Fantasy, meet reality
The passion I have for baseball was instilled in me by my father. Beginning when I was a pre-schooler and continuing until I left home for good in my early 20s, the man patiently and tirelessly hit me fungoes too numerous to count — in the hundreds for sure, perhaps in the thousands. In doing so, he lit a fire in me that continues to burn intensely today.
He was far less successful in drawing me into another of his passions: science fiction. I never really understood his zeal for this genre. While I enjoy fiction as much as the next person, I need it to be grounded in reality at some level. Not my father, who considered “The Twilight Zone,” “Outer Limits” and “Star Trek” to be “must-see TV.”
Interestingly, the line between science fiction and cold, hard fact is beginning to blur in the mobile voice and data sector. In this edition, Associate Editor Mary Rose Roberts reports on how researchers are using radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology to study the migration habits of wasps (page 22). Somehow they are able to affix a tiny RFID tag to the body of the wasp; the tag then is read by antennas placed at the entrances of nests to record their comings and goings. It’s absolutely amazing.
Just as amazing is the breakthrough of microelectronics firm HYPRES which, as Senior Writer Donny Jackson reports in this edition’s cover story, has developed a superconducting chip — cryogenically cooled to nearly absolute zero (-460° Fahrenheit) — that eliminates the need for traditional analog-to-digital components while it improves bandwidth and reduces power consumption. Some believe the HYPRES chip could clear the path to cognitive radio, which has been slow to cross the threshold dividing fantasy and reality.
I think even Mr. Spock would be impressed.