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ChunkyC
07-22-2006, 08:35 PM
In another thread, I posted a link to an article on suspended animation, and it got me thinking that a thread devoted to current science that foreshadows possible technologies of the future might be interesting and informative, especially for those of us who write near-future fiction. So, here's that link again, and another on flexible display technologies.

Suspended animation (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.07/posts.html?pg=4) (warning, somewhat graphic about surgery on an animal)

Roll-up TVs in seven years? (http://www.itworldcanada.com/Pages/Docbase/ViewArticle.aspx?id=idgml-3d039dcc-2e1f-4314&s=252302)

Ordinary_Guy
07-22-2006, 10:02 PM
From the DOE's Ames Lab (http://www.external.ameslab.gov/):
AMES, IA – Physicist Costas Soukoulis and his research group at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory on the Iowa State University campus are having the time of their lives making light travel backwards at negative speeds that appear faster than the speed of light. That, folks, is a mind-boggling 186,000 miles per second – the speed at which electromagnetic waves can move in a vacuum. And making light seem to move faster than that and in reverse is what Soukoulis, who is also an ISU Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said is “like rewriting electromagnetism.” He predicted, “Snell’s law on the refraction of light is going to be different; a number of other laws will be different.”...
The article goes on and their methodology has implications for lenses and new kinds of optical equipment. Read all about it on their press release (http://www.external.ameslab.gov/final/News/2006rel/metamaterials.htm).

Before you SF writers get your hopes too high, the superluminal propagation doesn't disprove relativity (they talk about it in the article). OTOH, it's one example of many where "superluminal" effects are measured and confirmed – meaning it's probably not too far out for SF writers to play in faster-than-light sandbox.

RedMolly
07-25-2006, 07:52 AM
I have to admit that PZ Myers' recent post at Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/07/this_doesnt_encourage_me_to_wo.php) about giant cephalopods inhabiting flooded cities after a few more decades of unchecked global warming strikes me as very fertile ground for a story...

Birol
07-25-2006, 05:40 PM
Teleporting Data (http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/australia_teleport_020618.html)

Ordinary_Guy
08-01-2006, 10:40 AM
Good news. Very good news...
Future spacesuits could heal themselves (http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn9624&feedId=online-news_rss20)
11:35 27 July 2006
NewScientist.com news service
David Shiga

Future spacesuits could have some remarkable new abilities. They could self-repair holes, generate electricity and kill germs, thanks to new "smart" materials. Such suits may be ready for use by 2018, when NASA hopes to return to the Moon.

The company that has made spacesuits for NASA since the Apollo missions in the 1960s – ILC Dover LP, in Delaware, US – has been testing these new smart fabrics. It described them last week at the 36th International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) in Norfolk, Virginia, US.

The spacesuit would be self-healing because its innermost layer, which provides the spacesuit's airtight seal, is filled with a thick polymer gel. The rubber-like gel is sandwiched between two thin layers of polyurethane so that if a hole forms in these layers, the gel oozes from surrounding areas to plug it. In vacuum chamber tests, the gel healed punctures up to 2 millimetres wide.

If the suit was pierced with a larger hole, the material would immediately alert the astronaut of the hole's location. That is because the material contains a layer that is crisscrossed with current-carrying wires. Large punctures would break circuits in the damaged area, allowing built-in sensors to alert a central computer, says David Cadogan, who manages InFlex, the smart materials programme at ILC Dover.

Radiation blocker

The suit would even be able to provide its own power for those sensors using flexible solar cells that would be sewn into the outermost layer. A variety of these cells is now commercially available, and the company is testing which of the polymer or silicon-based cells would work best on a smart material in space.

The material also keeps microbes at bay using layers of silver-coated polyester. It slowly releases silver ions, which kill bacteria. And layers of polyethylene would also protect astronauts because polyethylene contains a lot of hydrogen, which is a good radiation blocker.

The company has tested these features on various materials but has yet to settle on a final design. It hopes NASA will use the materials in new spacesuits when it sends astronauts back to the Moon.

