What Will be the Greatest Inventions in 2012
It’s 2012, and much to the chagrin of early science fiction writers everywhere, mankind is still rooted to Earth with no plans for space colonies, flying cars, or robot butlers. While we’ve failed our ambitious forebears in the colonizing department, their visions for the 21st century are not entirely off base; in fact, technological advances through the coming decade could reduce fantasies like Star Trek replicators, Deus Ex-style prosthetics, and data-rich holograms from fiction to genuine science. In the next ten years, here’s an educated guess about which technologies will revolutionize humanity. Time to warm up your investment portfolio – the following inventions are just around the Asimovian corner.
In Vitro Meat
Lab-grown meat may not initially sound appealing to consumers – there’s something odd about eating tissue that was never “alive” – but the conventional means of obtaining meat products is no less strange when reconsidered. As Winston Churchill stated regarding the matter, Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, plants are too great to be picky; especially if the cultured meat generates a higher-quality product than its conventional counterpart.
Although scientists have already grown goldfish cells into little fish fillets, as well as created artificial lamb chops, the process is currently too expensive to make it commercially viable. PETA, who’s in favor of cultured meat for obvious reasons, hopes to speed the development of in vitro products by offering a $1 million prize to the first company that brings lab-grown chicken meat to consumers by year’s end. If companies can accomplish that, then $1 million is a fraction of what they’ll be worth in the next ten years – you know, after solving world hunger and forcing vegans to move on to something else they can feel superior about.
Photovoltaic panels convert rays from the sun into useful forms of energy on earth, but they’re tremendously inefficient and expensive. Whereas photovoltaics are an indirect process that generates electricity, artificial photosynthesis aims to use direct (and therefore more efficient) processes to create solar fuel that can be utilized when sunlight isn’t available. When artificial photosynthesis (likely via water-splitting) becomes a reality, water and sunlight will be the only energy sources needed, hydrogen will be generated as fuel, and oxygen will be the only byproduct of the process. By developing catalysts that can reproduce the photosynthetic process, we’ll strike a blow against the economic dominance of fossil fuels, limit our ecological impact, and create an efficient, clean domestic energy source for years to come.
Currently, magnetic and optical discs that store information in a linear fashion rule the data storage of today. Tomorrow, holographic storage, which stores exponentially more data than current methods, will record and read info bits in parallel. Without getting lost in the details of how holographic storage works, just know that as laser light passes through a photosensitive medium, it is split and data is stored in the optical patterns then created. This data is then processed using a special detector that can read the data in parallel, which—at a million bits simultaneously—enables users to access files in less than 200 milliseconds. The superfast, data-rich capabilities of holographic storage should keep it viable for at least the next fifty years, which is more than could be said for the floppy disc.
Also See:- Why Solarmovie is so popular.
Late in 2011, a paralyzed test subject at the University of Pittsburgh moved a robotic arm and hand using only his mind. An electrocortography grid the size of a postage stamp was placed on his brain to enable him to interface with the device, which he used to give his girlfriend a high five. While this technology doesn’t perfectly mimic the almost unconscious effort to move limbs that most people enjoy, it’s a huge step in creating prostheses that respond to neural signals the same way their original limbs would. With a brain-computer interface, losing limbs or suffering a severe spinal injury no longer needs to be a life sentence.
3D printing, the process by which three-dimensional objects are created from a digital file, has been around for a few years, but the next decade will see it transform into a domestic product. Using molten polymer deposition, granular materials binding, or photo polymerization (currently the three most common methods of 3D printing) families will be able to create their own toys, sculptures, science project visual aids, scale models, Christmas ornaments, or just about any other 3D object they can think of. But the technology is coming, and it is likely to disrupt everything it touches.