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NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the thinking-different dept.

Science 135

Michael Huang writes "Wired News profiles the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), the $4 million-a-year agency most famous for Bradley Edwards' study of the space elevator. Lesser known studies include weather control, shape-shifting space suits and antimatter-powered probes to Alpha Centauri. Remember, 'if it's not risky, it's not going to get funded'."

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Sounds familiar (4, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089861)

Gee. Sounds like Heinlein's "Long Range Foundation".

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What? (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089867)

NASA is getting into space things? That's odd.

Re:What? (5, Funny)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090435)

Nasa getting into sci-fi would be like the US Military getting into video games, never going to happen.

Re:What? (1, Offtopic)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090468)

uhmmmmmmm... on the contrary. try this [americasarmy.com] on for size. I hear it's a decent game.

Re:What? (0, Offtopic)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090526)

Yeah, I know. Check this [smh.com.au] out though, that is the game [amazon.com] I want for Christmas.

Re:What? (0, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090602)

I don't know anything about the game but the CIA doing that is retarded. Haven't they ever heard of roleplaying games? In which anything is possible, and you are not limited by a game engine? Idiots. Not to mention that with their resources the CIA could create an entire support infrastructure where they used computers to model the effects of explosions and such, so you'd get the best of both worlds.

Ever since I first read Zelazny's Amber series I've wondered how you could most effectively play the game. While the mind's eye can quite adequately provide a representation for players in most circumstances, I would very much like to have visualization tools at my disposal. My basic idea is a sort of combination first person shooter-style game and game editor which cooperate in realtime. Terrain could be stored in a central game engine. The storyteller would have available to them essentially the combination of CAD, the controls available in the average god game (raise and lower terrain for example), and the controls available in the average FPS level editor. Players could then interact on this landscape and the game master/referee/what have you could manipulate it as is appropriate.

Combined with some sort of reality overlay-type system it would be a really amazingly cool way to play games - or a good way to drive someone to psychosis.

Re:What? (0)

sparcnut (775902) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090621)

Nasa getting into sci-fi would be like the US Military getting into video games, never going to happen.
They are into video games. America's Army, specifically - they wrote it.

I hope they keep their funding... (5, Interesting)

James A. O. Joyce (777976) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089871)

When I skimmed the article summary I was going to write a comment complaining th at NASA should be investing in "proven technologeis". After all, it's the "proven technologeis" that help us about our daily lifes and help us fulfilll ourselves: space elevators don't enter into it, right? Besides, NASA needs to bring in some green and they can only do that by making proprietry software and crafts.

But then I realised something important; no matter how important it is for NASA to make money, we still have to spend money to make money. Even if spending money on space lifts causes taxes to get nothced up by a few dollars, it will all be worth it in a few decades because we will all benefit from the advanced cabling tech. Besides, every dollar that's spent on this is another dolll ar that isn't spent on military applications or other less savoury things [slashdot.org] .

Still, judging by their website [usra.edu] , I'm a little suspicious of what they're up to! ;-) I guess their just busy working on something cool like transforming space suits, heh. Keep up the good articals, simoniger. (The shape-shifting space suits are almost certainly more useful than the shape-shifting trainers I saw linkked on Fark, anyway.)

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (2, Informative)

ziggy_zero (462010) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089931)

As Buckminster Fuller said, we should focus more on "livingry" rather than weaponry.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (5, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089953)

Buckminster Fuller. Now that guy had balls.

for those who don't get the above joke... (4, Informative)

funny-jack (741994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090189)

Actually, Mr. Fuller had domes [bfi.org] . The balls [imbris.net] referred to above have his name in honor of the domes.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090391)

>> Buckminster Fuller. Now that guy had balls.

