Tomorrow in Brief
Cars That Generate Power
Future car buyers may be quizzing the dealer not on how much fuel a vehicle consumes, but rather on how much energy it produces.
A scheme envisioned at the Technology University of Delft proposes the development of electricity plants in parking garages and other facilities. Not only could electric vehicles be easily charged there, but also their fuel cells would be used to convert biogas or hydrogen into more electricity when the cars are parked. As a bonus, car owners would be paid for the electricity that their vehicles produce.
Another project at the university is the Energy Wall, a motorway whose walls generate energy for roadside lighting and serve as a support for a people mover on top.
Source: Delft University of Technology, www.tudelft.nl.
Childhood Cancer Survivors’ Children
Aggressive treatment for cancer during childhood may not put the survivors’ future offspring at a greater risk of birth defects than the children of survivors who did not receive such treatment.
Radiotherapy and chemotherapy with alkylating agents may damage DNA, but it now appears that the damage may not be passed along to offspring, according to a large retrospective Childhood Cancer Survivor Study led by Lisa Signorello of Vanderbilt University.
“We hope this study will become part of the arsenal of information used by the physicians of childhood cancer survivors if reproductive worries arise,” says Signorello.
Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center, www.mc.vanderbilt.edu. The study was published in the December 12, 2012, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Open-Source Robot Blueprints
Robot development may accelerate, thanks to a new open-source hardware-sharing system launched by Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.
The Robotic Open Platform allows participants to share their designs so that other developers can adapt or improve on them. For example, Eindhoven’s AMIGO caregiving robot would cost €300,000 to €400,000 to purchase, but because the designs are being made available, future researchers could build AMIGO’s successor for just €10,000.
Source: Eindhoven University of Technology, www.tue.nl.
Big Tobacco’s Future: Up in Smoke?
China accounts for 40% of the world’s production and consumption of cigarettes, but it may become the first country to bar their sale, predicts Stanford University historian Robert Proctor.
The cigarette industry will not die easily, as it is incredibly profitable—not just for the manufacturers, but also for governments relying on revenue from tobacco taxes, Proctor observes in his book, Golden Holocaust.
But smoking is also incredibly costly to societies, especially in terms of lost productivity. Proctor bets that China will be among the first to recognize these costs and to do something about it.
Source: Stanford University, www.stanford.edu.
The term mistweetment, referring to an ill-conceived, misdirected, erroneously attributed, or simply sloppy tweet (with comical or catastrophic impacts), is almost as old as Twitter itself.
In 2009, a minister in India botched his report on a meeting with an Australian minister, perhaps by leaving out the word no when suggesting that he left his guest “with doubt” about his stance on the issue under discussion.
Other opportunities for mistweetment come when groups inadvertently borrow other groups’ hashtags for their discussions, as happened recently when a group of futurists and a group of food service industry professionals were both chatting about #fsed (futures studies education and food service equipment distribution, respectively).
Source: Tharoor story reported by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, www.lowyinterpreter.org.
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Biometrics has been hailed by some as a wonderful way of determining someone’s identity, and by others as a security mechanism that is far too easy to spoof. I generally fall in the second category. I don’t mind using it for simple unimportant things like turning on my tablet, on which I keep nothing sensitive, but so far I would never trust it as part of any system that gives access to my money or sensitive files.
Johnny Depp's new film Transcendence has had futurist fandoms in a lather for months.
April 17, 2014 - Yesterday my blog posting focused on NASA's efforts to involve the public in designing better oxygen recovery systems.
Now that most of our waking hours are spent using screens we’re visibly migrating into a digital world. Like other immigrants we want and expect better lives. New digital boundaries will let us step through the looking glass, control what’s on our screens and construct the digital lives we want — in a digital world that eliminates today’s limits.
Historically, one of the biggest challenges faced by both Soviet and U.S. space programs is related to keeping the air inside spacecraft breathable. The future of human activity in space requires a better solution. In its latest initiative, NASA, the American space agency, hopes to achieve a better recovery system for recycling oxygen that exceeds 75% recovery.
I often do book recommendations. Seemed like time for a bit of a travel recommendation. This one is especially for science fiction writers and fans.