Quantum Cryptography: The Locks and Keys of the Future

Companies around the world are always searching for new and better ways to protect their data. For this reason, encrypting code is very crucial for business to be successful. They must encrypt their data and source code in such a way so that no unauthorized person is able to access their data. Today, it is easier than ever for hackers to acquire valuable data since most of the companies around the world store their data in the cloud. While the cloud makes it cheaper and easier for companies to store their data, it also makes it easier for that information to end up in the wrong hands. To avoid this vulnerability, companies use a “key” which can decode the encryption protecting their code. Although encryption is safe, when put up against truly experienced or keen hackers, this key can be stolen or eventually deduced. One very innovative way to protect code and get around the current vulnerabilities involved with regular encryption is by using quantum cryptography. 

Quantum cryptography, also known as quantum encryption, is a new way to send keys for encryption at a quantum level. The more specific type of quantum cryptography we are talking about is quantum key distribution. Quantum key distribution works by having the quantum key encode and send the information needed to decode a message via light particles. Sending a message through light particles makes it virtually impossible for hackers to attain the encrypted data or the decryption key.

Sending information using light particles isn’t an easy task, but allow me to explain how it works. Let us say, for example, a key is being sent between two people using quantum cryptography. This key can be transferred using a stream of photons in one direction. Each of these photon particles can be represented as a number for data, either a 0 or a 1. While on their journey, these photons are vibrating in a certain matter which can be in any 360 degree direction, but to simplify quantum cryptography, we use four states: UP/DOWN, LEFT/RIGHT, UPLEFT/RIGHTDOWN and UPRIGHT/LEFTDOWN. The angle at which the particle vibrates is known as the polarization of the light particle. We then use a polarizer to send messages with these photons. A polarizer is basically a filter that permits certain photons to pass through it with the same vibration as before and lets others pass through in a changed state of the vibration. With this polarizer, a person can assign each photon a particular direction using numbers for the data. The photons containing the information then get sent out to the other person receiving the message. The receiver then uses a special type of decryption machine to figure out each direction of each photon. This will allow the person to then access the data and information without anyone else obtaining it since the photons are sent directly from person to person at the speed of light.

If quantum cryptography becomes a commercial product for business, it can transform the concept of security to a whole new level. Before explaining how quantum cryptography can work for other businesses, we have to understand how businesses currently protect their information. Historically, most companies used to set up warehouses where all their data would be stored in servers, which is a term called “in-house.” However, now, most start up businesses use the cloud to store their information as it is much cheaper and easier to manage. The bigger companies use a hybrid system as they store some information in the cloud and store some information in-house. This is more beneficial as it isn’t too costly, and the secure information gets protected in the warehouse. The problem with the cloud is that it is easier for that information to be stolen. With quantum cryptography, that is no longer a problem.

Quantum cryptography can be used to protect valuable information in the cloud at a vastly new level of security and dependability. The same message using light particles can be used to send information through the cloud or to protect a company’s source code. The message will be broken down into photons of light and delivered between two parties, so no one else is able to view it. This message can take the form of information for customers, employees, or whoever else the company wants to send it to. Information kept in the cloud is managed by third party companies like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, to name a few. This quantum cryptography solution can be used by these companies to make their clouds safer for other businesses to use.

This quantum cryptography solution to modern encryption vulnerability isn’t just a myth; there have already been tests and experiments on the idea of quantum cryptography. The first quantum transaction took place in 2004, when researchers in Vienna used entangled photons to transfer a 3,000-Euro deposit into their bank account. Quantum cryptography has already been experimented with, but it hasn’t been used to send data through the cloud yet.  According to quantum cryptographer Artur Ekert, a professor at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore,

There is still a way to go before it becomes a standard commercial proposition, but we are getting there faster than I expected.

It is very possible for this technology to become a commercial product to be used by all companies, but there’s still a significant amount of research and work to do before this becomes a widespread reality. 

Quantum cryptography could serve as a wonder for all businesses using the cloud. It protects their data in such a way which makes it almost impossible for someone to steal information they are not authorized to access.. Those who don’t own a business may not care about protecting businesses’ data, but most people work as employees for companies, which means that their job security also depends on the expansion of this technology.  Quantum cryptography/encryption benefits the businesses most, but it also benefits the employees working for these companies by ensuring that their jobs are not lost due to negligence with valuable information. 

It may only be a short time before companies start storing information on light particles, but for the time being, the cloud is our best option. I’m excited for a new day and age when even our clouds can be locked and protected!

Electronic Cigarette Controversy: Safe to Inhale?

The electronic cigarette. A godsend for some, a tragedy for others. Most recently invented by Hon Lik in 2003, (supposedly invented first in 1963 but it was lost to the world since the idea never took flight) the electronic cigarette has risen in both popularity and use over the years as a great alternative for daily smokers.

The electronic cigarette is a battery operated product that creates a water vapor resulting from heating nicotine, bypassing the harmful smoke we get from regular cigarettes.  However, what do we actually know about electronic cigarettes? Especially with all of the recent activity on banning the use of electronic cigarettes by minors, it makes one wonder: what is it about electronic cigarettes that creates such a controversy?

Related ArticleBiggest Wastes of Money (Part 1): Cigarettes, Fashion, Lottery, New Cars

One side claims they are a healthy alternative to smoking and easing out of regular cigarette smoking. The other side claims that electronic cigarettes are associated with worse poisons and an impressive list of harmful chemicals. But what are the arguments and do they make sense?

The most important thing to know about the electronic cigarette is that it is not yet regulated by the FDA. It is a product that is in its trial period per-say, and not enough concrete studies have been conducted for the FDA to regulate the electronic cigarette. With this in mind, there are constant studies being conducted for and against the use of the electronic cigarette. Some with less of a bias than the others of course, but most point to clear findings supporting or bashing electronic cigarettes. Let us explore the different sides of the controversy.