Yeah, but really tiny ones.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (1)

brian728s (666853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090593)

>> Yeah, but really tiny ones. But he had millions of really tiny ones. Surely that means something.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (5, Interesting)

theM_xl (760570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089950)

Aye, if everyone only invests in "proven techonologies" we can forget about progress... Sure, we'll probably refine things, but some new ones would be nice. We can't rely on the guys in basements to do everything... Somebody has to do the hard science that at least on the surface offers little. If the NASA is the one to do it, more power -and funding- to them.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (4, Insightful)

DShard (159067) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089961)

And honestly, space elevators are not as far fetched an idea as they sounded when I first read about them in Kim Stanley Robinsons' Mars series. What it would return when we work out the tech is a solar system of resources at or disposal. With the price of bringing up and down cargo going to dollars a pound, the potential is breathtaking. There are worse pipe dreams to invest in.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (5, Interesting)

Nerd With Nalgene (740915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090016)

Actually, that's more than a little optimistic. Theoretically, having a single space elevator might drop the price for lifting material to geosync to under a thousand dollars a kilogram. That's still a big improvement over tens of thousands, but it doesn't mean you'll be sending up your kids' science projects anytime soon.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (5, Informative)

xmath (90486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090124)

Quoting the site:
The first space elevator would reduce lift costs immediately to $100 per pound, as compared to current launch costs, which are $10,000-$40,000 per pound, depending upon destination and choice of rocket launch system.

Plus, if you look at their studies it seems they have figured out pretty much everything already. The only technical detail they're waiting for is a sufficiently strong carbon nanotube composite to make the cable of, and they're already making good progress there. After that, apparently it becomes just an engineering/funding problem.

Of course the studies could be mistaken, but still it's definitely not in the pure "Sci-Fi" category anymore. With a bit of luck, we'll still live to see it built. :-)

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090277)

Heaven help us if it ever snaps. imagine a super strong cabel accelerating from a geosync orbit across some city? like a 4 km long 2 meter wide meteor.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (4, Informative)

Saige (53303) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090401)

Cause, of course, we haven't seen every single technical article that describes the space elevator in any sort of techincal detail mention that it would be a wide but extremely thin ribbon that, were it ever to break or be cut, would float down with not even enough kinetic energy to hurt a person. That coupled with the fact that any sections not far enough into the atmosphere to be slowed that way would, upon reentering the atmosphere and building up a bit of heat, disintegrate.

In other words, if their engineering ideas are even close, the only place we'll see a big disaster caused by a space elevator cable coming down is fiction.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090570)

If it's scientifically impossible, it's not science fiction - it's fantasy. The space elevator is something that we (meaning humans) pretty much knew would be possible eventually. Hence, the pure sci-fi category is not a bad place to be.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (2, Informative)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090033)

The idea of the space elevator is about 35 years old. Yuri Artusanov (spelling?) came up with the idea circa 1968, and Arthur C. Clarke ran with it in "The Fountains of Paradise". The anchor point's name of "Clarke" in the Mars series was a tribute.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (1)

DShard (159067) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090046)

I knew somebody had previous examples! thanks.

MOD PARENT DOWN TROLL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9089977)

Parent is a known troll look at his record. Mod him down

4 Milion.. is pocket change (5, Insightful)

NoMercy (105420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090053)

Goverments deal in milions, 50 milion there, 20 milion there, the cost of some piece of stupid artwork to stick at the end of a bridge cost a insane ammount of money while another piece of local-goverment artwork is spiraling though milions of dolars while its schedule is pushed furthur and furthur back...

Benifit of this is, a) the costs are fixed, b) we might just get that anti-mater powered probe to aplha-centuri ;)

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (0)

Log from Blammo (777614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090075)

Anything worthwhile can be paid for by voluntarily invested money instead of tax dollars. And tax dollars are not a fixed pool of funding--a dollar spent on NASA pipe dreams is a dollar taken from the public, not a dollar taken from the military, or any other part of government. Both of those dollars could have been used to fund a private enterprise researching technologies of more immediate utility to humanity.

In other words, if GE wanted to invent superior cabling, I could buy more stock to fund the project, and thus profit from the super-long suspension bridges that would be built. If NASA invented superior cabling, I get to pay more taxes so they can build a space elevator, which I would then be charged additional money to use.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090164)

If GE invents superior cabling, then only GE and its licensees get to use it, and they pass the cost on to you, the consumer. If NASA invents superior cabling, then everybody (including GE) can use it to deliver better products (including suspension bridges) at a lower price.

Government expenditure on science is an investment by the people of the US (or whatever country is doing the spending) -- and one which (especially in the case of NASA) has quite often had a rate of return on investment which few if any private R&D operations can match.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (4, Insightful)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090190)

In other words, if GE wanted to invent superior cabling, I could buy more stock to fund the project, and thus profit from the super-long suspension bridges that would be built. If NASA invented superior cabling, I get to pay more taxes so they can build a space elevator, which I would then be charged additional money to use.

