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The Almighty Buck Technology

XPrize Founders Launch Tech Innovation Competition 214

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the more-money dept.
metlin writes "The organizers of the Ansari X-Prize have launched the equivalent of the X-Prize in a variety of technology areas, called the WTN X-Prizes. The idea is to have a series of prizes for important technology challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, which will be judged by the World Technology Network. The website mentions that, 'The concept of the WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts, procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and the global science and technology innovators identification process and community developed by the World Technology Network (WTN) to launch a series of technology prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.' Sounds like a good idea, maybe this will help make that flying car a reality?"
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XPrize Founders Launch Tech Innovation Competition

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  • by Denver_G (253468) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:32AM (#10468137)
    Can they make one of the 1st prizes some of the X-ray specs so I can see through womens clothing! (Yes, it must have a gender filter)
  • Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by ender1598 (266355) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:32AM (#10468138)
    Instead of fusion power constantly being 10 years in the future, it'll now be stuck at 5!
    • Re:Cool (Score:2, Funny)

      by someme2 (670523)
      Instead of fusion power constantly being 10 years in the future, it'll now be stuck at 5!

      There are 10 kinds of people in the world; those that understand binary and those that do not.

      Why does the new X price delay the advent of fusion power by three years?
  • by Advocadus Diaboli (323784) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:33AM (#10468141)
    like e.g. making Microsoft Windows secure? :-)

    SCNR
    • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:42AM (#10468171)
      it's as simple as unplugging the ethernet cable and using a Linux or OS X box to surf.
      • Back the the days before the commodotiy internet, we had non networked computers. People had floppy disks to bring their files in. Those disks had viruses on.
        • And the floppy disks were small, too. None of this 1.44 MB stuff, no. We had to put up with 300K. The neighbors had 720K floppies and we were jealous. We walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to their house just to look at their computer and wish we had one. Of course, we were still better than the other neighbors who had a measly Apple ][ with 140K floppy that only worked on one side...
    • like e.g. making Microsoft Windows secure? :-)

      ...and throw in cold fusion, anti-gravity, faster than light travel and a perpetuum mobile while you're at it.

      • Hey, cold fusion shouldn't be in the same league as antigravity and perpetual motion. In fact, muon-catalyzed fusion, one type of fusion, without a doubt occurs (the challenge is making it energy-positive, which means you need to stop the newly-formed helium from monopolizing the muons). Next down on the scientifically-accepted scale is sonofusion - bassically, accoustic cavitation-induced fusion. The only real questions raised were on whether the detected neutrons were in the proper quantity, but I thin
    • Imagine that the next Windows version is very secure. Describe in 25 words or less how would it affect your life.
  • Zooming out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n54 (807502) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:35AM (#10468151) Homepage Journal
    I'm getting a bit worried that the X-Prize people have lost focus. Better to do one thing right at the time as they have with the Ansari X-Prize.
    • Considering that the X-Prize was one at a loss of 2-3 times the winnings, perhaps this sort of thing doesn't provide much of an incentive to innovate to anyone but the random billionaire philanthropist.
      • Re:Zooming out (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Considering that the X-Prize was one at a loss of 2-3 times the winnings...

        No it wasn't [bbc.co.uk].

        Allen will make back MORE than his original investment with the prize money plus the Virgin Galactic deal, PLUS there are other groups queueing up to license the tech. It's starting to look like a pretty smart investment.
        • Allen will make back MORE than his original investment with the prize money plus the Virgin Galactic deal, PLUS there are other groups queueing up to license the tech. It's starting to look like a pretty smart investment.

          While that may be true in this particular case, there's no guaranteeing that further prize attempts are going to see any appreciable return. However, I won't dispute the importance of privately-funded R&D. It seems like a great way to spur some real progress into the discovery of
    • Re:Zooming out (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dnnrly (120163)
      Since the X-Prize has been won now, they technically don't have any focus any more. But I do agree that they shouldn't let their new challenges get too confused. It could easily go 1 of 2 ways now, losing focus, letting the differences between challenges blur and being ignored as they wrestle with internal management and resource issues OR effectively splitting the new challenges up and providing clear and acheivable goals that will inspire people to going out there and win.

