Volume 8, Number 3
February 10, 2005
Edited by John L. Petersen
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org

See past issues in the Archives


In This Issue:

Event Announcement - TAICON 2005 - Tools for the Development of Humanity
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

TAICON 2005 - Tools for the Development of Humanity
http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/TAICON2005

April 25-26, 2005
AED Conference Center
Washington, DC

At The Arlington Institute's 3rd Annual Conference, Tools for the Develoipment of Humanity, more than 300 thought leaders who anticipate the need for big change will come together for two extraordinary Spring days in Washington, DC devoted exclusively to exploring just how humanity might transform itself.

Join The Institute this April as participants representing a broad spectrum of public and private organizations explore new frameworks and tools to enable change in humanity’s objectives and behaviors for the emergence of new social systems.

This conference marks the Institute’s annual tradition of sponsoring a forum that addresses humanity’s most profound issues and working in good company with many of the world’s thought leaders to address such issues and assure a sustainable world.

The Institute provides the opportunity for interactive dialogue between the speakers and the participants as well as networking and relationship building as a result of conference attendance.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference!



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



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

INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

High-Tech Spacesuits Eyed for ‘Extreme Exploration’
Mirror That Reflects Your Future Self
First Artificial Neon Sky Show Created
Tech Solves Hope Diamond Mystery

High-Tech Spacesuits Eyed for ‘Extreme Exploration’ – (Space.com – January 26, 2005)
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/spacesuit_innovations_050126.html
Research is under way at MT on a Bio-Suit System designed for future explorers on the Moon and Mars. The suit augments a person’s biological skin by providing mechanical counter-pressure. The “epidermis” of such a second skin could be applied in spray-on fashion in the form of an organic, biodegradable layer. This coating would protect an astronaut conducting a spacewalk in extremely dusty planetary environments. Incorporated into that second skin would be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina. The Bio-Suit System could embody communications equipment, biosensors, computers, even climbing gear for spacewalks or what NASA calls an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA).

Mirror That Reflects Your Future Self – (New Scientist – February 2, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6952
In Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, the eponymous subject keeps his youthful looks while the vagaries of age are visited upon his portrait in the attic. Now a digital version of Wilde's idea is being developed to show you what you will look like in five years' time if you take no exercise, eat too much junk food and drink too much alcohol. To do this one piece of software builds up a profile of your lifestyle and then a different software package extrapolates how your behavior is likely to affect you in the long term. For example, if the software determines you are eating too much, it will calculate how many pounds to add to the image of the person standing in front of the mirror.

First Artificial Neon Sky Show Created – (Live Science – February 2, 2005)
http://www.livescience.com/technology/050202_light_show.html
By shooting intense radio beams into the night sky, researchers created a modest neon light show visible from the ground. The process is not well understood, but scientists speculate it could one day be employed to light a city or generate celestial advertisements. Researchers with the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) project in Alaska tickled the upper atmosphere to the extent that it glowed with green speckles. The HAARP experiment involves acres of antennas and a 1 megawatt generator. The scientists sent radio pulses skyward every 7.5 seconds.

Tech Solves Hope Diamond Mystery - (Wired News – February 9, 2005)
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,66560,00.html?tw=wn_1techhead
Researchers using computer analysis have traced the origin of the famed Hope Diamond, concluding that it was cut from a larger stone that was once part of the crown jewels of France. The new study shows just how it would have fit inside the larger French Blue Diamond and how that gem was cut, Smithsonian gem curator Jeffrey Post explained. The new analysis of the diamond took a year, with researchers using sketches from pre-Revolutionary France, scientific studies of the French crown jewels and computer models. "This research would not have been possible 10 years ago," said Post. The research helps confirm the Hope Diamond as originating with a 115-carat stone found in India in 1668. That stone was sold to King Louis XIV of France who had it cut into the 69-carat French Blue which was stolen during the French Revolution.



NEW REALITIES

Escape from the Universe
Puzzled Monkeys Reveal Key Language Step
Things That Make the Earth Go Hmmm
Global Warming the Key to Life on Mars

Escape from the Universe – (Prospect – February, 2005)
http://prospectmagazine.co.uk/article_details.php.6701.html
Ever since the work of Edwin Hubble in the 1920s, scientists have known that the universe is expanding, but most have believed that the expansion was slowing as the universe aged. In 1998, astronomers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Australian National University calculated the expansion rate by studying dozens of powerful supernova explosions within distant galaxies, which can light up the entire universe. Physicists realized that some "dark energy" of unknown origin, akin to Einstein's "cosmological constant," was acting as an anti-gravity force. Apparently, empty space itself contains enough repulsive dark energy to blow the universe apart. The more the universe expands, the more dark energy there is to make it expand even faster, leading to an exponential runaway mode.