Cadogan's research group is also designing a sample inflatable habitat using smart materials that could be used as a Moon base or space station. NASA gave up on previous plans for an inflatable module for the International Space Station but it may revive inflatable structures for its return to the Moon. "They have numerous studies going on where inflatable habitats are under consideration," Cadogan told New Scientist.
Just a little more grist for the mill. Follow the link to NewScientist (Space) to get related links and inspiration.

JimmyB
08-01-2006, 04:19 PM
If the suit was pierced with a larger hole, the material would immediately alert the astronaut of the hole's location

Would you really need an alert if your space suit has a ruddy great hole in the side?

Ordinary_Guy
08-01-2006, 08:45 PM
Would you really need an alert if your space suit has a ruddy great hole in the side?
It does seem counterintuitive that you wouldn't be constantly monitoring the condition of your suit...

However, if you're otherwise occupied (say, on a space walk and in the middle of some intensive task), it's quite possible that some tear/puncture could've come from just about anything, from some micrometeorite to a "burr" on the scaffolding of a space station. Since your suit is going to be thick but still reasonably form fitting (not blown up like you're wearing a giant balloon), a small tear could very well be non-obvious.

Ordinary_Guy
08-03-2006, 04:18 AM
Granted, it (http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/robots/wearable-robot-suit-complete-with-side-mounted-gun-for-sale-191651.php) rolls instead of steps, but this alpha-quality tech I'm sure will continue to evolve (no matter how goofy it might currently seem).
http://www.bornrich.org/images/wearable_robot_suit.jpg
...Nope, it's not photoshopped. Roughly 3.4m high and weighing in at a hefty 907kg. It's a bit pokey at 1.5 kph but can catch up those running away by shooting sponge bullets. It can be yours for a hair over 300 grand...

Check out a video of this behemoth at YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVwbUljGs3g&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fgizmodo%2Ecom%2Fgadgets%2Frobots %2Fwearable%2Drobot%2Dsuit%2Dcomplete%2Dwith%2Dsid e%2Dmounted%2Dgun%2Dfor%2Dsale%2D191651%2Ephp).

Ordinary_Guy
09-14-2006, 08:06 PM
From CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/09/14/bionic.arm.ap/index.html?section=cnn_topstories) of all places:
http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2006/TECH/09/14/bionic.arm.ap/story.bionic.cnn.jpg (http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/09/14/bionic.arm.ap/index.html?section=cnn_topstories)
Bionic arm provides hope for amputees
POSTED: 11:16 a.m. EDT, September 14, 2006

DAYTON, Tennessee (AP) -- Jesse Sullivan has two prosthetic arms, but he can climb a ladder at his house and roll on a fresh coat of paint. He's also good with a weed-whacker, bending his elbow and rotating his forearm to guide the machine.

He's even mastered a more sensitive maneuver -- hugging his grandchildren.

The motions are coordinated and smooth because his left arm is a bionic device controlled by his brain. He thinks, "Close hand," and electrical signals sent through surgically re-routed nerves make it happen.

Doctors describe Sullivan as the first amputee with a thought-controlled artificial arm.

Researchers encouraged Sullivan, who became an amputee in an industrial accident, not to go easy on his experimental limb.

"When I left, they said don't bring it back looking new," the 59-year-old Sullivan said with a grin, his brow showing sweat beneath a fraying Dollywood amusement park cap. At times he had been so rough with the bionic arm that it broke, including once when he pulled the end off starting a lawnmower.

That prompted researchers to make improvements, part of a U.S. government initiative to refine artificial limbs that connect body and mind. The National Institutes of Health has supported the research, joined more recently by the military's research-and-development wing, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Some 411 U.S. troops in Iraq and 37 in Afghanistan have had wounds that cost them at least one limb, the Army Medical Command says.

Although work that created Sullivan's arm preceded the research by DARPA, he said he's proud to test a type of bionic arm that soldiers could someday use. "Those guys are heroes in my book," he said, "and they should have the best there is."