The Good

For all of you that like to inhale your liquor quicker instead of enjoying it, zing! http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/02/electronic_cigarettes_e-cigare.html

For all of you that like to inhale your liquor quicker instead of enjoying it, zing!

Supporters rejoice, for there are many, many, many different types of flavored vapors for the electronic cigarette, which is already a huge step up from the same old cigarette smoke smell. You can now inhale anything from a banana cream pie vapor to a Jack Daniels and coke vapor. What’s more, the are numerous varieties of styles and trends electronic cigarettes take on! I have seen electronic cigarettes that look like their basic predecessor, while others have very unique looks. There is even an electronic cigarette that looks identical to a USB drive. Imagine being that trend setter, having access to a whole new world of trendy e-cigs, and using a neon glowing electronic cigarette. Cool.

Related ArticleSmoking: A Pre-Existing Condition Under ObamaCare

From the scientific perspective, numerous studies shed a positive light on the electronic cigarette. A study found that the amount of nicotine inhaled through a electronic cigarette is lower compared with conventional cigarette smoking. With nicotine addiction in mind, this is a breakthrough and hopefully leads to less abuse of cigarettes. On that note, a study conducted in New Zealand found that the electronic cigarette can help smokers quit regular cigarette habits while another found that secondhand exposure to the vapor from electronic cigarettes exposes people to nicotine and not any harmful tobacco specific combustion products. Another leg up on the competition, cigarettes eat your heart out. 


The Bad 

While most studies focus on comparisons between tobacco smoke and vapor smoke, not many focus on the electronic cigarette itself. Glamour aside, you are still inhaling nicotine, you are still mimicking the habit of smoking a real cigarette, and you are still inhaling and exhaling a hot vapor which could itself be harmful. Apart from the idea that the electronic cigarette can help ease people off regular cigarettes, there are still a lot of arguments against their use.

Related ArticleCannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

At the University of California Riverside researchers found that cartridges leak at times exposing user to dangerously high levels of nicotine. A pre-existing nicotine addiction could thrive with such a hazard present. Another study found that there is an increase in airway resistance when using an electronic cigarette, possibly causing damage to the lungs in the future. Heart risk is also being explored as far as the nicotine levels go, with a study linking the increase in heart disease to the level of exposure to nicotine from electronic cigarettes. All of this doesn’t even take into account the long term harm caused by a hot vapor containing  various metals, propylene glycol, and glycerin.

I would love to say one side is clearly in the right, but there is unfortunately still a great deal of inconclusive data with regards to electronic cigarettes and the health risks they may pose.


My Ugly

There is a lot of information on the inter-web to sort through these days, mostly because of our constant yearn for knowledge, but when taking into consideration all the studies that were conducted on the electronic cigarette, it would be best to just avoid the use of electronic cigarettes all together. It is an unregulated product, and like most products that have yet to yield concrete long term side effects, it should be approached with caution. Not to mention a lot of the studies that have found results are all based on short term effects, there is yet unknown data to be observed and analysed before we can claim the electronic cigarette to be completely safe for daily use.

Related Article: Smoking Pot Without Getting High: But Why?

However, if you are intrigued but on the fence about switching over to the electronic cigarette, consider the financial aspect. If you currently smoke a pack of cigarettes each day, you could be paying roughly 600$ a year vs. the over 1000$ a year it costs for you to smoke regular cigarettes. Plus, electronic cigarettes are styling and trendy! Just look at those cool cats pictured above!




FDA: Electronic Cigarettes

Mayor Bloomberg signs indoor e-cigarette ban

Top 9 ABC: Despite Opposition, House Approves E-Cigarette Ban

Wikipedia: Electronic Cigarette

ABC News: 5 Facts about E-Cigarettes

Oxford Journals: Nicotine Levels in Electronic Cigarettes

Oxford Journals: Secondhand Exposure to Vapors from Electronic Cigarettes

The Lancet: Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Controlled Trial

My Freedom Smokes: MFS Custom Liquids

The different Types of E-Cigarettes

Aliexpress: USB e-cigarette

UCR Newsroom: Electronic Cigarettes are Unsafe and Pose Health Risks

Medical News Today: Electronic Cigarettes Can Harm the Lungs

NYU to e-cigarette users: Cigarettes are Healthier

News Channel 5: E-cigarettes pose serious health risks, new study links usage and heart disease

Public Health: Peering through the mist


IMDB: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 


Wondergressive: Biggest Wastes of Money (Part 1): Cigarettes, Fashion, Lottery, New Cars

Wondergressive: Cannabis Cures Cancer and More: A Thorough History and Review of the Evidence

Wondergressive: Smoking: A Pre-Existing Condition Under ObamaCare

Wondergressive: Smoking Pot Without Getting High: But Why?

CRISPR Genetic Engineering Used to Create Custom Monkeys

custom monkey genetic engineering

Genetic engineering using CRISPRs has created these custom monkeys. http://rt.com/

The practice of genetic engineering in humans has been explored in numerous science fiction stories, such as Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In some stories manipulation of genes opens a door to a wild, dystopic future, such as the universe encountered in Samuel R. Delany’s Einstein Intersection. On the other hand, some speculative futures, such as Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, paint a picture where genetic engineering is a bridge to disease control, self-evolution, and more.

I’m not referencing awesome science fiction novels just because I’m a huge sci-fi geek. The term “genetic engineering” happens to be rooted in science fiction.  “Genetic engineering” was first coined in Jack Williamson’s science fiction book Dragon’s Island, which was published in 1952, one year before DNA’s role in hereditary was proven.

genetic engineering mice

Some genetically engineered mice can act as your own personal emergency flashlight.

Incredibly, it only took science two decades to perform what Williamson had only written in words. In 1973 Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen inserted antibiotic resistance genes into an E.coli bacterium, marking the creation of the first genetically modified organism. In 1974, scientists created the first genetically modified animal by injecting viral DNA into mice.