Puzzled Monkeys Reveal Key Language Step – (New Scientist – January 15, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4572
The key cognitive step that allowed humans to become the only animals using language may have been identified. A new study on monkeys found that while they are able to understand basic rules about word patterns, they are not able to follow more complex rules that underpin the crucial next stage of language structure. For example, the monkeys could master simple word structures, analogous to realizing that "the" and "a" are always followed by another word. But they were unable to grasp phrase patterns analogous to "if... then..." constructions.

Things That Make the Earth Go Hmmm – (Wired News – February 4, 2005)
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,66495,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2
The Earth hums. Although inaudible to human ears, powerful ocean waves produce a quasi-harmonic humming sound in the ground that can be detected just about anywhere with seismometers. Long dismissed as "background noise" by seismologists, a new look at this constant hum is opening a window on ocean activity, providing insight into the Earth's structure that may one day be used to give advance warning of earthquakes.

Global Warming the Key to Life on Mars – (Guardian – February 7, 2005)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/space/article/0,14493,1407176,00.html
US scientists have thought up a new way to create a second home - by warming up the atmosphere of Mars. Mars - which used to be warm and wet - has an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide. But because the red planet's atmosphere is so thin, the planet is now freezing cold. A gas called octafluoropropane could begin a process of global warming on Mars. This would take hundreds or even thousands of years. But since the raw materials already exist there, some future space mission could start to turn up the heat in a world frozen for at least 2 billion years.



GENTICS/HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Skin and Bones Made to Measure
Sex Pheromone Spray Boosts Senior Romance
'Bio-barcoding' Promises Early Alzheimer's Diagnosis
Margaret Atwood’s New Biotech Novel, Oryx and Crake
Human Cloning License Granted to Dolly Creator
Heart-renewing Cells Discovered

Skin and Bones Made to Measure – (BBC News – January 18, 2005)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/manchester/4184627.stm
Scientists are developing an inkjet printer that can create "made to measure" skin and bones to treat people with severe burns or disfigurements. Human cells are suspended in a nutrient-rich liquid before being printed out in several thin layers. Project leaders say the method could be used to build an organ in a day.

Sex Pheromone Spray Boosts Senior Romance – (New Scientist – January 29, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/sex/mg18524845.600
A mystery chemical that young women deploy as a sex attractant pheromone seems to work for post-menopausal women too. Joan Friebely of Harvard University and Susan Rako, a private physician in Newton, Massachusetts, have studied 44 post-menopausal women. Half added Athena Pheromone 10:13, originally isolated from a woman's armpit sweat, to their perfume while half added a dummy compound. Overall, 68 per cent of pheromone users reported increases in at least one of four intimate socio-sexual behaviors such as formal dates and sex, as against 41 per cent on the placebo.

'Bio-barcoding' Promises Early Alzheimer's Diagnosis – (New Scientist – January 31, 20050
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6946
Identifying and tracking Alzheimer's disease currently relies on brain imaging and psychological testing. A firm diagnosis can only be made by autopsy. But recent studies have revealed several biochemical markers that may provide the basis for a living diagnosis. These include tiny proteins called amyloid-beta-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs), which exist at elevated levels in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

Margaret Atwood’s New Biotech Novel, Oryx and Crake – (Nature – January 31, 2005)
http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050131/full/nbt0205-163.html
Imagine a world in which biotech could satiate every human desire and correct every human imperfection but the resulting reality is not all that rosy. One of the key themes of the novel is the corrupting influence of commerce on science. When business interests dominate "you enter a skewed universe where science can no longer operate as science," Atwood says. For example, biotech company HelthWyzer puts "hostile bioforms" into vitamin pills while at the same time marketing antidotes. "The best diseases, from a business point of view," the author writes with irony, "would be those that cause a lingering illness."

