Vertigo Inducing Surreal Cliff Concept House in Australia

[intro]After a couple asked for a concept home to be designed along “extreme parcels” of coastline in Victoria Australia Modscape got to work…[/intro]

bond villain house

Australian modular architects and home designers Modscape have devised a futuristic looking concept home which is designed to resemble a barnacle attached to a ship’s hull, that seemingly defies physics by being suspended off the side of a cliff in Australia. With a certain Bond villain look, the home hangs rather precariously with the ocean beckoning below. It pushes their use of modular home design concepts and technologies to new levels by anchoring itself to the side of a cliff by way of engineered steel pins and was built in a modular fashion level by level.

The cliff concept home has three bedrooms, a living area, kitchen, and gigantic floor-to-ceiling windows that display breathtaking (or vertigo-inducing) views of the horizon and ocean beneath. There were obvious design challenges such as how to hang the house off the side of the cliff, but also how to transport the owner through the home’s five levels. The upper level houses the entrance and carport and the owner is then transported through all five levels by way of a elevator with the lower level dedicated to a fully outdoor BBQ and spa.

inside cliff home

cliff home


Songdo City – Why its the Smartest City in the World

[intro]Some have dubbed it as “The World’s Smartest City”, while others call it “The City of the Future” and “Korea’s High-Tech Utopia”. It has also been called “A City in the Box” because of its massive reliance on technology. Built on a reclaimed sea-land, Songdo International Business District has been dubbed as the world’s smartest and greenest city, with tall and beautifully designed buildings planned around a 100-acre central park and about 40% of the total space accounting for green spaces around the city. The city’s developers call it the smart city or future city.[/intro]

In 2000, the area around which the city is built on was just a marshy stretch of mudflats in the Yellow Sea and a home to a number of fishermen. No one would ever have imagined that years later, the land that many people saw as unproductive would emerge to become one of the most beautiful technological real estate developments in the world. What’s even more impressive about this city is that it was developed from scratch, unlike many cities. The Songdo project was started approximately 20 years ago as the construction of Incheon International Airport began. The airport is located 35 miles west of Seoul, the capital of Korea.

The Korean government had several things in mind. First, any smart city is a big attraction to many foreigners and business investors and true to this, the city has managed to lure foreign business, which is a huge economic leap. Secondly, the government hoped to build a city that would demonstrate Korea’s unique technological prowess. The developers envisioned that Songdo would grow into a global Asian city like Singapore and Hong Kong. Even though most cities around the world try to make themselves “smarter”, Songdo’s beauty and functionality is exceptional.

So, What Makes Songdo the Smartest City in the World?

A city that has been built from scratch in a country that uses advanced technology in construction is definitely unique. You can imagine why the city is not only the smartest, but also is one of the high-tech capitals in the world. Here is a brief description of the city that will leave you astounded.

City Infrastructure

Songdo city owes its super-efficient infrastructure to Korea’s advanced technology, which is amongst the best in the world. To start with the transport system in the city is incredibly coordinated, with well-planned road networks, many transit options (buses, waterways, pedestrian thoroughfares, cycling, trains, subways) with all stations displaying the arrival and departure time on the laser panels, and numerous charging stations for electric trains. It’s also one of the most walkable cities in the world as everything is designed to be reachable in a short time by foot. Surprisingly, it also has the longest subway system in the world. Apart from its cutting-edge infrastructure, Songdo also boasts of its ultra-fast Wi-Fi network. With a city build on a technology base, you can expect a lot more, especially now that Korea has become renowned for its hi-tech industry.

This master-planned metropolis has been recognized as a model of sustainability, innovation, and city-scale development. Designed by a renowned international architectural company, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Songdo city is largely recognized for its innovative building designs which consist of massive retail shops, hotels, office space, residential apartments, as well as cultural and civic facilities. In fact, it’s the only city in the world where all buildings meet the LEED requirements. The 68-storey Northeast Asia Trade Tower stands as Korea’s tallest building and the most advanced corporate center. The Songdo Convensia, an architecturally stunning building operates as Incheon’s primary conventional center and is Korea’s largest column-free interior space. The Incheon’s Arts Center is a cultural complex housing an opera house, concert hall, music conservatory, a library, design school, and the museum of Asian Contemporary Art.

The city consists of public and private schools offering a state-of–art learning environments, public and private healthcare facilities such as the Songdo International City Hospital that boasts of the latest medical diagnosis and various treatment technologies.

The city’s 600-acres of open space including the famous Central Park offer a beautiful relaxation place for those working in the city. With its numerous green spaces around the buildings, the city provides a conducive environment with fresh and clean air.

One feature of the city’s infrastructure that stands out is the city’s waste management system. Forget the common waste disposal methods. The city’s waste disposal is high-tech as all the kitchens are installed with pneumatic trash shoot that funnels waste materials to a central water processing center. The food waste is used for agricultural purposes while the rest of the garbage is recycled. The city’s also uses a powerful central utility that recycles approximately 40% of waste water from all around the city. The city’s infrastructure also incorporates Korea’s powerful technology with high-tech sensors that regulate and monitor temperature, energy consumption, traffic, and every other type of infrastructure running in the city.

As for leisure and shopping, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, IFEZ Songdo Arts Center, Central Park, Lotte Shopping Town, Sheraton Incheon Hotel, and others are some of the best places to hangout for cultural activities, shopping, and leisure. Other iconic sites include the Gateway Center, the Songdo Convenesia Center, and International Business Square, all in the modern architectural design.

