats that collect their own water, generate their own energy, provide food and process their own waste. With any evolving process, there are mistakes that must be learned from and used to produce a better next step. These mistakes nearly shut Michael down completely.

The people that worked for Michael built their own homes while other experimental homes were sold to people looking for something different in life. In the late 90's the Taos County government didn't like this. They stated that as a developer Michael had to provide electricity from the grid to these houses. They stated that he needed to provide water. He had to build roads. He also had to divide the lots up and sell them appropriately. It seems that bureaucrats are unable to see outside of the box and think about the future needs of humanity. In 2000 Michael gave up his New Mexico architecture and construction licenses because the State Architects Board of New Mexico moved to take his credentials from him.

Building houses out of trash such as used tires and beer cans seems just a little strange, so it is no wonder that stodgy old politician puppets of established industry would fight Michael's every move. It wasn't until the tsunami of 2004 that Michael and his team received his chance to make a difference and to prove his methods.

A small island that was all but destroyed by the tsunami requested that Michael and his team travel there and help them rebuild. The island had approximately 30,000 residents prior to the tsunami. After the tsunami they had roughly 7,000 inhabitants. The people were living in shanty towns and the government had to ship water to the residents. Michael and his team came in and built one of their sustainable houses out of the debris that was laying all over the island. The local people helped build the house and the knowledge of doing so was not only transferred to them, but to area architects and builders as well.

A fantastic documentary was made by Oliver Hodge showcasing this great thinker and architect of our modern times. The film helps demonstrate that in this rapidly changing world we need to listen to radical thinking people that are able to show us different ways of living. If we let governments and the systems we have built get in the way of experimenting and we dismiss people like Michael Reynolds, then we just may doom the human race. We need to embrace these people instead of trying to shut them up. This emotionally moving film proves that one person, no matter how unconventional, can make a positive difference in our world. Visit the Garbage Warrior film website. Visit Michael's company here. See a preview of the film below and a piece produced by CNN. You may just be amazed at how luxurious a house built out of garbage can be.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Have you Lost your Poetry?

In this 40 hour a week world where we plan our lives around our work, it is hard to gather our thoughts and take stock of our deepest emotions. It seems that a third of our lives is work, another third is sleep. The remaining third is fragmented between personal time and the work that we have to do to keep our households in order. Deep within us all is a pure human spirit that wishes to express itself. If you find yourself, on your free time, watching prime-time television as if you were a zombie controlled by some greater thought process, maybe you should break free.

Think about expressing yourself. Look deep inside your spirit and bring forward your own imagination. Stop mindlessly watching what others want you to watch. Go out there and make your own world. Take control of your environment, stop being scared of your surroundings. We all have the power to be greater than what we are told we are. You can be the positive influence you wish to be. Stop falling prey to the mass entertainment. You have one life to live and this is your opportunity to make a difference in the world. Go out there and do what you can to make this a better place for us all to live.

So, many of us fall into the trap of being simple pieces of some other reality instead of being a force to drive that reality in the ways that we wish it to move. Express yourself. In a world where we are all being forced into behaving the way that our employers wish us to behave, it is becoming harder to be ourselves. Before you fully drink the kool-aid, think about who you want to be. When you buy into the corporate world, you should understand that you are at risk of being cut free after you find yourself totally indebted. No matter how much you love the company you work for, they are in business to make money. You are just a piece of the machinery that will be rejected whenever the need arises. One day, you may be let go...the company will move on, and you will be left alone.

In the free time you have, take the time to be you. Reach deep within yourself and pull the creativity out of your inner self. Don't waste your evening hours watching prime time TV. How many of us find ourselves wasting precious hours of free time watching mindless entertainment? If you spend your night watching television to just go to sleep in order to wake up to go to work and then to watch tv later that next night, then you need to think about your life. You are more than your training and current circumstances. Think about your daily events. Are you just doing what everyone expects of you feel empty? It's not about goofing off and not participating in the world, it's about being an agent of change and being yourself. Expression is the most important part of the environment we are now in. Do not fall prey to trying to fit in with the latest fads and styles...if you do, then you may be at risk of being manipulated by the people that are falling prey to the "group think" that is prominent in our culture. We all need to now think about being truly original and only come together as a whole when our deepest needs and desires are at risk of being destroyed.

The most important part of being human in the twenty first century is being yourself. Never let media control who you are. Take the lessons taught by your parents, your closest friends, and your own deepest feelings and move with those. Be honest to yourself and others. Do not listen to what you see in advertisement, on television, or what you hear on the radio, the Internet, or other forms of advertisement. Do not fall prey to the tactics of the mass media effect.

The most import thing is to think of your life. Are you yourself or are you becoming what your job expects of you? Take that and think of yourself again. Who are you? Are you your job, or are you something greater? We all have something more to give than what our jobs expect of us. If we go farther than what our jobs expect, then we will find that we are more fulfilled within our lives. When you die, what do you want to look back upon? What do you want your life to stand for?

As the song writer Bright Eyes writes: "Don't be a criminal in this police state, you better shop and eat and procreate. You got vacation days, and you might escape to a condo on the coast." The condo will last you about five years or so as you deteriorate and lose your mind in your continuing mental decline of old age retirement. Bright Eyes also writes: "To the deepest part of the human heart, the fear of death expands. Till we crack the code, we will always know, but could never understand...on a circuit board we will soon be born again and again and again." We spend our lives working to be left alone at the end as we wither alone and wishing that we had done more to bring meaning to our lives. If we all stand up and do more now, when we are young, then the world will be a better place for us all. Regardless of the future that technology holds for us, we are the generations that will create the next step. We should all strive to make the future an environment that is pleasing for all inhabitants. We need to make this a place of enrichment and fulfillment. Humans should have the ability to discover their own abilities without being used as pieces of a greater machine. Don't be part of a machine...go out there and make your world.

DARPA Funds Artificial Limb Research

DARPA is funding research into artificial limbs. These artificial limbs would be connected directly to the nerves of the muscles and controlled naturally through the brain. The researchers at John Hopkins are working towards bionic arms and legs that allow the user to feel the objects they are holding as well as the temperature of the object. This is part of a four year program that should end in 2009. The goal is to have limbs that can be controlled subconsciously by the user as natural limbs are. With the number of amputees on the rise due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this is a much needed technology. Not to mention, the future cyborg soldier would benefit from this early adopter group.

