It is believed that anything is possible once we put our minds to it. Our technological genius proves that this is definitely so. Combining the two and using the mind to control technology has become many manufacturers aim, in order to keep up with the current trends. The brain’s electrical activity can be recorded along the scalp, using a process called EEG. By monitoring these brain waves, technology has been designed to translate them into commands allowing various devices to be controlled with just the user’s thoughts.
Not only is this process convenient, but it has been useful in helping those with physical handicaps lead more fulfilling lives. Even though the technology is still being refined, paralysed individuals are able to control wheelchairs and other equipment by wearing a cap and training their brains to send the appropriate signals to the machine. EEG on its own has limited accuracy, however, and a combination of brain control and artificial intelligence seems to be the best way to operate these items. The combination means that the individual will not need to focus constantly on controlling their device. The brain would only have to produce the initial thought and then the artificial intelligence would take over.
Operating technology with the mind has an unlimited scope, and some of the ones available or coming soon are:
- Prosthetic Arm by DARPA – Wearers are able to control this limb with their thoughts, and the arm will function in the same way as a real one. The introduction of these prosthetic devices means that many people will be able to use them to regain their independence, especially when the technology is applied to other prosthetic limbs.
- NeuroSky MindWave – This is a headset that has been designed to improve the user’s brain ability and comes with educational, gaming and life improvement apps. One of the accessories for the MindWave is the Orbit Helicopter, which the user can fly by using their concentration to dictate the aircraft’s course.
- Muse – This is a portable headset which controls relaxation and focus, making it easier for the user to perform mentally challenging tasks. The manufacturers are still working on the object however and in the near future the Muse will be used to control iPhones and Androids by brain wave activity.
- Emotiv EPOC – This device allows people to control their computer using only their mind. It is particularly beneficial for gaming technology and can be adapted to control any electrical device.
- Necomimi and Shippo – Not all the technology that is being produced to be used with brain waves is for ease or convenience, some of it is just for fun. This pair of ears and tail will scan brain waves and respond to them. For example, the Necomimi ears may stand up when the user is alert and the Shippo tail will wag whenever its human is happy. The achievements we can make with technology are just simply mind-blowing!
The Rio Olympics are in full swing and fans are as excited as ever to watch the increasingly competitive sports. Unfortunately, the number of people that have actually made their way to Brazil to be a part of the games is significantly less than in previous Olympics. Athletes have also given up the chance to participate in these legendary games, because of concerns about their health. The fear of catching the Zika virus has become greater than the love of sports for many. Governments, and other officials, have started looking into ways of eliminating or decreasing its spread, in order to ensure that it won’t affect other high profile sports games in the future.
The best way to stop the spread of the virus would be to eliminate its cause. Zika is passed on to humans by the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. A biotech firm based in the UK, Oxitec, has developed a way of genetically modifying male mosquitos which are then released into the population. When they breed with the females, genes which will be fatal to the following generation are transferred. These offspring don’t live long enough to reproduce, and the mosquito population begins to decrease.
These GMO mosquitos have already been introduced in Cayman, Brazil and Panama cutting the amount of Aedes aegypti mosquitos in the countries by up to 90% in 6 months. The firm believes that it is currently the only viable solution, and they are negotiating terms to release the affected insects in the United States. Even though the process has already been approved by the FDA, the company is still waiting for the go ahead from other state and federal agencies. Some of the country’s citizens have expressed concern as to the possible effects that this release will have on the environment, and the human population.
Entomologists have concluded that there is no possibility of the GMO mosquitos harming humans. Furthermore, they insist that eradicating the mosquito will cause no known side effects to the local animal life, because there is no species that relies exclusively on it for food. Many countries, including the USA, are spraying pesticides into the air to kill the mosquitos. This practice is significantly more harmful to the environment as the chemicals kill other insects, including bees.
If approved in other countries, the project is expected to eventually eliminate the fear of catching the Zika virus. The expense is expected to run quite high, however, as the estimated cost is 10c per mosquito and millions will have to be released. The positives extend far beyond eliminating the Zika virus, as the Aedes aegypti mosquito is also responsible for the spread of dengue, chikungunga and other viruses. If allowed to continue to multiply freely, there is the possibility of the mosquito adapting and starting to transfer other viruses which may become even more of a threat to humans than Zika currently is.
