Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Emerging Biomedicine Technologies

A Machine That Speeds Up Evolution
by Emily Singer
A genome-wide approach to genetic engineering greatly speeds the manufacture of bacteria for making drugs and biofuels.
Read More »

Ganging Up on HIV
by Lauren Gravitz
A diverse group of antibodies may work together to neutralize the virus, suggesting a new approach to vaccination.
Read More »

Tissues that Build Themselves
by Jocelyn Rice
Specially engineered cells arrange themselves into three-dimensional microtissues.
Read More »


Making Paper Diagnostic Tests
by Kristina Grifantini

The paper diagnostic chips are made in a few steps, shown here by graduate student Andres Martinez, a member of the Whitesides Research Group.
Read More »

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Wal-Mart to Sell Electronic Health Record Systems by Emily Singer

A Plan to Create Life but Not as We Know It by Emily Singer

Green Metropolis In The 21st Century

Energy surplus:
Masdar headquarters’s structural cones, which support a roof laden with solar panels, will provide light and ventilation. The pond helps cool the air.
Credit: ©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Shady lane:
Solar panels on the roofs provide sun protection in public spaces between buildings.
Credit: ©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture


A US$15 billion investment for a green metropolis right in the outskirts of mega oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
Target date, year 2016. The plan : to "reinvent" Abu Dhabi as the Silicon Valley of alternative energy: a source of talent, patents, and startups in the very industry that could one day challenge the supremacy of oil.

The dream: to create the world's first car-free, zero-carbon-dioxide-emissions, zero-waste city.

Overheard : "A solar test field in Masdar City will help determine what zero-emissions technologies will work best in the heat and dust of the desert."

For the experts: "It is by far the largest zero-emissions and zero-waste project in the world."
And the cynics' question: should the whole world care?

Energy surplus:
Masdar headquarters, shown in an architectural rendering, is designed to generate more renewable electricity than it consumes;
it would be the first large-scale, multi-use building to do so.
Credit: ©Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Article: A Zero-Emissions City in the Desert

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Age of the Web Micro-Celebrity

Forbes Magazine's David Ewalt couldn't have said it any better : "This is the age of microcelebrity--with just a keyboard or a digital camera, almost anyone can find an audience online."

You may be a digital netizen stay-at-home mom, a geeky cyberfanatic, an Internet-savvy pre-pubescent teen, an undergraduate blogger seemingly "forever glued" on the Net, a penniless bum, or even a humongous basketball superstar hugging the limelight in the NBA hardcourt, yet Twittering away with every hook shot and fouling twists and turns -- just like Shaquille O'Neil.

Needless to say, it's for everyone who knows how to blog, blabber, and even "micro-blog".

Avante-garde artist Andy Warhol's concept on each and every Tom, Dick and Harry's "fifteen minutes of fame" may be talking about the web micro-celeb ... But , hey, it's not just fifteen minutes. We're talking about 24-hour worldwide exposure for the micro-celebs. And in the age of nanotechnology, shall we say "nano-celebrities"?

Our annual ranking of the Internet's most famous.

Ten Internet personalities slipped off our ranking of online stars.

These stars just missed the cut to make the Web Celeb 25.

These famous faces shine bright on the Net--even though they don't really exist.

The gossip blogger wants to build a media empire.

Blogs have transformed fashion photography--witness the spectacular rise of Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist.

Gary Vaynerchuk, the host of Wine Library TV, has made it huge on the Internet--but that is only the beginning.

These micro-bloggers are taking over the Web, 140 characters at a time.

Future Vision: Bionic Eye Technology


Last year , the University of North South Wales’ (UNSW) Australian Vision Prosthesis Group (AVPG) led by Professor Nigel Lovell said that a working bionic eye could be an Australian world-first by year 2020, “ if action is taken quickly.”

Lovell said that the bionic functional device can be a reality within 12 years with a concerted national effort, but “we need to act now if we want to take advantage of our technical edge. There are already some overseas trials of rudimentary bionic eye devices but we have certain designs which are more advanced.”

Lovell is absolutely right.

A US-based company named Second Sight may have pulled a fast one on them , having developed Argus II -- a bionic eye project , which has been fitted to 18 patients worldwide, including three at London's Moorfields Hospital.

Among those three patients is septuagenarian Ron, a 73-year-old patient who was made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that cause degeneration of the retina, is now a cyborg -- having been implanted with the said bionic eye.

The result: Ron can now follow white lines along the road, and even sort socks.