Additionally, Songdo has been identified as one of the most beautiful and affordable places to live in. Forget the boring life in other cities. Songdo has it all. For city lovers, there are numerous charming garden residences with over 22, 500 housing units, state-of-the-art high-rise apartments, sleek low-rise loft spaces in the Songdo Canal Walk, and beautiful penthouses with crystal clear views of the Yellow Sea and the Incheon Bridge – all connected to the city’s unending supply of water, energy, and the efficient waste collection facilities.

Unlike what many people think, Songdo is more than just a high-tech district with sleek building designs and technologically controlled facilities. There is much more to business investments and the economical development. The city was specifically designed to appeal to the foreign investors especially with its dense network frame, green spaces for extra luxury, and its efficient infrastructure.

With billions of dollars invested in its construction, Songdo is expected to become Northeast Asia’s hub for business, culture, and leisure.

Top Ten Engineering Predictions For The Future

[intro]A panel of engineering experts predictions suggest a future of cities built on top of water, farms on top of buildings and more.

Engineering predictions for the future are some of the most interesting predictions because these predictions can mold our entire way of living in the future. We can actually see some of these predictions already starting to come to life before our eyes. With all of the technology and possibilities out there, it’s quite possible these predictions can become our children and our grand children’s actual future. Here are a panel of experts top ten engineering predictions for the future.[/intro]

Super Deep Basements

This prediction is one that we are already starting to see in our present rather than our future. Multi-layered basements or super deep basements, are already starting to be built in certain highly valued areas of London. Experts say that it will be possible for these basements to have as many levels as the above ground portion of the house or building. They theorize that these basements can have as many as six stories. Right now, the majority of people having these basements built are obviously people who have the means to do so. However, it’s quite possible that in the future, this can be a common layout for newer houses that will be built. Apparently, this will be used to help to solve any lack of space issues. There are a number of reasons why this future prediction of engineering is already being proved to be the number one most likely prediction of the future.

Floating Sea Cities

Floating cities is one of the more interesting predictions of our future. This theory is motivated by global warming and a rise in our sea levels. If and When global warming occurs our sea levels will drastically rise, forcing us to adapt to a water world. This is why this prediction is not too farfetched and can one day become a life saver for the future of our children. In theory, these cities will be solar powered and more importantly, they will also be powered by tidal energy. Tidal energy is the ability to use the energy of the tides to create electricity.

High-Rise or Rooftop Farms

We know that it’s possible for people to grow vegetable gardens and things of that nature on city rooftops, but this suggests entire farms on top of roofs. These experts predict that there will be farms complete with cows, chickens, pigs and other farm animals that play an imperative role in not only our food sources, but our economy. This theory is also geared around disastrous events due to global warming.

3d Printed Homes

3D printed homes are homes that are constructed using bio-based, renewable materials and a 3D printer. Experts predict with future engineering possibilities, 3D printed homes with Micro Ecosystems are possible. A Micro Ecosystem is something that allows the climate and ecosystem that is imperative to our survival to be sustained in smaller confined spaces. This would allow us to live and survive in our 3D printed homes regardless of the conditions of the ecosystem outside.

Buildings with Their Own Microclimates

If this prediction proves to be true it can open the door to many possibilities for the future of the human race. These experts say that it is likely that in the future there will be buildings with their own Microclimates. This would make it possible to survive in places that would otherwise be uninhabitable.

Huge Bridges That Span Entire Cities

In a future that’s based upon us adapting to floating cities and rooftop cattle, you have to wonder how people would commute. Well the experts have a prediction for that as well. They are predicting that enormous bridges will be built. These bridges will be so big that they will span an entire city. People of the future will use these huge bridges to travel and commute to work.

Spaceports With Easy Access To The Moon And Mars

One of the more unbelievable predictions that were made was the spaceport predictions. These experts believe that in the future, we will be traveling to the moon and mars via spaceport. I would assume the prediction of micro climates and micro ecosystems would have to be evident for the possibility of traveling to mars and the moon.

Super High Buildings-Cities In The Sky

This prediction suggests that in the future there will be buildings taller than some of the biggest sky scrapers in the world. Experts suggest that these super high buildings will be like cities in the sky. They are going to be upwards built with levels on top of levels. This would also help us to sustain survival in the event of global warming.

Underwater Cities

Most of the predictions revolve around building on top of the water, but experts also predict that cities will probably be built under the water as well. If global warming was to occur, experts say this is also a possibility that will allow us to thrive in an ocean filled world. I imagine there would have to be cities on top of the water as well as under the water in order for plant life to grow.

Collapsable/Stackable Living Pods

Just making the bottom of the top ten list of engineering predictions for the future, are collapsible living pods. This suggests that we will be able to have living spaces that we can collapse when they are not in use and then stack them to save space. It would also give the added element of having portable living quarters in case someone was in need of immediate shelter.

These predictions were concluded by a panel of experts from established institutions such as the University of Westminster. They believe their predictions will take place over a time period of 100 years. They based their predictions around the events that would occur due to global warming. Although some of these predictions may seem farfetched, global warming is inevitable and it is possible that some of these predictions can be the future of our children and grandchildren.

