Volume 8, Number 1
January 03 , 2005
Edited by John L. Petersen
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org

See past issues in the Archives


In This Issue:

Event Announcement - Summit for the Future -- Visions & Strategies for 2020
Future Facts - from Think Links
Think Links - The Future in the News…Today
A Final Quote

 

At The Arlington Institute, we believe that to understand the future, you need to have an open mind and cast a very wide net. To that end, FUTUREdition explores a cross-disciplinary palette of issues, from the frontiers of science and technology to major developments in mass media, geopolitics, the environment, and social perspectives.


 

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

Summit for the Future -- Visions & Strategies for 2020

January 26-28, 2005
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Gain critical insights and a deeper understanding of the issues that will shape the Knowledge Society. The Summit for the Future 2005 is a European conference that brings together experts, thought leaders, policy makers and knowledge workers.

Together with top experts, this conference tackles key issues in five knowledge streams: Trade/Service Industry, Energy, Healthcare, Media & Entertainment, and Science & Technology.

Attend the Summit for the Future 2005 and:
a) understand the drivers of change,
b) tackle key issues with experts,
c) prepare your organization with long term visions and
d) network with thought leaders and policy makers.

The Summit for the Future 2005 is a unique opportunity for participants to learn from experts while tackling key knowledge issues. There will be ample time for networking during workshops, breaks, meals and social events. A web environment will be available prior, during and after the conference to share ideas, backgrounds, documents and resources.

The main objective is to bring together thought leaders, policy makers and knowledge workers to gain a deeper understanding and more insights regarding critical elements in their industries and how they relate to a European Knowledge Society.

We have exciting speakers like Tom Lambert, Chief Executive, Center for Consulting Excellence, Vladimir Petrovsky, former Director-General of the UN in Geneva, Glen Hiemstra, Futurist.com, Wendy L. Schultz, Futurist, Infinite Futures and many more...

Location: HES Amsterdam School for Business, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Contact: Felix Bopp, Club of Amsterdam, Summit for the Future, The Netherlands
Phone: +31-20-615 4487, 408 0733
Email: summit2005@clubofamsterdam.com
Website: http://www.clubofamsterdam.com

General information: http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/press.asp?contentid=373&catid=61
Speakers: http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/press.asp?contentid=375&catid=61
The Summit Brochure can be downloaded at:
http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/contentsummit/registration/
Summit_for_the_Future_Conference_Registration.pdf



FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT...




THINK LINKS – THE FUTURE IN THE NEWS...TODAY

INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

Telecoms Thriving in Lawless Somalia – (BBC – November 17, 2004)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4020259.stm
A host of mobile phone masts testifies to the telecommunications revolution which has taken place despite the absence of any functioning national government since 1991. But how do you establish a phone company in a country where there is no government? It is possible to have functional infrastructure by common consent even in the absence of law. The phone companies themselves say they are not targeted by the militiamen, even if thieves occasionally steal some of their wires. Mahdi Mohammed Elmi, who has been managing the Wireless African Broadband Telecoms internet cafe in the heart of Mogadishu for almost two years, says the warlords realize that if they cause trouble for the phone companies, the phones will stop working again, which nobody wants.


 

NEW REALITIES

US Review Rekindles Cold Fusion Debate
Tsunami Kills Few Animals in Sri Lanka

US Review Rekindles Cold Fusion Debate – (Nature – December 1, 2004)
http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041129/full/041129-11.html
Claims of cold fusion are intriguing, but not convincing. That is the conclusion of an 18-member scientific panel tasked with reviewing research in the area. The review is a positive step for the field of cold fusion, according to David Nagel at George Washington University in Washington DC, who co-authored the summary of cold-fusion work that the panel reviewed. "Most scientists think that cold fusion is laughable, but when the dust settled, the researchers reviewing our work were evenly split," he says, on the question of whether cold experiments were actually producing power in the form of heat. But members agreed that there is not enough evidence to prove that cold fusion has occurred, and they complained that much of the published work was poorly documented.

