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Dreams of the Future

Today on Far Future Horizons we present an episode from the acclaimed Canadian science documentary series The Nature of Things with David Suzuki.

The title of this episode is Dreams of the Future which first aired Friday, February 6, 2015 at 3 PM on CBC-TV.

In this instalment Dr. Jennifer Gardy explores current scientific research that will impact us all in the future looking at everything from 3D printing body parts to driverless car and tree cloning.


We live in a world where technology is constantly changing. Sadly you know as you leave the store, that your brand new Smart Phone is already out of date – somebody, somewhere has just upgraded it. Keeping up with the latest everything can be a challenge. We asked Dr. Jennifer Gardy to explore current scientific research that will impact us all in the future.

Dr. Gardy is a Senior Scientist, Molecular Epidemiology at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. On this journey, Jennifer travels from Toronto to New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Munich and back home to Vancouver – all in the name of science exploration.


3D Bioprinting

Since the 1980s it’s been possible to print 3D objects made from all kinds of materials like plastic, metal and chocolate. Today, scientists are applying 3D printing technology to the field of medicine.  They’re  printing plastic prosthetic parts, titanium implants, and they have now started to use ink that contains living human cells to create cartilage and bone, skin, and in the not too distant future, functioning liver tissue. It’s only a matter of time before we can 3D bioprint complete fully functioning organs, which could help solve the dilemma of supply keeping up with demand. The possibility of getting a full body scan when we’re young and healthy, and replacing parts as we get older may sound like science fiction but it is could soon become a reality.


Volvo self driving car

Researchers at Volvo blame most auto accidents on the four Ds: distraction, drowsiness, drunkenness and driver error. How to remedy this? Simple – remove the driver from the equation. As we look to the future most auto manufacturers are promising to do just that - take more and more of the driving away from the driver. And a lot of the technology to achieve this is already here: park assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning are all available today. But the notion of a completely driverless car raises questions – not least being – in the event of an accident, who is responsible? The person behind the wheel or the manufacturer?


In a world driven by the bottom line profits of consumerism – where technological innovation and development supersedes all, it may seem that the natural world is being shut out – being forced to take a back seat. Luckily for us, there are those who dream of a world that embraces the wonders of nature – a world that includes endless forests of healthy trees. Keith Park’s job with the National Park Service is to maintain and protect all the trees under his jurisdiction. And he’s prepared to do it one tree at a time. David Milarch’s dream for the future is to clone the champion tress of the world. Although he’s not a scientist, plenty of people believe in him including Prince Charles to Sir Richard Branson. Sally Aitken is a scientist with UBC. She believes genetic diversity is the key to saving the planet.


Back in the 1950s, less than a third of the world’s population lived in urban areas. Today, four out of every five people on the planet live in cities. We love the allure of city life and all that modern technology has given us, including increased life expectancy, but it may be that this trend is about to swing the other way.  Scientists are discovering that we could be missing out on an integral component of our existence. Innovative new research points to links between human health and proximity to a more natural world. Have we in fact become too urbanized for our own good? According to some experts there‘s evidence that we just might be the victims of a strange new disease called Nature Deficit Disorder. To discover more, Jennifer goes “forest bathing” in Japan.

©CBC-TV 2014

The Nature of Things ~ Dreams of the Future
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