SciTech Now Episode 32

Episode thirty-two of SciTech Now brings you the latest breakthroughs in science, technology and innovation. We get an inside look at the U.S. Department of Energy’s newest particle accelerator, NSLS-II, and the advanced science and technology behind it; World Science Festival gives us a presentation on synesthesia, and more.

TRANSCRIPT

COMING UP, CREATING IMAGES THAT COULD REVEAL THE FUTURE.

WE'RE ABLE TO PRODUCE THESE VERY, VERY SMALL, THESE NANO-SCALE SIZE OF BEAMS SO THAT WE CAN FOCUS IN ON THE INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS OF CELLS.

THE SCIENCE OF OUR SENSES.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE MUSICAL COLORS, SO THINGS LIKE NOTES OF THE SCALE WILL TRIGGER A COLOR EXPERIENCE.

WHENEVER A KEY IS PLAYED ON THE PIANO OR ON SOME OTHER INSTRUMENT, THEY HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE OF COLOR.

THIS OFTEN HELPS THEM TO TUNE THEIR INSTRUMENT.

NOTHING SHORT OF THE FUTURE OF THE DIGITAL WORLD.

I THINK WHAT WE'LL SEE IN THE NEAR FUTURE IS A CONVERGENCE FROM MANY DEVICES TO ONE.

THAT THING THAT WE CARRY WILL BE A THING THAT WE CONNECT OURSELVES TO.

AND A NATIONAL TREASURE TAKES FLIGHT.

THEY'RE MAKING A HUGE COMEBACK.

I MEAN, I'VE BEEN WITH THE COUNTY NOW FOR ALMOST 21 YEARS, AND WE NEVER SAW EAGLES WHEN I FIRST STARTED HERE.

IT'S ALL AHEAD.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS STATION.

HELLO.

I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

WELCOME TO 'SciTech NOW,' OUR WEEKLY PROGRAM BRINGING YOU THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION.

LET'S GET STARTED.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S NEWEST PARTICLE ACCELERATOR CREATES POWERFUL X-RAYS FOR NANO-TECHNOLOGY STUDIES.

SCIENTISTS HOPE THE NEW ACCELERATOR WILL HELP CREATE NEXT-GENERATION PRODUCTS BY TAKING IMAGES OF THINGS THAT ARE ACTUALLY TOO SMALL TO SEE OTHERWISE.

REPORTER ANDREA VASQUEZ TAKES A VERY CLOSE LOOK.

THIS IS THE NATIONAL SYNCHROTRON LIGHT SOURCE II.

THE WORLD'S NEWEST AND MOST ADVANCED PARTICLE ACCELERATOR FLICKERED ON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OCTOBER 2014 AT BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY ON LONG ISLAND.

IT'S THE SECOND ITERATION OF NSLS-I, BUILT AT BROOKHAVEN 30 YEARS AGO.

THAT WAS VERY SUCCESSFUL, HAD 30 YEARS OF REALLY HIGH-IMPACT SCIENCE, PRODUCTIVITY, LOTS OF PEOPLE COMING TO USE IT.

AND WHERE WE'RE STANDING NOW, NSLS-II, IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF THOSE FACILITIES.

SO, THIS WAS BUILT OVER THE LAST 5 TO 10 YEARS HERE AT BROOKHAVEN, COST $912 MILLION TO BUILD.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY PAYS FOR THE FACILITY'S CONSTRUCTION AND UPKEEP -- MORE THAN $100 MILLION A YEAR.

THE RESEARCH HERE WILL BE WIDE-RANGING, FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE TO SILICON FOR FASTER, MORE EFFICIENT ELECTRONICS, WAYS TO HARVEST SOLAR ENERGY AT LOW COST, EVEN TREATMENTS FOR ALZHEIMER'S AND LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE.

YOU CAN IMAGINE PEOPLE LOOKING AT, YOU KNOW, INTERSTELLAR DUST OR PEOPLE LOOKING AT PROTEINS, PEOPLE LOOKING AT BATTERIES, PEOPLE LOOKING AT PLANTS, CATALYSTS.

ALL KINDS OF THINGS GET STUDIED HERE.

A SYNCHROTRON PRODUCES A REALLY BRIGHT, VERY SMALL X-RAY THAT IS SO BRIGHT AND SO PRECISE, IT CAN TAKE X-RAY IMAGES OF REALLY TINY THINGS, SMALLER THAN ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD.

10,000 TIMES SMALLER THAN THE WIDTH OF A STRAND OF HAIR.