Tsunami Kills Few Animals in Sri Lanka – (Reuters – December 29, 2004)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6765999/
Sri Lankan wildlife officials are stunned - the worst tsunami in memory has killed around 22,000 people along the Indian Ocean island’s coast, but they can’t find any dead animals. Giant waves washed floodwaters up to 2 miles inland at Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka’s biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards. “The strange thing is we haven’t recorded any dead animals,” said H.D. Ratnayake, deputy director of the national Wildlife Department. “No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit,” he added. “I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening.”


 

GENTICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Of Mice, Men and In-Between
Scientists Crack Chicken's Genetic Code
Stem Cells Might Make Biological Pacemaker
Stem Cells Used to Repair Girl's Skull Damage
Stem Cell Method May Cheat Death
Cloned Cat Sale Generates Ethics Debate
Mobile-phone Radiation Damages Lab DNA
Science in a Spin Over Spider Web
"Jumping Gene" Helps Explain Immune System's Abilities
Making Sperm, No Men Necessary
Stressful Deadlines Boost Heart Attack Risk
Saliva Can Be Used to Detect Oral Cancer

Of Mice, Men and In-Between – (Washington Post – November 20, 2004)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A63731-2004Nov19
In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls. Biologists call these hybrid animals chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail. They are the products of research in which human stem cells were added to developing animal fetuses. Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells and organs mature and interact. Some are already revealing deep secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward new medical treatments. But with no federal guidelines in place, an awkward question hovers above the work: How human must a chimera be before more stringent research rules should kick in?

Scientists Crack Chicken's Genetic Code – (Reuters – December 8, 2004)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=570&e=8&u=/nm/20041208/sc_nm/science_chicken_dc
Scientists have cracked the genetic code of the chicken, showing it shares about 60 percent of its genes with humans and has a common ancestor that lived about 310 million years ago. It is the first bird and the first descendant of dinosaurs to have its genome sequenced. Scientists hope to learn more about human developmental diseases such as cleft palate, muscular dystrophy, DNA changes linked to aging and genes involved in embryonic development by analyzing the chicken genome.

Stem Cells Might Make Biological Pacemaker – (Johns Hopkins – December 20, 2004)
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2004/12_20_04.html
In experiments in the lab and with guinea pigs, researchers from Johns Hopkins have found the first evidence that genetically engineered heart cells derived from human embryonic stem (ES) cells might one day be a promising biological alternative to electronic pacemakers. In the experiments, human ES cells were genetically engineered to make a green protein, grown in the lab and then encouraged to become heart cells. The researchers then selected clusters of the cells that beat on their own accord, indicating the presence of pacemaking cells. These clusters triggered the unified beating of heart muscle cells taken from rats, and, when implanted into the hearts of guinea pigs, triggered regular beating of the heart itself.

Stem Cells Used to Repair Girl's Skull Damage – (Associated Press – December 17, 2004)
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1103321367386_132?hub=SciTech
Surgeons have used stem cells from fat to help repair skull damage in a seven-year-old girl, in what is apparently the first time such fat-derived cells have been exploited to grow bone in a human. The girl had been injured two years before in a fall, which destroyed several areas of her skull totaling nearly 122 square centimeters. The damage was too extensive to be repaired with bone grafts from her body. The hope was that if bits of the child's bone were mixed with stem cells, the cells would turn into bone-building cells that would create additional bone. Several weeks after the stem-cell surgery, the skull was smooth to the touch, the missing parts replaced by thin but solid bone.

Stem Cell Method May Cheat Death - (Wired News – December 22, 2004)
http://wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,66113,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
A reproductive research team in Chicago could have an answer to the ethical and scientific conundrums presented by the pursuit of stem-cell treatments. Scientists at the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI) believe they can derive high-quality embryonic stem cells from an early embryo without killing it. The approach would involve removing one cell from a very early embryo that has developed to about eight cells (called a morula), and deriving stem cells from that single cell. The embryo would still have the potential to develop into a human if implanted into a womb. The only thing preventing the scientists from trying the process is money, said Dr. Yury Verlinsky, director of RGI.

