NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology (Wired)
- For 25 years, Ross Hoffman has had a vision: to use tiny changes in the environment to alter the paths of hurricanes, slow down snow storms and turn dark days bright.
For most of those years, Hoffman kept his ideas largely to himself. His adviser at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told him weather control was too outlandish for his Ph.D. thesis. The chances of a buttoned-down foundation or government agency funding such research were so slim, Hoffman didn't even bother to ask.
But, in 2001, all that changed. Hoffman stumbled upon a tiny, obscure cranny of the American space program -- the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, or NIAC. In this $4 million-a-year agency, Hoffman found a place where the wildest of ideas were not only tolerated, they were welcome.
Shape-shifting space suits? Step right up. Antimatter-powered probes to Alpha Centauri? No problem. Robotic armada to destroy incoming asteroids? Pal, just sign on the dotted line. Weather control seemed downright down to earth in comparison.
Hoffman is now wrapping up his half-million-dollar study for NIAC. But the agency is continuing to bankroll concepts for a future decades away.
Some space analysts wonder how long it can last, however. With NASA in turmoil, and a presidential directive to return to the moon, will a science fiction-oriented agency like NIAC survive? More
Expert 'teleports' into conference (The Age)
- Company directors at a north Queensland conference glimpsed the future when an American artificial intelligence guru appeared before them at the lectern without leaving the United States.
Ray Kurzweil, keynote speaker at the Australian Institute of Company Directors conference in Port Douglas, "teleported" in to appear as a hologram.
A few latecomers entering the conference hall took his beamed image to be the real thing, but commented on his rather pale appearance.
... He suggested the near future would see not only gene therapy advances to overcome disease and ageing, but also nanotechnology enabling tiny computer "nanobots" to enter our bloodstreams on health missions.More
- As if the good name of nanotechnology was not sufficiently besmirched by nanobots, we see the emergence in Denmark of what appears to be a pyramid scheme selling a range of 'nano' cleaning products. The deal is that you recruit additional distributors and get rich, turning your initial few hundred euro investment into fifty thousand or more. From the web site we see that the scheme is also to be launched in Germany and the UK. More