New Technology: Etched in Glass
Well, I’ve received a bunch of responses to my request for your goal-setting stories. If you haven’t sent anything in yet, you can do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll print some of those stories, plus any others you send, in Pursuit of Happiness next week.
One of the themes I’ve focused on in recent weeks is overseas living and retirement. Clearly I’m not alone in thinking about that as several emails have shown it’s on others’ minds too.
As it happens, it’s also something my old pal Nick Hubble has focused on in his retirement newsletter, the Money for Life Letter. In a recent issue he revealed ‘The Overlooked Retirement Tax Haven on Australia’s Back Doorstep’.
All I can say is it’s got me thinking. Check it out.
But in today’s Pursuit of Happiness, I’ve got something a bit different for you…
I get pretty sick and tired when I hear environmentalists and trendies going on about how terrible humans are…that humans have one aim in mind — to destroy the earth.
Of course, it’s rubbish. The human race is the most successful and smartest life form in the long history of the world.
So I don’t want to hear that dolphins are smart or that chimpanzees have 98% of DNA in common with humans. All that tells me is that the other 2% is pretty darn important.
Come back to me when a chimp can go into space…OK, bad example…come back to me when the animal kingdom creates the kind of technology created by humans over the past 1,000 years.
However, I will admit something. When it comes to technology on most days I’m an all-embracing technology lover. But every now and then, the cave man inside me just screams to get out…
Don’t Watch the Sun Rise on TV
As you may know, I don’t own a mobile phone.
I mean that. It’s not that I have one but rarely use it…or that I’ve got one but it’s not a fancy smart phone. When I say I don’t own a mobile phone I mean, I don’t own a mobile phone.
I think it has been three years since I had one. I first got rid of it because I didn’t use it.
But as time has passed I’ve grown to…well…despise the widespread presence of mobile phones.
I hate how you can’t walk safely down the street without the risk of the top of someone’s head attacking you as they stare, fingers dancing, playing or texting on their mobile phone.
I hate how the mobile phone has become a conduit to all human interaction. I caught the train last week to catch up with an old trader buddy for lunch.
Two people got on the train somewhere around Chelsea or Aspendale. For the entire 30-odd minute trip to Flinders Street, their conversation revolved around their mobile phones.
‘Did you just see that email?’ ‘Did you see what Jim wrote on his Facebook page?’ Tap, tap, tap…
It all reminds me of this Michael Leunig cartoon. It’s the one of the father and child watching the sun rise on TV rather than looking through the window to watch the sun rise.
The attitude seems to be that unless something happens on TV it doesn’t exist, and unless you have a mobile phone in your hand you can’t talk to anyone.
Anyway, that’s my cave man attitude to technology. But I can justify it. In my opinion, technology is at its best when it improves lives and enhances rather than reduces human interaction…
Not Quite a Cave Man
But I’m not a complete cave man.
As I wrote in the October issue of Australian Small-Cap Investigator:
‘In two generations, you’ll see a huge change in the way you watch TV, movies, sports, and even interact with other people.
‘Of course, some of that change has already happened. In 1996 you were lucky if you had one device at home connected to the internet. And even then it was a slow 28Kbps or 56Kbps modem.
‘That’s how it was in my household 16 years ago.
‘Contrast that to today. I’m writing this report from my home study, on a laptop computer. That’s next to the desktop computer…
‘There’s my wife’s work laptop computer and her Apple iPhone. We’ve got an iPad each. I’ve got a Kindle. Plus, our two daughters have a laptop and iPod each…
‘Finally, our eldest daughter has a school-provided netbook computer.
‘All up, that makes 12 devices. Each connects to the internet using a cable or wireless modem.’
It’s amazing how quickly things change. Since I wrote that last October, we’ve added another school laptop and three Kindles to the list…that makes 16 internet-enabled devices in our home!
To be honest, it’s hard to see that number increasing. But who knows? It seems that almost every new appliance or anything containing electronics has internet capability — fridges, TVs, cars, game consoles, and more.
The fact is there’s no point being a modern-day Luddite…going around trashing and sabotaging technology and machinery.
Because despite my dislike of mobile phones (actually, I don’t dislike the phones, rather, I dislike the way people use them) I understand the wonder of technological advances and how it can improve lives and society…
Etched in Glass
I’ve been interested in technology for years. But not in the way that it interests most people.
For instance, I’m not interested in video games, I couldn’t dismantle a PC and put it back together again, and I wouldn’t know a piece of computer code from a barcode.
What attracts me to technology is its usefulness…the experiments, and trial and error performed by scientists, technicians, innovators and entrepreneurs.
I love innovations like this reported in the New Scientist:
‘Two men walk onto a darkened stage carrying a thick slab of transparent plastic. They hold it up and Mark Pauly shines a torch through it. The audience gasps in surprise: on the screen at the back of the stage is an image of computer pioneer Alan Turing, every thread of his tweed jacket picked out clearly in light and shade.’
Just to make it clear, if you looked at the slab of plastic by itself, you wouldn’t be able to see an image. But if you shine a light source at it and reflect the image on a wall, you would see a perfectly formed image…in this case mathematician and scientist, Alan Turing.
So, how does it work and what’s the practical use of it?
Put simply, the idea is to shape an image into the surface of the clear plastic or glass. The contours on the plastic or glass then create an image when reflected on to a surface. You can see this in the image below:
You can see the hand holding the piece of plastic and the reflection behind.
Practically, according to the article, this technology could be used for:
‘…all kinds of optical and lighting technologies, from smarter car headlights to improved lithographic manufacturing, as well as new forms of art, toys or security devices on credit cards. It might even be possible to control caustic images in real time, creating a new generation of high-contrast projection systems. The way we see the world is about to change.’
That last bit may or may not be true.
But as you would have seen with so many new technologies, it’s pretty hard to predict in advance what will make it and what won’t.
Anything But the Phone
So who knows what will happen to this new technology — a new technology by the way, that uses caustics, which cause the shimmering dancing reflections seen at the bottom of swimming pools. Crazy huh!
It may all come to nought.
But what if it doesn’t? What if some PhD’d scientist can come up with a way to create, invent or discover something that could have a long lasting and positive effect on the human race?
It’s a nice idea and we hope it happens.
I just have one wish — that it’s used for something better than improving the quality or functionality of mobile phones!
PS. Don’t forget to check out my latest thoughts on my personal Google+ page.
From the Port Phillip Publishing Library
Daily Reckoning: Shock Monetary Therapy: Should You Cut Back Your Exposure to Gold?
Money Morning: The Poster-Child for the US Shale Gas Revolution
Pursuit of Happiness: My Goals Now I’m 64