Volume 8, Number 9
Edited by John L. Petersen

See past issues in the Archives

In This Issue:

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.




Finger Scanner Fine-tunes Car Safety Settings
Smart Traffic Forecast Offers Seven-day Predictions

Finger Scanner Fine-tunes Car Safety Settings -- (New Scientist -- June 14, 2005)
A dashboard finger scanner could prevent thousands of car injuries each year by fine-tuning crash restraint systems to a passenger's bone density. The ultrasound scanner assesses an individual's tolerance to injury, allowing a vehicle's onboard computer to adjust the force applied by their seatbelt and airbag accordingly.

Smart Traffic Forecast Offers Seven-day Predictions -- (New Scientist -- June 29, 2005)
A traffic forecasting system capable of predicting traffic conditions seven days in advance has been released to the public in California. Alongside the weather forecast, viewers of KXTV News 10 in Sacramento can now get 3D animations of their local road network, showing not only where the gridlock is but also where it is likely to be.


Humans to Extract Billions of Tons of Precious Metals from Asteroids
The Universe
Neutrino Ripples Spotted in Space
No Paradox for Time Travelers

Humans to Extract Billions of Tons of Precious Metals from Asteroids -- (PRAVDA -- June 14, 2005)
2,900 cubic kilometers of space matter, from which asteroid Eros is made, contains 20 billion tons of aluminium, a similar amount of platinum, gold and other precious metals. In other words, there is a giant mine of rich resources flying somewhere near Earth. The reserves of the mine are evaluated at some 20-30 trillion dollars.

The Universe -- (Florida State University -- No Date)
Florida State University has mounted a webpage that begins as a view of the Milky Way Galaxy viewed from a distance of 10 million light years and then zooms in towards Earth in powers of ten finally reaching the subatomic particles of a large oak tree on the campus. Some of the shots are necessarily just artist's representation, but many are actual photographs. This "journey" is well worth the few seconds it takes.

Neutrino Ripples Spotted in Space -- (Nature -- June 17, 2005)
Astronomers have spotted a signature of neutrinos created just seconds after the Big Bang. The find supports current models of the origins of the Universe, and may provide a glimpse of its birth. The fundamental particles called neutrinos are difficult to study, because they interact so weakly with normal matter - trillions whizz straight through your body every second. But astrophysicists say that the signature of primordial neutrinos is written in the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

No Paradox for Time Travelers -- (New Scientist -- June 18, 2005)
The laws of physics seem to permit time travel, and with it, paradoxical situations such as the possibility that people could go back in time to prevent their own birth. But it turns out that such paradoxes may be ruled out by the weirdness inherent in laws of quantum physics.


Breakthrough Isolating Embryo-quality Stem Cells From Blood
Zombie Dogs
U.S. Medical Centers Finalizing Plans for a Face Transplant
Early Sperm Cells Develop from Human Stem Cells

Breakthrough Isolating Embryo-quality Stem Cells From Blood -- (Science Daily -- June 19, 2005)
A new breakthrough tool that could allow scientists to harvest stem cells from adult blood for the first time was announced recently. The cells are currently taken from aborted human fetuses, which has led to considerable controversy and opposition. This new technique can extract and isolate embryo-quality stem cells from healthy adults and could unlock the stem cell revolution, stimulating a boom in medical research using stem cells.

Zombie Dogs -- (News.com -- June 27, 2005)
US scientists have succeeded in reviving the dogs after three hours of clinical death, paving the way for trials on humans within years. Pittsburgh's Safar Center for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which a dog's blood is replaced with saline solution only a few degrees above freezing, inducing a state of hypothermia. The animals stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity. But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.

U.S. Medical Centers Finalizing Plans for a Face Transplant -- (Chicago Tribune -- June 21, 2005)
At least two medical centers in the United States are finalizing plans for a controversial new procedure: a face transplant. Surgeons say they are ready to remove the face of a cadaver and stitch it onto an adult who has been severely disfigured by trauma, burns, or tumors. A face transplant would permit patients to eat, drink and communicate with others through the vast array of facial expressions that few think about until they are lost. Critics note that face transplants won't save or prolong lives but will require recipients to take powerful and perhaps dangerous immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their lives.

Early Sperm Cells Develop from Human Stem Cells -- (Reuters -- June 19, 2005)
Using embryonic stem cells, scientists say they have developed early forms of cells that change over time to form human sperm or eggs, depending on gender. The achievement could pave the way for new treatments involving infertile couples and a wide range of other diseases.