WE'RE ABLE TO PRODUCE THESE VERY, VERY SMALL, THESE NANO-SCALE SIZE OF BEAMS SO THAT WE CAN FOCUS IN ON THE INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS OF CELLS.

THE ABILITY TO PEER INTO THE CHEMISTRY OF SUBCELLULAR, ONGOING, SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE TO DO WITH OTHER TYPES OF RESEARCH TOOLS.

TO ACHIEVE THAT LEVEL OF PRECISION, THE FACILITY'S DESIGNERS AND ENGINEERS HAD TO ALIGN HUGE MAGNETS AND PIECES OF EQUIPMENT WITH A MICROSCOPIC MARGIN OF ERROR.

THESE MAGNETS HERE, THEY'RE ALL PRETTY BIG AND POWERFUL.

UNFORTUNATELY, WITH THE STRENGTHS GOES A VERY LARGE SENSITIVITY TO MISALIGNMENT.

THESE MAGNETS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ON A STRAIGHT LINE, AS EXACT AS POSSIBLE.

AND IF YOU START TO MOVE THEM A LITTLE BIT, THEN THAT WILL AFFECT THE BEAM.

THE FACILITY IS NEARLY AS IMPRESSIVE AS THE SCIENCE THAT GOES ON HERE.

THE BUILDING IS A 1/2 MILE IN CIRCUMFERENCE, AND THE BEAM USES 843 MAGNETS AND NEARLY 5 MILES OF CABLE.

I CAN TELL YOU OUR POWER BILL IS ABOUT $5 MILLION A YEAR.

AN ELECTRON GUN SHOOTS OUT PARTICLES THAT LOOP AROUND AND AROUND A 1/2-MILE RING.

THE RING IS LINED WITH MAGNETS, AND THEIR CHARGE KEEPS THE PARTICLES CENTERED IN A SMALL AREA, CREATING A BEAM.

WHENEVER THE ELECTRONS WANT TO LEAVE FROM THEIR CENTRAL ORBIT, THESE YELLOW MAGNETS, THEY'RE BENDING BACK SO THAT THEY'LL STAY CONFINED AROUND A VERY NARROW ORBIT.

THE BEAM SIZE IS SMALL.

HORIZONTAL, IT'S ONLY ABOUT 1/10 OF A MILLIMETER.

THE BEAM TRAVELS AT ALMOST THE SPEED OF LIGHT.

FROM ITS CIRCULAR TRACK, IT SHOOTS OFF INTO VARIOUS BEAM LINES -- THE STRAIGHT ARMS THAT JUT OUT FROM THE RING TO RESEARCHERS' WORK STATIONS.

SO, THE BEAM LINES ARE THE THINGS THAT TRANSPORT THE X-RAYS FROM THE SYNCHROTRON TO YOUR EXPERIMENT, AND AT THE EXPERIMENT, YOU'LL GET A VERY FOCUSED, VERY INTENSE BEAM OF X-RAYS THAT YOU CAN THEN PUT YOUR SAMPLE IN AND LOOK AT SOMETHING INSIDE YOUR SAMPLE, SO YOU'RE USING IT LIKE A MICROSCOPIC BUT USING X-RAYS INSTEAD OF LIGHT.

NSLS-II HAS SPACE FOR UP TO 60 BEAM LINES.

SO FAR, SEVEN HAVE BEEN BUILT.

EACH ONE HAS MIRRORS AND HARDWARE THAT MODIFY THE BEAM.

IT CAN MAKE THE BEAM NARROW WITH A FINE POINT OR WIDE WITH SOFTER EDGES, DEPENDING ON WHAT THE RESEARCH CALLS FOR.

YOU SHINE THIS NANO-SCALE SIZE X-RAY BEAM ON IT, AND THE BEAM SITS STILL, AND WE RASTER-SCAN THE SAMPLE THROUGH THE BEAM, AND IT WILL GENERATE AN IMAGE LIKE THIS.

THESE PROTEIN CRYSTALS ARE REALLY SMALL.

THEY ARE THE SIZE OF A PINHEAD, AND THEN ONCE YOU GET THIS PICTURE OF THIS PROTEIN MOLECULE AT THE RESOLUTION OF INDIVIDUAL ATOMS, YOU CAN DO THINGS LIKE DESIGN DRUGS TO BIND TO THE PROTEIN TO TREAT A DISEASE OR ANY TYPE OF AN AILMENT LIKE THAT.

AT ANOTHER BEAM LINE, PHYSICIST YONG CHU STUDIES BATTERIES AND HOW TO MAKE THEM LAST LONGER.

