Immersive technology will revolutionize everything from theme parks to daily life

Virtual reality continues to blur the line between the physical and the digital, and it will change our lives forever.

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  • Extended reality technologies — which include virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality — have long captivated the public imagination, but have yet to become mainstream.
  • Extended reality technologies are quickly becoming better and cheaper, suggesting they may soon become part of daily life.
  • Over the long term, these technologies may usher in the "mirror world" — a digital layer "map" that lies atop the physical world and enables us to interact with internet-based technologies more seamlessly than ever.
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How a “flying circus” gave us the first aerial maps of Earth

Thomas Baldwin's Airopaidia (1786) includes the earliest sketches of the earth from a balloon.

Credit: Internet Archive / Public domain.
  • In the 1780s, as humanity mastered flight, a "balloon craze" swept across the world.
  • Thomas Baldwin had just one sky-trip, but he wrote an entire book about it — Airopaidia.
  • At times lyrical and technical, the curious volume also includes the world's first aerial maps.
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Textiles: Humanity’s early tech boom

How fabric helped build modern civilization.

  • Virginia Postrel, author of "The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World," describes how the pursuit of textiles has led to a vast variety of innovations throughout history. Notably, the launch of the Industrial Revolution started with the machines that mechanized the spinning of thread.
  • The term luddite, which has now come to mean "people who have [an] ideological opposition to technology," started with textiles. The original Luddites of the 19th century were weavers who rioted when they began losing their jobs to power looms.
  • Postrel states that human beings throughout the world and across history independently discovered different processes for creating cloth. She goes on to say that "weaving is something that is deeply mathematical… It seems to be this kind of human activity that's thinking in ones and zeros that's anticipating our modern computer age."
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Sorry, the EmDrive doesn’t work

The EmDrive turns out to be the "um..." drive after all, as a new study dubs any previous encouraging EmDrive results "false positives."

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  • The proposed EmDrive captured the public's imagination with the promise of super-fast space travel that broke the laws of physics.
  • Some researchers have detected thrusts from the EmDrive that seemed to prove its validity as a technology.
  • A new, authoritative study says, no, those results were just "false positives."
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U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
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