Human Cloning License Granted to Dolly Creator – (Associated Press – February 8, 2005)
http://www.livescience.com/othernews/ap_dolly_050208.html
Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly the Sheep at Scotland's Roslin Institute in 1996, was granted a cloning license by British regulators to unravel the mysteries of muscle-wasting illnesses such as incurable Lou Gehrig's disease. The license is the second one approved since Britain became the first country to legalize research cloning in 2001. The first was granted in August to a team that hopes to use cloning to create insulin-producing cells for transplant into diabetics.

Heart-renewing Cells Discovered – (Nature – February 9, 2005)
http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050207/full/050207-8.html
The heart contains cells that can divide and mature after birth. This surprise discovery raises the possibility of transplanting these cells into hearts crippled by heart attack to mend the damage. Because fully developed heart cells do not divide, medical experts viewed the organ as unable to regenerate after injury. However, researchers have found 'cardiac progenitor cells', rare cells from the heart's early development that retain the ability to reproduce. Only a few hundred progenitor cells remain in the heart after birth, and this number decreases with age, researchers say. But it may eventually be possible to capture and grow progenitor cells and then transplant them back into a patient's heart.



GLOBAL EPIDEMIC

Goat Had 'Mad Cow' Disease in France – (TechNewsWorld – January 28, 2005)
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/40120.html
A French goat slaughtered in 2002 has tested positive for "mad cow" disease, the French agriculture ministry said, in what is the first known case in the world of the fatal illness occurring in an animal other than a bovine. In Brussels, the European Commission said that confirmation of mad cow disease in the encephalopathy (BSE) has crossed the species barrier from cows naturally. "It's the first natural case in the world," said European Commission spokesman Philip Tod, explaining that goats had been given BSE in laboratories to see if the cross-species infection was possible. The discovery is a disturbing sign that BSE can be transmitted to other species used for human consumption.



INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Solving the Enigma of Kryptos
Google's Search for Meaning

Solving the Enigma of Kryptos - (Wired News – January 21, 2005)
http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,66334,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
It's been nearly 15 years since artist Jim Sanborn installed the 12-foot-high, verdigrised copper, granite and wood sculpture inscribed with four encrypted messages at the CIA's Langley, Virginia, headquarters in 1990. And it's been seven years since anyone made progress at cracking its code. In 1998, CIA analyst David Stein cracked three of the four coded messages after diddling over the problem with paper and pencil for about 400 hours spread over many lunch breaks. Only his CIA colleagues initially knew of his success, since the agency didn't publicize it. A year later, California computer scientist Jim Gillogly gained public notoriety when he cracked the same three messages using a Pentium II. But for 15 years, the last Kryptos section has remained unsolved.

Google's Search for Meaning – (New Scientist – January 28, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6924
Computers can learn the meaning of words simply by plugging into Google, thanks to the massive body of text that is available, ready indexed, on its search engines (which has more than 8 billion pages indexed). The finding could bring forward the day that true artificial intelligence is developed. Michael Witbrock is involved in the Cyc project in Austin, Texas, a 20-year effort to create an encyclopedic knowledge base for use by a future artificial intelligence. Cyc represents a vast quantity of fundamental human knowledge, including word meanings, facts and rules of thumb. Witbrock believes, "The web might make all the difference in whether we make an artificial intelligence or not."



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Alarm at New Climate Warning
Countdown to Global Catastrophe
Gadget Growth Fuels Eco Concerns
Unusual Arctic Cold Raises Fears for Ozone Hole
Antarctic Ice Sheet is an Awakened Giant
New Large Iceberg Breaks off Antarctica
Global Warming: Scientists Reveal Timetable

Alarm at New Climate Warning – (BBC News – January 26, 2005)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4210629.stm
Temperatures around the world could rise by as much as 11C, according to one of the largest climate prediction projects ever run. This figure is twice the level that previous studies have suggested. Scientists behind the project, called climateprediction.net, say it shows that a "safe" upper limit for carbon dioxide is impossible to define.

Countdown to Global Catastrophe – (The Independent – January 24, 2005)
http://www.rense.com/general62/count.htm
The global warming danger threshold for the world is clearly marked for the first time in an international report. The bad news is, the world has nearly reached it already. The report, “Meeting The Climate Challenge” breaks new ground by putting a figure - for the first time in such a high-level document - on the danger point of global warming, that is, the temperature rise beyond which the world would be irretrievably committed to disastrous changes.

