by Mike Adams
The Health Ranger
Putting it all
The top 10 technologies presented here offer a potential
roadmap for enhancing our collective quality of life
through technology. But as I hinted in the beginning,
technology is not the answer to life. Without
philosophy, the arts, spirituality, experiential wisdom
and personal ethics, we are doomed as a civilization,
regardless of the technologies we may invent. These
technologies only make sense when we are mature enough
as a species to wield the powers they offer us.
My intention in authoring this document is the hope that
sharing these ideas will stimulate further discussion
about technology and its role in our lives. Comments are
Thank you for reading,
About the Author
The Health Ranger (Mike Adams) is a holistic
nutritionist with over 5,000 hours of study on
nutrition, wellness, food toxicology and the true causes
of disease and health. He is the author of The 7 Laws of
Nutrition, Grocery Warning, Health Seduction, and many
other books available at
Adams is also the creator of the popular Honest Food
Guide, a free downloadable nutritional guide found at
http://www.HonestFoodGuide.org. In addition, more
than 1,500 free articles on health, nutrition and
wellness have been authored by Adams and are available
Adams uses no prescription drugs whatsoever and relies
exclusively on natural health, whole foods, superfoods,
nutritional supplements and exercise to achieve optimum
health. To prove the value of nutrition and physical
exercise in enhancing health, Adams publishes detailed
statistics on his own blood chemistry (with full lab
In modern society, there’s very little discussion about what’s
needed to fundamentally improve our collective quality of life. How
do we evolve our societies into something more productive, more
rewarding, and more in harmony with our natural environment?
Answers are found in many disciplines: psychology, spirituality and
religion, health and wellness, and even sociopolitical theory. In
this paper, however, I focus on answers that may be provided by
My name is Mike Adams, I’m the president & CEO of Arial Software,
the executive director of the Consumer Wellness Research Center, and
author of several books and audio programs on nutrition, medical
ethics and food toxicology. I’m also the primary contributor to a
number of websites covering technology and medicine, including TechnologyNews.info, FutureWheels.com, SpamAnatomy.com, and
The ten technologies covered here each hold tremendous promise for
uplifting our collective quality of life on planet Earth. Some of
these technologies have already begun to appear; others will take
years or decades. A few are stalled out for political reasons or
because they threaten the profits of today’s influential
institutions or industries.
Most of these technologies will, at some point, be hotly debated for
their social, economic, and political implications. Like nuclear
energy, each of these holds both a promise for creative use and,
simultaneously, the risk of abuse by those who seek to gain power
and control at the expense of fellow human beings.
Taken together, however, these
technologies can not only sharply improve the world in which we
live, they can alter who we are as human beings, and in this way,
they can forever shape and improve our quality of life.
Coupled with Information Search and
A Global Electronic Library would combine all the available
knowledge on the planet - all books, periodicals, newsletters,
journals, newspapers, web pages, spoken word, and more - into a
single, searchable resource available to everyone on the planet.
In decades past, intelligence was largely determined by how much an
individual could remember. Each person was expected to carry their
own personal library in their heads, and a lack of ability in
storing or retrieving information from those mental libraries would
result in scholastic failure or, in too many cases, being labeled
In the near future, the rules will change. Intelligence will be much
less about what you can store in your head and much more about your
ability to quickly locate, organize and understand information
gleaned from global information sources such as the Internet. A
person who knows very little about a subject but who can quickly
find and organize relevant information on that subject will be far
more productive than someone unfamiliar with information search and
retrieval technologies, regardless of their mental capacity.
Today, Internet search engines like Google and desktop search
software like dtSearch are pioneers that will likely
pollinate emerging technologies in this area. Yet even Google, as
advanced as it may seem on the Internet, is little more than an
early prototype in search technology. Google has no technology to
understand the intent of the searcher, for example, other than a
rudimentary analysis of a string of text characters.
A more advanced search engine would
operate through voice queries and be capable of retrieving results
deemed relevant to the interests of the particular user. A
nutritionist who searches for “pizza,” for example, would likely be
interested in something quite different from a hungry college
student entering the same search query.
Even as search personalization advances, there’s also the much
larger question of what knowledge or content is available to be
searched. Google searches only the Internet, and while that may
represent a significant quantity of information, it is but a small
portion of the total knowledge available on the planet. What’s
needed to uplift our civilization is a Global Electronic Library.
Presently, we are nowhere close to a
Global Electronic Library. Astoundingly, with all the technology
available today, we still have no way to access printed books online
(other than through limited snippets thanks to Amazon.com).
Desire for profitability and control of
intellectual content coupled with a lack of a micro payment
infrastructure have resulted in most content publishers (magazines,
books, science journals, etc.) denying the public access to their
content unless they buy their books or pay for subscriptions. This
arrangement excludes by default the poorer citizens of the planet
and, by doing so, encourages a cycle of global poverty by denying
the poor access to educational information that might improve their
Making knowledge “open source,” as this
paper is, would offer an opportunity for more people to be more
thoroughly educated about the world around them. It offers the
promise of uplifting entire societies.
Planet Earth needs to pursue the construction of the modern-day
equivalent of the
Library of Alexandria (ultimately destroyed by
Julius Caesar’s military campaigns around 47 B.C.). A
freely-available online resource offering instant access to the vast
majority of books, publications, and documents on the planet would
be considered one of the great wonders of the world and would
significantly uplift the intelligence and education of people
everywhere. Unfortunately, no one is currently working on such a
Of course, the Global Electronic Library it would need to be
available in many different languages, too, so that world citizens
could view content regardless of their country of origin. Most of
all, the Global Electronic Library must be coupled with an advanced
search technology so people can find the information they want.
One of the most significant global trends arriving in the near
future is a shift away from fossil fuels and towards hydrogen. The
term, “hydrogen economy” refers to a global economy powered by
hydrogen, not oil.
The hydrogen economy is important for the advancement of humanity
for several reasons.
First off, the oil economy is fraught
burning fossil fuels generates
alarming levels of pollution that affect every living organism
on the planet. We pollute our cities the worst, contributing to
tens of millions of premature deaths each year due to the
disease-causing effects of inhaled by-products from combustion
engines, coal plants and other machines powered by fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels also contribute to
global pollution through oils spills, oil extraction, oil
refining, and other processes.
although this topic is aggressively
debated, there is growing consensus that the burning of fossil
fuels contributes strongly to
The true impact of this warming is
often lost on the general public, because it seems so remote
from modern life. The natural consequences of global warming are
quite severe: rising oceans, disappearing coastlines, mass
extinction of ocean life, severe and unpredictable climate
change, a sharp increase in natural disasters, and so on.
Essentially, global warming makes
the planet an unfriendly place in which to live.
Control of resources
This is perhaps one of the most
damning aspects of our global dependence on oil.
Because oil is so vital to the
economies of nations, its control escalates to “national
security” priority. Accordingly, the 20th century (and now, the
beginning of the 21st century) witnessed unprecedented death and
destruction in the form of military conquest primarily motivated
by control of resources.
World War II was largely fought over
oil resources. (Japan’s primary motivation for attacking Pearl
Harbor, for example, was the U.S. oil blockade.) There is little
doubt that today’s military actions in the Middle East are
largely motivated by oil interests, regardless of their
advertised justifications. (If Iraq were nothing but sand, dirt
and huts, do you honestly think anybody would bother fighting
A shift away from the oil economy to
a clean, renewable and widely available energy source would ease
tensions that have historically surrounded the control of
fossil fuels are, indeed, running
out. There is a finite supply of oil to be found on the planet,
and once that oil is consumed, it simply cannot be recreated
without waiting hundreds of thousands of years for nature to
create more. Estimates of the number of years remaining for the
fossil fuel supply range from 20 to 200 years.
Extraction technologies continue to
improve each year, so there is little agreement on exactly how
much oil we have left as a civilization. What is not in
contention, however, is that the supply is finite.
Beyond the problems with the oil
economy, there are additional reasons why a hydrogen economy offers
unprecedented benefits to the quality of life of people everywhere:
Hydrogen is everywhere
Hydrogen is in water and can be
easily extracted with solar power. Hydrogen is found in
abundance at the bottom of the ocean in frozen gas hydrates (see
Hydrogen is in natural gas,
petroleum, and the byproducts of microbial activity. Hydrogen
isn’t limited to a few geographic regions of the planet, and
that makes it a resource that automatically reduces geopolitical
tension over the control of limited oil resources.
Hydrogen is clean
Through fuel cell technology,
hydrogen can be converted to electricity with no harmful waste
products. Hydrogen doesn’t pollute cities, rivers, streams or
oceans. Hydrogen doesn’t cause global warming.
Shifting to a hydrogen economy could
save millions of lives each year in terms of human health
effects alone, not to mention its effects on the health of the
planet and its various forms of life.
Gas hydrates are abundant
At the bottom of the colder regions
of the world’s oceans, gas hydrates are plentiful. These are
frozen ice-like crystals of frozen hydrogen. They’re found off
the coasts of Canada, Japan, Alaska, Russian, China, Iceland and
the countries of Northern Europe.
Technology now exists to harvest
these gas hydrates, store them at liquid nitrogen temperature,
and easily convert them into usable hydrogen gas by allowing
them to melt at normal atmospheric pressure. The entire process
is clean, energy efficient, and technically feasible.
The available supply of gas hydrates
is enormous, far exceeding the known supplies of all fossil
fuels on the planet.
Hydrogen is renewable
Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen is
renewable. Converting hydrogen gas to electricity in fuel cells
doesn’t “destroy” the hydrogen; it just alters the state of the
hydrogen. As a result, hydrogen molecules can be used over and
over again to store and release electrical potential. For
example, solar panel electrodes immersed in water cause the
water to give off hydrogen gas.
When that hydrogen gas is fed into a
fuel cell, the byproduct is water. No hydrogen is destroyed in
the process, it is simply transformed. In this way, hydrogen
operates like a battery that transforms energy from the sun into
This is just one of many examples of
a hydrogen energy cycle that produces usable electricity.
solves serious global problems
By shifting to a hydrogen economy, we will simultaneously solve a
long list of problems tied to the oil economy (pollution, limited
resources, global warming, etc.) while creating new opportunities
with hydrogen (clean, renewable, plentiful energy).
