Engineering 100 Years From Now
It’s hard to envision what the next hundred years will bring when a person looks back over the last century. Innovations in communication, transportation, architecture, electronics and the medical field have far surpassed the dreams of even the most gifted minds. Nobody has a crystal ball when it comes to seeing what the future holds, but there is plenty of speculation.
Driverless cars are more than just a dream nowadays. As of May 2015, they are being tested on California roadways. Although, the software technology needed to make the dream a reality on a grand scale around the world is a ways off, it is believed that sometime in the next few decades they will become commonplace around the world as the software needed for them to operate is fine-tuned.
What if roadways, bridges and other infrastructure could repair itself from cracks, crumbling and natural deterioration? At the lab at the Advanced Civil Engineering Materials Research Laboratory (ACE-MRL) at the University of Michigan engineer Victor Li and his staff have invented a new composite concrete like material that is laced with microfibers that bend without breaking. Any time it rains, small hairline cracks in the composite will repair themselves automatically as the calcium ions in the mixture react and create a self-healing patch.
Nanoparticles are already being employed in clinical tests to effectively deliver doses of chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells. By delivering the highly toxic drugs to the tumor’s cells, the toxins bypass healthy tissue in the body which helps to significantly reduce the adverse side effects of chemotherapy.
Synthetic meats will replace animal meat as the food source of choice for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Tests are already underway to create an entirely vegetable steak that will make the T-bone a distant memory.
Libraries will become a thing of the past. Books will be entirely digitized.
Entire computers will fit into something the size of a sugar cube. No more large desktops. Wires will also no longer be needed to power or charge computers. The computers will charge from the heat of the Earth.
Wide Scale Fish Farming
As the world’s oceans become more and more contaminated, people often shy away from wild caught fish. Domestic fish farming on a large scale will start to become the norm and obliterate ocean fishing.
Stars Will Be Within Reach
With current technology, space exploration is very limited because stars are located so far away, but experiments are underway to create an ion engine that will reach some of the furthest stars quickly, which will open up space travel to distant planets.
Sensors will be implanted in people to monitor their overall health and body weight. The tiny sensors can help catch abnormalities such as cancer cells or heart disease early. The sensors may also make physically going to the doctor a thing of the past. People will be able to consult with their physician about their physical condition virtually or on the phone. No more invasive tests for early detection of often lethal diseases.
The next 100 years of engineering breakthroughs may be hard for most people to fathom right now, but there’s no question that the dreams of today will become the realities of tomorrow.
Photo Credit: Army Medicine