It’s bound to happen sooner or later — humans inhabiting Mars. The guys at the space project named Mars One believe that permanent human settlement can be started in about a decade.
human settlement on Mars
Mars One has this timetable:
2016: A communication satellite and a supply mission will be sent to Mars. 2018: A planetary rover will be sent to Mars to locate the best location for the settlement. 2020: Living units, life support units, a rover, and supplies will be sent to Mars to prepare the settlement for human arrival. September 2022: The first crew (four members) will depart. April 2023: First human landing on the Red Planet. 2025 (and every two years after): Arrival of a new crew.
Mars One is privately funded and claims that the whole mission can be achieved without using the taxpayers’ money and without involving politics or governments. The people behind the project has talked to several private aerospace companies and found suppliers for the needed components. They estimate that putting the first team on Mars and establishing the colony will cost about $6 billion. For funding, Mars One envisions turning the whole mission into a reality show that millions of people all around the world will watch. Turning it into a media spectacle will enable funds to be generated and for sponsors to be solicited.
Unlike other manned space missions, the astronauts who will be sent on the Mars One mission will live on Mars for the rest of their lives. They will construct the settlement, maintain the systems, and do their research. The settlement will be self-sufficient: the astronauts will have a water supply (through extracting water from the soil and recycling), breathe on oxygen (by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen), and grow their own food (via hydroponics).
All this is very exciting and I’m sure to be one of the people who will be glued to the TV screen when Mars One pulls off this mission. As for becoming an astronaut, living on an alien planet for the rest of my life is very freaky for me so I doubt I will be rushing to get in line once they begin accepting applications for astronauts.
Wouldn’t it be really cool to work as a futurist? To get paid big bucks to dream up high-tech stuff? And for a company that can actually make your visions come true?
In this interview, CNET’s Brian Cooley talks to Brian David Johnson, Intel’s futurist, about technological futurism and what we can expect 10-15 years from now. Not surprisingly, Johnson mentions how sci-fi influences and fuels our technology.
You’ll also catch a preview of future stuff that Intel is currently cooking at their R&D Labs.
This is an interesting short movie about life in the (near) future. From hobbies to simple household chores, to dating and instantaneous information access. The main character’s creepy way of smiling adds to the discomforting end.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have cracked a mouse’s retinal neural code and integrated this information with a prosthetic device to restore vision of blind mice. They have also deciphered the code for a monkey’s retina and since monkeys and humans have almost identical retinas, they hope to begin human trials in as short as one to two years. If proven safe and effective, the prosthetic provides hope for 25 million people who have disease-caused blindness.
With normal vision, when light falls on photoreceptors in the surface of the retina, the signals from the photoreceptors are converted into a code of electrical signals that are then sent up to the brain by ganglion cells. The brain then translates this code into images. Diseases that cause blindness include retinal tear or detachment, macular degeneration (which may occur in aging), and diabetic retinopathy. Such diseases destroy the photoreceptors and the retinal circuitry but usually do not affect the ganglion cells.
Other scientists have developed bionic eye implants and light-sensitive proteins to replace the damaged photoreceptors and stimulate the ganglion cells of the patients, but these approaches only result in rough visual fields consisting of spots and edges of light. According to lead researcher Dr. Sheila Nirenberg, “Not only is it necessary to stimulate large numbers of cells, but they also have to be stimulated with the right code — the code the retina normally uses to communicate with the brain.”
A shows normal vision. B and C shows the image the blind mice saw after the novel treatment. D shows the image they would see using conventional treatment.
The code (a set of equations) converts light patterns into electrical impulses and this code is what Dr. Nirenberg and her co-author Dr. Chethan Pandarinath have discovered. During experiments with mice, the researchers found that with the use of the code, the novel prosthetic provides near-normal vision and allows recognition of facial features and tracking of moving images.
Dr. Nirenberg envisions the prosthetic system in the form of spectacles or a Star Trek-like visor to be worn by the user. A tiny camera embedded in the visor will pick up information in the user’s line of sight and a small processor will turn the information into code. A mini projector will then convert the code into flashes of light to activate the cells at the back of the retina and pass the encoded information to the brain.
The four-year project Integrated Cognitive Assistive & Domotic Companion Robotic Systems for Ability & Security (aka CompanionAble) ended recently. Its aim was to integrate robotics and ambient intelligence to help elderly people afflicted with early dementia to live more independently. The project received € 7.8M in funding and began in January 1, 2008.
Hector (official name: Scitos G3), a mobile robot developed by Metralabs Robotics, runs around a fully-functional smart home designed by Stichting Smart Homes. Hector interacts with people via verbal commands as well as a touchscreen interface. It can carry small items, such as keys, but primarily acts as a coach and a companion. Hector gives out reminders, encouragements, and suggestions geared toward physical, social, and cognitive stimulation of the user. It can, for example, remind the user of his appointments or when it is time to take his medicine. It can also suggest activities like playing a game or making a call.
To test the system, several memory impaired elderly people and their partners were invited to live in the smart home with Hector for two days. According to Claire Huijnen: “All participants were very positive about their experience. Even those who hesitated at first, or thought it was a bit scary, saw their attitude change completely. Already after one day, both patients and their partners recognized and felt the benefits and added value of a robot buddy that physically comes to you and talks to you.”
While there are still many things to improve, CompanionAble has opened the way for home-care robots and smart homes to be accepted. “From the huge amount of observations, opinions, and findings, we have learned that there are still many things to improve, but more importantly that people accept it and like it!” added Hujinen.
Oh Japan! I’m really getting curious with these Kracie (Crazy?) food kits. They appeal to both my inner child and my inner glutton. I expect bigger versions of these kits to become popular in the near future, not just novelty items. Fast food of the future?
So with a little water, a pair of scissors, and your microwave, you can have your very own miniature hamburger meal.
According to the video poster, the finished food set is edible. It has 96 calories and contains pork and chicken ingredients. No artificial colors or preservatives. More importantly, it tastes good — like real hamburger, bread, cheese, ketchup, French fries and cola. It costs 258 yen in Japan but if you’re not in Japan, expect to buy this kit at a much higher price. Cooking+preparation time is around five minutes.
In case you prefer something more Asian, fret not. Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ Curry Set and Ramen Set are also available. In this video, the girl used combined the two sets to make curry noodles, fried rice, steamed meat dumplings (or buns), and Chinese soup.
The curry noodles and fried rice apparently taste normal, but the dumplings have a weird potato-ey taste.