Philly Creative Guide

Here's the Thing

Bill Haley

10 Innovations That Will Rock Our World
by Bill Haley, 1 Nov 2010

Bill Haley is one of the founders of PhillyCreativeGuide.com. He is also President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (www.alliedpixel.com), an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He can be reached at [email protected].


Wondering what sort of really cool, game-changing scientific innovations lay ahead? The editors of livescience.com have come up with some interesting predictions.

# 10 - Machines that read your mind

Neuroscientists are using brain scans to predict what a person will do, and even forecast that she'll make a mistake, up to a half minute before she makes it. Near-infrared light is being used to figure out preferences based on brain activity. And now researchers have built a device that really does read your mind. Just think of a letter and it's displayed on screen.

# 9 - Super fast travel

Get out of here! Space planes that take off and land like regular aircraft are under development by the U.S. and U.K. Going a step further, the U.S. Air Force and Brazil (of all places) are working on a Lightcraft concept that uses explosions produced by lasers to achieve hypersonic travel. Uh, yeah you can take the first ride on that bad boy.

# 8 - Perfect artificial limbs

Give that man a hand! Prosthetic users may soon control artificial hands, arms and legs as naturally as they control their own limbs. Advanced prostheses use smart microprocessors to anticipate how a user will move. Now new brain interfaces are being developed that use brain signals to control the limb.

# 7 - Portable knowledge

MIT has developed a wearable "gestural interface" which combines a webcam, projector and smartphone, allowing a person to use natural hand gestures to interact with information. In the future, such devices will work together with embedded "smart" systems and tags to create an "augmented reality" where staring at a street sign could bring up directions to the nearest Chinese restaurant, together with menu, restaurant reviews and online ordering.

# 6 - Body regeneration

Looking for some spare parts? A British team grew the world's first artificial liver from umbilical stem cells in 2006, and adult stem cells have restored eyesight in an Australian patient. Chinese scientists have created live mice from reprogrammed skin cells. Custom-made organs and therapies are down the road.

# 5 - The end of hunger

Science is attacking the problem of world hunger from a few different angles. New varieties of wheat, corn and rice with higher yields and greater resistance to temperature changes, drought and insects are being developed. New information technologies keep farmers informed of crop conditions and promote better agricultural practices. And thousands of seed varieties are being stored in a doomsday vault in Norway, just in case something really bad happens.

# 4 - Getting rid of waste

There's a lot of trash talk these days. Agricultural byproducts like chicken feathers may become the future of plastics. New biodegradable plastics dissolve harmlessly into seawater - perhaps making our oceans the eco-friendly dumping grounds of the future. The U.S. Army is using food scraps, sewage and other waste to fuel power plants and generators. Sustainability, meet attainability.

# 3 - Climate control

Climate control technologies are coming closer to reality. Scientists are contemplating the idea of sending reflective particles into the atmosphere to cool the planet. They’re also talking about seeding the oceans with iron to promote carbon-gobbling algae blooms. Bill Gates is part of a team seeking to stop hurricanes by using fleets of ships to cool oceanic surface water.

# 2 - Unleashing the sun's power

Scientists may be on the verge of harnessing nuclear fusion to generate energy. Enormous lasers at the National Ignition Facility will focus their power on a tiny pellet of hydrogen fuel, hopefully releasing more energy than what is required by the lasers. Other ideas (please don't ask me to explain them) include the magnetic confinement of high-temperature plasma and a new kind of cold fusion to generate energy.

# 1 - An artificial brain

Scientists believe it’s just a matter of time until the first artificial brain arrives. Researchers at the Blue Brain Project expect to create a functioning, artificial brain within the next decade. They have already modeled part of an artificial rat brain using IBM’s Blue Gene supercomputer. And they’ve said that the simulated brain cells have begun self-organizing without human intervention.

Conspicuously absent from this list is Edy's Slow Churned Chocolate Ice Cream. With 1/3 the calories and all the flavor, it's my pick for invention of the century.

Print Article Brought to you by: Bill Haley | President, Interactive of Allied Pixel