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Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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Hologram technology finally advances to Blade Runner levels

Get ready for images projected in mid-air to start appearing in the next few years. 

Still from Blade Runner: 2049

According to pop culture, weren't there supposed to be more holograms by now? The 1970s and '80s were full of holographic wishes. Back to the Future II told us that we'd have holographic movie trailers. A major Star Wars plot point involved a holographic Princess Leia. Even erstwhile cartoon pop star Jem's backup band was called The Holograms. But in the 30+ years that your correspondent here has been alive — with the exception of a quasi-holographic Tupac Shakur at Coachella 2012 — we've been stuck with either tacky 2D holograms or projections onto gauze.


Until now. Brigham Young University is developing a technology called an Optical Trap Display that will allow projected object to exist in real space. To do so, the base releases a tiny opaque particle into the air and moves the particle in a predetermined path, illuminating it with a laser. If the particle moves faster than a certain speed, it gives the illusion of a solid object. If you speed the particle up even further, it creates the illusion of movement. >Still confused? Me too, and I'm the guy writing this. One easy way to visualize this process is to think about how a 3D printer scans an object and "draws" the outline. Try to imagine a single opaque particle doing all the work, and you have the basic idea behind the technology.

Image c/o Nature Journal

The good news? The tech is a lot more affordable than the elaborate set-up that bankrupted the Tupac hologram technology. The bad news? Right now, Brigham Young's holograms are about as big as your fingernail, according to Gizmodo.

This is still incredible news for futurists. Once this OTD technology progresses, perhaps we'll be able to see Blade Runner: 2049-style projections right on time in 2049.

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.

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Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

A truck pulls out of a large Walmart regional distribution center on June 6, 2019 in Washington, Utah.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
  • Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
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Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.

A girl and her mother take an afternoon nap in bed.

Personal Growth
  • We spend 40 percent of our childhoods asleep, a time for cognitive growth and development.
  • A recent study found an association between irregular sleep patterns in childhood and either psychotic experiences or borderline personality disorder during teenage years.
  • The researchers hope their findings can help identify at-risk youth to improve early intervention.
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