Related Article: It’s a Mini-Me: Mice Clones Provide Personalized Cancer Treatment

Genetic engineering has come a long way since the groovy 70’s. In 2010, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute created Synthia, the first synthetic life form. They accomplished this incredible feat by inserting a synthetic bacterial genome into a cell containing no DNA.

The creation of synthetic life is remarkable, but let’s get back to the natural, more complex, and messier kingdom of animals.  Last week researchers from China reported the successful creation of genetically modified monkeys using a relatively new and direct method of genome editing involving the use of CRISPRs, a type of nuclease found in many bacteria. The monkeys in the experiment were originally macaques, marking the first time targeted genome editing (direct genetic engineering) has been used in primates. This could potentially pave the way for quick and easy genetic engineering in humans.

Scientists have genetically engineered monkeys in the past, but never before have they been able to directly add, remove, or alter a target gene site. A past example of genetic engineering in a primate that you may remember is when scientists injected jellyfish DNA into a rhesus monkey in 2001. The difference between 2001 and 2014 is that thirteen years ago scientists were practically shooting blind. Using different synthetic nuclease like CRISPR, scientists have unparalleled control over the genes they choose to alter, and in what ways they are able to alter them. As the Chinese researchers explain,

the application of monkeys in biomedical researches has been significantly hindered by the difficulties in producing animals genetically modified at the desired target sites. Here, we first applied the CRISPR/Cas9 system, a versatile tool for editing the genes of different organisms, to target monkey genomes.

genetic engineering geneticist

Geneticists like this DNA wizard will one day give us the freedom of genetic engineering in humans. themindunleashed.org

Three specific genes in the monkeys were modified by the researchers: one that regulates immune cell development, another that regulates metabolism, and a third that regulates sex determination as well as stem cells. Interestingly, the monkeys were altered in various ways depending on how far along the monkey embryo had developed. According to Wezhi Ji, a researcher at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research,

data from this species should be very useful for curing human disease and improving human health.

Human health and longevity are major focuses for genetic engineers. The discovery and use of various synthetic nuclease launched genetic engineering in humans from a dream to an exponentially growing reality.

Related Article: Immortal Animals and the Human Link

A nuclease is a naturally occurring type of genetic code found in the genome of many bacteria and archaea. Nuclease are of particular interest to scientists in the field of genetic engineering because nuclease have the unique capacity to be used as “molecular scissors.”  They can literally cut DNA at target areas without harming the two newly created DNA strands in any way. They’re like a real-life cut-copy-paste tool for working with genetic code.

Genetic engineers create synthetic nuclease in the lab to aid them in genetic engineering. To date, four different synthetic nuclease have been created for use in genomic editing. These are:

  • Meganucleases
  • Zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs)
  • Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs)
crispr genetic engineering

CRISPRs are what allow all the custom magic to happen. http://www.nature.com/

CRISPRs are the newest and arguably most effective synthetic nuclease used in genetic engineering today. CRISPR stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat,” and are used by bacteria to fight off viruses by destroying targeted DNA. By harnessing the CRISPR mechanism, geneticists revolutionized the field. According to an article entitled “The CRISPR Craze published in August 2013 on sciencemag.org,

In January, four research teams reported harnessing the system, called CRISPR, to target the destruction of specific genes in human cells. And in the following 8 months, various groups have used it to delete, add, activate or suppress targeted genes in human cells, mice, rats, zebrafish, bacteria, fruit flies, yeast, nematodes and crops, demonstrating broad utility for the technique. With CRISPR, scientists can create mouse models of human diseases much more quickly than before, study individual genes much faster, and easily change multiple genes in cells at once to study their interactions.

Even DuPont has used CRISPRs to create improved bacterial strains for food production. CRISPRs are now used almost ubiquitously throughout laboratories that perform genetic engineering.  CRISPRs provide researchers with incredible flexibility and the ability to create a genetically modified animal in a single generation. The recent custom monkey study is a boon that will inevitably launch the industry to even greater heights.

Related Article: Court Battle Begins Between David and Goliath, Bowman and Monsanto

Researchers such as Robert Desimone, director of MIT’s McGovern Brain Institute for Brain Research, have openly expressed their interest in genetically engineering their own custom monkeys. According to Desimone,

Although mice are giving us tremendous insight into basic brain biology and the biology of the disease, there’s still a big gap in between the mouse brain and the monkey brain.

genetic engineering humans

Big hand, tiny feet, whatever. I just want to fly! http://www.marymeetsdolly.com/

There is yet an additional gap between a monkey brain and human brain. However, the fact that direct genome editing works to create modified monkeys suggests it might also work to create genetically modified humans. CRISPR has already been used to modify human cells grown in laboratories, but it has yet to be tested on developing or developed humans. The authors conclude their statements on genetic engineering with CRISPRs with a note of prolonged optimism, announcing that,

We believe the success of this strategy in nonhuman primates gives lots of potential for its application in humans, but we think due to the safety issue, it will take a long way for expanding this strategy to human embryos.

One day genetic engineering will revolutionize the medical industry, the fashion industry, countless more industries, and then it will one day be taken for granted. The faster we can genetic engineering technology for granted, the faster I can take having night-vision and a few extra arms for granted. Let’s do this world!




Brave New World

Einstein Intersection

Last and First Men

Dragon’s Island











New Devices Grant Mind Control Over Your World: The Force is With You

mind control emotiv

The Emotiv headband grants mind control of the user’s environment. http://www.singularityworld.com/

Mind control is the central focus of a TED talk presented in July of 2010 by Tan Le, founder & CEO of Emotiv Lifescience, a bioinformatics company which uses electroencephalography (EEG) to identify biomarkers for various disorders and conditions.