"For 30 years I've seen absolutely nothing at all, it's all been black, but now light is coming through. Suddenly to be able to see light again is truly wonderful... I can actually sort out white socks, grey socks and black socks. My one ambition at the moment is to be able to go out on a nice, clear evening and be able to pick up the moon," Ron reveals.

His wife Tracy is even more ecstatic. " He can do a lot more now than he could before, doing the washing, being able to tell white from a coloured item.

"I've taught him how to use the washing machine and away he goes. It's just the ironing next."

The experts explain how it works: “(The technology) uses a camera and video processor mounted on sunglasses to send captured images wirelessly to a tiny receiver on the outside of the eye.”

“In turn, the receiver passes on the data via a tiny cable to an array of electrodes which sit on the retina - the layer of specialised cells that normally respond to light found at the back of the eye. “

“When these electrodes are stimulated they send messages along the optic nerve to the brain, which is able to perceive patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to which electrodes have been stimulated. The hope is that patients will learn to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images. “


Meantime, the experts say that the technology is in its “early days”, with more than two years of the trials left to run, and continued testing “will be crucial in determining the success of the new technology.”

Consultant retinal surgeon Lyndon dela Cruz, who carried out Ron's operation, said the patients were starting to get “meaningful visual stimuli from the technology”, with the implants stable and functioning for the last six months. He described the trials as “inspiring … presenting a very real and tangible step forward in treating patients with total vision loss.”

Second Sight’s Gregoire Cosendai is optimistic about the progress of the new technology: "We are not there yet, but what we are trying to see is how best they can use it in their normal life."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our 21st Century Future: Alternative Energy


Some US$22 trillion new global energy investments are needed in all stages of the energy supply chain to power the global community for the next two decades until year 2030.

International analysts observe: the global energy demand is projected to shoot up by 55 percent, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) most recent World Energy Outlook.

And more of IEA’s facts: that some $118.9 million appropriation is allocated for the US Department of Energy’s carbon sequestration program, with a pending budget request of $149 million carbon capture and storage (CCS) , a technology that is indispensable in dealing with concerns about energy and climate.

The US government committed to the goal of stopping the growth of carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases by year 2025, and thereafter, to reverse it : an objective which further underscored its 2002 commitment to reduce the carbon intensity of the US economy by 18 percent by 2012.

All these efforts lead to the US Energy Departments’ positive pronouncements, amidst the worldwide economic crisis:

“Robust investments in advanced technologies and global cooperation to advance alternative energy sources benefits the international community by enabling developing nations to “leap-frog” over some of the prevalent and dirtiest fossil-fuel-based technologies to a diversity of cleaner energy options to power economic growth.”

This year, top government officials worldwide, heads of global organizations, leading environmentalists and the largest international investors meet to discuss, debate and plan the future worldwide alternative energy in a myriad of summit events in different parts of the globe.


The 2009 Asia-Pacific Clean Energy Summit & Expo will be held on Aug 31-Sept 2, 2009 (www.asiapacificcleanenergy.com) in Honolulu, Hawaii; Missouri’s Energy Summit (www.missourisummits.com) is set April 22-23, 2009.

And there’s more: Wall Street Green Trading Summit VIII
happens in New York City ; Wind Energy Operations & Maintenance Summit in Dallas, Texas; European Renewable Energy in Berlin, Germany ; Biogas 101 for Electricity and Heat in Minneapolis ; 5-th EE & RES Congress and Exhibition in Bulgaria ; PV KOREA 2009 in Korea ; Shanghai International Wind Energy Exhibition & Conference 2009 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center ; International Green Energy EXPO Korea 2009 ; The 6th China International Solar PV Exhibition ; RENEXPOR Central Europe 2009 in Budapest ; EE Global Paris Expo 2009 in France; 2nd Concentrated Photovoltaics Summit in Toledo, Spain ; WINDPOWER 2009 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago ; THIN FILM SOLAR SUMMIT in Berlin ; GIL 2009: Europe in London ; All Energy 09 Exhibition & Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland ; ESTEC 2009 and The Solar Future in Munich, Germany ; Clean Energy Expo Asia in Singapore ; 3rd International Conference Solar Air-Conditioning in Palermo, Italy ; Renewable Energy World Asia in Bangkok, Thailand; POWER Bangladesh 2009 in Bangladesh ; Solar Power International in Anaheim, California.

The list is endless.

The summits come on strong as catalysts to change, international and regional enablers , active platforms for senior policy decision makers and global leaders in initiating and accomplishing worldwide reforms on alternative energy, big investments and high-level business deals, and global projects on sustainable energy systems.