"We're excited about collaborating with the military," said the developer of Sullivan's arm, Dr. Todd Kuiken, director of neuroengineering at the Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, one of 35 partners now in a DARPA project to develop a state-of-the-art arm...
Click the link to read the rest of the article (and see a short video of his arm in action)...

ChunkyC
09-16-2006, 01:20 AM
A surprising earthquake sensor that, when developed, should be able to accurately predict a tsunami.

PC hard disk tech warns of tsunamis (http://www.itworldcanada.com/Pages/Docbase/ViewArticle.aspx?id=idgml-1050f5ee-d7ef-4c4f&Portal=d10e0410-71d5-4137-9405-6c9adc115df8&s=252302)

ChunkyC
09-16-2006, 01:24 AM
Would you really need an alert if your space suit has a ruddy great hole in the side?
If I was in the near-vacuum of space and my life depended on the integrity of my suit, I'd appreciate having a brass band march past my field of vision the moment the slightest problem with my suit arose. ;)

Ordinary_Guy
09-16-2006, 07:59 AM
... I'd appreciate having a brass band march past my field of vision the moment the slightest problem with my suit arose. ;)
You wouldn't hear them very well but the visual would be striking...:tongue

ChunkyC
09-18-2006, 12:36 AM
Hehe. How about generated by the suit in a heads-up display? ;)

TheIT
09-18-2006, 12:40 AM
Would the band be playing "There's Trouble in River City?"

76 trombones led the big parade.... :D

A lot of older SF stories talk about having clamps in space suits at the joints to minimize the damage or loss of air in case one of the suit's limbs gets holed.

Pthom
10-01-2006, 05:52 AM
A lot of older SF stories talk about having clamps in space suits at the joints to minimize the damage or loss of air in case one of the suit's limbs gets holed.Some more recent ones talk about skin-tight suits. Dunno how that helps with rips and tears, but it makes for exciting book cover illustrations. ;)

Serenity
10-01-2006, 06:58 PM
Some more recent ones talk about skin-tight suits. Dunno how that helps with rips and tears, but it makes for exciting book cover illustrations. ;)

Speedos in Space?

*walks away whistling innocently...

Lyra Jean
10-06-2006, 08:33 AM
I was watching National Geographic Channel and they were talking about colonizing other planets and one way we could deal with radiation is have our genes spliced with cockroach genes, since cockroaches are immune to radiation.

badducky
10-06-2006, 09:37 AM
www.livescience.com

I surf through their old articles.

Also, I watch out for interesting things at Instapundit because he's such a sci-fi junky and everybody always sends him the coolest articles to link.

RTH
10-06-2006, 10:51 PM
I was watching National Geographic Channel and they were talking about colonizing other planets and one way we could deal with radiation is have our genes spliced with cockroach genes, since cockroaches are immune to radiation.

Immune to radiation? Sounds like a job for "Mythbusters" to me (my new favorite TV show). Unless the roaches have lead shielding around their DNA...:)

Lyra Jean
10-07-2006, 07:29 AM
well maybe not immune but more resilient than humans. Ever put one in a microwave?

Write the Mythbusters and see if they will do it.

RTH
10-09-2006, 10:39 PM
I'm sure their legal department wouldn't let them -- the whole "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" effect... :(

Shadow_Ferret
10-09-2006, 10:43 PM
well maybe not immune but more resilient than humans. Ever put one in a microwave?


No I haven't, have you? I can't imagine it not blowing up like everything else I put in there.

mdin
10-09-2006, 10:44 PM
http://steelturman.typepad.com/thesteeldeal/2006/10/attack_of_the_f.html

Lyra Jean
10-10-2006, 07:58 AM
No I haven't, have you? I can't imagine it not blowing up like everything else I put in there.

I have but not on purpose. I can't do it on purpose because I'm that afraid of them. It's the only phobia I have.

When they come out of the microwave they just walk around like they are drunk for a minute or so and then they scamper off like nothing happened. This was after 3 minutes in the microwave.

Bikini Island where they did the nuclear testing the only 'animal,' if you consider cockroaches animals instead of being from hell who want to eat your face, to survive was the cockroach only it had a three foot wingspan or something like that.