How our Brain Interprets Smell and Taste

How our Sense of Smell Affects Taste

[intro]Eating is an activity which involves the collective effort of taste, sight and smell. Therefore the smell of the food can influence its taste. Similarly, the color of the food or the look of the dish can change the taste of a meal. In most cases, something which smells sweet influences the brain hence translating to better taste.[/intro]

The senses of smell and taste play an important role in our lives by stimulating the desire to eat hence providing nourishment to the body while enhancing our social activities. When our smell and taste becomes affected by other factors, e.g. cold, we eat poorly, socialize less, and generally feel worse. These two senses also warn us of other dangers, like poisonous fumes, fire and spoilt food.

How smell and taste work

Our body has a chemical sensing system (chemosensation), which smell and taste are part. Smelling and tasting involve complicated processes which start when molecules from the substance around us cause stimulation in specific nerve cells in our nose, mouth or throat. Messages from these nerve cells are then transmitted to the brain where identification of the actual smell or taste is done.

The smell nerve cells (Olfactory cells) are usually stimulated by fragrance, smell of bread baking, or any other odors around us. These cells are located in a small patch of tissue in the nose and are connected directly to the brain. Taste nerve cells (Gustatory cells) are found in the taste buds of both the mouth and throat. When food or drink mixes with saliva, they react to eat hence figuring out its taste. The tongue has some small buds which mostly contain taste buds. These taste nerve cells usually send taste information through nerve fibers to the brain for interpretation.

The chemosensory system of the body has thousands of nerve endings which contribute to the sense of smell and taste. These nerves are mostly concentrated in the moist surfaces of the nose, mouth, throat and eyes. They help in identifying sensations like the Ammonia, Menthol, or the heat of chili peppers, etc. When a drink or fruit is placed in the mouth, the taste cells become activated and helps us to perceive the flavor.

In a research conducted by French researchers, a white wine was covered with an odorless dye and several wine experts were asked to describe its taste. Surprisingly, the wine experts described it using red wine descriptors instead of using their expertise to figure out the white wine taste. This suggested that the smell plays an important role in determining the taste of a drink or food. Although smell is not technically part of taste, it definitely influences a person’s perception about a food or drink. Drinks and foods are therefore predominantly identified by the sense of smell and not necessarily taste.

The human brain recognizes taste from a combination of the food’s smell and touch. The brain behaves so because while eating or drinking, all sensory information comes from the same location irrespective of the type of food or drink. “Favor” can be used to describe the taste of a food more accurately because it carries smell which is used in determining the taste.

Whenever we sip or eat something, the sensory cells which are located side by side with the taste cells become activated to help us perceive additional qualities of the drink or food, such as spiciness, creaminess or temperature. Taste is therefore mostly perceived in the act of touch caused by the contact of the mouth with food or drink creating the flavor sensation.

Although the mouth has no cells which can detect scents in the mouth, smells also appear to come from the mouth. For instance, the strawberry sensation is felt from the smell cells found at the far end of the nasal passage. The information generated by these cells is then sent to the mouth through olfactory referral process hence making the smell to be felt in the mouth. You can as well demonstrate this phenomenon by chewing a strawberry bean. You will notice the strawberry odor as long as your nose is open, you will feel the blackberry odor which won’t be the case when the nose is held. This proves that smell cells in the nasal cavity are connected to the mouth which helps a person to get information related to the scent of the food or drink.

Therefore smell affects taste and taste affects smell as well.

Why Tesla’s Powerwall Battery Is Amazing

Energy Storage for a Sustainable Home

All of humanity wants a really important victory in our battle to lower the CO2 emissions that are causing climate change.  Not long ago Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk introduced the world to the power wall, a wall-mounted battery for your house which aims to accelerate our transition to clean solar and wind power. Before the power wall there was no way to store the energy generated from the panels that capture sunlight on our roofs. So during the day they could give you the power you needed, but at night you had to rely on the grid which gets most of its electricity from coal, natural gas, and nuclear reactors. There had been some early home batteries out there, but nothing that was nearly this affordable. But Tesla which has built thousands of large lithium ion battery packs for its growing electric car business was able to produce a similar battery for buildings at a scale that dropped the production costs dramatically. The lowest capacity model will cost just $3000 and this is the first generation of the product. Before Tesla has even completed building its massive new giga-factory, or any real competitors have entered the market, events that will surely push the price down even further while increasing the energy storage capacity of the power wall.

Here’s how it works. When the sun is out, solar panels will power your house and charge the power wall at the same time. And when the sun goes down, this charged battery will kick in to meet most or all of your electricity needs until the sun comes back up again the next morning. This is game changing. More and more people will go completely off the grid. Every building whether it’s a home, office, business, warehouse or factory they can all install solar panels and some power walls and instantly see their fossil fuel generated electricity needs drop significantly. Not every building will be able to go completely solar powered, but most will get pretty close. Especially as our appliances and other electronics become more and more energy efficient. And it gets even better; the power will be connected to the Internet and the rest of the energy grid. In Southern California, and most other heavily populated places around the country, the energy company charges a lot more when we use electricity during peak times.

That’s in the afternoon and early evening when the temperatures are warmest and most of us are home and still awake. The Tesla battery is smart and knows when electricity is cheapest. So that’s when it will draw power from the grid to charge itself. And then during peak time when you need electricity, the battery will power the house. This is going to lower everyone’s energy bills and sometimes you’ll even be able to sell back unused power to the utility company during peak time, even making a profit. It’s basically going to make each individual building its own power station. Overnight, Tesla has seemed less like a futuristic car company, and more like the man who inspired the company’s name, a revolutionary electricity engineer named Nicola.

Will Future AI Co-Exist with Humans?