Cloned Cat Sale Generates Ethics Debate – (Associated Press – December 23, 2004)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=624&ncid=753&e=10&u=/ap/20041223/ap_on_sc/cloned_cat
The first cloned-to-order pet sold in the United States is named Little Nicky, a 9-week-old kitten delivered to a Texas woman saddened by the loss of a cat she had owned for 17 years. The kitten cost its owner $50,000 and was created from DNA from her beloved cat, named Nicky, who died last year. The kitten's creation and sale has reignited fierce ethical and scientific debate over cloning technology, which is rapidly advancing. The company that created Little Nicky, Sausalito-based Genetic Savings and Clone, said it hopes by May to have produced the world's first cloned dog — a much more lucrative market than cats. Aside from human cloning, which has been achieved only at the microscopic embryo stage, no cloning project has fueled more debate than the marketing plans of Genetic Savings and Clone. "It's morally problematic and a little reprehensible," said David Magnus, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University. "For $50,000, she could have provided homes for a lot of strays."

Mobile-phone Radiation Damages Lab DNA – (Nature – December 21, 2004)
http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041220/full/041220-6.html
Controversy has raged for years over whether the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones can trigger tumours or Alzheimer's disease, or can otherwise harm human health. But the evidence showing whether and how radiation damages cells, and so might cause disease, has been scant and contradictory. The most recent news comes from the REFLEX study, a four-year project performed by twelve research groups in seven European countries. The team found that levels of radiation equivalent to those from a phone prompted breaks in individual strands of DNA in a variety of human cells. These types of damage have been linked with cancer. The level of injury increased with the intensity of radiation and the length of exposure. The researchers also saw hints, but not conclusive evidence, of other cell changes, including damage to chromosomes, alterations in the activity of certain genes and a boosted rate of cell division.

Science in a Spin Over Spider Web – (CNN – December 21, 2004)
http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/12/20/explorers.spiders/index.html
Spider webs - the fibers of which are known as spider silks - are incredibly strong, but because of the territorial nature of spiders, they are virtually impossible to farm. That makes it difficult to grow them in large quantities. Scientists have been trying for years to produce webs that have the same properties as those made by spiders. Israeli scientists have now come up with a way to genetically engineer spiders' webs without the help of the eight-legged creatures.

"Jumping Gene" Helps Explain Immune System's Abilities – (News Wise – December 20, 2004)
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/508945/
A team led by Johns Hopkins scientists has found the first clear evidence that the process behind the human immune system's remarkable ability to recognize and respond to a million different proteins might have originated from a family of genes whose only apparent function is to jump around in genetic material. "Jumping genes" essentially cut themselves out of the genetic material, and scientists have suspected that this ability might have been borrowed by cells needing to build many different proteins from a specific, single set of instructions -- the key to recognizing a million immune-stimulating proteins. But until now, no jumping gene was known to behave just right.

Making Sperm, No Men Necessary – (National Public Radio – December 14, 2004)
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4227604
Under the right conditions, embryonic stem cells can replenish themselves indefinitely in the laboratory, and they can, in theory, turn into any type of cell in the body. But for a long time, many questioned whether embryonic stem cells could turn into sperm. Last year, scientists proved that they could not only create sperm in a petri dish, but also use that sperm to fertilize a mouse egg.

Stressful Deadlines Boost Heart Attack Risk – (New Scientist – December 14, 20040
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6786
The pressure of meeting a work deadline can produce a sixfold increase in the risk of suffering a heart attack over the course of the following day. And competition at work could double the ongoing risk, according to a new study. Previous research has shown that intense anger, sexual activity and emotional stress can all lead to heart attacks. But this is the first time having an intense work deadline has been singled out as a trigger for heart attack over such a short timescale.

Saliva Can Be Used to Detect Oral Cancer – (Reuters – December 15, 2004)
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=751&e=1&u=/nm/20041215/hl_nm/health_cancer_saliva_dc
Saliva can be used to diagnose whether someone has oral cancer and may also be a reliable indicator of other cancers and diseases. The research, carried out at the University of California at Los Angeles, provided the first proof that RNA biomarkers in saliva can be used to inexpensively detect cancer, said Dr. David Wong, study author and chairman of oral biology and medicine at the university. "This is a new direction, using a non-invasive fluid to look for disease signatures, particularly in cancer," Wong said, adding that new technology to rapidly analyze genes made this possible.

