Of course we did write about this in 2007 Here's an excerpt from 'A Vested Interest':
'Vera furrowed her brow in confusion. “Wall screen - what’s that?”
Gary spoke to what appeared to be a bare wall. “Wall screen on, location Langston Castle, view out drawing room window.” The wall changed to show a window looking out from Langston Castle. “The trees move in the breeze, and see there,” he said pointing to a tree. “The birds move around the branches as near to normal as possible. Now watch this. Wall screen, adjust time to 9pm.” Everything went dark, stars twinkled in the sky, a cloud moved over the moon and in the distance you could hear the occasional sound of sheep and cattle.
“Well, I’ll be,” Jack commented.
“You can show views from lots of different places, display a view with or without a window in front of it and the computer detects where you’re standing and changes the view accordingly. Vera, try moving around the room and watch the window. Wall-screen, focus view, Vera Henderson.”
“It’s just like being in the castle!” Vera said.
“Normally, you don’t need to use the focus command because it automatically assumes the person giving the commands is the one it needs to focus on.” Gary walked around the room, and the view remained the same. '
Glass manufacturers seem to agree. Here's a video from Corning Incorporated which shows what they expect. Watch out for the medical applications:Download the first book in the series, Immortality Gene, FREE now
That's being developed too, although perhaps not quite on the scale we suggested. Indications are though that there would be little sign of the 'rocket exhaust' discharge we suggested. Check out this page for more details of a drilling system being developed by the University of Strathclyde. On a smaller scale it's possible that plasma drilling could replace the dentist's drill in the future.
Here's an excerpt from 'Dark Secrets' which suggests how plasma drilling may be used in the future:
Dave glanced up. “Careful, Sir Richard. The roof isn’t stable here.”
He nodded and consulted his GPS. “This is the right location,” he said.
“That’s an amazing piece of technology, there. The sat-nav in my car won’t work well in heavy rain, never mind under 300 feet of solid rock.”
Sir Richard cleared his throat. “The military version is a bit more sensitive. I want a shaft drilled from here, down toward my mum’s quarters. We need a fan to draw the smoke up and push it down, through this water, to cool it.”
Dave frowned. “Sir, if you don’t mind my asking. Why are we doing this? What is it for?”
He exhaled. “We’re building a chimney for a fireplace.”
Dave laughed. “Surely, you’re joking, sir. Lady Triplet wants a fireplace? In the bottom of a cave? What’s wrong with what we’ve got?”
“You don’t know Lady Triplet. Trust me. If my mum wants a fireplace, and I can find a way, surrender is better than an all-out war.”
Dave arched an eyebrow and shook a can of red spray paint. “OK,” he drew out. “Let me mark it, so we know when we’re in the right spot.”
Sir Richard led the way. “Now all we need is the,” he paused and looked down as icy cold surrounded the ankles of his rubber boots, “water,” he finished with a satisfying smile. “The system needs to be concealed so cave explorers can’t spot it. How do we do this?”
“Use the same method we used for the air intake. Make a rockfall and bury the technology under it. Water can get through the rocks, but they’ll be too heavy to shift, and explorers won’t be able to get pass the blockage. The noise of the water would drown out the noise from the fan. It would be hardly noticeable. Would that do?”
Sir Richard arched an eyebrow. “How do we power the fan?”
Dave mulled that over; his eyes lit. “Run an insulated cable up the chimney. It would be a lot easier than trying to run it through the tunnel here. It’ll take a while to get a drilling team up here and maybe ten days to drill the shaft. If we started after the New Year, your mum should have her chimney by mid-January. It’s a shame you didn’t mention this before we sent the shift miners home for Christmas.”
“Yeah, I know, Dave. But with or without them, I need this done by tomorrow.”
“Then the only answer is your gizmo, sir.”
He sighed and nodded. “Do you think you could get some of your men to run a fifty-amp cable up here and haul up the drill?”
Dave smirked. “You mean, ask them to break off decorating the cafeteria and entertainment hall to do some manual labor?”
“Would they mind?”
He laughed. “They’d do anything to get out from under Alice’s control. They may be a little disappointed, having to leave Sheila and Joyce, though. I could persuade them, but a generator would probably be easier than trying to drag a cable up here.”
Sir Richard patted his shoulder. “Do whichever is fastest.”
Five hours later, after evacuating Lady Triplet’s quarters, the drilling team had aligned the plasma drill and connected it up. Within forty minutes, the shaft was done. Despite their hard work, Lady Triplet was unimpressed. “Just look at this mess!” she grumbled. “The room is covered in dust! And what good is a fireplace that’s eight-feet up the bloody wall? I’ll need stepladders to reach it!”