Applications for hydrogen are widespread: automotive (hydrogen
powered fuel cell vehicles), industrial (hydrogen powered
factories), municipal (powering cities with large-scale hydrogen
power plants) and residential (home-based hydrogen power plants that
convert natural gas to electricity).
One of the greatest problems now facing humanity is the worrisome
lack of quality education for each new generation. In industrialized
nations, a quality education is attainable by very few people, and
public schools - especially in the United States - suffer from a
chronic lack of funding and education reform. In non-industrialized
nations, education is even worse: the vast majority of children have
no access to education, illiteracy is rampant, and the outlook for
better schools is dim.
Clearly, no civilization can uplift itself unless a significant
proportion of its individuals have access to a quality education.
The present educational environment on planet Earth is but a shadow
of what it could be if aided by proper funding, political
determination and new technologies.
An emerging technology promises to radically enhance both the
quality and “bandwidth” of educational processes. To understand how
this works, however, we must first examine what’s wrong with the
current educational process.
What’s wrong with today’s schools
Even our most modern, advanced educational institutions
(universities) are frustratingly outmoded in terms of teaching
students. The entire process of giving lectures, taking notes,
reading facts from books, and taking final exams is a throwback to
institutions of learning dating back to the Renaissance.
very little has changed today: with notable exceptions, the vast
majority of university professors continue to bore students with
ineffective, non-interactive approaches to education that result in
little more than the professor’s notes becoming the students’ notes
without passing through the minds of either.
True learning is experiential. Humans learn best by doing, not by
reading or listening to lectures. The more senses are involved
(sound, sight, touch, emotions, etc.), the more powerful the
That’s why today’s best teachers are
those pioneering individuals who take the effort to engage their
students in meaningful activities that reach students at multiple
The promise of
immersive technology for education
An emerging technology promises to make “educational immersion”
available to practically everyone. This technology is called
augmented reality, and it works by overlaying seemingly-real
experiences on top of a person’s local environment.
Let me explain.
A person who wishes to experience a learning session via augmented
reality would don a pair of see-through glasses that also host two
tiny video cameras and a pair of earphones. A tiny computer, perhaps
worn on the wrist or around the waist, would recognize the geometry
and content of the user’s immediate environment and overlay that
environment with meaningful images and sounds for a specific
From the user’s point of view, he or she would apparently see and
hear other people, objects, or events taking place right in front of
or around them. These augmented perceptions would appear to be
completely real. In technical terms, they would be rendered by the
wearable computer with light shading that takes into account both
the ambient and directional light sources found in the user’s
Put simply, the augmented reality system is “projecting” people,
objects, environments or other elements onto the environment around
In its most simple form, an augmented reality system could, for
example, project a different colored carpet or wallpaper as you
stroll through your house. On a slightly more advanced level, it
could project memory icons and appear to place them strategically
throughout your house so that, for example, you would see a certain
icon (with an attached note, perhaps) as you open your front door or
medicine cabinet. In practical terms, this might serve as a personal
reminder to make sure you pick up something at the grocery store or
remember to take medications.
But these rudimentary applications are just the beginning.
The more advanced applications of
augmented reality have to do with learning. Augmented reality
technology holds the promise of immersing individuals in
experiential learning environments. Instead of reading about the
Civil War in a textbook, a student could observe battles or
conversations as if they were there. Animated, lifelike historical
figures would seemingly appear right in front of them. The student
would see and hear events at a level unmatched by today’s outmoded
The applications are tremendous: students could learn anatomy by
walking through a human body and observing the functioning of
biological systems. Students could learn geography by “flying”
around the globe, visiting any city they wished, zooming in and out
of detailed renderings of geopolitical regions. Students could learn
chemistry by observing, at a simulated microscopic level, chemical
structures and reactions. These are but a few of the many potential
And yet even this does not explore the full potential of augmented
reality. The best application comes from allowing students (the
user) to interact with projected characters. For example, a student
could see, hear and actually converse with historical figures such
as Albert Einstein or Charles Dickens. Projected virtual characters
could become teachers and coaches who hold ongoing mentoring
conversations with the student and physically demonstrate skills and
This level of augmented reality requires tremendous computational
The systems and technologies needed to
accomplish this include:
Real-time vision recognition
(three-dimensional geometry mapping and more)
Real-time overlay display
technology (built in to the wearable glasses, must cover
light shading, depth of field considerations, etc.)
Sound and voice rendering,
including spatial considerations
Human character rendering
(covering body mechanics, adherence to physical laws, etc.)
AI (artificial intelligence)
technology for understanding user speech and creating
intelligent, meaningful dialog
Miniaturization advances for
wearable CPUs and sensory devices
Improvements in portable power
(Interestingly, several of these areas
are being pushed forward through interactive gaming technology.
First person games such as Microsoft's Halo are outstanding
demonstrations of real-time visual and auditory rendering
Reality - A massive global industry
I predict a tremendous augmented reality industry is waiting to
This industry will dwarf today’s
software and computing industries and become one of the most
influential technological shifts yet experienced by our
civilization. With this technology in place, users could simply
obtain different program modules and plug them into their standard
augmented reality hardware systems.
Available programs would certainly
coaches, trainers and teachers enhance the knowledge of
users through demonstrations, conversations and enactments.
reality systems offer unprecedented opportunities for
entertainment. Imagine interactive theatrical presentations,
augmented multiplayer gaming, "fly-through" movies, and
other similar applications.
Mental health: Virtual
mental health consultants can help users face and overcome
challenging situations such as conversations with relatives,
public speaking, relationships with the opposite sex and
Reference: A virtual
reference library would allow users to physically explore
areas of interest by moving through a projected knowledge
set and picking out images, movies, sounds or text.
Augmented reality opens up a whole new world of
possibilities in computer/human interfaces. There's much
more on this in a later section, but consider the
possibility that a computer could potentially be located
anywhere in your environment.
Your living room wall could
be rendered as a giant 2D display, or your back yard
could become a giant interlinked Internet search result
set that you could explore at will.
enrichment: Don't like your office environment? Add
plants, waterfalls, and hummingbirds to your office with the
"sounds of nature" software module. Is your significant
other unbearably ugly? Overlay their natural face with any
character you want with the "augmented people" module. Want
to bring a relative back from the dead and tell them
Plug in the "reborn relatives"
module and chat with them in your living room. The
possibilities are endless.
Hopefully, you see the potential for
this sort of technology in terms of uplifting humanity. The examples
I've mentioned here barely scratch the surface.
The dangers of
Yet this technology shares something in common with television: TV
was originally thought to be a tremendous tool for education and
learning, but in reality it became little more than a
machine and a promoter of commercial consumption that ultimately
decreased the quality of life for most people (just witness today’s
epidemics of obesity and diabetes, largely caused by aggressive soft
drink marketing and unbridled consumerism).
Augmented reality technology holds the
potential to be the darkest, most powerful system for mass control
of the population ever invented. If people use augmented reality
systems to tune in to experiential broadcasts created by
corporations and centralized governments, the result will likely be
a system approaching “total mind control.”
If advertisers and governments can
project anything they want into a person’s immediate environment and
make it seem real, there is no limit to the control that could be
exercised over the general public.
Infants could be brought up in “augmented reality schools” and
literally brainwashed into accepting practically any interpretation
of history or current events that the program controllers desired,
for example. Let this be a warning. Like many technologies, augmented
reality holds both tremendous creative potential and a truly
horrifying potential for abuse.
Augmented Reality can either enslave the
world, or it can set it free.
“Practical robots can greatly
enhance our collective quality of life by freeing us from
daily labors, serving as
true companions and multiplying the realization of our
creativity and intentions.”
Practical robots offer tremendous
potential for enhancing the quality of life for humans everywhere.
The robotics industry is emerging now, and progress is steady. The
world leader in robotics is Japan, which has invested heavily in
social robots - robots that interact with people.
The United States, in contrast, is focused primarily on robots that
kill people. The vast majority of robotics research in the U.S. is
underwritten by military interests. The Pentagon essentially wants
to develop a Terminator: a battlefield robotic soldier that can
accomplish political or military objectives without resulting in
human casualties that cause troublesome dissent back home.
Once again, we see that a promising area of technology can be both
constructive and destructive, depending entirely on the intent of
For this section, however, I will focus
on the far more peaceful Japanese approach to robots, because this
is the area that holds promise for enhancing the lives of human
Early social robots are already on the market: AIBO, Japan’s cute
robotic dog, is owned by more than fifty thousand people. AIBO
offers basic interaction with humans such as face and voice
recognition, cute-looking movements, and simple environmental
navigation (it can walk around).
In the U.S., the
household robot Roomba (developed by a Russian
researcher, by the way) sweeps the floors of hundreds of thousands
of homes. Roomba is one of the first few practical robots to be
widely available, and it is, indeed, rather useful. I own one
myself. However, its interactive capabilities are extremely limited.
It has no vision system, for example, no voice recognition, and
seems to operate more on random walk theory than any sort of
intelligent navigation pattern.
The real promise in robotics will come from humanoid robots, most
likely from Japan.
Honda, Toyota and Sony are all working
hard on humanoid robots and have working, walking prototypes right
now. Why humanoid? As humans, we’ve created environments built for
humanoid creatures. Our physical environments (cities, houses,
stores, etc.) have been constructed for the convenience of people
with a certain height, a certain eye level, and a certain stride
length. As humanoid robots are developed, the more easily they can
navigate our environments the more helpful they can be to humans.
It is the “helpful” category in which humanoid robots offer the
greatest promise. At a basic level, these robots promise to free us
from physical labor (factory work) and household chores such as
doing the dishes, taking out the trash, folding laundry, cooking,
etc. This alone, as gimmicky as it may seem, would free people from
time-consuming chores. (None of these chores are simple from a
robotics point of view, by the way. The technology needed for robots
to engage in such tasks is still many years away.)
Such robots would probably never be cheap to build, but they will
quickly pay for themselves in terms of reclaimed time for their
A professional earning $100,000/year,
for example, might easily waste $25,000/year worth of her time
handling household chores that could be managed by a practical
household robot. If the robot costs $50,000, the payoff would be
just two years.
