Top 10 breakthrough technologies that will change the world
Top 10 breakthrough technologies that will change the world
Energy from the air
Soon our homes will "get smarter". And for this to happen, they must be filled with numerous devices that will make our lives easier. Motion sensors, temperature sensors, air pollution sensors, various photo and video cameras, and much more. They all need food. But it is expensive to lead wires to them or constantly change batteries. Several groups of researchers are working to ensure that various gadgets can get energy, as they say, from the air.
The space around us is filled with radio waves, such as Wi-Fi radio signals. Scientists from the University of Washington took a standard Wi-Fi router, made small changes to it, and now it can be used as a power source for remote devices. At the same time, it can still perform its main function, and the quality of communication was not affected by the alteration. Scientists managed to power a small camera and a thermal sensor with electricity. Moreover, none of these devices had their own battery, instead a supercapacitor is used to store the charge. This technology is called Power over Wi-Fi. Moreover, this technology can be used for both smart home devices and low-power gadgets, such as fitness bracelets.
But the Freevolt technology developed by Drayson Technologies allows you to use the energy of radio waves of various ranges. The device created by the company selects energy from radio waves of several radio frequencies at once. The device is based on a multi – band antenna and a rectifier that is designed to convert AC to DC. Demonstrated the technology in the company, using it in a portable air pollution sensor CleanSpace. The device evaluates the environmental situation around the user and sends information to their smartphone.
As the power consumption of various devices decreases, when they need a minimum amount of electricity to perform their tasks, the popularity of wireless power transmission will also grow. The technology will bring us closer to the mass spread of the Internet of things and smart homes. Even if you don't live in a truly "smart" home, you will definitely have a couple of gadgets that charge through the air in a couple of years. If, of course, your home has the necessary sources of radio waves, such as a Wi-Fi router. Perhaps only radiophobia can stop the development of the technology, or rather, make it unpopular among users.
Neural networks are everywhere
What was previously beyond the power of ordinary computers will be possible thanks to artificial neural networks. Unlike von Neumann architecture computers, they can be trained. And they themselves are capable of self-learning. Computers based on neural network technologies can be used where it is difficult to describe in programming language what is required from the machine. Therefore, they will displace the usual machines and people from many areas of activity. At the same time, thanks to them, we will have opportunities that we did not have before.
Wherever we communicate with a smart machine, neural networks will be present. Voice assistants and smart search. Robot assistants in stores, interactive services, and self-driving cars. Behind each "smart" piece of hardware will be the technology of artificial neural networks.
CRISPR/Cas9 changes genetic engineering. We are beating cancer and HIV
Genetic engineering should change the world around us and ourselves. This is obvious and hardly anyone will argue. The only question is when it will happen. Genome modification technologies have always been complex and expensive. But a new method for precisely editing CRISPR/Cas9 genes seems to be about to change that.
In the UK this year, the first permission was granted to use this technology to edit the genome of human embryos. So far, only for research purposes. The embryos must be destroyed after the experiment. Experiments on genetic modification of human embryos using CRISPR/Cas9 technology have recently taken place in China. And this is just the beginning.
What happened? It's simple. Molecular biologists have found a natural mechanism for editing the genome and are learning how to use it. The mechanism is simple and effective. Nature has given it to bacteria and archaea, which use it to fight viruses that attack them. Scientists also want to use it to edit the genome of animals, plants, and, of course, humans. CRISPR is a kind of archive, an immunological memory that stores fragments of the DNA of a virus that has ever attacked a bacterium or its ancestors. Cas9 is a tool, a kind of natural machine for detecting virus fragments in bacterial DNA, a copy of which is in the archive. Finding the desired fragment, it cuts it, thereby protecting the cell from infection. After that, the cell repair system replaces the destroyed areas.
Now imagine that this system can be offered any fragment of DNA to search for and destroy, for example, a fragment of the DNA of the human immunodeficiency virus. Scientists from Temple University have already conducted such an experiment on rats and mice. As a result, the target HIV fragment was cut from the DNA in every living tissue. And in China, researchers managed to suppress the growth and launch a program of self-destruction of cancer cells. The experiment was also performed on mice. But human experiments are just around the corner. In July, Chinese molecular biologists have already received permission to conduct experiments with volunteers.
