Currently viewing the tag: "technology"

space elevator

A space elevator is a proposed type of space transportation system. The main component would be a cable (also called a tether) anchored to the surface and extending into space. The design would permit vehicles to travel along the cable from a planetary surface, such as the Earth’s, directly into space or orbit, without the use of large rockets. An Earth-based space elevator would consist of a cable with one end attached to the surface near the equator and the other end in space beyond geostationary orbit (35,800 km altitude). The competing forces of gravity, which is stronger at the lower end, and the outward/upward centrifugal force, which is stronger at the upper end, would result in the cable being held up, under tension, and stationary over a single position on Earth. With the tether deployed, climbers could repeatedly climb the tether to space by mechanical means, releasing their cargo to orbit. Climbers could also descend the tether to return cargo to the surface from orbit. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story using a space elevator as part of the setting.

Journaling Prompt: If there was a space elevator today, would you be willing to use it?

Art Prompt: Elevator into space

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the different ideas people are working on to travel into space.

Photo Credit: Bruce Irving on Flickr

Intelligent Design

A Gray Goo scenario works something like this: Imagine a piece of self-replicating nanotechnology manufactured for a purely benevolent reason. Say, a micro-organism designed to clean up oil slicks by consuming them and secreting some benign by-product. So far, so good. Except the organism can’t seem to distinguish between the carbon atoms in the oil slick and the carbon atoms in the sea vegetation, ocean fauna, and human beings around it all that well. Flash forward a few thousand generations – perhaps not a very long time in our imagined micro-organism’s life cycle – and everything on Earth containing even a speck of carbon has been turned into a benign, gray, and gooey byproduct of its digestive process. –Jayar LaFontaine

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of nanobots gone rogue.

Journaling Prompt: What is your biggest technology fear?

Art Prompt: Grey Goo Scenario

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Talk about the dangers of technology and give your audience some tips on keeping safe in their use of technology.

Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

Pro Juventute Aufklärungskampagne ‚Sexting’ Themenbild_09

Adolescents revealed that they sext for attention, to lower the chances of catching STDs, and to find a romantic partner. The concepts of receiving a bad reputation, or of being blackmailed, did not appear to influence their motivations. The authors note that “Remarkably, only the behavioral beliefs that expected positive outcomes of sexting were significant in predicting adolescents’ willingness to engage in it.”

Friends and romantic partners were found to be the only significant social pressures that affect an individual’s motivation to sext: “The more positive the perceived social pressure that originates from these two categories of referents — who mostly belong to the peer group — the more adolescents will be inclined to engage in sexting.” Negative pressures from parents and teachers did not affect motivations. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving teen sexting.

Journaling Prompt: Write about sexting and how you feel about it.

Art Prompt: Teen sexting

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Inform your audience about the ramifications of teen sexting.

Photo Credit: Pro Juventute on Flickr

Text Messages

  • For women: Using text messages to apologize, work out differences or make decisions is associated with lower relationship quality
  • For men: Too frequent texting is associated with lower relationship quality
  • For all: Expressing affection via text enhances the relationship

Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use a text message in your story or tell a story using text messages only.

Journaling Prompt: Write about how you use text messages in your relationships.

Art Prompt: Texting and relationships.

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a funny story about how text messages affected your relationship.

Photo Credit: [Duncan] on Flickr


Thermal imaging technology might one day be to identify drunks before they become a nuisance in bars, airports or other public spaces. Georgia Koukiou and Vassilis Anastassopoulos of the Electronics Laboratory, at University of Patras, Greece, are developing software that can objectively determine whether a person has consumed an excessive amount of alcohol based solely on the relative temperature of different parts of the person’s face. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write about a future where people are routinely scanned for blood alcohol level.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel that society should handle public drunkenness?

Art Prompt: Are you drunk?

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the line between civil liberties and the public right to safety.

Photo Credit: paukrus on Flickr

Blonde in the sunlight

“Everybody is aware of the risk of cell phones and texting in automobiles, but I see more and more teens distracted with the latest devices and headphones in their ears,” says lead author Richard Lichenstein, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases.”

…Researchers reviewed 116 accident cases from 2004 to 2011 in which injured pedestrians were documented to be using headphones. Seventy percent of the 116 accidents resulted in death to the pedestrian. More than two-thirds of victims were male (68 percent) and under the age of 30 (67 percent). More than half of the moving vehicles involved in the accidents were trains (55 percent), and nearly a third (29 percent) of the vehicles reported sounding some type of warning horn prior to the crash. The increased incidence of accidents over the years closely corresponds to documented rising popularity of auditory technologies with headphones. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write about a distracted character and the accident their distraction causes.

Journaling Prompt: Write about an accident that you had because you were distracted.

Art Prompt: Accident

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the dangers of distraction

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon on Flickr

seer with crystal ball

Science fiction is my favorite genre to read. For one thing, a writer can deal with ethical, moral, and culture issues that often are too touchy to take on in a standard literary form. But more interestingly, science fiction writers must study today’s science and predict the future. 

In an essay titled “Futuristics,” Isaac Asimov pointed out that the obvious prediction is not the most interesting one. It was easy to predict the automobile; what was difficult to predict was the traffic jam. It was easy to predict radio; what was difficult was the soap opera. It was easy to predict the income tax; what was difficult was the expense account. Equally, it was easy to predict the cell phone—Dick Tracy had his wrist radio back in the 1930s—but what was difficult to predict is that users would become so attached to them that they would step into traffic or allow their cars to drift out of control….
Science fiction might well be considered the literature of unanticipated consequences….In fact, to write an effective science-fiction story, all you need is something that the world thinks is an unmitigated boon and to focus on the unforeseen problems that it might create. -Science Fiction Imagines the Digital Future by James Gunn in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine

Writing Prompt: Go to your favorite news site, read a science story, predict an unanticipated consequence that will happen if that science is developed, and write a story about it.

Journaling Prompt: Do you read science fiction? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Science

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about an invention in your lifetime that has had unexpected consequences.

Photo Credit: Kraetzsche (busy) on Flickr

EEG cap

I always thought the technology in Star Trek was pretty cool, but even Captain Kirk didn’t have one of these. 

“Brain cap” technology being developed at the University of Maryland allows users to turn their thoughts into motion. Associate Professor of Kinesiology José ‘Pepe’ L. Contreras-Vidal and his team have created a non-invasive, sensor-lined cap with neural interface software that soon could be used to control computers, robotic prosthetic limbs, motorized wheelchairs and even digital avatars.

“We are on track to develop, test and make available to the public- within the next few years — a safe, reliable, noninvasive brain computer interface that can bring life-changing technology to millions of people whose ability to move has been diminished due to paralysis, stroke or other injury or illness,” said Contreras-Vidal of the university’s School of Public Health. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: What would your character do with a brain cap? (Feel free to invent one that has advanced further than the one in this story.)

Journaling Prompt: Write about a piece of technology and how it has changed your life dramatically.

Art Prompt: Technology

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the coolest new tech gadget that you bought or want to buy.

Photo Credit: Ryan Somma on Flickr