The problem with this is the vast majority of people are too short sighted to do this, it takes government (tax) money where an immediate profit is not needed to invest in these type of projects. People were shocked when Honda started getting into jet engines and said that the new division would not turn a profit for more than ten years, and that is just refining old technologies, not ground breaking new ones.

Imagine the investor response if GE said "We are going to build a space elevator, it will take us at least 25 years to complete it and cost the majority of our R&D budget for the whole time frame". That investor money would be voluntarily moved to Microsoft where (relatively) short term growth is much more likely.

Rather than say "a dollar spent on NASA pipe dreams is a dollar taken from the public" I would say "A dollar spend on a NASA pipe dream is a dollar invested in the public's future". Not all investments pan out but many do.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090385)

Anything worthwile but not immediatly possible will NOT be researched by a private company unless the pay off is rediculously profitable like pharmacuticles.

GE would not invest in a project that might come out with a space elevator in 25 years. They will invest in an oven that heats 25% faster that will be out in 8 months. For obtuse and long term project the government must fund it, for technology refinement the public sector will fund it.

Re:I hope they keep their funding... (-1, Offtopic)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090139)

Keep up the good articals, simoniger.

1. This was posted by Michael.

2. We're not back to etymology [slashdot.org] are we?

3. Nice variation on your username, but you are one of the worst trolls /. has ever seen. Something interesting from you would be... unexpected. Try being less... dull.

Be honest... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9089877)

Be honest, you were outraged to hear that funding was given to wacky pseudo-science projects, weren't you?

Re:Be honest... (5, Funny)

Reorax (629666) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089967)

I was outraged to hear that funding was given to their wacky pseudo-science projects. Still nothing for my magnetic levitation air-hockey table.

Re:Be honest... (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090082)

I was outraged to hear that funding was given to their wacky pseudo-science projects. Still nothing for my magnetic levitation air-hockey table.

That's because it's already been solved. You take an air-hockey sized piece of superconductor, cool it down to liquid-nitrogen temperatures, and place a puck-shaped magnet on top. Since superconductors are naturally diamagnetic, the magnet will float. By adjusting the strength and weight of the magnet, you can change the float height.

Re:Be honest... (1)

i8a4re (594587) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090231)

While I know your post was a joke, it got me thinking. Maybe you could get a whole bunch of these kits [scitoys.com] together and make a graphite puck and you might have one.

Reminds me of a quote (5, Funny)

jafo (11982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089881)

This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, by Gordon Moore: "If everything you try works, you're not trying hard enough."

Sean

Re:Reminds me of a quote (0, Offtopic)

antic (29198) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089976)

Gordon Moore: "If everything you try works, you're not trying hard enough."


And adapted for Slashdot:



"If you're hard, you're not trying to work enough."

;)

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A BUTT LMAO (1)

Altise (707285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089897)

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Arthur C Clarke 2061 (1)

eamacnaghten (695001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089898)

I believe this concept (or one very similar) Arthur C Clarke aired in his book 2061.

Re:Arthur C Clarke 2061 (1)

DShard (159067) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090007)

Actually it was 3001 [amazon.com] which came out later then Kim Stanley Robinsons' Green Mars [amazon.com] which was published 3 years earlier. But I would not be surprised if there isn't previous examples.

Re:Arthur C Clarke 2061 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090036)

Yah, there are previous examples: Fountains of Kaldissa, by...Arthur C Clark. Much earlier than KSR.

Re:Arthur C Clarke 2061 (1)

red floyd (220712) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090050)

You mean like Clarke's own The Fountains of Paradise [barnesandnoble.com] ?

Very fond of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090089)

Arthur C. Clark has been very fond of the idea. I belive he has plugged it in many books (including one with a title like "Songs from distant earth").

The Fountains of Paradise (2, Informative)

DeepBlueDiver (166057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090106)

I believe this concept (or one very similar) Arthur C Clarke aired in his book 2061.

He was just re using the concept he presented for the first time in "The Fountains of Paradise" (1978).
Great book, BTW.

Re:Arthur C Clarke 2061 (1)

arhines (620963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090239)

It appears in a number of his books actually. Another to add to the list is his co-written Songs of Distant Earth. In this, the elevators were used to lift huge blocks of ice from a waterworld type planet to build a space debris shield in front of a colony ship. Somehow it also killed people, though I can't recall what the circumstances were.

