Saturday, January 2, 2010
Back to the future
This time of year everybody focuses on the new year and the hopes and dreams of what's ahead. That got me to wondering where we might be in say 500 or 1000 years from now. That is of course if we make it that far and don't totally destroy the planet. So I wondered what was going on 1000 years ago. Much to my surprise many things were just getting started in the 11th century. Medicine was just beginning with the invention of the hypodermic needle. It was first used to remove cataracts. Oooh I'll bet that hurt like a bugger considering anesthesia had not come around until the 19th century. There was also advancements in metalurgy, geometry, astronomy (although they still thought the earth was at the center of our solar system). They may have dreamed about flying into space but it would not be until 1960s when the technology caught up to the dream.
Where are we now then? I think we're at the beginning of a new beginning. Medicine is just starting to see the work of much research into bioengineering, stem cell advances and nano drugs. Just saw a program the other night where researchers were growing body parts such as ears and heart valves. Then there's something they nick named "pixie dust" a solution that regrows tissue. That was something an Iraq war vet was very glad they came up with as they didn't need to amputate his leg. The newest aircraft in Boeing's line up the 787 is made from carbon fiber materials stronger than steel. But I think there will be far stranger things coming that we'll have a hard time wrapping our minds around at least by present standards.
What do I see for the immediate future? Pay close attention to water,energy, and food. Water prices will go up meaning washers will be designed to use only a few gallons. Toilets will use almost no water. A shower will be more of a mist than a shower. Eventually somebody will get smart enough to put your household electricity on a computer program that will shut off power to all appliances that sit there on standby wasting power. Window films will produce power during the day and illuminate your home when the sun goes down. There'll be a slow move away from oil consumption as the supply dwindles. That will lead the way for the cars that run on vegetable oil, air or electricity from renewable sources. Foods such as beef chicken pork and fish will be produced in factory labs with no waste. No bones or manure to deal with either.
Much of this is already in the pipeline of technology and we should be seeing some of this in the next few years.