“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles; and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.”
In Rio we brought together bright energy ideas, global superstars and music. Now we’re in Kenya with GravityLight, demonstrating how a light powered by gravity could help replace kerosene-fueled lamps and improve lives.
7 January: Mathematicians, as part of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, report the discovery of a new prime number:
274,207,281 − 1.
14 January: Astronomers report that ASASSN-15lh, first observed in June 2015, is likely the brightest supernova ever detected. Twice as luminous as the previous record holder, at peak detonation it was as bright as 570 billion Suns
18 January: Light-activated nanoparticles able to kill over 90% of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are demonstrated at the University of Colorado Boulder.
20 January: Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology present the strongest evidence yet that a ninth planet is present in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun every 15,000 years.
26 January: Researchers at the University of Washington announce a new handheld, pen-sized microscope that could identify cancer cells in doctor’s offices and operating rooms.
27 January: Google announces a breakthrough in artificial intelligence with a program able to beat the European champion of the board game Go.
28 January: Research into the nature of time by Griffith University’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics shows how an asymmetry for time reversal might be responsible for making the universe move forward in time.
11 February: Scientists at the LIGO, Virgo and GEO600 announce the first direct detection of a gravitational wave predicted by the general relativity theory of Albert Einstein.
13 April: A quadriplegic man, Ian Burkhart from Ohio, is able to perform complex functional movements with his fingers after a chip was implanted in his brain.
20 June: China introduces the Sunway TaihuLight, the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of 93 petaflops and a peak performance of 125 petaflops.
30 June:The first known death caused by a self-driving car is disclosed by Tesla Motors.
4 July: NASA scientists announce the arrival of the Juno spacecraft at the planet Jupiter.
5 July: China completes construction on the world’s largest radio telescope.
2 May: A study in PNAS concludes that Earth may be home to 1 trillion species, with 99.999 percent remaining undiscovered.
10 May: NASA’s Kepler mission verifies 1,284 new exoplanets – the single largest finding of planets to date.
18 May: At the I/O developer conference, Google reveals it has been working on a new chip, known as the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which delivers “an order of magnitude higher performance per watt than all commercially available GPUs and FPGA.
3 June June: NASA and ESA jointly announce that the Universe is expanding 5% to 9% faster than previously thought, after using the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the distance to stars in 19 galaxies beyond the Milky Way.
27 July: Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, are found to reduce bee sperm counts by almost 40%, as well as cutting the lifespan of bee drones by a third.
29 July:The seafloor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone – an area in the Pacific Ocean being targeted for deep-sea mining – is found to contain an abundance and diversity of life, with more than half of the species collected being new to science.
4 August: A team at the University of Oxford achieves a quantum logic gate with record-breaking 99.9% precision, reaching the benchmark required to build a quantum computer.
5 August: Research by Imperial College London suggests that a new form of light can be created by binding it to a single electron, combining the properties of both.
11 August: The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus) is found to be the longest-lived vertebrate, able to reach a lifespan of nearly 400 years.
10 September:The second largest meteorite ever found is exhumed near Gancedo, Argentina. It weighs 30 tonnes and fell to Earth around 2000 BC.
16 September: The development of 1 terabit-per-second transmission rates over optical fiber is announced by Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom T-Labs and the Technical University of Munich.
21 September: Scientists report that, based on human DNA genetic studies, all non-African humans in the world today can be traced to a single population that exited Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.
11 October: Scientists identify the maximum human lifespan at an average age of 115, with an absolute upper limit of 125 years old.
4 November: Researchers in the UK announce a genetically modified "superwheat” that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis to boost yields by 20 to 40 percent. Field trials are expected in 2017.
8 November: Lab-grown mini lungs, developed from stem cells, are successfully transplanted into mice by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.
13 November: The University of East Anglia reports that global emissions of CO2 did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth.
28 November: Scientists at the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry officially recognizes names for four new chemical elements: Nihonium, Nh, 113; Moscovium, Mc, 115; Tennessine, Ts, 117 and Oganesson, Og, 118.
15 December: Scientists use a new form of gene therapy to partially reverse aging in mice. After six weeks of treatment, the animals looked younger, had straighter spines and better cardiovascular health, healed quicker when injured, and lived 30% longer.
22 December: A study finds the VSV-EBOV vaccine against the Ebola virus between 70–100% effective, and thus making it the first proven vaccine against the disease.
No cockpit demands as much intense focus as an SR-71 Blackbird’s, and in frustrating irony, no cockpit offers a better view. There was no time to look out the window. The plane knew when your eyes started to wander to the spectacle of earth from 85,000 feet; that’s when something would go wrong. There was much to monitor. The many “steam gauge” instruments reflect a bygone era, giving the pilot information ranging from heading to compressor inlet temperature, each dial representing a critically important system.
Even though this cockpit was operated through 2,854 flight hours, it looks brand new. That’s because it was only ever flown using the gloved hands of a crew member wearing the essential high altitude pressure suit. Every control is large enough to be adjusted with those bulky pressure suit gloves.
You sit atop your throne, the SR-1 ejection seat, which carries a rare 100% success rate. To operate the circuit breakers, you must reach beside and behind your seat, outside your field of view through the pressure suit helmet. To make sure you actuate the correct breaker, you count down the rows and columns by feel.
March Field Air Museum in Riverside, California, is kind enough to display SR-71A 17975 with her cockpit open. This gives us a rare peek inside the world of the Blackbird, allowing us to look inside something that was formerly top secret and reserved only for a privileged few crew members. These photos were captured using a camera extended into the cockpit via monopod. At no point did I or my equipment come in contact with the artifact.