What are some new technological advances on the horizon?
November 10, 2013 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I recently heard about Jack Andraka and his project involving carbon nanotubes and how it's so seemingly simple but also so revolutionary and something that older and wiser scientists weren't able to figure out. I also saw this high school student on Conan who had come up with a way to greatly prolong battery life in cell phones. So, along those lines, where could I learn more about these kinds of innovations (besides talk shows...)? I'm not too plugged into the science/tech world, and I'm more interested in tech. If there are any particularly exciting topics, please feel free to share, as well. Thanks!
posted by shipsthatburn to Technology (13 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

Good site about developments in many fields.
posted by PickeringPete at 12:22 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by WhitenoisE at 12:51 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would check out either MIT's Tech Review or IEEE Spectrum magazines for more big-picture reporting on science/engineering innovations.
posted by scalespace at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2013

A subscription to New Scientist or Scientific American, perhaps? And back when I used to read Slashdot, their technology section often reported on interesting developments that had reached the prototype/publication stage.

As to particular topics -- if your interest spans everything from cancer tests to battery technology improvements, it's hard to pick any one thing! I think that even if you restricted yourself just to the world of cancer research, you could read about an interesting new technology or development every day of your life for the foreseeable future. Really fundamental breakthroughs are less frequent, of course.

One technology that interests me at the moment is Elon Musk's hyperloop. The basic concept is decades old, and Musk's re-imagining of it was announced back in July, but last week it began to seem that it actually has a chance of being built. If it proves successful, it could spur a major shift in long-distance transport in the long term.
posted by pont at 1:23 PM on November 10, 2013

Quasi-lay site with stories on a variety of sub-genres:


They sometimes abbreviate WAY too much, but still, it covers a lot of area. THey do name names and sometimes have citation links and such. I think it's good for what you seek.
posted by FauxScot at 1:32 PM on November 10, 2013

Jack Andraka applied an existing technique used for breast and prostate cancers to pancreatic cancer. People like to push this narrative that a 15-year-old did something revolutionary that other scientists couldn't figure out but it's not true.

I like the news section of Nature. They don't really dumb anything down, which I see as a big plus.
posted by grouse at 1:36 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Manned spaceflight is in the middle of a big transition from something that only a few governments can do into something that private industry does a fairly routine basis. It's unlikely to ever be really cheap just due to the energy costs but spending a few days or a week in orbit is probably going to be within the stretch budget of middle-class people within two or three decades. I think it will be "affordable" in the same sense as flying the Concorde used to be, or going on a big international vacation, or something like that. It's not cheap, but if it's important you'll figure out a way to make it happen. Think $20,000 or so in today's dollars, as opposed to $1mil. Keep your eyes on SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. They've both got the desire, skill, and financial ability to make it happen.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 1:47 PM on November 10, 2013

Science News is written to a high school reading level, and emerging technology is only one of the topics that it covers, but I'll suggest it because it is a quick read.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:57 PM on November 10, 2013

'A bit of humor and grace', a recent post noted:
I fucking love science
posted by LonnieK at 3:57 PM on November 10, 2013

Seconding the MIT Technology Review, great source of news from people who can contextualise scientific and technical work so that you actually know what is and what is not a significant breakthrough.
posted by atrazine at 3:34 AM on November 11, 2013

Regarding Jack Andraka, some reviews on a draft of Jack Andraka's paper can be found in "Why biotech whiz kid Jack Andraka is not on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list". Discussion on MetaFilter.
posted by grouse at 11:41 AM on January 8, 2014

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