I really did enjoy this class and the material that we covered. With online courses, I usually just skate by doing the least amount of possible, which in turn gives me little in return, knowledge wise. Though in this class, I actually feel like I’ve mastered Excel. I also had no idea about the amount of features Google Drive had and how easy screen casting could be. I definitely would say that I’m surprised with how much I got out of this class. For ideas of improvement, I really can’t think of anything.
Soviet astrophysicist, Nikolai Kardashev, introduced the Kardashev Scale in 1964. This scale is a prediction of what a civilization would go through to eventually become gods, essentially. This method has been criticized unsurprisingly, but even if it isn’t an accurate scale of what is to come for human civilization, it definitely gets the imagination going. There are three original steps that were thought up by Kardashev, but additional steps have been unofficially added that are very interesting.
Type 0 (unofficial):
This is where we are currently. This is a civilization that harnesses its energy from its home planet.
A civilization that is able to harness the energy needed to meet the demands of their population, from being in control of all energy of the home planet while even being able to control the weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc, while being able to harness all desired energy from our star.
Having the ability to create structures such as a “Dyson Sphere”, which would be capable of harnessing the all energy that a star would give off in its lifetime. It is speculated that a star was found last year that could have a Dyson Sphere around it, because a lot of the light that we should be seeing from the star isn’t reaching us.
A civilization capable of inhabiting an entire galaxy while also being able to harness all energy from it. They would be able to move planets and stars, harness energy from supernovae, and even create their own stars.
Type 4/5/6 (unofficial):
Step 4 typically is seen as a civilization that has essentially taken over the universe and can manipulate it at their will, while type 5 is where multiverses can be controlled and inhabited. In Stage 6, a civilization can live outside of time and space itself, becoming omnipotent.
To anyone that may find this scale as laughable, read up on the Allegory of the Cave. The idea presented by Plato, which tells a story of people inside of a cave, chained to a wall their whole lives. All they know that exists are themselves, and the shadows that move on the wall in front of them. This is all they know and is all they think exists. They are obviously ignorant to the fact that an entire outside world exists with things that they could not even imagine, which we live in every day. I believe we are living in our own cave to an extent. There is so much that we do not know about the universe, that dismissing any theory is irresponsible.
There is no possible way I could create one post with enough content that would do the potential of graphene justice, but this will be a look through a keyhole into the fascinating grouping of carbon atoms.
Graphene is a structure made from carbon atoms in a honeycomb pattern, very similar to what honeycombs made from bees looks like. It has been studied massively since the term itself was coined in 1987. Scientists just can’t seem to get enough of graphene and its potential for use in electronics, battery energy, solar energy, and much more. Not to mention it is 100 times stronger then the strongest steal. Other reasons it is so great to work with is that the honeycomb structure offers a lot of strength to the one atom thick layer, and it is extremely conductive.
Above shows a representation of a layer of graphene.
With the great amount of forms carbon can make, along with providing the honeycomb structure, scientist have been able to actually fold the layer to create a tube of graphene called a carbon nanotube.
So far, nanotubes can be made with a length that is 132,000,000 times longer than the tubes diameter. For comparison, if you enlarged a carbon nanotube to match the diameter of a skyscraper (300 feet), it would rise to a staggering 7.5 million miles up. The moon on average is only about 240,000 miles away from earth.
Nanotubes themselves are already being developed for use in almost every part of bicycles, large vessels, wind turbines, and a variety of sports gear. This list is miniscule to what it will look like in the near future. Nanotubes are currently being researched and developed for use in acoustics, water treatment, radar absorption (stealth technology), hydrogen storage as a source of fuel, “paper batteries”, electrical circuits, tissue engineering inside the body, and much more. As you can see, this list is long as well as very diverse. Who knows how many different ways graphene will be used in the near future.
NASA has been developing an engine that doesn’t run on traditional propellant, while not even using a traditional rocket engine. If plans go accordingly, the engine will have twice as much thrust and would be 10 times for cost effective than chemical engines.
Since the fuel efficiency is much improved on this system, sending capsules into deep space would now be that much easier. In addition, these features have made it an attractive candidate to get people to mars and back quicker, which is very important, since the time it would take astronauts to get to Mars today would be very risky, since they would be exposed to radiation from the sun for too long.