Tan begins the talk by discussing how communication between people takes into account far more information than what is explicitly expressed, like body movement, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Communicating with a machine on the other hand involves a single, unambiguous command.  This leads to a roadblock within the industries of robotics, computer programming, cybernetics, and more:  How can a machine communicate more like a human being if it is unable to take into account all of the information outside the literal meaning of the words we use? To get around this dilemma scientists began merging both realms of interactions so that computers could respond to all forms of communicative interactions. This in turn has led to the power of mind control being granted to us mere mortals. But how?

Related Article: Merge Biology with Electronics: First True Cybernetic Tissue Created

One of the major difficulties behind creating a computer that can take into account all of the information exchanged during a human to human interaction is the very act of detection. The algorithms required to detect all of the information being exchanged must be extremely complex. Additionally, much of the information exchanged during human interaction can be perceived in wildly different ways due to variations in culture, humor, and other societal norms.  According to Tan, this is why researchers are skipping all of the vague information and going right to the source: the brain.

According to Tan,

Our brain is made up of billions of active neurons; around 170,000 kilometers of combined axon links. When these neurons interact, the chemical reaction emits an electrical impulse which can be measured.

So, we measure the electrical impulses emitted by the brain and create a universal map, or language, of the brain’s neuronal activity. Seems pretty straightforward, but fortunately for us critically thinking apes, the brain is not that simple. Tan goes onto explain that,

The majority of our functional brain is distributed over the outer surface area of the brain, and to increase the area that’s available for mental capacity the brain’s surface is highly folded. Now this cortical folding presents a significant challenge for interpreting surface electrical impulses. Each individual’s cortex is folded differently, very much like a fingerprint. So even though a signal may come from the same functional part of the brain, by the time the structure has been folded its physical location is very different between individuals, even identical twins.

So the language of normal human interaction is too vague, and the language of the brain is too complex. What was Tan and her team to do? Tan describes the breakthrough, explaining that,

our breakthrough was to crate an algorithm that unfolds the cortex so that we can map the signal closer to its source and therefore make it capable of working across a mass population.

mind control sensor array

Before mind control devices traditional sensory arrays like this one scanned the brain. http://www.wired.com

And this is where mind control begins to enter the scene. The creation of the algorithm gave Tan the necessary code to accurately map the brain’s signals, but the hardware presented a new challenge. Live brain scans traditionally use an array of sensors attached to every square inch of a person’s head using a conductive gel.  This method is extremely uncomfortable, and very expensive. To address this issue Tan and her team created a lightweight headset which uses no conductive gel, is wireless, and only takes a few minutes to attach to the head. The best part is that the device only costs a few hundred dollars, compared to around $10,000 for traditional sensor array helmets.  Combine the new device with Tan’s complex cortical algorithm and we are left with a relatively cheap headset that can read your brainwaves in real time. The brainwave signature can be used to influence objects, granting users mind control over the object as long as it is configured to read the brainwave signal.

Related Article: Electronic Brain Implants Increase Intelligence

Tan invites a person from the audience and demonstrates the miraculous mind control abilities afforded by her mind reading headset. The device takes a neutral scan of the user’s brain, and from there it’s all Jedi mind control training.  Select the action ‘pull’ on a computer, and imagine that the object on the computer screen is moving toward you for 10 seconds. After a 10 second scan is completed, every time you imagine the object moving toward you, it does exactly that. The same applies to more mentally complex actions like disappearing, multiplying, or growing larger.  After getting to know the device, you are systematically granted greater and greater mind control powers.

Tan completes her TED talk by showing some of the other capabilities of her device. For example, she showed that it could be used to turn lights on and off or close the drapes at home without moving a muscle. It can even be used to fly a toy helicopter or make online video games more realistic by having colors in the game change relative to your ongoing emotions. This all sounds amazing, but this was in 2010. Let’s fast forward nearly four years into the future to 2014.

Related Article: Awareness and Dealing with Rejection

The man you see is playing a game called Mindflex which scans his brain's awareness. www.cnn.com

The man you see is playing a game called Mindflex which scans his brain’s awareness. http://www.cnn.com

Although mind control technology is still in its infancy incredible progress has been made since Tan’s TED talk debuted. A great example of the leaps and bounds that have been made in the industry is presented in a recent NPR article. The article describes how Johnny Liu, a manager for the San Jose-based company NeuroSky, came into the KQED studio to show off his own unique pairing of mind control devices: NeuroSky’s MindWave Mobile headset, and the Orbit brain-controlled helicopter. Using these devices in conjunction with one another, Liu reveals how his level of awareness is the greatest influence on the effectiveness and stability of the helicopter’s flight. It is for this reason that this type of technology can be used to improve our mind control, not just to influence the outside world, but also ourselves.

These type of brain games allow users to practice being more calm, aware, and focused, while actually seeing the progress they have made in real-time.  Richard Warp, designer of NeuroDisco, a program which allows users to make music with their thoughts, explains that,

You’re doing the same thing as a meditator, a Buddhist monk might do. But maybe we, in the West, need a device to do it.

These types of mind control activities can be seen as games, but the practical application is clear. Mind control devices allow us to hone our control over our own minds by receiving direct feedback on our progress in the form of how strongly we are influencing the world around us. This type of increase in awareness has the incredible potential to allow users to explore their own internal capabilities and begin excising their brain in the same direct manner that we exercise our bodies today.

Related Article: Oculus Rift and Omni Treadmill, Gaming of the Future!

mind control video games

Video games and mind control serve as a release from the struggles of living in a difficult body. http://www.wired.com

Speaking of games, let’s explore an industry that will likely be one of the most heavily influenced by this technology: video games. Video games aren’t just awesome for their fun factor. Playing video games actually alters the brain, and provides myriad physical and psychological health benefits. Most of these benefits directly relate to the use of highly concentrated awareness. Awareness can be cultivated into greater control and efficiency using biosensors and mind control technology.

