Sunday, September 7, 2008

I Need a Metaphor for Random. Cornucopia, Potpourri? Ah, how about this...

I've let the news stories pile up a bit over the past couple of weeks, so prepare yourself for a grab-bag!

My beloved town of Greensboro has really stepped up its game this year, moving from 37th in the nation to 1st in the nation... for fall allergy severity. We were number two on the list of spring allergies this year, but I have faith we can take the title next year. Eat that Charlotte.

Meanwhile over on the coast, Wilmington, NC is about to become the first place in the country to have its analog television signals cut off. The FCC is using it as a test market for the analog cutoff due to happen early next year. It's been a while since I wrote about the coming need for tech savvy people to be able to answer questions about why the TVs will stop working. Are you prepared yet?

Speaking of televisions, Samsung had some organic light emitting diode displays out at a recent trade show. OLED screens have the potential to give full 180 degree viewing angles (just like analog, very much better than current LCDs) and extremely good contrast ratios and color reproduction. Bascially, they could potentially give the quality of an analog TV in an inch thick form factor. I believe the correct way to respond in current internet parlance is: DO WANT.

If that isn't sci-fi enough for you, the wacky, money flush builders over in Dubai are talking about building a self contained structure capable of housing over one million people. That sure sounds like the textbook definition of an arcology to me...

If giant cities aren't your cup of tea, then how about an exoskeleton that can help a paralyzed man walk again?

As was probably inevitable given the setbacks of its proposed replacement, the 2010 retirement date of the Space Shuttle program is under review. Currently, the U.S. manned space program will be dependent on Russian rockets for at least half a decade. The recent events in Georgia have lawmakers questioning whether that is a good idea. Of course, shifting political motives don't necessarily a good engineering program make.

Finally, if you thought a couple of weeks would pass without some alternate energy news, think again. MIT researchers have quietly come up with a way for viruses to be used to grow two of the three major components of a battery on a nanometer scale. These are at a very early stage of development, but the potential is exciting. And Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) has a very similar idea of the future of alternative energy to what I've been saying. I don't know if that reflects well on me or poorly on him...

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