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Apple filed a patent for bone-conduction earphones.

Marcos Hernandez Article

The US Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Apple for earphones that combine bone conduction with traditional audio technology. Bone conduction works best at lower frequencies, so the conventional audio tech helps create the best sound quality.

Bone conduction works by sending vibrations through the skull to the inner ear to create the sound for the brain. There’s also been rumors of Apple using bone conduction to increase the quality of noise-cancellation.

In the third season of Westworld, it’s revealed in the final episode that the main villain is fed constant instruction about what to say from a supercomputer. This revelation shows how the show’s artificial intelligence controls the villain, their agent in the real world.

I’m fascinated by the theory of mind; that nobody is guaranteed to exist except yourself. This is why I find androids indistinguishable from humans so fascinating. The bone conduction earphones, combined with the concept of being fed constant information about what to say, could come together for a great story.

A genius loner comes up with the technology, implants the first version into himself, and gets guided through talking to women by a professional matchmaker. He becomes successful on his dates and eventually falls in love. He then decides he no longer wants anyone else to coach him through his life, so he turns off the system.

After being fed the other voice for so long, he can’t help but hear what they would have said. It’s a construct of his imagination. Eventually, he removes the device, but the voice doesn’t go away.

He’s created another personality inside his mind. He struggles through this while his relationship blossoms, they break up after he confesses, then they get back together—romance novel with a dystopian bent.

Book two could be about another implementation of the device, this time for a friend who’s also unlucky in love. After protesting, the designer agrees, but this time the friend doesn’t want to settle down. He becomes a terrible version of himself, and the designer is forced to figure out how to remove the implants.

Book three would be about the government’s adoption of the device for all military members. Keeping with the romantic theme, these men all figure out how to get coached through picking up women and end up giving away state secrets to foreign agents.

An ancient remedy for antibiotic-resistant infections?

Marcos Hernandez Article

Research in the journal Scientific Reports has determined that a 1000-year-old concoction can be used where antibiotics fail. The mixture of garlic, onion, wine, and bile salts is being investigated in treating diabetic foot infections. The infection is known to be particularly resistant to antibiotics and can result in amputation of the foot.

Microbiologists say these ingredients all have some antibacterial activity; therefore, the combination makes sense. This isn’t the first time modern medicine has taken a 

page from ancient texts: a drug used for treating malaria was derived from wormwood based on a remedy found in an ancient Chinese text.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the cure for COVID-19 was found hidden in a library filled with ancient texts? An entire story could be based on the unearthing of the recipe, escaping from powerful drug companies, and disseminating the knowledge using social networks.

Before writing this, I would have to research or talk to a microbiologist to come up with a plausible condition to treat with household items. Or create a different world altogether where technology doesn’t apply.

This story would be a Dan Brown-style thriller, with the bookish librarian forced to overcome the powerful corporation and give away the cure at the end of the book. Creating a series from this, the librarian would stumble upon some other useful knowledge hidden in ancient texts that opposes a powerful organization, leading to multiple books.

A new uncuttable material has been invented.

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A material designed to be uncuttable has been invented in England. Called Proteus, instead of focusing on the material’s hardness, researchers made the material able to wear down the cutting tools, making it impossible for them to be penetrated.

The material is a combination of aluminum and ceramics. In a nutshell, as the material is cut into, fine ceramic particles fill the material’s structure on the cellular level, which helps it harden. These ceramic particles cause the cutting tool to deteriorate instead or penetrate.

The only issue is that the cutting tool can get some penetration before the ceramic particles can stop their progress. This short video shows what looks like the blade making progress into the material, but it’s the blade being worn down.

Turning this into a story, what if this material was used to make the safe in a heist story? The beginning could be the standard heist, complete with the entourage of professionals with varying skill sets, and they succeed with their theft of the entire safe midway through the book.

This is when the story could take a twist. There is literally no way to get into the safe. It turns into a cat-and-mouse story, with the detectives hot on their trail and limited ways to transport the heavy safe in the first place.

One by one, the members of the team are taken into custody until the very end. The safe owner then shows up to confront the last remaining team member, who plans on destroying the safe and its contents and living far away and under the radar.

The safe owner says he was wondering how durable it was, and together they submerge it into molten iron (like in Terminator 2).

Later, the last member of the heist team is taken into custody. He witnesses the now-solidified iron being cut away, and the door of the safe exposed. They open the door and inside is a single dollar.

The story would be told from the viewpoint of the last man standing. This is supposed to be his last job before retirement.

Could any surface become a touchscreen?

Marcos Hernandez Article

Based on patents filed by Apple, the future might include touchscreens on any surface. Whoever wanted to use the tech would have to wear glasses that measure the heat transfer between the finger and the surface used.

At first, it would seem that metals would work best for the application. They conduct heat better than plastic or wood, but any surface could be used as a touch screen given enough instrument sensitivity.

It reminds me of the future described in the third book of Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. In it, every surface could be used as an interface, complete with advertisements.