That’s makes a $50,000 robot a
reasonable investment for most professionals.
Practical robots will no doubt start out as workers or “practical
assistants.” But this is only the beginning.
The next level up, in terms of enhancing
the quality of life of humans, is for robots to serve as companions.
Are you the parent of an only child? A companion robotic pet or
robotic child could teach your child a lot about social interaction,
responsibility, friendship, and even help the child learn academic
subjects like mathematics, reading, history, literature and science.
Are you a lonely retiree? A robotic companion could add a lot to
your life through conversations, games, physical activity, and
You see, robotic companions won’t argue, won’t betray you, won’t
divorce you, won’t die, won’t fall asleep when you want to talk, and
they won’t even eat the favorite food out of your refrigerator. As
humorous as these points may sound, they are serious considerations
for companionship. In time, many humans may choose robot companions
over human friends for these (and other) reasons.
Meaningful companionship with robots requires significant leaps in
AI (artificial intelligence), portable power, vision and voice recognition systems, and many
These technologies are steadily moving
forward. In time, robotics engineers will be able to deliver
companion robots that do far more than household chores: they will
actually add meaning to our lives.
“Today’s chemical batteries are
holding back promising applications for emerging
technologies, and only a breakthrough in portable power can
overcome those limitations.”
It seems that no matter how advanced
notebook computers get, their battery life remains at a standstill:
2-3 hours from most models, regardless of price.
From electric vehicles to portable
electronics, today’s battery capacity lags far behind the steady
improvements in other areas of technology. Despite the hype and
advertising from battery manufacturers, today’s chemical batteries
are virtually identical to ones sold three decades ago.
It’s not that battery manufacturers aren’t trying to develop
something better: efforts to improve battery capacity and power
density have been underway for years. Despite the research, arguably
the best technology they’ve produced yet is the ingenious battery
testing strip that you can use to check how quickly your batteries
have gone dead.
Today’s battery technology is simply outdated. The chemicals are
extremely hazardous to the environment (Nickel-Cadmium, for example,
is made from two heavy metals that are toxic to practically all
forms of life on the planet), dangerous to nearby users (risk of
explosions), heavy (standard car batteries can weigh 70+ pounds) and
unreliable. They charge slowly, their output voltage wavers, and
their size becomes a major limiting factor when designing portable
electronics like digital cameras.
Did I mention they also leak acid from
time to time?
Clearly, the world needs a breakthrough in portable power. But what
does this have to do with uplifting humanity and improving our
collective quality of life? Portable power is a crucial enabling
technology for a vast array of applications that promise to improve
our lives and our planet.
Some of these applications include:
Smaller batteries will make wearable computers more
comfortable and convenient. A power pack the size of a
matchbox might power a wearable computer for an entire day.
Autonomous robots require an enormous amount of electrical
power for the operation of motors, artificial muscles and
CPUs. Today’s chemical batteries just don’t deliver the
AIBO, Sony’s robotic pet, only barks for 2-3
hours on a typical charge, and the working prototypes of
humanoid robots from Japan only have enough juice for brief
Medical devices: The
miniaturization of medical devices depends heavily on
increasing the power density of batteries. From portable
monitoring systems to handheld diagnostic devices, the
medical industry would benefit greatly from a breakthrough
in power density and portability.
Electric vehicles: To
date, electric vehicles have bombed in the market due
primarily to their lack of range (power density). That’s the
fault of the battery technology: it requires a thousand
pounds of batteries to drive a vehicle the same distance
delivered by four gallons of gasoline.
While hybrid vehicles are
finding tremendous success in the marketplace by packing
both batteries and combustion engines under the same hood,
tomorrow’s vehicles could run off batteries alone if high
density power storage systems were available.
Space exploration: The
limitations of portable power are critical when it comes to
space exploration. Battery requirements shape the scope of
entire missions. The primary factor limiting the life and
utility of the 2004 Mars rovers, for example, was battery
With the help of higher density
power systems, space exploration takes a quantum leap
forward and unleashes spectacular new possibilities in
remote sensing vehicles and manned missions.
Help for third world
populations: Today, all over the world, hundreds of
millions of people suffer from the devastating health
consequences of nonfunctioning sewage systems, lack of
running water, lack of communications technologies like
radio, and other critical infrastructure failures. Many of
these issues can be addressed with portable power systems,
but not at today’s price/performance ratios.
If portable power can be made
significantly less expensive, it can allow the dollars and
efforts of international aid to produce greater results.
Solar power systems:
Solar power is clean, renewable, safe, reliable and
environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, it’s expensive to
install, and the single greatest cost often comes from the
batteries, not the solar panels. Batteries for solar systems
are typically large, heavy, dangerous (risk of explosions),
expensive and short-lived (many need replacing in a mere
A breakthrough in power density
and storage costs could revolutionize the solar industry,
making residential and commercial solar systems far more
affordable. If battery costs could be halved, it would
subtract five years from the average twenty-year return on
These are just a few of the many
important applications of high density portable power. Remember,
though, it’s not just the density that matters: it’s the cost as
To herald a genuine breakthrough, the
next wave of technology needs to be better on all counts: size,
weight and cost.
The most promising candidate technology that meets this requirement
is fuel cell technology. Fuel cells are clean, small and
lightweight, and will eventually be cheap to produce. The choice of
fuels for those fuel cells, however, remains undecided.
One of the promising contenders is zinc -one of the most abundant
minerals on the planet (or, more precisely, “in” the planet). With
the help of fuel cell membranes, zinc particles release electricity
when oxidized by exposing them to air. Once all the zinc is
oxidized, the zinc particles can be quickly “recharged” (reversing
the oxidation process with the help of electricity) and used again.
This process can be endlessly repeated, since the zinc never wears
Zinc is promising because it offers high density portable power (far
greater power density than chemical batteries), a widely-available
element, and outstanding safety (zinc won’t explode if exposed to
flames or high temperatures).
The industry leader in portable zinc
Zinc power isn’t seeing many headlines these days. Much of the news
about portable fuel cells seems focused on methanol. These so-called
Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFCs) convert methanol (a common
alcohol that can be derived from corn, among other renewable
sources) into electricity. NEC, Samsung, and Hitachi already have
working prototypes of DMFCs for notebook computers or portable
The problem with methanol is its combustibility: methanol ignites
easily and has a flash point ranging from room temperature to 130° F, depending on the concentration of water in the mixture.
That makes it an illegal explosive according to the FAA (Federal
Aviation Administration), meaning that DMFCs would not be allowed on
airplanes unless existing regulations are changed.
Methanol also has the drawback of not being easily renewed by
consumers. Few people have the know-how to distill methanol in their
own garage, meaning that consumers would be dependent on DMFC
manufacturers for methanol recharge kits. Like ink jet printer
refill kits, this is where DMFC manufacturers will probably make the
bulk of their profits.
In the end, however, the choice of fuel isn’t as important as the
widespread adoption of a fuel cell battery standard. Today’s
chemical batteries are holding back promising applications for
emerging technologies, and only a breakthrough in portable power can
overcome those limitations.
Fuel cells can make the leap, and their
adoption by consumers and manufacturers alike is all but assured.
“Fuel cell vehicles hold the
promise to clean up our cities, halt the chronic disease
caused by air pollution, slow global warming and once again
make personal transportation an enjoyment rather than a
burden on society.”
The personal automobile is the source of
both fantastic benefits to modern life and terrible consequences.
Those consequences range from devastating public health effects due
to automobile emissions (asthma, lung cancer, throat infections,
etc.) to the rapid alteration of our planet’s own atmosphere (global
But what if a new technology could bring
us all the benefits of personal transportation without these
Fuel cell vehicles may deliver on precisely that promise. Fuel cell
vehicles (FCVs) don’t burn fossil fuels and emit toxic fumes, they
take a hydrogen fuel source such as methanol, propane gas or
hydrogen gas and convert it directly to electricity to power the
vehicle. Like fuel cell battery technology, it’s clean for humans,
clean for the environment, and safer than carrying around highly
explosive liquids like gasoline.
Perhaps even more importantly, it would spearhead the shift away
from the global oil economy and free the United States and other
nations from their heavy dependence on oil -the source of tremendous
There are considerable obstacles to fuel cell vehicles, however:
infrastructure obstacles, primarily. Whatever fuel is ultimately
chosen for FCVs, we will need an infrastructure of refueling
stations (“gas stations”), fuel distribution systems (tanker
trucks), fuel refineries, mechanics who can work on such systems,
and so on. It’s akin to reinventing the entire automobile
infrastructure from the ground up.
These enormous startup costs remain the
primary obstacle to the widespread adoption of fuel cell vehicles,
and it’s a catch-22 situation: people won’t buy the vehicles if
there are no refueling stations, and no company will build refueling
stations if there are no vehicles waiting to use them.
Hybrid vehicles offer a smart interim solution to this dilemma.
While today’s hybrid vehicles derive all their power from a gasoline
engine, tomorrow’s hybrids could be made to run on either fuel cells
or gasoline, depending on what’s available.
Both the gasoline engine and fuel cell
would be used to recharge the primary vehicle batteries that provide
the operating power. Or the battery could be scrapped and replaced
with a zinc fuel cell system where the gasoline engine could kick in
when the zinc needs to be recharged. This configuration would
eliminate the battery altogether and could still take advantage of
the regenerative recharging ability during vehicle braking.
Today’s hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius have made great
strides in the technology needed to mass produce such vehicles. In
fact, the Prius is a shining achievement in the marriage of
combustion engines and battery technology.
Without question, Toyota has the
technical mastery and foresight needed to build a fuel cell hybrid
vehicle if the public infrastructure will support its use.
We can expect Japanese automobile manufacturers to stay in the lead
on fuel cell vehicles, by the way. American car companies are years
behind and have resorted to licensing Japanese fuel cell technology
rather than creating their own. There are many potential
explanations for this lack of vision on the part of American car
companies, but there’s no denying the fact that the Japanese are
leading the field and seem well positioned to continue doing so.
through genetic engineering.
One of the greatest problems facing our civilization goes largely
unnoticed. The problem is that we, as human beings, are haphazard
creations designed to thrive and reproduce in an environment that
shares little in common with the global uplifting of civilization.