How about... (0)

CaptainPuff (323270) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089903)

starting a search for the Black Monolith?

Do they have 500 Altairan dollars for (5, Funny)

Intocabile (532593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089904)

.. for the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon 6? Or is that not risky enough?

Re:Do they have 500 Altairan dollars for (1)

Temporal Outcast (581038) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089934)

All in good time, my friend ;-)

if it's not risky, it's not going to get funded (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9089915)

Perhaps NASA can convince Bush to pull out of Iraq...

Christ, do any programmers submit stories? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9089922)

'if it's not risky, it's not going to get funded'

Nice quoting style.

250x less (5, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089935)

It costs more than 250 times their yearly budget to fly one shuttle mission...That is a sad joke, I bet there budget is less than what NASA spends each year to fly the NASA highups around the country.

Heh... (4, Funny)

Burgundy Advocate (313960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089942)

Re-fund Orion.

...then Superfund the United States!

Re:Heh... (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090463)

They have [nasa.gov] , sort of.

No one is going to use a fission based launch system though, too many hippies alive still.

The most important thing said in the article (5, Insightful)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089952)

The most important thing said in the article was a quote by an analyst "It's impossible to make breakthroughs if all you're funding is immediate, near-term applications".

In society today we all seem to concentrate on short term benefits and ignore the long term consequences, be it government budget deficits, long term research funding, balking at online music distribution, moving jobs off shore or the environment.

Re:The most important thing said in the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090011)

Shareholders -- and by extention, "lobbied" politicans -- can't see beyond their own feet anymore. The sure buck is next quarter. The sure buck is the sequel.

Re:The most important thing said in the article (1, Insightful)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090345)

"we all seem to concentrate on short term benefits and ignore the long term consequences, be it government budget deficits, long term research funding, balking at online music distribution, moving jobs off shore or the environment. "

You forgot one example: Military policy. Think of all the children in the middle east right now who are getting houses and cities bombed by 'American bombs' and having their fathers killed by 'American soldiers'. In 25 years, they will all be grown up, and they will hate America as much as their fathers did.

This will probably get modded off-topic, but it's just a response to your generalization about society's impulses.

Re:The most important thing said in the article (1)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090420)

I certainly forgot more than one, the list is endless, from the eroding of our personal freedoms to shopping at big box retailers to save a few buck. And having said all this, I am by no means perfect either, I just try to do my best.

Anti matter probe to Alpha Centauri ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9089965)

Unfortunatly the brute force method to interstellar travel will never work. One sand grain sized particle hitting a craft going 1% of c will end the mission. Then there is the issue of having enough fuel and the multigenerational length of the mission.

Re:Anti matter probe to Alpha Centauri ? (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090538)

With the energy being released at the backend theres enough to power some high energy magnetic field device to pass particles around or through the craft(and collect the stray hydrogen molecule). So particles aren't a big a problem, larger chunks would be though...

Space Elevator is not sci-fi (5, Interesting)

Nerd With Nalgene (740915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089968)

My dad has worked with Brad Edwards on the Space Elevator extensively, and I can tell you from experience that it is not wacky science fiction. It is a six billion dollar investment that isn't likely to appear anytime soon. However, it is almost certain to happen within the next thirty to forty years. While it is nice that the government can handle that kind of long-range vision occasionally, if they are the only ones providing investment into technologies like this one then they will end up controlling those technologies. What would really be nice is if the private sector could see into the future too and fund some of this kind of stuff without NASA's help.

Science fiction inevitably becomes fact... (5, Interesting)

Humorously_Inept (777630) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089970)

It's too bad that a defenseless program like this is just the sort that would be hacked apart if some hackney news agency decided to do an expose on the $4m it gets. I'm sure John Stossel could paint horns on it.

Even outlandish ideas deserve study. This isn't "duh" stuff like the speed at which ketchup comes out of the bottle, etc. I think it's important to keep an eye out on the horizon and if a couple bucks is enough motivation, then go for it!

Re:Science fiction inevitably becomes fact... (1, Troll)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090080)

Well now that I think about it, I'm sure that one day a jewish graduate from MIT will figure out how to upload a virus onto an Alien mother ship's computer system and save earth. That doesn't sound so far fetched after all.

