DARPA to Put 3-D Printers in Schools

DARPA to Put 3-D Printers in Schools

The U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) plans to put 1,000 3-D printers (rapid fabrication devices) into high schools across the United States as a way to encourage American young people to go into engineering and particularly manufacturing.

The project is one of many investments that the agency will make over the next five years to help high schoolers build STEM skills. These investments are critical to grow an educated twenty-first century workforce, says DARPA director Regina Dugan. The hollowing of America’s manufacturing base has direct effects on national security, Dugan told participants at National Academy of Engineering event in Washington, D.C., in October.

“Norm Augustine, former president of Lockheed Martin, projected that if current trends in the manufacturing of defense aircraft continue, by the year 2054, the entire department of defense budget would be necessary to purchase one airplane. Obviously, that trend is not sustainable,” she said. “The question is not whether manufacturing is essential to our national security, diplomatic, and economic health as a nation… Rather, the question is how best to revitalize our manufacturing base.”

Source: DARPA. Watch the NAE event here.

Learning from Bacteria to Build Nano Communication Networks

A Georgia Tech team has received a $3 million grant to explore how bacteria interact on a molecular level to form networks. The research may one day guide the design of nanodevices able to communicate with one another and accomplish tasks at the nanolevel of one billionth of a meter in size, which could lead to future breakthroughs in nanorobotics.

“The nanoscale machines could potentially be injected into the blood, circulating in the body to detect viruses, bacteria, and tumors,” says researcher Ian Akyildiz. “All these illnesses — cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, asthma, whatever you can think of — they will be history over the years. And that’s just one application.”

Source: Georgia Tech

Models Predict Impacts of Solar Explosions

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is developing models to improve their predictions of space weather activity and its impacts.

Specifically, they are looking for ways to minimize the effects of big blasts of plasma that the Sun may eject, interrupting vital electrical power grids radio and satellite communications systems, such as Global Positioning Systems.

It may take up to four days for an ejection of charged particles and magnetic streams to produce magnetic storms on Earth, so more-accurate forecasts of the timing of these impacts could, for example, give airline operators the opportunity to reroute traffic and power companies time to work around potential outages or other problems.

“This advanced model has strengthened forecasters’ understanding of what happens in the 93 million miles between Earth and the Sun following a solar disturbance, says Tom Bogdan, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. “It will help power grid and communications technology managers know what to expect so they can protect infrastructure and the public.”

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Military Planners Meet to Discuss Cyberwarfare and Other Threats of 2028

Military personal, academics, and diplomats met in Virginia October 25-28 for Unified Quest, a seminar war game to explore the geostrategic environment of the future.

“The purpose of this symposium is about plausible strategic landscapes,” said Col. Kevin Felix, director of the Army’s Future Warfare Division. “The four working groups were given wide latitude to work towards 2028, and it was about bringing in the right folks.”

The threat of future cyberwarfare attacks emerged as a particular concern. “We may be facing more asymmetric threats, in the cyber environment in particular,” Felix said.

FUTURIST magazine deputy editor and WFS communications director Patrick Tucker gave the opening keynote to the symposium. He emphasized the shifts in the geostrategic landscape that the United States was facing as a result of changing population dynamics, resource exhaustion, and the empowerment of individuals due to how the rapid spread and advancement of information technology is empowering individuals (often) at the expense of established institutions. The latter phenomenon has both positives and negatives from a defense standpoint, said Tucker. (Tucker is also the editor of this newsletter.)

Source: United States Army

WFS President Timothy Mack Addresses French Embassy

World Future Society President Timothy Mack addressed the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., on November 1, describing the importance for leaders to think strategically about the future.

“The foresight analyst cannot simply be an advisor who comes, looks, speaks, and leaves. It is my belief that foresight analysts (or futurists) have a responsibility to determine not only the best paths to the future but the most viable ones, and then to stay the course and see change for the better through to completion,” Mack said in his address.

Mack served as moderator for the event, which included Michel Godet and Philippe Durance, co-authors of Strategic Foresight for Corporate and Regional Development, and consulting futurist Joseph F. Coates, who offered “A Comparative View of La Prospective and Traditional Techniques Used in the U.S., Great Britain, and Much of Europe.”

Among the attendees were WFS founder Edward Cornish; Institute for Alternative Futures chairman Clem Bezold; FUTURIST magazine contributing editor David Pearce Snyder; biostatistician Jay Herson; Donna Heivilin of the International Alliance for Women; and Jay Gary of Regent University.

What’s in THE FUTURIST magazine?

A selection of articles, special reports, and other future-focused material on our Web site that you might have missed. Members may sign in to read and comment. Not a member? Join now at http://www.wfs.org/renew.

Outlook 2012

Environmental threats and energy source opportunities; in vivo organ and tissue printing and buildings that self-adapt to weather fluctuations. These forecasts and more appear in THE FUTURIST’s annual roundup of thought-provoking ideas. Read more.

Updating the Global Scorecard: The 2011 State of the Future

By Jerome C. Glenn

The world could be better off in ten years than it is today, but only if decision makers can work together to meet global challenges, according to The Millennium Project. Read more.

Investigating the Future: Lessons from the “Scene of the Crime”

By Charles Brass

Futurists investigate clues and evidence to attempt to answer difficult questions, much like crime-scene investigators. But while CSIs try to determine things that have already happened, futurists look to what may yet happen, and what we can do now to influence it. Read more.

What’s in THE FUTURIST (public)

Lost and Found in Japan

By Patrick Tucker

While the world turned its attention to the frightening prospects of a nuclear catastrophe in post-tsunami Japan, another crisis was being dealt with, quietly, humbly, and with pragmatic determination. Read more.

THE FUTURIST Interviews Jim Motavalli, author of High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry

Electric vehicles have existed as a concept since the 1890s, but now the technology is finally here to make them a standard consumer vehicle of choice, according to Jim Motavalli, environmental writer, in his new book, High Voltage: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry (Rodale, 2011). He sees a huge market growth ahead for electric vehicles, and for hybrid vehicles, as well. Read more.

Tomorrow in Brief

Metal Theft on the Rise?
Virtual Lab Rats
Solar Ivy for Walls
Robotic Caregivers
Aquariums as Farms

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