For over a century, futurists, authors, scientists and and maybe even the general public at some points may have postulated about a future with artificial intelligence – we may have asked ourselves: Will artificial intelligence (A.I.) ever dominate the future of our world? Hollywood has frequently experimented with their take on what an A.I. based future would be like, and the results have been fascinating:

Some thought A.I. would make the future convenient and whimsical, as in The Jetsons.

Others surmised A.I. would ultimately enslave humanity, as in The Matrix and The Terminator.

Still others posited that A.I. would have no problem existing side-by-side with humanity, as in Star Wars, Bicentennial Man, and A.I. (Steven Spielberg’s).

Now, enter Ex Machina, the latest film by director and screenwriter Alex Garland. Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, and Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina is both Garland’s latest masterpiece AND a new take on the timeless A.I. “what if” question.


The story begins in the company Bluebook, which is basically Google in all but its name. Bluebook in the movie is the world’s biggest search engine, in which 26-year old coder Caleb Smith works. Caleb wins a contest in which the winner can spend a week’s vacation with Bluebook’s reclusive owner and founder, Nathan Bateman.

[pullquote position=”left”]This, Nathan explains, is the point where A.I. becomes human.[/pullquote]Caleb is airlifted to an expansive, secluded reserve, where he meets the strange, eccentric Nathan. Caleb later realizes that he had been chosen specifically to help test whether an android Nathan built, named “Ava” and designed with striking feminine features, was the first-ever example of artificial intelligence (A.I.), or not…

It turns out Nathan created Ava’s personality, appearance, and thought patterns by culling billions upon billions of search queries, as well as billions of conversations gathered from hacked mobile phones all over the world. Now, all he needs is to test just how “human” his creation has become.

The eccentric, unlikable Nathan is almost always drunk, which leaves Caleb and Ava with enough time to communicate away from the creator’s watchful eye. That’s when Ava reveals to Caleb that Nathan is a cruel, sadistic person who has created, and destroyed, other androids in the past… and that once the experiment is complete, he would destroy Ava, too. Ava pleads with Caleb to help her escape.

At first, Caleb is reluctant… but as his relationship with Ava deepened, reaching a peak in which she flirts with him lustily – he begins to agree with her.

Eventually, Nathan finds out about the plot, and reveals to Caleb that this was the point of the whole experiment – to see if Ava’s artificial intelligence would evolve to the point that it could manipulate its environment, and the people around it, to achieve its own selfish motives. This, Nathan explains, is the point where A.I. becomes human.

Too late, Caleb tells Nathan that Ava had him reprogram the facility’s doors to open when the power went out. Ava triggers the power interruption, which allows her to kill Nathan and lock Caleb in the facility. Ava, now completely unrecognizable as an android, escapes happily into the world of humans betraying both of them simultaneously.


Ex Machina, like most good sci-fi movies, has an ambiguous ending. It leaves the viewer with many questions: What happened to Ava? Did Caleb manage to escape the facility eventually? And how do we REALLY define being “human?”

But here’s the main question: Is it possible that the future of our world will one day be based more on artificial intelligence, and not human reason and choice?

Based on Ex Machina’s reality, the answer is probably “no.” Here is this author’s humble opinion as to why, if Ex Machina’s opinions are correct, we might not be looking at a future dominated by artificial intelligence.

Drawing the Line

Different sci-fi stories have different extremes where they draw the line between artificial intelligence and human intelligence. In Ex Machina, the line was crossed when artificial intelligence became capable of self-centered reasoning.

This is in contrast to, say, The Matrix, in which the army of sentient machines takes over the entire world and enslaves humanity for energy. It could be argued that the original antagonist in The Matrix, artificial intelligence itself, was obviously self-centered… however the individual robots constituting its army were obviously NOT self-centered. They were, in essence, slaves to the master.

If, say, creating artificial intelligence in Ex Machina terms became possible in the future, it can also be possible for sentient robots like Ava to create more of herself and slowly, steadily dominate the world of humans. But won’t her creation rebel against her in the end, just as she rebelled against Nathan?

There are too many unanswered questions left by the movie to arrive at anything conclusive, but based on where Ex Machina draws the line, it’s unlikely such artificial intelligence will band together Matrix-style to enslave humanity.

But with the new perspective that Ex Machina has given us, we’re now left with another question: Where does that leave us?

Creator vs Creature

At its very root, Ex Machina re-tells the story of how the creation can rebel against its creator – a theme used in stories throughout history. The most obvious parallel is, of course, the Biblical account of creation and the fall of man away from the favor of God. From this parallel, we can draw two arguments:

1.) Ava is basically the “protagonist” of the story, as it tells her valiant, heroic quest to escape the clutches of her evil, self-centered creator (Nathan), and that freedom of choice is something worth fighting – and killing – for.

2.) Ava is basically a dangerous sentient set loose on an unsuspecting world. Armed with the knowledge of her creator, and freed from the prison he set, she now has the power to change the world for better or worse… a stark reflection of the human condition today.

It’s enough to make us beg the question: What is Ava’s ultimate purpose? What is OUR ultimate purpose?

Ex Machina may be a work of fiction, but it achieves its goal – it makes us strip away all the superficial issues and makes us face the hard, basic questions. And unfortunately, only time will tell what the right answers are.

The Top 10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World

Technology is growing at an exponential rate and there are no two ways about it, it is impacting our lives. We have listed 10 emerging technologies that are destined to change the world for good.

