This is the fifth set of highlights for Next Big Future for 2009.
The four highlights are update articles to the leading possibilities for breakthroughs with nuclear fusion.
2. IEC bussard fusion has received $8 million in funding which should be enough to fund all the work over the next two years. It is expected from a statement in an interview on this site by Dr. Nebel who is leading the IEC fusion project work that the work over the next two years should be sufficient to determine if IEC fusion is viable for transforming commercial energy production or not.
5. General fusion will leverage computer technology for controlling the pistons and systems that they will be using to try to generate commercial nuclear fusion.
Propulsion Based on Exploiting Mach’s Effect
6. The first nextbigfuture article on mach’s effect propulsion which has an interview with Paul March
8. Mach Effect investigation could be a path to the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics. Here is links to abot 20 hours of Stanford lectures on General relativity and another 20 on quantum mechanics plus a short video from one of the investigators of mach’s effect for potentially revolutionary propulsion. It is useful to understand the details of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics to be able to judge the quality of an attempt at unification and the possible impact of unification of those two areas.
If Mach’s effect can be used for propulsion as envisioned then what has been envisioned in terms of space travel in capabilities in Star Trek and even possibly wormholes for Faster than light travel and communication becomes possible. The work is based on solid General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and understanding of inertia and the experiments are being carefully conducted. Success development would be a candidate for one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity.
According to Paul March from a Talk Polywell comment: Dr. Cramer’s retrocausal experiment should be completed by the end of this year (2009). And if verified it would buttress Dr. Woodward’s M-E (Mach Effect) arguments and provide a path to finally merging GRT (General relativity) with QM (Quantum Mechanics).
10. Here is an article with a collection of videos where the nobel prize winning genius (and legendary science educator) Richard Feynmann explains various topics in physics. Having a better understanding of physics allows one to understand how the Mach Effect and other candidates for creating effective and powerful space propulsion could work and could be possible.
11. The series of videos from the University of Stanford on General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and the collection of videos from Richard Feynmann are an example of importance fully leveraging the internet to transform education to make education lower cost and more effective.
Materials and Construction Breakthroughs
12. MIT has found the molecular DNA of concrete. Concrete is the most common building material that humanity uses. It will be huge to be able to tune the properties of concrete in a scientific way with accurate computer models instead of using trial and error.
25. ACS Nano reports that a step toward high throughput continuous nanoimprinting has been made. Nanoimprinting could eventually achieve 2 nanometer features. Currently this higher volume method is at about 50-300 nanometer features. Roll to roll printing of newspapers is at 25 meters per second and is about 1 meter wide. This would be up to 10,000 times faster than printing 100 wafers per hour using advanced lithography and one line of semiconductor fabrication equipment.
26. A research team engineered surface-modified nanodiamond particles that successfully and efficiently delivered DNA into mammalian cells. The delivery efficiency was 70 times greater than that of a conventional standard for gene delivery
If DNA-tagged molecular shapes (whether made of DNA with Rothemund staples, or Schafmeister polymers, or whatever) were allowed to self-assemble to a DNA framework, and then zinc or light (or whatever reagent) were added, then the shapes could bond quite strongly into a single large strong precise molecule. The molecule could be highly crosslinked, and thus stronger and stiffer than most protein, and certainly stronger and stiffer than just plain DNA. How big could the molecule be? Well, let’s not forget IBM’s recent announcement of plans to template entire computer chips with surface-attached DNA. That implies that the molecule – a single, engineered molecule – could be centimeter-scale!
* From MIT, a new technique for growing carbon nanotubes should be easier to integrate with existing semiconductor manufacturing processes.
* Researchers at Cornell University have made a photovoltaic cell out of a single carbon nanotube that can take advantage of more of the energy in light than conventional photovoltaics. Carbon nanotube photovoltaics can wring twice the charge from light.
* An international team studying the effects of friction on carbon nanotubes claims that friction can be cut in half when carbon nanotubes are aligned lengthwise rather than transversely.
30. CNANO technology has EPA approval for its carbon nanotube factory. The approval results from the Pre-Manufacturing Notice (PMN) filed by CNano for the MWNTs produced at its 500 tons per year facility in Beijing, China.
Technology Mixed Bag
Transhuman and super-medicine
35. The results of a major study on the ethics of human enhancement
39. Many products and services are cheap and plentiful such as inexpensive but good enough video cameras. Cheap, plentiful and good enough can evolve into true abundance a few products and services at a time.
1968 rice Yields: Tall conventional rice plant used before 1968 grew in 140-180 days and yielded between 0.6 and 1.4 tons per acre.
1997 Rice Yields: Privatization and dwarf rice have enabled China to raise rice yields rapidly to about 1.6 tons per acre — close to the world’s best figure of two tons
2008 Modern rice grows in 110-140 days, produces 100 seeds per panicle, and yields between 2.4 and 4.0 tons per acre.
By the year 2020 it is believed the world’s rice crop will increase by an additional 60 percent.
42. An ambitiuos project to re-engineer photosynthesis in rice, led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). this should enable rice plants that can produce 50% more grain using less, fertilizer and less water.
Life Extension, Stem Cells, Anti-aging and Synthetic life
49. Aubrey de Grey on why the Methusalirity (reaching the point where life is extended more than one year for every year that passes) will have a more profound impact on humanity than a Technological Singularity (where machines surpass human intelligence).