Ion Drive

As you can probably guess, rocket science isn’t exactly a walk in the park, even for some of the planet’s brightest minds.

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That’s why new concepts spend so much time in their theoretical stage before they’re actually put to use: any system for fueling a rocket must undergo rigorous troubleshooting before it’s considered a viable option. Such is the case with ion drive (or ion propulsion) which is finally entering the sphere of use. 

From Theory to Practice

Most of the rockets that you’ve ever seen are something known as chemical rockets. They create fuel through a superheated chemical combination that produces thrust as a reaction of that combination. This technology has served agencies like NASA well, but it’s not the most efficient or high tech option for space travel. 

Ion propulsion, on the other hand, uses charged ions to generate an electromagnetic field. The ion beam is then discharged, which creates thrust for the rocket. Theoretically, there’s no limit to how long this process can keep recycling, so long as there’s an electrical source and enough propellant to continue it. 

While the idea of ion drives might not sound all that far-fetched now, it was basically viewed as science fiction when NASA scientists first concocted the concept in the 1950s. At that point, it was merely a theory that worked out on paper, and not something that received any concerted attention from the agency.  

It wasn’t until the late 90s that scientists really threw their weight behind testing out this technology, and it’s been even more recent that ion propulsion was considered a viable method of moving space craft. 

Moving Into The Future

NASA has made several successful attempts to utilize ion drives on various missions. Their “Dawn” mission sent an ion propulsion craft to investigate a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt in the early 21st century, giving unprecedented insight into two different targets. 

After that pioneering mission, it became clear that ion drives were more than just a hypothetical fuel source. In 2018, a combined mission between Europe and Japan called BepiColombo sent crafts with ion drives to make the more than 5 billion mile trek to Mercury, a feat which will take around 7 years to complete. 

The important thing to understand about ion drives is that they are not incredibly high powered in terms of force. In fact, gravity’s effect on a handful of quarters is about the same kind of force an ion thruster produces. However, that force builds over time, and without gravity acting upon the craft, they eventually sustain extremely high speeds. 

All space agencies seem hopeful that as ion drive technology progresses, it may eventually allow for high speed, deep space exploration—perhaps even with humans on board. This would bring to life a long-held science fiction trope. In fictional worlds, ion drives solved many problems for space travel, and it appears that life may be imitating art yet again. 

For as long as humans have existed, they’ve looked to the stars for insight about their place in the universe. As ion drives become a more viable technology, it appears that gleaning answers from outer space has never been more likely.

Vertical Farming

The world is a much smaller place than it used to be. That’s not just a colloquialism,

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but also a fact when you consider the fact that there are more people currently living on Earth than ever before in its history.

Not only does this population boom mean that the planet has gotten a little crowded, it also means that sustaining so many humans is becoming increasingly difficult. Faced with the issue of feeding billions, modern man has found that the only way out is up. 

Moving On Up

A large part of the issue of feeding everyone on Earth comes down to real estate. There’s simply not enough square footage on the surface of the planet to allow for sufficient farmland. There is, however, plenty of unutilized airspace that can do the same job with less effort. Vertical farming is a system of growing crops indoors, in vertical shelf-like structures, under careful watch. 

This system eliminates seasonal constraints, outdoor pests like weeds and insects, and allows for a highly precise growing environment, resulting in the best possible yields and quality of crops. 

Vertical farming could, perhaps, be traced all the way back to the first human cultivation of plants, but that may be a bit of a stretch. Instead, a more realistic origin story began in the 20th century when greenhouses were first established. This system of indoor growth paved the way for other farming innovations, like hydroponics. 

These systems showed scientists that although man has been attempting to make plants fit into their environment for centuries, a much better system of agriculture changes the environment to accommodate the plants instead. 

With the global population expected to climb to 9 billion within the next 30 years, the field of agriculture is scrambling for efficient and sustainable ways to feed that many people while taking up as little space as possible. Luckily, vertical farming is here to fill the need. 

Down to The Numbers

Vertical farming makes sense in theory, but how much space does it actually save? Quite a lot, as it turns out. One acre of vertically farmed land can produce the same crop yield as up to 20 acres of conventionally farmed land. That kind of math speaks for itself, but when combined with the fact that crops would no longer be victim to the elements, it’s not hard to see why vertical farming is being so vigorously adopted. 

The different forms of vertical farming mean that it can be achieved with hardly any soil, and in some cases, even with very little water. Essentially, vertical farming is a viable option anywhere in the world, so urban environments may soon not need to have their fresh produce shipped in from rural areas. Instead, modular farms and even skyscrapers may prove the farmland of the future. 

