Monday, July 5, 2010

Science Links and Speculation

I know I haven't really done a science-heavy blog since the reboot. I figured it was more economical to stash all the interesting links I came across in one article and post them in one go, instead of taking one article and trying to spin out my speculation into a post-sized length. I've got four cool stories now. I should post them before the list gets longer and the links get any more outdated.*

Functional, vat-grown lungs. Granted, they're barely functional and they're not human lungs, but I still see it as a breakthrough. From just the 'skeleton' of a pair of lungs, we can regrow something that will properly do the gas transfer thing when we stick it into a living creature. Once we figure out how to keep the lungs working and progress to human trials and beyond, we'll have a reasonably quick, effective way to cure lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis,**, emphysema, and other lung ailments. Heck, we could probably even manage to engineer lungs better adapted to different pressures. (And yes, I know I've posted on this topic before.)

Creating life from a Titan-like atmosphere. This could be how life started on Earth. It could be how life starts on another world. It could be how we start life on a different world, accidentally or otherwise. I can kind of see a mad scientist getting the idea to terraform a world by starting life from scratch.

A genuine flying car! No antigravity technology or jet engines here. Just fold-down wings. A two-seater vehicle with the ability to take to the air if given enough speed and enough road. I'm not sure I see this taking off, exactly—I think the flying car that sells is going to be the one that looks like the Jetsons'—but it would be danged cool if it did.

Print-a-laser. Or a lightbulb, or a TV screen, or solar cells. Do I really have to go into how cool this could be? Or how badly it would upset the economy? Or what will happen when makers get their hands on this technology? Instead of buying a TV for $1000, you could load the schematics on your computer and print one. Instead of dithering about how much work it would be to buy enough solar panels and cart them home, you could press a button and have what you needed within a few days, without ever leaving the garage. Anyone who used lasers in their job would see their budget expand for things that aren't lasers. Lightbulb manufacturers would go broke.
Soon, thanks to Jacek’s work, we may have millions of tiny lasers working in our homes lighting our rooms and even acting as pixels in printable TV screens. The lasers could also be used as components in optical computers, electronics, sensors, as cheap laser pointers in a range of colours or even fashion accessories.
Somebody needs to use this in a story. Seriously.

And that's all the links for today. Stay tuned.

* I was going to write a book review today, but since it's after 5 pm and the East Coast is going to bed soon, I think I'll save that for Wednesday.
** totally added for the long word bonus

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