      In my ill considered and complet
    • I don't know... one of the biggest flaws of the X prize, in my opinion, is that it doesn't encourage new component research. For example, SpaceShipOne used a standard nozzile, a standard composite frame, etc. There's little incentive for such companies to do the expensive thing: basic research. Currently, NASA is one of the few places that do basic research related to rocket tech.

      I'd like to see basic research prizes. Develop an alane booster? Get 10 million dollars. Develop an ion drive thruster tha
  • by ActionJesus (803475) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:37AM (#10468158)
    Seriously... why is having flying cars lauded as "the next big thing" all the time? There are several things that would make travel easier and cheaper, such as electric or hydrogen powered cars. Or, even at the less techinical side of things, an effective public transport system. Also nicer to the environment.

    Also, think of the mess you get when theres a car crash on a motorway. Now multiply that by 40 times - thats the mess you get when flying cards run out of fuel and plough into regular traffic.

    Instead of worrying about flying cars, lets just try and make the cars we DO have less of a hassle.
    • cant see one of these doing much damage in a crash....

      Flying card [amagic.de]

    • There are several things that would make travel easier and cheaper, such as electric or hydrogen powered cars.

      Well, that doesn't exactly solve the problem of traffic congestion. That being said, I personally fear the day flying cars are made available to the average person. Unless auto-navigation systems progress to the point that vehicles can safely drive themselves, I really don't see flying cars becoming mainstream. You think that idiot tailgating you in the "F-950" is a hazard? Just wait until he h
      • Seriously, I've driven on the road before. People can't handle "rolling" cars. However, maybe flying cars would be OK if either 1) the licensing was changed so that it required actual proof of aptitude to obtain one or 2) the cars become cheap enough that most of hte bad drivers will get them, allowing me to use my wheeled car on roads no longer polluted by hordes of unqualified idiots. :)
    • Or let's make flying vehicles preferable over cars, maybe ? I have been fascinated by this project [petworks.co.jp] for quite a good amount of time already.
    • I see two advantages:

      1. Flying cars don't need roads
      2. Flying traffic can be layered both horizontally and vertically for a near-unlimited traffic bandwidth

      #1: The cost (it's all about cost, you should know this by now) of surveying, constructing, maintaining and upgrading roadways is large both in terms of dollars and in terms of man-hours consumed. Not much of an issue here in the USA where we already have plenty of roads, but elsewhere in the world where they've got more dirt roads than cars to travel
      • But, as anyone who lives in the city will ask, where do they all *park*? Traffic in the city isn't *half* as bad as parking in the city is. I suppose roads could be converted to runways/parking lots, but only after "normal" cars are obsolete...
    • Roads are incredibly expensive to build and maintain, at least in large and sparsely populated countries.

      Flying 'cars' would make multi-laned highways obsolete (in the long run).
    • If you have flying cars you no longer need to build roads.
  • by CosmeticLobotamy (155360) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:38AM (#10468160)
    Are we afraid the guy who invents the usable flying car won't be able to sell any? Is there someone with an AI sitting around saying, "If only I could figure out how to make some cash off this?"

    The prize for the space travel thing was incentive to do it cheaply, wasn't it? That doesn't work when the hard part is doing it at all.

    That said, it's still pretty cool.
    • by squaretorus (459130) on Friday October 08, 2004 @06:24AM (#10468280) Homepage Journal
      Theres one thing to have an idea, to have the motivation, to have the ingenuity and the focus. It's quite another to have the money and time to actually DO anything about it.

      Finding a funder can be a bitch - prizes like this mean that the funder has a second bet on - firstly they are betting the flying car will make money - second they are betting that the prize itself will give them some additional publicity.

      Imagine HP spending a few million on an Xprize entry for... well... anything. Thats a fraction of an advertising budget. They will sink the money more quickly based on a prize timescale and the reduced 'risk'.

      At least I _think_ thats the theory of this kind of prize.
    • You could see it as an alternative to patents, without the harmful monopoly effects.
    • I think the prize is more psychological than anything else. It's not so much about the money (AFAIK the X-Prize didn't cover the cost of building/flying SpaceShipOne).

      It's the *challenge* that matters. I say "I bet $500,000 that nobody can build a flying car" and it gets attention. Now there will be people out there to prove me wrong. Like the space race between the USA and USSR. And there wasn't even a prize! Just the competition and the challenge.

