Next Big Future Highlights from the First 6 Weeks of 2009

Quantum Computers, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Supercomputers
1. 128 qubit quantum computer chips are built and cooled to milliKelvins. If they prove out they should be scaled to 2000 qubits this year. Scaling up means filling up the semiconductor die using the same modular design that they already have. Commercial customers are starting to use them now.

Dwave Systems 128 qubit chip

2. IBM is scheduled to build a 20 petaflop supercomputer by 2012.

3. City scale robotic car systems in near Abu Dhabi and in massive warehouses.

4. There is a synapse brain project funded by DARPA and IBM. Try to make a human cortex simulation with 220 trillion synapse connections. This would be 400 times bigger than an existing rat cortex simulation.

5. Adaptive AI (artificial intelligence) is being commercially rolled out for robotic call centers now.

6. Achieving Matrix-like instant skills; the cheat codes to life’s tasks.

7. Single atom room temperature quantum dots

8. Cheap, wireless 15 Gigabit per second communication is coming

Nuclear Fusion, Advanced nuclear fission and other Energy Related

IEC (Inertial electrostatic) nuclear fusion is still chugging along with good experimental results. They are funded through 2009 by the US Navy. The current work is to ensure no gotchas to prevent scaling this up to net power generation. It looks like it could lead to a fantastic new power source.

10. Focus fusion got $1.2 million of funding.

11. General fusion (steam punk / magnetized target nuclear fusion) almost has a second round of funding for $10 million.

More General Fusion pictures and videos.

12. Progress to China’s Modular factory mass produced melt-down proof nuclear reactors that they will be building in bunches (eight packs).

13. Micro gap thermophotovoltaics get get to 50% efficiency converting heat and theoretically up to 85%.

14. Interesting simple tech from MIT. Power harvesting shock absorber could increase hybrid car fuel mileage by 10%.

15. DARPA also funding Cyclone engine, which will enable self-fueling robots.

16. Game changing oil recovery processes are being proven at tens of thousands of barrels per day.

17. Jovion corp, Zero Point Energy, Casimir Force Manipulation, Blacklight Power
A long shot possibility for getting zero point energy. The patent and theory could explain cold fusion and Blacklight power.

18. It is related to advancing capabilities in manipulating the Casimir force.

19. Blacklight Power signed a second commercial deal.

Graphene and Nanotechnology
20. Hydrophobic sand is helping to make greening the deserts easier and cheaper. 75% more efficient irrigation.

21. Graphene is a great conductor of electricity is easily turned into an insulator

22. Graphene for ultracapacitors

23. Stanford is able to write 35 bits onto one electron.

24. Fracture putty is being developed to regenerate broken bones.

25. Carbon nanotube breakthrough – five times as strong as Kevlar

26. Electromagnetic launch of planes and UAVs for the next aircraft carrier (2014) and lasers and railguns for added weapons.

27. 49,000 horsepower Superconducting motors are being field tested by the Navy.

28. Progress to practical invisibility is happening fast. This same technology has also enabled optical microscopes that can see to 10-20 nanometers of resolution, which is 10 to 20 times better than the diffraction limit that was previously believed to be the limit of optical microscopes.

29. A galactic civilization that captured the solar power of all stars in a galaxy and used it for reversible computing would have 10**50 human brain equivalents.

30. The UK is making progress to a single stage to orbit space plane.

Risk Related
31. A ship-load of fertilizer is as powerful as an atomic bomb. The science of nuclear war and detailed analysis of all out nuclear war.