Vertical farming’s success as an industry depends largely on finding energy efficient ways to operate the farms. Since the natural environment takes care of things like light in conventional farms, this is an added expense of indoor farming. 

Though there are certainly kinks to work out, vertical farming is almost certainly an important part of humans’ future. As the population increases, man must find smarter ways to get sustenance, and vertical farming is one of them.

Cultured Meat

There are some practices you likely equate with their environmental impact. Things like throwing away too much plastic, driving your car, or using excessive amounts of hairspray might feel a little bit irreverent to the environment, but do you ever think twice before cutting into a steak on date night? If you know about the impact that commercial meat farming has on the environment, cultured meat is likely a welcome innovation for you. 

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Meat Reimagined 

Plenty of people are vegetarians for sympathetic purposes: they cannot look into the eyes of a pig, cow, chicken, or any other animal, and then eat that meat without feeling guilt. Even if you don’t share the same qualms about the ethics of eating meat, it’s hard to deny that the practice is damaging for the environment.

Aside from the fact that it will be increasingly difficult to feed a planet of meat eaters as the global population rises, the meat industry also emits a great deal of greenhouse gasses through the life cycle of animals. The combination of these factors led scientists to begin exploring cultured meat in earnest in the 2000s, though the technology had been in the works for decades.  

Basically, cultured meat is meat that is identical to that produced by an animal on a cellular level, but it is created entirely in a lab. This is done by taking an animal’s cells and adding them to a culture medium which is rich in nutrients. From there, the meat grows as a culture into an edible source of protein. 

The first lab grown burger was created in 2013, and things have only taken off since then. Today, scientists are able to create cow, pig, chicken, and seafood cultures from the animals’ cells; even steak isn’t out of the question for this “clean” process. 

Why It Matters

Now that you understand the environmental impact of large-scale agricultural meat, you understand why this field is an important one to develop. However, you may not fully grasp just how much of an impact cultured meat could have on greenhouse gas emissions. 

Estimates figure that adopting lab-grown meats on a broad scale would reduce greenhouse emissions by up to 96% over traditional livestock agriculture. No matter your stance on eating animals, that figure is difficult to argue with. 

Still, the emerging cultured meat industry is not without its challenges. Bracing for the population explosion that will make livestock unsustainable, a number of startups are scrambling to create the cultured meat that most looks and feels like the authentic thing. 

A testament to just how real this technology has become, HBO’s new series Years and Years features self-heating school lunches that are comprised entirely of lab-grown meat. The futuristic (but incredibly lifelike) series may well echo the real world in this respect: feeding the masses will become much more sustainable if it doesn’t rely on other living beings. 

The idea that a plant-based diet is more sustainable for the planet isn’t a new one, but the fact that you may soon be able to enjoy a diet that doesn’t require an animal to die in order for you to eat meat speaks to the truly innovative moment in which the world currently exists. The coming years are likely to feature a great deal of cultured meat, and the benefits are hard to ignore.

Closed Ecological Systems

If you saw the 1996 comedy “Bio-Dome,” then you’re already somewhat familiar with closed ecological systems, even if you don’t realize it.

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Basically, a closed ecological system (or closed ecosystem) is one in which there’s no need for any exchange with the outside world. This means that the waste produced by any member of the ecosystem can be used by another member, creating a perfect balance. 

Lab to Life 

Closed ecosystems began as a theoretical experiment. The earliest experiments using this concept were incredibly small in size; they simply contained a series of bacteria whose biological processes could create an environment that allowed for plant growth. 

Since then, much larger biospheres have been created, which feature many of the biomes present on Earth, all functioning in harmony. Initially, the concept of closed ecosystems was explored as a means of food production on prolonged space explorations. By discovering a wholly sufficient ecosystem, scientists could give astronauts more longevity in space. 

A natural next step in that line of thinking is using closed ecosystems to sustain life on another planet. Should man ever get to the point of colonizing a new space in the solar system or beyond, a closed ecosystem would provide some peace of mind that those pioneers wouldn’t starve once they arrived. 

Earth itself is a large closed ecosystem, but there is one important disruptor within it: humans. The question becomes, can closed ecosystem experiments be used to recalibrate the Earth’s ecosphere in a way that accounts for human disruption? 

