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Why Don't We Invent That Tomorrow?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the because-we-invented-it-last-week dept.

Sci-Fi 439

museumpeace writes "In the NYTimes book review blog, David Itzkoff takes a look at a new book devoted to predicting which 'science fiction' technologies may really fly some day. The author is Michio Kaku, one of the inventors of string theory, so he bears a hearing. His picks include light sabers, invisibility and force fields." Which sci-fi tech do you think needs to get invented over the weekend?

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439 comments

That's an easy one! (4, Funny)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744546)

Which sci-fi tech do you think needs to get invented over the weekend?

I don't expect much. Time travel of course. D'uh.

Re:That's an easy one! (5, Interesting)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744668)

The problem with time travel is although it may be possible to travel in time it would not be a good idea. Let me explain, if have an actual time machine and travel back lets say 1 week you would materialize millions of miles away from earth in the middle of deep space. The reason for this becomes obvious when you realise earth is actually moving through space faster than a speeding bullet thus totally stuffing up the usefulness of traveling through time.

Re:That's an easy one! (5, Insightful)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744690)

I think if we can work out the logistics of time travel, the other three dimensions shouldn't provide too much of an issue.

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

countach (534280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745168)


It just means you can only travel through time in exact year increments so the earth is back where it was. Not too big a restriction!

Re:That's an easy one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744778)

In my frame of reference, the earth stays perfectly still. It's not speeding trough some "ether"...

But... It's accellerated. So you'll still miss, just not as bad and not for the reason you quoted.

Re:That's an easy one! (3, Funny)

Soleen (925936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744834)

I just invented a time machine, without the problem that you described.

It has some limitations but it already works!
Limitations are following: it drives in one direction only (forward), and with speed no faster than 60 seconds a minute!

This in 60 seconds you can travel 1 minute in future!

Re:That's an easy one! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744854)

Oh? So at what speed is the earth moving? To answer that, we need to know the speed of Earth around the Sun (we do). We need to know the speed of the Sun around the galaxy (we do). We need to know the speed of the galaxy around the... what? Basically, you are proposing the existence of a "center of the universe".

Most likely, time travel keeps your current inertial frame of reference.

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745172)

We need to know the speed of the galaxy around the... what? Basically, you are proposing the existence of a "center of the universe".

What is our speed out from the original point of the big bang? What is our speed and direction relative to the fabric of space-time?

I suppose the easy way to find out would be to send a series of transponders out into the past, and then analyse the location data you already gathered.

Re:That's an easy one! (2, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744868)

Absolute positioning is a myth. Think about motion and momentum for a while and you'll get it.

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745220)

Exactly. This is why I'm subscribing to your newsletter. Is not the Solar System also in motion, as is the Milky Way Galaxy, and our local galactic cluster, plus the expanding of the known universe via the Big Bang? The placement of Earth in timespace is not just about figuring out where it is in orbit around the Sun. Think bigger. Many other motions are to be accounted for before we can land the Tardis on good old Earth, in the past at the correct timespace location.

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

isomeme (177414) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744950)

Hm, yes...you'd need something that could land your at both your targeted time, and a relative dimension in space. I'm sure nobody has ever thought of such a device previously.

We just need solar flares and a star gate for time (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744952)

We just need solar flares and a star gate for time travel.

and the SGC has laser guns and FORCE FIELDS.

The hard thing with laser guns is POWERING them.

There are being tested at area 51.

Re:That's an easy one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744964)

hm. so just time travel in year increments!

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745028)

At least you know exactly when the earth will be swinging by to pick you up...

All you have to do now is survive the week

Re:That's an easy one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745084)

I don't think time travel is possible for one simple reason.

Why don't we already see people from the future?

Re:That's an easy one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745144)

Time travel may involve following a gravity well back in time and space, in which case there would be no problem.

Assuming the problem still exists:

1. Arbitrary movement through time may also mean arbitrary movement through space.
2. Any self-contained vehicle with sufficient propulsion can still serve as an effective time travel device.

Depending on the mechanism, simply not appearing inside another object or in the path of a fast moving object may be a challenge. Sending smaller probes ahead of the time travel device to scan the area might mitigate such a problem.