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And the secret Sci-fi technology is ... (-1, Offtopic)

qaguru (777981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9089973)

Based on the name of the NIAC director (Robert Cassanova) I guess that one of the Sci-fi technologies is to how to get laid.

and if it's not a retarded article (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9089987)

michael won't post it!

Corny as it may be? (4, Interesting)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090004)

I'd like to see more research into replicator technology (maybe we will get there after enough nano-research?)
If we get replicators, we can solve a lot of problems at once:

- Food, nobody would have to grow hungry again
- Money, nobody would need it ever again
- Fuel, no more dependancies on oil
- Nuclear waste/pollution, easy to clean that up now
- Living forever, refreshing the building blocks of our bodies
- etc.

The only problem I can see here (and I'm sure there are more) is nano-warfare. As in "Let's make a nanobot that can kill all people with a certain DNA profile", that's the only thing I'm afraid of.

I think it will take a long time before we finally have that technology, but I'm afraid I won't live to see that (and I'm still hoping to have about 70 years ahead of me to live to the ripe old age of 95)

Re:Corny as it may be?...And it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090058)

Think about that for a sec. E = mc^2.
Where are you going to get all the power to make food/fuel? And it sure as hell isn't going to be 100% efficient. Even if this was invented, we'd still have wars over oil.

But yeah it would be cool. Just watch out for people wanting royalties on their replicator patern for meatloaf.

Re:Corny as it may be?...And it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090091)

Nothing like waiting for a good meal to materialize in solar powered replicator.

Re:Corny as it may be?...And it is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090573)

Nothing like waiting for a good meal to materialize in solar powered replicator.


Or, as I like to call them, "plants."

Re:Corny as it may be? (4, Insightful)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090110)

I'd like to see more research into replicator technology (maybe we will get there after enough nano-research?) If we get replicators, we can solve a lot of problems at once:

- Food, nobody would have to grow hungry again
- Money, nobody would need it ever again
- Fuel, no more dependancies on oil
- Nuclear waste/pollution, easy to clean that up now
- Living forever, refreshing the building blocks of our bodies
- etc.

You're high. Successful nanotech replictors probaly wouldn't solve any of those problems. It does not allow for escaping from the law of conservation of mass and energy. Materials are still going to take resources and energy to manufacture. both are commodities that, even if cheap, will prevent free replication. We'll be able to make our own oil but the energy to do that will have to come from someplace and might not be efficient as simply running electric cars to begin with. In fact, it may still be cheaper to pump the stuff out of the ground and use it. It might even still be cheaper to grow food naturally.

Re:Corny as it may be? (4, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090229)


- Food, nobody would have to grow hungry again
- Money, nobody would need it ever again
- Fuel, no more dependancies on oil
- Nuclear waste/pollution, easy to clean that up now
- Living forever, refreshing the building blocks of our bodies


-Food: We can already fend off hunger, it's socio economic reasons why we don't. Food distribution, international politics cause grain and other excess food goods to be stored/rott instead of eaten, not supply. Replicators would not help this. Chances are they would require electricity to operate and most places with low food levels also don't have electricity.
-money: Money is an idea, its a innovation to quantify the value of "work" or "goods". If replicators worked, they would require power, and then power and base materials would become the basis of a monetary system. Also replicators aren't magic, nanobots would still require base amterials and could only make things according to what is available. It's likly it will make manufacturing moot if it worked exactly liek you think it should.
-Fuel: We will need more, it doesn' solve fuel problems it woudl create it. We dont' yet know the power requirements a replicator would need, but changing matter require energy. If it work just a syou think (ie, make anything you tell it to out of base materials) We'd need a lot of energy. If your thinking of the magical Star trek replicators it's going to need even more energy (and also a major major innovation in physics to overcome the uncertainty principle.)
-Nuclear waste: Again nano machiens aren't magic They might be able to convert 8h2so4 into 8 h2 1 s8 and 16 o2 but it can't make pu-242 into 50 h2o.
-Living forever: It may someday result in this, This is a fairly realistic possibiltity but not for a good long time. Even then you may run into some problems, like memory. IF your 350 can your brain remember enough to keep you functional, will we hae to invent a forgetting machine lest we fill up our brains? This one might happen I doubt the other 4 will.

