Life Imitates Art: MAs and 5G

While looking at upgrading to a 4G phone/hotspot combo this afternoon I got to wondering if there was a “5G” in the works. It turns out there isn’t, exactly, but there are a few hints on the Wikipedia page on what that wireless standard might include when it emerges around 2020:

* Pervasive networks providing ubiquitous computing: The user can simultaneously be connected to several wireless access technologies and seamlessly move between them (See Media independent handover or vertical handover, IEEE 802.21, also expected to be provided by future 4G releases). These access technologies can be 2.5G, 3G, 4G, or 5G mobile networks, Wi-Fi, WPAN, or any other future access technology. In 5G, the concept may be further developed into multiple concurrent data transfer paths.

* Cognitive radio technology, also known as smart-radio: allowing different radio technologies to share the same spectrum efficiently by adaptively finding unused spectrum and adapting the transmission scheme to the requirements of the technologies currently sharing the spectrum. This dynamic radio resource management is achieved in a distributed fashion, and relies on software defined radio. See also the IEEE 802.22 standard for Wireless Regional Area Networks.

* Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6), where a visiting care-of mobile IP address is assigned according to location and connected network.

* High altitude stratospheric platform station (HAPS) systems.

* Real wireless world with no more limitation with access and zone issues.

* Wearable devices with AI capabilities.

* One unified global standard.

    Hmm…that “wearable devices with AI capabilities” business sounds awfully familiar…

    Given that new wireless communications “generations” come out approximately every ten years, the standard that emerges around 2050 — “8G” — ought to be pretty impressive.

    Move Over, Taco Bell, Here Comes Vat-Meat

    Walter Russell Mead sings the praises of those entrepreneurs who might one day bring us an environmentally-friendly and guilt-free source of protein: synthetic meat.

    Now I don’t know whether this particular technology will ever pan out, so that PETA activists will be stopping in at the local McDonalds for a tasty shamburger. Dr. Mironov might be wasting his time, or he might really be onto something.

    But the point is that there are hundreds of thousands of Dr. Mironovs working on all kinds of unconventional inventions and ideas in labs and garages all over the world.  Most of them may never produce very much but, especially with the tremendous advance of knowledge in biology of recent decades, some of them are going to get some very remarkable, life changing results.

    Whether we will get delicious juicy shamburgers and sinfully salty, crisp facon (fake bacon) anytime soon is beyond me.  But that the future will be full of surprises that change the basic rules of the energy game is almost certain.  This is why I don’t think the prophets of doom have it right.  Human ingenuity has been getting us out of tight corners and making life unexpectedly better for thousands of years; I don’t think we’re done yet.

    Those who have read In the Shadow of Ares already know of one possible market for this technology. Indeed, a grow-it-at-home version appears in the opening chapters of the book. If the technology works, and can be packaged into a reliable system with reasonable space and resource requirements, it would be a wonderful source of protein and familiar foodstuffs in an early Martian settlement, where raising livestock would be impractical for many years until sufficient habitable volume and related infrastructure had been established.

    Indeed, if it works well (by which I mean it produces something more palatable and less monotonous than just a synthetic form of Spam), the technology would eliminate the need to ever raise livestock on Mars…if anyone would ever seriously consider doing such a thing.

    Life Imitates Art: Portable DNA Sequencers

    FuturePundit points to a NYT article describing something very similar to a piece of technology readers might recognize from the Oasis scene of In the Shadow of AresTaking DNA Sequencing to the Masses:

    Dr. Rothberg is the founder of Ion Torrent, which last month began selling a sequencer it calls the Personal Genome Machine. While most sequencers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are at least the size of small refrigerators, this machine sells for just under $50,000 and is the size of a largish desktop printer.

    While not intended for the general public, the machine could expand the use of DNA sequencing from specialized centers to smaller university and industrial labs, and into hospitals and doctors’ offices, helping make DNA sequencing a standard part of medical practice…

    Rather than culturing a bug to identify what is infecting a patient, for instance, a hospital might determine its DNA sequence. Massachusetts General Hospital is already sequencing 130 genes from patient tumor samples, looking for mutations that might predict which drugs will work best. It has won an Ion Torrent machine in a contest and hopes to put it to that use…

    While most experts agree that sequencing will become commonplace in medicine, some say they think Dr. Rothberg is overselling his machine. Like the early Apple II of Mr. Jobs, it is too puny for many tasks, including sequencing the entire genome of a person…

    Dr. Rothberg acknowledged that the existing model was good for sequencing a virus or bacterium or a handful of genes, and indicated that future models would be more powerful.

    Indeed. Just imagine what forty more years of technological evolution might do to this device, in terms of cost, power, speed, and size.

    Opportunity Knocks

    The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are nearing another impressive milestone:  Martian Odyssey: Rovers Set to Celebrate 7 Years on Red Planet.

    Spirit got stuck in sand and hasn’t communicated since March of last year, but there’s hope that the arrival of Spring may provide a revival of sorts.  Opportunity, however, is still going strong–not bad for being over 1300 “sols past warranty”.  Better yet, we can hope for even more from the next generation rover scheduled to launch later this year, nicknamed Curiosity

    While robotic craft continue to play an important part in space exploration, hopefully their most important role will be paving the way for human exploration and permanent settlement.

    Mining Mars

    As we portray in “In the Shadow of Ares”, mining will certainly be a crucial part of the economic development of any off-Earth settlements.

    “Hispanically Speaking News” ran this story yesterday:  Scientists Will Simulate a Space Colony in Chile to Study Life In Mars:

    Chilean scientists along with scientists from several other countries will construct a base in the most-arid desert in the world, Chile’s Atacama (where the 33 miners got trapped) aiming to simulate life in a space colony on the planet Mars, which shares a lot of characteristics with Atacama.

    While the tie-in to the Chilean mine rescue is interesting, it is not clear if mining will play a significant role in any simulations.  It would certainly seem to be relevant.  As we portray in “In the Shadow of Ares”, mining will certainly be a crucial part of the economic development of any off-Earth settlements. 

    At least the Chinese seem to think so:

    In March 2011, a delegation from the Chinese space agency will visit the Chilean desert project.  The Chinese are projecting that by 2020 they will have below-ground bases on the Moon to extract minerals and are eager to research and test their cutting edge space technology.

    Where can we expect the United States to be in 2020?  Will the recent shift to private enterprise see the economic and regulatory incentives necessary for this fledgling industry to survive and thrive?