Research Offers Clues About Buckyball Behavior
Nanoparticles Deliver Cancer Breakthrough
Researchers Create First Nanofluidic Transistor
New Magnetic Herding Technique Proposed to Manipulate the Very Small
Group Aims to Play Nanotech Nanny
New Material Could Improve Fabrication of Nanoscale Components

Research Offers Clues About Buckyball Behavior -- (Science Daily -- June 23, 2005)
Research probing how buckyballs will interact with natural ecosystems indicates that the molecules spontaneously clump together upon contact with water, forming nanoparticles that are both soluble and toxic to bacteria. The research challenges conventional wisdom since buckyballs are notoriously insoluble by themselves. The findings also illustrate shortcomings of federal guidelines for the handling and disposal of buckyballs, which are subject to the same regulations as bulk carbon black.

Nanoparticles Deliver Cancer Breakthrough -- (New Scientist -- June 17, 2005)
Tiny man-made nanoparticles have been used to successfully smuggle a powerful cancer drug into tumour cells - leaving healthy cells unharmed - in one of the first therapeutic uses for nanotechnology in living animals. The researchers believe the therapy could transform many cancers from killers into chronic, treatable diseases.

Researchers Create First Nanofluidic Transistor -- (UC Berkeley News -- June 28, 2005)
Researchers have invented a variation on the standard electronic transistor, creating the first "nanofluidic" transistor that allows them to control the movement of ions through sub-microscopic, water-filled channels. The researchers predict that nanofluidic transistors will anchor molecular processors, allowing microscopic chemical plants on a chip that operate without moving parts.

New Magnetic Herding Technique Proposed to Manipulate the Very Small -- (Science Daily -- June 21, 2005)
Engineers have introduced a new magnetic shepherding approach for deftly moving or positioning the kinds of tiny floating objects found within organisms, in order to advance potential applications in fields ranging from medicine to nanotechnology.

Group Aims to Play Nanotech Nanny -- (C|Net News -- June 21, 2005)
The Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, a futurist organization, and the Battelle Memorial Institute, which manages commercial scientific laboratories, have launched an effort to create a road map for nanotechnology, and it has received early support from some notable scientific organizations and companies. The Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will essentially seek to set the agenda for the commercialization of nanotechnology.

New Material Could Improve Fabrication of Nanoscale Components -- (Science Daily -- June 24, 2005)
Chemists at Penn State have developed a new type of ultrathin film, which has unusual properties that could improve the fabrication of increasingly smaller and more intricate electronic and sensing devices. The material, a single layer made from spherical cages of carbon atoms, could enable more precise patterning of such devices with a wider range of molecular components than now is possible with conventional self-assembled monolayers.


Second Case of Mad Cow in U.S.
Flu Pandemic Could Kill Half Million in U.S.

Second Case of Mad Cow in U.S. -- (Associated Press -- June 25, 2005)
The US has confirmed what may be its first homegrown case of mad cow disease, seven months after officials first suspected the animal might be infected. The government hopes DNA tests to find the herd where the cow came from can lead to the source of the infection, according to the Agriculture Department. Pinpointing the cow's herd will help track the animal's feed and explain how it became infected.

Flu Pandemic Could Kill Half Million in U.S. -- (CNN -- June 24, 2005)
Health experts say the world is overdue for another pandemic and fear the avian flu in Asia may be it. Avian flu has not yet acquired the ability to pass easily from person to person, but would spread rapidly if it does, experts say. Half a million Americans could die and more than 2 million could end up in the hospital with serious complications if an even moderately severe strain of a pandemic flu hits.


'Flying Eyeball' to Inspect Spacecraft
HP Ships Biometric Laptop
'Teleporting' over the Internet
Quantum computer springs a leak
Viruses, Security Issues Undermine Internet
Mobile Phones Designed to Offer Nutritional Info

'Flying Eyeball' to Inspect Spacecraft -- (New Scientist -- June 21, 2005)
The Miniature Autonomous Extravehicular Robotic Camera has now completed a docking test at NASA s Johnson Space Center and could be ready for its first space mission as early as 2006 or 2007. Ground controllers could fly the 19-centimetre-diameter Mini AERCam, astronauts could control it from inside the spacecraft, or the craft could scan a vehicle autonomously.