Lyra Jean
10-10-2006, 07:59 AM
http://steelturman.typepad.com/thesteeldeal/2006/10/attack_of_the_f.html

X-Files has an episode about that. They were sent by an alien race to study humans because it was more efficient than coming themselves. The insect robots looked just like cockroaches.

Lyra Jean
10-10-2006, 08:38 AM
Did some looking on the web and found this article about insects and radiation.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/moments/s1567313.htm


And here is some Q&A on cocroaches.
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/kunkel/cockroach_faq.html

Here is one about cockroaches and radiation.
http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1996/12-13-1996/bomb.html

Just in case any of y'all is interested.

Shadow_Ferret
10-10-2006, 04:38 PM
http://steelturman.typepad.com/thesteeldeal/2006/10/attack_of_the_f.html

Hey! That's my story! :(

beezle
10-13-2006, 11:15 AM
Here's an old staple of science fiction comming true now. The ever-handy 'translation device'.

http://www.cio.com/blog_view.html?CID=25719

IBM Translation Software to Be Tested by U.S. Military in Iraq

The U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) will deploy IBM’s speech-to-speech translation software to help U.S. forces serving in Iraq better communicate with local security forces and Iraqi citizens.
The USJFCOM acts as the "transformation laboratory" of the U.S. military, developing and testing out new capabilities and then recommending their use to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The unit is turning to IBM and other companies for technology to translate natural speech in real-time to make up for a lack of military linguists proficient in Iraqi Arabic.
IBM announced Thursday that the USJFCOM will deploy IBM Research’s Multilingual Automatic Speech-to-Speech Translator system, also known as Mastor.
Mastor combines work on automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and speech synthesis under way at IBM since 2001, said David Nahamoo, chief technology officer, human language technology at IBM Research. Over the past few years, IBM has also worked closely on Mastor with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
When used in Iraq, Mastor will act as an automated bidirectional, English-to-Iraqi Arabic translator capable of translating more than 50,000 English words and 100,000 Iraqi Arabic words.
For example, a U.S. military trainer looking to work with an Iraqi policeman could speak English into a microphone hooked up to the Mastor system running on a laptop. The IBM technology would recognize his English speech, translate it into Iraqi Arabic and then vocalize that translation for the Iraqi policeman to hear and vice versa. Mastor’s graphical user interface displays both the original and translated phrase. It also includes what IBM calls a "back translation" of the individual words the system translated, to provide an additional level of confidence to the original speaker.
Initially, IBM will deliver 35 ruggedized Panasonic Toughbook laptops loaded with the Mastor software to USJFCOM in Iraq later this month.
"The system is designed for a benign environment," Wayne Richards, deputy branch chief, USJFCOM capabilities division, wrote in an e-mail interview. "Its recommended uses are hospitals, training of Iraqi police and military forces in classrooms and in secure training areas on force protection and civil affairs operations."
The USJFCOM had input into the English and Iraqi Arabic words Mastor has been taught to recognize, Richards added. The agency transcribed and translated conversations that reflected particular mission areas so it could capture specific words, terms and expressions for use in developing translation libraries leading to improvements in the accuracy in Mastor’s translation.
"The [Mastor] product is not ready for full deployment and is being put into the field in a controlled environment which will be assessed by the government; feedback will be provided to DARPA, who will use the analyses to increase the technical readiness of the system," Richards wrote. DARPA will use the feedback to help guide IBM in further R&D efforts to improve Mastor.
IBM has previously worked on three other language versions of Mastor to varying extents, Nahamoo said: English-to-Mandarin Chinese, English-to-modern standard Arabic and English-to-Spanish.
The company is keen to explore other avenues for the technology and already has a relationship in place with a commercial partner, Sharp. The Japanese company is to introduce a Japanese-to-English translation PDA later this year that is based on some of IBM’s technologies in Mastor, notably its speech-recognition and text-to-speech capabilities, Nahamoo said.

FennelGiraffe
10-13-2006, 06:36 PM
Eureka Alert (http://www.eurekalert.org/index.php) is a good source for the latest scientific news.