Let’s turn this into a story. What if the glasses could be implanted instead of worn? Then, everyone would be able to see touchscreens all around them. There could be paid options for the wealthy. These would come advertisement free, similar to streaming services. People who can’t afford a monthly plan could also get the tech installed, as long as they’re willing to deal with advertisements.

Imagine this is the scene leading up to an election. Facebook’s involvement in the 2016 election showed how powerful tech can influence public perception. Imagine how powerful this would be if the content is being continuously served without a device’s requirement.

Even more insidious, the advertisements could be made to look native to the world around the viewer. The line between fact and fiction would become even more blurred than our current society.

The story could open up with someone standing in line, waiting to register to vote. An aptitude test is required. Citizens have to prove they can tell the difference between an advertisement and their actual experience. They fail, meaning they cannot vote in the upcoming election.

Fast forward to a time in the future. This individual has organized an underground group dedicated to passing the test with hopes of being a part of the democratic process. They kidnap test administers and are confident they will pass the next time. When they take the test once more, they are denied.

The key: they can prove that they passed. The people in power have forced their failure. It then comes out that ALL people who are served ads are kept from voting. The group becomes hunted when the truth is revealed.

The whole thing is similar to Blade Runner, except it’s an altered experience instead of androids.

Fertility rates are falling around the world.

Marcos Hernandez Article

Research out of the University of Washington projects that the global fertility rate will be 1.7 by 2100. The fertility rate is the measure of the average number of children born by each woman. If it falls below ~2, then the population isn’t being replaced, and the total population will begin to decline. (The number isn’t two because of child mortality)

This number–1.7–doesn’t seem so bad until compared to the average in 1950: 4.7.

While this doesn’t mean much at this moment, declining populations start to bring up many economic questions. For example, who pays the taxes that go towards social security? And who performs entry-level jobs? After all, the majority of people will have been in the workforce for decades. There are only so many jobs to go around. But without young people to support the elderly, what option would they have other than to work?

This scenario brings to mind a new world for a story. One where each child is developed with the utmost attention to quality. Like a master caring for a bonsai tree.

The main character would be an older gentleman who loses his well-paying job to an android. He has enough money to live on, but not enough to travel or let loose. To occupy his time, he gets a job teaching.

There, he encounters a young genius who has no problem learning anything thrown at him. The story would be like “Good Will Hunting,” and the main character in the book would be similar to the one portrayed by Robin Williams.

It could be a trilogy, with each book about a different part of the young girl’s life and where she has to encounter various challenges. The first would be teaching her the importance of play, the second acceptance, and the third sharing her gift with the world.

Tagline: What would you do if you were tasked with teaching Einstein?

A vampire-slaying kit is up for auction.

Marcos Hernandez Article

At an auction in England, a kit to exterminate vampires is up for sale. Containing a bible, crucifix, and pistol, the set is estimated to be worth over $2,000.

In addition to the necessities, the kit also includes a silver knife, a vial of liquid (let’s assume it’s holy water), and a bottle of shark’s teeth.

I’ve never heard of shark’s teeth being used to ward off vampires. But their inclusion gives me an idea for a fantasy horror story. What if the shark’s teeth can create a vampire, creating a hunt like in “Alien vs. Predator.”

It starts when the hero of the story, a college-aged loner, is gifted the kit from his grandfather, who won the auction years ago. Similar to “Transformers.” Then, the boy tosses the shark’s teeth onto the ground. After a gestation period, maybe weeks or months, the vampire emerges from the ground fully formed.

The killings begin, and the boy realizes the hole was where he dropped the shark’s teeth. Then, the pistol starts showing up in his backpack even though he knows he left it at home. He’s worried his school will discover the weapon. Eventually, he realizes he’s supposed to hunt the vampire using the kit passed down from his grandfather. Like in Transformers, there could be the love interest that he protects on his first attempt to hunt the vampire, and she stays with him throughout the rest of the story.

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher has a similar feel. The other books in the series could see the main character traveling to hunt vampires in different countries, upgrading his weapons, and stumbling upon an ancient group of people who have fought against the vampires for thousands of years.

Corporate training videos are being made without actors.

Marcos Hernandez Article

Instead of using actors to make the training videos, companies are turning to deepfakes. Think 2Pac at Coachella, but way less cool.

The company responsible for their production has to deal with ethical issues regarding political speech, and they have to gain consent before using any celebrity likenesses.

A story idea, another one about a loner: what if someone loved old episodes of a TV show, wrote them, and used their deepfake actors to act out the story? There could be an entire underground community of “The Office” fans who watch new episodes, created by one man. They would have to stay off the grid, because of intellectual property rights, but in theory, there could be a thriving web of creators vying to create the best new episodes of a series.

The best creators would rise to the top, each fake show having their audience.

Then, the government gets a hold of these creators and makes them create fake news material against their enemies. Essentially, they become the creators for Big Brother.

