Posted 10 hours ago

Alien Earth - this video showcases astonishing visuals of things in our very own backyard but beyond human perception. From movement too slow to detect or too fast to follow, to items so small or so vast we don’t usually pay attention to them, there is a fascinating world of discovery all around us.

We live in a world of unseeable beauty, so subtle and delicate that it is imperceptible to the human eye. To bring this invisible world to light, filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg bends the boundaries of time and space with high-speed cameras, time lapses and microscopes. At TED2014, he shares highlights from his latest project, a 3D film titled “Mysteries of the Unseen World,” which slows down, speeds up, and magnifies the astonishing wonders of nature.


Posted 1 day ago

Space Colony - How many people does it take to form a sustainable human colony? According to recent research, somewhere between 10000 and 40000 individuals are necessary to establish a permanent independent human presence outside of planet Earth. That’s a big number, but as technology further advances allowing fewer people to accomplish more, it is bound to come down. It’s also a trade off between risk and success; the larger the number, the more adverse scenarios the colony will be able to survive.

Although a previous study in 2002 stated that only 150 people would be needed, a new study by John Moore at the University of Florida estimates that the number is closer to 10,000, or even possibly 40,000 will be necessary.

So why so many people? The first thing to look at is that even the nearest star system, Proxima Centauri, is over four light-years away from Earth. At our current technology level, it would take us thousands of years to get there. This means we’d need to have a starship where generations are born and then die without ever seeing the planet that will eventually be colonized, not to mention the planet that they came from. 150 people could probably handle that, but there would be very little genetic diversity, which could increase susceptibility to genetic diseases. In Moore’s study, a larger number — at least 10,000 people — would ensure viable diversity in the human gene pool.

The second reason we need so many people for space colonization is that we must take into account that catastrophes will happen. There will be illnesses, mechanical failures, alien slave raids, and other unseen events that could drastically reduce the population of space colonists. With a larger number of people spread out over multiple spaceships, these occurrences won’t have the potential to be catastrophic.

Posted 2 days ago

Discovery - a Land Rover promotional clip for SpaceShipTwo. It’s encouraging to see major industry powerhouses supporting the emerging commercial space tourism industry. There’s no arguing that the guys at Land Rover have discovery in their heritage, and lending their support to the vast possibilities of discovery awaiting us as we ramp up space activities can only be a good thing.

Although Virgin Galactic has yet to fly anywhere close to space, it has managed to inspire any number of promotional videos about just how awesome the space tourism trips will be someday. Here’s the latest one from Land Rover, which was announced as a global sponsor earlier this week.

So is there more to discover? Most definitely, yes.

Posted 3 days ago

eMotion Spheres - robotic innovator Festo released this video of spherical drones flying in smart formations. The swarm acts cooperatively to maintain dynamic formations, while each individual drone is smart enough to return to a charging station when it nears the end of its battery capacity. The spheres are lighter than air balloons, equipped with electric fans for positional control. Combined with clever lighting effects, they certainly look mesmerizing.

The drones use small propellers to move, and a central computer coordinates the swarm using a system of cameras and infrared markers on each drone. The drones autonomously return to charging stations on the ground when they get low on juice.

We imagine art installations using such a system, and Festo suggests more practical applications where “indoor GPS” would be used to track products or coordinate worker robots and vehicles inside a factory.

Posted 4 days ago

Eroom’s Law - one of twenty crucial concepts every futurist should now about; our society’s language is always an evolving reflection of the world we live in, and knowing what new language is emerging gives you direct insight into what’s just beyond the horizon in human development. From “Co-veilance” to “Repressive Desublimation”, our language is changing to describe our emerging reality beyond anything previous generations even dreamed of.

Unlike Moore’s Law, where things are speeding up, Eroom’s Law describes — at least in the pharmaceutical industry — things that are slowing down (which is why it’s Moore’s Law spelled backwards). Ramez Naam says the rate of new drugs developed per dollar spent by the industry has dropped by roughly a factor of 100 over the last 60 years. “Many reasons are proposed for this, including over-regulation, the plucking of low-hanging fruit, diminishing returns of understanding more and more complex systems, and so on,” he told io9.