Notch Watchlist: 5 Things to Look Out for in 2013

Notch, Space, Technology 2013-01-04



With 2012 but a fond reminiscence we at Notch have been feverishly drawing up our list of expectations and hopes for science, technology and tourism in 2013. We’ve called it a Watchlist, and here it is:


Aviation / Travel:

Adventure tourism

Only days into the new year Sunrun CEO, Lynn Jurich, summed up what could be the cultural zeitgeist of the year 2013 – “The new status symbol isn’t what you own, it’s what you’re smart enough not to own”. If ever there was a year to squeeze the last drop of value out of your time away it’s 2013, ushering in nicely the era of the “adventure holiday”. With social networks providing great access and insight to ever more unique holidays people are increasingly abandoning the pools and beachfronts for volunteer projects, extreme sports and cultural exchanges. Even the newlywed won’t be missing out thanks to the latest craze of the adventure honeymoon. Experts predicts destinations featured in the biggest blockbuster movies will see an influx of tourists or you can combine the danger, excitement and unusual into one “ghetto holiday” usually involving iconic destinations such as Detroit’s, and Eminem’s, 8 Mile Road, LA’s Crenshaw Boulevard, the favelas of Rio or the back streets of Naples.



Personal Genomics

While adventure beckons in far-flung lands the personal medical environment could be about to witness its biggest shift in hundreds of years. The field of personal genomics promises to open up the secrets of your genome for your own review. Finally, as the flesh-covered binders of information we are, we can browse through our own genetic tale and discover so much about our existence. Personal Genomics opens the door to highlighting illness risks, possible descent lines and the expected characteristics of our descendants. It offers a chance to know ourselves even better, beyond a psychological or emotional level and finally into our own natural hard-coding.


Computer Science:

Quantum Computing

Death to the transistor? It could be just that and perhaps finally an end to the unerring correctness of Moore’s law. Moore wouldn’t have seen this coming (probably, I couldn’t say for sure, which given the nature of quantum physics seems apt). While quantum physics isn’t likely to make for a 10 minute coffee table read any time soon the fact a theoretical quantum computer could process much greater amounts of information far quicker than before makes more than an adequate headline. The simple bit, in its off or on glory, has seen a technological change to human life quite incomparable to any other shift over the course of history. The quantum bit, the qubit, is not just a two-trick pony however, it can still be off or on but crucially it can be in a superposition of different states simultaneously as opposed to the bit. which can only exist in one state at any one time. It adds to being a cute feature of the qubit that completely destroys the limitations faced by a traditional computer as well as a guaranteed and impossible-to-hack communication.




It’s not often that the driest of scientifically-worded objectives will rouse deep-seated ambition and excitement, but maybe this is the one that proves the exception to the rule – “To create the largest and most precise three dimensional chart of our Galaxy by providing unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements for about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group”. It ticks all the boxes, from promising mapping on an unimaginable scale to the tantalizing possibility of a digital galaxy map, a Google Earth for the Milky Way. The ESA is even teasing us with an October launch date, the mythologically named satellite primed to be this year’s CERN for excitement levels.




Let’s finish with something speculative but wholly revolutionary. It’s something of a leap of flawed logic to say this but seeing as we first saw Touche back in May 2012perhaps we can hope for an evolution of the concept in 2013. It may just be wishful thinking to expect it as soon as that but with the revolutionary core concept of Touche it’s an almost irresistible ambitiousness. This deceptively simple technology can turn any object, or even a liquid, into a fully responsive acoustic sensor, meaning a phone could distinguish between even a nail tap and a knuckle tap, or offering the possibility of pinching actions across the front and back of the phone.