HP Ships Biometric Laptop -- (CNN -- June 23, 2005)
Hewlett-Packard Co. ships new laptops with biometric fingerprint readers as standard equipment. The nx6125 notebook PC, aimed at the business market, sells for $1,000 and up and includes a fingerprint sensor as a more secure and convenient alternative to passwords, which are often forgotten or stolen.

'Teleporting' over the Internet -- (BBC -- June 17, 2005)
Computer scientists in the US are developing a system which would allow people to "teleport" a solid 3D recreation of themselves over the internet. The idea is to recreate a physical object in front of you - it's not just a picture or hologram or something like that. Eventually, the objects are envisioned as being built up from "nano-dust" - tiny objects that can be programmed to bind to each other and move.

Quantum computer springs a leak -- (New Scientist -- June 26, 2005)
Attempts to build quantum computers could run up against a fundamental limit on how long useful information can persist inside them. Exceeding the limit causes information to leak away, making computation impossible. Physicists have proved that there is a universal decoherence rate for qubits. This means that quantum information will inevitably be lost after a certain time, even without any external disturbance, posing significant obstacles for engineering quantum computers.

Viruses, Security Issues Undermine Internet -- (Washington Post -- June 26, 2005)
Hackers, viruses, worms, spam, spyware and phishing sites have proliferated to the point where it's nearly impossible for most computer users to go online without falling victim to them. Some technologists have said the Internet or parts of it are so far gone that it should be rebuilt from scratch, and over the past decade there have been several attempts to do so. Internet2, a consortium of mostly academic institutions that has built a screaming-fast network separate from the public Internet, is testing a technology that allows users to identify themselves as belonging to some sort of group.

Mobile Phones Designed to Offer Nutritional Info -- (NOVIS -- June 23, 2005)
Mobile phones with cameras transformed into barcode readers could give consumers better nutritional information than found on labels. Consumers can also use an exercise calculator to check how long they should exercise in order to burn off consumed food, calculate their body mass index, and if developed commercially, could access databases such as the GS system used by manufacturers and retailers in Finland or Udex in the UK.


Power Generating Microbes
Clearing Smoke May Trigger Global Warming Rise
Insurers Sound the Alarm on Climate Change
Slowing Currents Could Cause Catastrophe
How Much Excess Fresh Water Was Added to the North Atlantic in Recent Decades?
Space Ring Could Shade Earth and Stop Global Warming
Desert dunes set to roam

Power Generating Microbes -- (WorldChanging.com -- June 8, 2005)
Microbiologists report finding a species of bacteria able to both remediate some pretty nasty industrial chemicals and produce usable amounts of electricity while doing so. The technology could be used to assist in the reclamation of wastewaters, resulting in the removal of waste and generation of electricity.

Clearing Smoke May Trigger Global Warming Rise -- (New Scientist -- June 29, 2005)
Three top climate researchers claim that the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere should have warmed the world more than they have. The reason they have not, they say, is that the warming is being masked by sun-blocking smoke, dust and other polluting particles put into the air by human activity. Their best guess is that, as the mask is removed due to controls on pollution, temperatures will warm by at least 6 C by 2100.

Insurers Sound the Alarm on Climate Change -- (Financial Times -- June 28, 2005)
Global climate changes are expected to influence financial markets and leaders are taking these risks into account when making decisions on insurance underwriting, investments, or credit. The cost worldwide of storms, expected to become more frequent owing to climate change, is likely to rise by two-thirds to 15bn ($27bn, 22bn) a year in the next seven decades according to the Association of British Insurers. Some of the costs, however, could be avoided by taking preventative measures including Improved coastal defenses to reduce global annual damage.

Slowing Currents Could Cause Catastrophe -- (Stuff -- June 1, 2005)
Scientists have detected evidence of a slowdown in ocean currents that control climate across the globe, supporting earlier research on the threats of global warming. Without these currents, parts of the globe are expected to alter dramatically. The climate in Europe would cool significantly, while New Zealand would be warmer and more susceptible to exotic diseases, scientists suggest.

How Much Excess Fresh Water Was Added to the North Atlantic in Recent Decades? -- (Science Daily -- June 19, 2005)
Large regions of the North Atlantic Ocean have been growing fresher since the late 1960s as melting glaciers and increased precipitation, both associated with greenhouse warming, have enhanced continental runoff into the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas. But, until now, the actual amounts and rates of fresh water accumulation have not been explicitly known. A new report shows patterns of fresh water accumulation over the past four decades suggesting a freshening threshold, important to the ocean circulation and its poleward transport of heat, could be reached in a century.