Their years of creation have honed their craft, and the technology is good enough where no one can tell it’s propaganda. At first, they think they are making a TV show, and it isn’t until the end of the first book that they realize they have been a part of creating a propaganda machine.

The second book could see sabotage attempts by members of the creative collective, but the main character decides to keep their head down and continue doing what is requested of them to protect their family. The family is rescued at the end of the second book, but they continue their work because they like to feel valued.

The third book could introduce new technology that measures a person’s engagement with the content based on physical signs, like the mirrors in 1984. This innovation brings about a further discussion of ethics. By the end of the third book, the veil becomes lifted, and it’s shown that EVERY COUNTRY has done the same operation to keep its citizens scared of foreigners.

The moon has more metal than expected.

Marcos Hernandez Article

study published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on July 1st describes the increased metal levels in and around the moon’s craters.

It’s generally believed the moon formed when Earth’s debris was ejected from the atmosphere and condensed under gravity. This event would have occurred before the Earth’s metals had sunk to the core. Before this study, the issue was that the areas of the moon analyzed by scientists presented less metal than expected, leading people to believe there was less metal on the moon than there actually might be.

The study’s theory is that craters have eroded the moon’s surface and exposed metal lying closer to the core. In a nutshell, there’s more metal on the moon than we thought.

Now how could we turn this into a story? Something about the lone moon-dweller has always interested me. If you’ve seen “Umbrella Academy,” I imagine a scenario similar to how Number One was sent to the moon to acquire samples.

Except for the lone hero of this story oversees a massive amount of mining machinery. His best friend and dog are both robots. The story could kick-off when he witnesses the Earth erupt in a series of nuclear blasts (I’d have to research if it’s possible to see from space). His life is never in danger since he was provided with everything necessary to survive, but he has given up hope of ever talking to another human.

Then, a small girl and her cat arrive at the station, and he’s tasked with becoming a surrogate father. She becomes convinced the moon is haunted and slowly starts behaving in a way that makes the lonely miner wonder if she’s a ghost. When she gets lost in the massive cave system created by the mining operation, he is forced to save her.

So, in a sense, they save each other by showing up. The end of the book could be after the man and girl emerge from the mining system, and they find a small group of humans who there to join them after escaping Earth. Book 2 would go into the development of their community, and book three would be about returning to Earth.

A family boat hit a humpback whale.

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In news that could only come from up north, a family in Alaska was out for a pleasure cruise on a 22-foot boat when they ran into a surfacing humpback whale.

Members of the family were hospitalized, but there have been no reports of injuries to the whale.

When turning this into a story, what if there was a modern retelling of the Beastmaster tale? The character already exists in a book, movie, and TV show. Take that character and plug him into a world where the animals have taken back the world’s wild spaces, forcing all humans into cities.

Whales, sharks, and dolphins patrol the waters.

Large cats, dogs, and ruminants patrol the land in North America and Europe, and primates and other megafauna patrol the property outside African and Asian cities.

Traveling between cities is a challenge, and requires convoys to be done safely.

This story could be a dystopian novel. After the release of a massive EMP, all animals organize, like “Planet of the Apes”, but planet mammals.

Humans don’t have the leg up on technology anymore, because of the EMP, leading to a situation reminiscent of the classic movie “Tremors.”

Then, a new kind of hero is born—the beastmaster (but not called the beastmaster). There could be a whole series of adventures, each book creating a new scenario that requires his special animal-communication skills.

A colony on Mars would require 110 people.

Marcos Hernandez Article

An article released in Scientific Reports, written by a French computer scientist, has determined that 110 people would be required to make a sustainable colony on Mars.

His model depends on cooperation, and he arrived at that number with the expectation that this would be the minimum amount needed to create public works effectively. If there aren’t enough people, whoever lives in the colony would need to take care of their own survival needs instead of working on projects that benefit the group.

It’s interesting because this number is close to Dunbar’s number, 150. This number is the proposed amount of stable social relationships a person can maintain, based on human brain size. This number is often estimated to be anywhere from 100-250, meaning the colony’s calculated size falls right inside the lower end.

All this to say, the story that would effectively be the story of a small town. A martian town. There would be plenty of lands available for development since there would only be 110 people on the entire planet.

Since Andy Weir’s The Martian has taken the hard sci-fi version of a Mars colony, this story could draw inspiration from another book, Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick. This version of a martian colony imagines the households run by people who have nothing better to do than talk behind each other’s back. His settlement could be any small town, U.S.A.

The plot could follow the creation of a large water reservoir. As the lake is built, the main character imagines seeing alien specters, similar to a Native American curse in the United States. A woman who is in love with him watches his descent into madness and is powerless to stop him from leaving the protective bubble and ending his life.

The second book could be from the young woman’s point of view, creating another disruptive public work and experiencing the spirits. The third book could be about her daughter, a young girl who thinks communicating with the spirits is entirely normal.