Having designed many of the stealth bombers that are currently being used by Russia, Tupolev Design Bureau was the natural choice for the country’s new proposal. The Pak-Da will be a strategic bomber meant to revolutionise wartime aviation. The meaning of Pak-Da is aviation complex for long range aviation and the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, in a television announcement made reference to the fact that this will be an entirely new design of stealth bomber, which is being created to replace both the turbo-powered Tupolev Tu-95 and supersonic Tupolev Tu-160.
Aircrafts that are used in war are frequently upgraded, as our technology gets more advanced. The aim of the Russians in developing the Pak-Da is to keep up with and even surpass the US military, focusing specifically on their B-21 stealth bomber design. In April 2013, the design was finalised and the construction of a prototype began. If everything goes according to the country’s plan, the prototype’s first flight is expected in 2019. Production of the aircrafts that the country will use should then begin in 2020, and be fully integrated into the military between 2025 and 2030.
Even though the bomber’s full design has yet to be revealed and will probably remain vague until the prototype is completed, a few of its components have been shared. In March 2013 the Russians announced that the aircraft’s design would include a subsonic flying wing, meaning that the bomber would be able to fly at subsonic speeds as well as use advanced types of supersonic speed, including hypersonic. This would allow the Pak-Da to arrive at any place in earth’s atmosphere within two hours.
Other aspects of the bomber’s design, continuously curvature shapes and radar absorbent outer materials, will enable the aircraft to fly into space from the upper atmosphere. This will mean that two engines and two fuel tanks will be necessary, in order to facilitate the transition from earth to outer space. One of the current engines being used is a variant of the NK-32 (used on the Tu 160), a suitable design, which will facilitate the burning of jet fuel in earth’s atmosphere where the Pak-Da will use oxygen to fly. When the aircraft has entered space it will make the shift to using its own oxidiser, and will then be propelled by oxygen and methane.
Other features that may be included in the design are:
- The ability to fly outside the range of any interceptor
- A combat radius of 3500 km
- A loaded weight of between 100-120 tonnes
- The use of avionics
- A 30 tonne weapons payload
- A range of 6740 nautical miles
The Russians seem to have thought of everything that will make the Pak-Da surpass any other stealth bomber currently available, and with the help of the Tupolev Design Bureau they are well on their way to achieving this.
For a long time humanity has entertained the idea of going back in time to change the past, or going forward to see what the future holds. Physicists have been exploring ways of accomplishing this for almost as long as the idea has been around. Even though they haven’t been able to prove that a certain method will definitely work, there are several theories which show how this can be achieved. It is not expected that this will be done in our generation, but with continued research and exploration our civilization will one day make that physical journey through the ages. Some of the ways in which we may get there are:
- Going through an Immense Black Hole – Black holes are extremely dense, so moving through one significantly slows down the speed at which time passes. If a spaceship enters a black hole its physical movement would be half the speed of one that was moving anywhere outside. This would enable it to enter in one period of time and reappear in another.
- Travel at the Speed of Light – Light travels at the unbelievable speed of 186,000 miles per second. If a spaceship was able to accelerate at the same speed it would be possible for it to leap into the future. Unfortunately, even if we were able to achieve this, the spaceship would have to make the journey without passengers as the human body would be unable to withstand the pressure resulting from the jump.
- Cosmic Strings – Cosmologists have observed these one-dimensional cracks in the universe closely enough to conclude that they might be the key to allowing humans to travel in time. They are thought to be either infinite or looped and each contains a large amount of mass. This makes it possible to twist time around them, if two of them are parallel. This connection would then create a bend in time and space, allowing us to make the journey. In order to facilitate this, our society would need to drastically increase the control we have over our energy resources.
- Wormholes – These are connections, or bridges, through time and space that scientists are certain exist throughout the universe. So far no wormholes have been discovered, but time travel would be possible by manipulating their entrances to make a path or road from one to another. The only problem physicists think might prevent us from using this method, if the possibility arises, is the fact that there might be a significant amount of radiation caused by the manipulation.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity proves that time travel is possible, and as our knowledge of the universe expands scientists will continue to work towards finding a way to make this possibility a dream come true.
Our generation has brought about significant changes in the way that we live, and it is now expected that whatever we do will enhance the lives of those that come after us. Seasteading is just another one of these opportunities for change which may lead to a better future. While we wait to see where and when the first floating city will arise, we continue to examine the possibilities for improvement. As with any new venture there are unpredictable changes that will occur, but the initial gains that these new cities will bring are:
- Personal Freedom – Pioneers in change, the first residents of any seasteading nation will be in charge of themselves. As the only unclaimed territory on our planet, the water provides the chance for a clean start, and occupants will need to find ways of redeveloping government and collaboration to benefit the limited population. It is imperative that they learn from the mistakes that other nations have made before, and improve on all their strong points.
