Category Archives: sci fi Friday

Sci Fi Friday: 3 Cool Future Identification Technologies

 

Face Recognition - Enhancing security in public places Copyright 2005 BAE Systems DSEI goodAA045744[1]There are certain technologies that are ubiquitous in future stories. Flying cars. Laser guns. And identification technology.

It’s hard to imagine fingerprint dusting in the 22nd century. Instead, crime investigations may be “dusting” for DNA. And forget about a mere iris scanner to gain entry to that above top-secret lab. Instead you may have to pass the sniff test.

Good luck trying to fake someone else’s scent.

Here are three super cool, super futuristic identification technologies that I read about recently on LiveScience and provide some cool inspiration for futuristic sci-fi stories:

1. BODY ODOR

dog noseYou read the correctly. Apparently, each person has a unique odor. That’s an “of course” to dogs. Companies are working to catch up to dog tech by finding ways to identify our unique smell signature.

But don’t worry about having a computer sniff you yet. Although researchers have attained a recognition rate of better than 85%, the technology is still in the research stages.

2. HEART BEATS

nymi-hero

While I can see the “sniff test” being used at border crossings and airports, this one seems more like the kind of thing we’ll use every day. A Toronto company called Bionym is developing a bracelet called Nymi that uses your heartbeat for digital identification. Each of us has a unique pattern of electrical activity in our heart. Who knew? The bracelet reads ECG (electrocardiogram) waveforms to identify the wearer.

But here’s where this one gets super spiffy. The Nymi bracelet can them communicate via Bluetooth to our devices. It seems that the possibilities there are endless. No need for a password or even a finger scan to log in to your computer. Just wear the bracelet and it could seamlessly connect the wearer to their devices. But why stop there? How about your car? A hotel room? Bank deposit box? 

And this one isn’t just theoretical. You can order this device from Bionym now and it will ship next year.

3. VEINS

This one is even more strange than the others. And a bit creepy too. Apparently we not only have unique fingerprints, odors, and heartbeats, we also have unique vein patterns. This sounds like it’s straight from a sci-fi movie, but it’s actually a technology being branded as BiyoWallet (originally called PulseWallet). Imagine waving your palm over a machine that scans your veins. Once you’ve introduced yourself to the machine, the device would automatically deduct payment owed to the merchant from your account. Good-bye credit and debit cards. Sounds like one of the more promising technologies to prevent identity theft related to credit/debit card use.
Until some evil genius finds a way to counterfeit our veins! (Just wait – you know it will happen 😉
Do you think we’ll see widespread use of any of these technologies in the near future? Do you embrace these technologies? Or do they scare you? What one would you like to use the most?

Sci Fi Friday: When Art and Science Meet It’s a Beautiful Thing

If you’ve been reading my blog on Fridays, then you may have surmised that I frequently geek out over scientific discoveries. Whether its news about a new technology for space travel or the latest from CERN, I can’t resist a headline that hints at a cool discovery. 
 
This week I was blown away by this elegant idea from Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde. Roosegaarde’s team has conceptualized interactive highways and parks that remove smog. But this latest idea is where art meets science.
 
Here’s the pitch: What happens when you take the biology that produces bioluminescence and merge it with plants? Think algae street lamps that store energy from photosynthesis to generate light at night. But Roosegaarde’s team takes it one step further.
 
Roosegaarde’s team, inspired by deep water jellyfish, imagined bio luminescent trees. Check out this video as Daan Roosegaarde explains the concept. Imagine, a street lined with trees instead of street lamps.
How cool is that? Imagine a landscape lit at night by glowing trees. My sci fi imagine is spinning …
 
What other applications can you imagine for bio luminescent biology?

Sci Fi Friday: Alien Structures on Mars and a Man on the Moon?!

For this SciFi Friday, a bit of fun with moon shadows (cue up Van Morrison). 

Remember the face on Mars?


Face on Mars, 1976
The internet swarmed with stories of an alien race having built the structure.

NASA denied that the image was what it appeared to be. They said it was a trick of light and shadows. They have proffered this more recent photo taken by the Mars Global Surveyor camera in April, 2001. 



Of course it would be nice to see it pulled back from the terrain a bit so we can compare surrounding landscape. I looked for one that was equivalent to the top photo but couldn’t find one. If any of you find it, can you leave a link in the comments below?

So we have alleged faces, pyramids and cities on Mars. Now there’s a literal man on the moon! Or maybe it’s an alien.
What do you think? Is this a shadow playing tricks on our mind? Is it a complete fabrication/hoax? Or is it possible that there’s a being on the moon that just happened to get caught on film by a satellite?

Sci Fi Friday: Newtonian Rap, Neil deGrasse Tyson and a Giveaway!

On Fridays I usually post a story culled from the news about technology that sounds sci fi but isn’t. But today I have to pass along this bit of sciencey silliness. Each time I watch this it makes me chortle. I especially like the Neil deGrasse Tyson assist toward the end. Enjoy!
So who do you think won? If I reach ten comments on this post, I’ll give away a digital copy of one of my book’s to one of the commenters (picked randomly). So if you want to win a book, include your e-mail address in your comment so I can e-mail the winner 🙂

Manic Monday: What’s Up Natalie?