From a physical standpoint, we are merely little more than great
apes (we share some 98% of their genetic code).
We are born with physical structures
that were designed to help us survive harsh, prehistoric
environments, and they did their job well (we’re here, aren’t we?),
but this genetic blueprint doesn’t serve our modern lifestyle. In
essence, we are walking museums of outdated hardware.
What concerns me the most is the “software blueprint” with which we
are all born. Human males, in particular are born with an innate
desire to dominate limited resources and control others. From an
anthropological viewpoint, this is largely due to the fact that
these behavioral traits create reproductive options for males, but
the explanation of why that is the case goes well beyond the scope
of this paper.
The point is that males are “born
takers” and they seek power and control.
This is part of the reason why males
dominate positions of power, both in politics and private business,
and it helps explain why so many wars are fought between nations
headed by men who seek power.
Women are born with “social software.”
They innately seek to understand the
individual members of social groups, and they tend to be far more
interested in the overall social good than men. Once again, this is
well explained through anthropology by the fact that a balanced,
well-functioning social group provides an environment conducive to
the raising of successful offspring, to which females contribute a
far greater personal investment of time and resources than males.
The point here is that planet Earth is presently dominated by
power-seeking males running outdated software (genetically
influenced behavior) that does very little to uplift civilization as
a whole. Males are primarily interested in what they, personally,
can accumulate and control, not what they can do for the common
It is this innate greed and
self-interest that limits possibilities of uplifting civilization as
a whole through attention to the common good.
To change this, we must re-engineer our own software.
We must, as conscious beings, decide
what kind of beings we truly wish future generations to be. With the
technology of genetic engineering, we are not limited to the
blueprint provided by
Darwinian evolution (or God, from another
point of view). Instead, we can design ourselves to be whatever sort
of beings we wish.
As a simple example, we could genetically engineer subsequent
generations of children to hate the taste of sugar. This simple step
would practically eliminate the problem with obesity, since
generations would no longer grow up on soft drinks, candy and
refined carbohydrates (the leading causes of Type-II diabetes and
At a more advanced level, genetic engineers could alter behavioral
programming, producing a new generation of beings whose primary
motivations were based on sharing and working for the common good.
The dangers of
Hopefully, you are at this point considering the flipside of genetic
As a civilization, we are nowhere near the level of
maturity that should be required before we start toying with our own
genetic code. Altering the genetic code of our offspring is no small
matter: we are indeed “playing God” and, potentially, violating laws
Even if we had the maturity to approach genetic engineering with
wisdom and compassion, we currently have neither the understanding
of how DNA actually controls human behavior, nor the technology to
selectively replace undesirable behaviors with ones we would prefer.
There is no “violence” gene, for example, that could be reconfigured
into a “peace” gene.
So we are nowhere close to being able to accomplish meaningful
genetic engineering of humans even if we wanted, and that’s a
blessing, since we aren’t mature enough as a civilization to deal
with its implications.
But make no mistake: if we are to move beyond the genetic blueprint
handed down to us by the great apes, we must at some point
consciously and deliberately begin improving our own genetic code.
In fact, “evolution” is strangely the correct term here, since
genetic engineering is the only mechanism by which any further human
evolution can conceivably take place.
That’s because human evolution has
largely stalled out from a survival point of view. (From a global
perspective, very few human
die off due to lack of
food or predators, for example.)
To achieve any further
evolution, we must eventually become engineers of our own genetic
code. With the proper technology, maturity and ethics, we could
accomplish tremendous outcomes through genetic engineering.
Some of the more obvious advances might
humans could be born smarter
thanks to larger brains. (Very large biological neural
networks are very smart.) Make them too large, though, and
giving birth becomes a real problem...
Foods and health:
humans could be engineered to
"like" the taste of healthful foods and dislike the tastes
of unhealthy foods. They could also be engineered to
biochemically produce their own antioxidants, vitamins (like
vitamin C, for example, which other species create for
themselves), or other healthful chemicals.
Longevity: humans could
be engineered to live longer, so people would have more
"productive" years in their lives. The fact that society
spends so much time educating and training people who later
die off and take all their knowledge and experience with
them imposes a tremendous hidden cost on society as a whole.
Population problems aside, by doubling the lifespan of
humans, we could triple or quadruple the number of
productive years in the average human life.
Peace, not conflict:
through alteration of
genetically influenced behaviors, humans could be born with
the innate tendency to get along with each other. If we
could eliminate males' desire for control over resources and
people, as one example, we would eliminate one of the
primary underlying catalysts of geopolitical conflict in the
biologically, it is quite
possible to build eyes with a hundred times the sensitivity
of human eyes. (Baby eagles do it all the time.) With proper
genetic engineering, baby humans could have super sensitive
eyes, enhanced hearing, expanded range of perception of
wavelengths of light (they could see infrared radiation, for
example), higher density nerve bundles on their fingertips,
or a long list of other enhancements.
The mere discussion of all this
justifiably brings up a long list of very spooky themes like
eugenics, "Master Race" philosophies, Frankenstein babies, and of
course the movie, "GATTACA."
I'm not at all saying this technology
will be easy to grapple with from ethical, social and philosophical
What I am saying is that modern day
humans are walking museums. Our souls inhabit outdated hardware, and
our brains are running software meant for a long-gone era. Genetic
engineering offers us the potential to consciously improve our core
design. It allows us to decide who we want to be as conscious
beings. It simultaneously presents the potential for truly horrific
In my view, we are presently nowhere near the level of global wisdom
and spiritual understanding required to justify experimenting with
the genetic code of our own offspring.
And yet genetic engineering
of the human race remains an essential step to uplifting our
"Breakthroughs in computer/human
interface technologies will multiply the speed of personal
computing, eventually approaching the speed of thought."
There’s no mistaking the significant influence of personal computers
and the Internet on our modern way of life. Many of us have so
quickly adapted to regular use of search engines and web surfing
that it’s difficult to imagine life without the Internet.
The Internet allow us to research products and companies, share
ideas with the public, research nutritional supplements, find
articles on historical figures, and do a million other things that
simply weren’t possible a mere two decades ago.
And yet our interface with the Internet remains the lowly personal
computer. With its clumsy interface devices (keyboard and mouse,
primarily), the personal computer is a makeshift bridge between the
ideas of human beings and the world of information found on the
Internet. These interface devices are clumsy and simply cannot keep
pace with the speed of thought of which the human brain is capable.
Consider this: a person with an idea who wishes to communicate that
idea to others must translate that idea into words, then break those
words into individual letters, then direct her fingers to punch
physical buttons (the keyboard) corresponding to each of those
letters, all in the correct sequence. Not surprisingly, typing speed
becomes a major limiting factor here: most people can only type
around sixty words per minute.
Even a fast typist can barely achieve
120 words per minute. Yet the spoken word approaches 300 words per
minute, and the speed of “thought” is obviously many times faster
Pushing thoughts through a computer keyboard is sort of like trying
to put out a raging fire with a garden hose: there’s simply not
enough bandwidth to move things through quickly enough. As a result,
today’s computer/human interface devices are significant obstacles
to breakthroughs in communicative efficiency.
The computer mouse is also severely limited. I like to think of the
mouse as a clumsy translator of intention: if you look at your
computer screen, and you intend to open a folder, you have to move
your hand from your keyboard to your mouse, slide the mouse to a new
location on your desk, watch the mouse pointer move across the
screen in an approximate mirror of the mouse movement on your desk,
then click a button twice.
That’s a far cry from the idea of simply
looking at the icon and intending it to open, which would of course
be the desired level of computer/human interface as I’ll discuss
Today’s interface devices are little more than rudimentary
translation tools that allow us to access the world of personal
computers and the Internet in a clumsy, inefficient way. Still, the
Internet is so valuable that even these clumsy devices grant us
immeasurable benefits, but a new generation of computer/human
interface devices would greatly multiply those benefits and open up
a whole new world of possibilities for exploiting the power of
information and knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
Let’s take a closer look at those
emerging technologies now.
Computer/Human Interface Technologies
The idea of eliminating the gap between human thought and computer
responsiveness is an obvious one, and a number of companies are
working hard on promising technologies. One of the most obvious such
technologies is voice recognition software that allows the computer
to type as you speak, or allows users to control software
applications by issuing voice commands.
The most advanced and accurate software in this category is
Naturally Speaking, and I’ve spent a considerable number of hours
with this software.
Its accuracy is impressive, and the
technology is far ahead of voice recognition technology from a mere
decade ago, but it’s still not at the point where people can walk up
to their computer and start issuing voice commands without a whole
lot of setup, training, and fine tuning of microphones and sound
levels. For many people, that’s just way too much configuration.
This situation is no doubt recognized by the developers of Dragon
Nevertheless, widespread, intuitive use
of voice recognition technology still appears to be years away.
Another recent technology that represents a clever approach to
computer/human interfaces is the iGesture Pad by a company called
With the iGesture Pad, users
place their hands on a touch sensitive pad (about the size of a
mouse pad), then move their fingers in certain patterns (gestures)
that are interpreted as application commands. For example, placing
your fingers on the pad in a tight group, then rapidly opening and
spreading your fingers is interpreted as an Open command.
This technology represents a leap in intuitive interface devices,
and it promises a whole new dimension of control versus the
one-dimensional mouse click, but it’s still a somewhat clumsy
translation of intention through physical limbs.
For more intuitive control of software interfaces, what’s needed is
a device that tracks eye movements and accurately translates them
into mouse movements: so you could just look at an icon on the
screen and the mouse would instantly move there. Interestingly, some
of the best technology in this area comes from companies building
systems for people with physical disabilities.
For people who can’t move their limbs,
computer control through alternate means is absolutely essential.
One approach to this is tracking the movement of a person’s head and
translating that into mouse movements.
the HeadMouse, does exactly that.
You stick a reflective dot on your forehead, put the sensor on top
of your monitor, then move your head to move your mouse. I haven’t
tried the technology, so I can’t say how well it works, but the
company (Origin Instruments) has a reputation for providing
assistive technologies to physically disabled persons, and the
HeadMouse is their latest technology.