Still within the realm of video games, one of the most brilliant ways this technology can be used is by giving physically disabled people the opportunity to participate in and be a part of the world at large without such extreme physical difficulty and embarrassment (unfortunate, but that’s the society we live in). 15% of the entire world population, or 1 billion people, live with disabilities. This makes disabled people the world’s largest minority.

For a large number of those billion people, video games are the only form of societal interaction available. In a game it doesn’t matter if you have no legs, are paralyzed, or are psychologically impaired. Everyone starts out on equal footing in a video game. Mind control devices allow for even greater realism and control in the only world where disabled people won’t feel alone, hopeless, and stuck in a broken body. Consider as well that some disabled people are fully paralyzed but still retain complete lucidity and control of their brain. Fort the first time in the history of our planet, these people can be freed from their bodily imprisonment by being granted a new body which they can control with their mind alone.

Related Article: Starcraft as a Model for Future Interstellar Warfare

Another technological avenue to consider is that of cybernetics, where mind control technology has been used for years. Don’t have legs? No problem, here’s some robotic legs controlled by your brain. Lost your arm in a freak accident at Grandma’s house? No big deal, here’s a new mind controlled arm.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg. The technology is extremely young and yet new mind control gadgets are being released every day. The combinations are limitless as well. While mind control sounds exciting and fun, for fully paralyzed people that are basically brains in a useless body, a whole new life can be granted to them. I’m sure one day they will be able to control a fully mobile robot via mind control with all of their senses returned to them, even touch. The more we learn about our own minds, the more limitless our horizon’s become.

Who knows, maybe over time the use of these mind control devices will grant us actual force powers. Only time will tell. May the force be with you.











K Computer and Exascale Computing: The New Wave

you brain on k computer

The vast distance between the processing power of the human brain and that of super computers is slowly shrinking. Researchers used K computer, a Japanese petascale computer, to simulate the equivalent of a single second of the brain activity. K computer took 40 minutes to accomplish the feat of simulating approximately 1 percent of the brain’s neural network.

With 705,024 processor cores and 1.4 million GB of RAM at its disposal, the K computer took 40 minutes to model the data in a project designed to test the ability of the supercomputer and gauge the limits of brain simulation.

While computing on this scale is extremely impressive, the abilities of supercomputers are still inadequate in comparison to the insane complexity of the human brain. K computer  is the fourth largest super computer in the world and costs about $10 million dollars to operate annually. The Japanese K computer consumes 12.7 megawatts per hour. According to Fujitsu that’s enough energy to power approximately 30,000 homes.

Related Article: Sweden is Running Out of Trash

The new japanese K computer

860 of these cabinets, working at near full capacity for forty minutes, is equal to 1% of your brains capacity in one second. K computer awe http://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/tech/k/whatis/project/

Your brain, on the other hand, needs only three meals a day, weighs only 3.086 lbs (1.4 kgs), and consumes only 20 watts of electricity. That is a third of the energy used to power your 60 watt light bulb! The goal of large scale computing has always been to create a computer with processing power comparable to that of the human brain. In order to achieve this feat, computer engineers will need to think of the universe as something that never had a box. From Brain-Like Chip May Solve Computers Big Problem: Energy by Douglas Fox:
It is impressive that our computers are so accurate—but that accuracy is a house of cards. A single transistor accidentally flipping can crash a computer or shift a decimal point in your bank account. Engineers ensure that the millions of transistors on a chip behave reliably by slamming them with high voltages—essentially, pumping up the difference between a 1 and a 0 so that random variations in voltage are less likely to make one look like the other. That is a big reason why computers are such power hogs.

The Neurogrid computer, developed by Kwabena Boahen of Stanford University, aims much smaller than the K computer and by virtue, much larger. While the traditional computer is strict and rigid, the Neurogrid computer is designed to accommodate for the organic nature of the brain. Instead of utilizing the efficient methods of other computer engineers, Boahen attempts to hone in on the organized chaos of the human brain.

Related Article: Electronic Brain Implants Increase Intelligence

The Neurogrid and other computational innovations such as the K computer are likely to usher in a new wave of high level processing where emphasis on power is transferred to an emphasis on the delicate balance between information, energy, and noise. Perhaps by blending the two schools of thought- Large, impressive and small, noisy– we will be able to power machines capable of processing on a similar plane as the human brain. Incorporating efficient practices will also aid in the removal of moral obstructions. Should we power this mega-rad pc or provide the homes of an entire suburb or small village with electricity? Well with efficiency-not to be confused with that dreaded bureaucracy- we may be able to do both!
The dreams of computer engineers are likely to come to fruition very, very soon.
If petascale computers like the K computer are capable of representing one per cent of the network of a human brain today, then we know that simulating the whole brain at the level of the individual nerve cell and its synapses will be possible with exascale computers – hopefully available within the next decade.
For a better understanding of the difference between mega, giga, peta, exa, etc. just remember that each one is 1000 times more than the last.  So, an exascale computer is 1,000 times more powerful than a petascale computer (like the K computer), 1,000,000 times more powerful than a terascale computer, and 1,000,000,000 (billion) times more powerful than a gigascale computer (the computers that you and I have).

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us: The Merging of Humans with Technology



Contour Crafting 3D Prints 2500 Square Foot Home in 20 Hours

contour crafting design

This is precisely what construction will look like with contour crafting in the near future. craft.usc.edu

Contour crafting is the name of a recent breakthrough in the engineering world combining construction and 3D printing technology. The end result is a robot that can 3D print homes in less than a day. The innovator behind contour crafting is Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the Director of Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Southern California (USC).