Unlike other technologies, CRISPR/Cas9 allows you to edit the genome of both embryos and living adult organisms.
You can cure a sick person, and it is possible to prevent the transmission of negative genetic information to descendants. The better we study the human genome, the more opportunities we will have to correct and improve it. And this is the way to design children. The so-called "designer children" will not only be deprived of inherited diseases, but will also receive the "bonuses" inherent from birth and necessary in life in the form of intellectual and athletic abilities, beauty and health.
Quantum communication and a secure future
Quantum communication and quantum computers are perhaps two technologies that are United by the word "quantum" and are in the center of attention. But if the widespread use of quantum computers is still far away, then quantum communications is a matter of the very near future. China has just launched its first experimental quantum communications satellite, and experts are already predicting that the quantum communications market may reach 7.5 billion US dollars in the next 5 years. What does this technology mean for us? The Chinese satellite is capable of transmitting non-intercept keys from orbit to Earth. Putting more of these satellites into orbit will create a global quantum communications network by 2030, says Jian-Wei pan, chief scientist of the QUESS project.
The widespread adoption of quantum communication lines means that the future will be at least partly what we expect it to be. Self-driving cars will drive on the roads, drones will soar in the sky, and, for example, the money in our Bank accounts will remain completely safe. Is there anything that can prevent this? Yes, vulnerabilities in information transmission channels. Thanks to quantum communication technologies, or rather, quantum cryptography as part of it, information can be transmitted safely. This means that neither a hacker who wants to realize their abilities, nor a terrorist will be able to take advantage of the vulnerability of information channels. Now a self-driving car moving at 120 km/h, a drone hovering overhead, and a Bank server can be hacked. And the consequences will be sad. Just imagine yourself in a self-driving car that has been hijacked by a hacker. Quantum physics allows you to create secure communication lines and protect yourself from malicious attacks. This means making the future safer.
Widespread use of blockchain technology
The head of Sberbank, German Gref, believes that in the near future this technology will "turn all industries without exception, from agriculture to banks, and, unfortunately, government agencies too." The savings Bank and payment system of Qiwi are promoting blockchain in our country. Abroad, the R3 consortium developing blockchain technology has brought together leading banks and financial companies. Its goal is to develop open – source blockchain technology for banking structures.
The technology may be familiar to the General reader in connection with the popular Bitcoin cryptocurrency and the peer-to-peer payment system of the same name. Numerous miners around the world mine bitcoins and Satoshi using their computers. But in fact, cryptocurrency mining is nothing more than checking transactions, that is, performing the necessary computational operations to maintain the system. For this, miners get their "extracted" cryptocurrency. And after bitcoin, many other cryptocurrencies appeared.
Today, government agencies and leading financial institutions are interested in the technology. And blockchain doesn't just mean cryptocurrencies. Experts suggest dividing the scope of application of the technology into three groups: directly digital currencies, use in the framework of e-government and in the field of "smart" contracts and open assets.
The blockchain technology itself (from the English. "blok" – chain and "chain" – chain) is a distributed database that consists of blocks of information. Each such block contains records of transactions made by system participants. The blocks themselves are stored on the computers of the system participants. This makes hacking and modifying the database extremely difficult.
Blockchain will allow banks to get rid of a lot of expenses that accompany money transactions and increase their speed. In addition, it is an alternative to the SWIFT interbank transfer system.
At the same time, the blockchain allows you to abandon the regulator, which, as a rule, is the state. Security agencies are particularly strongly opposed to the technology. After all, cryptocurrency that is not controlled by state financial regulators can be used by criminal and terrorist organizations to make shadow transactions. There are already examples of this. That is why there was a proposal to divide the scope of application of the technology and separate cryptocurrencies from it. But the blockchain can be used not only to store information about transactions with digital currencies, but also, for example, to record real estate transactions. Is society ready to ensure that information about their property is stored not in a centralized state register, but in a distributed database on the computers of many users?
using molecular machines
This year's Nobel prize in chemistry was awarded for the design and synthesis of molecular machines. It was received by scientists Jean-Pierre Sauvage, sir Fraser Stoddart and Bernard Feringa. And this is not surprising, because we are opening up fantastic prospects. As in many other cases, scientists have spied the idea of molecular machines in nature. The world around us is filled with them. Almost all functionally active proteins are molecular machines, says V. A. Avetisov, doctor of physical and mathematical Sciences, head of the laboratory of complex systems theory at the N. N. Semenov Institute of chemical physics. There are several thousand such machines in every living cell.