Another company called
Madentec offers a similar
technology called Tracker One. Place a dot on your forehead, then
you can control the mouse simply by moving your head.
In terms of affordable head tracking products for widespread use, a
NaturalPoint seems to have the best
head tracking technology at the present: a product called SmartNav,
priced at a mere $199, allows for hands-free mouse control via head
movement. Add a foot switch and you can click with your feet.
I’ve used this product myself, and while
it definitely presents a learning curve for new users, it works as
While tracking head movement is in many ways better than tracking
mouse movement, a more intuitive approach, it seems, would be to
track actual eye movements.
A company called LC Technologies, Inc.
is doing precisely that with their
EyeGaze systems. By mounting one or
two cameras under your monitor and calibrating the software to your
screen dimensions, you can control your mouse by simply looking at
the desired position on the screen.
Once again, this technology was originally developed for people with
physical disabilities, yet the potential application of it is far
greater. In time, I believe that eye tracking systems will become
the preferred method of cursor control for users of personal
Eye tracking technology is quickly emerging as a technology with
high potential for widespread adoption by the computing public.
Companies such as
Arrington Research, and
EyeTech Digital Systems all offer
eye tracking technology with potential for computer/human interface
The two most promising technologies in
this list, in terms of widespread consumer-level use, appear to be
Tobii Technology and EyeTech Digital Systems.
for your PC
Moving to the next level of computer/human interface technology, the
ability to control your computer with your thoughts alone seems to
be an obvious goal. The technology is called Brain Computer
Interface technology, or
Although the idea of brain-controlled computers has been around for
a while, it received a spike of popularity in 2004 with the
announcement that nerve-sensing circuitry was implanted in a
monkey’s brain, allowing it to control a robotic arm by merely
thinking. This Washington Post article gives a fascinating account
of the breakthrough and training required by the monkey to learn
how to use the brain implant.
The lead researchers in the monkey experiment are now involved in a
commercial venture to develop the technology for use in humans. The
Cyberkinetics Inc. hopes to someday
implant circuits in the brains of disabled humans, then allow those
people to control robotic arms, wheelchairs, computers or other
devices through nothing more than brain behavior.
A key obstacle to widespread use is, of course, the requirement that
circuitry be surgically implanted in the brain. If the technology
can take a quantum leap and work its magic without needing the
surgery - by wearing a sensing helmet, for example - it will
suddenly be a lot more interesting to the population at large, and
not just those with severe physical disabilities.
Imagine the limitless applications of direct brain control. People
could easily manipulate cursors on the screen or control
electromechanical devices. They could direct software applications,
enter text on virtual keyboards, or even drive vehicles on public
Today, all these tasks are accomplished
by our brains moving our limbs, but the limbs, technically speaking,
don’t have to be part of the chain of command.
Another promising area of computer/human interface technology is
being explored by companies like
Immersion Corporation, which offers
tactile feedback hardware that allows users to “feel” their computer
Slide on Immersion’s
CyberGlove, and your computer can track
and translate detailed hand and finger movements. Add their
CyberTouch accessory, and tiny force feedback generators mounted
on the glove deliver the sensation of touch or vibration to your
fingers. With proper software translation, these technologies give
users the ability to manipulate virtual objects using their hands.
It’s an intuitive way to manipulate objects in virtual space, since
nearly all humans have the natural ability to perform complex hand
movements with practically no training whatsoever.
Another company exploring the world of tactile feedback technologies
SensAble Technologies. Their
PHANTOM devices allow users to construct and “feel”
three-dimensional objects in virtual space. Their consumer-level
products include a utility for gamers that translates computer game
events into tactile feedback (vibrations, hitting objects, gun
On a consumer level, Logitech makes a device called the IFeel Mouse
that vibrates or thumps when your mouse cursor passes over certain
Clickable icons, for example, feel like
“bumps” as you mouse over them. The edges of windows can also
deliver subtle feedback. The mouse sells for around $40, but it
hasn’t seen much success in the marketplace. Reviews from users
reveal that the vibrating mouse is considered more annoying than
helpful, so don’t expect to see this technology taking over the
world of computer mice.
But tactile feedback has potential for making human/computer
interfaces more intuitive and efficient, even if today’s tactile
technologies are clunky first attempts.
The more senses we can directly involve
in our control of computers, the broader the bandwidth of
information and intention between human beings and machines.
The long-promised 3D computer monitor finally seems to be close to
reality. Manipulating complex windows, documents and virtual objects
on a two-dimensional display - as is standard today - is rather
limiting. With a 3D monitor, we could work in layers or position
documents and objects in 3D space rather than squeezing them down to
a tiny toolbar at the bottom of one screen.
For human beings, 3D space is intuitive. We get it without training.
That’s because we live in a world of 3D objects and space, and our
perception is hard-wired to understand spatial relationships. That’s
why gamers who play first-person shooters like Quake can mentally
retrace their way through enormous maps (levels) in their heads,
eyes closed, without even trying: the human brain was built to
remember and navigate 3D space.
Recent breakthroughs in 3D displays promise to make computing more
intuitive and powerful. Companies like
LightSpace Technologies are already
selling desktop 3D display monitors that display true 3D images
without the need for special glasses.
The trouble is, Windows and Mac operating systems weren’t written
with 3D displays in mind.
So there’s no capability to stack
windows or view the depth of objects. It’s a classic chicken-and-egg
conundrum: who’s going to buy 3D displays if the software can’t
support them, and why would software makers write 3D layering logic
if nobody owns the displays?
In time, thanks to the “cool” factor of 3D displays, the technology
will eventually receive enough attention to warrant the necessary
R&D investment by operating system developers like Microsoft and
Apple. No doubt, future generations will conduct all their computing
with the aid of 3D displays, and the very idea of 2D displays will
seem as outdated as black & white movies do to us today.
Another new 3D display device is the
Perspecta Spatial 3D globe. This
device displays 3D objects or animations inside a globe. Users can
walk around the globe and view the objects from any angle. It’s a
rather expensive item, of course, so early applications for this
product focus on medical and research tasks. In time, however, the
technology will drop in price, bringing it within reach of more
In the category of the more familiar, a German company called
SeeReal Technologies offers a 20”
LCD 3D display that uses eye tracking combined with unique
left/right display technology to create a true 3D image on a flat
panel monitor without the need for special viewing glasses. These
monitors are typically used in the CAD/CAM industry where the
visualization of 3D objects is especially helpful.
The lack of support for 3D space in the
Windows operating system, however, makes these monitors useless for
everyday users... at least for the moment.
What would 3D
displays do for us?
So what should a flat panel 3D display actually do for a typical
Windows or Mac user?
At the most basic level, operating
systems would need to support fundamental 3D features like:
Layering of windows: Background
windows would appear further away, while foreground windows
Pop out elements: Certain
elements of a document or page could appear to “pop out” of
the screen a half inch or so. This might be used similarly
to bolding or italicizing.
Floating cursors: the mouse
cursor appears to float above the screen and then, when
clicked, it actually buries itself in the button being
clicked, then quickly returns to its hover status.
Note, however, that a 3D flat panel
monitor is not the same as a true 3D display system: you can’t walk
to the side of the monitor and see the windows behind it. It’s still
essentially a 2D system in that it can’t display true volumetric
shapes and objects that are viewable from multiple angles.
For that, we’ll ultimately need a tabletop 3D display system that
lays flat on your desk (like an LCD monitor laying down) and
projects 3D images into the space above the panel.
This would be a true volumetric 3D
display system, and it’s here that the technology truly represents a
breakthrough. Program application windows could literally be stacked
from the rear to the front, and if you peeked around the side of the
display, you could see a side view of all the windows at once.
With proper software control, objects or documents could be placed
in true 3D space: desktop icons, for example, could be lined up
along the very back row. Games could display true 3D scenes as if
you’re actually in them, and CAD engineers would have the ability to
observe their designs in true 3D space.
Better yet, if coupled with a motion tracking glove or similar
technology, users could use their hands to grasp, move, resize or
otherwise manipulate elements in 3D space.
This, of course, opens up an unlimited
universe of possibilities for computer/human interaction.
This brief tour of computer/human interface technologies is really
only a glimpse of what’s possible. It’s all about closing the gap
between human intention and computing systems.
Today, the gap is very large: a typical
keyboard and mouse setup is essentially a two-channel interface
system. But tomorrow, the gap could be very small: add a head
tracking system, hand-sensing glove, foot pedal switches, voice
recognition system, 3D display and a brainwave-sensing helmet, and
you’ve created layers of multi-channel interface technologies that
allow infinite expression.
In time, as this technology is developed and adopted by mainstream
users, the gap will continue to shrink. This has enormous positive
implications in the workplace, medicine, science, education, social
interaction, entertainment and many other areas, which is why it
earns such a lengthy discussion in this report.
And it’s not technology that’s “way out
there,” either: it’s technology that’s emerging now and will
continue to be developed in the years ahead.
“Vibrational medicine is the future
of healing. While the eras of physical and chemical medicine are
now fading, vibrational medicine is emerging as a far superior
model for accelerating healing in patients everywhere. ”
Vibrational medicine is a promising area
of “technology” (it’s difficult to call it that) that covers a
variety of pioneering healing modalities now known to be far more
powerful than drugs and surgery in improving the lives of patients.
These modalities include:
the healing power of natural sunlight to prevent cancer,
reverse clinical depression, alter moods, increase bone
density and much more.
Color therapy: using
selected wavelengths of natural sunlight to create a
physiological, psychological or energetic response in a
Homeopathy: using the
“memory of water” to imprint a patient with the healing
properties of selected substances.
Sound therapy: the
therapeutic use of sound waves to create a healing response
in the patient. Music therapy is one branch of sound
harnessing the power of prayer and focused intention to
alter the health outcome for a patient. Also called
“non-local medicine.” It is well supported by double-blind
harnessing the power of the patient’s own mind to affect
healing. This is typically accomplished through meditation
exercises, laughter as medicine, or creative visualization
exercises. The proven power of the placebo effect
demonstrates the enormous healing potential of this modality
(in tens of thousands of medical studies, the placebo effect
has been proven more effective than any prescription drug
known to mankind).
Acupuncture: the use of
tiny needles to alter the flow of chi (energy) through the
body for a specific health reason.
