3 jul. 2007

Syd Field

Dear Screenwriter,

I believe that filmmaking is in the middle of an evolution/revolution; and the change has taken place in the theatre of technology as the state of digital filmmaking has become more pronounced. This development has facilitated traditional as well as non-linear storytelling, making available countless new storytelling tools to screenwriters around the world. It is an inspiring and innovative time to be a screenwriter.

My books on screenwriting were inspired by the great French Film Director Jean Renoir's statement that a movie should be like an act of revolution. I feel the screenwriter should take responsibility for stimulating the audience into action; to think -- to feel -- to passionately inspire others.

And I truly believe that the mission of the young filmmaker is to pave the way for the future. All of us embody that future. We have the imagination, the tools, the skills, and we know the craft -- but do we have the courage and the strength to bring our own personal vision into the world?

Screenwriting is a craft that occasionally rises to the level of an art. It is my goal to help inspire screenwriters around the world to realize their vision. It is my mission, my passion.

Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey.



Shoot-Through, Invisible, Self-Healing Shields: Darpa Goal

Danger Room

Invis_artic_2 Darpa, the Pentagon's wide-eyed research arm, is betting big on "metamaterials" -- composites that can seemingly-impossible new properties, thanks to their molecular structure. But even for Darpa, and even for metamaterials, this seems like a long shot: a $15 million program to build shoot-through, one-way-invisible, self-healing shields for soldiers in urban battlefields.

Metamaterials are already showing promise, as the building blocks to real-life invisibility cloaks; that's because the composites let electromagnetic waves flow around them, instead of reflecting 'em back. Darpa's "Asymmetric Materials for the Urban Battlespace" program goes way, way beyond mere invisibility, however.

"Asymmetric, or 'one-way,' materials will support basic unit operations such as raids, cordon and search activities, snap checkpoints, and fire fights," according to military budget documents. "Friendly forces will be able to see through [one of these new materials] and shoot through it, but hostile forces will not." Such shields will also have "the ability to 'self-heal' if necessary. The materials must be lightweight, respond instantly, and be easy to deploy and retract in confined spaces."

Darpa doesn't give much guidance on how this might be done. But the agency does offer a clue, buried in an earlier budget document: "Initial studies have shown optical analogs of secure digital communication hold great promise for providing a 'coded' obscurant system. The optical properties of obscurant can be tailored such that they develop transparency at narrow, tunable wavelengths. This narrow band optical bleaching phenomena could be realized through optical threshold sensitive switching materials akin to some developed for laser protection goggles."

Of course, producing stuff like this won't be easy, Darpa admits. There are "significant technical obstacles," the agency notes, including "the design and fabrication of composite or meta-materials with true one-way capabilities." Which is pretty much the whole program.

Laser-Guided Bullets: Pentagon Pursuit

Danger Room

American soldiers have been using laser scopes for a long time, to make their shots more accurate. But what if the bullets themselves were steered by lasers, and able to turn on a dime? That's the idea behind a new, $7.5 million Darpa initiative to be a "laser-guided bullet."

Bullet_from_revolver_1The Pentagon's way-out research agency has been working hard, lately, to figure out ways to make already-deadly snipers even more lethal -- designing scopes that automatically compensate for the elements, for instance.

Similarly, this precision-bullet push is meant to "significantly improve first shot effectiveness in engaging distant enemy forces," Pentagon budget documents promise. To make it happen, however, researchers will have to design whole "new guidance technologies, such as compact MEMS-based thrusters" and "initial side-thrust technologies with sufficient authority to move a projectile in flight." In addition, the ammo will need "high stress-tolerant electronics in the guided bullet and new compact targeting systems robust to field operations under a variety of conditions."

In 1998, a North Carolina inventor patented a laser-guided bullet design to do just that. Ammo-maker Alliant Techsystems was granted a patent last year for radar-directed bullets that promise "improved kills per round, with the potential for reducing the ammunition expended and time-loading on the fire control system and its guns."

At stake, of course, is more than just a few extra cases of ammo. It used to take a whole bunch of bombs -- causing a whole bunch of civilian casualties -- to knock out a single target. Then came the laser-guided munition. Aerial warfare became more precise. "Friendly fire" deaths and so-called "collateral damage" dropped, accordingly. Now, the Pentagon is looking to bring that kind of accuracy to all kinds of weapons, from artillery shells to mortars. Bullets could be the next step, some day.

2 jul. 2007

The Futurist

The Futurist

"We know what we are, but we know not what we may become"
- William Shakespeare


Explore the inventions and ideas of science fiction writers - over 1,275 are available. Use the Timeline of Science Fiction Invention or the alphabetic Glossary of Science Fiction Technology to see them all, look for the category that interests you, or browse by favorite author / book. Browse more than 1,075 Science Fiction in the News and Beyond Technovelgy stories.