Dr. Seekers' Future Imperfect: A Sneak Preview at What Science Will Really Look like in 25 Years
Bower, Bruce, Science News
Hello, and welcome to my laboratory. I'm Dr. Seeker, but please call me Grant. Excuse the haze around here. You get used to it in this line of research. I'm a cryptoneuropodiolfactologist-I study the effects of foot odors on the brain. Want to grab some lunch? Nothing for me, thanks. I'm queasy from this morning's study of maze learning in rats forced to sniff sneakers worn by Olympic marathon runners. Today, I'll prognosticate rather than masticate. Here are my humble predictions of the major scientific accomplishments in 2022, when Science News celebrates its centennial:
* Physicists confirm the theory of Schrodinger's cat, which posits that an animal can be dead and alive at the same time, in particle-accelerator tests conducted on a random sample of government bureaucrats.
* Scientists design a computerized robot that thinks and speaks at the level of a 12-year-old child. They name it Web Headley. President Bill Gates appoints Web to his cabinet as Secretary of the Internet. Vice President Al Gore tries to teach Web the macarena.
* Welcome to the wonderful world of virtual dentistry, where you can ride the space shuttle past Saturn or navigate the rapids of a raging river during a root canal. Virtual adventurers are still advised to pack Novocain. * Separate research teams simultaneously locate a gene for humility. Each team claims to have found the unassuming piece of DNA first and accuses the other of scientific fraud.
* SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, yields its first payoff when a radio transmission from beyond the solar system reaches Earth. Scientists decipher the message as follows: "What are your universal coordinates?" and "Why do we keep getting mail from Ed McMahon?"
* Modern-day alchemists announce that they've discovered a way to create the world's most precious metal out of thin air at room temperature. Controversy rages over the legitimacy of gold fusion.
* Cognitive neuroscientists devise a remote-control "brain beanie" that transmits information on cerebral activity as a person moves about freely. This leads to new insights into group differences in nervous system function, thanks to a brain-beanie study of certified public accountants and Soul Train dancers.
* Nanotechnology marches on with the introduction of nanonukes, microscopic nuclear reactors that can supply all the energy needs of an entire city block or rural town. Nanonuke facilities present certain dangers-ground vibrations emanating from nearby rock music clubs or taverns can set off nanoexplosions, usually around closing time. Scientists are also developing nanocannisters to safely store radioactive nanowaste without attracting the attention of squirrels.
* Neuroscientists uncover the brain mechanisms that foster multiple personalities, but they remain unable to explain why Frank Gifford has no personality (and still anchors Monday Night Football). …