Magnetic therapy: the use
of permanent magnets or electromagnets to catalyze a healing
response in the patient. Some magnetic therapies attempt to
augment the Earth’s magnetic field; others deliver
high-energy magnetic bursts in an attempt to destroy cancer
Crystals, gems and rocks:
the harnessing of vibrations from crystals and other rocks
for healing purposes. All crystals vibrate. In fact, if you
are reading this report, you’re using crystal vibration
right now! (The CPU clock in your computer operates on a
timing signal generated by a crystal.)
small electrical currents to selected points on the body to
accelerate healing, repair broken bones, create changes in
muscle training and body tension, destroy invading bacteria,
and other uses. The body already relies on electro-medicine
for internal healing. All bones, for example, are piezo-electric
devices that create an electric charge when stressed,
attracting minerals like calcium to the site of the charge.
In addition, a continuous electric current, when applied to
the skin over a blood vessel, kills bacteria present in the
blood. Electro-medicine has great potential for healing.
There are many other areas as well, but
these represent some of the most popular vibrational medicine
technologies being used today.
Unlike the other technologies mentioned in this report, much of the
technology already exists for vibrational medicine. Every therapy
mentioned above is being used right now in the United States and
around the world.
The challenge is to see their use become
widespread and accepted by practitioners of western medicine.
Unfortunately, most practitioners of modern (western) medicine are
steeped in an outdated mindset of drugs and surgery and tend to shun
any therapy that isn’t sanctioned by the pharmaceutical industry.
Let’s take a closer look at the kind of paradigm shifts that will be
required in modern medicine in order for vibrational medicine to
earn increased credibility.
history of western medicine
Looking at the history of western medicine, the modalities and
belief systems are readily divided into three chronological phases:
Physical medicine describes the sort of
medicine practiced by the western world in the 19th early 20th
centuries. If a foot became infected, the doctor cut it off.
Surgery was regarded as a “heroic”
procedure (to a very large degree, it still is), and disease was
understood to be caused by the physical malfunctioning of physical
Chemical medicine emerged in response to the discovery of penicillin
and the realization that certain chemicals - prescription drugs or
antibiotics - could target and destroy infectious disease. This
belief continues to this day, where diseases are now commonly
described as “chemical imbalances” that must be treated with a
lifetime of prescription drugs.
Today, western medicine is firmly seated
in the belief system of chemical medicine. Pharmaceutical companies,
which dominate today’s medical landscape, rely exclusively on this
paradigm to market their products and convince patients they need
potent chemicals in order to be happy, healthy or sane. This is why
nearly all diseases and symptoms are presently described as chemical
imbalances that can be corrected with expensive drugs.
This belief is a distortion, however.
Energetic medicine (vibrational medicine) is just starting to be
explored by the medical mainstream. In energetic medicine, the
powerful effects of subtle energy systems are explored and leveraged
for healing. Energetic medicine recognizes the whole of the patient
rather than the parts (as in physical medicine).
Energetic medicine also believes that
the human body is not a chemical dumping ground, and that both
disease and health have core underlying causes that go far deeper
than mere symptoms.
The future of
medicine is vibrational
Tomorrow’s medicine will no doubt increasingly rely on vibrational
Not only is it a more advanced
perspective on the true causes of disease and health, but it can be
offered to patients with virtually no side effects and at very low
cost. As one simple example, if a doctor can help a patient laugh
heartily for five minutes, the patient will be significantly helped
in all three areas: physical, chemical and vibrational.
From a physical point of view, the very act of laughing moves lymph
fluid, promotes the oxygenation of body cells and organs, and
improves circulation. From a chemical point of view, laughter
results in the creation of literally tens of thousands of dollars
worth of healthful brain chemicals (if you had to buy them, that is)
that improve mood, enhance alertness, etc.
From an energetic point of view,
laughter helps relax the patient’s body and mind, opens them to
enjoying interaction with others, and literally restructures their
internal energies. That’s just one reason why Dr. Patch Adams,
popularized in the movie with Robin Williams, relied so heavily on
laughter as a powerful healing tool.
In a very real way, laughter is perhaps
one of the most powerful healing tools available to mankind, and yet
today’s hospitals and doctors’ offices are hardly places that
inspire unbridled joy.
The power of
Interestingly, vibrational medicine has already been proven by
literally tens of thousands of clinical studies to be the single
most powerful healing tool known to western medicine, and yet it
remains largely ignored by the very same people conducting the
Let me explain: in most clinical trials,
there is something called the placebo effect which describes the
level of healing that takes place in patients who were given no
drugs and no surgery but who thought they received the drugs or
surgery. For example, they would be given inert pills or subjected
to a “sham surgery” that actually resulted in no real surgical
This is standard practice in clinical
But even though the patients don’t receive the drugs or surgery as
part of the study, they routinely show permanent improvements in
their health. One study of Parkinson’s patients proved that this
genuine health improvement remained strong even twelve months after
the placebo surgery, and the measure of improvement was objective:
even the medical staff agreed that patients showed measurable
Obviously, if patients are getting better thanks to the placebo
effect, it can’t be the drugs or surgery that’s causing the
improvement. The healing effect is caused by the mind of the
patient. Their belief in the drug or surgery is what’s causing them
to get better, not the actual drug or surgery (since they didn’t
Now here’s the amazing part: if you take a closer look at these tens
of thousands of studies, you’ll find that the placebo effect has
been proven effective in treating approximately 30% of all disorders
That’s right: this single mind/body tool
has been scientifically proven to reverse or improve 30% of all
diseases and symptoms: heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer...
you name it.
The proof is right there in the studies.
This is astonishing: mind/body medicine offers us a powerful healing
tool that works with no negative side effects and zero cost... and
it’s effective against practically any disease or condition.
So what does western medicine do with
this knowledge? They discard it. The placebo effect is routinely
tossed or ignored.
It’s considered a “false” result by
medical researchers, even when the numbers prove it to be not just
real, but perhaps the most powerful healing tool of all.
whatever agrees with your beliefs
Why does this happen?
Doctors, researchers, surgeons and
others in the medical community function like everyone else: when
presented with evidence that contradicts their firmly held belief
systems, they discard the new evidence because it doesn’t fit their
internal model of the way the world works.
Accordingly, the mountain of evidence
supporting the placebo effect gets routinely discarded not because
it isn’t compelling and scientific, but because modern medicine
doesn’t understand how it could work. It doesn’t fit the model.
And it’s not just the placebo effect that gets ignored. Homeopathy
is also routinely ignored or even attacked by western medicine for
the simple reason that western medical technology doesn’t understand
how it works, either. In a homeopathic remedy, an extract from a
particular element such as a flower, a plant, or even a poison like
arsenic, is mixed with water and then diluted to such extremes that
there’s not a single molecule of the original element remaining in
the final mixture.
Yet the final mixture holds the “memory”
or the “vibration” of the original element that was used, and it
exhibits scientifically measurable and verifiable effects on
biological systems (both humans and animals) when consumed.
The evidence showing that homeopathic remedies work is not merely
compelling, it is scientifically robust. An honest researcher
reviewing the clinical evidence on homeopathy can only reach one of
two conclusions: either homeopathy works, or controlled,
double-blind placebo clinical trials don’t work. In other words, if
you measure the effect of
homeopathic remedies using the same
science and scrutiny as clinical drug trials, you get a significant
result that proves homeopathic remedies work.
And yet western medicine continues to
throw out this scientific reality, not because it hasn’t been
scientifically proven, but because it doesn’t fit the model.
Homeopathy is one of the most promising areas of vibrational
Homeopathic remedies can help people
fight infectious disease, reverse cancer and diabetes, improve their
brain function, detoxify their systems, recover from wounds more
quickly, increase fertility, and accomplish a long list of other
Phototherapy represents a rapidly emerging branch of vibrational
medicine, and it’s being slowly accepted by the scientific
community. In experiments with infrared light,
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has shown that
flesh wounds like scrapes, cuts and burns, heal 40% faster when
exposed to a few minutes of infrared LED light each day.
The mere presence of the light causes
the body to accelerate its healing.
Light is a powerful healing tool, and no light is more available
than our own sun. The sun is a source of tremendous healing
potential. With natural sunlight, people can reverse prostate cancer
and breast cancer, reverse clinical depression, enhance their bone
density and prevent osteoporosis, vastly improve circulation,
accelerate wound healing, and experience a long list of other
significant health benefits.
And yet, remarkably, nearly the entire
population of the western world has been taught to believe that
sunlight is dangerous.
People are warned to “stay out of the sun!”
They slather on sunscreen, they wear
heavy clothing, and they avoid the sun at all costs. Meanwhile,
rates of prostate cancer are skyrocketing and vitamin D deficiency
is now one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in America,
Canada and Europe. With daily exposure to natural sunlight, the body
creates its own vitamin D and puts it to work preventing prostate
cancer, breast cancer and a long list of other disorders.
People need natural sunlight. It seems so obvious that it’s almost
ridiculous having to point it out. And yet fear of the sun is so
deeply ingrained in western societies that merely mentioning the
phrase, “sunlight is good for you...” earns you gaping stares from
Clearly, the human species didn’t evolve
under fluorescent lighting: it evolved under the natural sun, and as
human beings, we depend on frequent exposure to the sun for optimum
health. Without sunlight, in fact, we cannot function in a healthy
way. The growing problem of Seasonal Affective Disorder, where
people experience deep depression due to lack of sunlight, is just
one of the many clues pointing to the reality that people need
natural sunlight in order to be healthy.
Lack of sunlight is even part of the reason we’re seeing an epidemic
of obesity: sunlight exposure diminishes cravings for carbohydrates
and sweets by balancing levels of serotonin in the brain.
Another promising area of vibrational medicine involves the use of
sound waves for manipulating both physical tissues and energetic
fields in the body. For this discussion, I’ll stick with the
I first discussed this technology concept in 2001 with Jonathan
Goldman, a sound healing pioneer working more on the spiritual side
than the medical side of
sound therapy. By using standing
waves of low frequency sound combined with subtle variations in the
frequency and wavelength, we can directly control fluids (like blood
and lymph) and even manipulate tissues in the human body without
needing invasive surgery.
