Exploration of the edges of our current understanding

Exploration is the action of exploring an unfamiliar area.  Yet is there really anywhere left to explore?  Oh yes there is you just haven’t gone there yet!

Ever think, I’m bored?  As part of staving off “the boredom of repetition” we are encouraged to “try new things”.

Yet given global transport, global knowledge and all the information in the world is there any truly “unexplored countries” any more?


The choice is ours to push out the unexplored country but how, where and then why?

This article asks you to ask questions of yourself and of the world around us.

  • Transport
  • Material Science
  • Computer Science
  • Medicine
  • Psychology and the brain
  • Wrap up

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Is there anywhere on the planet that hasn’t been seen yet?  Increasingly less and less. 

With satellites and Google Maps you can go anywhere in the world instantly.

The experience to stand there might be on your bucket list but is there truly anywhere someone hasn’t been?


So extreme environments become a place where no person has been before… deep space and deep under the sea.

Gene Cernan was the last man on the moon in December 1972.  How much has technology come along in over 45 years?

The moon is 384,400 km away, yet Mars is 54,600,000 km away over 142 times that distance.

Yet it took till 2012 for James Cameron to go down 10,898 meters.

The deepest point on earth being 10,994 meters in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.


Teams work on going up and going down.  What is there to find?

Getting there is one thing yet staying there and exploring is completely different.



Firstly in exploration, how fast can you go?

The greatest problem to speed … friction known as drag.

Water offers the greatest friction.  The underwater speed record is a secret due to the secretive nature of submarines.

However in 1969 a Russian sub is recorded to have done 51.2 mph.

Cavitation and submarines is a big issue in terms of secrecy.

The fastest boat known to man goes on top of the water called Problem Child travelling at 262 mph.


Apart from the amazing capabilities of Formula 1 the quest to be the fastest human being on earth continues.

The land speed record is currently 763.035 mph which has stood since 1997.

However the fastest aircraft on record with a person inside is the SR-71 blackbird with a speed of 2,500 mph.

Yet you can also consider the X-15 the fastest due to its rocket based engines and assisted launch up to 4,473 mph.


On the ground, the wheels cause friction, remove the wheels and now the only friction is air.

So as planes go higher where air is thinner, you can go faster.  The space shuttle has a max speed of 17,500 mph relative to Earth.


A train on rails has a max speed of 155 mph.

A train that levitates on magnets such as the Japanese maglev L0 series can do 375 mph, strap a rocket to a train and you can go up to 632 mph.

Now take a train, float it on magnets and put it in a tube and lower the air pressure to reduce the drag, your max speed goes up to 760 mph.

This technology is a hyperloop and they’re being built around the world.  Exploration of finding new ways to do something we’ve done for years.


Material Science

Wanna play with some real world Lego?

In 1869 Demitri Medeleev a Russian scientist published what is accredited as the first periodic table of the elements.

Did you know its not finished!

With elements 113 (Nihonium – 2002), 115 (Moscovium – 2003), 117 (Tennessine – 2004) and 118 (Oganesson – 2010) officially added in November 2016!

Would you like to add a new element to the periodic table?


Like lego bricks which are great fun to play with, it’s not just new shapes or colours of bricks, it’s how you put them together where the real fun starts.

Pushing the edges of chemistry is materials science.

Inventing new ways of putting the blocks together to come up with new things is exploration into new worlds.



Take carbon, the black stuff you get when you burn wood.

Firstly put it under enough heat and pressure, you get a diamond.

Graphene (in the picture above) made purely of the same carbon is the strongest material ever tested, conducts heat and electricity but is nearly transparent.  It can be levitated by magnets.  You can make it using adhesive tape!

Getting carbon from plastic, spinning it and then heating you get carbon fibre.  Stronger than steel and aluminium and lighter than both, F1 cars use carbon fibre to help them go faster.

Yet when you use arcs of electricity, lasers or vacuums you can create carbon nanotubes.  Carbon nanotubes could replace copper as a winding for motors and generators.

As a result of the same lego brick, you get very different outcomes.  Feel like doing some exploration yet?


Shape memory

Tyres are made of rubber.  Yet in the coldness of space, rubber changes, becomes brittle and shatters.

Make your wheel of metal and surely it dents and is very uncomfortable?

However use the right metals in the right way and it becomes something completely different.

If you run electricity through your new discovery the shape returns as first built.  Time to literally reinvent the wheel with shape memory.


How to you invent one of these new materials?  A bit of study and a lot of playing around, called experimentation.


Computer Science

Computers get a lot of attention for varying reasons.  The ability to automate is good for business and bad for people.

What were traditionally labour intensive roles, with automation, leaving people wondering “what can I do?”

Industry is willing to invest in “what could it save me?” and that spawns a lot of experimentation.

Exploration of what that power can do in your hands is as easy as turning on a PC.


Artificial Intelligence is the current buzz word but has been explored for decades.

Helping cars to self drive and hearing you speak and responding correctly, making computers more helpful in everyday life.


By making things very cold you change some of the principles on which computing is built.

A switch is on or off.  Yet when you cool it, it can be on and off at the same time.

This is the area of quantum computing and it seeks to massively improve processing power.


When you combine material science with computing you can make faster processors, solid state devices and reduce the size and heat generation of everything.

With processing power available you can start to perform tasks and work on universal human problems that would take multiple life times for a human brain to work out.



DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) was first isolated in 1869.  Yet even today we’re still using exploration to hunt through the mysteries of DNA.

Fair enough like most things we don’t understand we call it junk or useless and just don’t bother with it.

Scientists with DNA are debating this point and still exploring.  Is 90ish percent of our DNA junk DNA?


Cancer is a horrible insidious disease that is at its core a mutation.

It has obviously killed millions through history but we didn’t have the science to identify it.

Cells being to act beyond their original design and without intervention often kill.

People who suffer at the hands of this disease but survive with treatment owe their lives to the medical explorers who found ways to treat this disease.

Because the disease are mutations there are many parts of the bodies and mutations that can happen.  Tied with DNA how and why do they happen?


If you’ve explored material science then what would those new substances do the body?

Being able to design not just chemical combinations but specific living things, like bacteria to combat diseases and ailments…

Modern science welcomes you to come and explore.


Psychology and the brain

To say we know about X percent of something, implies that we know what 100% is.  This leads to myths like we only use 10% of our brain.

The truth of the brain is that despite years of exploration, we still know very little.

We know quite a bit but accept there is so much more to learn.


To give you an idea of real world problems which affect people globally…

We still have no cures for Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Dewy body dementia, Parkinsonism, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, brain cancers, mood disorders or psychoses.


Yet if you park the pure science of cells, biology and chemicals for a moment, the entire area of mental health is an going battle.

How much time should we take for “head space” and mental well being?


Make someone tell the truth or detecting when someone is lying still involves guess work!  Is there a way of telling truth from lie?

Social engineering is an approach to get people to do what you want them to that spills into marketing and sales on a daily basis.

Consequently what actually drives your personal motivations and how can you maneuver your mind into making yourself more productive?


Wrap up

So the next time you feel bored, start here, pick something that makes you go “oh I’d like to hear more about that” and off you go.

Use exploration to keep life engaging.


What many people forget is that everyone starts out the same mentally and with study, experimentation and a hint of luck, you can change the world.

Furthermore you don’t have to be an Albert Einstein to change the world, you just have to want to change the world.

If there’s anything in this article you’d like to chat to me about you can contact me here or on social media.


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