Full Story Here

Nanotechnology used to Control Tumor Growth

Researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute have developed a method utilizing nanotechnology to control the growth of tumors. The technique that they devised reduced the growth of tumors by up to 45% after just one week. This new technology utilizes radioactive gold composite nanodevices (CNDs) to target the cancer. There were no adverse affects detected in the subjects after the treatment.

Advancements such as this outweigh much of the criticism put upon the field of nanotechnology. If used properly, nanotechnology holds a lot of promise for humanity.

Lead Researchers:
Lajos P. Balogh, PhD, Director of Nanotechnology Research and Mohamed K. Khan, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Translational Research and a physician in the Department of Radiation Medicine at Roswell Park.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Like Big Trucks? Don't Like Big Gas Prices?

News coverage is full of people complaining about gas prices and complaining about the fact that no one is doing anything to make it easier on them to drive their duallies and SUV's. It seems that the high gas prices are hitting people pretty hard. There are things that can be done about it to somewhat soften the blow, but it requires tough consumer decisions that may impact how "cool" you are. It seems that saving money, especially if you have a family, is more important than perceived status and coolness. Sell your SUV and get a smaller car. Unless you own a ranch, farm or other business that requires the use of a truck. If you own a truck and drive to a job where you just park your truck while you work, chances are you really don't need a truck.

Too often you hear guys saying something like "A Prius is for sissy's." It is this mentality that is driving people and our economy into a rut and causing us to run out of gas. This is a common complaint, but still; how many times do you see a mom drop her kid off at school in a Suburban, or some other overgrown vehicle, and then drive herself to work miles and miles away? Beside her and all around on the highway are similar vehicles sucking gas away from the rest of us and wasting our future.

Our vehicles in America have become our coffins. We spend hours on end in them. The average U.S. driver spends over 80 minutes a day in the car, stopping and going in a long line of large vehicles streaming along and spewing out deadly pollutants. The majority of these vehicles could transport four or more people, but often they only transport one. The average American owned vehicle gets roughly 23mpg...some "shade tree" mechanics have hacked their Prius' to get over 110 miles to the gallon. A standard Honda Civic Hybrid gets roughly 45 miles to the gallon.

Sixty percent of the city landscape is taken up and designed specifically for the car. Never ending roads twisting through and separating green space and seas of bare concrete parking lots generating heat scar our cities. American's love their cars, and years ago we scrapped the train for the freedom of the open road and in many cities we neglected mass transit infrastructure.

No where is the lack of mass transit more apparent than in New Orleans and Houston when hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped through the region destroying lives and homes. The endless lines of cars flowing from Houston and the rush to try to get buses to New Orleans made apparent that a train system could have been utilized to more efficiently move these people out of harms way.

Consumers and the 'American Dream' have put us at great risk. We want to have the best at the detriment to our families. We put immediate status above our futures. We have become short sighted and shallow. Excessive use of fuel should no longer be seen as a should be seen as a sin. When you feel the pain at the pump as you spend a hundred dollars for a few days worth of travel, think about the "freedom" and status your vehicle has given you. Is it freedom, or are you really chained to the reality that you can not afford to drive to work and pay your bills and daily needs with the paltry remains of your pay check? Have you ever thought that maybe it would be better to have a more fuel efficient vehicle?

Gas prices are not going to drop, they are going to continue the trend of rising. The oil is running out at a time when countries like China and India are starting to consume more of it. There's not enough to go around. We all need to wake up and quickly make the drastic changes to come out of this as unscathed as possible.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Male Eggs and Female Sperm

Yes, it is becoming a reality. Genetic material from a man could one day be used to generate a human egg that could be placed inside a female donor. Sperm could then be generated from a women and then introduced inside of the female donor and a child could be born with a male mother and a female father. Odd as it may seem, scientists are coming closer and closer to this ability with the use of stem cells taken from bone marrow. We could soon see same sex parent having children of their own. We could even see a child created from mixing numerous individuals together thus giving rise to a child with more than two biological parents.

This tantalizing technology is being touted as an equalizer for same sex families. Two men or two women can, in the foreseeable future, have children together. Unfortunately for these couples, this technology is still in its infancy and is prone to high rates of failure and problematic offspring. Until the technology and know how of scientists increase and ethical fears subside, we will have to wait longer to see the first same sex love child.

Further Reading:
Male Eggs
Female Sperm

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Death of Actors and Models

Technology is an amazing thing. Computers allow us the ability to recreate worlds that amaze and dazzle the senses in various ways. A trend that has been growing even before "Roger Rabbit" and "Toy Story" is finally coming of age and is on the verge of affecting real life people who depend on their looks and acting abilities to make a living. It seems that it may be easier to create a virtual person that works for a lot cheaper and for longer hours than it is to hire a real life human. A graphic artist just may be able to create a sexy icon faster and cheaper than a sexy icon of organic birth can be found and "grown" into stardom.

Computer technology has come to a point where it is possible to capture the entire human form in three dimensions including facial features and skin texture and store it for later use by a graphic artist. With movies such as "Beowulf" that digitize actors and with technologies coming along from Mova that promise Volumetric Cinematography we can see the demise of the individual human performance. There are other technologies out there that allow for the complete digitizing of a persons voice to be later played back and modified to fit the needs of the script that is being read. There is no future for real people in the entertainment industry as we know it today. Graphic artists will create attractive people with attractive voices, or villians who are just right to insert within movies to meet whatever needs the story has. This is the future of movies and games. If you are in this industry as talent, you need to pay attention and believe this. It has been coming for over fifteen years and is now upon us. Your beauty and abilities are no longer needed.

Computer technology will allow directors and producers the ability to get rid of the actors who demand millions upon millions of dollars. The movie "Simone" was not a fantasy. Computers and the people who know how to use them are learning how to remove real people from entertainment. Models of fashion are in the same boat.

If you are a model, you need to realize that you can be recreated within a computer and then modified to allow for a perfect human form. Photo and graphic technology has come to a point where any person can be created within a computer and displayed inside a magazine as a real person without the need of an organic person to take the pictures. If you are banking on your looks to get you through life, you need to think again. Providing real unique thoughts is the only future for humans. Looks are only good for procreating and sexual gratification.

In the next few years we will see more and more use of virtual actors either derived from actual people or created from scratch using the latest technologies. The purchaser of this entertainment will probably not mind one bit. The human may just be removed from entertainment. The only remaining question is, what will the tabloids do then?

There will become a time when people stop caring about individual stars. No one will care if a certain celebrity is pregnant or if someone is doing drugs. No longer will we put people upon pedestals that they were never worthy of being put upon in the first place.

