There’s a well-known scene in the Brad Pitt-Billy Beane biopic “Moneyball” in which Beane confronts a bunch of stale, oldster scouts about the outdated way they evaluate baseball players. One scout comments that because a player has an ugly girlfriend it means he has no confidence. Beane gives an exasperated “facepalm.” The way many venture capitalists analyze potential startup investments is similarly haphazard and inaccurate. However, just as in the movie, it’s all about to end in a giant wave of business innovation.
A team of chemical engineers and biochemists has managed to change how plants work. Well, to be exact, they've made plants work better by embedding carbon nanotubes into the plants' leaves so that they absorb more light. Put simply, they've created bionic plants.
Six years isn't that long but the rapid pace of innovation means everything--from education to health care to the Internet itself--could look a lot different by then.
How will technology change life by the end of the decade? That's the subject of a new book, called Shift 2020, which explores the future of everything from greentech and health care to 3-D printing and transport.
Shift 2020 was edited by Rudy De Waele, a strategist and entrepreneur from the U.K., and includes predictions from more than 70 futurists, thinkers-in-residence, entrepreneurs, think-tank analysts, and academics. We picked out a few ideas that caught our eye. You can purchase the full copy here.
The digitization of our economy will bring with it a new generation of radical economic ideologies, of which Bitcoin is arguably the first. For those with assets, technological savvy, and a sense of adventure, the state is the enemy and a cryptographic currency is the solution. But for those more focused on the decline of the middle classes, the collapse of the entry-level jobs market, and the rise of free culture, the state is an ally, and the solution might look something like an unconditional basic income. Before I explain why this concept is going to be creeping into the political debate across the developed world, let me spell out how a system like this would look:
Every single adult member receives a weekly payment from the state, which is enough to live comfortably on. The only condition is citizenship and/or residency.
You get the basic income whether or not you’re employed, any wages you earn are additional.
The welfare bureaucracy is largely dismantled. No means testing, no signing on, no bullying young people into stacking shelves for free, no separate state pension.
Street lights are an important part of our urban infrastructure — they light our way home and make the roads safe at night. But what if we could create natural street lights that don’t need electricity to power them? A group of scientists in Taiwan recently discovered that placing gold nanoparticles within the leaves of trees, causes them to give off a luminous reddish glow. The idea of using trees to replace street lights is an ingenious one – not only would it save on electricity costs and cut CO2 emissions, but it could also greatly reduce light pollution in major cities.
Work, friendships, exercise, parenting, eating, reading — there just aren’t enough hours in the day. To live fully, many of us carve those extra hours out of our sleep time. Then we pay for it the next day. A thirst for life leads many to pine for a drastic reduction, if not elimination, of the human need for sleep. Little wonder: if there were a widespread disease that similarly deprived people of a third of their conscious lives, the search for a cure would be lavishly funded. It’s the Holy Grail of sleep researchers, and they might be closing in.
As with most human behaviours, it’s hard to tease out our biological need for sleep from the cultural practices that interpret it. The practice of sleeping for eight hours on a soft, raised platform, alone or in pairs, is actually atypical for humans. Many traditional societies sleep more sporadically, and social activity carries on throughout the night. Group members get up when something interesting is going on, and sometimes they fall asleep in the middle of a conversation as a polite way of exiting an argument. Sleeping is universal, but there is glorious diversity in the ways we accomplish it.
Engineering nature to sustain our needs is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do in efforts to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting”.
Bioluminescence – the production and emission of light by a living organism – is the overarching concept of the Glowing Plant Project, and the approach can be divided into three basic steps: design, print and transform.
Visit the article link to learn more about this new technology...
What will New York City look like 40 years from now? Though it’s obviously difficult to predict the future decades in advance--40 years ago, few people would have guessed how the Internet would take over our lives--the engineering and design firm Arup has taken a stab at a vision of the city in 2050.
Powered by sun and fed by rainwater, the building doesn't produce any waste. Its automated window shades open and close like an organism’s pupil, regulating the amount of light that enters. The 600-panel solar array, which is expected to generate all the energy the building needs in a year, is arranged on the roof so that rays of sunlight can pass through and create a dappled pattern on the sidewalk below — similar to the way light passes through a forest canopy. And all the wood used in the structure came from local forests that harvest trees sustainably.
New Harvest is a non-profit research organization working to advance new alternatives to conventionally-produced meat, including cultured meat - meat produced in a cell culture, rather than in an animal - and plant-based alternatives.
Recently released timelapses of images from NASA’s Landsat satellite highlight the dramatically rapid urbanization of the desert in places like Dubai over the past couple decades. Cities sprout so quickly from nowhere, you can see the landscape morphing from space.
But another photography project is a reminder that these cities are just as shocking to behold up close. PhotographerMatthias Heiderich’s series "UAE" reveals a post-modern kingdom in the desert, hauntingly empty and utterly lifeless. Glistening buildings appear unused. Construction projects seem endless. Parking lots are barren.
In the summer of 1935, a pair of Bavarian climbers arrived in the Bernese Alps, hoping to become the first people ever to scale the monstrous north face of the mountain known as the Eiger. On their first day, they made good progress. On the second day, less so, and on the third, even less. Then a storm swept over the mountain and they froze to death. The next year, four more mountaineers attempted the face, and all four died. After a third failed attempt in 1937, a quartet of climbers finally reached the summit in 1938, taking three days to get there.
Twelve years and many more fatalities later, a pair of climbers managed to surmount the Eiger in 18 hours. The 1960s saw the first successful solo climb. In 1988, Alison Hargreaves climbed the Eiger while six months pregnant. By the 1990s, people were making the climb in the dead of winter. In 2008, Swiss climber Euli Steck speed-climbed the peak, solo, in winter, in 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 33 seconds. You can watch the video. Last month, a trio of Brits stood on a ledge near the top of the Eiger, then spread their arms and legs like wings and flew down.