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Our Technical Reality Part 5 of 6

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A short ceremony was held at the newly built Wuhan railway station to launch the official start of China's first high-speed passenger railway. The service links Wuhan, the capitol city of Hubei province, and Guangzhou, the capitol city of Guangdong province, cutting travel time between the two cities from 10 hours to 3 hours. Wuhan's tv-reporter, Hu Li, was there. I'm right now standing on the number one platform of the newly built Wuhan railway station. About 3 minutes later, I will get on the first train of the Wuhan to Guanzhou express railway, with 1200 passengers to Guanzhou, a city 1068 km away from here, with 3 hours journey, lies* experience China's first high-speed railway together And the ride will be somewhat like this: For those of us in America, 385 km/h is about 240 mph. And this is about 267 mph. It's 11:15 Beijing time, and we arrived at Guangzhou North railway station, passing through 20 cities, over 600 bridges, and through 200 tunnels, which I think is kind of feeling like flying with your feet on the ground. The trip was pleasant, and unveiled a brand new page on China's railway network*, not only because of it's latest technology, longest mileage, or fastness of speed, but also the overall improvement of China's railway network*. Hu Li and Lee Jing for CCTV international, from Guangzhou, Gaungdong province. As you can see by this article in Popular Science, the vacuum tube train, A 4000 mph magnetically levitated train could allow you to have lunch in Manhattan, and still get to London in time for the theatre, despite the 5 hour time difference. It's not impossible. Norway has studied neutrally buoyant tunnels, concluding they are feasible, although expensive. And Shanghai is running mag-lev trains to it's airports. But supersonic speeds require another critical step: eliminating the air. And therefore, air friction from the train's path. A vacuum will also save the tunnel from the destructive effects of a sonic boom, which, unchecked, could potentially rip the tunnel apart. So, as you can see, the technology exists to even go 4000 mph in a train. Biomechanics Medical robotics This is Quebec city in Canada. It's about as french as you can get without actually being in France. If you're walking around taking in the sites, it pays to speak a bit of the language. So, here goes: ? In english, that's just put one foot in front of the other. Meaning the task at hand is quite simple, but for some people, even the natural act of walking can be an everyday challenge. Simon Bouchard is a 27 year old PhD student. In 1998 he was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg. Despite a bone graft, the cancer returned, and 3 years ago he lost his leg at the knee. Like many amputees, he now walks with the aid of a prosthetic limb. But his is unique. You see, it has a brain... well, artificial intelligence, to be exact. And it does everything his right leg tells it to do. Here's how it works. Step 1: wireless sensors... Excuse me mate... Transmit information from the sound leg to the bionic leg. Step 2: that information is then processed by software embedded in here, and interprets Simon's intentions and creates movement based on the action of his sound leg. Step 3: A naturally balanced walk. Standard artificial legs, known as passive prosthetics, have limited joint movement, which simply responds to pressure placed on them. You can see in the front-on shot on the left, that Simon's action is not smooth. But when Simon is wearing the bionic leg, his gait is more natural. The battery driven motors are providing the propulsion, and the sophisticated joints provide more shock absorption. And because the bionic leg is doing all the work, there's less wear and tear where leg joins his knee, a common and potentially serious problem with passive prosthetics. The brains behind the brain behind the leg, is Stèphan Bèdard, founder and executive vice president of Victhom Human Bionics. I can show here maybe the frame of the prosthesis, and more or less it's a very simple frame, for sure we have worked alot on that, because the weight of the prosthesis was a very important feature, because we wanted to achieve the same weight of a natural leg, which is around 4,2 or 4,5 kg. It's a two-part system: A pad in Simon's right shoe monitors movement and pressure, making up to 1300 calculations per second. This data is collected by a sensor on Simon's right ancle, which sends the information wirelessly to software embedded in the bionic leg. Actions like walking or climbing stairs are usually repetitive ones, so the information enables the motorized bionic leg to replicate the action and the speed of the sound leg. In practice, that means Simon can tackle everyday obstacles you and I take for granted. With the other leg, I have to climb this way, one step at a time, or two. Right, and you have to pull the other leg up. Yeah, but I can't do it in a normal way, like this. That is fantastic, isn't it? Yeah. It's... That's a really natural gait down. Yeah. It takes a bit of practice, but it's more comfortable. Simon just needs to remember to start any new action, like climbing a stair, with his right foot. So the left one can then learn it. Simon was one of about 20 who took part in the trials over 18 months. He's been using his bionic leg full-time for the past 6 months. For Stèphane and his team, getting the leg ready for human use has been a long process. It took 15 years to design the artificial intelligence software, and the hardware to carry it around. The team built this robotic simulator to help develop the most lifelike prosthesis, before trialing it on amputees. One thing interesting with this bionic leg, it's a finished product, something complete, but you know that's just the top of the iceberg. Yeah... And I really, I'm really eager to see what she* will do in the future. They build us the worlds first bionic fingers. They've been built by British scientists. The technology really is amazing, and the folks at Touch Bionics tell me that it's only going to get better, and I can't even imagine anything more awesome than this. Eric Jones is one of the patients that's been testing them out in the trial stages. I can do things alot faster, so I can fold laundry faster, I can pick things up and walk around. I can pick up my kids lego.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: Brazil
Language: English
Views: 160
Posted by: zeitgeistbrasil on Apr 12, 2010

An often debated topic by those who don't think The Venus Project will work is the notion that we don't have the technology to pull this off. This video addresses this. If you want the full uncut version, let me know.

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