      That's what the X-prize does. Creates a chal
  • by antivoid (751399) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:39AM (#10468162) Homepage
    I feel someone should offer a nice prize for creating an efficient and clean way of producing hydrogen for fuel cell technology. Fuel cells already exist, but the cost, pollution and work involved in producing the hyrdogen required to run a fuel cell is prohibitive. If cheap and clean hydrogen production was achieved, we would be able to stop burning fossil fuels, the world would be a cleaner place, and stuff like flying cars could very well become a reality due to the sheer amount of power fuel cells can produce.
    • You mean like they plan in Iceland.
      Use geothermal vents to build power stations and use the leftover power (after providing electricity to the net) to produce hydrogen.

      A clean and for all intents en purposes endless suply of free (beside mainanance and transportofc ) energy
    • by spineboy (22918)
      offer the prize for making a working ethanol (or bio diesel)production plant that has a lower cost of energy than say a 30 dollar barrel of crude oil. As far as fuel cells go, I guess adding fuel cell tech to efficiently use ethanol, would be useful.
    • I feel someone should offer a nice prize for creating an efficient and clean way of producing hydrogen for fuel cell technology.

      Does this [pureenergysystems.com] count?
    • by mprinkey (1434)
      The problem with hydrogen is *not* producing it. Electrolysis is easily accomplish. People have been genetically engineering algae to produce hydrogen gas directly from sunlight. We can gasify coal or other hydrocarbons, bleed off and sequester the CO2 to get H2 pretty efficiently.

      The problem with hydrogen is storing it and transporting it safely. There is no good solution for this. The concept of using hydrogen as a bulk fuel is a complete non-starter until this problem is solved. With current appro
      • Powerballs [powerball.net] are an interesting storage solution. Reasonable pressure or cold temperature, I don't know about the energy density. You have a tank half-full of water, with ping-pong balls floating in it. Inside the ping-pong balls is sodium hydride (NaH), floating above the water is hydrogen gas at a not-too-high pressure. When the pressure drops, a robot [powerball.net] grabs a ping-pong ball, cuts it open, and the NaH reacts with the water to free hydrogen and put NaOH (lye) in the water. When most of the ping-pong balls ha
      • And recent studies seem to indicate that the environmental impact from significant H2 leakage could be worse than CO2 emissions.
        Care to elaborate and/or provide a link? H2 tends to go straight up into space, as Earth's gravity is too weak to hold it. No environmental impact, unless you count explosions. While water vapour (H2O) is a greenhouse gas, its lifetime in the atmosphere is orders of magnitude lower than that of CO2.

      • Nature's Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pavon (30274)
        Yes, I find it really interesting, and perhaps ironic that the fuels we are using now - hydrocarbons - have a higher hydrogen density than any of the mechanical (temperature, pressure) or chemical (metal hydrides) methods proposed for hydrogen cars. Not to mention the additional energy stored in the form of chemical bonds. It makes you think that perhaps nature was onto something when (nearly?) every life form on this planet uses hydrocarbons as their primary source of energy.

        Also, if you think about it, h
      • Compared to batteries, compressed hydrogen has good energy density. That's the reason for fuel cells in the first place. However, everything about fuel cells is inefficient. The fuel->energy conversion is lossy. The water electrolysis is lossy. Any regenerative braking? You'll either need batteries, or accept lossy re-electrolysing.

        Fuel cells also have poor *power density*. In general, you have the following

        Ultracapacitors:
        Best power density, worst energy density. Slowly leak energy, but have al
    • I think your understanding of fuel cells and their limitations is, well, limited. The cost of fuel cells are prohibitive primarily due to the PEM - Proton Exchange Membrane. This is the HEART of the fuel cell, which unfortunately becomes pretty expensive once systems are scaled up. The second limitation actually comes from the fact that hydrogen is very difficult to store in densities needed to provide longevity, safety, and frankly, cost. Solve those two problems, and such technology will be as commonplace
  • Flying car? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hittite Creosote (535397) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:42AM (#10468168)
    I'd hope they come up with real 21st century ideas, rather than rehashing old 20th century ones. Besides, what's the point of being able to fly to work when you still can't find anywhere to park? Anyway, the real problem isn't making a cheap flying machine as much as making it safe for the average person to control it - so what they'd really need are AI pilots, rather than flying cars.
    • so what they'd really need are AI pilots, rather than flying cars.