Digitizing Actors
Beowulf and Lack of Emotions

Individuality in a Consumerism Age

There's a trend that is sweeping this consumer driven world. It seems that individual people are tired of following trends that were decided upon by others last year. They want their trends now, and if they don't like what they see, they will set these trends themselves. Being unique is truly in fashion and there is an unlimited supply of products out there to allow you to be you. If you can't find them, then you can create them yourself. The consumer is in power more than ever before.

With the advent of instant communication around the globe, it no longer takes months and months for fashion to spread. It can now be an instant phenomenon. Price itself doesn't even seem to matter any more. Who cares if you have the latest designer name of some outfit or purse? The designers have realized that they can make tons of money by "slumming" it in discount stores. Designers are making great amounts of money selling to the masses instead of a social trendy elite. These designers will start feeling the competition from the "average at home designer" soon. Technology is always advancing and no profession is safe from the democratizing of product creation. It's becoming too easy to beat the "who you know matters" system and get out there and make a name for yourself.

In our time we are seeing the ability of a consumer to customize the products they are buying to meet their own personality and needs. Nike now lets you customize shoes on-line with your own color choices, graphics and wording. M&M's allows you to order the candy with your own saying on it. For years now we have been able to order numerous products sporting our favorite photographs. We can even publish our own books now without having to worry about rejection from a publishing house. When "at home 3d printing" goes mainstream then all bets will be off. When products can be designed in a persons living room and manufactured within someone else's via the Internet then the whole of the economy will change. In the age of individually created products targeting a highly individualized niche, the big players will be feeling the pain.

In a world where traditional advertising is in direct competition with widespread "word of mouth", blogs and opinions by single individuals who have the power to change large numbers of consumer's choices, the landscape of marketing goods has changed. We are on the verge of a radical change in the way that retail works. Products will be designed more and more by people at their homes and sold to niche markets that fit within the personality type of the creator. No longer will mass media or conglomerate marketing sway culture.....individuals and complex interaction of unique minds will truly generate the landscape of society.

Create your own Nike product
Future Thoughts On-Line Store
Custom M&M's
3D Printing - Ready to go Main Stream

Friday, March 14, 2008

Having a Deaf Child - On Purpose

In a strange twist of IVF (In Vetro Fertilization) parents in the UK wish to have a child that is deaf like they are. The reason they say is because they are not ashamed of who they are and they are not handicapped and they want their child to be like them. The debate of designer babies has been about enhancing the offspring to be more dominate in some fashion over the average child or taking away a deformity.

It is odd to think that someone would want to restrict an ability that gives their child an advantage in the world. Deafness is a fact of life for many and many people overcome it and live happy lives, but it should be seen as a disability that if possible, should be eradicated. In no way should deaf people be treated poorly and the utmost respect should be given to them, but these two parents are wrong to purposely rob their child of one of the five senses that billions of people have been born with just because of their pride in their language.

Being deaf is a disability regardless of the strength of those who have it. Purposely creating a child that is robbed of the ability to have one of the five senses that we should all have is wrong.

Read full story here

Mechanical Nanocomputers

DARPA is funding research into nanomechanical chips that are hoped to be more rugged than traditional silicon based chips. These new chips would be used in toys, weapons, space equipment and in car engines to name just a few. These new chips would also reduce the power usage of computers because they require less cooling and suck less energy off of the grid. The team is also working on nanomechanical memory......

Further Reading

BananaSlug - Long Tail Search Engine

This is new to me, but may not be to others. This is an interesting concept for a search engine. It provides some randomness in your searches to give you fresh new results that you may not have thought of. Seems like a good way to find new information.

A search on "Implants" and a random seed using an animal name returned the following link along with many others:

JSTOR: Effect of Mandibular Organ Implants upon the Spider Crab Ovary

A search on "Cosmology" and a random seed using an "archetype" returned the following link along with many others:

The Inverse Gambler's Fallacy and Cosmology — A Reply to Hacking

Search Engine Here

Bio-Electronic Implant

Researchers at MIT that are part of the "Boston Retinal Implant Project" are confident that they will have an implant that is capable of restoring partial sight to victims of age-related macular degeneration and other forms of sight loss within a few years. This implant will be the width of a human hair and sits behind the retina. The implant is made of titanium and is capable of "surviving" within the corrosive environment of the salty fluid within the eye. Only people that have living optic nerves are candidates for the device.

Further Reading

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Terry Pratchett: Alzheimer's

Fans who have yet to hear the news will be shocked to know that the creative genius and author of the Discworld series of books has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Terry Pratchett has pledged to donate 1 million dollars to fund research in developing treatments for the disease. This is a sad disease for anyone afflicted with it and is doubly so for someone who has given so much creativeness to the world in the form of the amazing stories. To lose Terry to this disease will be a tragedy and we should all hope, pray, and wish that something can be done for him and the millions of others who have dementia. It is said just as many people suffer from dementia as they do cancer, but dementia only receives one third the funding for research as cancer.

"Part of me lives in a world of new age remedies and science, and some of the science is a little like voodoo but science was never an exact science, and personally I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance." - Terry Pratchett on his diagnosed illness.


Reef Balls

Artificial Reefs are nothing new, but the fact that they are in such high demand is. Given the amount of destruction taking place in the ocean due to climate change and human activities it is no wonder. These reef "balls" created by the Reef Ball Foundation are made of concrete and don't further harm the ocean environment like tires or sunken ships and planes have done in the past. The foundation creates two different types of reefs through a patented process that generates large amounts of natural space for sea creatures of all sizes. The image to the left is the "ball" and then there is another type as seen recently on Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" that is more of a tiered structure complete with embedded shells for the tiniest of fish to hide and live within. The foundation is a non-profit organization and has been involved in reef rebuilding projects all over the world including a project to help rebuild reefs damaged in the 2004 tsunami. This is a much better and natural alternative to sinking our garbage and hoping that it helps.

The foundation offers other services around the world including coral propagation and planting systems, estuary restoration, red mangrove plantings, oyster reef restoration and erosion control. You can even create a memorial reef with the cremated remains of a loved one.

See video and websites below.....

Reef Ball Foundation
Eternal Reefs - Cremation Memorial

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Age of Intelligent Cameras

The abilities to capture light and display a moment of time has come a long way since the camera obscura was discovered by Ibn al-Haytham around 1000 CE. The technology has gone through much iteration from the ability to display a scene with a pinhole camera to permanently recording the scene to be viewed later. Most recently, and after a century of using film and chemicals to process images inside of a dark room, we have moved the technology forward into the 21st century through the advent of digital photography. Just over the past few years camera companies have begun to fully utilize the power of computer hardware and software. The age-old technology of picture taking is going to take another grand step. It seems the law of accelerating returns is working well in the camera world.

