We are living through an amazing time in human history. The advent of the microprocessor itself matches the greatest inventions of any single human lifetime in history, yet we are on the cusp of so much more – thanks in large measure to the computational advances afforded by the microprocessor.
In our time we are witnessing nanotechnology that is gaining us command over physical elements like never before. The applications of matter control on the atomic level are limitless.
Yet we are in store for more. Two recent advances have captured my imagination more than cumulative worth of every science fiction movie I have ever seen.
Just last month scientists at the CERN facility in Switzerland again confirmed that the subatomic particles known as neutrinos have travelled faster than light. This finding undoes Einstein’s special theory of relativity and really, all that we know about physics. Without irony scientists are talking about the possibility of sending information back in time. I wish I understood this or had the capacity to offer any analysis beyond a dumbfound “wow.”
The other mind-blowing development is the creation by the most recent Nobel laureates in physics of graphene. Apparently, scientists theorized about graphene as early as the 1940’s. The once impossible dream is now being realized.
By re-ordering graphite and carbon atoms scientists have engineered a material that is 200 times stronger than structural steel. A sheet of graphene is ultra-thin, very flexible, and stronger than anything else. The money quote, from James Hone of Columbia University is, “”It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.”
Imagine thin, lightweight clothing for the military that would basically make conventional weapons obsolete. Imagine building materials that would revolutionize construction, flight, space travel, and more. As if a bonus graphene is also remarkably conductive. IBM has already created a transistor that runs computations four times faster than the fastest silicon-based transistor that exists.
This is all well outside my field of knowledge, but the most amazing thing is that modern science is now moving rapidly beyond my field of imagination.