      And with AI pilots you can just ditch flying: traffic jams can be avoided completely by perfect cooperation of well disciplined drivers. Quite impossible with humans.

      Just look at the column of any (para)military outfit starting the parade march.

      Well trained people keep the right distances while forming as well as starting and stopping, so the column starts moving immediately in all places.

      Badly trained recruits at the front of the column
      • I've often thought about this myself - the fact is that "good driving habits" like not tailgating, not constantly accelerating and breaking to keep perfect pace with the movements of the next car - these things increase congestion.

        So maybe Minority Report was right? The future isn't flying cars, but AI cars that work together in the city.

        Either way, just take the friggin' subway you planet-screwing losers.
  • Oil? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I just hope one of the prizes is for a technology to help us kick our oil addiction... Peak Oil is coming people!
  • by DeepDarkSky (111382) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:46AM (#10468183)
    Flying cars sound really great, but quite frankly, I think it's a waste. Unless it offers considerable advantage, it would never take-off (pun intended). By considerable advantage, I mean it can get to places a lot faster or uses less fuel or something. I can see the use of them, but not on a large scale basis. Flying cars will obviously use consierably more fuel than regular cars and other ground transports. For other purposes, there's the airplane, which has been economized and travels much faster.

    The flying car, then, I think will end up being like helicopters - but perhaps slightly more common. Wealthy people will have them and for emergency purposes (organ transplants, etc.), but other than that, I don't see flying cars as truly useful. In the U.S., we already consume so much energy driving, etc., do we really just need more ways to consumer energy faster?

    (Granted, if we all had this attitude, we would have had the technology advances we've had up to know, airplanes and all, but current energy usage trends are quite alarming).
    • By considerable advantage, I mean it can get to places a lot faster or uses less fuel or something. I can see the use of them, but not on a large scale basis. Flying cars will obviously use consierably more fuel than regular cars and other ground transports.

      Well, there's always the Moller M400 [moller.com]. Top speed of 350 mph, uses regular gasoline, gets 20 mpg (better than an SUV).

      • [sarcasm] Yeah, but does it fly? [/sarcasm]
      • Well, there's always the Moller M400. Top speed of 350 mph, uses regular gasoline, gets 20 mpg (better than an SUV).

        This project has been going on for years and the most they've managed is a few feet off the ground. We can talk about fuel economy once the thing is flying.

        I also don't think the Moller is that good of a design. Why fly at 350mph and NOT have a wing? The lift is essentially free...the only cost is induced drag...the natural byproduct of lift in an airfoil. I just don't understand why he
    • From a century ago: Flying aeroplanes will obviously use considerably more fuel than regular cruise liners and other sea transports.

      A flying car occupies an area of usefulness between a car and an aeroplane. For example, I happen to live on a island 10 miles off the French coast. If I want to go to France, I have to book a ticket on a plane, go to the airport according to a schedule. Wait 45 minutes mandatory checkin time, fly to another island, wait for the connection, fly to the one single French ai

      • The problem with cheap and easy personal flight is infrastructure *not* the plane itself. We can build a cheap plane now. We can even build a super-duper autopilot that will get it from A to B. It isn't hard. The price is then a matter of mass-production and the old bug-bear of product liability. I understand that is why many private planes are now available only as kits.

        The problem is the infrastructure. NASA has their concept of 'highways in the sky', which essentiaally allows pilots to request flight

        • You see, you are falling into the hole I talked about. You are doing the equivalent of setting the X-Prize for a visit to the Moon, instead of just reaching a high enough altitude to be called space. Yes, the autopilot is absolutely critical. That's why now is a very good time to be doing it, and the 1970s or the 1950s for example, wasn't.
      • In the niche market that you describe, it very well might be cheaper to buy a boat and hire a taxi on the mainland, than to own and maintain a flying car. (You don't want to be in a situation where you need "roadside" assistance--I suspect that the enhanced reliability and more frequent preventive maintenance will be costly indeed.) In any conditions that you wouldn't want to take a small boat out, you probably wouldn't want to try the trip in your flying car either.

        Small hovercraft also come to mind as

  • by Gabrill (556503) on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:50AM (#10468191)
    We already have lots of innovation in raw technology. The problem is that they're not economically feasable. The next prizes should be given to the company (or individual) who brings a next generation technology to the masses.

