Saturday, February 17, 2007

Imagining the Future

I love to imagine the future. I think my real skill is just thinking about what is known to everyone and seeing some of the pieces fit together.

I make no claim to having a novel source of ideas. I am just a creative mind and a human pattern matcher, add heavy doses of slashdot, NPR, Discovery, BBC News and other a few other sources and mix it up with a little ingenuity and sometimes you get something useful.

Here are some short future comments. This is all freely available and many of you know much of this already, but in case you don't.

Someday there will be a superman musical. It will simply happen. I don't know when or who or how, but it is a sure thing.

Computer screens will increase dramatically in resolution and reduce steadily in price in the near future. Eventually, screens will be able to display a document as well as a color laser printer (or better) and in the same size space. The Apple Cinema Display is pretty awesome at 2560 x 1600 ( and it's already a couple years old) though some day screens will be more in the 6000 x3000 range and even sharper (or higher).

Batteries are doomed. They will all be replaced by capacitors. Nano-capacitors have been invented already and this technology will replace all need for batteries. These capacitors will charge quickly (unlike a battery) and drain slowly. They will never need to be replaced in the lifetime of any product they are in so they will just be built in.

Fuel will be solar, wind, bio sourced (like alcohol fuel or bio-diesel) and probably nuclear. These are as renewable as the sun is and won't emit CO2. Nuclear power has that pesky problem of waste, though we may some day figure out how to reduce the half-life of Nuclear waste. From what I understand, re-processing nuclear fuel from uranium reactors to plutonium reactors reduces waste, though requires excellent security as the plutonium may be "weapons-grade".

Humans may actually have to purposely emit CO2 someday to prevent global ice ages (I mean in 1000's of years). It's 12 deg F out right now so I am trying to still believe in global warming.

Fusion power will be made to work some day. So we will be able to tap into the same kind of energy the sun does. That will open many doors for us.

By 2040, prepetual life will start to become a possibility. It will probably be for the very rich and there will still be no guarantee you won't get hit by a bus or something. I just mean that we will have a very good understanding of how to maintain the body in good health and control the mechanisms of disease.

Companies are experimenting now with using inkjet printers to place bio-material in the pattern they desire. Using cells instead of ink, put simply. Someday they may even be able to print out 3d organs, 1 layer at a time, made from cells that are coaxed from stem cells into becoming the right kind of cell for say the heart, liver or other organs. Maybe these stem cells could even be "harvested" from the adult patients themselves so the 3d layer-created printed-out organs will actually be ready for the intended recipient, and not be rejected. Maybe we'll even understand enough about the chemistry and processes of life to replace any part of the body.

Now, in the more speculative areas, I believe that some day physics will acheive a grand theory of everything, explaining almost everything that is possible. We will understand the nature of the Universe. We will have an understanding of gravity that is as good or better than our understanding of other fundamental concepts like electromagnetism. Knowing all this will be like, as Carl Sagan said, "reading the mind of God". We will need to be prepared for the very possible circumstance that science reveals knowledge that supercedes long held traditions about the human condition and the nature or existence of the divine.

So that's about enough for a day. It's going to be a weird, wild, amazing future. I used to be taught that it all had to end and that it was SOON SOON SOON. I do not believe it all has to end. I think there is great promise in humanity's future.



Christy said...

This is a very optimistic post with a lot of hope, I'm really digging it.

I hope you'll take me to the Superman Musical when it happens. That would be a lot of fun!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Great post. I want some of those batteries you wrote about...

And nevermind what I'd put them in!