Volume 02, Number 04, Winter, 1984

Future File

Recent developments of long term significance as selected by Jane Talisman and Eric Geislinger, editors of Claustrophobia 5847 SW 26th Drive. Portland. Oregon 97201.

"Starstruck Launches Prototype Dolphin Rocket in First flight" Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 13, 1984.

After two earlier unsuccessful attempts (see Escape Routes in Claustrophobia #89), Starstruck. Inc. has sea-launched its Dolphin rocket on a 2,300 foot flight. A stuck vector control system valve required an abort command to be sent before the rocket reached its 8,000 foot goal. In spite of the early abort, the engineers are generally pleased with the test flight and feel that it has been a very valuable learning expertise.

"Japanese Select Launcher With Heavy-lift Capability" Aviation Week and Space Technology, August 13, 1984.

Japan’s science and technology agency has selected a final configuration for a heavy-lift launch vehicle that will meet the Japanese government’s needs in the 1990s. The configuration is also expected to enable Japan to launch foreign payloads. (The U.S. government has continued to restrict Japan from launching foreign payloads because its present launchers use U.S. developed technology.)

"Effects of Lifelong Restricted Feeding on Complex Maze Performance in Rats" Journal of the American Aging Association, Volume 7, No. 1.

Charles Goodrick of the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore reports that aged (3O months) male Wistar rats subjected to an every-other day diet since weaning were able to learn to negotiate complex mazes over a period comparable to young (6 months) control rats and about twice as fast as aged (22 months) control rats. The every-other-day regime also results in a 30% reduction in body weight and an increase in lifespan of up to 70%. "Brain-to-computer Communications" Infoworld, July 9, 1984

The market research and consulting firm International Resource Development, Inc., of Norwalk, Connecticut predicts that electrodes will soon be used for direct data entry on personal computers. By the mid-1990s, the electrodes will be replaced by biochips for direct brain-to-computer links. The interface between organic and inorganic processors is presently, by far, the slowest element in the system.

"Unique Products, New Technology from Space Business" Aviation Week and Space Technology, June 25, 1984.

A forecast issued by the Center for Space Policy, a Cambridge Massachusetts organization specializing in evaluation of commercial opportunities in space, makes the following predictions for annual space revenues by the year 2000: pharmaceutical production—$27 billion, gallium-arsenide semiconductor production—$3.1 billion: space processes glasses—$11.5 billion, advanced space communications—$15 billion, remote sensing—$2 billion, in-orbit servicing—$2 billion, aerospace support—$3.7 billion, and commercial boosters—$1 billion.

"Aging at the Nerve Junctions in the Brain." Science News, June 16, 1984.

Attempts to reduce memory and learning deficits associated with aging with acetylcholine and its precursors have met with mixed results. Last December (Perimeters #85). Thomas Chase of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders announced evidence from PET scans that there must be some other factor involved because the regions most effected were not those associated with acetylcholine. Now Gary Gibson of Cornell Medical College has found that the problem may be the decrease in the uptake of calcium by nerve cells. Calcium ions are required for normal nerve cell signaling. Calcium uptake can be stimulated with drugs called amino-pyridines. Experiments on rats have shown complete reversal of age-related memory and learning deficits. A type of amino-pyridine already in medical use is now being tested on Alzheimer’s disease patients at Cornell. A similar study in the Netherlands is already giving promising results. A more effective and less toxic amino-pyridine (based on animal tests) has been found but needs to undergo extensive testing before it can be tried on humans.

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