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

s.bots (1099921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744674)

It definitely gets invented this weekend... I thought I had first post here, checked later and WHAM! So many people who returned from the future just to spite me.

Re:That's an easy one! (5, Funny)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744726)

It's worse than you thought - you're mom was real cute when she was younger ;-)

Re:That's an easy one! (5, Funny)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744798)

It's worse than you thought - you're mom was real cute when she was younger ;-)


That sounds like something my Dad would say....hey wait a minute!

Re:That's an easy one! (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744706)

We need to junk that fusion idea for cars and go with xenon adapted headlights. Also, making cars so that they can burn something else other than oil, like natural gas, is a totally stupid idea.

Lightsabers... (1)

jak10900 (1144239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744548)

I like this guy's way of thinking.

Re:Lightsabers... (2, Interesting)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744802)

As a swordsman, may I just say first that I'd want one and second, that most people would probably cut their own heads/arms/random other body parts off with them... lol

Sounds like a win to me all around *grin*

Kaku bears a hearing? (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744568)

Why Michio Kaku may be a fine mathematician, I think his ideas of technological progress are often shaky. I remember reading his book Hyperspace [amazon.com] as a teenager and getting really irked by his repeated and fairly unrealistic visions of godlike power in the near future (an irritation at least one Amazon reviewer shares).

Re:Kaku bears a hearing? (5, Interesting)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744736)

I had a similar response to Hyperspace (although my specific irritations are lost in the mists of bad memory and over a decade of time). Honestly, I'm not really inclined to give a special weight to an inventor of String Theory anyway; I'm very unimpressed with the scientific merits of that theory and I rather feel it borders on a non-science.

Re:Kaku bears a hearing? (4, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744768)

I remember reading his book Hyperspace as a teenager and getting really irked by his repeated and fairly unrealistic visions of godlike power in the near future (an irritation at least one Amazon reviewer shares).


Ah, the delusion of grandure. I do agree that futurologists are guilty of this - but what we have even today is really quite grand.

What he's doing though seems to me to be mere extrapolation. Let us go back a few thousand years and try to explain to your average hunter/gatherer that in the future we have an arrow which can shoot all the way around the world and completely obliterate 50 square miles of whatever we aimed it at. That's pretty godlike, and that kind of technology came along with the microwave oven and color television.

The hunters arrow creates a hole a few inches in diameter - the hydrogen bomb creates a crater many hundreds of meters in diameter, so a weapon of a few thousand years from now should be able to create a blemish in matter approximately 1000 miles in size, a few thousand years past that and the weapon would make a big hole almost 6 million miles in size.

thousands of years are not long periods of time to the universe, I won't continue to extrapolate into the millions of years of humanities progress.

I think, if we survive and continue to progress like this, that we will be pretty bad-ass indeed.

Re:Kaku bears a hearing? (2, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744914)

The hunters arrow creates a hole a few inches in diameter - the hydrogen bomb creates a crater many hundreds of meters in diameter, so a weapon of a few thousand years from now should be able to create a blemish in matter approximately 1000 miles in size, a few thousand years past that and the weapon would make a big hole almost 6 million miles in size.
Yay for extrapolation through two points! Apparently, several thousand years ago, hunters' darts could actually *fill up* craters!

Re:Kaku bears a hearing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745056)

The hunters arrow creates a hole a few inches in diameter

A few inches in diameter? Is that a ballista in your pocket, or are you happy to see me?

Re:Kaku bears a hearing? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744846)

Well it's appropriate at least that the inventor of one science fiction theory would have some insight into others.

I endorse the above post. (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745030)

Michio Kaku's predictions on technology frequently make me wonder just how good of a grasp he actually has on physics. My favorite is the old article where he predicts the way to escape the heat death of the universe by sending "atom-sized" nanomachines through a wormhole into a parallel universe where these machines would spread in a sphere at nearly light speeds.