The size of molecular machines is only a few nanometers. This means that it is impossible to see them in an optical microscope, because they are less than the wavelength of visible light. In a world invisible to our eyes, they can easily manipulate molecules and single atoms. Drag them from one place to another. They bring atoms together so that a chemical bond is formed between them, or, on the contrary, they pull them apart, tear the molecules apart and break the chemical bonds that hold them together.
Now we can learn how to make such machines. Where can they be used? For a start, this may be targeted delivery of medicines to the affected organ. Most drugs have side effects precisely because, along with the diseased organ, they also affect healthy ones. Medicines are almost not able to choose. Once in the General circulatory system, they can act on other organs. Molecular machines will allow you to organize a system of drug delivery to a specific organ or tissue.
Molecular machines can act as assemblers of complex molecular structures, and we will get materials with the specified properties. Or, on the contrary, to disassemble them by atom. A good way to recycle, for example, polymers.
The sheer size of these nanomachines suggests that they are ideal for working in very small objects. For example, in cells. Thousands of their natural machines are already working there. Now it will be possible to send artificial ones there as well. What for? For example, to correct the genome. After all, the already mentioned Cas9 protein in combination with the guide RNA is a programmable molecular machine for cutting DNA.
Mass introduction of driverless transport
Dozens of companies around the world are already developing self-driving vehicles. And both car companies such as Volvo, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, Audi, BMW and, of course, Tesla, and those that cars have never produced – Google, Baidu, Uber and others.
Even the domestic "KAMAZ" is involved. Last year, the factory created a prototype of the first self-driving car in our country based on a production truck. Cars, both trucks and cars, are not limited. The unmanned flying taxi was presented by the Chinese company Ehang.
It is believed that a driverless car will be safer than an unpredictable and imperfect person who is also inclined to disregard the rules of the road. Equipped with all sorts of sensors and sensors (radars, cameras, navigation systems, as well as powerful computers for decision-making), they will be much more advanced than humans. It has been estimated that the ubiquity of self-driving cars will reduce the number of road accidents by 90%, which will save the lives of many people.
If you remove the driver from the car, you can significantly save on wages, which, of course, transport companies will be happy to do. And an unmanned car can be driven along the route day and night with minimal technical interruptions. All this promises big profits for carriers.
One day, there will be more self-driving cars than driver-driven ones. And after a while, driving a car will be something like horse riding on weekends. Very soon, we will trust autopilot for our daily commute to work and home. At some point, a person driving on a high-speed highway in a stream of self-driving cars rushing at high speed will become a significant danger factor, and many roads will simply be closed to cars driven by a live driver.
The car itself will no longer be an independent transport unit after some time. Cars in the future will be informationally linked. They will exchange useful information with each other and with road infrastructure facilities.
In the future, not only cars will be "smart" but also cities, they will have something to "tell" each other.
In order not to create an emergency situation, the drones will constantly check the parameters of their movement with neighboring cars. Report speed drops and turns in time. Choose a route depending on traffic density and weather conditions. On the road, self-driving cars will look more like a school of fish swimming synchronously in one direction. Using a car, a person will use not so much a separate car, but an entire transport system, in which an unmanned car is just one of its elements.
Mining resources on asteroids
Small in size, Luxembourg, lost between France, Germany and Belgium, is called the Iron Duchy for a reason. For a long time, the leading industries in this country were iron ore mining and steel production. Today, the iron ore deposits have already been depleted. But apparently the little Duchy is haunted by its past. This year, a desire was expressed to make Luxembourg a hub for companies engaged in research and production of space resources. The country's lawyers are already preparing the necessary legislative framework. This means that private companies registered in Luxembourg will receive legal protection of their ownership rights to all resources extracted from asteroids.
And if the issue moves from the scientific sphere to the legal sphere, then there is already a smell of money and prospects. However, as with CRISPR/Cas9. Patent wars have already begun for the right to be considered the discoverers of this technology. Private American companies Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries have already expressed their desire to mine raw materials on asteroids, which have expressed their interest in the Luxembourg initiative.