I’m not sure if I actually have any regular faithful readers of this blog who read what I post here. Or if the thousands of “hits” each month are bots.  But I’m writing this post in faith that there are some actual human beings who read what I write here.

So if you are a human being reading this and if you have read my blog for a while, you may have noticed that over the past year or so (*scratches head and says “Has it really been that long?”*) I have been inconsistent in posting. Yeah, I’ve posted Writer Wednesday spotlights of other writers. Sure, there have been some Sci Fi Friday posts. And yes, there have been posts about my most recent release (Emily’s Heart).

But when is the last time I wrote a Manic Monday post? I can’t remember.

Anyway, I have reasons (numerous) that I’ve been lax in my blogging. Some are lame, like feeling like since no one comments much on my blog that I may in fact be visited solely by Internet bots rather than real people so what’s the point in writing? Or that I was busy – blah, blah, blah.

But mainly I’ve been lax with my blogging because I’ve been dealing with some heavy shit in my life.

“What kind of heavy shit?” you ask.

First, there was my retirement from the practice of law in June of last year. You may be thinking that such an event should have freed up time for me to blog my brains out. And that’s logical.  But in truth, saying good-bye to my profession was a major life-change event which I’d wanted for sooooo long and was glad for but when it actually happened sort of took me by surprise at being sad about it. In recent years I had worked (very) part-time at being a lawyer and had stopped taking litigation cases so I wasn’t in court. It had become a small part of my life taking third seat to being a mom (always first) and my writing. But still, it had been a major part of my life – and my identity – for over twenty years (saying that makes me feel fucking old).

My very wise husband who knows me sometimes too well warned me. “Give yourself six months, Natalie.” I rolled my eyes and let his words of wisdom go in one ear and out the other (as I do too frequently). “Whatever,” I thought. 

Guess what happened? He was right. (Don’t you hate it when your mate is right?) It indeed took me about six months to fully release the old job and identity and to get into a new routine and be okay with the whole thing. It was like for the second half of last year, I’d get up and get my kid off to school then sit at my desk and play at being a writer, all the while feeling guilty that I wasn’t really “working” or having anxiety that somehow I was neglecting some serious shit that needed done, and then feeling worse because I was feeling down about retiring to write full-time when so many writers I know don’t have the opportunity to do that though they want to, so get over yourself all ready and be fucking happy! I wasn’t happy and then felt guilty about not being happy.

But wait, there was more. And this is the heavy stuff that as I writer I feel I should be writing about and talking about but mainly I want to just ignore it and hope it goes away. At the end of the summer last year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

For the fifth time.

And it’s bad. Really bad. Like the oncologist using the word “palliative chemo” kind of bad.

As if that weren’t heavy enough, on the heels of us finding out about my mom’s cancer, my dad had a stroke. He has been in and out (mostly in) a nursing home ever since. He’s alive, but extremely diminished.

My mom is only 73. My dad 76.

They aren’t that old. And I’ve had to face the fact over the past six months that it is more likely than not that neither of my parents will make it to the age of 80. In fact, it is quite possible that one of them will be gone before the end of the year.

I just typed that without crying. For months I could not have.

The story of my mom’s cancer is actually one of hope and of sort-of miracles and of human strength and endurance. It’s a story of pain and relationships and love and family. It’s a story that could educate others with the BRCA1 gene (my mom is BRCA1 positive). It’s a story that many may relate to and find interest in.

But I’m not able to write it. At least not now.

When I first found out my mom’s dire diagnosis, my writer friends said “write about it.” It was good advice. And I tried.

Some people can wrest poetry from pain. I’m not one of them.

Grief shuts me down. Sorrow makes me withdraw to the within. And try as I might to exorcise it through words, it does not work.

I was able to complete my third novel and maybe I did channel some of my pain into the prose. Emily’s Heart is, after all, an Apocalyptic story that tends to the darker side of things. But *spoiler alert* the end is a happy one and I was stuck for months last year, unable to wrest that happy ending out of myself because I did not feel happy. The fact that it finally came out of me at all is a sort of small miracle that I can’t explain.

Over the past nine months or so, my writing was filled mainly with anger and angst, heartache and unhappiness.

So I spared you all of that and kept my blog a cancer and sickness-free zone. 

The good news is that as this year progresses, I’m feeling more and more able to write without it being filled with misery. The shadowy veil of sad feelings is lifting and I’m more focused on the here and now – on the living – than on things past.

I’m in the mood to celebrate. I wrote three books!! Can I hear a woot, woot?! I completed a whole series (The Akasha Chronicles). *Does happy dance*

I am an incredibly blessed person to be able to devote my working hours full-time to doing what I love to do. I get to write the stories that fill my head. And I get to go out to book events and meet readers and chat story with them (one of my absolute favorite pastimes).

I have a wonderful daughter, husband and three furry critters that I share my house and life with. And I am alive, and this is no small miracle.

