Category: Science!

Isaac Asimov’s 1964 predictions for 2014

Written in 1964, Isaac Asimov correctly predicted the world 50 years in the future on almost every count, even the show Futurama.  (he just wasn’t right about a 2014 World’s Fair)

Check out some excerpts from “Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014”, Aug 16th, 1964:

By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and in the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony.  [ he probably meant the World’s Fair Futurama, and not the cartoon…but he’s still right about the cartoon ]

Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee… Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semiprepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing.

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.   It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the “brains” of robots.

The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long- lived batteries.

And experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist in 2014. Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas — Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan.

Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with “Robot-brains”*vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.

Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica.  Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. [ we call it fiber optic cables ]

As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set.

[ Not all his predictions are rosy, but he was still spot on: ]

In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Population pressure will force increasing penetration of desert and polar areas.

Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be “farms” turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors. [ we call it Spirulina ]

Although technology will still keep up with population through 2014, it will be only through a supreme effort and with but partial success. Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgety world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind when compared with the advanced portions of the world.

There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened*but, I suspect, not sufficiently.

The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology.

Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014.  [ we call it “Oprah” ]

Indeed, the most somber speculation I can make about A.D. 2014 is that in a society of enforced leisure, the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work! [ we call it “exercise” ]

Here’s his entire original New York Times article from 1964:


Infinitely charged battery coming to market this summer

I’ve written about micro generators that harvess ambient energy from their environment, now the first ones are coming to market this summer.

Microgen’s new BOLT MicroPower Generator harvests tiny mechanical vibration and turns it into electrical power stored in ultra-capacitors  or thin-film batteries, effectively creating an infinitely charged battery about the size of today’s coin batteries.

Able generate enough power to replace coin batteries, it can be used in a huge variety of devices.  In an automobile’s tire pressure sensor, for example, this device collects the vibrations from the tires meeting the road and offers unending power for the sensor.  Additional applications include machinery monitoring, lighting control, wireless price tags at stores, and smart utility metering — eliminating the 164 million depleted coin-cell batteries in the U.S. and Europe each year that would otherwise need to be recycled.

Like a windmill snags the breeze, ambient vibration causes the tiny micro flap shown here to swing back and forth. This generates electrical current, which is harvested for the rechargeable thin-film battery.

Output voltage is OCV > 10 Volts, and output power Pload >100 uW @ f1 and G > 1.0 g

NoSQL Primer

Here are some notes on the different flavors of NoSQL databases:

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Military mobile app teaches you how to remain calm under fire

The mobile app Tactical Breather developed by the military to train soldiers to remain calm in life-or-death situations has a familiar mantra:

Tactical Breather“I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” — Frank Herbert, Dune

It turns out that you don’t need to be a eugenically engineered Bene Gesserit monk to learn amazing levels of self-control.  Through repetitive practice and training, anyone can learn to gain control of your heart rate, emotions, concentration, and other physiological and psychological responses to your body during stressful situations.

Although these techniques were developed primarily for the warfighter during intense combat situations, anyone can benefit from the ideas taught in this application to help with nearly any stressful situation in life.

The app teaches you the deceptively simple 4-4-4-4 breath technique.  Inhale for count of 4, hold count of 4, exhale count 4, hold count 4, repeat.  This will trigger a relaxation response within seconds, but more importantly as you practice this technique over days and weeks, it becomes an automatic reflex for stressful situations, like dealing with production outages or screaming toddlers…I mean screaming users.

Download the free app on Google Play to learn military-grade Bene Gesserit skillz.

Nano drones now on the battlefield

Black Hornet nano drone

Teeny tiny drones have been deployed to British troops on the front line in Afghanistan.   They are the first to use the state-of-the-art handheld tiny surveillance helicopters, just 10cm long and weighing 16 grams, which relay reliable full motion video and still images back to the devices’ handlers in the battlefield.

Soldiers use the Norwegian-designed Black Hornet Nano Unmanned Air Vehicle to peer around corners or over walls to identify any hidden threats and the images are relayed to a small screen on a handheld terminal. The mini drones can be piloted directly or programmed to follow co-ordinates using GPS.  Powered by battery, the Black Hornet is reported to have a range of about half a mile (800m), a top speed of 22mph (35kph) and can fly for up to 30 minutes.

Coolest RC helicopter EVAR!

© 2018 Robert Corvus