Mar 252012

Quadcopters plus tacos plus a delivery service equals a college student’s dream,” is the quote in a new article about TacoCopter, a web based service in the San Francisco bay area that claims to deliver tacos via GPS powered mini-robocoptors.  Of course, despite TacoCoptor owner Dustin Boyd claims this isn’t an April fool’s joke, the Federal Government has passed laws recently making this sort of sci-fi entrepreneurial effort a lot harder to realize than it sounds (“FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012?).  Yeah, the forward looking govt. doesn’t want the air filled with unmanned drones flying all over the place willy-nilly.

But as David Hill of notes:   ”if the stakes were higher, such as delivering medical supplies or delivering food to people stranded during emergencies,” using unmanned drones for something other than military use might become more attractive in the near future.  he also brings up the conceptual startup Matternet, noting that  ”1 billion people in the world live in remote rural areas without reliable road access.”

It would certainly be nice to see this technology being used for something other than military surveillance and attack, don’t you think?


Dec 042011

Would you like to move your star to a more scenic region of the galaxy? or perhaps take a long leasurely galactic cruise.  How about using something staggeringly simple, such as the Shkadov Thruster(named after Dr. Leonid Mikhailovich Shkadov who first proposed it back in 1987), A statite aimed at using a stars photonic energy as an engine.

Of course, you would have to be in not much of a hurry, as accord to the math, it would take a million years to move a star like the sun .03 light years.  But, if you are willing to wait a little longer (say a billion years) your star would be moving at a healthy clip of 20km/s and you’d have gotten a solid 34,000 light years! (a third of the way across the galaxy.)

Mind you, given the shape of the statite, you would have to position it over the stars north or south poles, or run the risk of depriving your planet of sunlight for half the year.  Although, wouldn’t that be a small price to pay to move out to the more fashionable eastern spiral arm of the galaxy?

image by Steve Bowers


Jul 012011

Concerned about the rapid advancement in robotics?  Nervously looking towards the date Cybernet is supposed to take over the planet (the Connor’s can’t keep pushing it back forever.  Here are a few current projects to worry about:

Swarming Robots

Cheap enough to swarm by the thousands, Kilobots (isn’t that awfully close to kill-o-bots?) are a new $14 a pop design by Self Organizing Systems Research Group at Harvard.  They are programmable by an infrared controller, and their behavior is planned to be scalable.

read more about these cute little monsters here

This follows on the plans for The Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland’s plans to develop *flying* robot swarms, ostensibly for help in disaster rescue and other helpful tasks.  At last word, they had 10 flying together (that was last year).

read more about flying robot swarms here

Which nicely dovetails to this:

Robopocopolypse by Daniel Wilson.

this is a SF novel (soon to be a motion picture to be directed by Steven Speilberg) about a robot uprising in the near future, featuring a superpowerful AI named Archos (no, not your media playing tablet computer – perhaps a future model, maybe) decides to take over the world.  And, apparently with the use of very cheap, swarming robots.  Hmm…  Any bet’s we’re around by the time the movie get’s made?

Read more about Robopocoplypse here (includes an excerpt from the novel).


 Posted by at 1:00 pm
Jun 292011

In my Promethead series of novels, the main character, Althea Ram possesses nanotechnology that allows her to affect many aspects of her physiology, including significan levels of healing injuries. We aren’t quite there yet, but that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t evoking science fiction with these new developments:

Blood from Skin

A short time ago I posted about a new burn treatment that uses human skin in a spray to create scar free skin grafts for burn victims.  Now researchers have created blood vessels from skin cells and implanted them  successfully.  There are many treatments that may be enhanced with these ‘off the shelf’ blood vessels including kidney dialysis,  used in limbs to bypass to route blood around diseased arteries, to repair congenital heart defects in children and to fix damaged arteries in soldiers, to save them from the loss of limbs.  For more detailes, read the article at here.

Curing Hemophilia

Genome editing is an inovative technique which allows scientists to target mutated DNA, and it has now been used to treat hemophilia in mice.  This represents another step on the way to wholesale disease management using gene therapy.  This technique uses genetically engineered enzymes called “zinc finger nucleases.”  Interested in finding out how close they are to editing your genome, read the article here.

Jun 172011

“Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm; it sealed off the open wound, halted bleeding, and prohibited infection.” Philipt K. DIck, Dr. Futurity (1960)

Avita Medical is devloping a game-changing treatment in the field of burn treatment with what they call Recell.  This technique takes skin grafting to a whole new level by taking healthy skin cells from a patient, expanding their numbers and literally spraying them onto wounds.  The result, healing with no scars!

For more details, visit the singularity hub.


 Posted by at 9:53 pm
Jun 132011

In many sci-fi stories housing is grown, not manufactured. This year’s Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition offers us just that.  Bricks, or indeed marble that can be created with sand and bacteria – No baking needed.  This is an achievement that could potentially reduce carbon emissions by 800 million tons per year, done by tweaking natural microbial mineral precipitation into a manufacturing process.  Awesome!

For more info click here

Jun 132011

Reported in the NY Times, the Obama administration is spending millions on a ‘stealth internet program’ to ensure that national internet kill switches won’t allow repressive regimes silence dissidents.

Won’t that undermine their own plans for an internet kill switch?

Also: I wonder what former cyberpunk writer Walter Jon Williams will do with this in future sequels of his recent and very prescient novels This Is Not A Game and Deep State


Jun 062011

Skylifter - New Airship DesignWhile the US military is forking over hundreds of millions of dollars over to Northrop Grumman  for a new kind of hybrid airship, a company in Perth Australia is looking at turning the classic zeppelin design on it’s ear with a design that has more in common with a dandelion seed than the classic cigar shape that has dominated popular thought for the last hundred years.

What is the advantage of a craft made up of a saucer shaped lifting body with a long tube extending down to a control deck?  Increased stability reduced landing footprint.  The airship never has to be turned, and has an advantage of 360 degree cycloidal engines as well as a proposed 150,000 KG payload capacity.  This is, potentially a superior cross between a helicopter and blimp with significant advantages over either.

For more info, visit the official Skylifter Website.