Every year we live, it seems like we experience something new and unbelievable. We can only imagine what the latter prat of our existence will witness, but these 10 discoveries and events are likely to be among the Top 10 mind boggling things we will live to see.
Whether or not we are completely destroying Earth is a question of heated debate, but it may not be a bad idea to have a backup plan either way. If former Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin gets his way, by the year 2039, we could be seeing colonization of Mars. In an effort with the Florida Institute of Technology, Aldrin has begun development of a plan to turn the red planet into a 2nd Earth Colony within 25 years. Working separately from Aldrin are NASA, which plans to colonize by the mid-2030’s, SpaceX, headed by CEO Elon Musk, which is looking more within a 10-year window, and the Mars One Project, which has its eye on 2027. With enough hands working to make it a reality, it seems likely that we’ll soon be addressing birthday cards to the big red orb in the sky.
Merging Man and Machine
What happens to mankind when the computer far surpasses the intelligence of all man? According to inventor, futurist, computer scientist, and Google engineer Raymond Kurzweil, that moment will breed a new age of time, an era where the common man is obsolete and we’re forced to merge with artificial intelligence. Kurzweil’s belief stems from technological singularity, a hypothesis surrounding the development of artificial intelligence that would surpass human intelligence and the drastic changes to humanity that will come from it. According to Kurzweil, by the 2030’s, we can expect to be integrated with nanomachines that could alter us in ways similar to current technologies. For instance, expanding our mind to connect to the internet or a cloud-like network or working within our bodies to cure illness and curb aging.
Teleportation of Complex Molecules
Willy Wonka may have done it first but we’ll likely do it best in the not-too-distant future. Professor Michio Kaku (MICH-ee-oh KA-koo) of City University in New York is a firm believer that teleportation of complex molecules is on the horizon. Success in atom teleportation has already been confirmed, leaving the next step – teleporting molecules. Separate from Kaku, German researchers Dr. Alexander Szameit (ZAM-mite) and Dr. Marco Ornigotti from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Jena (YEN-ah) are turning to lasers, with which they were successful in teleporting light particles and electrons. The process is known as quantum teleportation and, according to Kaku, is a step in the right direction. Within decades, Kaku claims, teleportation of living tissue to other parts of the world could be a real possibility.
Mass Produced Flying Cars
In June of 2016, the first flying car was given the go-ahead by the Federal Aviation Administration, but Terrafugia’s Transition was no more than a prototype that received temporary exemptions from the FAA and Department of Transportation that could very well expire prior to production. The future of this kind of air travel may not be immediate, but Terrafugia and Slovakian company AeroMobil are aiming to produce a product viable for public sales anywhere between the next 3 years to a decade. Though AeroMobil’s flying car is slated for a 2017 pre-order, no manufacturing date has been pinpointed and, if some of the language on the website is any indication, regulations and required licensing is still unknown and current FAA approval only applies to the prototype and may change with the completed version.
Cyber, Augmented, and Advanced Automated Warfare
Despite the real possibility of technology turning on us, advancements in military tactics are gradually pushing fleshy soldiers off of the battlefield in favor of enhanced supersoldiers and advanced armed robots. According to a report put forth by leaders from the US Defense Department, Army Research Lab, the National Security Agency, the Institute for Defense Analysis, and many others, by 2050, war will be fought by armed drones and augmented soldiers outfitted with mental and physical enhancements. Think Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare without evil Kevin Spacey. Enemy counterattacks will come not just as explosive bombardments but as back-door access to augmentations where anything from information cyphering to machine control can be at risk. Some technology discussed in the report includes invisibility cloaks, force fields, energy weaponry, and advanced – and armed – robotics.
Getting old is no fun. Everything hurts, your mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be, and the world just seems to get bleaker and bleaker. Luckily, the future may have an answer to some of the qualms of aging. Well, maybe not that last one. The American Federation for Aging Research is aiming to begin a clinical trial called Targeting Aging with Metformin, which uses a type 2 diabetes treatment, Metformin, to try and delay age-related conditions, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. While the treatment is touted by several news outlets as an anti-aging drug, AFAR aims to simply allow patients to age healthier and avoid years of incapacitation by diseases that debilitate people at older ages. Looking to stop aging, however, is Dr. Matt Kaeberlein (CAB-er-line), who implemented the use of rapamycin, an anti-rejection medication, to increase the lifespan of dogs and mice.
Stem Cell Pharmacies
Even though stem cell research is still a heavily debated issue, that’s not going to stop progress. According to Professor David Warburton of Developmental Biology, Regenerative Medicine, and Stem Cell Therapeutics and leader in regenerative medicine and child health, it will only be several decades before we start seeing stem cell dispensaries popping up. Within 20 years, Warburton believes that stem cell treatment could be as straightforward as curing an infection is today. Damage to specific body parts and organs could see treatments that will require a simple process of diagnosis and the administering of specific stem cells which would be housed in stem cell banks.
There may come a time when every human being can communicate with one another despite speech disabilities and lack of hand signal knowledge. In 2014, a research team comprised of members of Starlab, Axilum Robotics, and Harvard Medical School found a means of realizing telepathic communications. The process was complex, utilized binary code, and took over 70 minutes to transmit the words “Hola” and “Ciao,” but it still worked, and the communication occurred not within the same room, but from a subject in India to another in France. The words were first translated to binary using 1s and 0s before being e-mailed to a blindfolded recipient with a transcranial magnetic stimulation system secured to their head. The receiver then experienced flashes of light in their peripheral, where each series represented a letter transmitted by the sender.
More Affordable Space Travel
If you are among the many that have an urge to explore the depths of space but don’t have the millions needed to become a space tourist, the future may be looking a little brighter. Proponents like Virgin Galactic currently offer tickets on future suborbital flights at $250,000, but former NASA astronaut Don Thomas firmly believes that, within 10 years, the price could drop even further, down to a more affordable $15,000. Even though that’s still quite a hefty sum, if the trend persists, Thomas claims traveling to space could cost the same as an Antarctic vacation, which can start at around $6,000.
The Sinking of Bangkok
Bangkok is not some backwater city with a minute population. It’s Thailand’s capital and home to upwards of over 14 million people, so to think that a report from Thailand’s National Reform Council shows Bangkok completely submerged within 15 years is mind-boggling. It’s not even just the rising sea levels that the city needs to be weary of. According to the report, “excessive pumping” from the city’s aquifer and an increased weight due to continued city development are also to blame. As of July of 2015, much of Bangkok was only 5-feet or roughly 1.5 meters above sea level and, by 2030, could find itself submerged in under 5-feet of water. One solution proposed was a sea wall around greater Bangkok that would cost an estimated $14.3 billion.