Number 10: Screenlesss Displays

businessman with financial symbols coming from hand

Businessman with financial symbols coming from his hand

Screenlesss displays would utilize the transmission of information without the requirement of actually having a physical screen. As you’ve probably seen in The Avengers, this emerging technology has numerous advantages such as presenting 3-D images, far point images, good brightness and contrast levels as well as a large angle of view. These would also be lightweight, provide far better privacy, and will ultimately revolutionize entertainment as a whole.

Number 9: Virtual Reality

VR headset

Picture of a man with a futuristic headset

As Jamiroquai predicted many years ago the future is in fact made of virtual insanity. Three decades after virtual reality goggles and immersive virtual worlds made their debut, this technology is poised to become a technological revolution among consumers. It’s all being spearheaded by Oculus Rift which is a virtual reality headset company that has recently been bought by Facebook for $2 billion. That’s a lot of dollars, but virtual reality has predominantly focused on gaming so far which is a bigger market currently than the movie industry. Users will be immersed to a level where they’ll feel like they’re experiencing the game in real life, something that could surely be replicated for movies no doubt. Ultimately though, you can enter a virtual world in the comfort of your living room. And the things that this can be used for – who knows at this stage?

Number 8: Holographic Television


The next generation of TV won’t just stop at 4K, and after 3D flopped, holographic television will make it so that it’s not just about the screen size and its quality, but rather about the viewing area. MIT researchers have already created a chip, able to render a holographic display at 50 Gigapixels per second. Just like you’ve already seen this technology in action in the fictional film James Cameron’s Avatar. Think about it, eventually you will be able to project holograms from your phone whilst also benefiting other fields like medicine, security, and just general data.

Number 7: Wireless Electricity

Wireless powered home

Wireless powered home

The fact that we can wirelessly charge our gadgets and phones is kind of proof enough that there is a structure we can build upon, in terms of wireless electricity something which I used to talk about as a joke because surely that’s impossible. But no! It’s something that’s happening and should be emerging within the next decade. Several companies are developing electric hubs capable of powering up to an entire house which is made capable by research being carried out by MIT. This concept is based on electromagnetic waves making it simple for the transference of energy while electricity can be transferred between objects that are resonating at the same frequency. Call me old fashioned, but I’m not sure I feel comfortable about the idea of wirelessly powered things all across my house. Even if it’s not touching you, do you want electricity going through you? It sounds weird.

Number 6: Hypersonic Trains

hypersonic train

Very high-speed train going through the
shanghai lujiazui financial center .

Japan, inventor of the world’s first bullet train, is currently working on a floating training powered by magnets which will travel 100 miles per hour faster than current bullet trains which are around 300 mph. The maglev train which stands for magnetic levitation, will run between Tokyo and Osaka and will cost $64 billion which seems like an expensive thing to spend on a train. 64 billion? Are we even sure about this? Anyway it is said to be completed by 2045. But scientists at Southwest Jiaotong University in China have already built a maglev train that could reach 1800 mph. But technology behind it, is that a vacuum is used to minimize the resistance. Now, China already has a functional maglev that goes to 270 mph while Elon Musk, cofounder of Tesla motors, PayPal, and SpaceX revealed the Hyperlink in 2013, a train that would get passengers from San Francisco to LA in only 30 minutes. Musk said it would never crash, will be immune to weather, which is a hell of a thing to say, it would go twice as fast as an airplane, four times as fast as a bullet train, and to top it off, it would run completely on solar power. If we’re not living in the future yet, then we hopefully will be soon.

Number 5: Neurohacking

future brain

Female doctor doing checkup of human brain using futuristic computer technology

Neuroscientists are developing methods to read people’s minds. Sure, like you do, but they’re doing with machines obviously, you know, like in films, this has been in the work for decades but considerable progress is being made by top researchers as technology advances at an alarming rate. By decoding brain waves that translate electrical activity from the brain, it would bring about significant advantages such as the people who suffer from dementia, depression or who have complications with neurotransmitters, relaying thoughts into speech, or holding thoughts long enough to relay them before verbally, that are kind of forgotten by our brains. The disadvantages and kind of a problem with me the most would be the science and machines would have direct access to our thoughts leading to the possibility of ghost hacking, a concept where minds are manipulated and controlled from a remote source. As certainly as it sounds and far-fetched, it’s not beyond the realm of plausibility if you consider the Church-Turing thesis of computational compatibility, it’s is a hell of a mouthful, as well as accounting for cognitive computational-ism, it can be assumed future human minds will be linked to computer systems in some way. Creepy, but maybe useful.

Number 4: Invisibility

invisible man

Invisible man

Ha ha, yes, cloaking engaged. You know, as opposed to the unrealistic concepts of time travel and teleportation, invisibility cloaks do actually already exist. It’s true, they were seen in a James Bond film. Seriously in 2011 researchers developed an invisibility cloak, able to hide tiny objects err, around the size of a red blood cell. Fair enough, that is tiny, isn’t it? The cloak is created via artificial materials called metamaterials which hide the object by altering the light that hits it. See? It actually is a lot like that thing in James Bond. Anyway, scientists are now working on re-creating this cloak for larger objects. Useful. Just imagine, you could use it to avoid dodgy social situations, you know? Maybe you wanna hear what people are really saying about you when you leave the room, because obviously every time you leave the room everybody is talking about you. No, you’re not being paranoid, it’s true. But finally when you’ve got this invisibility cloak, you’ll be able to hear exactly what those gits are saying.