Re:Corny as it may be? (1)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090720)

It might be reasonable to assume that if we manage to achieve clinical immortality, we might be able to transform ourselves to vastly increase our mental capacities, or download our consciousness into a computer, blah blah science-fiction-cakes. Read Diaspora [amazon.com] , Schild's Ladder [amazon.com] , or Permutation City [amazon.com] by Greg Egan for ideas. Yeah, I know it's just sci-fi, but as long as we're dreaming, let's dream big, instead of assuming one fantastical thing and then assuming we wouldn't be able to get past problems it might engender.

Hurricane shifters...... (5, Interesting)

j3ll0 (777603) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090005)

The one thing that I like about the idea for shifting the hurricane is that when there wasn't a hurricane to be shifted, you could redirect all that energy onto a bank of photovoltaic cells.

Of course...the one thing I don't like about the idea is that us humans don't have a whole lot of success in anticipating the consequences of fucking around with nature :)

Will they fund.. (0, Flamebait)

iNetRunner (613289) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090015)

So.. Will they now fund Integrated Defense?

Risky Sci-Fi projects funded?? (3, Funny)

dos4who (564592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090026)

..How about trying to get CowboyNeal a date?

~m

SUPERFLY TNT (-1, Troll)

WheatWilton (663942) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090029)

Believe it, muthafucka!

Re:SUPERFLY TNT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090235)

Fuckin' awesome troll name I say!!

Cool cat, keep up the good troll.

A modest proposal (4, Funny)

icekillis (777986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090052)

A modest proposal: Instead of just posting an article every time a Wired Article comes out, slashdot should just made a special section feeding everything from Wired.

Re:A modest proposal (1)

zokrath (593920) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090121)

And then, the next breraking story would be about a Wired article about pending litigation against an online news forum web site for large scale copyright infringement.

Web page desing (2, Funny)

notany (528696) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090055)

At least they are not any of that 4 000 000$ year to web designers. That's allways a good sign.
The homepage looks absolutely horrible!!

Article is wrong (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090060)

The Institute for Advanced Concepts has considerably more funding [3utilities.com] than stated. When all branches of R&D are considered, an 8 figure sum is more accurate.

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090128)

How is this a troll? I found the link to be both insightful and informative about the amount of money that is being shoved into the NASA hole, see for yourself.

Re:Article is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090267)

Warning - parent contains link to gay porn and weird shit.

Do not click parent link.

Robert A Heinlein (2, Interesting)

LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090112)

Reminds me of this novel [fantasticfiction.co.uk] where there's an organzation that won't finance something unless it's crazy and has no chance of succeeding. I believe its motto was Bread cast upon water multplies sevenfold. In the novel the organization finances a novel way of communicating between Earth and starships.

Re:Robert A Heinlein (2)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090152)

Yes, the Long Range Foundation. The actual criteria was that if any potential payoff was at least a century in the future, the project had a chance of being funded.

Of course, they had a slight problem with projects paying off too soon.

gna)4 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090120)

My risky proprosal: (3, Funny)

Saeger (456549) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090123)

Dear NASA,

Here is my 'sci-fi' grant proposal. I hope you approve:

  1. Wait for advanced nanotechnology and brain-scanning tech to emerge over the next 25 years [kurzweilai.net] . I'll still need funding during this period to analyze the research landscape for suitable bla bla (i.e. sit on my ass.)
  2. Launch a 'seed' probe using the old space elevator.
  3. Have the seed probe attach to any unclaimed, suitably-sized asteroid and self-assemble the solar arrays, dish, and computing substrate necessary for a couple million transhuman beings + "matrix" environment.
  4. "Broadcast" the willing scanned human minds from Earth for $0/lb (and let the bio-luddites join the dinosaurs.)
  5. Grow our new home into a dyson-sphere-sized Matrioshka Brain [aeiveos.com] around the Sun to add to the "missing [thinking] matter" out there. :)
  6. No profit.

Blueprints are already available... (0, Offtopic)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090126)

for this long term project. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671 500937/102-4406470-8931340?v=glance

hmmmm (0, Offtopic)

dnamaners (770001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090153)

Sounds neat but i am having real problems with the physics. but i bet most people that read about it would ....

