The Future Today

 
 

Ever wondered what a world full of hover cars would be like? Caitríona Farrell analyses the prospective tecnological advancements of the future

In the words of one of the twenty-first century’s best scientific minds, Stephen Hawking: “It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem, but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward.”

Whenever advances in science and technology are announced, the conclusions are often followed by phrases like: “this technology is still ten years away” or “we will have to wait five years to see results”. Did you ever wonder, did the results obtained after those agonising few years conflict with these scientists’ hypotheses?

On top of that, was the perfect idealised outcome actually reached at the end of those five years? Were their hopes and predictions for the project realised and ultimately, was the time worth the wait?

A controversial scientific leap forward within recent history was cloning. Candid cloning dates back to 1997 in Scotland.The first case of cloning was performed on Dolly the sheep. Dolly was an exact genetic replica of her mother.

Scientists have spent a long time trying to extend the scope of the research of cloning to humans. This flurry of ideas and excitement enables them to ponder what could be achieved to benefit humankind through the manipulation of the human genome.

Back in 1997, it was thought that by the year 2010, cloning would be helping to create a new and perhaps better generation of humans. As you might now realise, unless we have a major breakthrough between now and Christmas, you won’t be receiving your very own clone under the tree in three months time.

This is an example of a technology which promised unimaginable results, but has not yet delivered. Perhaps this is not to do with faults in the theories and technology, but due to the moralistic and religious debates which can stunt scientific progress.

What can be amazing about scientific predictions though is how little they can sometimes realise the scope of what they encompass.  Accidental discovery is a cornerstone of scientific progress. Research by Alexander Fleming into bread mould led to the discovery of antibiotics.

Examples of up-and-coming technologies that should be ready before 2025, include the digital home and algae biofuels. The digital home is still ten years off schedule.

Algae biofules were still ten years away, according to Shell, at the end of November 2009. There has been a spark of interest in producing fuel from algae since the middle of the last century. The US Department of Energy have carried out pioneering research on this alternative, environmentally-friendly fuel from 1978 to 1996, nearly a fifth of a century project.

Interestingly enough, your very own artificial pancreas should be ready by 2015, which may get to you before the development of algae fuels. Emotional robot pets are another fascinating arena of technology once again, nowhere near completion, but something that has been promised for years. As time elapses, people’s expectations only grow in anticipation of such proposals.

Scientists, inventors, engineers and all the people involved in breakthrough technologies find it profoundly difficulty to meet its ever-growing demands. Robot development takes a lot of time and with a consumer cycle being so short on certain products, scientists can be forced to act quickly.

An invention in development that has baffled people for years is the hover car, which is an almost impossible fantasy in the eyes of the ordinary person.  Apparently, the hover car is the future. Just not the near future.

Driving a car in thin air will probably become common place one day. We’ll hopefully all receive our chance to experience some of the exhilarating thrills Harry Potter has experienced with the wave of a wand.  Hover cars could be the transportation of tomorrow, but don’t take this literally. It will most definitely be a few tomorrows down the line before this invention makes its way to the market.

Who knows where science will be in five, ten or even twenty years? Scientists often claim to know, but only time will tell if they are correct. It is said that patience is a virtue, but the long haul can be agonising.

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