Sir Richard sighed. “Mum, the fireplace won’t be up there. The men will cut a channel into the wall and build a vertical flue up to it. They’ll use masonry to cover it up and build you a fireplace. I’ve got another team coming up today to finish it off. You won’t be able to use it for two days while the cement sets. The extraction unit is at the other end.”
She frowned and exhaled. “In the meantime, what are you going to do about that awful draft coming from the hole!”
He growled and climbed the stepladders. He put a balloon in the hole and blew it up to seal the shaft. “There – satisfied? A clean-up crew will be here within the hour to get rid of the dust and debris. If you speak to them nicely, they might even consider doing the Christmas decorating for you.” He brushed his palms together. “Now, Mum, I’ve been here twenty minutes, and you haven’t offered me a single cup of tea. You’re slipping.”
There's a lot of interest in this as an alternative to current 3-D TV. A true Holographic display would not require special glasses to see the effect. It's being developed too as can be seen here.
Small flying bugs which can be used for surveillance are naturally of great interest to the military who already have flying drones and 'bugs' which can fly. Take a look at this video for an idea of what something like this could do http://bcove.me/bshpuxi7 Does the idea of making them invisible bother you? Well the Swedish army already has a tank which can be made 'invisible' and as you make devices smaller, we begin not to notice them. How visible is a mosquito? As far as we know no-one has yet set up a communication network using flying bugs - that's our idea. However a recent development in wireless networking offers a 'mesh network' which is exactly what we proposed with the nanobugs.
The media is now beginning to feature stories about spy drones http://www.belgrade-news.com/opinion/columnists/john_w_whitehead/article_d2fd7e12-a6d2-11e2-8707-0019bb2963f4.html
For details of how nanonytes would work try the following articles:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanorobotics - Nanorobotics
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/nanorobot.htm - How Stuff Works article on nanorobotics
Nanopore DNA Sequencing - Nanotechnology in DNA
We predict this will be a huge field in the future (a strange word to use for something so small). I doubt it will be limited to medicine. In our books we have:
- They are used inside the human body to clear (and cause) obstructions
- Nanonyte drilling
- They crawl a strand of DNA finding and fixing problems or inserting new sections. As such they represent a new 'vector' for genetic engineering.
- They are used to create 3-D objects (think Star Trek replicators and 3-D printers)
- They are used to create a defensive force field
- In space they are used to create a huge telescope mirror, miles across, to explore for habitable planets.
- Of course the 'baddies' will produce nanonytes for their cause and the 'goodies' will counter them with their own nanonytes - a nano war!
- In 'Stones, Stars and Solutions' we insert a nano-monitor in each of our 'team'. It's function is to monitor the vital signs of the individual and alert if there is a problem. Used with a software modified mobile phone it can be used as a 'Star Trek' style medical tricorder to identify medical problems. We have absolutely no doubt that in the future such nano-monitors will be developed. Hey - does that mean I can claim the $10,000,000 prize offered for inventing this? The bad news is that we also suggest their use in 'Dark Secrets' to extract information from an uncooperative bad guy.
- Nano-surgery is suggested in 'No Secrets'. That's surgery leaving no scars and with no recovery time. It would mean the end of the scalpel.
The problem with rearing animals for food is that we grow attached to them and dislike killing them. Many people think it's just plain 'wrong.' Wouldn't it be nice if we could have meat but not have to kill to get it?
This has been a dream of many for years and the nearest we've come to such a meat substitute is spun soya protein. The trouble is - it's just not meat.
Now, using genetics and stem cells it's been found possible to grow muscle cells in a suitable culture medium. Potentially from a single cell it is possible to grow tonnes of meat in a very short time. No animals are involved other than to provide the original cell and the animal was not killed to get that.
It's not just meat which is involved. Leather can be cultured and even printed using a 3D printer.
The concept has numerous advantages:
- No animals are killed
- It's far more energy efficient
- It would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases. Livestock currently emit more of these than the world's cars.
- It's real meat
There are still many problems to overcome, chief of which is that it's currently far more expensive. It is being developed however and will become common. We suggest the meat would be grown in a nanonyte frame which would exercise it and promote growth.
For details see:
Here's what Jeff Wein has to say about it from 'String to the Stars':
“Oh yes Sir Richard. It was real meat. The original cells came from one of the bulls in the farm. The bull is still alive and well. The best of it is that no antibiotics or any unnatural chemicals were involved either. This is pure organic real meat.”
“But what about the texture?” Sir Richard said incredulously. “I’ve read about culturing meat experiments and that it costs thousands of pounds to produce enough meat for a single burger and that even then it doesn’t have the right texture.”