Gadget Growth Fuels Eco Concerns – (BBC News – January 20, 2005)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4183969.stm
On average, teenagers get a new cell phone every 11 months, adults every 18 months and 15 million handsets are replaced in total each year. Yet, only 15% are actually recycled. So Ebay has announced its “Rethink” project, bringing together Intel, Apple, and IBM among others to promote recycling. On the front end of eco-consciousness, a European Union directive, WEEE (Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment), comes into effect in August putting the responsibility on electrical manufacturers to recycle items that are returned to them and elements such as chromium, lead, and cadmium - common in consumer electronics goods - will be prohibited in all products in the EU by 2006.

Unusual Arctic Cold Raises Fears for Ozone Hole – (New Scientist – January 28, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6944
Temperatures in the Arctic ozone layer are now the coldest for 50 years and have been consistently low for two months. The ozone layer blankets the Earth at an altitude between 15 to 30 kilometers. It is part of a zone called the stratosphere, and absorbs ultraviolet light. European Union scientists are concerned that if the exceptionally cold temperatures continue, and the persistent polar clouds - which alter the chemistry of the ozone layer - remain, then large ozone losses will be likely when spring sunlight returns in the coming weeks.

Antarctic Ice Sheet is an Awakened Giant – (New Scientist – February 2, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6962
The massive west Antarctic ice sheet, previously assumed to be stable, is starting to collapse. Antarctica contains more than 90% of the world's ice, and the loss of any significant part of it would cause a substantial sea level rise. Glaciers on the Antarctic peninsula, which protrudes from the continent to the north, were already known to be retreating. But the new data show that glaciers within the much larger west Antarctic Ice sheet are also starting to disappear. If the ice on the peninsula melts entirely it will raise global sea levels by 0.3 meters, and the west Antarctic ice sheet contains enough water to contribute meters more.

New Large Iceberg Breaks off Antarctica – (Live Science – February 6, 2005)
http://www.livescience.com/environment/050206_new_iceberg.html
A new iceberg about twice the size of Dallas broke off an Antarctic ice shelf on January 31. The event is the latest in a series of breakups of the Larsen B ice shelf, which until recent years had endured several millennia without such major change. The latest event is separate from one earlier in January in which the world's largest known iceberg ran aground in the Antarctic, snuggling up to a glacier known as the Drygalski Ice Tongue. The new iceberg is about 16 by 35 nautical miles, based on satellite images from the Canadian Space Agency.

Global Warming: Scientists Reveal Timetable – (Independent – February 3, 2005)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0203-04.htm
A detailed timetable of the destruction and distress that global warming is likely to cause the world has been unveiled. It pulls together for the first time the projected impacts on ecosystems and wildlife, food production, water resources and economies across the earth, for given rises in global temperature expected during the next hundred years. The resultant picture gives the most wide-ranging impression yet of the bewildering array of destructive effects that climate change is expected to exert on different regions, from the mountains of Europe and the rainforests of the Amazon to the coral reefs of the tropics.



TERRORISM AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE

Using Earth’s Atmosphere for Military Purpose
Gun-slinging Robot Headed for Iraq Combat
Sensors Everywhere
The Ascent of the Robotic Attack Jet
New Non-lethal Weapon Lets Troops Microwave Hostile Crowds

Using Earth’s Atmosphere for Military Purpose – (India Daily – January 26, 2005)
http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/01-24c-05.asp
Currently, there are dozens of nations operating more than 100 weather modification projects, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions all over the world, where the lack of sufficient water resources limits their ability to meet food, fibre, and energy demands. In addition there are unclassified military projects in America, Russia, China, Japan, Europe and India that plan to use weather and climate to defeat the enemy. One of these is the US HAARP project designed to "understand, simulate and control ionospheric processes that might alter the performance of communication and surveillance systems." The HAARP system intends to beam 3.6 Gigawatts of effective radiated power of high frequency radio energy into the ionosphere.

Gun-slinging Robot Headed for Iraq Combat – (News-Leader – January 23, 2005)
http://springfield.news-leader.com/business/today/0123-Gunslingin-285627.html
The U.S. Army is preparing to send 18 remote-controlled robotic sharpshooters to fight in Iraq beginning in March or April. Made by a small Massachusetts company, the SWORDS, (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems), will be the first armed robotic vehicles to see combat. They don't need to be trained, fed or clothed. They can be boxed up and warehoused between wars. And there are no letters to write home if they meet their demise in battle. But these are not the autonomous killer robots of science fiction. A SWORDS robot shoots only when its human operator presses a button after identifying a target on video shot by the robot's cameras.