They say a ribbon about a meter wide and 2 millimeters thick can do this. well OK ill give them that if that ribbon was constructed it may in deed be just that perfectly capabel of supporting that strain (this is a stretch by itself). However the plan to put that big thing into service required that a small one first be used. The small one will have to be one microns tick. this is gonna be the real sticker. How will you expect that to survive all the wind, and elemental forces assuming that you can get it attached inthe first place.

I can see quite a few good lighting strikes and other interesting upper atmosphere charge effects splitting this up real good. Then let the wind just rip it lengthwise and then try to run a climber up it. All i can say is if you could do this you better start it off with a conciderable amount (perhaps 10% or more) of its final strength, and perhaps investigate a way to lower the cable from orbit. As an aside, can you imagine the effects of an airplane strike on this thing.

Well the best hope in my humbel opinion is the research may lead to better materials for seatbelts and bullet proof vests ..... the world needs a better 10 micron seatbelt.... or better yet maybe a monofiliment whip.....

Re:hmmmm (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090249)

I'd blame you for not reading the whole report, but then it is a bit lengthy. ^^; Point one is that I believe the initial design took alot larger margin then 10% in my recollection. And point two is, that they were always planning to drop it from orbit.

Incidentally an airplane collision wouldn't do all that much, the plane likely would get wrecked, and the cable severed, whereafter it likely will remain hovering at near the same altitude it got cut. Reconnecting it might be to difficult though, Or maybe not, who knows.

Quickshot

Re:hmmmm (2, Informative)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090411)

Well the best hope in my humbel opinion is the research may lead to better materials for seatbelts and bullet proof vests ..... the world needs a better 10 micron seatbelt....

To clarify a little something for any non-physicists out there: Seat belts [howstuffworks.com] are designed to distribute force evenly across the strongest parts of a vehicle occupant's body (the hips and chest). We already have materials strong enough that 10 microns could restrain an accident victim, but a 10-micron seat belt would cut through your flesh, probably down to the bone in the case of an accident.

In other words, the world does not need a better 10 micron seat belt.

Hmmm.... how funny (1)

vudufixit (581911) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090162)

I thought that NASA had stopped funding their forward-thinking "breakthrough propulsion program." Perhaps not?

I, AlGore created the internet. (-1, Offtopic)

I_ALGore_the_creator (777990) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090197)

I, AlGore created the internet.

Many posts on this board accuse me of saying I only "invented the internet". This is patently false, I am greater than that, I said that "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" as the following interview with Mr. Blitzer will show.

BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now.

Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?

GORE: Well, I will be offering - I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

During a quarter century of public service, including most of it long before I came into my current job, I have worked to try to improve the quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I've seen during that experience is an emerging future that's very exciting, about which I'm very optimistic, and toward which I want to lead.

Re:I, AlGore created the internet. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9090280)

Yes! Al Gore SUX0R my KUX0R!!!!

Bwaaaaahahaha.

Re:I, AlGore created the internet. (1, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090427)



I, AlGore created the internet.

Many posts on this board accuse me of saying I only "invented the internet". This is patently false, I am greater than that, I said that "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" as the following interview with Mr. Blitzer will show.

BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of the politics right now.

Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?

GORE: Well, I will be offering - I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will be.

But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

During a quarter century of public service, including most of it long before I came into my current job, I have worked to try to improve the quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I've seen during that experience is an emerging future that's very exciting, about which I'm very optimistic, and toward which I want to lead.



Go play basketball with your buddy.

NIAC (3, Interesting)

dmouw25 (777994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090429)

I recently attended one of their conferences as a one of the student presenters. This is not a waste of money. Their grants come in two phases with the first one about $60,000 and the second phase much more. The amount they give is miniscule compared to potential rewards. As far as the space elevator, before I went to the conference I thought it was a joke as well, but it is a very viable concept. In response to the guy who made the comment about protecting it from planes, this will be constructed in the ocean and it would be very easy for a year round no fly zone. Also, if I remember correctly, the location was choosen because this area is storm free year round, but I am not sure on this point.

Good I can apply for a grant (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090588)

The Warbot 1Alpha needs serious debugging. The nanobots got too smart and did serious upgrading beyond my control.

I need funds so I can perfect the techniquie and build a billion of them to rule the world, er I mean explore space, yeah that's the ticket! :)

MANIAC (1)

nemeosis (259734) | more than 10 years ago | (#9090794)

Does NASA also have a group for the
"Most Advanced NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts" as well?

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