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You know you're in the future when...


efaardvark
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An electrical/automotive engineering guy by the name of Charles Kettering once said, "My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there."  What's it going to be like?  Flying cars?  Mars colonies?  Directed-energy weapons for the military?  (Or Fedex, see below.)  I thought I'd create a topic for news and chat about the future.  Whether you're thinking it'll be dystopic or boring or utopic or whatever, share your thoughts.  Just one rule: keep it real.  Mild speculation is ok but talk about actual events or scientific/engineering know-how is preferred.

I'll start things off with this news item..

Fedex is asking the US Federal Aviation Administration for permission to install anti-missile lasers on their airplanes.
 
How'd you like to be the guy at the FAA who opened the envelope containing that request?  "Um.. Boss, how do we handle this one?"  :D
 
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This is a simple one, but how we went from Automobiles being a RARE thing to own, to now having Teslas that SELF DRIVE. Considering this, we went from simple to -- where do I begin?
Cars nowadays are so advanced, they have their own COMPUTERS inside. Which is not surprising. Another thing...is when the self-driving cars can look around their surroundings and tell you when to stop, or make their own stop, it's amazing. Cars being able to detect the outside world now, is really more advanced than we think...considering how we went from this in only 129 years. Which might seem long, but from the Industrialization period to now, it's really not. 

 

That's my little take on this :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting opener at the Oshkosh fly-in.  This isn't the only one either... there's also Lilium, joby, and others.  Aircars are definitely here.  Too bad we don't also have an ATC system that would allow millions of these sorts of things to safely share the airspace!

 

 

On 1/15/2022 at 3:58 PM, deaaath said:

considering how we went from this in only 129 years

Imagine where electric cars will be after 129 years of the same level of development as internal combustion have had.

Actually, electric motors are already better than combustion motors across the board.  They're far more efficient, easier to control, have a flat torque curve, and are much easier to engineer into a vehicle.  The real problem there - engineering-wise - is the battery technology.  There's a huge amount of energy transfer that takes place during your typical gas station fill-up of your gasoline-powered car.  In physics energy is typically represented in Joules, or equivalently kilowatt-hours.  There's about 120MJoules or 33kWh in 1 gallon of gasoline.  A 10-gallon gas tank can therefore hold around 330kWh of energy.  Even the long-range version of the Model S "Plaid" Tesla only has a capacity of 95kWh and takes 15 minutes to charge to 80% even at Tesla Supercharger charging rates.  (That it can nevertheless deliver 1080HP and 1.99s 0-60 times due to the electric motors is amazing.)  It is only because ICEs are so immensely wasteful in the use of energy compared to electric motors that EV's have been able to overcome the huge disadvantage of having to use batteries as their "gas tank".  If battery technology (and our electrical infrastructure) ever gets to the point where batteries can "fill up" - charge - at the same rate (~350kWh in 5 minutes) as gasoline-powered cars then it's game-over for ICEs.  Not just in cars either.  Airplanes and even naval ships will also switch.

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42 minutes ago, efaardvark said:

Actually, electric motors are already better than combustion motors across the board.  They're far more efficient, easier to control, have a flat torque curve, and are much easier to engineer into a vehicle.  The real problem there - engineering-wise - is the battery technology.  There's a huge amount of energy transfer that takes place during your typical gas station fill-up of your gasoline-powered car.  In physics energy is typically represented in Joules, or equivalently kilowatt-hours.  There's about 120MJoules or 33kWh in 1 gallon of gasoline.  A 10-gallon gas tank can therefore hold around 330kWh of energy.  Even the long-range version of the Model S "Plaid" Tesla only has a capacity of 95kWh and takes 15 minutes to charge to 80% even at Tesla Supercharger charging rates.  (That it can nevertheless deliver 1080HP and 1.99s 0-60 times due to the electric motors is amazing.)  It is only because ICEs are so immensely wasteful in the use of energy compared to electric motors that EV's have been able to overcome the huge disadvantage of having to use batteries as their "gas tank".  If battery technology (and our electrical infrastructure) ever gets to the point where batteries can "fill up" - charge - at the same rate (~350kWh in 5 minutes) as gasoline-powered cars then it's game-over for ICEs.  Not just in cars either.  Airplanes and even naval ships will also switch.

