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Showing posts from May, 2010

The Fundamental Question

"Is this all there is? Is there nothing more?"

It's the question which has driven mankind since the first hominids stood up for the first time. It drove us to chip stones into tools, to harness fire, tame animals, work in groups, and learn to speak. It shaped our thoughts, and evolution, made us curious about the world, and seek answers.

And the answer we found was "No. We can do better."

It drove us to find grains, cultivate them, build farms, form communities, governments, and trade. It produced writing, and record keeping and stories, and laws. The People asked "Is this all there is? Is there nothing more?"

And Hammurabi said "No. We can do better.

It drove us to build cities, and roads, pyramids and temples. To create The Hanging Gardens and the Colossus. The Great Lighthouse and the Great Library. It drove us to create Kings, and Pharaohs and Prophets. It drove Alexander to build Empires until he wept that there were no more wor…

On the decline of religion

We live in a world of flux, and nothing truly shows that more than how the internet is affecting the way we live our lives.  Here in America we are seeing some pretty dramatic effects now that nearly 50% of all Americans have access to the internet. As that number proceeds to 100% within just a few years, those effects will be even more dramatic. What effects might I be talking about? Primarily access to information. Until recently, we’ve relied on newspapers and news programs to keep us informed of our world, and we are now becoming aware of how sadly little those venues choose to tell us. On the internet, not only can we find far more of the story, we can find out how much or how little the other news sources are telling us.  Because of that, American politics are in the process of undergoing a turbulent time as they are having to adjust to a different reality than just a few years ago. It’s going to take a few more years, but the move from a secretive, hidden from the …

Ten Thousand Waves of Change. Welcome to the Tweens

I recently read anarticle on a DNA prototype nanofactory, and several responses to it by various futurists such asMichael AnissimovJamais Cascio, Chris Phoenixand others. It was quite interesting to watch the various discussions that arose from the posts. But it also illustrated quite well a problem I have seen for years, the tendency of many futurists to have tunnel vision, to only focus on the final stages and ignore those which lead to them.
A half sphere of polymer cubes built by researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Image: Javier Gomez Fernandez Most everyone is focused on Nanotechnology, and its final stages of development towards a true molecular manufacturing technology, but MM is only one part of the future. It's a very important one to be sure, but it doesn't exist in isolation. It is surrounded by hundreds, even thousands of other technologies just as profound, if more "commonplace" in comparison. My mother always used t…

Graphene is Next

Image Courtesy of: condmat.physics.manchester.ac.uk/pictures/
Graphene. If you’ve never heard about it, don’t worry, a lot of people haven’t, because it’s really only been “discovered” relatively recently, and most of the truly interesting news about it has been in the last year. The amazing thing is that we’ve actually been using it for centuries, in the form of the common pencil. Graphene is a form of carbon, much like carbon nanotubes and other fullerenes, with one major difference. While fullerenes are 3D structures of carbon atoms, graphene is a flat sheet. It’s a 2D lattice of carbon with bonds as strong as diamond. It’s this sheetlike nature that makes it so useful in a pencil. As you write, individual planes of graphite are sheared off the end and deposited on the paper. Those individual planes are pure graphene.

By now, most of you are familiar with carbon nanotubes, a.k.a. CNTs, and their potential for computers. Graphene has equally amazing properties, including some that mig…