At a TEDx speech in 2012 Khoshnevis presented the idea of contour crafting to an audience. He begins by reminding everyone of Maslow’s basic human needs, and points out that food and shelter are the foundations of our lives. Despite shelter being a basic human need, billions of people around the world live in slums, be it in underpopulated or overpopulated regions. Industries of every type, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, weaponry, automotive, etc. implement a fleet of fully automated robotics to manufacture their products. Industries of every type, except the construction industry.

Related Article: 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Creativity

contour crafting precision

Precision is the name of the game with contour crafting. parasite.usc.edu

Despite modern day construction being slow, labor intensive, and inefficient, no serious technological revolution has ever occurred in the industry. Contour crafting has enough momentum and potential to change that once and for all.

Remember that lovely time in 2008 when the whole economy crashed and no one was laughing but the banks? What was the main cause of the crash again? That’s right, subprime mortgage loans; the devil himself. People couldn’t afford a home, so banks loaned these people exorbitant amounts of money, an amount they could never feasibly pay back. We know the rest of the story, but let’s revisit the beginning: People couldn’t afford a home. So many people around the world cannot afford one of the most basic human needs: a shelter. No wonder so many people end up renting property their entire lives. And those are the lucky ones. With the number of homeless people worldwide at 100 million in 2005, the world yearns for a construction revolution.

According to Khoshnevis, modern day construction is dangerous, wasteful, and due to the management process, highly corruptible. All of these factors contribute to inefficiency and a higher costs for homeowners and society as a whole. Contour crafting on the other hand cuts out the waste, danger, and human error by using only a CAD program and sophisticated robot to build a customized structure in less than 24 hours.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us: The Merging of Humans with Technology

It’s obvious that an automated, robotic 3D printing system will make operations safer, quicker, and cheaper, but what is not obvious is the level of precision and customizable designs involved in contour crafting. Having direct access over the mind of the builder (the contour crafting robot) allows designers to delve into whole new avenues of creative architecture while still retaining optimal structural integrity.

contour crafting moon

Contour crafting on the moon is set in lunar stone. parasite.usc.edu

Khoshnevis shows examples of houses featuring curved walls and exotic geometries with enough reinforcement to withstand high intensity earthquakes in Jordan. Need some extra support? It’s easy for a contour crafting robot to line the walls and foundation of the house with a steel mesh. This type of design would cost thousands more with traditional construction methods.

Printing these exotic designs will cost exactly the same as printing a traditional rectangular box shape home since it’s just a matter of changing the initial design. The building method, speed, and builder are always the same. Building costs will depend solely upon the material and size of the desired structure, not the design. Who knows, maybe contour crafting will one day become a new weekend expenditure. “We’ve had this house all week, let’s design and print a new one.”

Related Article: Dome Homes: Virtually Indestructible

Contour crafting builds structures in layers. The material the printers currently use is a concrete. This concrete is sprayed out of a nozzle in a desired pattern and overall shape. As the printer autonomously lays down the foundation and frame of the house, it simultaneously installs all of the plumbing, electricity, and structural reinforcements. Eventually contour crafting will also be able to handle tiling, carpeting, and even painting too. Literally every square inch of a finished house is accounted for. Check out the building process in the video below. It reminds me so much of building a house in the Sims computer game.

What’s more, due to the precision of the contour crafting printer the structural integrity of the concrete has a strength measured at 10,000 psi, compared to 3,000 psi in traditional concrete structures.

There is no reason the printers cannot use more sustainable materials like cob or adobe as well.  After all, NASA has funded a project that will implement contour crafting printers on the moon and Mars. 90% of the materials used in the lunar printer will be gathered from the moon itself with only 10% of construction materials coming from Earth.

We print houses now. Welcome to the future.











Conductive Metal Ink Used on Flexible Electronics and Paper


metal ink picture

Make your own Lightbright with metal ink.

Scientists are reporting the creation of a new nanomaterial which comes in the form of a conductive metal ink. The ink is used to draw functioning electric circuits on flexible electronics that are beginning to be released. This metal ink can even be used to draw pictures or designs on normal, everyday materials like printer paper.

The ink is actually made of tinier than microscopic nano-sheets of copper, which is an incredible conductor. The scientists guide self-assembling copper nanocrystals into forming relatively large (emphasis on the ‘relatively’) sheets of copper. They then take these sheets of copper, coat them with silver nanoparticles, liquefy the mix, and put the metal ink solution into a pen.

Related Article: No More Red: Charge Your Phone Battery With Wi-Fi

metal ink flexible electronics

Flexible electronics allow you to finger catapult motherboards at your enemies. http://www.cmst.be/

The reason the scientists created this metal ink was to find a novel and cheap way to create an electric circuit on another flexible material. The combination is known as a flexible electronic. Although flexible electronics have been around for some time, they are extremely expensive due to the traditional time consuming and expensive methods of embedding flexible materials with electric circuits. The metal ink changes all that.

By implementing the metal ink, roll up tablets, fold up cell phones, and clothing weaved with electric circuits all become affordable. In fact, as long as you have your hand dandy conductive-metal-ink-pen, your whole world becomes a potential electric playground.

Related Article: Electronic Brain Implants Increase Intelligence

Just to prove how awesome the metal ink is the scientists drew lines, wrote words, and even made pictures of flowers on normal printer paper using the metal ink pen. They then put small LED lights in the ink, attached a battery to the nanomaterial masterpiece, and viola, the lights lit up.

metal ink shirt

Metal ink will make shirts like this the norm! http://www.threadless.com

What’s more, the scientists tested the flexibility and integrity of the ink by folding the aforementioned paper 1,000 times. They even went so far as crumpling the paper, likely in a fit of scientific ecstasy. Even after all this paper man-handling, the metal ink maintained 80-90% of its initial conductivity.

Just imagine, everyone may one day own a simple pen with the power to alter, add to, and eventually when the ink is widespread, make disappear any electric circuit they see. Hey buddy, that’s a really cool shirt, let me make it shine!