In the past, filtering and general image modification was performed on the computer sitting on your desk long after the photo was taken. Software such as Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro had opened up a completely new world to photographers and digital artists but that was pretty much it for major advancements for many years. The hardware and software of the camera itself has remained mostly the same except for changes in interfaces, the ability to capture images at an increasingly higher quality and the ever-shrinking device. This is changing though and we are going to see some great new technologies over the next several years.

The newest Sony Cybershot H50 has the ability, as do other new cameras, to recognize the faces of people in the shot and focus on all of them to make for a great group photo. The camera also has the ability to detect a smile and wait until then to snap the photo. The ability of this camera to recognize faces is one-step away from being able to learn whose faces it is recognizing and storing that information within the file so you can later search your digital image archive for people and possibly for objects in the scene. Not only will they be able to do this in the near future, but they will be able to digitally read text within the scene and store it for searching on later as well.

Cameras are even coming with the ability to communicate with GPS devices so that you can geo reference your photos and overlay the information on top of a digital map such as Google maps. This means you can now store within the EXIF data the four dimensions along with technical information of the photograph itself. What's coming next? Automatic temperature and general weather information stored with the photo along with a description of the atmosphere? Counting how many people are in the picture and what they are wearing?

The camera of the future won't just be taking pictures of the scene in front of it; it will also be taking snapshots of your iris and embedding that information within the picture itself. Canon has a patent for a camera "add-on" that gives the camera the ability to tag photographs with this biometric information to later identify the photographer. According to Canon, the camera would be able to identify multiple users of a single camera.

With the speed of processors and software, cameras are gaining some wonderful abilities such as rapid picture taking without blurring as well as the ability to capture the scene with multiple settings to allow you more control over the finished product. One of the neatest abilities that are in the works is the "multiple focus" capabilities that are being looked into. Cameras of the near future will "auto focus" on multiple points when they take a picture so that you can later "move through" the focus to fine tune the depth of field of the image after the act of taking it. Images will no longer be "flat"; they will have multiple layers built within them to give even more power in the post production process. Another such technique developed by Adobe is a series of lenses, much like the eye of a fly, that capture multiple angles of a scene giving the image depth of field as well as the ability to change angles after the image is taken. These multiple angles then can be managed within Photo Shop to further manipulate the focus of different elements within the image through the use of a "3d" brush. See the video below for a demo of the new Adobe lens.

All these current and future technologies will further "dumb down" photography making it easier and easier for the everyday armchair photographer the ability to take remarkable photographs. This will come at the ire of hardcore photographers who insist that theirs is an art that only they can perform. Now if cameras can learn aesthetic rules such as the rule of thirds and beep at you when you are taking a picture that is not framed just right then we will truly have the ability for every man, women and child to take great photographs. No more "chopping of heads" and pictures of will have to set the camera to manual if you want to do that.

Further Reading:
Sony Cybershot H50
Adobe "Computational Photography"

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Future of the Average Office

Parody: The size of the average office has shrunk in the past few decades to the point that many ask "how far can they go with this?". Taking into account the law of accelerating returns, cost of office space, and the drive to miniaturize everything, we have created a road map of the possible future of office spaces. Click on the image above to see the future of the average office. If you are going to spend one third of your life at work, you should at least know how you are going to experience it.

We Need New Truck Designs

Over 20 years ago designer Luigi Colani had a vision to make the horribly aerodynamically deficient 18-wheeler a better looking and streamlined machine. Luigi was able to design a truck back then that was 25% more fuel-efficient. His latest concept truck is 50% more fuel-efficient than existing tractor trailers on the roads today and that is without changing the engine. Trucking companies that drive boxy machines that haven't changed much over the past few decades are wasting large amounts of money for no valid reason except for they haven't demanded innovation from the companies that provide the trucks. Most of the goods in the world are delivered from ports to distribution centers and then on to the local store where you shell out additional amounts of your own money to pay for the fuel wasted by the modern trucks that haul the goods. There are large enough corporations out there that rely heavily on trucking and have to pass the cost of fuel and fuel taxes on to consumers that should have the power to change this inefficiency in the supply chain. If someone was able to design a truck over 20 years ago that was 25% more fuel efficient based on body shape alone, why haven't we adopted the designs on a large scale? When that same designer creates a truck, that is 50% more fuel-efficient and we still do not take notice then something is wrong. How much more expensive does fuel have to get before someone stands up and says "Hey, wait a minute...18-wheelers aren't aerodynamic! Maybe we should design them better."? These concept trucks should be handled differently than concept cars. With concept cars, the "out there" thinking is slowly brought into the designs of actual models because the consumer isn't always ready to make such drastic changes in their purchasing decisions. The trucking companies shouldn't car about how "manly" or "cool" a truck looks, they should care only about the fuel efficiency. Luigi Colani's designs should be taken seriously and used in developing trucks that are not so damaging to the environment and to the consumers wallet.

Luigi Colani Website
City Of Sound Luigi Colani Exhibit
Future Car Video

Friday, March 7, 2008

How to Raise your Cyborg Child: A Self Help Article

Back at the turn of the millennium kids were still organic, except for a few odd chemicals floating through their bodies that they had picked up from their food and the environment. Those extra chemicals generally didn't count as un-natural until the Chicken Nugget incident of 2015 when over three hundred thousand fast food patrons concocted a rare form of modified protein syndrome from the GM chicken they consumed. From that time on, being 100% all natural meant that you were probably a follower of the Vegan Luddites or one of the very rare inhabitants of some lost forgotten tribe of happy people. Yes, things surely changed when the government decided to label and track you as to how organic you truly were. Now in 2027 it's hard to imagine a time when we didn't have muscle implants and memory managers. Back when we had to communicate strictly through the written word and voice communications things were so different than they are today. Kids now don't even remember what it was like to have to type on a keyboard and use a mouse to navigate around the Internet. They can't imagine a world where your music wasn't sent wirelessly to your brain, complete with syneasthetic visuals. They can't imagine a world where they didn't constantly become physically and emotionally part of technology.

