Top Futurology News - For the month of November 2020

12/07/2020 - 00:45

Kirk Nankivell

Another incredible month of progress across the spectrum: from reversing two major processes involved in aging to optics to neural brain implants to atomristors, November is definitely a month to remember.

Here are the top stories from the past month (in mostly chronological order), let's dive in:

1. New Display Packs 10,000 PPI and Could Paint Stunning VR Worlds

Singularity Hub

You can plausibly say today’s virtual reality is a descendent of smartphones. The affordable sensors, chips, and high-resolution displays critical to rendering a decent VR experience were engineered for iPhones and Galaxys not Rifts and Vives. Early on, VR pioneer Oculus built prototypes with 1080p AMOLED displays from Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones.

2. Oregon’s Decriminalization Vote Might Be Biggest Step Yet to Ending War on Drugs

The Intercept

Thanks to voters, Oregon will be the first state in the country to decriminalize the personal possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine. Oregonians passed Ballot Measure 110, also known as the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative, with 59 percent of the vote; it’s the most far-reaching of numerous successful drug-related measures on ballots nationwide, including the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota.

3. MIT Creates Battery-Free Underwater GPS


If you need to know where you are, there’s a network of GPS satellites in orbit that can tell you with a high degree of accuracy. That is, unless, you’re underwater. The GPS radio signal dissipates quickly when it hits water, causing a headache for scientific research at sea. The only alternative is to use acoustic systems that chew through batteries. A team from MIT has devised a battery-free tracking technology called Underwater Backscatter Localization (UBL) that could end this annoyance.

4. Becoming a Kardashev-1 Post-Scarcity Civilization

Isaac Arthur - YouTube

The Kardashev Scale measures how powerful a high-tech civilization is, with K-1 indicating a advanced society able to call on all the power of their planet, which we often envision as a Post-Scarcity Utopia. Is this the future of Humanity? And if so, how can we achieve it?

5. Brain implant allows mind control of computers in first human trials

New Atlas

Human trials for a first-of-a-kind device designed to treat the brain via electrical stimulation have brought some very promising results. Called Stentrode, the implant has the potential to treat a wide range of neurological conditions, but in these very first trials, has brought about significant quality-of-life improvements for a pair of Australian men suffering from motor neurone disease (MND).

6. This UK company has a contract to turn moon dust into oxygen

CNN | Business

A British company is hoping to turn dust from the moon's surface into oxygen — a project that could pave the way for further exploration and even habitation of the satellite. Metalysis, a materials technology firm based in South Yorkshire, England, said Friday that it has been awarded a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to further develop a method of extracting extraterrestrial oxygen from materials found on the moon's surface.

7. With new ‘elegant chemo,’ Israeli scientists edit genome to destroy cancer DNA

The Times of Israel

Tel Aviv University team uses ‘microscopic scissors’ to pinpoint and eliminate cancerous cells; results of animal tests just published, trial in humans expected within 2 years. “This is the first study in the world to prove that the CRISPR genome editing system, which works by cutting DNA, can effectively be used to treat cancer in an animal,” said Prof. Dan Peer, a cancer expert from Tel Aviv University, after his peer-reviewed research was published in the Science Advances journal.

8. Hyperbaric chambers used to reverse aging in "Holy Grail" study

Big Think

Scientists from Israel carried out a study that might prove groundbreaking in the human quest to slow the biological march of time. Researchers used oxygen treatments in hyperbaric chambers to stop blood cells from aging, actually making them grow younger. The scientists devised a novel program that uses high-pressure oxygen in a pressure chamber to reverse two key processes that stem from aging.

9. The Trillion-Transistor Chip That Just Left a Supercomputer in the Dust

Singularity Hub

The history of computer chips is a thrilling tale of extreme miniaturization. The smaller, the better is a trend that’s given birth to the digital world as we know it. So, why on earth would you want to reverse course and make chips a lot bigger? Well, while there’s no particularly good reason to have a chip the size of an iPad in an iPad, such a chip may prove to be genius for more specific uses, like artificial intelligence or simulations of the physical world.

10. Tiny, high-capacity "atomristor" stores data in single-atom switches

New Atlas

Engineers at the University of Texas have created one of the smallest memory storage devices ever, made out of a two-dimensional material measuring one nanometer square. Dubbed an “atomristor,” the device works on the movements of single atoms, which could pave the way for much smaller memory systems with incredible information density. The new device belongs to an emerging class of electronics called memristors, which store data using resistive switching.