Space Ring Could Shade Earth and Stop Global Warming -- (Live Science -- June 27, 2005)
A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes. The ring of particles or spacecraft casting a shadow on equatorial Earth might be kept in place by gravitationally significant shepherding spacecraft. They would herd the particles much like small moons keep Saturns rings in place.

Desert dunes set to roam -- (Nature -- June 29, 2005)
Sand dunes in the Kalahari Desert in Africa, which have been immobile for thousands of years, will soon start to move again, researchers warn. The wandering dunes may affect hundred of thousands of people in southern Africa. Scientists' simulations revealed a significant increase in dune activity in the southern Kalahari by 2039. By 2099, sand dunes throughout South Africa, Angola and Zambia will be on the move, they predict; such a phenomenon has not occurred in the past 14,000 to 16,000 years.


'Biosensor' Screens Air Force Personnel and Equipment
Bioterror Paper gets Online

'Biosensor' Screens Air Force Personnel and Equipment -- (DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory -- June 17, 2005)
Wash Air Force personnel will soon know within minutes if they or their equipment are contaminated with a biological agent, thanks to a new technology developed by the Air Force and a national laboratory. The device is compact, quickly identifies agents, can be used repeatedly and requires very little maintenance to keep it running in the field.

Bioterror Paper gets Online -- (Nature -- June 29, 2005)
A paper that analyses a hypothetical poison attack on the United States has been published despite the government's objections. The paper's authors modeled the health and economic losses that would result if a terrorist poisoned the US milk supply with the botulinum toxin. The episode raises thorny issues about the proper handling of 'dual use' scientific research, that aims to bolster defense but that could be used maliciously.


Robot Guards to Patrol Shops and Offices
Machines Mimic Life at Chicago's 'NextFest'

Robot Guards to Patrol Shops and Offices -- (Reuters -- June 23, 2005)
Robots could soon begin patrolling Japanese offices, shopping malls and banks to keep them safe from intruders. Equipped with a camera and sensors, the "Guardrobo D1," developed by Japanese security firm Sohgo Security Services Co., is designed to patrol along pre-programed paths and keep an eye out for signs of trouble.

Machines Mimic Life at Chicago's 'NextFest' -- (Reuters -- June 25, 2005)
At Wired Magazine's annual "NextFest," the high-tech carnival at a Chicago convention hall, a robot lobster and an android that not only smiles, frowns and blinks but also recognizes people and talks back were up for viewing. Also on display were a combination submersible jet-ski, a virtual air hockey game, and corporate entries such as General Motors' hydrogen-powered vehicles and General Electric's technologies to generate energy and make drinking water out of sea water.


Biggest Nuclear Fusion Project Goes to France
To Replace Oil, U.S. Experts See Amber Waves of Plastic
Biofuel Increasingly Competitive if Oil Surge Lasts

Biggest Nuclear Fusion Project Goes to France -- (New Scientist -- June 28, 2005)
France is to host the world's biggest nuclear fusion reactor, a $12 billion project designed to harness the power of the Sun. The project presents an immense technological challenge, since fusing atoms will require a plasma heated to 100 million degrees to be contained in an intense magnetic field. The challenge is to do this while ensuring that more energy is produced than consumed.

To Replace Oil, U.S. Experts See Amber Waves of Plastic -- (LA Times -- June 26, 2005)
Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc.'s assembly lines turn raw corn kernels first into sugary syrup and then into white pellets that can be spun into silky fabric or molded into clear, tough plastic. Aiming to lead a new industrial revolution, Cargill produces T-shirts, forks and coffins that look, feel and perform like traditional polyester and plastic made from a petroleum base. In addition, the manufacturing process consumes 50% less fossil fuel, even after accounting for the fuel needed to plant and harvest the corn.

Biofuel Increasingly Competitive if Oil Surge Lasts -- (Reuters -- June 21, 2005)
Biofuels would be increasingly competitive if crude oil prices, which are back near all-time highs, were to go beyond $60 a barrel, officials at the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday. U.S. crude oil futures hit another all-time record recently at $59.52 a barrel as worries over fuel demand festered amid limited U.S. refinery capacity.


"Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him." --Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969)

A special thanks to Philip Bogdonoff, Bernard Calil, Humera Khan, Deanna Korda, KurzweilAI, Sher Patterson-Black, Diane Petersen, John C. Petersen, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell, and Thomas Valone, our contributors to this issue. If you see something we should know about, do send it along - thanks. johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org