Researchers at the University of Texas Dallas recently demonstrated that transparent carbon nanotube sheets, which can have the density of air and the specific strength of steel, can be used to make objects invisible.
This news is a couple of weeks old but somehow I must have missed it.
Their website goes on to say:
“This invisibility for light oblique to the nanotube sheets is caused by the mirage effect, in which a thermally generated refractive index gradient bends light array from a hidden object.”
Okay, so it only works on the oblique, so you’re not going to use this to sneak up on anyone anytime soon, but this still blows my mind.
Of course, the research is being funded by “Office of Naval Research, NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research”. Uh huh. Invisible battleships, anyone? I hated playing BATTLESHIP as a kid.
Adam Ford, who invited me to speak at last year’s Singularity Summit in Melbourne, is also organising this year’s H+ Summit in Melbourne, June 25 – 26. He asked me to post some info about it:
The H+ Summit @ Melbourne brings together an eclectic mix of rationalists, futurists, science fiction writers, AI experts, scientists, biotechnology experts, philosophers and theorists to pursue deep philosophical, scientific and technological inquiry, with the aim of being able to discern those changes which are likely to have profound impacts and those which are merely transient and or fashionable.
Technological innovation permeates all aspects of society — from tiny water purification packets and 3d printers, to GPS tracking devices, wearable smart devices, decision support systems, replaceable body parts and personal genome tests. Because technology and society evolve together, it has become increasingly important to develop a greater understanding of how technology is shaping the course of our lives. We are faced with the challenge to continuously become innovative in harnessing and controlling technological development as it accelerates on many diverse fronts. The “pioneers of the future” are faced with the necessity to become ever more resourceful. Even the most conservative thinkers agree that we have already stepped into an era of a profound change. The good news is that our human diversity continues to spawn both inventiveness and novelty.
This conference is brought to you by Humanity+ @ Melbourne (Victoria, Australia). Humanity+ explores how society might use and profit from a variety of creative and innovative thought. Join us for this adventurous journey into the future where you can make a difference! This conference will challenge and enhance your view of the future.
Seating is limited, so Secure your tickets now! >>
Partial list of Speakers and subjects:
Unfortunately I can’t make it due to Perdomo Lounge responsibilities, otherwise I’d be there with bells on.
Zombie Time has this great report on a book co-authored by Obama’s new science ‘czar’ John Holdren (with Paul and Anne Erlich) back in 1977 called "Ecoscience" which predicted that the world is going to become overpopulated which will in turn lead to massive famines.
A snippet from the post:
In a book Holdren co-authored in 1977, the man now firmly in control of science policy in this country wrote that:
• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
• The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation’s drinking water or in food;
• Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
• People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" — in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
• A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans’ lives — using an armed international police force.
This reminds me of a talk I heard on the ABC a couple of years ago by Melbourne neuroscientist Dr John Reid where he talked about overpopulation and what we are going to have to do about it. ABC host Robyn Williams actually quoted Paul Erlich’s most famous book, The Population Bomb, in the introduction to the show.
Reid quoted Elliot Morley, Britain’s Special Representative on climate change, by saying the human race is on a ‘sleepwalk to oblivion.’ I like that phrase.
He goes on to say:
If we do not delude ourselves, and if we accept the calculations made by the Global Footprint Network and WWF (and I know of no scientific analysis that refutes the basic validity of the model) there is only one ineluctable conclusion. The population of the world must be very quickly reduced to 5 billion (that is, if 6 billions equals 120% of capacity, then 5 billions equals 100%). And then, as the average level of affluence rises, fairly quickly reduced further to, say, 2 to 3 billion.
The urgent discussion then becomes, how do we achieve these targets? Leaving aside uncontrollable natural events, such as a collision with a large asteroid or comet, or the eruption of a super-volcano, there is only a limited number of ways population decrease can be achieved. These ways are all painful, and most are brutally painful in their effect.
He has some pretty scary recommendations. I remember bring horrified when I listened to the talk but then again, he’s right – unless we significantly change the size of our global footprint, it’s hard to see how the human race is going to survive the 21st century. Perhaps Kurzweil is right and nanotech will save us. I hope so.