Yes, kids back in those blissful days were still mushy little things that ate and slept like other life forms on the planet once did before the Grey Goo incident of 2019. Kids talked, walked, and got in trouble much like they had for thousands upon thousands of years before. As we know, times change, it seems just like last week that kids didn't even have interfaces between their uLife devices and their central nervous systems. Now they are all connected and sending each other their latest downloaded sensations.

As parents who grew up prior to "The Emergence" it is hard to understand these new higher life forms we call our kids. It's hard to give them any kind of valued information on how to live their lives when our own experiences have been so far removed from what they are now going through. History is no longer a valid measure of the present situations in which we find ourselves. Our offspring are on their own, living their lives to their own creation off of the cultures and technologies we have built. In a world where technology is changing on a weekly and sometimes daily basis, how do you manage to grow and nurture the life you brought into the world? Unfortunately those of us who have been left behind and managed to fall at a generation where having organic infants is normal, it seems we are at a loss. We are the "left-behinds", those that are less important than our children. Technology is teaching our kids how to live and we are often just sideline observational lower life forms.

Luckily this archaic form of communication, known as blogging, is here for you. As a parent of a child that is on the verge of the upcoming Technological Singularity we all may be wondering what is ahead of us. Within the next decade or so we are going to experience shifts in human life that not all of us will be able to join in. We are not all biologically or technologically compatible with the requirements of the Singularity. Some of us will be left behind to carry on the lower life form that is the organic human. No one knows what relationships will be like between the upper and lower minds that will develop after this time. Many of us will have children that move forward and we should all be prepared to let them go from this reality that we all share. Hopefully when our children move forward we will still be loved by them. There is no doubt that they will be smarter than us. They will know and understand things beyond our feeble comprehension. Will they still love and take care of us? In the past, before all these technological advancements, children often grew beyond and looked down upon their parents because of the differences in their generations. Will this reality be magnified by progress? It is at these times you should hope that you raised your children with strong morals and a desire to protect the family. At these times when your children are no longer biological, you should hope that they still love the lesser parts of themselves.

Sarah McOnagh (not her real name) has a seven year old that has already taken an implant for interspersed knowledge and has mastered the ability to communicate with the corporate AIs. Sarah claims that her son has now decided that minds below that of the corporate personal entity are not allowed to communicate with him. Sarah has been cut off from her juvenile child. Not able to understand the corporate entities Sarah feels alone and unable to help her child. Sarah, the only thing you can do is let go. Your child has already progressed and has surpassed your abilities to understand. If you are one of the incompatible, it is best for you to just move out of your current cubicle and migrate out to the wild to live with the Luddites. Don't fear, you will be taken care of by the fortunate others that are dispersed amongst the atoms.

John Derick has a teenage daughter who has merged completely with the virtual pop world of the Furry Lateral Transies. He talks to her on occasion, but has a hard time getting used to the fact that her physical body is now dead and buried at the local cemetery and she only speaks to him through his uLife player. He says that she is different now. Being a doctor of biologicals he claims that the chemical interactions of the brain and the interactions of the physical world can not be completely re-created within the virtual world. Unfortunately, John's daughter was an early adopter. She thought that the singularity was here and decided to move forward. Her true self was forever lost and only an "image" of her is left behind. She is forever a simulation that will only grow within an artificial world that is not a valid representation of the world she left behind. If you are like John, you should mourn the loss of your child and move on toward whatever reality technology has in store for you.

Robert and Leslie Dupre have an "idiot savant" child that has been able to create a virtual world full of musical realities that have made them billions. Robert quit his job as a day laborer within the stem cell farms of Northern Ontario to further his desire of creating an on-line immersive world where elderly pre-cog men can have constant sex with young nubile women. The family is now worth several trillions and they are in control of the third dorm world of Lorrington. If you have a child that shows any kind of unique abilities, you should take immediate action and move them into the right direction that will allow them complete power over their lives and give you a comfortable existence in yours. Worlds are easy to create, wealth isn't so easy. The future is power, your special organic children are worth money.

Jarod and Natalie Daniels have a son who is the co-creator of the first recognized self sufficient universe that is completely cut off from ours. The inhabitants of this universe are already becoming self aware. Enough processing power and memory has been allocated to them so that they may create their own universes within the computer system that they reside. John Daniel has declared himself a god and has moved completely into his own digital world where he can overlook his creation and help grow it to its full potential. Robert, the father of John, asks "how the hell did this happen?" He never thought deeper than the reality of the 20Th century and couldn't imagine the world in which we live. Unfortunately Robert and Natalie are so far removed from their son that they can no longer effectively communicate with him.

Young people are getting implants at an alarming rate. Some kids are already 80% merged with other worlds while a few vehemently reject the merging. If you are a parent of a child that refuses to become a part of the future of humanity, what should you do? Well, if you are along with them in their beliefs, then it is an easy decision. You simply need to take your family out of the city and live in the wilderness and die a natural death like the lesser beings of the organic past. If you are someone who thinks that your child is wrong and you need help in forcing them into understanding, then there are plenty of places to turn towards. The "Human Inclusion Agency" is always willing to help consume your child into the next step of ascension. Don't let their fears of rebirth get in the way of their moving forward. As a parent there are tough choices to make, and at these times it is important for you to make the right decisions. Don't let your children fall behind and die a natural death. Let them live forever and be part of the worlds that will move throughout the Universe. Let us all be part of the whole.

The main thing in this day and age is to realize that you as a parent no longer have any valuable input into your child's life. You are archaic and out of date. You should ask for help on-line with the many transient organizations that are there to help you and your family in the transition from the wet and old to the new and shiny world that awaits us all in a blissful merging of all intelligent life on the planet Earth. When we are all one and move out at the speed of light, then we will truly be happy and feel complete. There is no need to fear life, there is no need for stress. It is only together as one where we are all equal and working towards a common goal that we will be happy. Let us all move forward and learn as one.

RoboSwift: Shape-shifting Plane is like a Bird

This robotic propeller driven plane has wings like a chimney swift which gives it the ability to dive and maneuver like no other plane of it's type. Don't get your hopes up though...this is not an aircraft for people, it is a small reconnaissance plane that is a little larger than the bird it mimics. The plane has three on-board cameras and can perform a one hour mission. The wings can be moved during flight in order to adjust for the wind conditions giving it better flight characteristics. The plane maneuvers by adjusting one wing at a time in order to turn.

The team that built the plane is from the Delft University of Technology and the Department of Experimental Zoology of Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

See the full story here.