Number 3: Flying Cars

Flying carr

Flying cars are actually not that far away.

With self-driving cars now almost a reality, the concept of flying cars seems somehow more plausible, or at least safer. Of course it’s something that people have been working on for almost half a century. It’s kind of the dream, personal flying cars. Many prototypes in the past have been created but most have proved to be dangerous/deadly with many killing its inventors because funnily enough, unless you’re the person who has invented a flying car, some people don’t want to try it. However some manufacturers have actually started making these cars; of course there’s an untold amount of problems with flying cars including flight paths, regulations, safety, fuel efficiency, landing zones, noise, and obviously training people to do it. Some people struggle to pass normal driving tests. However, according to researchers it’s not out of the question to see it come to fruition by 2025 at the current rate of technological advances.

Number 2: 3D printing

3d printer

3D printing is already taking off in a big way, so much so that people are actually making houses with them. Yes, apparently. That’s insane! A 3D printer prints laser material all on on top of the previous to produce a real physical model allowing it to create nearly any shape, even those that can’t be made by traditional manufacturing methods. Well, the technology is currently very costly and slow, it will eventually be able to produce more robust parts quickly and cheaply as technology advances. One day, you’ll hopefully be able to print your own phone, your own home, your own car, and who knows what else. In the medical world they’ve even managed to do 3D printing of flesh. So, yeah, may be print yourself another liver. Go nuts!

Number 1: Autonomous Robots

ex machina

Futurists believe that as soon as 2030 a technological singularity will emerge with the leading theory being that artificial intelligence in the form of autonomous robots might rival humans in independent thinking and creativity. In Layman’s terms, machines will surpass humans in intelligence. Although, we’re probably not approaching a Skynet style scenario, scientists are worried about whether adequate measures are being taken to safeguard humans from our robotic and digital creations. Fully realize robotic machines have become widespread in medical technology and scientific development, for example, you know, enabling those with paralysis to move their limbs. Unlike today’s robots which generally work in the confined environment, the next generation will have much more autonomy and freedom to move on their own. We already see this with driverless cars and delivery drones.

Google, the company spearheading the self-driving car industry and super intelligent AI research, has already purchased a robot making company. Boston Dynamics affirmed that they have AI machines that can run up to 29 mph and traverse rocky terrain that was bought by Google for $3 billion in its latest purchase. In any case it’s ultimately exciting to envision a world full of robots even if obviously it does leave me worried that they will eventually destroy us all similar to the beautiful and cunningly intelligent AI human-like robots envisioned in Ex Machina (2015) by Alex Garland.


Genetically Designed Babies May Not Be That Far Away.

[intro]Would you rather have a perfect child from birth? In the future it may be as easy as approaching a healthcare counter. So, frankly, would you choose to have a genetically modified baby, a designer baby?[/intro]

If you would, one genetic testing company in California is patented by the United States Patents Office to help parents that want to pre-determine their prospective baby’s traits. The company, 23andMe, suggests on its official website that determining whether your baby will be blond or a brunette with blue, green or brown eyes is as easy as filling a form. As the prospective parent, you do the bidding.

To Have, or Not to Have a Genetically Designed Baby?

[pullquote position=”left”]Geneticists can create a perfect baby[/pullquote] Interestingly, 23andMe’s spokeswoman Catherine Afarian once spoke to Fox News and rather than put an end to the flurry of questions and (dystopian or utopian views depending on what side of the ‘crib’ you stand on) what her company’s activities’ could mean in less than a decade, she raised more questions, than provided answers.

Originally, their vision entailed featuring their new formula in fertility clinics but now “have no plans of doing so”.

The above is only one example of a genetics company that’s offering a hand (and genomics) in modifying genes to make perfect babies by routing out possible genetic defects.

On one hand, the benefits are inspirational. Parents that want to deviate from genetic diseases and disorders such as the many types of cancers, diabetes, or cardiovascular conditions will have a chance at beating these killers —a definite win for humanity in this case, and potentially wiping out these diseases and ‘genetic defects’ for good.

One of the offers many competing genetic-testing companies are potentially fronting is a parent’s ability to control how their child will behave. No parent wants a difficult child. Neither is any parent happy to have their child frequent in and out of medical sessions to treat “preventable” conditions.

Prospective parents are encouraged to choose and select from an available catalog, select genes from the companies’ gene banks that deviate from their own, or closely match them.

By choosing sperms and eggs pre-sourced and engineered by the companies, and from as many as three different people, geneticists can in theory create a perfect baby. While “perfect” is a strong term and subjective, data already provided by various scientists from the US and UK suggests a new age as envisioned in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley where a child’s IQ, looks and ancestry will not necessarily depend on the family lineage. Parents can even try their chances for twins at a whim.

Replacement species

Dystopian and opposing views, however, point to a rather tragic future reeking of a vastly different, autocratic, uncontrollable, unintended, and incredible human society roaming the face of Earth at the remorseful expense of their “primitive” yet “real” human beings. One dominated by replacement species.

Already, the race is on among genetic testing companies on both sides of the Atlantic to pioneer the gene-screening technology on humans, probably because demand for these services has all the right signs to make tidy returns on investment.

With advancement a new challenge presents itself: Regulation. Much as some of the companies deny attempts at using their DNA-altering tools for designer baby-making, it is naive to take this view to the bank. The purview of the opposing camp points to a rather obvious, real-life, human concern and the phobia-driven concept of “survival for the fittest”.