HIS X-RAY SCAN MUST BE SO PRECISE THAT VIBRATIONS FROM TRUCKS ON THE NEARBY HIGHWAY OR WAVES ON THE BEACH 15 MILES AWAY CAN AFFECT HIS RESULTS.

SO HIS BEAM LINE WAS BUILT ON A SEPARATE, THICKER CONCRETE FLOOR.

WE ARE IN A REMOTE BUILDING AWAY FROM MAIN BUILDING SO THAT WE CAN MITIGATE THE VIBRATIONS INDUCED BY OTHER PEOPLE WALKING AROUND.

SO, THE FLOOR WE'RE SITTING ON IS SPECIALLY DESIGNED TO DAMPEN THE VIBRATION.

WE HAVE A SPECIALIZED TEMPERATURE-CONTROL SYSTEM HERE THAT WE CAN REGULATE TEMPERATURE DOWN TO 0.1 DEGREES CELSIUS, WHICH IS ABOUT 0.05 FAHRENHEIT.

RESEARCHERS ARE GIVEN A NUMBER OF HOURS OR DAYS ON A BEAM LINE TO COMPLETE THEIR WORK AT THE SYNCHROTRON, USUALLY NO MORE THAN A WEEK.

AND DURING THAT TIME, THEY'LL GET 24 HOURS A DAY ON THE BEAM LINE, SO THEY'LL BE REALLY FOCUSED ON RUNNING THAT WHOLE TIME.

THEY'LL BRING A TEAM OF PEOPLE.

THEY'LL BE UP ALL HOURS.

THEY'LL BE WORKING REALLY HARD 'CAUSE THEIR ONE CHANCE TO USE THAT MACHINE.

THEY MIGHT NOT GET ANOTHER CHANCE FOR ANOTHER YEAR.

SOMETIMES RESEARCHERS DON'T EVEN HAVE TO MAKE THE TRIP.

AT ONE BEAM LINE, A ROBOTIC ARM CAN MECHANICALLY SELECT, PLACE, AND SCAN SAMPLES THAT ARE SENT IN TO THE LAB.

WE CAN HAVE A USER PREPARE A, LIKE, TENS OF SAMPLES.

HE CAN DO THAT IN HIS LAB REMOTELY.

WHAT YOU'RE GONNA SEE IS, THE ROBOT IS GONNA PICK UP A SAMPLE, THEN IS GONNA RUN THE SAMPLE IN FRONT OF THIS LITTLE CAMERA TO IDENTIFY THE SAMPLE ITSELF, AND THEN AFTER THAT, THE ROBOT IS GONNA PICK UP THE SAMPLE AGAIN, AND IT WILL DROP IT OFF BACK INTO THE -- INTO THE BOX.

SO, THE ROBOT CAN DO THAT HUNDREDS OF TIMES OVERNIGHT, AND THEN WE CAN JUST COLLECT A LOT OF DATA THANKS TO THIS ROBOT.

INCREASED EFFICIENCY, HIGHER-QUALITY IMAGES, AND FASTER RESULTS ALL MAKE THIS PARTICLE ACCELERATOR THE MOST ADVANCED IN THE WORLD, BUT LEAD BEAM-LINE SCIENTIST STUART WILKINS SAYS ALL THAT RESEARCH CREATES A LOT OF DATA -- TOO MUCH DATA.

ONE OF THE CHALLENGES WE'RE HAVING ON THIS BEAM LINE IS WE HAVE A BIG DATA PROBLEM.

SO, WE NOW TAKE DATA WITH NSLS-II FASTER THAN WE EVER HAVE BEFORE, AND THE DATA RATE HERE IS, WE CAN TAKE 125 FRAMES A SECOND, WHICH MEANS WE CAN GET 300 GIGABYTES A SECOND OF DATA, WHICH IS A HUGE NOW PROCESS FOR PEOPLE TO GO THROUGH, LOOK, CATALOGUE, AND ANALYZE AT THE END.

HE'S STANDING NEAR A RACK WITH 1/4 OF A PETABYTE OF DATA STORAGE.

THAT'S 1/4 OF A MILLION GIGABYTES, AND WILKINS SAYS THAT'LL ONLY LAST FOR ABOUT SIX MONTHS.

WE'RE JUST SWIMMING IN THIS DATA, AND THERE'S A LOT OF PROJECTS HERE AT THE MOMENT OF HOW TO ANALYZE THAT AND ALLOW PEOPLE TO EFFICIENTLY LOOK AT THAT DATA AT THE MOMENT.

BUT AMID ALL THAT DATA, THE HOPE IS THAT NSLS-II, WITH AN X-RAY BEAM 10,000 TIMES BRIGHTER THAN NSLS-I, WILL BRING GROUNDBREAKING ADVANCEMENTS AND SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES.

