I Was Promised a Jetpack! And Nuclear Fusion!

There's a great article over on Wired explaining why we keep getting promised all this awesome sci-fi technology--jetpacks,  quantum computing, lasers, invisibility cloaks--but never seem to actually get any of it.  Here are a few choice examples, but definitely head over and read the whole thing.

What's the piece of high technology you guys would most like to see happen? For me it's all about fusion power. How awesome would that be? Clean, plentiful and super science fictiony. I want it!

Food in a Pill

 "It turns out that a food pill, while the essence of convenience, would violate the laws of physics. The average person needs to ingest around 2,000 calories a day. Carbohydrates and proteins provide about 4 calories per gram; fat provides about 9 calories per gram. If you put 2,000 calories’ worth of fat into pill form — the most efficient way to do it — you’d need to pop roughly half a pound of pills a day"

Laser Guns

"Chemical lasers, long the Pentagon’s favorite form of death ray, can generate titanically powerful beams, but you have to mix loads of dangerous substances to generate lots of energy, and that makes them potentially more dangerous to our own soldiers than to our adversaries. Solid-state electric lasers are smaller, easier to operate, and can fire more shots — but are much less potent. Only in the past year have prototypes delivered a weapons-grade 100 kilowatts of power — but the hardware is so bulky it takes a 747 to house it"

Fusion Power

"The trick to harnessing the phenomenon for peaceful purposes is to keep it contained — and, of course, to make sure the reaction produces more energy than it consumes. Physicists have declared imminent victory several times since the early 1950s, using such “bottles” as magnetic fields, lasers, and sound waves to contain ionized gases (also known as plasmas). But the most promising methods have invariably disappointed over the long run. “The problem is that plasmas are really creative at getting out of the bottle,” says Barrett Rogers, a Dartmouth College physics professor who focuses on fusion. “Their behavior is so complex and varied that it’s hard to invent a really effective bottle.”


"There are lots of excuses for why we don’t have jetpacks. For example, you’re always hearing about how they need to be “controllable” and “stable.” Or that they cost thousands of dollars but hold only 40 seconds of fuel, which isn’t even enough to get you to safe parachute height. And that you can’t use stronger fuels without the risk of “burning off your legs.” Sometimes people point out how useless they are, calling them “unicycles in the sky, except at least you can juggle on a unicycle and it doesn’t send you into a telephone wire at 70 miles per hour.”


"Professional robot maker Colin Angle has some disappointing news for you: Don’t expect to get your own wisecracking C-3PO anytime soon. “There’s no good business model for a robot servant,” says Angle, cofounder of iRobot, which makes military bots and the Roomba vacuum. The problem: Nobody wants to pay massive amounts of cash for the androids we are capable of making today. The truth is that almost any task can be done more cheaply and efficiently by (a) other humans or (b) inexpensive, single-purpose intelligent appliances that have more in common with a blender than Rosie the maid. That’s why we already have bots that build cars, defuse bombs, and clean gutters, but none that make conversation and dinner at the same time. "

Again, the whole thing is here and don't forget to hit us up in the comments with your picks!


Matthew Rush said...

I thought Dan Brown already figured out the Fusion/Anti-Matter problem. Didn't he?

Cherie Reich said...

I'm still waiting for my flying car I was promised while watched The Jetsons.

Bittersweet Fountain said...

According to Back to the Future II, we will have flying cars and hoverboards in 2015. I've wanted a hoverboard my entire life, and I'm going to be really disappointed if 2015 rolls around and hoverboards don't hit the shelves.

Gertie said...

Teleportation, please!

Nathalie said...

The whole 'food in a pill' idea just doesn't sound appealing. Jet packs would require better air space control, which would require more taxes. And for now, I'm okay withut a roboservant...I have kids. ;)

Angie Smibert said...

How 'bout some good ole space travel? Outside near Earth orbit, that is. Mars! Or at least a cool space station ala 2001?

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm still waiting for the replicator. I got all kinds of excited when I saw a food printer at the museum, but then it turned out just to make something like sushi wraps.

I hate fish.

:) The truth is the coolest tech will sneak up and bite us when we least expect it. :)

Julia Karr said...

I did see something in the news recently about an invisibility cloak! http://www.howstuffworks.com/invisibility-cloak.htm

I want one - NOW! Although, I don't really have a need for one... so, uh... yeah... heh heh heh....