Invisibility Cloaks, Ray Guns and Other Science Fiction Staples Come to Life

Friday, May 15, 2009

As you read this article, try to consider that at one point in the past, several scientists tested a nuclear bomb not knowing as to whether or not it would ignite the atmosphere and kill all living things on Earth. Now - fortunately for us- that didn't happen, but who's to say that one day we won't flip a switch and find ourselves fighting off a robot takeover or combating telekinetic terrorists - as far as I'm concerned, it's only a matter of time.

Listed below are some of the scariest new inventions that will one day turn on us.
Mind Games

Telekinesis has long been a fantasy of nerdy grade school kids everywhere. The idea that you can manipulate a physical object solely with the power of your mind is an intrinsically awesome concept, and though it may be impossible to affect a physical object with just your brain, a new type of technology has already allowed people to control electronic computers telepathically.

Brain-computer interfaces (BCI's) are a new kind of technology that will soon allow you to control video games just using the power of your brain. By attaching electroencephalogram sensors to the scalp, the BCI reads your brain waves and is able to detect patterns and process the information. This means that if you look at a ball on a screen and imagine picking up the ball, the computer will process that action.

However, scientists have already begun to express their concern that this same process can theoretically be reversed to make the computer control you. And if that doesn't sound like an awesome science fiction movie, then I don't know what does.

Caution: Limited Visibility Continuing the trend of sci-fi technologies, a new technology is nearing completion at several major universities that will actually allow you to walk around invisible. Dubbed the "Invisibility Cloak," this amazing invention uses a groundbreaking material called a "metamaterial" which uses its unique physical properties to bend light and reflect it back on the other side of the garment. The end result is an effect that scarily mirrors an actual invisibility cloak, as seen in movies such as Harry Potter.

But don't be too worried about people using it to walk past security and break into banks- as it is, the device seems more like a gimmick than a real invisibility cloak. However, it's a gimmick that's becoming eerily close to being a reality.

Silent but Deadly The Silent Guardian is the newest horrific piece of technology to emerge from our bloated military-industrial complex. This scary device uses rays (yes, as in ray-gun rays) to stimulate our nerve-endings and create the sensation of intense pain. Though the device apparently doesn't cause permanent damage - and can't actually kill a person - it's very effective at what it does.

Hoping to one day be able to use it as a non-lethal way to deter violence, the military has recently started to experiment with mounting these things to the back of jeeps and they've even created a large version of the Silent Guardian that can dish out pain up to half a mile away.

Coming to a civil protest near you.

You're Not Crazy

If you were to be walking down a street and suddenly hear a woman whispering into your ear, your first thought might be "Great - I guess now I'm crazy. This sucks." But you might actually just be the victim of a new technology being used in advertising that projects sound in a narrow beam directly into your skull to simulate the effect of someone whispering into your ear.

Originally created for museums and libraries, this technology has recently made its way to the streets as part of an advertisement for A&E's show Paranormal State. If you're like me, you'll think that the entrance of this technology into the marketing world is pretty disturbing. And when you consider the different types of advertisements that one day may be whispering into your ear, this trend becomes downright terrifying- because if I ever heard Robin Williams whispering an advertisement for Patch Adams 2 directly in my ear, I might just have to kill myself.

Good Doggy

At a distance, the revolutionary new robot Big Dog looks like some strange headless alien creature with inverted legs. But once you see this robot in action, all of that hesitation about its appearance gives way to a sense of horror at how eerily lifelike and animalistic its movements are. The Big Dog is the most advanced quadruped robot on Earth and its legs are modeled after the same principles used in nature for mammals such as donkeys and humans. Created as a sort of next-generation all-terrain-vehicle, the Big Dog can navigate almost any environment where other vehicles would easily fail - this includes loose rocks, tree stumps and icy ground. It can even right itself after being kicked or shoved.

So if you were ever wondering whether or not robots will take over the world - there's no need. After seeing Big Dog in action, it's very clear that yes, one day they will.

When Worlds Collide Most of us will be familiar with the world's largest particle accelerator - the Large Hadron Collider, which was activated for the first time last year. To give you some insight as to why they decided to include the word "Large" in its title, the tunnel that holds the collider is over 17 miles long. Located in Switzerland and engineered by a team of over 10,000 scientists, the Large Hadron Collider is a massive piece of technology that has cost an estimated $3-6 billion dollars. And though particle accelerators have existed in some form since the 1960's, this particular one dwarfs any attempt at atom-smashing in history.

In case you're wondering what a particle accelerator does, the device speeds up atoms to levels approaching the speed of light and then smashes them into each other at such high energies that it could potentially give us a glimpse into other dimensions or even provide insight into the big bang.

So it sounds innocent enough so far, right? Well, that is until you hear about the slight possibility of the particle collisions creating miniature black holes that could potentially gobble our galaxy. And though the chances of this happening are extremely remote, it's not quite impossible.

So there you have it. Though it's inevitable that one day we'll all be destroyed by a creation of our own design, in the meantime you can settle back and enjoy the new generation of brain-wave videogames… and we'll worry about sinister mind-control experiments when the need arises.

Ben Goldman is a copywriter for Yodle Local, a business directory and online advertising company. Find more invention tips and info at Invisibility Cloaks, Ray Guns and Other Science Fiction Staples Come to Life