Painting on the Solar Cells

Swansea University of the United Kingdom and steel Manufacturer Corus are working on developing a steel sheet coated with paint based on dye-sensitised solar cells. This material is less efficient at converting energy than existing solar panels, but the fact that it is cheaper and can be applied to the entire surface of a structure and is more durable means that it is a great addition to the family of up and coming solar power products.

Team leader David Worsley and doctoral student Maarten Wijdekop claim this technology should be available within the next three years. Mark Ratner of the Northwestern University in Chicago is skeptical but still impressed by the groups efforts. Mark believes that getting electrons back into the dye will be difficult.

Being able to apply paint that can capture the energy to the sun on cars, buildings, fences, airplanes, ships, etc. would be a great leap forward for sustainable energy.

Give the Gift of "Green"

If you feel the need to purchase something for someones birthday, Christmas, valentines, etc. or just want to pick up something for yourself you should take a look at the sustainable products that have been emerging in the market place at an alarming pace.

Below are some items I found on the web that weren't around just a few seasons ago. The links will take you to the appropriate on-line stores of the retailers. If you know of any more, please post a comment. I will add them to the list.

There are many LED lights that are on the market that fit into a standard socket. LED lights are even more efficient and generate a lot less heat than standard bulbs or even the newer CFL lights. The light featured here comes with a remote that allows you to change the color that is emitted. Pretty cool. $50. Buy it here: ThinkGeek and get other great LED lights that can replace your mercury filled CFL's here: ThinkGeek

Live in a place where the wind blows? Supplement your power with this 400 watt wind generator that is recommended for small cottages, remote locations, backup power and hobbyists. This light weight wind turbine shuts down when the batteries are fully charged in order to minimize wear and tear. Comes with a three year warranty. $600. Buy it here: Sam's Club

Rechargeable batteries are great, except they take an extra adapter which isn't always convenient. These recharchable batteries have a USB adapter built into them so you can charge them directly from your computer. This is a neat and useful gift for the gadget freak in the family. $20. Buy it here: ThinkGeek

Get your family the gift of chemical free cleaning. Don't pollute your home when you cleanse it of the germs we fear so much. This 16 ounce bottle of Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate mixes with water to create up to 48 gallons of cleaner. The cleaner is non-toxic, all natural, doubly concentrated, and completely biodegradable. Save some plastic and some dough. $10-$12. Buy it here: Shaklee. This company offers numerous green natural cleaning products to keep your home clean and chemical free.

If you or a special someone carries a backpack for school, work or recreation and have gadgets such as cellphones, iPods and cameras, then this may be the gift for you. This backpack has built in solar panels that can recharge numerous devices. The backpack even includes a battery that stores energy for those "rainy days". USB and various other "common" power adapters are built in. $230. Buy it here: GreenHome.

A staple free stapler? What? It really does exist and supposedly works. Save money and metal with this friendly stapler that promises to end the use of those little shards of metal that get in the way of our everyday work life. $6. Buy it here: ThinkGeek

Thursday, March 6, 2008

HydroPak: Water-Activated Fuel-Cell Generator

This little baby takes a $20 disposable cartridge and a dose of water in order to churn out enough energy to recharge a notebook computer up to ten times or to run emergency lights, hand-held gadgets, or portable TVs. The HydroPak costs $400 and is manufactured by Millennium Cell and Horizon Fuel Cell. This portable fuel cell unit will generate 25 watts of energy.

Millennium Cell
Horizon Fuel Cell

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Enviropig - Part E.Coli, Part Mouse...All Wrong?

Scientists in Canada have spliced E.Coli genes and mice genes with pigs to produce a pig that releases fewer phosphates into the ground water through their waste. This has been done to offer a possible solution to the pollution introduced by sewage generated by industrial pig farms. These new pigs have the ability to better break down "phytase" which is rich in phosphorous and is found in the intestinal tract. Phosphorous is the leading cause of algae blooms and fish kills in water systems as they are related to modern farming practices.

It is interesting that we are working so hard to solve an environmental issue that we are causing with a "solution" that could trigger other environmental issues. Why don't we just stop eating so many pigs and find better food sources to meet the growing demand of humans while trying our damnedest to stay in a balance with nature? Well, I guess we don't do it because pigs are so tasty and we would rather have pork than fresh and salt water fish.

There is no evidence that an "enviropig" is bad for the environment in any way, it is just another example of our desire to play around with nature and see what we can do.

More of the story

Our Own Island of "Monsters"

We talk a lot about science and technology and where we are going with hardware and software, but we rarely discuss the future possibility of creating new life forms from existing organisms. We are quickly grasping the concepts needed to manipulate life at the genetic level and control the resultant forms that arise from our experimenting. We currently have goats that produce spider silk enzymes in their milk, glow in the dark rats, supposed tomatoes sporting crab genes and various other cross breeds. We are just starting to glimpse this brave new world of wetware hacking and genetic pollution, and like we were at the beginning of the industrial age, we don't fully know what we are getting ourselves into. There are a few people shouting foul at the sidelines, but competition and exploration are winning out over caution. The video below shows one person who visually grasps and fully comprehends emotional aspects of the direction we are moving and has taken this vision and incorporated it into her art. There's some great stuff here. Patricia Piccinini has true vision and amazing talents.

You may think that the creatures that pop out of Patricia's mind could never exist. Governments are already putting restrictions into place that bars a lot of this kind of experimentation and altering of biology; however, other governments will freely allow it. If one country does it and the other does not, then the one that does will win superiority. That in combination with monetary gains will ensure that this becomes a reality one way or another. Competition will see to that.

Patricia's Site

Monday, March 3, 2008

Digitize Your Daily Life - Brave New Frontiers

Talk about a high-tech diary. Put these goggles, created by the University of Tokyo, on your head and go about your daily business recording and cataloging everything you see and hear. Right now the device has the ability to identify known objects in real-time and the ability to store the information and later search through the video for those objects using keywords supplied by the user.

In the near future you may be able to a lot with this type of technology. Of course the usual privacy issues all arise from everyone going around recording everything they do all day long, but hey, this is the future. Let's delve into the possibilities further than just remembering where you left your keys...

Imagine sitting in your physics or history class in the near future with a pair of these babies strapped to your head. You wouldn't need paper and pen anymore, just stair blankly at the professor and the blackboard, as you normally would, and let the device record everything. Better yet, imagine if the device had character recognition built in and was able to convert the text it saw into editable text you could use later. How cool would that be to walk around all day long and have a running log created of all the text you looked at so that you could recall it at a later time.

