Issue 106 / July - August 2015
What Waits in the Future?
Scientific advances have gained major momentum in the last century; many of the things seen in science-fiction movies in the past have become ordinary things today. High technology products like supersonic planes, mobile phones, satellite communication systems, and super computers are now regular parts of our lives. New inventions pave the way for scientific advancement and the emergence of new technological products. We are living in an age in which a target is hit remotely by a rocket fired from thousands of miles; where humans control surveillance satellites from incredible distances; these inventions have changed how we define distance and privacy.
Today, there are many new fields of study, such as research on high energy and particle physics which led to the discovery of subatomic particles. Many researchers work to reveal the properties and behaviors of atomic and molecular level structures. Studies on nanotechnology, biotechnology, cybernetics, and bionics have led to advanced robot technologies; research on genetics and diverse medical fields are increasingly important.
Now, let us make some predictions on developments in these fields.
The advancements in this field not only support the developments in other sciences, but also lead them. In the future, following the launch of biologic and organic processors, leaps will occur in the processing speed of information and their re-use capacity. It is estimated that super-fast quantum computers will be manufactured within 20-25 years. High-end networks which provide large amounts of data transfer will increase the information flow. Information technologies will be effective in all fields of life as a result of fast, facilitated access to information and communication; wireless communications will be more common. All kinds of information will be comfortably and quickly accessed with a small device. Holographic TV, and three or four dimensional video imaging systems will be produced; movies will provide a realistic spatial sharing experience to the audience. Electronic devices operated with vocal commands and the mind will be manufactured; software capable of translating speeches into languages of interest will be more widespread.
Nanotechnology is the science of attempting molecular designs at a scale of one billionth of a meter and making functional structures from these designs. With the manipulation of atoms and molecules, the production of Nanotubes that are absent in nature, along with nano-electrical circuits and sensors, is now possible; with the synthesis of Nanofibers, the production of multifunctional new materials is also possible.
These can make waterproof and stain-proof dyes that change color. Textiles, electronics, clothing, and merchandise can be manufactured from multifunctional materials featuring thermal, mechanic, acoustic, and opto-electronic properties; they will be utilized in all avenues of life. With the integration of multifunctional detectors and solar cells on fibers, electricity-generating solar clothes can be designed that regulate their own heat and provide humans with their daily energy demands.
High efficiency illumination systems and light sources that are able to convert almost 100% of the energy they absorb into light can be developed with the development of opto-electronic devices. The use of new technologies like solar energy, nuclear energy, and hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles and other operations requiring energy will be more widespread. Recyclable Borohydride as an important hydrogen source and acceptor which can be put to use as a very light and inexpensive fuel reserve.
The manufacture of high efficiency motors and machinery will be possible through a reduction of friction, but also with the invention of motors running on magnetic forces. Through these and other developments, a considerable amount of fuel will be saved and energy conservation will become a reality. Advanced smart robots capable of communication with humans and imitating human behaviors will fill in for the majority of daily tasks for humans; they will complete jobs in places too risky for human life.
Material transportation, teletransportation, interdimensional shortcuts and the bended space-time continuum are already among frequent themes of science fiction. Even some theologians consider the story of the Prophet Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and the instant transportation of her throne as a sign that these miracles can one day be realized.
Various breakthroughs in genetics may lead to cures for some illnesses. Once the functions of genetic code are illuminated completely, the way genes affect the developmental stages of an organism starting from the embryological phases will be apparent, and this will enable the necessary regulatory genetic interventions and genetic alterations during the development of an organism. Cloning may just be the beginning.
The yield in agriculture will increase as a result of biotechnological developments. It will be possible to grow disease-resistant vegetables and fruits big enough to feed many people. The range of acceptable climates for growing will also be expanded. Referring to the bounty and abundance that would be obtained, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is recorded to have spoken of pomegranates that are as big as to provide shade for one person, and that there would be giant wheat grains," which may relate to increased harvests and abundance, and may also point to the enhancement of fruits and plants by gene modification in the future.
New combinations may be formed with modifications of the genetic code of organisms. Not only new viruses and bacteria can be made possible via genetic intervention, but genetically different plant and animal species can also be generated. It is also possible that while working on the enhancement of the human genetic makeup through genetic editing, strange creatures in the form of humans may be born. Certain people or organizations with ill intentions may try to propagate such organisms to benefit their interests. Among the essential principles in scientific studies is the belief that new developments should benefit humanity, conserve the true nature of organisms and species, and must be aimed to preserve species from extinction and genetic anomalies.
Currently, artificial organs can be used to replace vital organs, except the brain. With developments in gene transfer and stem cell therapy, it will be possible to develop and produce artificial organs and bionic limbs, thus eliminating the lengthy time patients endure waiting for organ donations. There are great expectations from stem cell therapy in terms of curing certain cancer types and damages to the neural system and heart.
Upon elucidation of brain function maps, certain basic brain tasks can be executed through devices ÔÇô not to mention the probability of motivating humans with injections of certain materials, in addition to the transfer of limited knowledge by lodging microchips into the brain.
The advancements in nanotechnology and biotechnology may instigate certain people to be deluded with power. On the other hand, since humans cannot create anything out of absolute absence, they can also not destroy what has been created already. In fact, the works of humans constitute only the replication and application of natural patterns into technology after learning the effective laws and principles found in the existence. The technologies that scientists discover and develop in large laboratories established with extensive budgets in fact are exhibited already within the existing structures in the universe.
Science can only be a means for materialistic welfare and eternal happiness if developed and implemented wisely. Otherwise, science may as well cause humankind to doom itself with the accessed technology and developed weapons.