Elon Musk Revolutionizing 3D Design With Hand Gesture Technology

Hand Gesture Technology

Elon Musk is trying to revolutionize large and small scale manufacturing and design through cutting edge hand gesture and 3D printing technologies.

I believe we’re on the verge of a major breakthrough in design and manufacturing… in being able to take the concept of something from your mind, and translate that into a 3D object really intuitively on the computer.

Musk and SpaceX are partnering with companies like Leap Motion for hand gesture technology that may one day even be used with Oculus Rift virtual reality systemsOculus Rift to develop realistic 3D virtual models.

 

3D printing has gained popularity recently as the cost and time saving potential is being realized by individuals and companies alike.

Musk is joining the likes of NASA in utilizing 3D printing technology and reaping the benefits. NASA who has been printing rocket engines cheaper and faster than ever is among the technology’s biggest proponents.

Let’s hope this trend continues to push the technology to new heights and the cost to new lows.

 

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“Magic” Psilocybin Mushrooms May Treat Depression

Magic Mushroom

“Magic” mushrooms and their active ingredient, psilocybin, may treat symptoms of depression, British scientists suggest. The research was posted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal after one of the first studies done since the 1960’s.

“One of the parts of the brain that is markedly switched off [with psilocybin] is the anterior cingulate cortex, which is particularly overactive in people with depression,” said David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London. Some researchers “put electrodes in that part of the brain to switch it off. It would be a lot simpler and safer to use psilocybin instead of electrodes.”

This study was very basic, but I think it merits further research. Psilocybin is labeled as a Schedule I Drug in the United States meaning that it has highly addictive qualities, no accepted medical value, and no safe method of conducting scientific research.

With the medical properties of marijuana becoming apparent to the public, it may facilitate open dialogue on these other potentially helpful and healing substances.

 

Nissan Will Offer Driverless Cars by 2020

Autonomous Nissan Leaf

Making a huge splash in the transportation industry, Nissan has just announced they will offer multiple driverless cars by 2020. The Japanese auto-maker has jumped into the race for “autonomous vehicles” by showing off a driverless prototype of the Nissan Leaf on a military base in Irvine, CA.

“In 2007 I pledged that – by 2010 – Nissan would mass market a zero-emission vehicle. Today, the Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric vehicle in history. Now I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it.” – Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn

Oxford/Nissan Driverless Car

Google has long been the name associated with driverless car technology, but according to the press release, Nissan has been working on this innovative transportation technology for years alongside top universities MIT, Stanford, and Oxford.

The vehicles operate differently than the cars developed by Google, in that they utilize laser scanners and artificial intelligence, but do not require internet access.

Both companies however, have similar reasons for developing the technology as it aims at eliminating crashes, reducing carbon emissions, and even offering more mobility and freedom to the elderly.

“Six million crashes in the US per year cost $160 billion and rank as the top reason of death for four- to 34-year olds. And, 93% of accidents in the US are due to human error, typically due to inattention.” – Nissan press release

I love this project for the good that it can do for humanity in many different ways, and I hope that others follow suit and pursue humanity friendly business projects.

New Contact Lenses With Three Times Zoom

I See You

Unfortunately, not the actual design

New contact lenses have just been developed that can actually zoom in 2.8 times for anyone wearing them. Current designs require that the user wears a pair of glasses to activate the magnification, but I would imagine that will not be the case indefinitely.

The research was led by Eric Tremblay and Joseph Ford who believe the technology could be useful for those suffering from macular degeneration, a common cause of vision problems often leading to blindness.

“The current treatments for macular degeneration include invasive surgery or to wear glasses with very thick lenses. Although research continues, development of this new magnifying lens technology has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world by using these ‘normal’ looking lenses.” – Ian Anglin

I Only Have Eyes For You

The actual current design

Beyond the medical application, there’s plenty of excitement around the use by those with perfectly normal vision. The ability to zoom in and magnify your vision with ease would be great, and I think at the right price, a lot of people would be interested. This would be great for jewelers or anyone working in detail like sculptors or painters, not to mention the possible military applications.

Unfortunately, it may be some time before these are commercially available. The project is still very much in the research stage, but does expect to begin new clinical trials in November 2013.

These aren’t the only hope for those suffering from visual impairment. Incredible trials with stem-cell technology have successfully restored sight to blind mice, and could has a great potential for human development.

Elon Musk Unveils Details for 800 MPH Hyperloop Super “Train”

Hyperloop Concept

It’s been sometime since Elon Musk first made mention of the hyperloop. The announcement of the 800 mph ultra high-speed super “train” made big news last year when Musk first mentioned the concept, but we haven’t heard any more details since then. That is until yesterday when Musk released the details of his futuristic concept that cover some of the questions concerning the proposed system.

The key advantages of a tube vs. a railway track are that it can be built above the ground on pylons and it can be built in prefabricated sections that are dropped in place and joined with an orbital seam welder. By building it on pylons, you can almost entirely avoid the need to buy land by following alongside the mostly very straight California Interstate 5 highway, with only minor deviations when the highway makes a sharp turn.