Sensors Everywhere – (Information Week – January 24, 2005)
http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=57702816
SAIC is developing technology for the Defense and Homeland Security departments that could use hundreds of tiny, wireless sensors (“motes”) packed with computing power to help secure U.S. borders, bridges, power plants, and ships by detecting suspicious movements or dangerous cargo and radioing warnings back to a command center. One breakthrough of mote technology is special "mesh networking" software that lets each device wake up for a fraction of a second when it has an interesting result to transmit, then relay that information a few yards to its nearest neighbor. The technology also is gaining interest because sensor nets can be used with RFID to more cheaply identify and track goods, machinery, or hazardous chemicals.

The Ascent of the Robotic Attack Jet – (Technology Review – March, 2005)
http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/03/issue/feature_jet.asp
In recent years, unmanned planes have proven themselves in war. For example, the Predator, a medium-altitude surveillance plane, debuted in Bosnia and then served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Global Hawk, has been flying high-altitude reconnaissance missions for years. Meanwhile, Northrop has built and flown another unmanned prototype, called Pegasus, and shown that it could land on an aircraft carrier. But the next crop of planes will fly in coordinated groups, with more autonomy. They’ll tackle jobs such as attacking enemy air defenses, identifying new targets, and releasing precision bombs. Realizing this vision will require the creation of new airborne communications networks and a host of control systems that will make these jets more autonomous (though always under the ultimate control of a person) than anything built to date. These are the goals of a $4-billion, five-year program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s advanced research arm.

New Non-lethal Weapon Lets Troops Microwave Hostile Crowds – (World Tribune – February 3, 2005)
http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/05/breaking2453405.0868055555.html
The U.S. has developed a non-lethal microwave weapon for use in Iraq. Officials said the vehicle, termed Sheriff, would contain the Active Denial System. The system uses millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy that can be directed at targets at a range of 1 kilometer, Middle East Newsline reported. The ADS system would be downgraded for Iraqi deployment in urban areas, officials said. The modified weapon causes a burning sensation on the skin, causing people to run away.



AUGMENTED INTELLIGENCE

Machine Learns Games Like a Human
Sex and the Single Robot

Machine Learns Games Like a Human – (New Scientist – January 12, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6914
CogVis, developed by scientists at the University of Leeds in Yorkshire, UK, teaches itself how to play the children's game by searching for patterns in video and audio of human players and then building its own "hypotheses" about the game's rules. In contrast to older artificial intelligence (AI) programs that mimic human behavior using hard-coded rules, CogVis takes a more human approach, learning through observation and mimicry. A computer that learns to play a 'scissors, paper, stone' by observing and mimicking human players could lead to machines that automatically learn how to spot an intruder or perform vital maintenance work, say UK researchers.

Sex and the Single Robot – (Guardian Unlimited – February 2, 2005)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/science/story/0,12996,1403780,00.html
A South Korean professor is poised to take the development of robots several steps further, and give cybersex new meaning. Kim Jong-Hwan, the director of the ITRC-Intelligent Robot Research Centre and a leading authority on technology and ethics of robotics, has developed a series of artificial chromosomes that, he says, will allow robots to feel lusty, and could eventually lead to them reproducing. He says the software, which will be installed in a robot within the next three months, will give the machines the ability to feel, reason and desire.



ENERGY REVOLUTION

Hybrids Spark Interest in Rechargeable Cars
Super Charged
Solar Super-sail Could Reach Mars in a Month
Nuclear Now!
Canadian Researcher Invents New Solar Cell

Hybrids Spark Interest in Rechargeable Cars – (Christian Science Monitor – February 1, 2005)
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Hybrid/story?id=445794
A button on the dashboard of the 2004 Prius could turn the gasoline-electric hybrid into an all-electric car - for a mile or so on limited battery power. This "stealth mode" button works fine in Japan and Europe but the button has been disconnected for North America's Priuses. Now, scores of Prius owners in the U. S. are activating the button on their own, despite company warnings that altering the car will void its warranty. Some drivers are going even further by adding battery capacity and a plug. The hoped for result: a high-tech commuting car that plugs into a socket at night and gets amazing gas mileage the next day.