EVERY TIME YOU PUSH SOMETHING, MAKE IT BETTER, YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW.

YOU'RE LOOKING AT MATERIAL THAT, IN A WAY, YOU HAVEN'T LOOKED AT BEFORE, AND THEN YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW ABOUT THAT MATERIAL, AND THAT'S WHAT WE HOPE WILL HAPPEN HERE.

WE'VE MADE A LOT OF ADVANCES, SO HOPEFULLY THE EXCITING THING THAT HAPPENS HERE IS THAT THERE ARE NEW THINGS THAT WE'RE ABLE TO DO NOW.

[ BIRD SCREECHES ]

AT LEAST 3% OF THE POPULATION IS THOUGHT TO HAVE SOME FORM OF SYNESTHESIA, THE PHENOMENON OF BLENDED SENSES WHERE A STIMULUS LIKE LETTERS OR NUMBERS CAN TRIGGER AN UNRELATED SENSATION LIKE COLOR OR SOUND.

FROM OUR PARTNER, THE WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL, WE HAVE AN EXCERPT OF A PROGRAM IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE FLAME CHALLENGE, AN ANNUAL CONTEST FOR TEACHERS AND SCIENTISTS HELD BY THE ALAN ALDA CENTER FOR COMMUNICATING SCIENCE AT STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY.

IN THIS NEXT PIECE, NEUROSCIENTIST DAVID EAGLEMAN EXPLAINS SOME OF THE AMAZING FORMS SYNESTHESIA CAN TAKE.

YOU'VE ALL HEARD OF ANESTHESIA, WHICH MEANS NO FEELING.

SYNESTHESIA IS A JOINED FEELING, THINGS COMING TOGETHER TO BLENDING OF THE SENSES.

WHAT I'M SHOWING HERE IS THE MOST COMMON FORM OF IT, WHERE THINGS LIKE NUMBERS AND LETTERS AND WEEKDAYS AND MONTHS WILL TRIGGER AND INTERNAL EXPERIENCE OF COLOR FOR SOMEBODY.

SO, FOR EXAMPLE, FOR THIS PERSON, WHEN SHE SEES THE LETTER 'J,' IT TRIGGERS AN INTERNAL EXPERIENCE OF GREEN FOR HER.

SHE CAN SEE IF I'VE WRITTEN 'J' IN BLACK LETTERS.

SHE CAN TELL ME IT'S BLACK INK.

IT'S NOT A HALLUCINATION, BUT NONETHELESS, IT TRIGGERS AN INTERNAL FEELING OF GREENNESS.

NOW, IT USED TO BE THOUGHT THIS WAS VERY RARE, BUT WE NOW KNOW THAT IT'S, AT LEAST 3% OF THE POPULATION SINCE SYNESTHESIA, AND IT TURNS OUT THERE ARE MANY FORMS OF SYNESTHESIA.

SO, HERE'S AN EXAMPLE OF AUDITORY STIMULATION, HEARING SOMETHING [POPS] TRIGGERING A VISUAL WITH COLORS.

SO, FOR THIS WOMAN, THIS IS WHAT SHE SEES WHEN HER FURNACE KICKS ON AND GOES WHOOSH!

THAT'S WHAT SHE SEES.

MANY PEOPLE HAVE MUSICAL COLORS, SO THINGS LIKE NOTES OF THE SCALE WILL TRIGGER A COLOR EXPERIENCE.

SO, FOR SOMEBODY LIKE THAT, WHENEVER A KEY IS PLAYED ON THE PIANO OR ON SOME OTHER INSTRUMENT, THEY HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE OF COLOR.

THIS OFTEN HELPS THEM TO TUNE THEIR INSTRUMENT.

THERE HAVE BEEN MANY ARTISTS WITH SYNESTHESIA WHO HAVE BEEN ABLE TO LEVERAGE THEIR SYNESTHESIA TO MAKE THEIR GREATEST ARTWORK.

SO, FOR EXAMPLE, KANDINSKY, WHO SOME OF YOU MAY BE FAMILIAR WITH, WOULD CRANK UP HIS PHONOGRAPH AND WOULD STAND IN FRONT OF HIS CANVAS AND WOULD PAINT WHAT HE WAS EXPERIENCING VISUALLY IN TERMS OF SHAPES AND COLORS.

THERE ARE MANY MUSICIANS WHO HAVE SYNESTHESIA, AND TODAY, WE HAVE ONE WITH US, A SYNESTHETE AND A VIOLINIST.

I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE KAITLYN HOVA.