Hyperloop Passenger CapsuleThe comparison made to rail is important to note. This concept only began in the first place as a response to California’ s proposed high-speed rail system. Musk believes the project to be among the most costly and least efficient high-speed transport system, and not innovative enough to represent the silicon valley region.

When the California “high speed” rail was approved, I was quite disappointed, as I know many others were too. How could it be that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL – doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars – would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?

Hyperloop-Alpha

The rail system being referenced is estimated to reach over $100 billion in total cost, meaning that the solar-powered hyperloop would be four times as fast and ten times cheaper than this proposal. One innovation will make this even simpler to use than any currently proposed public transport systems, and that is the ability to also transport personal cars. With this idea, a passenger would simply drive their car into the large pod and drive off at the destination, no messing with rental cars or buses.

There must however, be a downside to every story, and this one is no different. With his time being absorbed by CEO duties at both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Musk has noted it is unlikely that he will be able to build the system himself. By releasing these plans to the public, he hopes that someone with the resources and know-how will be able to carry the idea forward. In a brief glimpse of hope, Musk hinted that if the idea is not picked up initially, he may build a prototype in the 3-5 year range more than likely.

What is the future of public, high-speed transportation?  Do you think we’ll ever see a hypertube type system in place?

UK Scientists’ Plan to Put Humans on Mars

Marstronaut

A recent BBC article details an in-depth conceptual project from scientists at Imperial College London to put the first humans on Mars. This concept is intended to illustrate our current progress towards inter-planetary space travel, as well as the challenges and risks that we must still overcome.

The spacecraft will be designed to rotate in such a way that the 3 person crew of “Marstronauts” could enjoy the resulting artificial gravity. This would help with bone and muscle mass loss, and help the re-orientation of the crew to a life on Mars. The craft could slow its rotation to match the Martian rate of roughly 40% of the Earth’s gravitational  pull.

“There are big, big jumps between a demonstration at one level and putting together the engineering systems for a mission, but they are engineering challenges. They are not fundamentally about making new discoveries.” – Professor Tom Pike

This short video has some great visualizations of the spacecraft design and landing scenario along with some good descriptions of the concepts involved.

“Real life Tony Stark” Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is working on similar goals for transporting humans to Mars. For Musk, electric vehicles and a Hyperloop super-train are just the beginning in his quest to push the boundaries of science and technology.

His company SpaceX is taking the concept of manned Mars missions to the next level. They envision human exploration and colonization, and quite literally “backing up the biosphere”.

The rockets we’re building right now could certainly send probes to Mars, like the Mars rovers and that kind of thing, but the rockets we hope to build in the future are the ones that could take people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian base.

Seeing these projects starting to gain legitimacy is an exciting thing to behold. The general public is starting to get behind these ideas, and private space flight is gaining in popularity and capability. There’s no telling what the future holds for Mars colonization, but it should be an exciting thing to watch.

The Singularity -The Inexplicable Future of Humans and Technology

The singularity is a term borrowed from physics by Google’s chief engineer, Ray Kurzweil. The meaning in physics relates to the point inside of a black hole at which the laws of physics have completely broken down. Kurzweil’s definition refers to a point in the future at which technology has increased to such a high level that it is not possible to perceive a difference between technology and humanity.

Imagine a time in the future that has changed so much that, like physical laws in a black hole, life as we know it to be ceases to exist, and life begins anew in a completely different context. This is similar to the point in our evolution when language developed… try explaining to a non-lingual, pre-human the verses of Shakespeare, or the verses of Jay-Z for that matter.

The life expectancy was 20, 1,000 years ago, we doubled it in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years from now, probably less than 15, we will be reaching that tipping point where we add more time than has gone by because of scientific progress.”…Based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we’ll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold.” – Ray Kurzweil

Beginning is Near

The most amazing part is the time-frame that is projected. By Kurzweil’s estimates based on the exponential leaps shown by Moore’s Law, we may reach this tech-haven by 2045. So that’s all there is to it… hold on for 32 more years and it’s all virtual reality gravy. I’ll leave you with this by Friedrich Nietzsche…

“Man is something that shall be overcome…. Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman — a rope over an abyss… What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”

NASA Successfully Tests 3D Printed Rocket Engine Component

3d-printed Rocket Engine

So those kids over at NASA have been pretty busy. This time taking 3D printing even further, NASA has announced they’ve successfully tested a rocket engine fuel injector made using the new technology.

By using a specific technique called selective laser melting (SLM), they were able to cut the manufacturing time down from one year to four months, and reduce the cost by over 70%.

“Nasa recognises that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by ‘printing’ tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft” –  Michael Gazar

The term “additive manufacturing” refers to building a product from the ground up using the specific materials and quantities needed. On top of the benefits stated above, this technology also drastically reduces the amount of waste by-product.

Hit the link for more information on NASA’s successful test, as well as a competition from General Electric to create the best design for a 3D printed engine bracket.