Oh sure... we'll just ignore how something the size of an atom is supposed to contain any sort of parts capable of manipulating the environment as well as how they're supposed to encode information and make decisions. Might as well also ignore where such a machine is getting the energy to spread at light speed. Heck, why don't we just ignore reality entirely and get into exercises of sheer mental wankery, and...

Never mind, I keep forgetting he's a string theorist. Exercises in mental wankery that have no real attachment to physical reality is his bread and butter.

String Theory (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744570)

I dunno, string theory always seemed to me like something you would come up with at 3am while smoking a joint after having spent the past 6 hours polishing off a keg with your physicist friends.

"Hey man, you know what would be awesome? What if the whole Universe was really made up of a bunch of vibrating strings?"

"Whoa...I think you just blew my mind man...Hey, don't bogart that!"

Re:String Theory (3, Funny)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744682)

"DUDE ... have you ever seen a molecule on WEED? Totally different ... its all ... stringy"
motions a bunch of other scientists over to look in the microscope
"Duuude... why're we staring into a bong?"

Re:String Theory (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744838)

"Duuude... why're we staring into a bong?"

Obligatory Van Wilder quote:

"That's no bong! That's for my schlong!"

(Sorry, just watched it again last night =])

Teleporters (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744572)

Duh. Anyone who has to drive to work on Mondays will want one.

Re:Teleporters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744662)

Not just for the daily commute, but it will be especially ideal for holidays! Imagine going to Brazil, Thailand, or other places for the weekend, without any long airport lines, (in)security measures, cavity checks!

Re:Teleporters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744754)

I enjoy cavity checks you insensitive clod!

re: force fields (1)

ClaraClayton (1243172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744574)

I heard a pretty convoluted explanation of how force fields might plausibly be made to work in the future. The party who explained it wasn't a Trekkie, either. Hey, who knows?

"Mr Fusion" (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744582)

Or something to cancel out the noise of accordion players.

Re:"Mr Fusion" (4, Funny)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744630)

Or something to cancel out the noise of accordion players.

Already been invented. Called a gun.

Re:"Mr Fusion" (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744772)

This answers always disappoint me when presented on a nerd site.
I am not anti-gun by any stretch, but this answer is so obvious I would hope that people who are supposed to be smart to be more clever then that.

I mean really, the best thing you could come up with was 'a gun'?
sheesh.

More weapons?? (3, Insightful)

Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744586)

Guns and sabers. That's not a very innovative future.

And invisibility? Nothing good would come of that either.

I'd be happy for a cure for the cold personally.

Easy: Method of Locomotion to another Solar System (4, Interesting)

MrPerfekt (414248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744596)

No other advance would ever be as important as a quick way between the stars for colonization of other places in the galaxy. It would change our world so much indirectly just by us having the ability to leave it.

No, not by itself (4, Informative)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744956)

Even a magic Go Anywhere Fast drive, one that worked for interplanetary as well as across the depths of interstellar space, would not automatically open up the universe for colonization.

We'd still need great improvements in reaction drives, for example, to overcome the velocity differences between different star systems.

Lacking magical Star Trek style sensors, we'd need to find ways to detect and analyze planets.

Life support systems. Expedition craft that can handle a takeoff as well as a landing. Power sources. Cripes, it goes on and on.

Really, it's not like Masters of Orion or some other 4x game.

Me, I'd settle for that Mr. Fusion someone mentioned uptopic.

One word (4, Funny)

AresTheImpaler (570208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744598)

Which sci-fi tech do you think needs to get invented over the weekend?

Fembots

Re:One word (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744764)

Dammit! You beat me to it!

Either that, or the holodeck. Either one could have some....uh....interesting....possibilities...

Re:One word (1)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745088)

Don't forget the ability to have celebrity personalities downloaded into the hardware. A Lucy Liu bot wouldn't be bad : D

Of course, we'll need a way to reproduce asexually (or proper robot-human interaction education), because soon the world would start depopulating from people only mating with robots.

Re:One word (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745116)

I would think you'd want those invented BY the weekend, rather than OVER the weekend. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure you'll miss work Monday, although I suppose that may happen either way, depending on how well they design the utility corridor and whether or not there are any back-doors. Mind the easter eggs! (Hint: those aren't eggs at all. And yes, they're attached to a tranny case. You ordered the wrong model!)