It is believed that almost all the metals used in industry, which we extract from the upper layers of the Earth, have an asteroid origin. Modern deposits were formed as a result of the early meteor bombardment of our planet. This means that sooner or later we will have to go up into space and take resources from the space storeroom.
Space activities related to the extraction of resources outside the planet will become as natural as communication, navigation and space sensing of the Earth, without which we can no longer imagine our lives. Along with space tourism, mining in space will become a new type of space entrepreneurship.
However, we must understand that space mining will not replace earth mining for a long time. And the point here is not only that while the extraction of resources on space objects is unrealistically expensive. Now, for example, we are interested in rare metals in space. They are called rare-earth, because they are rarely found on our planet. Due to their exceptional properties, they are used in radio electronics, instrumentation, mechanical engineering, chemical industry, metallurgy and other industries. It is probably with them that we should start industrial development of asteroids. Demand for rare earth metals will not fall. On the contrary, wide availability will allow them to find greater use. And this can lead to revolutionary changes in all industries where they are used. In particular, this will lead to new materials with unique properties.
But other metals may already be useful in space. Where it is not economically feasible to deliver them from Earth. Construction of objects in space will be carried out from materials that have a space origin. Thus, not only mining, but also metallurgy and processing will be concentrated in outer space. Orbital tourist hotels, production facilities, and scientific stations will be assembled from elements produced in outer space. In addition, space metallurgy has many advantages over earth metallurgy. In particular, it makes it possible to obtain alloys of high uniformity and purity. And if we talk about the colonization of space, including Mars, we will definitely not be able to do without the development of asteroid resources.
Colonization Of Mars
The main ideologue of everything related to Mars is Elon Musk. Not now, anyway.
Of course, you can be critical of what Musk says and does. But the development of the red planet as a spare home for our civilization is a necessary task. Our civilization has come a long way, and it would be very sad if some catastrophe or internal conflict destroyed humanity. If the main dreamer's plans remain unfulfilled, then the idea of Mars exploration will be picked up by others.
In September, Musk already presented to the General public his project for an interplanetary Transport System. According to Musk, ITS is designed to deliver the first colonists to the Red planet. As a result, the population of the Martian colony in the next century should be one million people. Probably, the technical component of the project will change by this time. We do not yet have a lot of technologies that will allow earthlings to create an Autonomous, maximally independent colony on Mars. Future Martians will have to get their own useful resources necessary for building a colony, generate energy, and conduct agriculture. Only the most high-tech equipment and materials will be delivered from Earth.
However, you should not confuse colonization with terraforming. It may take many years to create conditions on the red planet that are at least somewhat similar to those that we have on Earth. Even according to Musk's estimates, this will take several hundred years. But this is at best
Detection of extraterrestrial civilizations
Perhaps no scientific discovery will be able to turn our consciousness around as much as the discovery of reliable signs of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. In our culture, and in some kind of science, extraterrestrials have long existed. We wait for them, fear them, watch movies about them, and read books. British physicist Stephen Hawking warns that extraterrestrials could be dangerous to Earth. But we still hope that this is not the case and send signals to space. The messages to extraterrestrial civilizations developed by Carl Sagan were published in Voyagers and Pioneers. The SETI project, aimed at searching for extraterrestrial civilizations, has been operating since 1959.
The well-known Drake equation is designed to help determine the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy (namely, the Galaxy, and not the entire Universe) with which we can establish contact. But most of the parameters in this equation are unknown to us and are determined by scientists based on their assumptions. Frank Drake based on his assumptions and using the formula he created, also calculated the number of such civilizations. As a result, it turned out that there are only ten such civilizations for the entire milky Way galaxy with a diameter of about 30 thousand parsecs. But it's been a long time since 1961. And the chances of finding traces of extraterrestrial civilizations are not added.
in addition, we may not yet know enough about all the necessary conditions for the emergence of intelligent life forms. For example, if the hypothesis turns out to be true that life and intelligent civilizations can only arise in short tori – narrow rings in the "body" of the galaxy – then our chances of finding brothers in mind are reduced many times. The solar system is located in such a galactic "belt of life". Here, interstellar gas rotates synchronously with the arms of galaxies, meaning that its relative motion is almost nonexistent, which means that no shock waves are formed. This is one of the most peaceful places in our Galaxy. The radius of this narrow torus ring in the milky Way's "body" is only 250 parsecs.