Science! Science Fiction That Stopped Being Fiction In 2012

Have you guys seen this list of 27 things that made the transition from science fiction to reality in 2012? I mean, they aren’t part of everyday reality just yet. But that’s okay. Some of these were big news for everyone (James Cameron’s adventure to the ocean depths, the discovery of the Higgs boson), but I had not heard about a few of these.

The short version of the list? Mentally controlling a robotic arm, robots crossing an obstacle course, silk that is stronger than steel, DNA photographed, invisibility cloaks, spray-on skin, reaching the depths of the ocean, stem cells may extend human life significantly (it worked on mice), 3D printer prints a house, legalized self-driving cars (in a few states; they’re just thinking ahead, really), Voyager I leaves the solar system, a human mandible was printed and given to a patient (as in, it’s part of his body and it works, now), rogue planet found floating through space, monkeys created from more than one embryo, artificial leaves that generate electricity, the Higgs boson discovered, inexpensive solar panels, diamond planet, optical implant to restore sight, Wales recorded the DNA of every flowering plant in Wales, an unmanned commercial flight docked with the International Space-Station, flexible glass, robotic exoskeletons (for NASA), human brain’s practical functions are observed, a planet with four suns, and Microsoft patented real-world virtual reality for games.

So, that’s just the list. You should really read the actual list and look at the pictures (and videos) and read the descriptions. So worth it.

But, for me, there were some definitely highlights. Um, stem cells dramatically extending human life. Obviously, “dramatically extending” is not the same thing as immortality. But, if this treatment is available and affordable within, say, three decades, then that gives me a very good chance of living long enough to, well, never die. This treatment does not confer immortality, but we all know that it’s …4

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Banana-Based Sanitary Pads – and Their Female Inventor – Win Top Design Prize

photo of old-fashioned sanitary pads pictures

Elizabeth Scharpf of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) has this week been announced as the winner of the annual Curry Stone Design Prize – an award which each year grants $100,000 to a designer who has made a significant global and social impact with their work. Scharpf was awarded the prize at Google HQ in New York City earlier this week.

Scharpf, and SHE, work with organized networks of women to manufacture and sell banana leaf-based sanitary pads in Rwanda.

Millions of girls and women in developing countries miss up to 50 days of work or school each year because they do not have access to affordable sanitary protection when they menstruate. Currently girls and women in this setting have two options –turning to international sanitary protection brands which are extremely costly, or using rags which, when combined with a lack of clean water, are unhygienic and ineffective.

Women in developing countries are vital to the well-being of their families and communities and it is important that they have access …

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Would You Breathe Easier in an Emergency Bra?

Photo of Dr. Bodnar Receiving Ig Nobel Award for Emergency Bra

All right, I’ve totally got to stop saying, “I’ve seen it all now.” Yup, just when I think there is nothing stranger in the world … well, something stranger comes up. Consider the so-called “Emergency Bra”, a dual titsling and respirator (yes, I’m freaking serious), the latest in a long line of things that have just rendered me speechless.

From Fox News:

Dr. Elena Bodnar won an Ignoble Award for the invention last year, an annual tribute to scientific research that on the surface seems goofy but is often surprisingly practical. And now Bodnar has brought the eBra to the public; purchase one online for just $29.95.

“The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage. Luckily, the wonderful design of the bra is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Bra enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow,” explains the eBra website.

Yup, this is an odd one. Definitely a shoo-in for the “Ignoble Award” as Fox News defines it, but …

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