[ APPLAUSE ]

HEY.

HI, KAITLYN.

WHAT -- WHAT KINDS OF SYNESTHESIA DO YOU HAVE?

I HAVE SEVERAL TYPES, BUT I REALLY LOVE MY SOUND OF COLOR AND MY NUMBERS AND LETTERS TO COLOR.

THAT'S PRETTY AWESOME.

WHAT IS YOUR SOUND COLOR LIKE?

[ MID-TEMPO MUSIC PLAYING ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC CONTINUES ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC CONTINUES ] [ SIGHS ] [ REVERBERATED TAPPING ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC CONTINUES ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC, TAPPING CONTINUES ] [ VIOLIN MUSIC PLAYING ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC, TAPPING, VIOLIN MUSIC CONTINUES ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC, TAPPING, VIOLIN MUSIC CONTINUES ] [ MID-TEMPO MUSIC, TAPPING, VIOLIN MUSIC CONTINUES ] [ SIGHS ] [ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU FOR THAT WONDERFUL DEMONSTRATION.

DAVID EAGLEMAN AND KAITLYN HOVA, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THANK YOU.

[ APPLAUSE ]

OUR DIGITAL WORLD IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING, AND HERE NOW TO DISCUSS HER RESEARCH ON THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY IS AMY WEBB, FOUNDER AND C.E.O. OF WEBBMEDIA GROUP.

IT'S A DIGITAL STRATEGY FIRM.

SO, WHAT'S HAPPENED WHEN WE HAVE HAD OR WHEN WE ARE CREATING MORE DIGITAL EXHAUST OR DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS IN ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT PLACES, WHETHER IT'S FACEBOOK OR OUR E-MAIL OR OUR PHONE AND THERE ARE SO MANY TINY, LITTLE BITS OF INFORMATION ON WHERE WE ARE AND THAT SOMEONE OR SOMETHING, AN AGENT, A COMPANY, CAN KEEP TRACK OF ALL OF THAT IF THEY WANT TO?

PART OF IT HAS TO DO WITH OUR, YOU KNOW, SORT OF VOLUNTARILY, YOU KNOW, GIVING OURSELVES -- GIVING OURSELVES UP TO BEING TRACKED.

SO, THE ONLY WAY THAT ANY OF THESE SYSTEMS WORK -- AND THAT'S NOT JUST THE GPS ON YOUR PHONES BUT THE -- THE VERY NATURE OF THE SEARCH ENGINES AND THE WAY THAT OUR E-MAIL, YOU KNOW, SYSTEMS WORK.

AND ALL OF THAT RELATES TO STUDYING YOU AND YOUR BEHAVIORS AND WHO YOU'RE RELATED TO AND WHO YOU'RE CONTACTING IN ORDER TO MAKE ALL OF THIS MUCH, MUCH EASIER.

SO, YOU KNOW, I THINK IN THE NEAR FUTURE, WE'RE GONNA SEE MANY MORE EFFICIENCIES, WHICH IS VERY EXCITING, BUT WE'RE ALSO GOING TO BE GIVING UP MORE AND MORE OF OUR ABILITY TO EVER BE ANONYMOUS AGAIN.

SO, WHILE ON THE ONE HAND, IT CAN GIVE US A COUPON JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME BEFORE WE'RE ABOUT TO MAKE A BUYING DECISION, THERE'S ALSO THIS CONCERN THAT MAYBE THAT INFORMATION ISN'T REALLY BEING SECURELY MANAGED, THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU HEAR ABOUT THESE CORPORATE HACKS, WHETHER IT'S CREDIT-CARD HACKS OR LITTLE PIECES OF INFORMATION.

MAYBE IT'S THE UBER DRIVERS' BACKGROUNDS, THAT WHO'S DOING A REALLY GOOD JOB OF MAKING SURE THAT YOU, 'A,' UNDERSTAND WHAT INFORMATION YOU'RE GENERATING AND THEN, 'B,' WHAT KINDS OF CONTROL YOU HAVE OVER THAT?

SO, IT'S A NATURAL EVOLUTION FOR US TO THINK ABOUT SECURITY AS IT RELATES TO OUR FINANCIAL INFORMATION.

THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE THINK OF A LOT.

WHAT WE THINK ABOUT IS, AS YOU PUT IT SO ELOQUENTLY, I THINK, THAT SORT OF DIGITAL EXHAUST.

WHO'S IN CHARGE OF ALL OF THESE OTHER LITTLE BITS AND PIECES THAT RELATE BACK TO US?

