Saturday, December 18, 2010

NOVA: Materials That Changed History (win a MacBook Air or iPod Touch)

I have mentioned in passing that the next secular bull market (read: expanding P/E ratios combined with earnings growth over a multiyear period) will be facilitated by some combination of advances in materials science, manufacturing technology and applied nanotechnology.

Some prognosticators are positing 2020 for the beginning of this glorius event, some 2018.
We're in the minority looking for an earlier start, say 2014-2015. In any case we have some time, we might as well spend it in the company of smart people. Here's NOVA. First some history:

Where would we be without wood, ceramics, glass, iron? Human civilization would not have advanced as it has without these and other key materials. Here, look at 10 resources that have had the most significant impact on society, ranging from the most ancient kinds to those remaking the 21st century.


Before stone there was wood. We humans are, after all, products of the forests. No material has followed the history of our species, from millions of years ago in the heart of Africa to the present, more intimately and persistently than wood has. This simple fact is often lost in the archeologist's understandable passion for more durable substances like stone and brick, but our material world was once almost exclusively one of logs, sticks, bark, twigs, bamboo, and the myriad other forms that wood takes in nature.
No material is so impressive in its versatility. This follows from nature's own design, endowing woody plants with a great range of strengths, densities, and flexibility. This, in turn, is largely due to the composite structure of the material—generally combinations of strong fibers and tough binders. The result may be dense and heavy, like oak or hornbeam, or soft and light, like balsa. It may be extremely flexible, like willow or laurel, or tough and resistant to change, like teak or mahogany.

Mastery of wood allowed humans to transform rivers and seas from barriers to highways; to build fences, homes, and walls, even when little stone was available; and to furnish their lives with everything from beds and chairs to buckets and barrels. In the last century or so, this mastery—and the dependency that followed—has extended to entirely new forms, including slices, laminates, particles, and chips....Many MORE
And a look ahead:

Coming Soon
Making Stuff: Series Overview
Technology reporter David Pogue hosts a four-part special series exploring the materials that will shape our future. Premiering January 19, 2011 on PBS.

Program Description

Invisibility cloaks. Spider silk that is stronger than steel. Plastics made of sugar that dissolve in landfills. Self-healing military vehicles. Smart pills and micro-robots that zap diseases. Clothes that monitor your mood. What will the future bring, and what will it be made of? In NOVA's four-hour series, "Making Stuff," popular New York Times technology reporter David Pogue takes viewers on a fun-filled tour of the material world we live in, and the one that may lie ahead. Get a behind-the-scenes look at scientific innovations ushering in a new generation of materials that are stronger, smaller, cleaner, and smarter than anything we've ever seen.
Beginning January 19, 2011, NOVA will premiere the new four-hour series on consecutive Wednesday nights at 9 pm ET/PT on PBS (check local listings): "Making Stuff: Stronger, Smaller, Cleaner, Smarter."

From the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age to more recent periods dominated by plastics and silicon, materials have defined the progression of humankind. Now, we are once again poised on the verge of a materials revolution, as researchers around the globe push the boundaries further than ever before, using biology and chemistry to imbue materials with new qualities that are expanding our technological frontiers.
"Few people realize it, but materials are the basis of our civilization—the Stone Age, the Iron Age—and materials are what will take us into the future," says Paula S. Apsell, Senior Executive Producer for NOVA. "David Pogue is a highly entertaining and tech-savvy guide during a fascinating four hours full of potential breakthroughs that will shape our future."

To download the press release with more detailed descriptions of each program as well as photos, visit our press site.

What's This Stuff? asks David Pogue: A "Making Stuff" contest

Think you know your stuff? Test your material-know how and win a MacBook Air and an online chat with David Pogue, or maybe an Apple iPod Touch. Click here to learn more about this contest and how you can test your mettle.