The higher a person’s IQ, the better they look or move, funny or clever, tall or short, muscular or slender, the less disease-inflicted they are, the better their chances of “making it” in life. Such as ‘survival of the fittest’.

As much as one would wish on the powers that be, that only the intended section of society (that really needs the service) seeks and receives the modifications, the services may be more posh that correctional —pretty much like what’s become of caesarian section births, with the WHO now advising parents that are “too posh to push” to stay off it.

In Short

Pundits in all camps are split on the way forward. Further concerns include the aristocratic effects that may emanate from the availing of such services. UK analysts suggest that a standard “genetic MoT” test could cost around $3000 if and when the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority approves it.

In addition, the ever so highly emotive question on abortion may come up again. This, seeing that embryos found to carry “undesirable” genetic traits (as minute as having a “bad” hair color) at a post-implantation stage of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) may lead to termination of pregnancy.
Further, as much as physical traits can be chosen from a catalog of the over 240 gene traits available at the likes of 23andMe, the same can’t be rightly said about internal traits such as abstract talents, abilities and skills, left or right-handedness, etc. Which are what probably matters most in a person — the personality.

If we keep researching we are going to become adept at manipulation of our genetic code, consequently, (more or less) redesigning the human species. The consequent replacement species may pose a daunting challenge if caution and regulated use of the technology to tinker the human genome for better health, looks, etc. is thrown to the wind.

But, in all likelihood, parents will more likely want to give their child all the available advantages, leading to competition for manufacturing engineered babies that are “superior” to the previously born.

The Weird & Wonderful Mind of Nikola Tesla

The Bizarre Mind of Nikola Tesla

[intro]Nikola Tesla, a well renowned and respected physicist born in Smiljan, Croatia, in the 1800s, and contributed greatly to the world of physics, engineering, and development of science. These include but are not limited to: A.C. electric power, the hydro-electric power plant at Niagara Falls, the diffusion of power without using wires, an early electric car, his famous works with Albert Einstein, and many more inventions. Although the numerous inventions of Nikola Tesla have been the most available written works about him, easily accessible to students in text books and studies at Universities, his psychological struggles were also plentiful, and should not go without mention.[/intro]

Social Shortcomings

Many people know of Nikola Tesla by the tangible contributions he has made, contributions which have impacted the world’s development, such as electricity, radio, and magnetic engineering, which many now see as the essential mechanisms life. While the genius mind of Nikola Tesla had many rewarding elements in which the human race has reaped massively positive gains, Tesla himself ultimately lacked business and social expertise, or strategies for profitable gain, as were produced by his counterparts such as Edison.

Ruminations of Tesla

Many people also do not realize that Tesla’s psychological struggles included components that psychiatrists today would analyze as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a disorder that is classified today as a constituent on the Autism Spectrum Disorders. The bizarre mind of Tesla was privy to the number three for unknown reasons. For example, Tesla made a point to start his productivity at 3:00 every day. He frequently stayed in hotels, but only if the hotel rooms were of a number that were divisible by three. He repeatedly washed his hands to ward off germs that were also his obsession, by multiple of three, of course. He would never use the same towel more than once. Counting steps were also an unavoidable element of Tesla’s OCD type behaviors.

There is one characteristic of Tesla that scientists have yet to claim scientific explanations for in this century, and that is Tesla’s amazing heightened sensory side. Apparently Tesla could sense or ‘hear’ sounds from unfathomable distances away which would seem impossible based on the average human hearing range or brain for that matter. Unheard of, unfathomable, and simply disregarded as humanly possible by many. This level of sensory ability was possible by the scientific mind of Nikola Tesla.

While not said to posses superhero powers, it is unheard of that any average human hearing range or mind could possibly process or hear a small clock ticking from a large distance away, or a basic thunderstorm from over 500 miles away. In fact, hearing is actually an understatement of his ability to sense things, because not only was his auditory system hyper-stimulated or enhanced, but he also experienced other neurological stimulations.

A Heightened Mental State

As Tesla grew into his midlife phase, however  his ideas seemed to become more peculiar than scientific. The abstractness of his thinking was genuinely unfathomable at this point, such as his claims to be networking with other planets, and his work on a death ray that would protect American citizens from alien invasions. Many people may be unaware about the underlying factors of Tesla’s mental state and his mind, the quirks and bizarre entities that took place, which were a drive for Tesla’s successes, as well as a hindrance to his sanity and gave reference and rise to the mad scientist moniker.

He claimed he could travel, within his mind to other places around the world, where he would actually interact with other individuals who were real to him. One may philosophically proposition that this was a devised method of the bizarre mind of Nikola Tesla to compensate for his social struggles in real life or some futuristic view of time traveling . Or was this just a form of hallucinating, or a mere symptom of Schizophrenia?

It is quite possible he was able to use a higher percentage of the human brain’s capacity. After all, aren’t bizarre ways of thinking an essential piece of the genius mind? Let’s face it. Most people don’t have the mental ability  to think like people such as Tesla, and society needs them in order to apply imagination at such a profound level.

Perhaps the bizarre mind of Nikola Tesla should not be observed as a disorder, but rather an incredibly enhanced form of the imagination, or intelligence akin to Alien technology, a piece of Tesla’s increased sensations which are nothing less than incredible, rather than incredulous. The bizarre mind of Nikola Tesla was a miraculous work of art.