Super Charged – (Spectrum – January 5, 2005)
http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature/jan05/0105wcap.html#f3
A tiny South Korean company is out to make capacitors powerful enough to propel the next generation of hybrid-electric cars. NessCap Co., in Yongin, South Korea, is one of about 10 makers of ultracapacitors, devices that can store so much charge that they are beginning to blur the functional distinction between the capacitor and the battery. Ultracapacitors made by NessCap and others are just now starting to show up in products ranging from toys to experimental buses, basically as alternatives to batteries. In comparison with batteries, ultracapacitors can put out much more power for a given weight, can be charged in seconds rather than hours, and can function at more extreme temperatures.

Solar Super-sail Could Reach Mars in a Month – (New Scientist – January 29, 2005)
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/space/mg18524846.500
A new paint could help a spacecraft powered by a solar sail get from Earth to Mars in just one month, seven times faster than the craft that took the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the Red Planet. Solar sails are in essence giant mirrors. Photons of light from the sun bounce off the surface, giving the sail a gentle push. Gregory Benford at UC Irvine, and his brother James, who runs the aerospace research firm Microwave Sciences, envisage beaming microwave energy up from Earth to boil off volatile molecules from a specially formulated paint applied to the sail. The recoil of the molecules as they streamed off the sail would increase propulsion. It's a different way of thinking about propulsion," Gregory Benford says. "We leave the engine on the ground."

Nuclear Now! – (Wired News – February, 2005)
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.02/nuclear.html?tw=wn_tophead_7
Peter Schwartz and Spencer Reiss suggest in their editorial that burning hydrocarbons is a luxury that a planet with 6 billion energy-hungry souls can't afford. They conclude that there's only one sane, practical alternative: nuclear power. As they examine the situation, they are driven to the opinion that radiation containment, waste disposal, and nuclear weapons proliferation are manageable problems in a way that global warming is not. And some of the world's most thoughtful “greens” agree with them.

Canadian Researcher Invents New Solar Cell – (Reuters – January 13, 2005)
http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/28991/story.htm
It may only be a matter of time before we will be using our shirts to charge our cellphones. Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented a flexible plastic solar cell that is said to be five times more efficient than current methods in converting energy from the sun into electrical energy. And the film can turn 30 percent of the sun's power into usable electrical energy -- a far better performance than the 6 percent gleaned from the best plastic solar cells now in use.



CONTACT

Russia and Iran Join Efforts Against Invasion of UFOs – (Free Republic – January 12, 2005)
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1319222/posts
Unidentified flying objects continue terrorizing the Eastern hemisphere of planet Earth. The news may seem to be ridiculous at first sight, but UFOs pose a big threat to Iran in connection with its growing nuclear potential. The flights of unknown objects in the air space of Iran have become much more frequent lately, the Resalat Daily wrote. According to the newspaper, unusual luminous objects were spotted above Busher and Natanza, where nuclear facilities are located. One of the objects exploded in the sky, eyewitnesses said. Both Russian and Iranian officials emphasize the fact of expanding the bilateral cooperation, particularly in the field of space exploration and the development of satellites.



DEMOGRAPHICS AND SOCIAL CHANGE

Bill Moyers: There Is No Tomorrow
Urban Underground Faces Risks

Bill Moyers: There Is No Tomorrow – (Star Tribune – December 1, 2004)
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7960.htm
In this editorial, Moyers discusses the impact of conservative Christian voters who expect the imminent return of Christ on public policy and specifically on national environmental policy. He notes that millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed—even hastened—as a sign of the coming apocalypse. Moyers writes that when he sees the future looking back at him from the photographs of his grandchildren, what comes to mind is, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do."

Urban Underground Faces Risks – (BBC News – January 14, 2005)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4162799.stm
Experts at the United Nations University say growing urban land pressure is making it increasingly attractive to find new subterranean space for subways, shopping malls, car parks and other needs. But studies of potential natural disaster risks are often neglected. And often there are no sub-surface maps, because underground space is usually mapped only in relation to a building overhead. However, modeling a variety of catastrophic events is essential for building contingencies into underground infrastructure designs, including evacuations and the emergency containment and transport of flood waters, for example.



A FINAL QUOTE...

The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. -- Albert Einstein




A special thanks to Don Beck, Bernard Calil, Helen Huang, 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