Police officers could where these devices and have a wireless link back to the squad car to record events that may happen out of the sight of traditional dashboard cameras. This would further the use of video footage as evidence in crimes. If the video was streamed over the web to police headquarters then the dispatchers could react quicker to the needs of the police officer.

Viewers of a historic event such as the assassination of JFK or Dick Cheney shooting someone in the face could record the events taking place from different vantage points. The amounts of digital data to be searched through and analyzed would be tremendous.

Take the power of facial recognition and combine it with one of these devices and a whole new world of tracking is opened. If people wore these and had them all linked up to a central computer network, such as the Internet, and it was all tied into a main system that searched and tracked known, or possible, "bad guys" the ability to find fugitives could increase dramatically. Capturing of illegal or other newsworthy events would happen quite a bit. Reality TV ratings would shoot through the roof with all the different angles they could get from people.

Requiring people to wear these on specific jobs would be great for businesses. Making people explain "gaps" in the recording and watching or simply searching the video for keywords could determine if the employee was doing what they should or not.

Now imagine taking one of these and combining it with the Emotiv game controller that will soon be available. You could record your visual experiences as well as your brainwaves and then later compare how you were feeling when you saw a certain thing or heard a certain noise....Oh the possibilities.

Solar Powered Gadget Charger/Battery

A new solar powered charger/battery can run an iPod for 18 hours and a PDA for up to 22 hours on a single charge. Just pop it back in the sun for a bit and it charges right back up again. Solar Technology of the United Kingdom developed this multipurpose battery/charger for a variety of devices and can be purchased for 29.99 pounds. These nifty pocket sized batteries come in a variety of colors including pink and silver. The companies solar products are specially designed to work well in cloudy conditions such as those seen in Europe.

Just imagine, even if the world's societies collapse and the power infrastructure fails, your can still listen to you 90's music on your iPod as long as the sun still burns in the sky. Even if society doesn't collapse and hangs around a bit longer you can still save some carbon by soaking in some rays.

Pretty neat. See the website below.

FreeLoader Solar Battery

Sunday, March 2, 2008

18-Wheelers as Energy Collectors?

Our country went in the wrong direction when we ripped up our rail infrastructure and moved to carrying goods across country in vehicles that are less efficient, require more people to be involved and increase the risks on the roadways. Now the trucking industry does provide jobs for many people that need work and the pay is not bad for someone lacking an education, but the truth of the matter is, this is not a sustainable industry in the long run. With fuel prices continuing to rise and transportation passing the cost on to consumers it would seem that the more efficient train should be making a comeback. The problem, as mentioned above, is that we have chosen to remove a lot of the existing railways thus forcing us to keep the trucks for a bit longer.

There is one possible good thing that may come out of the trucking industry and that is in the fact that 18-Wheelers are mobile, they are often in the sun without shade, and they have big flat surfaces on top of their trailers that are prime for placing the more efficient solar panels that are being developed today. Usually solar panels require a mechanism that tracks the sun and keeps the panel facing the energy source. This would not be feasible on a flat surface traveling at 70 miles an hour that needs to be somewhat aerodynamic. Luckily a company named Prism Solar has created solar panels that use holographic techniques to direct the light to the collectors thus eliminating the need for moving parts that traditional control the panels.

Now what would you do with a truck that had solar panels on the top of its trailer? Well, you would drive it around as you normally would and collect and store the suns energy inside of on-board batteries. This energy could be used by the driver at night to run the cab electronics or to further feed the power needs of the vehicle during normal operation. A further use could be "dumping" the power at distribution centers or feeding the energy into the grid at truck stops.

If you think of the number of tractor trailers on the highway all driving in the sun. If you take all those trucks and imagine them together as a whole there could be a great amount of energy that could be obtained from this untapped mobile "real estate" on the highway. If nothing else, it would at least lower the carbon footprint of the transportation industry.

Holographic Solar Panels

Mova's Contour: Volumetric Cinematography

The President of Mova and inventor of QuickTime, Steve Perlman has been working hard on digitizing the world and providing a new paradigm shift that will move us from traditional "POV Cinematography" into a realm where the actor provides a performance that can then be modified completely in post production. The technology will even allow other actors faces to be placed over the original actors performance. This camera and digitizing technology also allows for greater control over angles and closeups that have predominently been the realm of pure 3d animated films. The technology can be seen in the videos below and further referenced at the Mova website; however in this post we are going to explore some of what this will do to the industries where your looks and acting abilities are your key to success.

This technology would allow you to scan a naked super model's body in complete photo realistic detail and then dress the digitized version in any clothes you want and place it in any pose you want within any environment you want. You could also have the digital body interact in a digital environment and thus "act" out whatever the director wished. Now, what does this mean for the super model? Does she or he get paid large amounts up front and then have rights to get paid any time the digital version is used in media? What does this do to the photographers? Do they lose their jobs to desk jocky graphic artists? Make-up people would need to learn to apply digital makeup to digital people on a computer screen instead of getting touchy feely with the real flesh and blood person. Think of the sustainability and remote working opportunities. You wouldn't have to build real sets or use all the lighting and other materials usually needed. People wouldn't have to drive or fly to the photo shoot because they could all do their jobs at home on their computers.

Now imagine the movie industry which has been stuck for over a hundred years with the same point of view world. Now directors and editors can change the angle of the camera at will and if they don't like the lighting, they can shift it around. Good bye grips and gaffers. If you think the acting was a bit off and you weren't getting the facial expression you wanted, you could tweek the over 100,000 individual 3d points that are captured on the actors face and digitized within the computer. If you wanted them to smile instead of smirk, that would be within your abilities.

Actors and models would provide the basic "humanity" from which to build upon and tweak. Their digital bodies could be used in various ways throughout the production of the film even if they were, say, in a car accident and died. The digital version could continue on with the help of other computer technologies that are coming up that are able to recreate the sound of a persons voice through text to speech software.

Now the darker side of this would be in the news and other areas where truth is becoming harder and harder to discern from fiction. It would be easier with this technology for reality to be shifted to the point of view of someone who wanted to sway the public into believing in something that didn't really occur. And could you imagine the president being too busy to make an announcement to the people so they just throw his digital representation up on the screen and let him talk to the little folks while he does something else in person? Could you imagine the fun that tabloids would have with this if they were able to get a digital version of Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt?

Anyways.....look for this to be yet another world changing technology.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

How Science Fiction Changed the World

Some may think that science fiction is simply just fantasy to be read by geeks and nerds and is not a force that plays a role in shaping the world in which we live. This kind of thinking is flawed. Using the most influential Science Fiction ever created we will find through this post that the world we live in now was inspired by the imaginations of writers and brought to reality by scientists, doctors and engineers who are continuing to bring to life the fiction they grew up on. To think that one lone Los Angeles police officer and former WWII bomber pilot could have such an impact on the world is amazing.