This gorgeous blue glow is caused by a certain type of thruster. Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) works by using Hall thrusters. These thrusters trap electrons into a magnetic field and then ionize the propellant using these trapped electrons. The most common propellant used for Hall thrusters is Xenon. Using Xenon, the thrusters are able to accelerate their exhaust up to 50 miles per second.
Sometime before 2020, NASA plans to put the SEP system to test, by launching a spacecraft using this technology. If it succeeds, the future of space travel in the very near future could be based off of using this type of propulsion.
If you didn’t know already, Japan has taken robotics and other cool technologies into their culture with open arms. They have arguably been the leader in nudging robots into their lives for the past couple of decades. Since learning that they will be hosting the Olympics in 2020, Japan has been planning what any country does when hosting the Olympics. They will show off.
Assuming that Rio 2016 will be a complete bust, the world will be looking forward to Tokyo’s promising features in 2020. Besides the awesome robot servants that will help people find their way and serve food to attendees, here are a few features that will blow the world away.
Japan plans to reveal self-driving taxis to transport people around. Since their won’t be any human error with how the car preforms, it is believed that these cars will help reduce traffic and accidents, since they will only behave with the most rational responses. This would be a huge step for autonomous cars finally hitting the market, which is amazing, but it may not even be the feature that steals the show for most people.
The pictures above represent the plans to create artificial meteor showers for the people of Tokyo and their attendees. It is expected that a satellite will release particles that will then entire the atmosphere above Japan. Since the particles will be released going the speed of several miles a second, the particles will burn up in the atmosphere, creating what is essentially a meteor shower. Though, personally, the last feature I will mention will be what I am looking forward to the most.
I have to give a shout out to my love, virtual reality. Even for Rio 2016, you will be able to watch live coverage of selected sporting events in virtual reality, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that Tokyo will kick it up a notch and offer most, if not all events available for live streaming in VR. The camera above shows the type of lenses that are needed to give you the sense of depth when using a VR headset. These cameras will be placed on the sideline or in the front row of each event, giving you an experience that is just as good as being right next to the Olympic action yourself.
For decades, scientists have been studying and designing fusion reactors in hopes of essentially solving the world’s energy issues. In short, a fusion reactor essentially creates a tiny, artificial sun that is used for giving off a large amount of energy that we can harness. The sun is actually a natural fusion reactor, where two lighter atomic nuclei fuse to form a heavier nucleus.
Engineers in Greifswald, Germany, have designed and tested a fusion reactor called the Wendelstein 7-X. The shape that it’s in gives it the classification of a stellarator.
It’s hard to make out the complex swerving and looping the Wendelstein 7-X has, but the picture below shows it well. The Tokamak on the left was the previous design that was far less efficient. With the new design, the Wendelstein 7-X was able to heat helium to 1 million Kelvin.
For me, looking at the picture of the Wendelstein 7-X gives me a great appreciation for what people can achieve. The amount of math that had to go into designing and testing this reactor is incredible and just thinking about it makes my head hurt, with all of the thousands of little parts that have a specific purpose in a very complex design.
This technology is still supposed to be decades away from being usable at any grand scale still, unfortunately. Though we should still give the appreciation to the people who made this almost impossible machine actually work.
The advancements of prosthetics have been somewhat in the shadows for the past few years. I have no idea why, since these recent advancements seem like they are straight out of a science-fiction movie. Though, big news organizations have started to pick up on these stories recently.
Engineers out of Johns Hopkins University have actually been researching their M.P.L. (Modular Prosthetic Limb) since 2006, a prosthetic arm that can literally be controlled by an amputee’s mind.
This is Les Baugh, a double amputee since he was a teenager. Since using Johns Hopkins’ M.P.L., he has improved his dexterity with the device. Engineers say that it is possible to have actual feeling in the prosthetic as the nerves begin to root themselves deeper with the arm. Mr. Baugh had to undergo surgery to remap his nerves from his shoulders and pectorals in order for this device to work.
The goal in the future is to have a wearable cap that one can wear on their head instead of undergoing surgery in order to use the arm. This will make the use of it less invasive and possibly less expensive.
This not the only device that is capable of being controlled by the mind. DARPA, an agency for the U.S. Department of Defense has created their own similar device that is arguably even better than Johns Hopkins’ invention.
