Dumbass NY Times Article: “The Elusive Big Idea”

A recent article in the NY Times is getting buzz and making rounds.

Its crap.

Just off-hand, here are some big idea innovations that are and will change the world:

 

The Evolution Machine [ref] == Radical Health and Biological Science driven advances

It is a strange combination of clumsiness and beauty. Sitting on a cheap-looking worktop is a motley ensemble of flasks, trays and tubes squeezed onto a home-made frame. Arrays of empty pipette tips wait expectantly. Bunches of black and grey wires adorn its corners. On the top, robotic arms slide purposefully back and forth along metal tracks, dropping liquids from one compartment to another in an intricately choreographed dance. Inside, bacteria are shunted through slim plastic tubes, and alternately coddled, chilled and electrocuted. The whole assembly is about a metre and a half across, and controlled by an ordinary computer.

Say hello to the evolution machine. It can achieve in days what takes genetic engineers years. So far it is just a prototype, but if its proponents are to be believed, future versions could revolutionise biology, allowing us to evolve new organisms or rewrite whole genomes with ease. It might even transform humanity itself.

Thorium Powered  Vehicles [ref]  == Replacement of Fossil Fuels for mobile vehicles

“Thorium, an abundant and radioactive rare earth mineral, could be used in conjunction with a laser and mini turbines to easily produce enough electricity to power a vehicle. When thorium is heated, it generates further heat surges, allowing it to be coupled with mini turbines to produce steam that can then be used to generate electricity. Combining a laser, radioactive material, and mini-turbines might sound like a complicated alternative solution to filling your gas tank, but there’s one feature that sells it as a great alternative solution: 1 gram of thorium produces the equivalent energy of 7,500 gallons of gasoline.”

The Space Shaft [ref] == Cheap Orbital Lift Capacity

A private European organization has a proposal for creating 100-300 kilometer high multipurpose towers. The towers would be composed of moveable lighter-than-air rings stacked upon each other. Modules would be added from the bottom up and filled with a light gas. Shuttles within the shaft could take people and payloads to the top, slowly but inexpensively. In an interview with Sander Olson, Patrick Vankeirsbilk describes how the first towers could become operational within a decade, and could be used both for tourism and for getting payloads inexpensively into space.

Universal Anti-Viral[ref] == Better health and Quality of Life for all

Too good to be true? You might think this is impossible.

“Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.”

It works against 15 viruses tested so far.

Cure for Cancer via Applied Genetic Engineering [ref] == Increased Human Longevity and Quality of Life

Cancer Cured By Injecting White Blood Cells that had been genetically altered by a modified/harmless version of HIV

 

Applying Economic Thinking and Quantitative thinking to Everything!

 

3D Printing [ref] Manufacturing only limited by our imaginations

Think: 3D Printing + Semi-autonomous Robots + Interplanetary Internet + Cheap Space Launch/Lift Costs + off-planet atomic power

 

Abundant and Cheap Energy for all should be our goal [ref]

I want to drive an affordable electric or gas/electric or some sort of flex-fuel vehicle as a mobility device. I want to take a train once a month to Madison or the Fox River Valley. I want to see a new nationwide network of smart electrical grids powered by small scale nuclear plants, municipal plasma furnaces, wind and solar (where the make sense) or whatever else entrepreneurs can dream up and successively execute. I long for the day of orbital solar power.

I love the idea of (and the change it will make) of Russia and Saudi Arabia and the others of their ilk being deprived of their ability to make mischief  and misery for the rest of the world. I welcome their fall. This will be a good thing for the world.

 

Micro Robots For Health Care [ref] == Loner and Healthier Lives

They look like spirals with tiny heads, and screw through the liquid like miniature corkscrews. When moving, they resemble rather ungainly bacteria with long whip-like tails. They can only be observed under a microscope because, at a total length of 25 to 60 µm, they are almost as small as natural flagellated bacteria. Most are between 5 and 15 µm long, a few are more than 20 µm.[…]

 

What are your ideas?

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14 Responses

  1. How about 25 of them (or at least generators of them)?

    http://www.slate.com/id/2298554/landing/1

  2. On another subject, when your state’s leaders are done trying to put each other out of business, they may wish to consider the best way to accommodate your new neighbors:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14576664

  3. “Will We All Be Tweaking Our Genetic Code?”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14919539

    Even without the doomsday scenarios, I can see where advances in this field could cause public health issues. Eliminating recessive-based disorders, for example, would be a blessing, but what benefits would be lost if they went so far as to eliminate the recessives themselves from the populace? Cosmetic adjustments probably can’t be avoided, but what non-cosmetic effects are eliminated or made over-abundant in the process?

  4. http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/09/24/0513236/crowdsourcing-speeds-evolution-of-3d-printable-objects

    “”The Cornell Creative Machines Lab, which brought us chatbots debating God and unicorns, has developed Endlessforms.com, a site using evolutionary algorithms and crowdsourcing to design objects that can be 3D printed in materials such as silver, steel or silicone. MIT’s Technology Review says ‘The rules EndlessForms uses to generate objects and their variants resemble those of developmental biology[…]”

  5. http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/09/25/048217/are-folding-containers-the-future-of-shipping

    “”Earlier this year Maersk ordered 20 super-size container ships—each to have ’16 percent larger capacity than today’s largest container vessel, Emma Maersk.’ But instead of embracing the bigger/more-is-better mentality, Staxxon, a NJ-based startup, has engineered a folding steel container (it folds like a toddler’s playpen), which is designed to make shipping more efficient by ‘reducing the number of container ship movements.'”

  6. The City of London’s taking the concept of transparency to a new level:

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2026474_2026675_2041044,00.html

  7. “Hybrid cars normally combine conventional engines with battery-powered electric motors. But many carmakers are developing alternative types of hybrids—some of which were on display this month at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

    Hybrid systems recover kinetic energy—from the engine or from the vehicle itself—and use it to boost the efficiency of the engine. A typical hybrid car does this by charging up a battery.”

    https://www.technologyreview.com/energy/38730/?p1=A3

  8. “He refers, of course, to SF writers. The scientists and engineers, he seems to be saying, are ready and looking for things to do. Time for the SF writers to start pulling their weight and supplying big visions that make sense. Hence the Hieroglyph project, an effort to produce an anthology of new SF that will be in some ways a conscious throwback to the practical techno-optimism of the Golden Age.”

    http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/innovation-starvation

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