    A true highway autopilot in a sub $30k car

    Safe fog and rain navigation for the same car

    Economic and RELIABLE robotic assembly lines

    Stuff like that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2004 @05:53AM (#10468200)
    The concept of the WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts, procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and the global science and technology innovators identification process and community developed by the World Technology Network (WTN) to launch a series of technology prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

    What will the prize be for a foolproof way of teaching writing skills?
  • Potable water (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rxke (644923) on Friday October 08, 2004 @06:03AM (#10468221) Homepage
    Cheap ways to purify water etc.
    The much-talked about global water-crisis in the making needs some attention.

    Crazy ideas aplenty: Thinking of Dune: the big 'stills, that take moisture out of the air and cool it, so it condenses, comes to mind. But something like that would be possible to build with simple stuff... In 'underdeveloped' nations...

    • I always wondered whether you could have airships that fill up with the hot and humid air above the ocean areas where hurricanes start, and have them travel to the regions where there are shortages of water (or at least some high-altitude grouond and let gravity do the rest).
  • by thrill12 (711899) * on Friday October 08, 2004 @06:19AM (#10468262) Journal
    Wherever a prize was awarded, anti-prizes where tought of: the golden raspberry [razzies.com](anti-Oscar), ig-nobel prize [improb.com]('anti'-NobelPrize), etc.

    Where is this "Anti X-prize" then ?
    My personal idea for the contents for such a prize would be:

    Prize for the craft that crashes most spectacular (without people, duh)

    Prize for the most useless invention on (name your territory here)

    Prize for the worst overshoot of a set target (wanted to the moon, went to Mars)
    Any more ?

  • by zarthrag (650912) on Friday October 08, 2004 @06:30AM (#10468294)
    ...The NEW Cadillac Escalade Flyin' SUV! With motorized "spinner" rims that spin even when you're flyin!

    Gimme a friggin break! The X Prize was cool and all, but that's not quite effective for everything, only encouraging lower costs. If you wanna help the world by offering a prize, try these:

    1. Energy Efficient homes. The car is a good start, but the american home could stand to be improved. How about homes that produce more energy than they consume?

    2. Space Resource gathering/production. This is what the X prize should work toward IMO. The nearest asteroid is worth (I think) ~3 trillion. Now that's smart resources!

    3. Energy production. Solar energy "farms", in space!

    4. Energy transport. Friendly/safe synthetic fuels or batteries are a must.

    For most of these 10M may not cut it. But I'd like to see some kinda push.
    • How about homes that produce more energy than they consume?
      IMHO a challenge for designing a house that doesn't use more energy than it produce, would only have real meaning if it isn't more expensive than ordinary houses (plus a few years of energy costs), has a decent reliablity and no hassle.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... sure it isn't as "cool" but is the greatest problem facing humanity.

  • by BlueMonk (101716) <BlueMonkMN@gmail.com> on Friday October 08, 2004 @06:57AM (#10468365) Homepage
    I think the biggest challenge facing humanity right now is energy. I don't know if everyone realizes how many of the world's problems are based on energy consumption and how much better off we would be with some alternative energy source that is safe, clean, cheap and plentiful. Surely we've put our minds to it before, and maybe it's futile to hope for such a miracle, but maybe it's time to try again. Any hope of finally getting that cold fusion to work? :) Or maybe some combination of high yield solar panels with efficient storage cells.

    Imagine -- forget mideast oil and all their conflicts; forget pollution -- most of it comes from our current, primary energy sources; forget nuclear waste disposal (after we're done with what we've already got to deal with); and if the energy source is reasonably self-contained / localized (like solar panels on the house), forget transmission problems and dangers. If I had to pay double taxes for 2 years to get this worked out, I'd be all for it!
    • The big challenge isn't so much generation - as transmission and storage. If we can create a reliable way of getting energy to cover a few hundred miles and a few dozen hours with 50% losses we have really achieved something tangible in getting rid of the energy problems by making relatively remote wind / solar / etc sources viable.

      At the moment, from the last report I read, wind X energy collected in west of Scotland last night ans stored in a hydro plant until I needed to use it this morning turns into X
    • by n54 (807502) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:08AM (#10468561) Homepage Journal
      I agree, even starvation (which another poster mentioned) can often (in part) be attributed to lack of energy, for example local overuse of wood contributing to drought or desertification.

