Space Liners: Technology game-changer series (part 2/3)

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Dronies (selfies with a drone), 90 minute flights from Australia to the UK and zero-carbon cities are just some of the great innovations that we can look forward to by 2021. This technology series showcases some of the best the world has to offer.

1. What is a Spaceliner? Well it is not the Concorde
Supersonic aircraft that uses a rocket engine to take off. Supersonic or “twice the speed of sound” technology has actually been around since 1969. The Concorde was the first commercially viable supersonic flight and operated from 1969-2003. It was the fastest way to fly and held an unbroken safety record until 2000. The routes were taken by the rich, famous and powerful.

The Space Liner improves upon this technology to make it a safer, less noisy and more efficient way to fly. Learning from the technological and business failings of the Concorde, Space Liners have attracted great investor and research interest. E.g. Virgin Galactic, Aerion & Airbus.

2. It will save so much time
Humanity has progressed so fast in distance travel.

  • 1850 – Travel from Europe to Australia via sail would take at least 2 months with good winds and up to 4 months in calm weather.
  • 1900 – Travel via steamships on the Suez Canal route reduced travel time to just over 1 month.
  • 1930s – Air travel for wealthy immigrants became available. It still took 11 days and over 24 stopovers to travel from Australia to Europe.
  • 1960s – “Golden era of travel” Air travel became mainstream. By 1969, the Kangaroo route between London and Sydney took around 32 hours with 6 stopovers.
  • 1989 – Qantas set a world record, flying from Sydney to Australia in 20 hours.
  • 2015 – Today on average, it takes around 23 hours to fly from Australia to London.
  • By 2020, a flight from Sydney to London may just take 90 minutes.

3. It will be available on domestic flights – eventually
Aircraft manufacturers predict that Space Liners will go to market in 5-10 years or at least by 2050. Although at first, the routes will be first/business class flights, the business case for domestic flights is proven. It may take longer, but large aircraft manufacturers, who have spent years researching the technology and the market are optimistic.

4. It is environmentally friendlier than aircraft
The SpaceLiner only emits water vapour. The SpaceLiner’s reusable liquid rocket engines are made up of Liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen.

5. An out-of-the-world experience
At 65,000ft, we will already be able to see the curvature of the earth and experience the feeling of travelling at twice the speed of sound. Additionally, we may even get the chance to travel out-of-space in our lifetime. Virgin Galactic has ambitious plans for establishing a sub-orbital route. Even with set-backs potentially delaying the original take-off date of 2018, we can expect to see this happen in our lifetime. If this does take off – we may someday get to see the blue earth while being weightless in space.

Next: Zero carbon cities

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The Age of Drones: Technology game-changer series (part 1/3)

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Dronies (selfies with a drone), 90 minute flights from Australia to the UK and zero-carbon cities are just some of the great innovations that we can look forward to by 2021. This technology series showcases some of the best the world has to offer.

In 2007, Jordi Munoz & Chris Anderson met on an online community started by Chris Anderson called “DIY Drones”. Jordi was a 19-year old Mexican immigrant who assembled a drone from parts of a Wii controller and radio-operated toy helicopter. Soon after sharing his discovery on the forum, Chris & Jordi established 3D Robotics to sell drones to the DIY community, however, the co-owners were met with such ferocious demand outside the DIY community that the company expanded into what it has become today.

Earlier in 2015, 3D Robotics raised $50 million in investment funding. Another drone company, DJI, raised $75 million in the same year. DJI, with their popular Phantom drones, are the current market leader and are expecting to make $1 billion this year.

This is just the beginning. In early 2015, GoPro announced that they have joined with 3D Robotics to release their first drone by 2016 and the market loves it. GoPro’s shares received a 6.5% boost on the day of the announcement. In another world first, Singapore Post have announced that they are testing drone deliveries of snail mail.

Governments are responding too. New drone laws have been legislated to protect privacy and security. This includes the extension of anti-peeping laws to prevent unwarranted surveillance and spying, as well as extended civil aviation laws to prevent drones from destroying aircraft and other drones. New laws will also prevent people from destroying/vandalizing other people’s drones.

We are on the cusp of a new age of drones and it is hard to predict just how different our world may look in a few years’ time.

Next: How Space liners may change the way we fly.

Please note: I have no shares in any of the companies mentioned and will not receive any payment for these posts.

Dronies – The new Selfie!

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The internet is growing darker day-by-day

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In the deepest corners of the dark web, anything goes. These are sites that cannot be found using typical search browsers like Google and Yahoo and are usually not accessed via a standard operating system like Microsoft or Apple. Instead, individuals access these sites using The Onion Router (TOR) browser and a hidden operating system (e.g. Tails) booted from a USB or CD.

TOR isn’t secret, in fact TOR is widely used by a diverse range of groups including criminals, non-criminals, NGOS, journalists, security researchers and government authorities alike who need to browse anonymously for a number of reasons. It is the security in numbers that can protect a TOR user’s anonymity and freedom from censorship.

For those interested in using TOR though – beware. TOR is not banned, which means that authorities, like the NSA, may be gaining good intelligence on TOR users. For user’s who are not security savvy, the government may even know what they are visiting.

TOR is a free utility that anyone can download and configure. The TOR website offers clear instructions on how to do this. Once set-up, the user connects to a series of encrypted TOR servers (which are also physically located in a secure location) before they connect to the destination site. As the connection is encrypted at each node, it is not possible to detect where the original request came from through traffic packet analysis alone. However, it is possible for Internet Security Provider’s (ISP’s) to distinguish TOR traffic from regular traffic– they just won’t know what you are accessing. Even if authorities took over a hidden dark web server or set-up a dark web honeypot to lure users, it will be difficult for them to identify the users (but not impossible*).

Despite the risks of being caught – the use of TOR in accessing the dark web is increasing. On the dark web, users can purchase personal credentials, illegal drugs and weapons. They can also hire hitmen, order DDos or other attacks and plan criminal/terrorist activities. The dark web is also full of some of the most terrifying web content shared by disturbed minds. Silk Road may have been closed down but it can easily be replaced. It is a continual struggle of power between criminals and authorities.