A Norwegian skydiver’s video capture of a meteorite, a first ever, shows the amazing possibilities that have opened for humans due to ultra-advanced technology of our generation. Such a feat would not have been possible just a few years ago, before the technology allowed helmet mounted portable cameras. The meteorite video is of such high quality that even geologist Hans Eric Foss Amundsen was impressed at the details of the rock captured on the video. He was able to identify it as a coarse sedimentary rock belonging to breccia category, and he postulated that it came from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. If one contemplates on this, it begs the question “what else is possible?”
Technology has advanced at such a mind-numbing pace over the last decade that it is simply easy to accept the changes without fully appreciating how it got here. It has influenced everything from consumer electronics to household products, atomic science to how we consume entertainment from the comfort of our home. Take for example, the 3D or virtual reality (VR) games from just a few years ago. They seemed so cool, despite the experience being positively not immersive in nature. Today, companies like Oculus, maker of DK2, a new generation of VR headset, and a recent acquisition of Facebook, are trailblazing through the VR world. Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe explained how such an amazing product would not have been possible without experts in software design, display, and overall product design coming together and working to design one game-changing product.
While Iribe is correct about the right talent in the same room, the technology that allowed this technology to merge is often forgotten. This micro technology allows devices like DK2 to take advantage of powerful computers fitted on extremely small motherboard. It is this kind of technology that also allowed the amazing video capture of the meteorite, and dares us to think of realm of possibilities.
At the rate at which nano-technology is advancing, the promise of nano-computers flowing through human veins looking for diseased cells may not be far off. The meteorite video captured on the skydiver’s helmet is a phenomenal feat. However, the kind of video camera required to capture live footage of human cells, from the inside, is going to require a technological leap. The camera would have to be microscopic to flow inside blood vessels, and have the capability to transmit live action of our organs. This technology seems too ridiculous to believe now, just as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) would have seemed like utter nonsense a few centuries ago.
The amazing possibilities of image capture in the subatomic world makes the meteorite video seem childish. Already the LHC has been credited with the discovery of the most fundamental particle in the Universe called Higgs Boson. Despite its enormous size, which is needed to accelerate protons to near the speed of light in order to smash them in a head on collision, Atlas, the biggest “camera” in the world at 45 meters long and over 25 meters high, and weighing 7000 tons, is a modern-day pinnacle of human achievement in technology. Things we learn from experiments carried out at this facility will shape the planet and our lives in the coming decades.
It is an exciting time to be alive and witness all the amazing possibilities of human creativity and ingenuity, from capturing meteorite video to seeing the world of subatomic particles. Companies like Oculus have proven that when the right minds come together for a goal worth pursuing, possibilities are truly endless. As technology continues to advance even faster, humans have an opportunity to apply technology in all aspects of life, for the good of the planet. The exhilaration of watching a meteorite video, the thrill of discovering the fabric of space, and countless such experiences await us.
Opinion by Amit Singh