MY MAN!!! You know your stuff...are you...perhaps a car person too? :P

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5 minutes ago, deaaath said:

perhaps a car person too

Not really.  Cars are just transportation to me.  I do know basic physics however.  I'm an electrical engineer by training, with a career spent doing software engineering and data processing for rockets and space exploration.

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Dude, that is a awesome career to have, I wonder how many years of schooling it took to get where you are now 😅

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28 minutes ago, deaaath said:

how many years of schooling it took

Tough to answer.  Guess it kind of depends on how you define "schooling".  These days everything "needs" a degree but technically I never finished college.  I had 2 years towards an EE degree when I took a summer job changing reel-to-reel tapes - this was back in the 80s - on the data processing system for Voyager's Neptune encounter.  It was work a trained monkey could have done but my boss liked my work ethic so he made me an offer after the encounter.  The pay was decent and hey, NASA, so of course I accepted.  At the time I was thinking I'd save for a couple years then go back and finish the degree in style.  In addition to the EE stuff I'd already had personal experience in C programming on my home computer (68k-based Amiga 3000) and when Commodore went out of business I'd compiled a (Net)BSD kernel for that hardware so when they started building out the (then) newfangled, unix-based, "multimission" data processing systems at work using SunOS and Sparcstations I naturally moved over to that as well.  I've been more or less following that track ever since.  Along the way I learned Perl, Motif, and absorbed a bunch of other unix-isms while writing and maintaining monitor and control software for the downlink data processing systems.  Never made financial sense - to me or my bossess - to pay for the degree and 2yo knowledge from a classroom when I could hold my own learning cutting-edge stuff on the job playing with NASA systems.  3+ decades later I'm a data processing systems engineer looking to retire.

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YKYITFW you see a monkey playing pong telepathically via Neuralink.  (Or would the term be telekinetically?)

 

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On 2/7/2022 at 10:44 PM, efaardvark said:

YKYITFW you see a monkey playing pong telepathically via Neuralink.  (Or would the term be telekinetically?)

 

Wait what?! 

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This isn't exactly new news but I just came across this video of Falcon Heavy boosters coming back down for a landing.  As god and Heinlein intended.  :D  I could watch this all day.

 

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It probibly depends on age and perspective. When I was a kid, Windows hadn't been invented yet, we used DOS. and we had atari games that read off cassette tapes.

There are several points in my life that I thought we were in the future, and those things now being obsolete - DVDs being a big one. (Though they aren't completely obsolete, but yeah.) MP3 players (I'd still rather have an actual MP3 player than just use my phone)

I think another good example is, me and my ex from Germany. Not only could we call each other every day (The second half of our relationship, once I got a smart phone) and do video calls, but the fact that we could play games online together. That was always great technology to me. We take it for granted now, but when I was a kid that would have been a crazy idea.

In 1996, Jim Carrey did The Cable Guy which most people hated (But I liked) but at one point (Or twice actually) He gave a speech that is creepy how accurate it became.

 

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2 hours ago, Takatofan1986 said:

It probibly depends on age and perspective. When I was a kid, Windows hadn't been invented yet, we used DOS. and we had atari games that read off cassette tapes.

There are several points in my life that I thought we were in the future, and those things now being obsolete - DVDs being a big one. (Though they aren't completely obsolete, but yeah.) MP3 players (I'd still rather have an actual MP3 player than just use my phone)

 

I know what you mean. I remember DOS and loading Atari games from tape.. Beep..beep..beep.. 20 minutes later ...beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep........LOAD ERROR!!   Now we can load programs in seconds. 

CD's and DVD's seemed a really hi-tech step forward when they came out, actually I still prefer having a physical CD or DVD to play or alternatively an MP3 or MP4 to play rather than stream something of the 'Net.  But what really made me think we were in the future happened at the start of the Lockdowns in 2020 when we all discovered Zoom. WOW! I could see and talk to 20 people in real time.  No fancy and expensive studio facilities required, just a device that had a camera, screen and Internet access.

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25 minutes ago, Animedragon said:

what really made me think we were in the future happened at the start of the Lockdowns in 2020 when we all discovered Zoom. WOW! I could see and talk to 20 people in real time.

The real behind-the-scenes hero there was broadly-deployed megabit broadband.  I too remember 300-baud modems and tape storage.  A small part of my mind still boggles when I see a multi-GB Steam download finish in a minute or two.

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1 hour ago, PogFrog said:

Smartphones are more advanced than ever...like little computers..