AND, YOU KNOW, AS THEY FOLLOW US AROUND ON THESE VARIOUS WEBSITES, AND THAT'S A QUESTION TO THINK ABOUT GOING FORWARD.

UBER LAST YEAR SORT OF FAMOUSLY, YOU KNOW, ALLOWED SOME OF ITS TOP USERS AND PARTNERS TO LOOK AT THE WHEREABOUTS OF A FEW DOZEN PEOPLE AS THEY SORT OF MOVED AROUND AN AREA OF SAN FRANCISCO.

YOU KNOW, THAT'S QUITE ALARMING, AND NOW, THAT'S NOT DIVULGING WHERE YOU LIVE, AND IT'S NOT DIVULGING YOUR CREDIT CARD OR YOUR BANK INFORMATION, BUT IT DEFINITELY IS DIVULGING A PIECE OF YOU.

AS YOU -- AS YOU NAVIGATE THROUGH A CITY, IT'S SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.

OH, ABSOLUTELY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WERE GOING TO A HEALTH CLINIC OR YOU DIDN'T -- YOU'RE ENTITLED TO YOUR PRIVACY.

SO, ANOTHER COLUMN THAT YOU WROTE RECENTLY WAS ABOUT THE FACT THAT MAYBE WE'RE NOT GONNA BE CARRYING THESE THINGS AROUND, REALLY, A LITTLE BIT FURTHER INTO THE FUTURE, BUT HOW DOES OUR INTERACTION WITH TECHNOLOGY CHANGE, SAY, 10, MAYBE 25 YEARS FROM NOW?

WILL WE HAVE THIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HARDWARE, OR WILL WE BECOME HARDWARE?

YOU KNOW, I RESEARCH NEAR AND FAR FUTURE TECHNOLOGY, WHICH MEANS THAT I'M LOOKING AT THE NEXT, YOU KNOW, 2 TO 30 YEARS TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND, YOU KNOW, HOW THAT TECHNOLOGY WILL IMPACT US, YOU KNOW, IN TERMS OF BUSINESS, SOCIETY, YOU KNOW, ET CETERA.

SO, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE'VE NOTICED IS THAT OUR DEVICES ARE CONVERGING.

AND SO, IT'S EASY FOR US TO THINK IN A SHORT TERM THAT OUR MOBILE DEVICES WILL HAVE MORE AND MORE FUNCTIONALITY AND THAT WE WILL, YOU KNOW, RELY PERHAPS LESS ON TRADITIONAL COMPUTERS, BUT IF YOU -- IF YOU GO PAST THAT, THERE'S ALL THIS EMERGING RESEARCH AND WORK BEING DONE INTO DEVICES THAT ARE EMBEDDED IN US, THINGS THAT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU THINK ABOUT THE THINGS THAT WE CARRY, YOU KNOW, THERE WOULD BE A WHOLE BUNCH OF THINGS THAT WE NO LONGER CARRY.

THERE ARE CONTACT LENSES THAT HAVE CHIPS IN THEM THAT SORT OF OFFER A VENEER OVER PLAIN SIGHT OF INFORMATION THAT, YOU KNOW, INFORMATION ABOUT THE PERSON THAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT OR INCOMING, YOU KNOW, E-MAILS OR WHATEVER.

THERE ARE SUBCUTANEOUS CHIPS THAT, YOU KNOW, HELP US, YOU KNOW, ORIENT OURSELVES AND HELP US UNDERSTAND WHERE WE ARE AND MIMICKING SOME OF THAT FUNCTIONALITY OF THE GPS IN OUR DEVICES.

SO, YOU KNOW, I THINK WHAT WE'LL SEE IN THE NEAR FUTURE IS A CONVERGES FROM -- CONVERGENCE FROM MANY DEVICES TO ONE, BUT THEN THAT THING THAT WE CARRY WILL BE A THING THAT WE, YOU KNOW, THAT WE WEAR OR THAT WE CONNECT OURSELVES TO.

I'M A LITTLE...

YEAH, TOTALLY BLOW YOUR MIND EVEN MORE.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S A LOT OF WORK BEING DONE INTO HOW OUR NEOCORTEXES GET INFORMATION AND HOW WE MAY EVENTUALLY BE ABLE TO LINK TO EACH OTHER.

THERE ARE STUDIES AND EARLY RESEARCH THAT I'VE SEEN WHERE TWO BRAINS, YOU KNOW, SCIENTISTS HAVE CONNECTED TWO BRAINS TOGETHER, AND ONE PERSON, JUST BY THINKING, CAUSES THE OTHER PERSON TO MOVE THEIR HAND.

THIS IS NOT FAR-FUTURE STUFF.