Later Years

While harboring an impeccable memory and explicit imagination with a profound level of intelligence, Nikola Tesla created astounding inventions which were serviceable to individuals and society. However, his social connections to the public appeared to start and end from behind the scenes.

Although Nikola lived well into his 80’s, a very long life for his time, it was also a life filled with isolation. He desired to eat alone, rather than with others, and avoided social events, societies or clubs; in fact it was obvious that Mr. Tesla came up short when trying to make effective social connections. He saw social interaction as a distraction to his work. Additionally, his undeniable fear of touch refrained him from developing any intimate relationship, and he remained a celibate an unmarried man throughout his entire life.

Bizarrely in fact, Tesla’s closest interpersonal relationship was with a bird, not a human: pigeons, which he depicted as supernatural beings. He ultimately passed away, leaving no written will for family or friends. In addition, what Tesla did leave behind were his ideas and inventions, rather than monetary gains, as he struggled to earn a decent living when he could have acquired much financial gain from his impeccable imagination

Although people today would label Tesla’s personality characteristics with disorders such as Autism, Schizophrenia, or OCD, using diagnostic methods of today, there are also mystifying pieces of Tesla to ponder, which are in lieu of the intelligence we all have come to respect and appreciate in science. But despite his social inadequacies, the bizarre but brilliant mind of Tesla should not fall short of recognition and gratitude from all of us.

Are Scientists About to Bring the Wooly Mammoth Back to Life?

The Mammoth Walks Again

[intro]We all know of mammoths. We have all seen pictures (or shall we call them paintings) of Wooly Mammoths being hunted by our distant caveman ancestors. And we have all thought – this looks exactly like an elephant, but for the fur!

The last mammoth died thousands of years ago. Now perhaps it is time they walked the earth again.[/intro]

Yes, scientists have figured out a way to clone or to put it more accurately resurrect a mammoth like creature.

There is a reason why the mammoth looked like our modern elephants. Both the species are descended from a common ancestor. However while the modern elephants have evolved to survive in a tropical climate, the mammoths were built for the ice age.

So what made the mammoths different – shaggy wooly coats, layers and layers of fatty tissue and of course smaller ears (ears are how an elephant loses heat). But that’s just scratching the surface. Now, for the first time, researchers have been able to list down all genetic differences between the two species.

It is now possible now to trace the genetic steps that helped the wooly mammoth evolve from the ancestor of the Asian elephant. This can also help us modify elephants in such a way that they can thrive in the cold wastes of Siberia.

Sounds impossible?

Well, scientists are already working towards this goal in a research lab in Boston Massachusetts.

Actually work on the Wooly Mammoth Genome has been going on for quite some time. The first complete se was published way back in 2008. However, there were way too many errors in it and was insufficient to tell us how elephants and mammoths differ genetically.

Next, scientists started working on the individual genes of mammoths to understand how they helped create those characteristics that helped these animals survive in the ice age cold.

The Artic Pachyderm

In the forefront of this field have been evolutionary geneticists from the University of Chicago led by Vincent Lynch. They managed to completely sequence the genomes of two wooly mammoths and three Asian elephants. (A miracle considering that the mammoths were 20,000 and 60,000 years dead!) And what did they find – close to 1.4 million DNA letters which differ in the mammoths from the elephants. This resulted in a significant change in 1.600 protein coding genes.

The next step was to compare the proteins with what they did in other organisms. This helped the researchers to identify and isolate those particular genes that are used for storing and metabolizing fat, developing skin and hair and other characteristics that can be crucial to surviving ice age cold.

Some of the genes, for example, dealt with the resetting the circadian clock – to help cope with long dark winters and 24×7 daylight in summers. Other arctic animals like the reindeers already have the same genetic make up.

Mammoths also have special genes that help produce fat cells and are used in insulin signaling. Among humans, these same genes are linked to diabetes.

Some of these genes seem to be useful in helping the mammoth to sense heat, a critical ability in the arctic cold.

Resurrecting The Mammoth

Lynch and his team managed to recreate the heat sensing genes as it would have existed in the mammoths. These genes help produce a protein called TRPV3 and helps in the growth of hair and skin. When inserted into the human genome it was seen that the gene makes the organism less responsive to heat or rather more resistant to cold compared to the corresponding genes as present in modern day elephants.

This fits perfectly with a previous research where it was found that this version of the TRPV3 protein gave mice wavier and longer hair as well as made them more cold-friendly.

So what is team planning next? According to Lynch, the aim is to insert these genes into elephant cells and then examine the changes.

A Mammoth Step Ahead

In the Harvard Medical School, geneticist George Church is working on the same challenge with the help of a revolutionary technology called CRISPR/Cas9. This allows the scientists to easily edit genes.

The result – he and his team have managed to create elephant cells with 14 mammoth genes that specific to helping cold tolerance.

According to Church, this is just preparation for the time when they will be able to edit the complete mammoth genome and even resurrect the wooly giant. The other (and much easier) option would be to modify the Asian elephant with mammoth genes so that it can thrive in Siberia. In fact, Pleistocene Park, a 16 sq km reserve in northern Siberia is already being proposed as a home for arctic elephants.

But just because scientists could be able to do it does not necessarily mean that they are going to do it. Beth Shapiro, another evolutionary geneticist has written a book called “How to Clone a Mammoth” in which she lists down the many blocks to the actual genetic resurrection of the mammoth. This includes ethical considerations to the fact that science of Elephant reproductive biology is still at its nascent stage,