Mankind has always tried to push the boundaries on what is considered possible when it comes to science, technology, and engineering. Over the past few decades, many new technologies have been unlocked, technologies that many people thought to be impossible, even insane. Some of these technologies include medicine, architecture, and electronic devices. If you would have mentioned these things to individuals 50 years ago, they would have never believed you. Today they are a part of everyday life.
I first got the idea to write about pushing the boundaries on science, technology, and engineering when I read the July/August 2016 issue of Popular Science. It was there that I read an article about Insane Ideas. Some of these ideas include restoring fertility in women with cancer by 3D printing prosthetic ovaries, a medical surgery to transplant faces, and sending a robot to the moon to self-replicate and build solar panels so humans can decrease their use of fossil fuels on Earth. As I was reading I realized that some of these ideas were extreme, but weren't all new ideas out there? And, just because they may be extreme, it does not mean that they will never work. So, I looked at some of our current technologies and and some that are soon to be released and realized that they too were once extreme ideas that we could only dream of seeing.
Some new, yet, insane ideas that we are starting to see include...
3D bioprinting – The process of creating and printing a cell pattern while preserving cell function. This technology can be used to print tissues and organs for drug testing, to regenerate ligaments and joints, and eventually to print artificial bones for reconstructive surgery.
Quantum dots – Nanoscale particles that differ in properties based on their size. Quantum dots grow very fast but, in order to control their size, they must be quickly cooled in order to stop their growth. The size of the particles, large to small, represent the following colors under UV light; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Quantum dots were once an insane idea but they are now seen in televisions and projectors. Scientists hope to one day use quantum dots in the medical industry to design a laser scalpel.
Metal foam – A cellular structure consisting of a solid metal with gas-filled pores comprising a large portion of the volume. Metal foam is not yet used commercially but scientists hope to one day be able to use metal foam architecturally and to even build space colonies and floating cities.
Domed city – This was first seen in science fiction but in the 1960’s and ‘70’s the domed city was actually discussed as becoming a reality. After much thought and consideration, it has been decided that the first domed city is to be built in the Mall of the World in Dubai within the next few years. The domed city is supposed to be climate controlled.
Albert Einstein once said, "For an idea that does not first seem insane, there is no hope." It is because of those individuals that have the creativity to develop insane ideas that we live in the world that we do. So, let's celebrate those insane ideas and continue to push the boundaries of science, technology, and engineering.
Until Next Time,