Why virtual reality is necessary on a planet of 11 billion

Virtual reality is more than a trick. It's a solution to big problems.

  • According to projections shared by the UN, Earth's population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050. By the year 2100, that number could increase to 11 billion. Virtual reality will be necessary to reduce the waste of such a large population in industries like transport, retail, and manufacturing.
  • As an existing technology, there is a lot that virtual reality can do: rich and immersive environments, heightened storytelling, emotionally resonant experiences, and increased productivity in retail. But it's only in its infancy.
  • As the world's population continues to grow, the technology will need to evolve to facilitate a larger network of users, and developers will have to think harder about the technological potential and the ethical, neurological, and emotional side effects.

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Why great thinkers balance optimism and pessimism

Leaning too far in either direction is a recipe for stagnation and perhaps even failure.

  • When it comes to thinking about the future, is it best to assume the best or the worst? Like with most things, it's actually a little column A and a little column B. This video features theoretical physicists, futurists, sociologists, and mavericks explaining the pros and cons of both.
  • "In the long term optimists decide the future," argues Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick for Wired and the magazine's founding executive editor. "It's the optimist who create all of the things that are going to be most important in our life." Kelly adds that, while every car runs on an optimistic engine, "you certainly need breaks to steer it."
  • Finding a balance between the optimism that fuels innovation and a grounded pessimism is the key to a better future.

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3 wonders of the universe, explained

Astronomer Michelle Thaller schools us on what atoms really look, the Big Bang theory, and the speed of light.

  • Most people have seen atoms illustrated in textbooks and know about the Big Bang and the speed of light, but there is a good chance what you think you know is not scientifically accurate.
  • Michelle Thaller, an astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication at NASA, is here to clear up the misconceptions and explain why atoms don't actually look that way, why the Big Bang is a misnomer, and why the speed of light is more than just really fast.
  • Is there an edge of space? Does light experience time? Watch this video for answers to those and other interesting questions.

Stories from space! 4 astronauts share their adventures

Firsthand accounts of what it's really like to go to and come back from space.

  • Being able to call yourself a former astronaut is a distinction that not many people on Earth have. Studying or reading about space from the ground is one thing, but getting to experience it firsthand is to join the universe's most exclusive club.
  • This video brings together the voices of former astronauts Garrett Reisman, Chris Hadfield, Ron Garan, and Leland Melvin as they each share a personal anecdote about what they saw, felt, and learned during their training and their time in space.
  • From Reisman's memories of seeing Earth's atmosphere from above for the first time, to Hadfield's extensive camera photography training, these space stories offer unique insights into a cool and very complex profession.
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Mars colony: Humanity's greatest quest

Just how close are we to setting up camp on another planet? It's complicated.

  • We are closer than ever to actually putting human beings on Mars, but exactly how close is very much still up for debate. Getting there is one thing, and we eventually may not have a choice, but there are a number of problems that need to be solved before our species can call the Red Planet home.
  • In this video, former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, educator Bill Nye, science journalist Stephen Petranek, astronomer Michelle Thaller, and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku consider mankind's fascination with Mars and explain why the planet may be the most viable option for colonization. They also share difficult truths about what it will take for this expensive dream to become a reality.
  • From finding a way to protect against radiation and adjusting to the difference in atmospheric pressure, to mining for ice and transporting food, to significantly lowering the cost of space travel, it certainly won't be easy. But that doesn't mean that it's not worth doing. As Leland Melvin says, the spirit of exploration and curiosity is in our DNA.

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