“Yes that’s right,” Jeff enthused. They have to culture the meat cells in frames which require mechanical stimulation to produce muscle cells. I got round that by using nanonyte frames. They stretch the cells and stimulate them to contract in the same way as the muscle cells of a cow respond to exercise. As the cells grow, the nanonyte frames grow with them. Give me another six months and I’ll be able to grow you a steak.”
“You kept this pretty quiet,” John said.
“Well.” Jeff responded. “After the chicken nugget fiasco, I wanted to be able to give you better results. Besides I’ve only just finished working out the costs. I calculate it should be possible to produce steak for about 20 pence per pound. Less when we scale up.”
“What about other animals? Sir Richard asked.
“No problem. All we need is a source of the cells and I can make any meat you want; including boneless fish, shellfish and reptiles. Want an alligator steak? Just get me a biopsy from a live alligator.”
“I think this is going to make us feel a lot happier about the food shortages the immortality gene will cause.” Sir Richard responded with new respect. “But at 20p a pound it’s not going to make old Farmer Natress at all happy!”
Of course there is nothing to stop us growing human 'meat'. We are not suggesting a modified form of cannibalism. Instead it could be used to grow muscle to repair things such as a human heart. We use that idea in 'Regret and Retribution.' As to 3D printed skin - that's already being developed at a number of centres.
Is there such a thing? It seems there may be. A gene known as AVPR1a has been identified which seems to be the 'ruthless gene'. The shorter this gene, the more likely you are to be ruthless in dealing with others.
By a coincidence, it just happens to be the same gene associated with musical ability, which fits in well with the story.
In some of the books you'll find a mention of a second Triplet base at Cayambe in Ecuador. Why this particular location? It just happens to be the highest point on the equator and a good site for a space elevator since it's above most of the atmosphere.
Existing Space Elevator designs
Want to know more? Watch this video for a taste:
A space elevator was first proposed in 1895 by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. His proposal was for a free standing tower which would be impracticable since it would collapse under it's own weight. Since then the concept has resurfaced a number of times. One Japanese firm, Obeyashi, has committed to building one in the next 50 years. It's my belief that it could take a lot less than this.
Check out the site of Liftport.com, a group which plans to first build a space elevator on the Moon. Liftport used the Kickstarter site to raise the funding they required for experiments. They asked for $8,000. Within 72 hours they had that pledged and went on to get funding of $110,353. Does that indicate the level of interest the public has in this project? We, of course, were backers.
Today we have the technology to build a Lunar space elevator. We can use existing fibres to produce it. An Earth based elevator would require greater strength fibres. The only fibres at the moment being made of carbon nanotubes or possibly diamond nanothreads. The trouble there is that until recently the maximum length of carbon nanotube has been 12 centimetres. A tad short of the 36,000 kilometres required. Recently a method of using light to produce a yarn made of carbon nanotubes which could be spun and platted into a rope or ribbon offers hope. Even more recently diamond nanothreads have been made by subjecting benzene to very high pressure. For the first time this new material offers the possibility of ultra long threads being made as a continuous process. Spun and platted these threads offer a real possibility of making the ribbon required. More details at Scientific American
Our book's alternative design
Here's a section of the forthcoming.... book 'String to the Stars' talking about a space elevator:
Download the first book in the series, Immortality Gene FREE now
"So Signor Brown, what do you know about rapid transit funifors?” Alvero asked Gary with a smile. He, Gary and Juanita were seated in his mobile office.
Gary laughed and copied Alvero’s earlier answer. “Funifors? Not a lot. My expertise is in genetics and nanotechnology.”
“Well Sir Richard has asked me to explain what they are and just how they are relevant to a space elevator” He quickly drew two circles on a pad and joined them with two lines.
This is the normal arrangement of an aerial cable car. The gondola hangs from the cable. I’ve shown a single line representing the cable but in practice there are three cables. Two which act as a stable track and a central cable providing the motive power.”
“That seems pretty simple,” Juanita said, “…but don’t some operate with just one or two cables?”
“Indeed they do… and some systems have more than three cables. Each system has advantages and disadvantages but in the rapid transit system there are three.
Now what makes the rapid transit system viable is that there are overlapping loops of cable like this…
…remember each line represents three cables and this is not to scale. The gondolas move from one loop of cables to the next smoothly. Now the clever bit is that the cables move at different speeds.”
“But if that’s the case wouldn’t there be a sudden jerk as the gondola switched loops?” Gary asked.