Unlimited and vast financial investment opportunities , frontrunning international efforts to expand the global market for sustainable and renewable energy, everything up for grabs in these auspicious gatherings.

Summit delegates look forward to developing local energy sources , focusing on their quest for energy security, intensifying their engagement with governments and development financial institutions to encourage business and finance models and increase the chances of investments in sustainable energy infrastructure, offering additional possibilities for global exchange within the renewable and energy efficiency sectors.

Further, the call is on for both industrial and scientific communities and also the public forces to join the efforts to surmount the still existing or new arising barriers and obstacles in the quest for alternative energy sources , and to meet the challenges for achieving a fast breakthrough to market applications .

The worldwide alternative energy summits offer a platform among the best global industry experts, influential leaders and the biggest decision makers in the international business community as they map out action plans, objectives and goals to confront the challenging demands for for sustainable and global energy, discover technological advancements and possibilities about the entire spectrum of alternative energy and energy efficiency technologies, and what is in store for the global market as it thrusts forward in the exciting and progressive 21st century.

Meantime, University of Western Sydney's solar energy banner says it all, giving us some valuable food for thought for our 21st century future.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fly Me To Timbuktu Via The Sky Car

Skycar in the air

Photo by Skycar Expedition

It's not your TV set, folks. Look again.

When British adventurer and pilot Neil Laughton hit the frontpage news last January as he demurely smiled, posing on his Parajet Skycar in London before he kicked off his 3,600-mile journey last January 14th from London to Timbuktu, not a few raised their eyebrows, smirked and let out hearty guffaws.

Yet, Laughton and engineer Gilo Cardozo, the brains behind the Parajet Skycar who joins him all the way to Timbuktu and back, didn't budge amidst all the snickers. The creators call it the “world’s first bio-fueled flying car” -- essentially a dune buggy with paragliding wings and fan motor.

Late last year, Newlaunches.com took notice of what is hyped as “Britains zero-carbon flying dune buggy”:

“They say that the Parajet Skycar will be the world's first carbon neutral flying car. But what piques my interest is that a Skycar Expedition team plans to fly/drive/whatever the vehicle from London to Timbuktu in 2009. Using a combination of flight and driving to combat the Saharan terrain will cover the 3000 miles journey. A cross between a dune buggy and a paraglide, the Parajet Skycar is a unique vehicle. "

Simply put, observers call it an ethanol-powered road-legal flying car with a range of 180-miles.

While the Skycar Expedition Team takes pride of the novelty vehicle calling it a “ high performance, road legal and machine, capable of beating congestion for the commuter or providing a low cost method of reaching remote regions only accessible by helicopter,” the Laughton-and-Cardozo trip itinerary is something for the books.

Check it out: combining driving and flying, the duo zoomed off piloting the Skycar over the English Channel, the Straights of Gibraltar, and the sand seas of the Sahara desert -- braving the 3,600 mile journey of sun, sand, wind and rain , harrumphing from London to Timbuktu and back. They crossed through France, Spain, Morocco, the Western Sahara, Mauritania, and Mali, and returned home via Senegal.

Balleride.com explains the Parajet skycar “joy ride” :

“One pilot and one passenger will travel side by side and in “road mode,” and the car will accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and top out at 112mph. In “fly mode” the Parajet Skycar will have a take-off at approximately 37mph, hit a top speed of 68mph, and travel a range of 186 miles. Cruising altitude will be 2000–3000 ft with a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft. For safety purposes, in the event of a car connection system failure or mid-air collision, an emergency ballistic reserve parachute could be deployed. Otherwise, the Skycar has no pitch control and therefore it’s impossible to stall or dive.”

And all that the duo did , seasoned veterans of past flying expeditions to the Himalayas, Alps, and Venezuela, was to "wing it", so to speak.

The whole gamut of media mileage and news coverage were in the works when the Skycar Expedition happened, with a team of overland adventurers using an assortment of all-terrain vehicles carrying fuel and supplies following the skycar, with a camera crew recording the team's adventures for its televised documentary about the sky car and its inaugural voyage.

Analysts confirm that the Parajet Skycar prototype has an estimated cost of approximately $70,000 to produce, expected to hit the retailers’ market this March.

And best part of it all? All you need is a one-day course and a powered-parachute license to fly the Skycar.

Says Gilo Cardozo: "I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, "Why not just have a car that does everything?"

The future of travel? Up, up and away!

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