Lost in Space

Lost in Space
Future Tech Today

Joe Blancato | 12 Feb 2008 11:05
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Lasers have proven adept at gleefully driving cats around a room from the comfort of beer-stained recliners across the nation, but this tactic has few, if any, military applications. Enter the Advanced Tactical Laser, Boeing's latest DoD moneymaker. When mounted to the side of a C-130H Hercules, this bad boy is capable of raining death and destruction down on its unknowing prey from a range of 10 kilometers.

Unfortunately, the ATL has two known design flaws which have prevented mass production: 1) The laser operates in the infrared spectrum, meaning it is invisible to the naked eye and, therefore, not nearly as impressive looking as the Ion Canon or the Death Star's Superlaser, and 2) Operators must currently supply their own "pew pew" sound effects. Expect these issues to be resolved in a later model.

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Curing Heart Disease And Everything Else
Ultimately, science fiction's highest goal is living to reach the stars, and if relativity holds, the best way to travel ultra-long distances is to extend both our lives and our quality of life. And between the science of restoration and aging research, some scientists claim living a healthy life to 1,000 is possible.

Aubrey de Grey is the head of the Methuselah Foundation, a group that treats aging itself as a curable disease. He calls the effort Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, and has broken his research over two fields: MitoSENS and LysoSENS. De Grey's known as a rogue, but he pleaded a convincing case in front of his peers at the TED Conference in 2005.

Of course, one guy on the fringe isn't enough to change the way we age, but when you combine his approach with the work of regenerative medicine researchers like Dr. Alan Russell, there's an outside chance we're only a generation or two away from outpacing time.

Russell works on the premise that if a salamander can regenerate limbs, humans should be able to, too, and some of the results he shared at TED 2006 are incredibly promising. By using regenerative cells and stem cells found in the intestine, he and other researchers have been able to rebuild tissue only plastic surgery could treat, repair failing hearts and regrow burned skin.

Research in Russell's field is taking off, and as it improves, de Grey's should, as well. So while living forever still remains something of fancy, science has brought it into the realm of possibility, something we can reach for rather than just dream about.

In the Expanse of Space, There is No Conclusion
However, in the expanse of a magazine, we have to find a way to say goodbye. Hopefully you'll leave this article a bit smarter, or at least more hopeful, than you were going in. These are only five instances of science creeping up on our imagination and stealing away with our far-out future prediction, but we're living in a time where the future and the present are blurring more than ever. Where humanity goes from here on out is up to us, assuming we can look far enough ahead.

Joe Blancato is the Content Editor at The Escapist and rules Word with an iron fist. He actually predicted someone would write an article like this years ago, but never believed he'd be the one to write it.

Jordan Deam has undergone more than a dozen MRI brain scans in the name of science. The results, while promising, were inconclusive.

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