Cymatics = the study of sound on
Sound restructures physical matter. This is evidenced by observing
the effect of sound waves on grains of sand spread across the top of
a large drum. If you hum into the drum, the sand will form physical
patterns that coalesce across the drum head according to slight
variations in pitch and amplitude. The science is called cymatics,
and much of the original work in this area was conducted by the late
In cymatics, we see that sound creates waves of force that can move
physical objects either towards or away from the source of that
sound. In my own experiments using tone generator software, home
speakers, sheet metal, and dirt from my back yard (how’s that for
high-tech?), I was able to propagate grains of dirt and sand along a
radiating path from the source of the sound by simply altering the
frequency of the sound. (You have to watch the amplitude, however,
because if the sound waves are too strong, the grains of sand will
leap right off the sheet metal.)
For example, if you start with a sound frequency of 300 hertz (300
cycles per second), and then slowly reduce the frequency (pitch down
the sound), it will elongate the wavelength of the sound and the
grains of sand will slowly move away from you. If you start at a low
frequency and increase the pitch, the grains of sand will move
towards you as if on a conveyer belt.
This same technology, I proposed in 2001, could be used in the
bodies of patients to move body fluids and massage organs, among
other uses. Diabetic patients, for example, frequently experience a
critical lack of blood supply to their feet due to diabetic
By using sound generators under the
soles of their feet and broadcasting a sound sequence that slowly
increases pitch (then repeats from the original low tone after
ramping up), you can actually draw blood into the feet and minimize
damage from neuropathy. The same approach can be used for any organ
or limb in the body. Sadly, such medical devices do not exist today.
Yet this merely scratches the surface of potential for sound
therapy. Imagine using two sound sources and coordinating their
configuration of standing waves so that peaks of force can be
pinpointed along the X and Y axis. Now add a third sound source so
that you can operate in three dimensions. With such a system,
doctors or surgeons could manipulate internal organs or biological
structures with precision without needing to slice into the
patient’s body with scalpels. It’s non-invasive surgery through the
miracle of sound.
To date, no such system exists, but they are theoretically possible.
There has been, however, some exciting new research emerging in the
world of “medical acoustics.”
Dr. Alexander Sutin at the
Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey recently presented
six papers at the Acoustical Society of America where he
described a phenomenon known as time-reversal acoustics that
promises to revolutionize modern medicine. Time-reversal acoustics
will allow a whole new approach to imaging (seeing inside the body),
destroying kidney stones, targeting tumors and even conducting
surgical procedures without needing to invade the body.
Such technology blends the often mysterious world of vibrational
medicine with today’s so-called “hard core science” to bring
significant new healing modalities to the world of medicine. If
sound can be widely accepted as a healing technology by organized
medicine, further exploration into phototherapy, homeopathy and
acupuncture is likely to follow.
And that’s how modern medicine graduates
from a stage two (chemical medicine) paradigm and moves into stage
three (vibrational medicine).
In all, vibrational medicine represents the next phase in the
evolution of healing technology. It delivers powerful healing with
no negative side effects and at very low cost. When fully embraced
by the medical community,
vibrational medicine will make chemicals
and prescription drugs virtually obsolete.
When it comes to vibrational medicine, the science is already here:
reliable studies prove its efficacy.
But what’s needed is the acceptance of
this technology by the medical community, and that acceptance will
take time to achieve.
“Superlearning systems will allow
our civilization to take a quantum leap in the transfer of
knowledge and wisdom to each successive generation.”
One of the great failures of modern
society is public education. In the United States, the public
education system has been denied adequate funding for so long that
teachers frequently resort to buying textbooks for their students
with their own money. Many schools lack even fundamental
instructional tools like desktop computers, and much about public
education remains mired in bureaucracy and political power grabs.
The advancement of modern civilization will require a quantum leap
in the approach of public education. It’s not simply about giving
more money to the schools, raising teachers’ salaries, or buying
textbooks for students; it’s about changing our entire approach to
teaching our next generation of human beings the knowledge and
skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world.
Super-learning systems offer the ability to rapidly accelerate the
learning process for children and adults alike. But what is a
Today, it’s a largely fictional
technology that’s perhaps best described in the sci-fi movie
Brainstorm, released in 1983 and starring Christopher Walken. In
Brainstorm, a brain monitoring device could record the
thoughts and sensory experiences of one person, then replay them
into the brain of another person.
The promise of the device was perhaps
best described by one character in the film who said,
“How would you like to learn the
entire fifth grade in ten minutes?”
It may have been science fiction in
1983, but today the exploration of super-learning is underway. In
the last two decades, there has been a tremendous amount of research
conducted on multisensory learning theory.
Researchers have found that the human
brain learns best through multisensory association, not rote
memorization. A child will learn best, for example, when she is
engaged in a learning activity that uses sight, sound, emotions,
tactile feedback, spatial orientation, and even smell and taste.
Learning has also proven to be far more effective when subjects are
in a relaxed mental state.
Compare this to modern day schools and universities, where to this
day, tenured professors mumble over a collection of notes to an
auditorium full of students who learn little more than how to take
notes and pass rote memorization tests. Sadly, many of today’s
institutions of learning aren’t very good at their only mission.
Advances in super-learning will require the radical reformation of
our learning institutions and yet will simultaneously usher in a new
era of prosperity and quality of life. To believe this idea, you
have to believe that it is the lack of education that’s largely
responsible for the problems of society.
And that’s the point I’ll explain next.
education causes hardship
If you take all the people with the most pronounced hardships in
life -the working poor, the criminals, the drug addicts, and so on -
you find they all have one thing in common: a lackluster education.
Nearly all the people who fall between the cracks in society share a
childhood education crisis: they didn’t get the same education that
Or they couldn’t learn in the same way
that others learn.
Multiply that situation by twenty or thirty years and you get
someone who falls between the cracks of modern society: a petty
criminal, a homeless person, a drug addict, or, if you’re lucky,
people working from one minimum wage paycheck to the next, just
barely surviving, usually with the help of public assistance.
Simultaneously, lack of education also affects everyone I haven’t
mentioned yet: the working middle class and wealthy. If they never
learned about the real history of the world, they’re likely to
repeat the same mistakes today. If they never learned about other
countries, populations, and cultures, they will undoubtedly emerge
from public schools with an ethnocentric viewpoint and demonstrate a
disturbing intolerance for people of different ethnic backgrounds.
If they didn’t study the great authors,
the great artists, or the great poets, they will act in soulless
ways, or without an open heart and mind. If they didn’t learn about
the history of the universe, our planet, the evolution of the
species, and ancient man, they will never come to appreciate the
sanctity of their own lives, nor of others’ lives.
See, education does more than just keep people out of the gutter: it
transforms an ordinary, closed-minded human being into a world
citizen. Studying the great masters - the philosophers, the healers,
the poets, the political figures, the artists, the scientists, the
revolutionaries - is the pathway to being a great citizen of our
Education is everything to society. Without it, we are all just
berry-hunting primates. Education is what allows us to carry
memories, lessons and advances from one generation to the next. And
it’s a short window: the blink of a human life. In the span of a
single lifetime, we as a society must transfer the entirety of our
knowledge and wisdom to the next generation. Inevitably, each of us
will pass on.
Education is the keystone of civilization.
And super-learning brings us the promise
of accelerating our education processes so that we can, in a sense,
multiply the “bandwidth” of information and wisdom being passed to
So what kind of super-learning systems might work for us? Answering
that requires a closer look at what “learning” is in the first
At a biological level, learning is
simply the building of new associative pathways in the human nervous
system. As we learn new things, we don’t increase our brain matter,
we simply make new neural pathways in the brain cells that are
already there. A “smart” person has more interconnected neural
pathways than a “dull” person, although they may possess the same
physical brain matter.
The human brain will create these new neural pathways in response to
external stimuli -the more diverse, the better. So a child who is
given the definition of the word “weightless” in a verbal format
gets that information in one channel: the audio channel. That
creates a one-dimensional association in their brain.
But take the same child and show them a movie of a person floating
in space while you’re saying the word “weightless,” and you now have
a two-dimensional learning experience: the child both sees and hears
Better yet, take the child to a trampoline and start bouncing up and
down. Make it fun, because that invokes the emotional channel.
Between bounces, when you’re in the air, happily shout,
“Weightless!” Now the child gets the word in two more channels, and
the understanding of that word is firmly implanted in their brain.
They’ll probably never forget the word.
That’s a simplified example of how learning can be made more
effective: use immersion and engage multiple channels of experience
to introduce people to new concepts.
So getting back to the super-learning machine, how can we use this
process of learning to create a super-learning experience?
One answer is something I’ve already
presented in this report: augmented reality!
with augmented reality
Augmented reality can provide a multi-channel, high-immersion
learning experience that teaches new concepts to children or adults
at many times the speed and efficiency of today’s standard teaching
Augmented reality systems can provide
the imagery, sounds, user feedback mechanisms (like using your hands
to control virtual objects that appear to be floating in front of
you) and even the tactile sensations that accelerate learning.
Properly programmed, these wearable augmented reality systems could
guide students through an unlimited series of educational exercises
that are experiential, multi-channel, self-paced, fun, and highly
As one example, consider the walkthrough history lesson presented
earlier in this report: with augmented reality systems, students
could physically explore historical events, hold conversations with
historical figures, and see, hear and feel history with their own
This represents a quantum leap over
today’s public school lessons:
“Read chapters two and three for
tomorrow, there will be a quiz...”
are always needed
Of course, having good teachers involved in this super-learning
process is absolutely essential.
A good teacher, by this definition, is
one who can properly assess the learning potential of each student,
assign the appropriate augmented reality learning programs, keep the
students challenged and motivated, and when necessary, enter each
student’s own augmented reality to provide assistance with the
In my own early drafts of such a system, the teacher is networked
into each student’s augmented reality feed and can flip from one
student’s reality to another like clicking on software screens in
the Windows operating system. Being fully networked with all the
students, the teacher can serve as an active mentor to either
observe or assist the student, depending on the lesson context.
The teacher need not even be physically
present: a virtual representation of the teacher will suffice, as
long as both the teacher and the student share the same rendering of
the augmented reality.