THIS EXISTS NOW.

SO, YOU KNOW, IT'LL BE SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE WE START TO SEE THIS MAKE ITS WAY INTO MAINSTREAM SOCIETY.

IT'S STILL OUT ON THE FRINGES, BUT IT'S THERE.

RIGHT, SO, RIGHT NOW, I KNOW THAT THERE HAVE BEEN SCIENTISTS THINKING ABOUT HOW, FOR EXAMPLE, CARS COULD COMMUNICATE ON A ROAD TO BE FAR MORE EFFICIENT IN TRAFFIC OR TO MINIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF WRECKS.

IF THEY ALWAYS KNEW THE POSITION OF ANOTHER CAR, THERE'D NEVER BE A REAR-END COLLISION IN THE FUTURE, RIGHT?

SO, NOW, AFTER WHAT YOU'VE JUST SAID, I'M WONDERING, LIKE, IF BRAINS CAN SORT OF WIRE AND CONNECT TO EACH OTHER, DOES THAT MEAN THAT WE WOULD BE CONTROLLED BY SOME SUPER BEING OR THAT WE'D ACTUALLY JUST BE NICE TO EACH OTHER 'CAUSE WE KNOW THAT WE'RE NOT ALONE.

I DON'T KNOW ABOUT EITHER ONE OF THOSE THINGS...

[ CHUCKLES ]

...BUT HERE IS A GOOD, PRACTICAL WAY 'CAUSE I THINK THAT IT'S FUN TO THINK ABOUT ALL THIS STUFF, ESPECIALLY THE REALLY FAR-OUT THINGS, BUT THERE ARE REAL IMPLICATIONS FOR US IN THE PRESENT DAY.

AND SO, JUST GO BACK TO THAT SELF-DRIVING-CAR SCENARIO.

YOU KNOW, THAT POTENTIALLY DISRUPTS US IN WAYS THAT WE'RE PROBABLY NOT THINKING CONCRETELY ENOUGH ABOUT YET.

FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR INSURANCE, RIGHT?

WHO MAKES DECISIONS AND REGULATIONS AND POLICIES ABOUT WHEN WE OURSELVES ARE ALLOWED TO DRIVE?

I ACTUALLY THINK THAT, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, WE'RE PROBABLY GONNA HAVE TO HAVE A SPECIAL LICENSE IN ORDER TO OPERATE VEHICLES THE WAY THAT WE DO TODAY.

SO, AND THAT REALLY DOES HAVE FAR-REACHING IMPLICATIONS FROM INFRASTRUCTURE TO LICENSING AGENCIES TO INSURANCE COMPANIES AND BEYOND.

YEAH, OR WHAT DOES IT DO TO, FOR EXAMPLE, A SHORT-DISTANCE PLANE RIDE IF I COULD JUST GET INTO MY CAR AND GO TO SLEEP AND WAKE UP IN CLEVELAND.

EVERY ONE OF THESE TRENDS OR EVERY ONE OF THESE DEVELOPMENTS IS SOMEHOW ROOTED IN A DESIRE TO EITHER LEVERAGE OR SOLVE FOR A VERY BASIC HUMAN DESIRE.

WE ALL DON'T WANT TO BE STUCK IN TRAFFIC.

NOBODY ENJOYS THAT, RIGHT?

SO, THAT'S WHAT WE'RE STARTING TO SEE PEOPLE HACK AND BUILD AND DEVELOP WAYS TO GET US OUT OF THAT SITUATION.

ALL RIGHT, AMY WEBB, C.E.O.

OF WEBBMEDIA, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANKS, HARI.

THE BALD EAGLE, THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL BIRD, IS NOW FLOURISHING AFTER DECADES OF THREATENED EXTINCTION.

THE MERCER COUNTY WILDLIFE CENTER IN NEW JERSEY HAS TAKEN STEPS TO PROTECT THIS NATIONAL TREASURE.

REPORT LAUREN WANKO HAS THE STORY.

THEY'RE MAKING A HUGE COMEBACK.

I MEAN, I'VE BEEN WITH THE COUNTY NOW FOR ALMOST 21 YEARS, AND WE NEVER SAW EAGLES WHEN I FIRST STARTED HERE.

THIS PAST YEAR, THE DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS AND OBSERVERS DOCUMENTED AND MONITORED 156 BALD EAGLE NEST SITES THROUGHOUT THE STATE -- AN ALL-TIME HIGH.

THE OTHER GOOD NEWS THIS YEAR IS THAT WE FINALLY SURPASSED 200 CHICKS PRODUCED IN ONE -- IN ONE SEASON, WHICH IS A LOT.