Someone once told me that the smartphone I have in my pocket has more processing power than the computer that guided Eagle, Apollo 11's lander, onto the Moon.

I don't know how true that is.

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15 hours ago, Animedragon said:

Someone once told me that the smartphone I have in my pocket has more processing power than the computer that guided Eagle, Apollo 11's lander, onto the Moon.

I don't know how true that is.

Quite true.  The computer on the Apollo 11's LEM - the AGC or Apollo Guidance Computer - had 2k words of memory, or about 4kbytes.  It had 32kilo-words of non-volatile storage, which in those days was magnetic core memory.  The single-core CPU ran at 1.0 megahertz.  That's 0.001Ghz in modern verbiage.  It was huge compared to a smartphone.  It also took relatively huge amounts of power.  It had only the most rudimentary user interface. 

A more modern smartphone CPU like the 4-core snapdragon 801 runs at 2.5Ghz.  That's what powered the 2015-vintage Galaxy S5, which I happen to remember the specs on because I was shopping for one at the time.  The S5 also had 2GB of RAM and either 16 or 32GB of storage.  Plus a micro SD card slot that could take up to a 128GB SD card.

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1 hour ago, efaardvark said:

Quite true.  The computer on the Apollo 11's LEM - the AGC or Apollo Guidance Computer - had 2k words of memory, or about 4kbytes.  It had 32kilo-words of non-volatile storage, which in those days was magnetic core memory.  The single-core CPU ran at 1.0 megahertz.  That's 0.001Ghz in modern verbiage.  It was huge compared to a smartphone.  It also took relatively huge amounts of power.  It had only the most rudimentary user interface. 

A more modern smartphone CPU like the 4-core snapdragon 801 runs at 2.5Ghz.  That's what powered the 2015-vintage Galaxy S5, which I happen to remember the specs on because I was shopping for one at the time.  The S5 also had 2GB of RAM and either 16 or 32GB of storage.  Plus a micro SD card slot that could take up to a 128GB SD card.

Thanks for that information.  With the level of computer technology they had It makes me realise what an amazing achievement the Apollo landings were. 

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  • 1 month later...

Tesla's AI day 2022 announcement was interesting.  The robot they showed has made huge advancements since last year.  Its only competition is probably Boston Dynamics.  BD's is still more physically capable and robust, though Tesla's is already quite capable itself, hardware wise, even if it is only just recently capable of walking.  When I look at it I see an experimental platform so It is kind of hard to speculate on what the final product might actually be like.  However, it has the most advanced engineering crew in the world behind it, including Tesla's Dojo research, gigafactorys-worth of battery technology and production know-how, and Tesla's power storage and management expertise from their cars and their home power systems.  To me the engineering talent arrayed behind it is at least as impressive as the actual hardware displayed.  Actually more impressive the more I think about it.  I can hardly wait to see what they come up with over the next year.

 

 

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skip the video's intro
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I wonder when we'll colonize Mars. Already by the 2030s and 2040s they're planning on sending astronauts there, so naturally colonizing it seems like the step beyond that. There's already been ideas put forth to terraform Mars using conventional methods, but it'd still take a long time. I just can't remember if it was a bacteria strain or some type of durable plant hybrid. I wonder if I'll be around for it. I look forward to seeing them launch the rockets carrying the astronauts to Mars, but colonizing it might be beyond my lifetime.

On a side note: the fact that we're giving over so much control to AI systems honestly makes me nervous. It seems like a slippery slope we could get too complacent on, and fall off of. I don't know if I'm just being paranoid or what though, but it just makes me really nervous with how much control AI is given, even these days.

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Looking at some food traveller videos, i've noticed a lot of robotic machines making people's food, coffee, drinks..etc, pretty well - and It's quite amazing! Although, they do sometimes need assistance from humans - as the machines are liable to get an order wrong...so...in other cases, it's innovative, but we are decently far from a robot apocalypse 😁

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A

1 hour ago, PogFrog said:

Looking at some food traveller videos, i've noticed a lot of robotic machines making people's food, coffee, drinks..etc, pretty well - and It's quite amazing! Although, they do sometimes need assistance from humans - as the machines are liable to get an order wrong...so...in other cases, it's innovative, but we are decently far from a robot apocalypse 😁

Ah, yes. I remember the hot drink vending machines. You pressed loads of buttons to choose your drink and then waited to see if what it supplied was what you'd asked for and was drinkable. 😲

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