Also important to super-learning is social collaboration among
students. This, in fact, represents the best first step into the
world of super-learning until augmented reality technology comes
along. By engaging in group problem solving, group tests, and group
discussions, students can learn from other students’ associations.
As learning theory research has shown,
individuals in a group tend to automatically integrate (“learn”)
things originally known by only a few members of that group. Put
simply, if one student knows the solution to a problem, and that
answer is shared with other students in a team setting, the other
students tend to quickly grasp the solution very quickly.
Super-learning, then, has two promising fronts so far: technology
(augmented reality) and social learning (group learning
Yet there’s another important factor to
consider when it comes to enhancing our society’s ability to do a
better job of passing information and knowledge from one generation
to the next... and this is something we can tackle right now:
learning through better nutrition
Nutrition, it turns out, is a strong determining factor in the
ability of any human being to make new neural pathways.
Unfortunately, the nutritional habits
followed by most people today - and especially children -present
significant obstacles to learning. In fact, it’s accurate to say
that the diet of most American children today is a diet that
automatically results in a very low level of intelligence. Let’s
look at this more closely.
The human brain is a delicate organ. It requires a precise mixture
of water, blood sugar, temperature, electrolyte minerals, essential
fatty acids and a whole host of other nutrients to function
correctly. Alter even one of these just slightly, and brain function
For example, a 30% drop in blood sugar -
the inevitable result of consuming a breakfast of refined white
flour and sugar as found in practically every brand-name breakfast
cereal - causes brain “fuzziness”, moodiness, a drop in the ability
to concentrate and even tendencies towards violent behavior,
especially in young men.
The lack of sufficient hydration - a condition affecting the vast
majority of Americans - also affects the brain. Since electrical
impulses are impeded by even a slight dehydration of the brain, not
getting enough water literally interferes with proper brain
Making matters worse, most Americans simply don’t eat enough of the
critical nutrients needed to build and maintain the brain from
infancy. One of the most common deficiencies is
GLA (gamma linolenic
acid), an essential fatty acid found in abundance in human breast
milk, but entirely missing from cow’s milk. Baby cows don’t have
quite the need for brain matter that human babies have.
Fortunately, nature has made sure that
human breast milk provides the nutrients needed to build large,
healthy brains. Not surprisingly, clinical studies have shown that
babies raised on cow’s milk score lower on intelligence tests than
those raised on human breast milk. (But don’t expect the dairy
industry to remind you of this little fact...)
Beyond the lack of essential nutrients found in the American diet,
the brain function of children is especially susceptible to the
influence of destructive dietary ingredients such as refined white
flour, white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (the primary
sweetener in soft drinks). The regular consumption of these
ingredients, researchers have now demonstrated, leads to alarming
changes in the behavior of adolescents.
Such behavior is typically described as
“hyperactive” or having a “short attention span.”
These children, as you may have now
guessed, are typically diagnosed as having ADHD and are frequently
dosed with narcotic drugs such as Ritalin. This treatment protocol
is entirely unnecessary, since dietary changes alone bring nearly
all children back into the realm of “normal” behavior. Studies in
the UK with so-called hyperactive children have demonstrated this
quite convincingly: change the child’s diet, and their behavior
shifts in a matter of days.
Read more about this at
So there’s more to super-learning than merely inventing some cool
new technology: we have to start getting serious about preparing the
bodies and brains of our children to be ready for learning in the
As a society, we cannot have both a
quality education system and an adolescent population that acquires
nearly 30% of its dietary calories from junk foods and soft drinks.
A child who regularly consumes soft drinks and junk foods is a child
who is not biologically prepared to learn.
We can address this problem in several ways, but some of the more
obvious starting points are to ban all junk food vending machines in
public schools, outlaw all advertising of junk foods to children
(including television, magazines, and retail merchandising), and
start educating parents on the fundamentals of nutrition so that
they can make informed choices about what to feed their children.
Ultimately, in an advanced civilization, the production,
distribution and marketing of ingredients like high-fructose corn
syrup, refined white flour, refined white sugar, hydrogenated oils,
aspartame, sodium nitrite and other metabolic disruptors would be
These substances have no place in a society
of intelligent, healthy human beings.
In conclusion, advances in super-learning hold tremendous promise
for uplifting our civilization, but only if we are biologically
prepared for learning (good nutrition).
Until the technology arrives, group
learning, total immersion learning, and fundamental improvements in
health education can deliver great improvements over the current
system of teaching and learning.
You probably noticed that
nanotechnology isn’t on the top 10 list.
This is no oversight. Nanotech isn’t on
the list because nanotechnology isn’t a specific technology in the
first place. The term “nanotechnology” has been so distorted by the
popular press and researchers who add “nano” to their projects in
order to get funding that, today, it essentially means “anything
that’s really tiny.”
Makers of artificial joints drill tiny holes into the surface of the
joint structures and call it nanotechnology.
Why? The holes are nano. Makers of pants
that resist stains claim to use nanotechnology, too: pant fibers are
coated with “nano whiskers” which are, essentially, tiny cloth
fibers. Sunscreen makers claim to be using nanotechnology, too. By
producing sunscreen lotion particles smaller than ever, the easier
it can be dispersed on the skin and block UV rays.
These are just three of the many examples where manufacturers are
jumping on the nanotech bandwagon with items that fundamentally have
nothing to do with the original definition of nanotechnology. Based
on the examples above, a household blender is a nanotech device,
because it can blend foods into very tiny particles.
This isn’t to say that these innovations aren’t useful. They are.
But they’re not nanotech. Yet the hype surrounding nanotechnology
has reached insane proportions.
When I was a kid, a friend and I created an imaginary pet dog named
Super Mutt. Super Mutt was an all-purpose companion who could
perform miracles. He could not only mow the lawn, he could actually
take shape as an apparent clone of one of us and go to school for
us. When our cars ran out of gasoline, we could just stuff Super
Mutt into the gas tank and use him as fuel. Super Mutt could do
anything we wanted.
Nanotechnology is the world’s Super Mutt. Anything you can dream up,
somebody will tell you that nanotechnology can do it, regardless of
its merit. Need to clean up all that nuclear power plant radiation?
No problem: nanotech robots will reconfigure the materials so they
don’t radiate. Is your body’s immune system failing? No problem:
little tiny robots will be your immune system for you.
Concerned about global warming? Don’t
fret. Airborne nano-robots will process the atmosphere and make sure
the greenhouse effect never kicks in.
The popular press stories about nanotechnology are filled with such
promises. Nanotechnology has become, essentially, the scientific
community’s Moses. Need a miracle? Call Nanotech Moses.
The upshot of all this is that expectations about nanotechnology are
off the charts. People expect it to work miracles. The same hype was
once observed about ceramics or even superconductors, but neither
panned out. The dot-com Internet hype didn’t pan out, either.
Nanotechnology will be no different.
Beyond the issues already mentioned here, there are other problems
with the concept of nanotech that I’d like to point out:
Everything is nano: The physical world around us is made up of
molecular building blocks. Nature is already nano. As human beings,
the vast majority of our biological processes operate at the nano
level. Everything is already nano, and has been for a long time.
Saying that things are suddenly nano and
using the term “nanotechnology” is akin to saying that things are
made up of matter and claiming to be working on pioneering “matter
technology.” Well of course!
Big on hype and government funding: If you’re a researcher seeking a
government grant, just add the word “nano” to your project and your
odds of receiving funding quadruple. Dropping the word
“nanotechnology” into your research, no matter how irrelevant the
concept may really be, is a great way to make your work sound
important and advanced. I’ve seen many examples of this nanotech
hype in the scientific community. All of a sudden, there’s nano
That isn’t because researchers changed
their research focus, it’s largely because they attached the word
“nanotechnology” to their pet projects. Today, there’s a lot of
money being thrown at nano-sounding projects that aren’t
nanotechnology at all.
Nanotech may fuel the next big stock market bubble: The discussions
about nanotechnology in the mainstream today seem eerily similar to
those about the Internet in the mid 1990’s.
Everybody’s excited, everybody wants to
get on board as investors, and yet nobody has demonstrated a working
application of hard-core nanotechnology (nano machines) that would
actually generate revenues and improve peoples’ lives. Nano is
shaping up to be the catalyst for the next big stock market boom and
subsequent crash (like the dot-com crash). It is seriously
Nanotechnology in medicine is a sham: One of the most frequently
mentioned areas of nanotechnology is in medicine, where researchers
promise that an army of millions of nanotech robots will travel
through the bodies of medical patients and repair cells, destroy
tumors, rebuild damaged tissue, and perform other medical miracles.
These researchers forget that the body
already has its own nanotechnology that does all this and more! It’s
called the immune system and the best way to improve the quality of
life for most people, in terms of health, would be to support their
own natural healing abilities.
Injecting a swarm of tiny robots into
their bloodstream - which is precisely what is being proposed by
medical nanotech pioneers - is a fundamentally flawed medical
strategy that assumes scientists know how to heal people better than
the body itself.
The true answers to improved health and
quality of life are to be found in nutrition, physical exercise,
avoidance of disease-causing foods, and a wholesale shift away from
pharmaceuticals and Western medicine. Nanotechnology is not a
promising solution for health and healing, but it is a great way to
rack up funding grants and, someday, charge patients hundreds of
thousands of dollars for complex-sounding treatments.
But remember, the body already has its
own nanotechnology, and it’s far superior to anything the human mind
can come up with.
Nanotechnology poses a potential danger to humans: One of the few
areas in nanotechnology actually completing research and producing
results is the study of the toxicity of nanotech particles.
Experiments headed by Gunter
Oberdurster, Ph.D., professor of Toxicology in Environmental
Medicine and director of the University of Rochester’s EPA
Particulate Matter Center recently revealed that inhaled nano-sized
particles end up in the lungs and brains of rats.
In other studies, nano-particles have
been shown to cause extensive brain damage in fish and to disrupt
normal liver function. If humans were exposed to such nano-particles,
we would very likely start seeing increases in brain disorders or
perhaps even cellular malfunctions throughout the body.
Nano-particles are so small that they can work their way into the
mitochondria (the “power plants” of our cells).
The long-term health impact of exposure
to these particles is clearly being shown to be very negative.