5 things to be optimistic about

Everything is doom and gloom it seems these days, so we're going to focus on the awesome for a while. Here's 5 things that are happening worth jumping up and down about (and no, none of them is a damn cell phone): Commercial Space Exploration

SpaceX, Virgin Galactic/Scaled Composites are redefining getting into space.

The Google Lunar X Prize entries are all looking promising.

Forget theme parks, I want a real adventure, not a simulated one. These commercial opportunities might actually get a regular Joe into space.

Augmented Reality

There's a buzzword for 2009.

Instead of grabbing a laptop to look up something, what about just thinking it and having the results hover magically in front of you?  Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a contact lens that creates a virtual display superimposed over the normal field of vision. By using a transparent part of the eye to place instrumentation, the contact will be safe for human wear.

AI Progression

Wait, we're progressing? And not just in the Japanese love-doll market?

We are in fact.  Jeff Hawkins' company Numenta is making interesting strides in their HTM platform. Guys like Dr. James O. Gouge are taking a totally different approach using very inexpensive micro controller boards like Propeller and ArduinoRobot Magazine has an excellent article on his work in the July/August 2009 issue. (you'll have to get the print magazine to read it, strangely enough, they aren't published online) I'm developing with Arduino these days and I'm convinced it will be an inventor in his garage that will provide us with a huge breakthrough in the next year or so.

Health

Think you might have cancer? Try the Test for Cancer With a Take-Home Kit.  They've created gold nanoparticles specially engineered to attach themselves to cancer-producing proteins in the body.  Now if they can attach to cancer producing proteins, how long before we'll be able to zap them with our laser guns instead of just detecting?  Exciting stuff.

Self-repairing materials

Got a flat tire?  Rip in your jeans?  Is your aircraft carrier's hull cracked?  Not for long.

Last time my aircraft carrier had a cracked hull, I was up all night trying to fix the darned thing. Ended up having to trade it in for a Carnival cruise ship. Have you ever tried to park an F18 in a swimming pool? It is no easy feat, my friend.