Your tax dollars at work, launching rich people into space.
Cell phones and bar codes are turning the physical world into an Internet. Recipe: 1) Put a high-density bar code on any object to encode information about it, including audio or video. 2) Put software in a cell phone so it can scan bar codes and get the information. Buzzword: "physical hyperlink." This is happening in Asia and just beginning in the U.S. Examples: 1) Point your phone at a food item and get nutritional information. 2) Point it at a billboard to download a movie trailer. 3) Scan a printed newspaper article and watch a bar-code-linked video on your phone. 4) Point your phone at a house for-sale sign and get the realtor's details. Happy spin: The speed and convenience of cyberspace will be everywhere. Gloomy spin: The invasiveness and din of cyberspace will be everywhere. (For Human Nature's take on physical sex vs. cybersex, click here.)
Latest Human Nature columns: 1) The evolution of brains and morals. 2) Machines that read your mind. 3) Invasion of the naked body scanners. 4) The future of pain-beaming weapons. 5) Gay sheep and human destiny. 6) More on gay sheep. 7) The power to shrink human beings. 8) The first human embryo factory. 9) Lesbians of mass destruction.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph on Slate's home page of a hand holding a cell phone by Digital Vision. Photograph on Slate's home page of a man napping by David De Lossy/Photodisc Green/Getty Images.