Posted by: crudbasher | August 9, 2012

Technological Relativity

I remember watching a video of passengers on the Concorde.

Fast forward to about 3:30.

At Mach 2 the passengers are traveling at twice the speed of sound or about 1500 miles per hour. The outside temperature is well below freezing and yet the passengers can enjoy a comfortable and fast journey. What I want you to notice about this is there is no real sensation of speed. In a way this goes back to what Einstein said in his Theory of Special Relativity. The speed of something depends on your perspective. The Concorde is relatively motionless to you. From the outside it is moving very quickly indeed. This is a good analogy of our society in relation to technological progress.

Each year we get better and better technology but we don’t really notice it too much because we are traveling along with it. What I mean is we don’t tend to keep technology long enough to notice it becoming obsolete. The constant upgrade cycle tends to mask the overall progress happening.

A few years ago I started talking about a new technology called 3d printing. At the time, it could only print simple, small objects our of plastic. These days you can get a 3d printer that is capable of quite a lot. There is even a 3d printer prototype which can print another copy of itself. That’s cool. Still, the best is yet to come.

Here is a fairly mind blowing TEDx video.

The scientist in the video is talking about 3d printing entire houses and buildings! Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Just as crazy as a smartphone would have been 10 years ago.

It’s all relative.

Tomorrow I will tie all of this to education in an unusual way!


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