THIS IS NEW JERSEY.

WE'RE THE MOST URBANIZED STATE, AND WE HAVE A REALLY THRIVING EAGLE POPULATION.

THE BALD EAGLE IS STILL LISTED AS A STATE-ENDANGERED SPECIES.

THERE WAS ONLY ONE NESTING PAIR IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY FROM THE 1960s THROUGH THE EARLY '80s.

THEY HAD SURVIVED THE DDT YEARS.

IT'S A VERY LONG-LIVED PESTICIDE.

IT AFFECTED ALL THE RAPTORS, ALL THOSE TOP-TIER BIRDS OF PREY BY THINNING THEIR EGG SHELLS.

SO, FOR YEARS AND YEARS, THE SURVIVING BIRDS WERE LAYING EGGS THAT WEREN'T HATCHING.

THE RECENT INCREASE IN BALD EAGLES IN THE STATE STARTED WITH THAT NESTING PAIR.

IN THE 1980s, THE DIVISION OF FISH AND WILDLIFE REMOVED THE EGGS FROM THE WILD, INCUBATED THEM, AND EVENTUALLY BROUGHT THE CHICKS BACK TO THEIR PARENTS.

THE TEAM ALSO RELEASED YOUNG CHICKS, OR EAGLETS, THAT CAME FROM CANADA.

CLARK INSISTS IMPROVED ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS IN THE STATE HAVE HELPED THE EAGLE POPULATION THRIVE HERE, TOO.

NOW NESTS ARE IN 19 OF NEW JERSEY'S 21 COUNTIES, INCLUDING URBAN AREAS.

STILL, ABOUT 45% OF ALL NESTS ARE FOUND IN CUMBERLAND AND SALEM COUNTIES.

IT'S JUST SO EXCITING TO SEE HOW MANY NESTS THERE ACTUALLY ARE.

AT THE MERCER COUNTY WILDLIFE CENTER, ABOUT 2,200 INJURED ANIMALS ARE NURSED BACK TO HEALTH, INCLUDING THIS EAGLE.

THIS FEMALE ADULT BALD EAGLE HAS BEEN LIVING HERE AT THE MERCER COUNTY WILDLIFE CENTER SINCE 2006.

SHE FELL OUT OF HER NEST IN SOUTH JERSEY AND BROKE HER WING IN TWO PLACES.

NOW SHE CAN'T FLY WELL ENOUGH TO HUNT OR MIGRATE.

SHE'LL MOST LIKELY LIVE HERE FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE.

THIS EAGLE'S ABOUT 12 POUNDS WITH A 6-FOOT WINGSPAN.

THEY DON'T START OUT LOOKING LIKE THIS.

THEY START OUT WITH ALL THEIR FEATHERS ARE BROWN.

ITS FEATHERS START TO TURN WHITE ON THE HEAD AND TAIL AT ABOUT 4 YEARS OLD.

THEY ARE FULL-GROWN, AS BIG AS THEY'RE GONNA GET, BY THE TIME THEY'RE ABOUT 2 1/2 MONTHS OLD.

THEY MIGRATE OUT OF THEIR NESTING TERRITORY IN LATE SUMMER AND LAY ANYWHERE FROM ONE TO THREE EGGS A YEAR.

ABOUT HALF OF THE CHICKS IN ANY, YOU KNOW, HATCHED IN ANY ONE YEAR ARE NOT GONNA SURVIVE.

A LOT OF RAPTOR POPULATIONS ARE BUILT LIKE THAT.

THAT'S WHY THEY -- THEY'RE LONG-LIVED, BUT THEY HAVE TO GET THROUGH THAT FIRST YEAR OF SURVIVAL.

THAT'S WHEN THEY LEARN TO FLY.

THEY LEARN TO HUNT.

THEY HAVE TO MIGRATE.

CLARK SAYS EAGLES HAVE BEEN RE-COLONIZED HABITATS THAT HAVE BEEN EMPTY FOR DECADES, BUT THE BIRDS NEED GOOD TREES AND FORAGING AREAS, ALONG WITH PROTECTION FROM DISTURBANCE.

WE'RE THE ONE WITH THE THUMBS.

YOU KNOW, WE'RE THE ONES WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO FIGURE THESE THINGS OUT TO MAKE THIS A PEACEFUL PLANET FOR ALL OF US TO BE HERE, AND THEY'RE PART OF WHAT WE ARE.

THEY'RE PART OF WHAT WE ARE.

ALL THE WILDLIFE AROUND US IS PART OF WHAT WE ARE.

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME.

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UNTIL NEXT TIME, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

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