“Not in this case – you see as well as the gondola’s riding the cables they are also powered. The two outer cables carry the power and it’s picked up by the wheels and used to drive motors which accelerate the car as it reaches the end of a loop until it matches the speed of the next loop.”
“I thought the idea of picking up power from the ribbon had been discounted. I seem to remember that the ribbon couldn’t carry enough power and that plasma in space would short circuit it.”
“If we were relying on a single 22,000 mile cable, that would be true, but our cable is made up of multiple two mile loops. They're not affected too much above or below the ionosphere which is about 600 miles wide. Power is fed into the loops from microwave transmissions from the ends of the ribbons and supplemented by solar cells. The loops are not long enough to be seriously affected by plasma. The gondolas can also pick up some power from the microwave transmissions also. Most of the lift comes from the loop movement. The gondolas only need enough power to accelerate or decelerate to the speed of the next loop.”
“I see. So there’s no sudden speed change. Does the fact that the gondolas are in constant acceleration or deceleration give some artificial gravity?”
“Correct Signor Brown. It will only be a slight effect, but it will make the journey much more comfortable to inexperienced space travelers. Of course it’s all computer controlled and the mass of gondolas on different sides of the loop is always kept in balance so you’re not having to use power other than to keep it in motion. It’s safe too because there are always three ribbons and a break in one wouldn’t cause a catastrophic failure. In fact any one ribbon could carry the gondola in an emergency.”
“So this is the system the elevator will use? Like a cable car except it will be stood on end?” Juanita asked.
“Absolutely Senorita. It’s a tried and tested system in mountains but in the elevator’s case it has other advantages too. You see one of the biggest problems of a space elevator is the fact that a ribbon reaching from ground to geostationary satellite crosses the orbit of every other object orbiting the Earth and there are thousands of them. Satellites, space junk, meteors and space dust; all would sooner or later hit the ribbon.”
“I hadn’t thought of that. Wouldn’t it mean that eventually the cable… ribbon would be broken?”
“Indeed it would, Senorita. In fact conventional space elevator designs call for the non-powered satellites and space junk to be removed or blasted by laser, or for the ground station to be on a ship which can move the cable out of the way as needed. They use a single ribbon and the gondolas are powered along it by lasers beaming up from the ground station. In our design we start with a single ribbon and use that to build up a series of rapid transit loops. It means the gondolas can be accelerated by power drawn from the loops and, since each loop is over fifty metres wide, to avoid space debris, we simply rotate the loop to move the ribbon and gondolas out of the way. The vast majority of the debris is less than a metre wide so there’s plenty of room.”
"So why are we building the ground station here rather than on a ship? Surely that would be safer than building it on a volcano?"
"Our ground station is above most of the atmosphere. That offers multiple advantages. Passengers will travel much faster—the journey will take a lot less than the week existing designs call for. They'll also be in a reduced pressure capsule. That offers advantages too but means they'll have to spend a week aclimatising to this in a hotel here before they travel. That will be down in Cayambe town and in much greater comfort and safety than is possible during a trip up the elevator. Our ground station can move too if necessary. It's on the end of a track which could move it to safety if the volcano showed signs of becoming active again. That's unlikely—it's been stable for the last 300 years."
Have you heard about memristors yet? If not, here's a quick video guide.
For years I've been predicting the death of hard drives, CDs, DVDs and Blue Ray. Computer storage which relies on moving parts just has to be a concept itching to be replaced. For the last few years we've had USB memory available and solid state drives (SSDs). They are expensive, though getting less so. Now there is a new electronic component being developed which promises to bring a vast increase in storage at a greatly reduced price. It's fast, small, inexpensive, more versatile, uses less power and is less prone to heat damage. It's inevitable that it will replace computer memory chips, hard disk drives and optical disk drives. In a few years expect to be able to buy a movie or computer program on a plastic card featuring a pop-out area like a phone SIM chip. It will be about the size of a credit card - not because it needs to be that big but because that's about the minimum size to print a description on.
It's not just computer memory which will be affected. The other computer components, including the processor can use memristors. You can even make the components transparent. Imagine your car windscreen showing you a head up display of the road ahead and all the instrument panel. There's one other feature of memristors - they are not just on/off devices like our current digital computers. They remember various degrees of resistance making possible a synapse type computer like the human brain.
Nothing really new about these. They've been around for a while. If you want one then try http://www.irobot.com or you can get them through Amazon.
From 'Regret and Retribution':
“Richard what is that beeping noise?” Kelly asked.
“It sounds like the automatic floor cleaner. It complains like that when something gets in its way.”
“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think I could use that drink now,” Jared said. “I hope you have something non-alcoholic that your sister, and I can drink.”
