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Tuesday, December 30, 2014
The Most Futuristic Predictions That Came True In 2014
As 2014 comes to a close, it's time to reflect on the most futuristic breakthroughs and developments of the past year. This year's crop features a slew of incredible technological, scientific, and social achievements, from mind-to-mind communication to self-guiding sniper bullets. Here are 15 predictions that came true in 2014.
Technologically-assisted telepathy was successfully demonstrated in humans
Remarkably, the system is completely non-invasive. By using internet-linked electroencephalogram (EEG) and robot-assisted image-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) technologies, an international team of researchers were able to get two subjects — one in India and one in France — to mentally transmit the words "hola" and "ciao." It's an important proof of concept for furthering the development of tech-enabled telepathy.Image: Carles Grau et al/Plos.
In what's being seen as a precursor to a Star Trek-like replicator, astronauts aboard the ISS used their 3D printer to manufacture a socket wrench. Remarkably, the 20-part wrench was designed on Earth and emailed to astronaut Barry Wilmore who ran it through the printer. It's a prime example of how 3D printing is poised to change space travel, allowing astronauts to produce equipment on demand and in emergency situations. Image: NASA.
The technique, which is only being used on patients who would otherwise be expected to die, involves internal rather than external cooling. The patient's blood is replaced with a cold saline solution, which slows down the body's metabolic functions and need for oxygen. Image: Prometheus.
The U.S. Navy deployed a functional laser weapon
The device, called a High Energy Laser (HEL) weapon, was fitted to the USS Ponce, which is currently on exercises in the Persian Gulf.
In what was the year's biggest artificial life breakthrough, researchers from New York University Langone Medical Center reconstructed a synthetic and fully functional yeast chromosome. Incredibly, they were also able to insert their own special additions to the chromosome, including a chemical switch that allows scientists to "scramble" it into thousands of different variations to make subsequent gene editing even easier. It's an important proof of concept that could lead to designer organisms and artificial chromosomes in humans.
A venture capitalist firm appointed an AI to the board
Researchers at the University of Rochester developed a cheap and surprisingly effective cloaking device that's being heralded as the first to perform 3D, continuously multidirectional cloaking in the visible spectrum of light. To do it, they combined four standard optical lenses that keeps an object hidden — even as the viewer moves side to side. The system could eventually be used to eliminate blind spots in vehicles or let surgeons see through their hands during surgery. Photocredit: J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester.