Friday, July 16, 2010

Non-stop solar flight

So interesting already. Not around the world, but aloft for over 7 days over the U.S., the Zephyr broke the previous record of 30 hours. Soon, the record will be years. For science, and the earth, this is fantastic!

see the Zephyr solar plane

Friday, July 9, 2010

Successful round the world, while dark, solar flight

Solar Impulse, the completely electric, solar powered plane, completed it's maiden overnight journey yesterday. Still to go: transatlantic, then the world.

Someday we'll see autonomous electric cargo shuttling around the world, safer, cheaper, and cleaner. When these become passenger planes, I hope I'm still alive.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Injectible computers

Care to have a computer injected into you? No? What if the computer could analyze your blood and tissues for diseases? Tell you how healthy you are? Tell you the horrible effects of that soda you just drank? Tell you how prepared you are for a marathon? Well, researchers have already found that DNA can be turned into logic gates. Logic gates are the building blocks of computers. String a bunch of DNA together and you get a small computer. It's that simple.

World's First DNA-Based Logic Gates Could Lead to Injectable Bio-computers

DIY Copter Drone Lands on a Moving Target

I found this fascinating in the robotic flight category. Although the control system is barely stable (the up and down movement almost oscillates out of control), the copter is able to land most of the time. See the link below.

Autonomous DIY Copter Drone Lands on a Moving Target Using a Wiimote's Eye

What do you think about autonomous drones? Scary? Too futuristic? Both? I say get used to them for major cargo delivery and even wide-area delivery, like between cities. Taking the human out of the loop simplifies almost everything. At the same time, there is no question whether it is a mechanical or pilot failure!

Friday, June 4, 2010

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid - the Quantum version

Looks like Nicolas Gisin is still at the forefront of Quantum Entanglement. I mention him in my book, Entangled. This time, he is going to shoot entangled photons at human eyes! Yes, really. Look at 

Spooky Eyes: Using Human Volunteers to Witness Quantum Entanglement

Though eyes are poor photon detectors, they hope there is some enlightenment about entangled photons.

 I don't think new revelations will come about because of this experiment. A photon is a photon, whether its quantum spin is up or down. I thought it interesting he warned there is no danger of the person viewing the photons to become entangled with the person on the other side. I guess in any nascent technology there is always F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) by many who are quite cautious.

 Find out more about Nicolas Gisin and his colleagues in my book, Entangled.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quantum this and that...

Quantum Physics sounds so sciency. Jason Angle steps into Quantum wierdness and drives through it's barriers in my upcoming novel, Entangled. But it's not hard to understand from one point of view.

Did you know Quantum Physics has been around for over a hundred years? Only now are real applications being developed out of this strange science. Quantum communication, computing, and memory are in heavy research right now. The promises are many, but we've seen that before in science.

Yet all new theoretical discoveries take a lot of time to come to fruition. Even Einstein's theories took 40 years until atomic energy could be exploited, and that was accelerated by war's needs. Newton's laws weren't applied within his century, much anyway, but prevail for most work today. Why does this happen?

This pattern is well known. At first there's only one scientist who understands the theory well. He can only think 24 hours a day and that limits the adoption of the idea. In a few years other scientists may get time to work on the new theory in detail. Then a few years more and more scientists come on board, maybe a few entrepreneurs too who can imagine how to use the science for practical purposes. Years and years later, after exchange of ideas, trials, and errors, a local singularity, or tipping point if you wish, explodes and it becomes obvious in hind-sight how to use the theory.

This parallels other processes, like in market life cycles: first, introduction; next, adoption and growth; then maturity; finally saturation and decline. However, theory life cycles are a step back, a meta-market in a sense, that take a much longer time than gadgets for instance: 8 track, cassette, CDs, DVDs. Oh, you didn't know CD's and DVDs were declining? Think iTunes.

Then take the creation of the universe theory. Early theories had Sun worship (paganism I'll call it though the definition is not correct?), multiple gods (polytheism), then a single God (monotheism), creating everything; the earth was the center of all, and flat. But then the telescope spured new theories of a solar system, then a galaxy, then a universe. Paganism gave way to polytheism then to monotheism. Paganism and polytheism still have followers, but they've declined heavily over the centuries. Monotheism is still very strong but I see reports of decline in the church in the last few years, though that might mean decline of church only, not monotheism. Evolution has only been around two centuries and might on the surface be meta-paganism of sorts (nature). Maybe monotheism will be the longest theory of them all, who knows? This creation jury is still sitting, whether devine or happenstance, and we reading this today will all be dead and dust before it's settled.

That's something to think about. And no, if you think you can guess my beliefs from the above paragraph, you are wrong. Beliefs are different than an objective, scientific view of something. Think about that!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Terminators are coming true?

I just read about a drone Helicopter the Navy has been using since October 2009 followed a drug running powerboat and helped a frigate capture the boat. Cool!

Drones seem to be ramping up quickly. UAV's, drones, call them what you will, they are here to stay. There are human controlled ones and fully automated ones. With GPS accuracy to a meter or so, they can take off, run their operation, and land by themselves.

In the future, combat missions will be increasingly supported by automated machines. Ground machines to carry supplies, airplanes to refuel or carry additional munitions, submarines to search and defend. Even trucking, UPS delivery, mail, you name it. It's cheaper to get rid of humans in the loop.

Space is like that too. What's the biggest cost to the International Space Station? Air, toilets, kitchens, water processing, and these systems break down more than all the scientific machines. Don't get me wrong, we need people up there. But it costs.

I don't worry yet as artificial intelligence is still a fancy dream. Though data can be searched and distilled amazingly fast these days, that's not thinking. That's filtering, finding a needle in a haystack. But once our forces are nearly automated, I foresee it being like the Terminator movies, don't you think?