'Fishboys' herding schools of fish, in seas converted into giant fish ranches, could become more fact than fiction in the next century, according to Professor Robert E Newnham speaking today [Tuesday 22 June] at the European Ceramics Society conference organised by The Institute of Materials. Naturally 'grown' submarine sea walls and 'fish-herding' sonar devices built from transceivers that interpret 'fish talk' represent a small part of the technological requirements that ceramist engineers and scientists will have to fill.
According to Professor Newnham, from Penn State University, USA, providing enough food and clean water for a world population as high as 11.5 billion (UN estimate for 2150) will be reliant on the water-based technologies of irrigation, desalination, filtration and aquaculture. A vital part of these technologies is dependent on ceramic materials and future development of ceramic based technologies.
These engineering megaworks will be matched in the future by a scaling down of ceramic materials to meet the demands of nanotechnology. Scaling down of high tech ceramics and electroceramics will lead to increasing integration and miniaturisation. Coupled with a greater understanding of how the human brain functions, these ceramics could bring about increased integration of the organic and inorganic. "The age of engineering microworks is upon us, and in the coming century a global system will evolve which involves the integration of human and machine intelligence," says Professor Newnham. "This will come about," he says, "[as]ceramic electronic and optical components are made smaller and smaller until they disappear inside integrated inorganic systems which rival biological systems both in scale and complexity."
"In the coming century," he says, " there will be a confluence of organic and
inorganic life into some type of composite life form, perhaps an immortal life
form, with a common consciousness that transcends living beings.
Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
Institute of Materials