Technology is never at a standstill and every science discipline is constantly searching for ways to improve the existing methods and develop newer, more applicable solutions to address the world’s problems. However, the evolution of science is made on a trial and error basis and, while some theories prove valid and are successfully applied in practice, others have to be discarded and replaced with more suitable ones.
But that is just the beauty of science, its never-ending quest for knowledge, as the light of reasons shine across the darkened corridors of the universe, hallway after hallway. Let’s explore what currently constitutes the primary attraction point for the world’s most brilliant minds.
1. P2P internet versus today’s design
Ted Stevens was widely ridiculed because of his clumsy definition of the internet, which he compared to a vast series of “tubes”. His metaphor was expanded by humorists to “a series of tubes full of cat”, which in all fairness, is not that far off. Joke aside, the massive amounts of digital information that is constantly increasing in proportion to the available storage space and comprises of movies, TV shows, user made videos, etc. will eventually slow down the transfer rate to full stop. What Ted Stevens was trying to state with his comparison is that the internet has a fractal-like structure and once a section of the fractal becomes overburdened, the impact transmits to the other branches as well, right up to the source. However, since peer-to-peer transfer would provide a safe haven for piracy although it could solve the “clogging” problem, the architecture of such a network requires a few improvements.
2. Nano-charging solar power via quantum dots
In spite of the fact that solar power is the cleanest and safest form of energy, the technology in its current state is perceived as inefficient. To summarize the main issue that scientists battle, the electrons running through semiconductor circuitry from the source to the depository are partially lost, making the transfer unfeasible and inefficient. The alternative, which implies utilizing photovoltaic materials like silicon is extremely costly. However, expert chemists are considering replacing the standard method with quantum dots, which are essentially miniature semiconductors that measure a couple of nanometers and have excellent capabilities of interacting with photons.
3. The cloak of invisibility
What was until not long ago a science fiction topic – see H.G. Wells – might just be possible within our lifetime thanks to David R. Smith and his crew. The underlying principle comprises of utilizing photonic crystals to mitigate the propagation of visible light wavelengths. To simplify the theory, he explains that it is basically like inserting a needle in a tightly woven thread, because it forces the threads in its proximity to bend around it.
4. Individual medical monitoring
John Guttag came with the idea of individual health monitoring systems following an unfortunate event, more exactly his son being diagnosed with a collapsed lung which he had for an year, although he showed no detectable symptoms. The idea is that, because they often fail to notice symptoms before the condition reaches an advanced stage, people are forced to engage in difficult and expensive medical procedures to regain their health. However, with the aid of a personalized health monitor, these issues would become obsolete.
5. Diagnosing a person with a single cell
Paying too much attention to a group of cells is a surefire way to miss a critical aspect that an individual cell presents and that is exactly what Norman Dovichi, who is an expert chemist working for the University of Washington intends to prove. In essence, he theorizes that the properties of cell are altered with the advancement of specific illnesses and that could be the key to unlocking a new step in modern medical diagnosis.
6. Improved light focusing technology
The primary reason why our current DVDs have a capacity limited to 4.7 Gigabytes resides in the diffraction limit, a physical law that implies a light beam can’t be focused on a dot with dimensions smaller than 1/2 the wavelength of the said beam. Although it is possible to circumvent the diffraction limit in lab conditions, the method is inapplicable in day to day life. However, Frederico Capasso and Kenneth Crozier are working on a way to attach nano-size (approximately 40 nm) “optical antennas” to standard lasers and theorize that, in case they succeed, the storage capacity of the standard DVD would be of around 3.6 TB.
7. Precision neuronal mind control
Although they have successfully controlled people’s minds with propaganda and mind numbing television shows, scientists are still working on ways to optimize the process. Seriously though, electroconvulsive therapy, which imply turning of the components of the brain responsible for conditions like depression, was applied in practice for many years. However, its primary downside is memory loss. The solution proposed by Deisseroth and which seems like something out of Frank Herbert’s novels, is the implementation of protein synthesized from a species of green algae that will act as “trigger” for the brain’s neuronal activity.
8. Using nano-technology to treat conditions
Peptides, a nano-scale protein might just represent one of the biggest allies of modern medical science. Their propensity of self-assembling in the form of a tightly woven mesh could make them invaluable additions in surgical procedures, because they are able to stop bleeds. Moreover, studies indicate that they might even promote faster healing.
9. Digital imaging
According to professors Kelly and Baraniuk, the current standards in medical imaging should soon become obsolete, with the introduction of cameras that do not have to compress the image. The principle behind this technology comprises of utilizing one sensor to gather sufficient info that will be processed by a reconstructing algorithm in order to render the scan.
10. Augmenting our perception of reality
We can all agree that we saw this one coming when Google announce their VR glasses. However, it seems that Nokia – and more exactly the team coordinated by Markus Kahari – will be the first ones to finalize a portable augmented reality phone, which includes maps, GPS sensors, accelerometers and much, much more. However, it has been argued that the multitude of features deem the practical application excessively complex for the normal public. But it’s not finalized yet!