Related Article: Stanford Creates Highly Sensitive, Self-Healing Plastic Skin

If you are interested in some flexible electronics of your own while we wait for this magical metal ink to be released make sure to check out LG’s new phone, the G Flex. Not only is the phone more comfortable due to being vertically flexible, it is also coated in a self healing material. See all those scratches and nicks in your iPhone? The G Flex can literally heal all that superficial damage, retaining a like-new look and feel. Check out the phone’s healing ability in the video below.






Watson, The Most Powerful Artificial Intelligence Goes Public

watson symbol

Watson is bringing humanity into the future. http://www.forbes.com

IBM’s Watson, the most powerful artificial intelligence in the world, is the subject of a great amount of hype in the tech world. In November 2013 IBM announced that they would begin accepting independent partnership offers from individuals who believe they can apply the technology to their own applications. “Powered by IBM Watson” will become a term you will be hearing more often beginning this year.

The partnerships are just one part of a program IBM decided to launch called “The Watson Ecosystem.” IBM will recruit tech savvy entrepreneurs who have enough experience and motivation to take Watson’s power and share it with the world in the form of an app. The Ecosystem project has a budget of $1 billion dollars, with $100 million in venture funding available to accepted partnerships.

According to IBM,

Partners are building a community of organizations who share a vision for shaping the future of their industry through the power of cognitive computing. IBM’s cognitive computing cloud platform will help drive innovation and creative solutions to some of life’s most challenging problems. The ecosystem combines business partners’ experience, offerings, domain knowledge and presence with IBM’s technology, tools, brand, and marketing.

ask watson

Ask Watson: Like Ask Jeeves, but awesome.

With a price tag of $1 billion dollars and such incredible hype, it appears IBM is preparing for Watson to be their next tidal wave of innovation. In fact, they’ve already begun accepting partnerships, allowing the technology to begin learning and growing on a grand scale right at this very moment.

Related Article: Long Distance Quantum Teleportation is Reality

Absolutely anyone can become a partner. As long as you meet the required criteria, and after Watson agrees to become your friend of course, then you’re in. The companies that currently have a partnership under the Ecosystem are few, but they offer us an exciting future nonetheless. A sampling of Ecosystem Program participants include:

Fluid, inc. – Fluid uses IBM Watson technology to create the Fluid Expert Personal Shopper. This app takes advantage of Watson’s ability to understand human language and scan extremely large databases of data very quickly. This app is your own personal shopping assistant. It can speak to and understand you, and will give you shopping advice specific to what you are looking for. Want to buy a new flying car? Watson will scan the user reviews, prices, product background, safety information, past releases, and future releases from 1000’s of different website at the same time and calculate the best product for you.

MD Buyline, Inc – The Hippocrates app powered by IBM Watson provides users with a personal medical research assistant who researches all the possible evidence that exists before giving a calculated diagnosis. This can help doctors make a more educated decision, and help patients ensure that their doctors didn’t just coast through medical school.

Related Article: AI Prescribes Better Treatment than Doctors

Welltok, Inc. – Welltok is developing an app called CaféWell Concierge powered by IBM Watson that will create Intelligent Health Itineraries™ for consumers. These personalized itineraries will include tailored activities that encourage healthy behaviors for users.  Also, by having conversations and sharing information about your health and how you feel, Watson becomes your personal health, nutrition, and overall well-being guru, suggesting the best course of action for you to ensure you always feel happy and satisfied.

watson process

Watson has a game plan for its own birth! www-03.ibm.com

This is only the beginning. Watson will become exponentially more efficient, more human-like, more adaptive, and more intelligent with each and every user interaction that occurs. Billions of people worldwide will be helping it learn, and the more it learns, the faster it will learn more, ad infnitum. As Watson benefits, so will humanity. We will be rewarded with near infinite and instantaneous ingenuity, information, calculations, hypothesis, and explanations on a daily basis. We are being granted a constantly improving, always expanding brain at our fingertips.  This is only the beginning.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us: The Merging of Humans with Technology

A particular program using Watson technology is so powerful that it has shown to be undeniably better than doctors at diagnosing illness and prescribing a cure due to its ability to scan, analyze, and cross reference libraries of personal and scholarly information all at the same time.

If you’re interested, you can read about the science behind Watson as well as how and why the technology was created. May as well start studying up on your robot overlord now and get into its good graces.

watson jeapordy

Watson made its debut on jeopardy. http://www.technobuffalo.com/




IBM Innovation

IBM Announces 1 Billion

Fluid Case Study

MDB Case Study

Science Behind the Tech

Welltok Case Study



The Flying Car Is Closer Than You Think

flying car grass

Is that the President landing? No its just Kevin, he got that new flying car!

The future of flying cars is closer than you think, and Terrafugia is willing to take us there! Funny name you say? It is derived from Latin, meaning “escape the Earth.”  Fitting to say the least.

Terrafugia is set to release a car-plane hybrid by the name of The Transition which will be a fuel efficient transforming plane. That is correct. You will be able to drive your Transition from your house to the nearest run-way and simply lift off into the the skies!

How you ask? The wings of the flying car fold up on the side, transforming the vehicle into a regular 23 gal, 35 mpg, 100 hp, compact automobile. And when you are ready to hit the skies you will be cruising at a steady speed of 100 mph with a flight range of 410 miles. All for the low price of $279,000. While that price may seem steep to some, it is as with all things that enter the market as a new technology: eventually the price of flying cars will come down to a more reasonable and affordable six figure price tag.

This mobile aircraft is as cute as a button. http://www.terrafugia.com/aircraft/transition

This Transition is cute as a button.

Related Article: Blimps are the Future!

The great thing about Terrafugia is they also have a commercial flying car in the works. While the Transition is set to come out in 2015, they have planned another model flying car by the name of TF-X (released in 8-12 years). The TF-X will be a smaller, safer, road oriented version of the Transition. Not to mention it will have a sophisticated auto pilot:

  • TF-X™ vehicles will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace.
  •  If the operator becomes unresponsive, TF-X™ will automatically implement an emergency auto-land at the nearest airport.