      Still, research into energy sources probably wont get much help from prizes given out afterwards: either they're already funded by governments or (usually oil) companies, or they lack enough present funding like this interesting fusion project: http://www.focusfusion.org/home.html [focusfusion.org] - disregard the horrible site design, and if there's a VC out there why not have a closer look? If it's successful you'll make Paul Allen green with envy ;)

      Such projects or other more established ones might benefit a lot more from "fasttracking" than a prize by getting more funds and brainpower. Then again with all the research going on it might not help at all: do we want to try a broad approach or hedge our bets on a few? Choosing is very hard. Most governments in America, Europe, Asia and Oceania are giving pretty big incentives for energy research as it is. Some big examples are the US hydrogen focus, Chinas pebble reactors (the South African Republic is also looking at this, so Africa is in too), and the Australian solar tower (european technology), and there are lots and lots of smaller projects almost everywhere.
      • Actually, despite the hype, there's relatively little real R&D money going into alternative energy in the US, other than the nuclear options. The hydrogen car thing is funded at something like $100 million/year. Solar cells get about $80 million/year. Energy efficiency efforts get a few hundred million/year. Fusion gets a lot more than all those, if you include the inertial confinement stuff, at about $1 billion/year.

        That's out of the Department of Energy budget, which is funded at well over $20 billio
  • 1. Robots and AI
    Robot players beats human world championchip masters in a standard soccer match.

    2. Space
    2.1 - Race around the mon.
    2.2 - Land on the moon.
    2.3 - Bring back one kilogram of moon material
    2.3 - Land on mars.

    3. Medicine
    Neural computer interface(say matrix)

    4. Energy
    Superconducting powerline over 100km

    5. Transportation
    Antigravity
    • They forgot:

      6. Bureaucracy
      Redesigned patent system
    • 1. Robots and AI Robot players beats human world championchip masters in a standard soccer match.

      Only three humans were injured unintentionally by their bulky metal foes. The fourth doesn't count because he deliberately picked a fight with top robotic player Android Schwarzenegger.

      5. Transportation Antigravity

      Baloon trash is a thing of the past. Now, when you lose grip on the string, the baloon navigates itself out of the solar system.

  • One option (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Augoeides (820180)
    I believe one very good place to start off would be IT development in the poorest of the poor countries (which is one of the UN's goals for the millenium). The reason is that, as others pointed out, the X Prizes work best when used to increase incentive for things we already know how to do. This could improve the lives of people living in these countries AND make us, as a species, better able to know what we know.
  • The concept of the WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts, procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and the global science and technology innovators identification process and community developed by the World Technology Network (WTN) to launch a series of technology prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century.

    Man, what a complete trainwreck of a sentence.
  • solar power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bob_avernus (799481) on Friday October 08, 2004 @07:46AM (#10468486)
    Solar panels are still pretty expensive, so why not have a prize for an efficient process for making solar panels?
  • In James L. Halperin's book "The Truth Machine", the government is persuaded to offer a prize to the company which can construct a machine capable of determining whether someone is telling the truth, with 100% efficiency. Maybe the WTN could make this one of the prizes?

  • I submitted the "Duke Nukem Forever" WTN Xprize. What better technological breakthrough could we ever see!!

    I listed the prize as $1 million (and yes I did the Dr Evil thing when submitting). I listed the method of funding as $1 from each of the first million Slashdot readers to buy the game, since I figure we'll all be rushing out to get it when it comes out.

    Who's with me!?
  • Advances? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by builderbob_nz (728755) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:13AM (#10468587)
    maybe this will help make that flying car a reality?