Animal Study Shows Grape Seed May Protect Brain – (News Wise – December 21, 2004)
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/508989/
Health-food activists have long touted the value of taking grape seed extract, but with little or no scientific proof of its actual benefits. Now, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) report the first direct evidence that the popular dietary supplement affects specific proteins in healthy brains in ways that may protect against future age-related dementia. “This is the first identification of specific molecules in mammalian tissues that are changed in response to oral intake of complex dietary supplements like grape seed extract,” said senior author Helen Kim, Ph.D., UAB research associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology.


 

GLOBAL EPIDEMIC

Potent Flu Poses Threat
Aromatherapy Oils Kill Superbug MRSA
How Now, Mad Cow?

Potent Flu Poses Threat – (Daily News – December 31, 2004)
http://www.dailynews.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=500&fArticleId=2358253
International health officials have warned that the world is closer to its next pandemic - a potent mix of avian influenza and a human flu virus - and that Asia is its likely epicentre. "If it happens, which is not yet proven, it's going to be worse than Sars," said Francois Xavier-Meslin, World Health Organisation (WHO) co-ordinator for disease control, prevention and eradication. The H5N1 bird flu virus, which decimated the region's poultry stocks, also spread to people, killing 32 in Thailand and Vietnam. But there is no evidence to date that it has acquired the human-flu characteristics it would need to be passed easily between people. If that happens, the result would be a pandemic that could cause as many as seven million deaths, the WHO has warned.

Aromatherapy Oils Kill Superbug MRSA – (BBC – December 21, 2004)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4116053.stm
Hospital-acquired infections, such as MRSA, kill an estimated 5,000 a year. University of Manchester, England, researchers tested 40 essential oils against 10 of the most infectious agents found in hospitals, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Two of the oils were found to kill MRSA and E.coli almost instantly, while a third was found to act over a longer period of time. However, the researchers say they are unable to reveal which oils carry benefits because of commercial sensitivities.

How Now, Mad Cow? – (AlterNet – December 23, 2004)
http://www.alternet.org/envirohealth/20787/
One year after the first case of mad cow disease in the US was confirmed, promised food safety reforms have yet to be instituted. And they never will be, if the cattle industry has its way. It was Dec. 23, 2003, and the first case of mad cow disease in the United States had just been confirmed. However, the lightning produced more noise than illumination. One year later, reforms proven necessary by the experiences of European and Asian countries have yet to be instituted by the agencies most responsible for food safety, the USDA and Food and Drug Administration.


 

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

DARPA Quantum Network
Video Feeds Follow Podcasting
Researchers Invent Energy-Saving Computer Chip
Google Borrows Books from Leading Libraries

DARPA Quantum Network – (Quantum Physics, abstract – December 3, 2004)
http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0412029
A team from BBN Technologies, Boston University, and Harvard University has recently built and begun to operate the world's first Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)network under DARPA sponsorship. The DARPA Quantum Network became fully operational on October 23, 2003 and in June 2004 was fielded through dark fiber under the streets of Cambridge, Mass., to link the university campuses with non-stop quantum cryptography, twenty-four hours per day. As of December 2004, it consists of six nodes. Four are 5 MHz, BBN-built BB84 systems designed for telecommunications fiber and inter-connected by a photonic switch. Two are the electronics subsystems for a high speed free-space system designed and built by NIST. This paper describes the motivation for the work, the current status of the DARPA Quantum Network, its unique optical switching and key relay protocols, and future plans.

Video Feeds Follow Podcasting – (Wired News – December 7, 2004)
http://wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,65925,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_5
With the success of podcasting -- a recent technology that lets anyone subscribe to and play back audio feeds on an iPod -- the natural next step is technology that can do the same with video. First a podcasting primer: It works much the same way as syndication of content through RSS or Atom, except that instead of text from blogs or news sites, podcasting sends songs directly to iPods or other MP3 players. Now comes video. Already, there are rudimentary applications like Vogbrowser, which offers video feeds to which people can subscribe, much like they do with RSS feeds and there are more products like this on the way.