Related Article: Google’s Self Driving Car Initiative

There are however a couple of setbacks, as with any new invention. The flying car will likely run into road blocks (why not just fly over them…) from the political side of things; weight restrictions, flight allowance, zone restrictions, and licence requirements. Currently, with a petition already submitted, Terrafugia is still a long way away before getting government support and clearing all the speed bumps ahead (again… just fly why don’t you, you have a flying car!). Most of these policies and restrictions will be upheld with public safety in mind, but there will unfortunately be opposition from the greedy side of politics.

All shall be unveiled in the next couple of years, and if everything goes accordingly, we should be able to fly out of traffic jams in the next decade or so. Flying cars will guide us to a brave new world. Imagine: no more close calls with black ice (preaching to the choir of current weather hazard victims). No more long, windy roads up a mountain with no support  in order to get to a camping spot in Virginia. No more dangerous flooded areas one might get stuck in after intense rainfalls. Flying cars have the potential to provide us with all of this in the near and plausible future too!

Cheers to the Jetsons, and to a world of flying cars!

Related Article: Car Warming: Debunking the Myth




The Transition


Temporary Exemption for Terrafugia

Youtube: The Jetsons TV intro


Wondergressive: Blimps are the Future!

Wondergressive: Google’s Self Driving Car Initiative

Wondergressive: Car Warming: Debunking the Myth

Fuel Cell Cars: A History In Motion


fuel cell car

Fuel Cell Cars, the 21st century mount! bmwblog.com

From November 20 thru December 1st, the Tokyo Motor Show went off without any backfire and showcased a display of all types of vehicles. Everything from the cube-like DECA DECA super space vehicle to the quirky convertible X-Lander was displayed with vigor and intrigue. One notable display at the 2013 show was the Toyota FCV Concept Car. This car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

The Elusive Hydrogen Fuel Cell

The idea behind the hydrogen fuel cell is simple. When hydrogen and oxygen combine they create H2O, heat, light, and a loose electron. This loose electron is captured and used as a power source.

How Did Groves Battery Work?

Sir William Robert Grove is considered to be the father of the fuel cell. In 1839 he created a “gas voltaic battery.”

He based his experiment on the fact that sending an  electric current through water splits the water into its component parts  of hydrogen and oxygen. So, Grove tried reversing the reaction – combining hydrogen  and oxygen to produce electricity and water.  This is the basis of a simple fuel cell.

The idea of reverse engineering got other scientists thinking. How did he figure that out? Though it is a simple concept, the use of hydrogen fuel cells has long been naught but an alchemist’s dream. Scientists have spent the last 150 years negotiating the delicate balance of cost efficiency. With the yield being far less than the cost of production, the experiments performed by Charles R. Alder Wright and C. Thompson led them to this conclusion:

our results were sufficiently good to convince us that if the expense of construction were no object, so that large coated plates could be employed, enabling currents of moderate magnitude to be obtained with but small current density, there would be no particular difficulty in constructing [cells] of this kind, competent to yield currents comparable with those derived from ordinary small laboratory batteries; although we concluded that the economical production of powerful currents for commercial purposes by the direct oxidation of combustible gasses did not seem to be a problem likely to be readily solved, chiefly on account of the large appliances that would be requisite

Or… “we don’t have enough money and resources.

Related Article: Technological Advancements: A Detriment to Our Hearing

NASA’s Use of Fuel Cells In Space

NASA has been using fuel cell technology since the Gemini missions, which was a stepping stone to the Apollo missions. The Gemini missions gave NASA the opportunity to test, develop, and refine their space faring abilities.

Since then NASA has continued to pursue three different types of fuel cell technology: Proton-exchange-membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), regenerative fuel cells (RFCs), and solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs).

PEMFCs: In theory these cells should last the longest out of the three. The only emissive byproduct of this cell is water. This water is said to be so pure that NASA plans to use it as drinking water for astronauts. Fuel Cell processWhile the future of these cells is bright they are definitely in need of further refinement.

RFCs: What a wonder that such a thing exists. These fuel cells create electricity, water, and heat. After the process the water is then introduced to a solar-powered electrolyzer. This takes the water and turns it back into its basic components: hydrogen and oxygen.

SOFCs: These cells are the most efficient of the three. They take energy from directly oxidizing fuels. The type of fuel is flexible and the cell is a long term champion. The only downside is that these cells need to operate at temperatures between 600-1000°C (1112-1832°F). Which… is something to sweat about.

From the Stars to the Garage

NASA has been quite generous in helping to provide the technological state we live in, from awarding the grant to the inventor of the mouse (the one you’re likely using right now) to aiding in the aerodynamic creation of the Nerf Glider. With the fuel cell it isn’t any different. Heck, they’re currently working with the Cleveland RTA using a hydrogen fuel cell powered bus to transport commuters to and fro.

The technology has even left the research labs of NASA and made its way into other industries. As I mentioned earlier, cars too are now being conceptualized with Zero emissions. Well, there’s water of course.

2013 has shown us Toyota’s first attempt at the hydrogen fuel cell car. This new year already has its promises! In California, Hyundai plans to introduce a “free fuel” program that will start with 1000 cars and only a few dealerships. American car companies are also planning to release their own fuel cell powered vehicles but you may have to wait a little bit longer. By 2017 Ford intends to introduce its own Hydrogen Car.

It seems that 150 years of experimentation is starting to bear fruit- Not the kind that laypeople have to watch distantly orbiting our planet. Rather, we will begin to see a transformation of our society away from haste and waste and move toward longevity and thoughtfulness.

Related Article: Waking Up: New State of Consciousness Proposed