Star Trek as created by Gene Roddenberry has inspired two generations to strive to bring forth into existence what they watched as children on television and read in novels and fan magazines. The space program is full of "Trekkies" who have named space ships after the ships on the show while others such as Mark D. Rayman, Chief Propulsion Engineer at NASA's JPL, was inspired to develop Ion Propulsion because of Star Trek and is continuing with the dream that was created by science fiction. It is hard to find someone at NASA who is not a fan of this science fiction phenomenon.

It's not just the space program that contains these folks inspired by science fiction. Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, claims he was inspired by the communicator he saw being used on Star Trek while he was the Chief Engineer at Motorola in the 70's. It is because of Martin and, in part Star Trek, that we now have iPhones. The creation of the iPhone owes its existence to Star Trek even more than the inspiration it gave to one engineer. It seems that early computer nerds were inspired by Star Trek and used this inspiration to make their favorite fiction just a bit more real and ended up developing the gadgets we hold dear today.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first Apple computer after playing with the Altair computer kit. The Altair was named after a solar system in the original Star Trek universe. While the two "Steves" were busy creating an Apple computer, another great computer geek was busy creating a massive empire. This computer geek was Bill Gates who wrote Altair Basic and from there made some good business decisions which allowed him to later become the richest man in the world.

We're not talking about Microsoft right now though, we we're talking about the iPod. It seems that in 1987 another Apple Computer geek was watching Star Trek and was inspired by seeing Data (the Android on Star Trek the Next Generation) playing music over the computer and pulling up his favorite songs at will. This was an impossibility at the time, but Steve Perlman took this idea, ran with it, and soon created QuickTime, which has led to MP3 music, iPods, even our favorite YouTube, and the demise of the music industry, as we know it. Steve Perlman is now a millionaire and is the president of his own company Mova where he hopes to one day make Star Trek's fiction of a holodeck a reality. Now let's move back to Microsoft.

While Bill Gates was becoming a billionaire, he brought many people up with him and in doing so has altered the world. Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and he has used his billions to create the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, which pays homage to science fiction greats such as Star Trek and Planet of the Apes. Paul Allen does a lot with his money and intelligence. It seems Paul Allen has also created a company named "Vulcan Inc." which successfully launched the first privately funded space ship named "Space Ship One". Now it appears that a new commercial space program has started and "Virgin Galactic" has been born in part by the imaginations of science fiction writers. Just in case you are not a Star Trek fan, "Vulcan" is a species of highly intelligent aliens in the Star Trek universe. It would appear that Paul Allen has been greatly inspired by science fiction and is taking the influences of his early life and making drastic changes in the world with those influences.

Science fiction hasn't just inspired computer geeks; it seems that good old Bones McCoy and his non-invasive medical technologies have altered the world of medicine. Professor John Adler claims he was inspired by Star Trek to invent the "Cyberknife". This robotic device uses lasers to deliver radiation directly to cancer tumors without cutting into the patient. In the 1960's Star Trek doctors were scanning people without cutting them up and because of this many claim that they were inspired to create technologies that allowed non-invasive scanning that is used in today's medicine.

Professor Lawrence Krauss of Case Western University was inspired by Star Trek to get into the field of physics. He is the author of "The Physics of Star Trek" which can be purchased here. Lawrence claims that Star Trek and Science have been linked.

Other notable people who were inspired and had their lives changed by science fiction are Rob Haitani who is a product designer at PalmOne and Dr. Seth Shostak who works for the SETI Institute. Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the first African American in space and a woman claims that the fictional character Uhura drove her desire to be who she became. She started all her communication with Earth with the following words: "All Hailing Frequencies Opened" which came from a science fiction show she watched as a child.

After the death of Gene Roddenberry and with the help of writers and future producers such as Ira Steven Behr, Star Trek was changed forever and instead of being the "Happy Clappy" version of technology and the future we grew to love it became the darker and more sinister version of the future we are more than likely going to encounter. Within these new shows, we were introduced to the Borg and to faulty space stations such as Deep Space Nine and lost in space crews like the poor Voyager folks marooned in a distant part of the galaxy. It would seem that Star Trek "grew up" and was predicting something similar to the "Technological Singularity" where people merged with technology and thus lost what made them human.

People haven't taken so kindly to these new shows, which is apparent in the low ratings and failures of the darker "flash back" Enterprise series. We all wish that the future holds bright and happy utopian realities, but as we move forward, it is apparent that we just may lose ourselves to the technology we are creating. We may become more than the Borg could have ever imagined, and we may do so much faster than predicted through science fiction. We are quickly gaining technology far vaster than ever "predicted" in Star Trek with the exception of space travel. We may find ourselves forgoing space travel all together as we delve deeper into the universes that we create within cyberspace. This makes you wonder if that the reason for the flash back series Enterprise and the the new movie that flashes back to Spock's and Kirk's first adventures together is because the writers could no longer think of a positive future that fit with current thoughts on technology and were unable to think beyond the technologies they projected in Star Trek The Next Generation. The future writers imagine may no longer be a happy one.

It may not be the "job" of science fiction to dictate the future, but it is often the effect of good science fiction that helps generate the realities that we all later share. Even if scientists are in a sense creating a "self-fulfilling prophecy" in bringing to light the worlds in which they saw in science fiction, they are still being driven by the imaginations of the science fiction writers. Science fiction writers have historically created the prophesies while the "nerds" do the fulfilling through their abilities to create worlds that were previously living only within the dreams and imagination of writers.

The information in this post came from a show on the History Channel, which stated the following: "Star Trek had the power to make intelligent people devote their lives to making it true." You can buy the documentary here. The documentary is entitled "How William Shatner Changed the World" and is a tongue in cheek exploration of the power of Star Trek and it's ability to shape the modern world. Play the video below for a short "preview" of the documentary. This documentary is highly entertaining and is a must for anyone who loves William Shatner. If you do not have the History Channel and cannot catch this as a repeat, it is highly recommended that you purchase the video.

Further Reading........
Websites that may not have existed without science fiction:

Paul Allen's Website
Vulcan Inc.
Dr. Mae C. Jemison
Seth Shostak
Virgin Galactic
NASA Creating "Star Trek Like" Computer
Network Worlds Top Ten Star Trek Inventions