Technologies, developments and projects to watch for 2008

1. Dwave systems’ adiabatic quantum computers could reach 512 to 1000 qubits and performance superior to classical computers in 2008 Successful development of quantum computers would accelerate the development of molecular nanotechnology with superior molecular simulation and modeling.

CTO Geordie Rose revealing his 16 qubit machine in Feb, 2007. A 28 qubit machine was revealed Nov, 2007. There is controversy over the proof that the computers are using quantumness.

2. The proposed WB-7 and WB-8 fusion energy prototype devices will be constructed and tested during 2008. If the prototypes are successful then it would provide substantial evidence for the likely success of a full scale nuclear fusion device that could generate net power by 2013. This would transform the energy situation and access to space and civilization in general.

3. Memjet printers are expected in the second half of 2008 and would transform the price and performance of inkjet printers. The 2008 versions of the memjet printers are expected to be 60 page per minute. Memjet’s plan is to develop a 120-KHz cycle head in two to three years, increasing the print speed sixfold to 180 pages per minute at photo quality, 360 pages per minute at normal color quality, and 720 pages per minute in draft mode.

4. Nvidia Tesla multi-teraflop GPGPU’s and AMDs GPGPU will transform the performance of personal supercomputers.

5. Significant new electric vehicles and hybrid cars will be released in 2008. They will be continuing an accelerating but long term shift away from oil powered cars.

The Aptera could get up to 300mpg and will be available Oct, 2008.

6. Flash solid state drives will make continued progress versus hard drives which will enable more powerful energy efficient devices.

7. 2008 a year of significant improvements in communication speed.

150 mbps cable modems are expected to be on trial in 2008. 20 percent of Comcasts footprint is expected to be blanketed in ultrahigh bandwidth goodness by the end of 2008. 2008 may still be the year when Wimax reaches critical mass The Wimax IEEE 802.16 standard is theoretically capable of transmitting data up to 70 Mbps as far as 37 miles. Nokia should have 2+mbps wimax mobile phones.

8. Mach 10 hypersonic test aircraft should be flying in 2008.

Two Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicles, built by Lockheed Martin with input from NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), will take to the air in 2008.

9. The reprap fabricator should announce a self-replicating version in 2008

10. 2008 might be a breakthrough year for low cost DNA sequencing and synthesis.

George Church has officially entered the DNA sequencing x-prize race.

$10 million prize will go to the first group that can sequence 100 genomes (to at least 98 percent coverage and with less than one error per 100,000 bases) in 10 days, for under $10,000 per genome.

Some other non-technological things to watch:
The Taiwan Presidential election. If Ma is elected President then there will likely be normalizing of relations between Taiwan and China and the threat of any war over Taiwan will be gone. A problematic scenario is if the current corrupt President Chen Shui-bian (who has been embezzling a lot of money) were to cause trouble and if his successor were to win, then there could be a lot of unnecessary trouble between China and Taiwan.

7 thoughts on “Technologies, developments and projects to watch for 2008”

  1. So IF beam quality can be maintained and IF focusing and targeting issues can be handled plus all the other engineering(perhaps molecular nanotechnology or metamaterials could be useful in maintaining the beam in each reflection.)

    NOTE: the deceleration using lasers would not be helped by the multi-bounce. So deceleration would need to be using magnetic sails.

    then the big missions that Robert Forward had proposed were:

    Major components of the systems include circular thin-Al- film sails (optimum thickness about 16 nm for 650-nm radiation),
    powerful solar-driven CW-laser arrays with a 1000-km diameter in
    earth or solar orbit, and 1000-km-diameter Fresnel zone lenses to focus the laser beam.

    A fly-by mission to Alpha Centauri (with a 65-GW laser system, a 3.6-km-diameter sail, a maximum speed of 0.11 c, and a travel time of about 40 yr)

    a one-way rendezvous mission to Alpha Cen (7.2 TW, 100 km, 0.21 c, 36 yr; deceleration phase 26 TW, 30 km, 5 yr* not helped with multi-bounce), and

    -a manned return mission to Epsilon Eridani (43 PW, 1000 km, 0.5 c, 51 yr earth time or 46 yr crew-aging time, including 5 yr for exploration)

    1,000 Reflections drops the laser power requirements to
    65MW instead of 65GW (0.11c)
    7.2GW instead of 7.2 TW (0.21c)
    43TW instead of 43PW (0.5c)

    10,000 reflections laser requirements
    6.5MW instead of 65GW (0.11c)
    720MW instead of 7.2 TW (0.21c)
    4.3 TW instead of 43PW (0.5c)

    100,000 reflections laser requirements
    650KW instead of 65GW (0.11c)
    72MW instead of 7.2TW (0.21c)
    430GW instead of 43PW (0.5c)

    The systems are still beyond us but the issues seem less daunting than matter/anti-matter drives or the other approaches.

    Plus the near term fast trips to Mars and the 0.11c probes look doable (with say 10 years of hard work and a few billion) even with only 1000 effective reflections.

    Use magnetically inflated cables to deploy the 1 kilometer diameter (or larger) sail to go to Mars. The sail could be folded to fit into a large current rocket.

    All the pieces of the system would then be difficult but not insane.
    has some more on 2000 reflections being doable for the Mars launch for a 96 day trip.

  2. What do you think is a conservative expectation of performance with maintained beam quality ?

    Is it a lower number of bounces with the highly reflexive materials.
    1000 reflections instead of 20,000-100,000 from the best dielectrics ?
    A high number of reflections but more leakage?
    Unfocused beams in the later reflections, that then start missing the mirrors.

    Boosting 1000 times would still be big as it could still bring massive performance boost.

    If it could be used for ground launch systems, then we would just need to use wavelengths that were not absorbed by the atmosphere. Then the array of laser modules could start launching at least small payloads cheaply. There is the issue of designing the mirrors and the launch vehicle.

  3. Depends on how technologically optimistic you want to be– I’m a little dubious about keeping beam quality up, and of course for a large number of reflections even a small deviation from perfect reflectivity destroys the concept. Robert Metzger, on the other hand, is a bit more of a technological optimist, and thinks it’s reasonable, and he’s a really smart guy.

    I don’t know if you’ve seen this one:

    Source: University of California – Berkeley
    Date: February 25, 2007
    Researchers Create New Super-thin Laser Mirror

    But it might be a reasonable approach.

  4. So do you think this 20,000 to 100,000 bounce system would work?
    And could we use the modular array of 10Kw lasers in place of the more powerful lasers which we do not have yet.

    Do you think the more powerful lasers would work? I was not sure since I did not think they were continuously emitting. I guess it depends on the mission profile and how long the laser needs to be firing.

  5. Cool.

    Robert Metzger and I did an analysis of using reflections to amplify the thrust from a laser-pushed lightsail a while back, it’s presented here:

    R. A. Metzger and G. Landis, “Multi-Bounce Laser-Based Sails,” presented at the STAIF Conference on Space Exploration Technology, Albuquerque NM, Feb. 11-15, 2001. AIP Conference Proceedings Volume 552, 397.

    (The article was sort of a compromise between Metzger’s technology optimism and my technological pessimism about the concept)


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