Researchers Invent Energy-Saving Computer Chip – (NewsWise – December 8, 2004)
http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/508744/
University of Alberta researchers have designed a computer chip that uses about 100 times less energy than current state-of-the-art digital chips. The invention employs a new method of processing digital data, known as analog decoding, which uses extremely low levels of power to execute its detection algorithm. The greatly reduced energy consumption of this technology offers promise for many small devices with relatively low power needs. This technology could eventually eliminate the need to recharge cellphones, help introduce smaller, ultra-high-speed communications systems, and advance the use of implantable health care devices, such as drug delivery chips.

Google Borrows Books from Leading Libraries – (New Scientist – December 14, 2004)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6797
Books from some of the world's largest academic libraries are to be scanned and made instantly searchable by Google. The internet search engine has revealed plans to scan the whole of Michigan and Stanford University libraries, along with some archives at Harvard University and the New York Public Library, all in the US, as well as archives at Oxford University library in the UK. Google has developed its own technology for scanning books rapidly and in a way that will not physically harm fragile old texts. Details have not been disclosed but Google spokesman Fabio Selmoni describes it as "a combination of digital and mechanical technology".


 

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change
Male Fish Bear Eggs in Potomac
Mysterious Arctic Light Blamed On Climate Change

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change – (Science Magazine – December 3, 2004)
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
In recent years, all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements to the effect that that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities. 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change". The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position. Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.

Male Fish Bear Eggs in Potomac – (CNN.com – December 21, 2004)
http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science/12/21/potomac.fish.ap/index.html
Nine male smallmouth bass taken from the Potomac near Sharpsburg, Maryland, about 60 miles upstream from Washington, were found to have developed eggs inside their sex organs, said Vicki S. Blazer, a scientist overseeing the research for the U.S. Geological Survey. Authorities say the problems are likely related to a class of pollutants called endocrine disruptors, which short-circuit animals' natural systems of hormone chemical messages. The Potomac River provides about 75% of the water supply to the 3.6 million residents of Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Mysterious Arctic Light Blamed On Climate Change – (The Independent [UK] – December 19, 2004)
http://www.rense.com/general60/clime.htm
Eskimos and scientists report a strange "lightness at noon" that is turning the usual all-day darkness of the high Canadian Arctic into twilight. Canadian government officials say it may be the result of an unusual atmospheric phenomenon caused by global warming. One hypothesis is that warmer air, caused by global warming, is overlaying the cold air of the Arctic and the interface between the two creates a kind of "mirror in the sky" which reflects the sun's rays from further south.


 

NANOTECHNOLOGY

Molecular Chains Line up to Form Protopolymer
Carbon Nanotubes Yield a New Class of Biological Sensors

Molecular Chains Line up to Form Protopolymer – (EurekAlert – December 7, 2004)
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-12/ps-mcl120704.php
A new chemical state, designated a "protopolymer," has been observed by Penn State researchers in chains of phenylene molecules on a crystalline copper surface at low temperature. Protopolymers form when monomers, small molecules that link together chemically to form long chains, align and interact without forming chemical bonds. While surface-mediated pairing and other interactions have previously been seen on metal surfaces, this is the first observation of extended chains of molecules that exhibit a strong interaction without forming chemical bonds. This type of alignment could be used to control growth and assembly of molecules and for manipulation of nanostructured materials, which are assembled on an atomic or molecular scale.

Carbon Nanotubes Yield a New Class of Biological Sensors – (EurekAlert – December 13, 2004)
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-12/nsf-cny121304.php
Nanotechnology researchers at the University of Illinois have demonstrated a tiny, implantable detector that could one day allow diabetics to monitor their glucose levels continuously-without ever having to draw a blood sample. The work, which is the first application of a whole new class of biological sensors. The new sensors are based on single-walled carbon nanotubes: cylindrical molecules whose sides are formed from a lattice of carbon atoms. The idea is to exploit the nanotubes' ability to fluoresce, or glow, when illuminated by certain wavelengths of infrared light-"a region of the spectrum where human tissue and biological fluids are particularly transparent.