-G

bears a hearing? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744644)

FTS:

The author is Michio Kaku, one of the inventors of string theory, so he bears a hearing
I've got a friend who also likes to talk about things that should be invented, he's a mechanic, so he hears a bearing.

Cheers! (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744758)

You know it's good one when you feel like you've been punched in the stomach after you read it.

Re:Cheers! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744842)

Just after I clicked submit I realized that I forgot to mention he's an airline mechanic. There had to have been some bonus points for the not-so-subtle Fletch reference.

Re:bears a hearing? (5, Funny)

PiMuNu (865592) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744852)

The author is Michio Kaku, one of the inventors of string theory, so he bears a hearing.

After all, an inventor of string theory must be an expert on science fiction...

Mr.Fusion (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744648)

Seems to not break any phisical law (?) and will have a good impact in... well, anything not related with the oil industry.

I could certainly use... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744658)

A solution to world hunger. And war. And obesity. I guess that means my three picks would be
a. GM plants that make money grow on trees.
b. GM microbes that make violent impotent. IN whatever way is most effective.
c. GM Animals that hunt and chase fat people.

Re:I could certainly use... (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744672)

I don't see why you're putting all this pressure on GM to get all of this done. Surely Ford or even, God help us, Chrysler could pitch in too?

Re:I could certainly use... (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745204)

A solution to world hunger.
there is no such thing. as soon as you make enough food to feed all the starving people, they immediately set about making more people. Of course, if we stopped increasing food production and merely distributed existing food supplies equitably, we'd all be a little peckish, but the population would eventually stabilize at some number.

And war. And obesity. I guess that means my three picks would be
a. GM plants that make money grow on trees.
b. GM microbes that make violent impotent. IN whatever way is most effective.
c. GM Animals that hunt and chase fat people.
a. would be a problem as we'd have runaway inflation as the value of our currency plummeted. And since you can't eat money (in any useful way) I don't think it would solve the above mentioned unsolvable problem.

b. is interesting, though I'd hate to become impotent just as a by product of kicking my neighbor's ass for yelling at my kids.

c. now that's entertainment!

Re:I could certainly use... (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745216)

c. GM Animals that hunt and chase fat people.

In North America they're called bears and they don't work so well. In India they're called tigers and they work VERY well (Ever see a fat Indian? I know I haven't...)

Obviously we just need tigers in North America.

Obvious answer (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744688)

Dupe detection for news websites.

Michio Kaku and Discovery (2, Informative)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744694)

Michio Kaku hosted a series of documentaries from Discovery Channel, among them is 2057 The city [google.com]. They are indeed quite interesting as they speculate on how the future (specifically the year 2057) might be, but they base their predictions in current technology being developed and researched.

Worth to see IMHO.

Of course... (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744712)

...a prescient computer/AI that is powerful enough to steer a ship and intelligently communicate with its crew, but goes murderously insane once it's given two competing directives.

My pick (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744718)

unaging.
Physically staying 27 until I die from something other then natural causes.

My pick ... (3, Funny)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744742)

Automated lawn sprinkler systems capable of delivering hydrochloric acid.

I'm sick of those damned teenagers hanging out on my lawn.

Re:My pick ... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744824)

That can already be done. What technology still would need to be developed?

Me, I would much rather have a gelatinous cube. so I can see there expressions as they dissolve.

If you think that doesn't apply to a technology question, I refer you to Art:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Sex-Bots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744770)

Which sci-fi tech do you think needs to get invented over the weekend?
Sex-Bots.
The only tech worth inventing is the one that can cure me of my virginity.

Dr. Michio Kaku also has a radio show (2, Informative)

certron (57841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744794)

Dr. Michio Kaku also has a radio show called Explorations that primarily features interviews with other scientists. Most of the stations that air it have audio archives of the program, too, so you can check it out if you like.

http://www.mkaku.org/radio/ [mkaku.org]

Apparently, he also has a myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/mkaku [myspace.com]

sure (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744814)

The author is Michio Kaku, one of the inventors of string theory, so he bears a hearing

Yes, as much as he "bears hearing" on string theory.