So as I move with more hope and optimism than I’ve had in a while into the middle of this year, here is what’s coming on my blog and in my writing:

Natalie Wright, Manic Monday
1. Manic Monday will return! I don’t promise that I’ll have a Manic Monday post every week, but I am feeling the itch to speak my *manic* mind so stay tuned for my rants, ravings, musings and Monday weirdness.

2. Writer Wednesday is here to stay. In the past, I have devoted Wednesdays to featuring other writers and occasionally to posting writing tips. Both of those things will continue to happen on Wednesdays. (If you are a writer and would like to be featured on my Writer Wednesday, please shoot me an e-mail to NatWritesYA (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll speak of it).

But I also have a new feature that I’ll add to Writer Wednesday in upcoming weeks that will appeal to writers of all makes, models and types – and will get the writerly conversation going.

3. Sci Fi Friday continues. For any of you paying attention, you may have noticed my new Friday feature, Sci Fi Friday. These posts are about scientific discoveries that I come across that strike me as having science fiction implications. I also reserve that time to review science fiction books or movies, OR generally to post anything science of science fiction related.

H.A.L.F., by
Natalie Wright
Arrives Spring, 2015
I’ll continue to devote Fridays to all things science and sci fi as I gear up to release the first book of my next series, H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series. While my last series was (mainly) fantasy, I’ll be writing science fiction (mostly) for the foreseeable future AND science stuff fascinates me. So if you, too, enjoy hearing about science fact that seems more like science fiction, then make sure you hang out with me on Fridays to discuss new technology and scientific discoveries. 

So that’s what’s up with Natalie. What’s up with you? Drop me a line in the comments below or you can reach me by e-mail at NatWritesYA (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you for reading to the end 🙂

Sci Fi Friday: Our God Complex Gone Wild: Man-Made DNA

Human beings seem hard-wired to tinker with the natural world in an attempt to mold it to our will. We domesticated animals. We hybridized plants. We mine the Earth and in the process tear down mountains and create a new terrain.

The genetic code may be the final frontier of man’s exploration of, and manipulation of, the Earth’s biology. It may also be the scariest frontier.

Whether you believe that an almighty, all-knowing god created us, or that human life is a beautiful accident of millions of years of evolution, the genetic code that makes it all possible is design perfection. Just four chemicals bond into two pairs that form the basis for all life on this planet. 

So why do we feel the need to tinker with it? Maybe the answer is this: because we can.

Geneticists have been dicing and splicing DNA for quite a while now. But the idea of creating artificial DNA? Many scientists said it could not be done.

But it has been done. On May 7, 2014, The Wall Street Journal ran a story with this headline: “Artificial DNA Breakthrough Could Lead to New Treatments.” The report stated that, “Researchers for the first time created microbes containing artificial DNA, expanding the universal genetic code that guides life.” The scientists created two additions to the normal genetic code and prompted bacteria to incorporate the new man-made DNA with “few ill effects.”

The story contained this graphic:



Is it just my fiction-wired writer brain or does this technology scare anyone else? I mean GMOs are frightening enough and clones are creepy. But this is the kind of stuff that fuels a sci fi writer’s wet dreams of freaky, dystopian, futuristic fiction. Imagine the implications for these bionic bacteria to find their way out of the lab and into the wider world. Or maybe the technology advances to the point that scientists tinker with human DNA and create a new species, one that is perhaps stronger, smarter and better than us in every way. 

Does this freak anyone else out? What implications do you see in this technology? 

Sci Fi Friday: Closer to the Jetson Life – Flying Cars!

At last, one of the great inventions from creative science fiction minds is getting ever closer to reality. Who doesn’t want a flying car?
Terrafugia announced the TF-X, a flying car that would not need a runway and can fit in a standard-sized garage. Oh, and it’s a hybrid. What’s not to love?
I remember reading about flying cars in Weekly Reader back in elementary school. They “promised” us flying cars by the year 2000!
I’m still waiting.
This is one of those inventions that could be a true life changer for a lot of people. Say goodbye to two hour commutes. Business trips would become a breeze.
But my guess is that even if this type of machine hits the market, the price will be out of budget for even most upper middle class folks.
A girl can dream…
What about you? Do you long for a flying car? Or is there some other science fiction invention that you’re hoping will become a science reality?

SciFi Friday: From Science Fiction to Science Fact – Prosthetics That Can Feel

Science fiction fans love robots, cyborgs, humans that are part machine and machines that act like humans. While Six Million Dollar Man prosthetics are still the stuff of fiction, scientists inch ever closer toward the dream of prosthetic devices that are adequate replacements for a lost body part.

Silvestro Micera, a neural engineer at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne in Switzerland, led the team that developed a new prosthetic device that they call the “bionic hand.” Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the man in the video that tested the hand for the team. This new technology relies on touch sensors that are connected to electrodes that have been surgically embedded in the nerves of the man’s upper arm.
While this is a long way from being available to amputees, it’s an amazing breakthrough for an amputee to be able to feel again with fingers that he no longer has.

What science fiction invention would you most like to see become science fact?

*Story via Livescience.com.