- Chance to Increase Wealth – Whenever humans expand their colonisation, there is always the opportunity for many to gain a significant monetary advantage. The new seasteading nations will need goods and services, and ways in which they can continue to exist outside regular society. This close proximity to the ocean will also allow for further exploration into harvesting its strength for energy.
- An Alternative to Continued Destruction of Land Masses – Our disregard for the planet has led to a serious depletion of natural resources, resulting in the breaking down of the earth itself. Instead of destroying more land masses in an effort to accommodate our ever expanding population, creating one that will sustain itself while floating on the sea may help the earth to heal and, over time, rebuild necessary resources.
- Expanding our Horizons – Living on the sea will give us more of an understanding of the obstacles presented in occupying a different type of habitat. This may be the first step into furthering our knowledge enough in order to branch off into living in the unknown.
Even though seasteading is a relatively new phenomenon, the building of an independent nation in the middle of the ocean has been attempted before. In 1971, a wealthy real estate mogul, Michael Oliver, began setting up his dream of a self-sufficient territory on a small land mass situated in the Pacific Ocean, about 250 miles away from Tonga. Oliver’s idea was to eliminate taxes and economic intervention, and create a nation whose main source of income was tourism. The people who lived there were expected to support themselves by fishing, trading and agriculture. His dream was becoming a reality after he extended the land mass, to build The Republic of Minerva with its own declaration of independence and currency. Unfortunately, before the island became acknowledged worldwide, Tonga declared their ownership and the project had to be abandoned.
In the science based fiction ENDLESS FIRE FUTURE FURIES, the corporate state of SPEA establishes the seasteaded city-state of Venus in the Pacific Ocean Kiribati island chain. The seasteaded state is established to acquire intellectual freedom, escape onerous US immigration and religious laws and to achieve fiscal, energy and environmental self-sufficiency. Due to advances in engineering, communications and food production, a seasteaded city-state such as SPEA’s Venus is now possible.
Innovative building ideas are increasingly revolutionizing the ways that we create both our homes and office spaces. Recognizing that we need to save the environment and decrease overall building costs, governments and individuals are coming up with new ideas to help us conserve energy and use materials more efficiently.
Among the leaders in technological advancement and development, Dubai has one problem that it constantly has to battle, which is the desert heat. This means that they have had to come up with creative ways to keep their buildings cool. The O-14 is one that displays an ingenious way of doing this, even winning many architectural prizes for its unique and workable design. It has been built with a space that is 1m wide, between its façade and glass windows. The façade is made of an extremely fluid concrete and houses 1000 circular openings. Along with the space, this design cools the entire building down by allowing hot air to rise and cool air to enter.
Earthquakes are one of the most destructive natural disasters, and each one can cause an unimaginable amount of damage to buildings and high fatality levels. Basing their concept on the idea of semi-detachable bases for buildings, Japanese engineers have designed a building foundation which can levitate it on a cushion of air to avoid the damage that an earthquake can cause. When the building’s sensors pick up an earthquake’s seismic activity they trigger an air compressor to release air between the building and its foundation. This air pocket lifts the structure off the ground protecting it from the earthquake’s direct hit. After the danger has passed, the compressor will turn itself off and release the air so that the building is once again resting on solid ground.
Insulation is very important in colder climates and when done efficiently can keep the entire building warm and save a substantial amount on energy bills. Insulation has been developed using a combination of mushrooms and hemp fibers to create a cheaper, sturdy, environmentally-friendly product that can be used in both commercial and residential buildings for amazing results.
Experiencing the outdoors, while warm and cozy indoors, is a dream for many people. The beauty of the colder seasons is normally lost because people are hibernating, in an effort to avoid the extreme temperatures. Removable glass wall technology enables building owners to view the wonders of nature while relaxing inside. They can also be taken out to allow for welcoming the outdoors in, especially when the weather is warmer.
It is widely known that solar panels are one of the best ways of conserving energy, but until now, they have posed a problem because of the fact that they cannot be removed from the building once they have been installed. The introduction of removable solar panels fixes this problem, as they are easily transferred from one building to another allowing for maximum energy efficiency regardless of where the owner might be.