 

TERRORISM/FUTURE OF WARFARE

India Using Remote Viewing Techniques and Satellite Technologies
Think Globally, Eat Locally

India Using Remote Viewing Techniques and Satellite Technologies – (India Daily – December 13, 2004)
http://cshink.com/india_successful.htm
Sources close to New Delhi report that the RAW, the Indian equivalent of the CIA, is using advanced satellite technologies and remote viewing techniques to look into foreign intelligence activities within India. Remote viewing is the paranormal activities with psychics that can sense into the future and unknown. The CIA has used remote viewing for many years. The RAW have been correlating information gathered by remote viewing with high tech feedbacks like satellite sensing.

Think Globally, Eat Locally – (New York Times – December 18, 2004)
http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/hunger/economy/2004/1218localfood.htm
Tommy Thompson, former secretary of health and human services, recently commented: "I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do." He added, "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that." Unexpected, but right. The United States is importing more and more food, and not just from the Middle East (which actually accounts for only 0.4 percent of our food imports). The Department of Agriculture reports that in 2005, the United States will fail to record an agricultural surplus for the first time in 50 years, demonstrating a rising dependency on foreign agricultural production and distribution systems that may not be safe. Yet few of these imports are examined to ensure they meet American health and safety standards. This year, the Food and Drug Administration will inspect about 100,000 of the nearly five million shipments of food crossing our borders, and distribution is so rapid that tainted food can reach consumers nationwide before officials realize there is a problem.


 

AUGMENTED INTELLIGENCE

Brainwave Cap Controls Computer
Ecobot Eats Dead Flies for Fuel

Brainwave Cap Controls Computer – (BBC News - November 7, 2004)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4074869.stm
A team of US researchers has shown that controlling devices with the brain is a step closer. Four people, two of them partly paralyzed wheelchair users, successfully moved a computer cursor while wearing a cap with 64 electrodes. The results show that people can learn to use scalp-recorded electroencephalogram rhythms to control rapid and accurate movement of a cursor in two directions. No surgery or implantation was needed.

Ecobot Eats Dead Flies for Fuel – (Wired News – December 15, 2004)
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,66036,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2
Researchers at the University of the West of England, Bristol, are working on creating autonomous robots that power themselves using substances found in the environment. They plan to give robots their very own guts - artificial digestive systems and the corresponding metabolisms that will allow robots to digest food. Doing away with solar cells and batteries, their robot Ecobot II has a stomach consisting of eight microbial fuel cells, or MFCs, that contain bacteria harvested from sewage sludge. The microbes break down the food into sugars, converting biochemical energy into electricity that powers the robot.


 

ENERGY REVOLUTION

Molecule Harvests Water's Hydrogen
Sunlight to Fuel Hydrogen Future
German Carmakers Catch Hybrid Fever
Clean Power from Turkey Droppings?
Alcohol Fuel Cell Goes Micro

Molecule Harvests Water's Hydrogen – (Technology Review – December 6, 2004)
http://www.techreview.com/articles/04/12/rnb_120604.asp
The key to producing clean hydrogen energy is finding a non-polluting method to extract pure hydrogen from its most abundant source -- water. Researchers have been working for decades to develop catalysts that make it possible to use energy from sunlight to extract hydrogen from water. Researchers are working to find catalysts that can extract energy from a greater portion of sunlight's spectrum and use the energy to move electrons more efficiently. Virginia Polytechnic and State University researchers have developed a large molecule, or supramolecular complex, that combines sub-units that absorb light with sub-units that accept electrons. The complex could be used to produce hydrogen for clean-burning combustion engines and fuel cells.

Sunlight to Fuel Hydrogen Future – (Wired News – December 7, 2004)
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,65936,00.html
The latest way to exploit the sun is through tiny materials that can directly convert sunlight into large amounts of hydrogen. The company Hydrogen Solar of Guilford, England, and Altair Nanotechnologies are building a hydrogen-generation system that captures sunlight and uses the energy to break water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The company's current project is a fuel station in Las Vegas that will soon be dispensing hydrogen fuel.

German Carmakers Catch Hybrid Fever – (Deutsche Welle – December 14, 2004)
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1427912,00.html
Caught off guard by the success of Toyota's hybrid Prius model, German carmakers are racing to catch-up. DaimlerChrysler and GM announced plans on Monday to jointly produce hybrid technology for their cars and trucks. GM and DaimlerChrysler have announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding which confirmed their intention to develop new hybrid technology together. A more formal contract will be signed in 2005. According to the statement, a few hundred million dollars -- no specific figures were given -- will be devoted to developing the technology, with the goal of rolling-out the first vehicles by 2007. Among the first to hit the market will be a hybrid version of the Dodge Durango with a luxurious Mercedes hybrid planned for later that year.