    Oh God I hope not. It is bad enough now with drivers not watching what they are doing in two dimensions and now you want to add a third!? The day that they let the average Joe Blogs drive a flying car is the day I give up driving and to back to walking/cycling/public transport - I'll live longer!
  • by justanyone (308934) on Friday October 08, 2004 @08:15AM (#10468594) Homepage Journal
    I've been thinking about this for a long time.
    Here's my list:

    1. Medical technique (drug/etc.) to stimulate regrowth of tissue, as various lizards do. Lose an arm? Regrow it. this would have to take into account the replacement of scar tissue with healthy new tissue. Important in this are skin, nerve, and heart tissues.
    2. Replacement teeth. Along the same lines as tissue regrowth for the gums, replacement teeth would have similar properties to existing teeth but be permanently implanted. We have this for hips, knees, etc., why not for teeth?
    3. Technique to artificially stimulate (nuclear) Beta decay. This would allow us to reduce radioactivity immediately in radioactive materials.
    4. Method/device to increase, decrease (even to become negative) the force of gravity acting on an object. This would NOT include any mechanical device; I'm talking about a gravitational FIELD force here.
    5. 3 dimensional display as a transparent globe that we look into to view projected images. This would allow 3-D viewing, and would vastly assist all manner of medical and engineering processes.
    6. Caller-id. Oh, sorry, we have that.
    7. Recognition in the social sciences realm that peace studies deserves more research and development, allowing disparate, traditionally hateful relationships between ethic/religious/etc. groups morph into peaceful coexistence, without resorting to genocide of one or the other groups.
    8. Airborne refuelling using liquid oxygen instead of jet fuel.
    9. Ramjet or scramjet jet engines that can go from 100% atmospheric oxygen variably to 100% onboard oxygen, burning kerosene.
    10. Same suppemental oxygen engines that are rated for very high mach numbers in rarified air.
    11. Space suits that are very thin and easy to put on/take off, and work at higher than 2 psi so there's no prebreathing requirement.
    12. Very high specific impulse (ISP) engines (from 1000 to 10,000) with thrust ranges in the tens or hundreds of newtons instead of millinewtons.

    Just a smattering of goals here.
    • 5. 3 dimensional display as a transparent globe that we look into to view projected images. This would allow 3-D viewing, and would vastly assist all manner of medical and engineering processes

      Already done [actuality-systems.com]

      Urr.. can I get my $1M now? :)
    • I undrstand a lot of work has already been done by NASA on this including volunteers wearing an elasticated but not airtight garment in very low-pressure atmospheres. It worked and was easier to use than a conventional space suit. The prebreath is no longer necessary because the only pressurised part is a bubble over the head. A space suit has a low pressure so that it can be articulated. Without the need for articulation, the pressure can be raised.

      They nuked the project on the grounds they already had a

  • The Better Battery, or equivalent energy storage system that lasts a decent amount of time in use, and is quickly/easily recharged.
  • ... that with all these "technology innovation" and incredibly effective agriculture we still do NOT have 15-20 hours per week worktime. Makes you wonder what the use in all of it when we still dump our lives at the desks and stuff much like 100, 200, 300 years ago.
  • Nobel Prize (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gradius3 (457417)
    So, will this compete with the Nobel Prize? Personally, I'm glad that there are visionaries that want to see the advancement of science and engineering and are willing to add monetary incentives to this goal.
  • and come up with a shaving system that doesn't involving scraping sharp pieces of metal across our faces!

    I mean seriously, if someone could pack a laser hair removal system into a handheld gadget built for the home user, I'd buy it. I'm all about the not shaving for 4-6 weeks part.
  • Mod me down if you want, I don't care about Karma.

    This news, along with last Monday's first private space flight, is exactly the side of America that the rest of the world likes to see.

    America was admired and respected for a long time because of many things, standing up for freedom, innovation, opportunity.

    In the post Sept 11 era, America is loathed and hated because of its foreign policy being hijacked by a few with agendas.

    Will America in 2003/2004 be remembered for the Burt Rutans, and Ansar

  • Last night I watched a 3 hour program documenting the Spaceship1 story on the Discovery Channel. I was struck by the brilliance and perserverance of Rutan's team, but also how insanely dangerous this was. The view from the spartan cockpit of the pilot struggling to control the flight of the rocket was sobering. It was like they were ridding a paint shaker! Chuck Yeager's wild X-1, X-2 flights had nothing on SS1. I'm just glad these great pilots weren't killed. Burt Rutan is still very far from safe subo

  • As I stated in my original prize award announcement [google.com]:

    With enough diversity of people and technical objectives, there would be a "fuzzy" gradient of incentive created for ever higher performance amateur rockets, not dependent on the credibility of any one organization's political structure for "fairness" or good technical judgement.

    It's great what the X-Prize committee has accomplished but they shouldn't be the "World" (as in "World Technology Network") of prize awards lest they become another single poin

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