When you look at at predictions of the future, they never quite get it right, so I'll take Popular Mechanics' 110 Predictions For the Next 110 Years with a grain of salt. Still, some of these future predictions borrow plenty from current scientific discoveries, cultural shifts and adoption of existing technologies for new roles.
It's never easy to predict the future. But as PM's 110th anniversary celebration draws to a close, we've decided to try. Here are 110 ambitious ideas for the decades ahead.
• Car tires will be brewed by bacteria. Isoprene -- a key ingredient in rubber -- is produced naturally by many plants but not at great enough volume to keep pace with the world's demand for tires. It can also be extracted from oil. But biotech firm Genencor has engineered E. coli microbes that produce gobs of the stuff as a by-product of metabolizing plant sugars. Goodyear, a partner in the study, is already testing prototypes of these bio-isoprene tires.
• Self-cleaning buildings will help us fight smog. When sunlight strikes their aluminum skin, a titanium dioxide coating releases free radicals, which break down the grime and convert toxic nitrogen oxide molecules in the air into a harmless nitrate. Everything washes away in the rain.
• Your clothes will clean themselves too. Engineers in China have developed a titanium dioxide coating that helps cotton shed stains and eliminate odor-producing bacteria. To revive your lucky shirt after a night of poker, you need only step into the sun.
• Drones will protect endangered species. Guarding at-risk animals from poachers with foot patrols is expensive and dangerous. This summer rangers in Nepal's Chitwan National Park previewed a savvy solution: Hand-launched drones armed with cameras and GPS provided aerial surveillance of threatened Indian rhinos.
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