Richard chuckled. “I think I’ve still got some ginger ale in the refrigerator. I’ll be right back.”
Everyone sat down in the lounge.
Richard came back with a glass of ginger ale for Jared and Donna, wearing a big grin on his face. “I found out what was making the noise. I was right. It was the floor cleaner all right. The bloody thing was circling a huge pile of dog poop in the middle of my kitchen floor, trying to figure out how to clean it up. It was complaining because Twister and Bonkers were trying to play with it, and kept getting in the way.”
Kelly was dubious. “Did it figure out how to clean it up?”
“I don’t know. I called off the dogs and left it to it. If it hasn’t figured out how by the time I get ready for bed, I guess I’ll have no choice but to clean it up myself.
Actually he should have cleaned it up. I read a report on social media of here a floor cleaning robot had tried to clean up dog mess and had succeeded in spreading it all over the room. Seems current technology has a little way to go yet.
-In a number of the books we have characters communicating by cellphone via a satellite connection. That was stretching it a bit when we started writing the series back in 2007 but specialized satellite phones soon came available. They were still big and bulky though - certainly not pocket-able. That's changed again though. You can now buy a small device which allows a cellphone to connect. It uses the cellular network when available but uses a satellite connection when it isn't available. And it's pocket able. A little more development and we'll have the cellphones used in the books.
In 2007 we wrote about this in our original book 'A Vested Interest - Immortality Gene'. In it we described it being used to show Donna an image of her unborn child (and used computer modeling to show how he would develop at different ages). Today in 2015, we found this. Technology is catching up.
From Immortality Gene:
In front of them was something like a submarine hatchway. “VICi, initialize holographic imaging chamber,” he said. “Load Donna Rigden’s body-scan from main database. Focus on fetus. Based on neural and structural development, extrapolate growth. Increase time by 37 weeks and animate. Notify me when the chamber is ready.”
Donna’s heart began to pound. “Does this mean what I think it means?”
He smiled. “Do you want to see our son?”
She pressed her lips together and nodded.
VICi; Holographic imaging chamber ready. Program loaded.
Richard took her hand. “Let me show you our new toy. VICi, open chamber door.” Donna followed him inside. “VICi, seal chamber door.” He put his hands on her shoulders and pointed to a line on the floor. “Stand behind this - back a bit. Now focus in front of you. Bear in mind, this is a simulation of what he’ll look like. VICi, run program.” He stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Keep your eyes on the cylinder of light.”
There was a series of beeps. A sparkling display of static appeared inside the cylinder. It slowly rendered a 3D hologram of their baby.
“Oh, God!” she gasped. “He’s so perfect, Richard. Can I touch him?”
He took a slow breath. “We haven’t quite reached that stage. Gary, and Jeff Wein, the head of our electronics department are working on that task. I know he looks lifelike, but it’s light, pet. You can manipulate the hologram, though.”
He positioned his hands under hers. “Until you get the hang of this, relax and let me guide you, it’s supersensitive. We’ll use our hands and fingers. Tap or pinch to move objects around. Treat the HIC like a multi-touch smart-phone.”
He turned the image so they were looking at the baby’s face. To their amazement, he opened his aqua blue eyes and smiled at them as if he knew who they were. “This… is… amazing,” she said, her voice choked with emotion.
“Want to see him at the terrible twos stage?”
“Please,” she nodded.
“VICi, based on current data, increase time to two years.”
The image of the infant morphed to a small boy. “He has your facial features,” Richard said.
“But he has your beautiful blue eyes.”
He swallowed the lump in his throat and chuckled. “Let’s hope he has your singing voice.”
“Can I see him at ten?”
“Why ten?” he frowned.
“I don’t know. I just wanna see him at that age.”
“Sure. VICi, increase time to ten years. Change hair to match my style.”
Silent tears slid down Donna’s cheeks. She dropped to her knees, eye level with the hologram of the boy. Richard knelt beside her and held her. “He’s a younger version of you,” she said.
What about the Immortality Gene itself?
That's worth a page just for that subject alone - here it is.
Did you know the first book in the series is free? Download it and read it on your Kindle, iPad, Kobo, Nook, smart-phone or computer from:
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180258
iBooks - http://smarturl.it/iavi (Takes you to your local iTunes)
Barnes & Noble (Nook) -
It's available free at MineEye.co.uk http://www.mineeye.co.uk/shop/technothriller/immortality-gene/
It's currently free at Amazon - http://smarturl.it/avi (Takes you to your country's branch of Amazon)
Sometimes some branches of Amazon remove Immortality Gene from 'free' for a few days. If that happens you can download it direct from us here.