Computers have been using electrical circuits to relay information for nearly the past century. In order for computing power to keep increasing at an exponential level, the switch to quantum computing may need to happen soon. Shrinking transistors is becoming increasingly harder to do and one day soon, will be impossible.
The way that quantum computing will blow modern computers out of the water, is that the bits (qubits) that they use to relay information, can be 1’s and 0’s at the same time (if you’re at all familiar with binary). The qubits are cooled to almost absolute zero and are then magnetically suspended. This allows the information to be selected at a much higher rate than the computers we have now.
A company called D-Wave Systems currently claims that they have actually made a quantum computer. It is still up for debate if their computer can actually perform at the exponential speeds that quantum computers are supposed to run at, but NASA and Google claim that their tests conclude the D-Wave 2x (pictured below) runs at a speed that is 100 million times faster than an average computer.
You may not need a quantum computer yet, but companies that need to process an impossibly large amount of information can possibly now do this in seconds, rather than hours or days.
My previous post about Virtual Reality (VR) generally focused on introducing you to the basic concept of what VR is, how it works, why it is so significant, and what potential it has in the future. This post will mainly focus on what we’re actually about to see. Very soon. After painfully waiting years for the Oculus and other VR headsets to come out, the two main players (Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) are finally about to be released within the next couple weeks.
Oculus Rift (left) and HTC Vive (right)
These two headsets are the Ferrari’s of the VR world. With the Rift costing $600 and the Vive at $800, these are the headsets that will convince even the most skeptical people that VR is the real deal.
Within a week, you will be able to experience hundreds of games and experiences that you could never realistically expect to be able to do in real life. Issues like the screen door effect are almost solved completely.
For the premium VR headsets, the screen door effect shown above has been greatly improved, therefor allowing a more immersive experience.
With these two headsets be the poster child of VR, what will probably concrete VR into mainstream, will be Sony’s PSVR that will be released in about 6 months time. For only $399, the PSVR isn’t as powerful and has worse resolution (screen-door effect) than the premium headsets, but the target audience is the nearly $40 million PS4 owners that need their console in order to use PSVR.
Possibly one of the most exciting ideas that already exists, is a warehouse in Utah called The Void (check out there amazing website). With their custom headset and their warehouse, you can enter a virtual world with obstacles and turns are accurate with the real obstacle and turns in the actual warehouse. Being able to actually run around in a huge virtual world is really the best option you can get. So if you find yourself in Utah anytime soon, check The Void for only $30 for a half-hour.
For the most convenient VR headset, one should purchase a GearVR, a headset that only needs your Samsung phone at and affordable $99. The experience may not be the greatest, as all of the computing power is coming from your phone, but it is the best option for most people.
You may be aware of the movie, “The Matrix”, where it’s revealed early that the main character, Neo has been living his whole life inside a simulation for the benefit of his AI overlords. What if I told you that there is a decent chance that we are actually living inside a simulation much like the one from The Matrix?
I’m not going to fear monger and tell you that the Simulation Hypothesis IS true and that you should be afraid, but when you sit down and listen to the scientists who believe that it is indeed a possibility, it turns into an interesting discussion very quick.
Try and imagine how incredibly large the observable universe is. With an estimated 100 billion stars (probably many more that we can not see) and with most of those stars have planets orbiting them, just imagine how much intelligent life there “should” be around us. The Universe is estimated to be around 13.6 billion years old, with potential life growing on planets up to 10 billions years ago. Us homo sapiens have only been around for 100,000 years.
Just think about that for a second. With all of the potential for life throughout the universe on trillions of planets that could have been advancing before Earth even existed, where are the aliens?
The thought is traveling through space is very difficult. So much so that no matter how advanced a species gets, there is just no way to communicate with other habitable planets since everything is so far away from each other. What would be easier, would be to create your own universe that you could visit by just “plugging in”. This could be seen as a far advanced version of the virtual reality that we had access to today (see my previous blog post).
These advanced life forms could create their own simulated universes inside a computer program, and even create everything we know from the Sun, Earth, and even you and your family. Think this is impossible? Think of where the human race was 300 years ago technologically speaking. There were no cars, no light bulbs, no TV, etc. We have grown so fast in such a short amount of time partially thanks to Moore’s Law, imagine what an intelligent life form like us could due with billions of years.