There are 2 that needs to be invented... (1)

still-a-geek (653160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744884)

First, the transporter device like in Star Trek is needed ASAP. This will eliminate the need for goods to travel in trucks on our already congested roads in the USA. Goods will arrive in warehouses, stores, homes, etc. practically instantaneously. And also, let's not forget about the person getting from point A to point B. Air, train and road travel is practically eliminated.

Second, the food replicator needs to be invented, which, again, is from Star Trek. Famine would be wiped out for good.

Now, this is all assuming that these inventions would be intended for good use.

Descartes (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744926)

"Cogito ergo sum"

I think therefore I am. (Loose translation).

I believe that his basic premis can be extended: "If it can be thought, it can be done." It almost seems that we (as humans) can only envision that which is possible - within some undefined metalogical framework. What I mean is, if it can be expressed in a way that is ultimately not contradictory in , then it is possible.

Never use psuedo tags (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744958)

What I meant was: ultimately not contradictory in (some metalogical framework that logic and language only approximates}, then it is possible.

My bad for putting that in an HTML tag like expression (and not previewing first).

Re:Descartes (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745146)

I believe that his basic premis can be extended: "If it can be thought, it can be done."

I've always understood his basic premise to be "I must doubt everything -- everything can be an illusion -- except the fact of my doubt, which gives me confidence that I do exist."

Slashdot dupe detector??!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22744992)

Which sci-fi tech do you think needs to get invented over the weekend?

Slashdot dupe detector??!?!?

Screw that, I want space colonies (4, Interesting)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745000)

Read High Frontier, by Gerard O'Neill. Space colonies are perfectly feasible. Building one is more an exercise in putting existing technologies together than inventing new technologies.

I want to live in an O'Neill cylinder!

CowboyNeal replicator (2, Funny)

that_itch_kid (1155313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745038)

Replication! That way, every Slashdot guy and gal can have his or her very own CowboyNeal!! Even your pet CowboyNeal can have his or her very own CowboyNeal!!

It won't happen tomorrow or over the weekend but (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745066)

I'd like to see more research into faster than light communication. I've had several ideas using Quantum Entanglement and the 'Spooky Effect' to achieve this but there'd be some testing needed, thankfully none of it would require launching anything into space.

On my Wish list! (1)

aim2future (773846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745074)

  • A united world
  • Extendable brain
  • Artifical intelligence (ethical strong AI) [slashdot.org]
  • Nanotechnology [foresight.org] (especially assembler [foresight.org]/disassembler [foresight.org])
  • Neural interface
  • In situ hackable mediated reality
  • Thought communication
  • Ability to fly
  • Teleportation
  • Our [neurologic.se] Wish-IT® [wish-it.com] (patent applied)(Wish Innovation Technologies) manufacturing model up and running which enables customer driven innovation, to make everyone's wish come through (hint to investors).

Stop Aging (1, Interesting)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745128)

Out of all the tech that could be made, this is the only one that allows you to see all the tech that could be invented down the line. Time has become to me my most precious and scarce resource. By the time I've got things worked out well enough to really be great, I'll have very little time left. I could easily enjoy 500 years of life. Beyond that I can't say for sure, but I'd like to see.

I predict that at some point in the distant future, the idea that people let themselves die when they didn't really want to will be considered absurd. To the degree that it is possible for us to solve aging, our current apathy about it is a little like voluntary genocide. Of course there are certain odd implications when people can live as long as they like, but population scaling is something we have to deal with in any case.

People are working on this, the notion of the afterlife (just about the most tenuous fairy-tale idea I can imagine) keeps us from really making it a priority.

(I realize that solving current diseases and war and such are just as important and in the same vein, but we're talking outlandish tech here.)

Cheers.

A peace ray. (3, Funny)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745132)

We need about 6.8 billion of those.
Although if someone could recreate the "camera" that Oliver Wendell Jones [wikipedia.org] first built, that'd be good for some laughs, too.

I'd settle for a teleporter, if worse came to worse.
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