In the Year 2000

{Published in 2004}

The year 2000, like every year in our living memory, has brought us wondrous new ideas and inventions. However, in a span of mere Springtime, several notable advances have taken place, almost completely unreported by the media, that are serious benchmarks in the advancement of human civilization.

These three things alone I am proud to have happened in my lifetime, let alone a few short months.

(1) The first complete mapping of the Human Genome. Entire fields of study are now officially off the theoretical lsit and in serious research and development, such as genomics and bioinformatics.

We’re not only talking about identifying the specific mechanisms of hereditary illnesses. We’re talking about the ability to create an entire pharmaceutical process based on “designer drugs” custom made for an individuals body chemistry.

Bad side? Genetic warfare, where chemicals can be made to target people based on genetic (racial) traits. Except in these last few years since then, we discovered there’s almost no such thing as “racial” traits. Whew!

The future? Removal of congenital illnesses before birth. Custom-ordered children and genetically “enhanced” humans (a mixed blessing and moral questionability).

(2) The invention of the Optical Processor. Information processed within a computer at the speed of light, using light waves instead of eletrical impulses over a conductive metal. Beats the <heck> out of the old 233 Mhz (or so) I started with back in 1996.

Bad side? It will become commerically available, but will be obsolete when quantum computers come around in the next generation or so. But optical RAM will come still in handy.

The future? Along with quantum processing (which is on the verge of no longer being theoretical as we speak – seriously), the home computer of my great-grandchildren will be able to do more than any machine can do today, even the supercomputer banks used by the big boys. And when you open an application, MAYBE you finally wont have to wait for it to open. It just will. And we all want to see Windows boot up like a light switch.

(3) Repeatability in Breaking the Speed of Light. You heard me. They did it once, and repeated the experiemnt in another lab. The shocker? The accelerated particle hit the target chronologically BEFORE it was fired, by a fraction of a millisecond.

Bad side? Re-writing physics books, or at least fighting endlessesly over the implications of time travel, yadda, yadda…

The future? No idea, but God broke a few rules if you take Einstein to be Gospel. Maybe the future will necessitate a whole new generation of philosopher-scientists, much as happend at the birth of Relativity vs. Quantum Mechanics almost four generations ago.

Addendum {2004}, from Quantum’s Next Leap:

At a late-January meeting in a Marriott off the Washington beltway in Falls Church, Va., the Defense Department’s main technology-research arm floated a proposal as nearly 100 scientists listened. They’d come from Boeing, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and other companies; from the Army, the Navy, and NASA; and from leading universities to hear a proposal for accelerating efforts to build a computer that theoretically could exist inside a coffee cup.

Within the next several months, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which will spend more than $2.8 billion this year on research and development for the Pentagon, is expected to launch a multimillion-dollar program to kick-start U.S. research in quantum computing, an esoteric area of inquiry under way at government labs, universities, and companies such as AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Microsoft. These supercomputers–built according to the strange laws of quantum physics, often operating at temperatures nearing absolute zero, and occupying spaces that can resemble a vial of liquid more than an electronic box–theoretically could perform within seconds calculations that take today’s machines hours and solve in hours problems that might require centuries if run on state-of-the-art silicon.

Addendum {2010}:

William Volterman commented in 2005, with similar challenges over the years regarding breaking the speed of light:

I dont know where you got your info about beating the speed of light but i can tell you this… if it sounds to good to be true it is… and that experiment even if it were true doesnt show what was claimed…

but back to the point… scientists often want to make a name for themselves… and not all scientists are equal

Apparently, the experiments I referred to remained obscure and are not accepted by mainstream scientists. In an email last year to a friend across the pond, I wrote …

I can’t find reference to the original experiments in France, but it may be related to this: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/generalscience/faster_than_c_000719.html

The results are questionable, and conclusions possibly wrong. My point was if they were correct, it would make sense to me.

So there you have it … or don’t quite have it rather. I stand corrected.

But it was still a good year.

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