Clean Power from Turkey Droppings? – (Reuters – December 16, 2004)
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6725508/
Turkey leftovers will take on a whole new meaning after a Minnesota company finishes construction of a power plant fired by the birds’ droppings. The plant will burn 90 percent turkey dung and create clean power for 55,000 homes. Three poultry litter plants have already been built in England, but the Benson, Minnesota-based facility will be the first large-scale plant of its type in the U.S. and the largest in the world. Turkey dung is prized over pig excrement and cow chips. “Poultry litter is drier material, so it burns better, and there’s a lot of it,” said Charles Grecco, of HH Media, LLC, an investment bank that helped arrange $202 million in financing for the plant.

Alcohol Fuel Cell Goes Micro – (Technology Review – December 17, 2004)
http://www.techreview.com/articles/04/12/ap_121704.asp
Researchers from Saint Louis University, who earlier this year developed a fuel cell using enzymes to generate electricity from ethanol, have built a microchip-based version of the device. The microchip biofuel cell could eventually be used in place of rechargeable batteries. Instead of recharging by plugging into a wall outlet like batteries, the biofuel would be recharged by adding a few milliliters, or thousandths of a liter, of alcohol. The micro fuel cell could also be used to power sensors and labs-on-a-chip.

Pliable solar cells are on a roll – (New Scientist – December 18, 2004)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6802
Imagine wearing a jacket or rucksack that charges up your mobile phone while you take a walk. Or a tent whose flysheet charges batteries all day so campers can have light all night. Or a roll-out plastic sheet you can place on a car's rear window shelf to power a child's DVD player. Such applications could soon become a reality thanks to a light, flexible solar panel that is a little thicker than photographic film and can easily be applied to everyday fabrics. The thin, bendy solar panels, which could be on the market within three years, will be cheap, too, because they can be mass-produced in rolls that can be cut as required and wrapped around clothes, fabrics, furniture or even rooftops.



DEMOGRAPHICS AND SOCIAL CHANGE

Dangerous Government Secrecy Oaths
U.S. Has Zero Credibility Among Muslims

Dangerous Government Secrecy Oaths – (San Diego Union Tribune – December 2, 2004)
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20041202/news_lz4e2schwell.html
America now has an Unofficial Secrets Act. In an expansion of government secrecy, the Department of Homeland Security has begun swearing its employees to silence, criminalizing the disclosure of information to the public – even if it is not classified. What's an example of information that the public can't know? The law. Last month, while at the Boise, Idaho, airport, former Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage, R-Idaho, was pulled aside for a security pat-down. Hage asked what regulation authorized the screening. Local security director Julian Gonzalez said the regulation "is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else." You may also wish to read, "Interstate Travel: Constitutional Challenges to the Identification Requirement and Other Transportation Security Regulations," Congressional Research Service, November 4, 2004: http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20041202/news_lz4e2schwell.html

U.S. Has Zero Credibility Among Muslims – (Inter Press Service – November 19, 2004)
http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=26453
A high-level Pentagon panel has concluded that Bush administration policies in the Middle East, its fundamental failure to understand the Muslim world and a lack of imagination in using new communications technologies have failed to enlist the support of an increasingly hostile Islamic world.


 

A FINAL QUOTE...

My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there. - Charles F. Kettering

Charles F. Kettering (1876 - 1958) was a hands-on inventor who, even today, continues to impact all aspects of our society. The Delco Products Division of General Motors Corporation was created by Charles Kettering and Edward Deeds. At his death in 1958, Kettering was a co-holder of more than 140 patents. In 1945 Charles Kettering and Alfred Sloan established the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City.



A special thanks to Christopher Altman, Don Beck, Bernard Calil, Michael Dowd, Humera Khan, Robert Knight, KurzweilAI, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane Petersen, John C. Petersen, the Schwartzreport and Joel Snell, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks. johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org