A Glimmer of Hope

In a sense, closed ecosystems can be used to see the direction in which Earth is headed. Reliance upon energy sources that are finite and damaging to the atmosphere, a loss of some species, and deforestation can be reproduced and tested in closed facilities. 

Likewise, closed ecosystems can present possible alternatives should humans fail to change their trajectory and deteriorate Earth’s atmosphere to the point that it’s no longer liveable. If nothing changes, it may eventually become necessary for humans to live in enclosed environments rather than roaming freely outdoors. Should this come to fruition, closed ecosystems may prove instrumental. 

If scientists are able to develop biospheres that can effectively house human life, they may be able to sustain the species on Earth past the point that the planet is hospitable. What’s more, placing humans in these closed ecosystems would give Earth time to heal itself without disruption. Of course, this would require some radical lifestyle changes and is largely theoretical, but the logic is sound. 

The problem with this potential future use is that scientists have yet to sustain closed ecosystems long term. Short term experiments have been successful, but this doesn’t speak to an actual ability to sustain life for years, which it would take many of before Earth could return to its former health. 

Understanding a closed ecosystem is as simple as understanding the symbiosis that has sustained Earth for so long—that same understanding may prove vital to sustaining human beings as well. Scientific advancement is often equated with tech and devices, but perhaps one of the most important innovations of the 21st century will be more organic.

Agricultural Robot

Farmers of all kinds are infamously hard workers.

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Long hours spent in fields, early mornings tending to livestock, and constant stress over land conditions are just a few of the factors with which agrarians must contend.

Like every other part of life, though, technology has begun stepping in to make farmers’ lives easier in a number of ways. 

Elbow Grease to Autonomy

Strictly speaking, the only real difference between a robot and a machine is that a robot functions automatically. That considered, the true beginning of agricultural robotics could be traced back to when early man began using tools to assist with farming. Of course, in stricter terms, the first whispers of agriculture robots or agribots could probably be attributed to the invention of the plough. 

Since then, farming implements have exploded into an incredibly lucrative industry. The major drawback of all of this technology, though, is that it still requires manual operation. Even combines that function largely on GPS require the assistance of an operator. If that seems a little unnecessary to you, you’re not alone. 

Updating The Industry

Agriculture is a very old profession, but the tools it uses don’t have to be. Today, agribots have infiltrated the industry to assist with weeding, harvesting, and even overall yield improvement. Because of their ability for precision, robots can more efficiently administer herbicides and therefore cut back on their environmental impacts. 

Autonomous harvesting is currently used to pick fruit, a tedious process generally reserved for human hands, but one that can be done much more efficiently with a robot. Likewise, some companies are responding to poor yields with assessment technologies that can give farmers practical suggestions for improvement. 

Generally speaking, think of agribots as workers willing to perform the sort of menial, repetitive tasks that no human enjoys, but which are critical to the industry. Sorting, packing, picking, weeding—you name it. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to spend an entire day doing, there’s probably an agribot that performs the task. 

A Bot for Every Process

As Artificial Intelligence and robotics progress rapidly, so does the field of agricultural robots. This is, perhaps, one of the most practical applications of robotics in the modern age. As drones start to survey fields for potential issues, tractors become smart enough to prepare fields on their own, and visual technology makes it possible for a machine to handle planting with a high degree of precision, farmers may soon be more like foremen overseeing a process than workers on the frontlines. 

Every part of agriculture currently handled by a human, be it feeding cattle, shearing sheep, or harvesting crops, may soon be handled by a highly intelligent machine. This falls in line with cinematic visions of the future, like the one portrayed in Interstellar, where farmers simply oversee the machines that work for them. 

As every industry is touched by tech, it makes sense that agriculture should join the super modern landscape of the rest of the world with machines that make farmers’ lives easier. While the profession of farming will always be tedious and laborious, agricultural robots are already stepping in to simplify it.

Future of Self Driving

Driving isn’t one of most people’s favorite activities.

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In fact, if you drive the same route daily, you may have found that you sometimes space out completely while driving, arriving at your destination without remembering any specifics from the drive at all.

As wonderful as cars are, it would make many lives easier if they could drive themselves, and that’s just what autonomous cars hope to accomplish. 

Relax While You Travel

Autonomous vehicles are certainly having a moment, and that might lead you to believe that they’re a wholly modern invention, but that’s not technically true. In fact, the first self-driving car was invented by GM more than 60 years ago. 

That first self driving car was controlled by electromagnetic fields and radio signals, a far cry from the current technology. Today, a robust set of sensors, detailed software that helps a vehicle react to obstructions, and constant communication with the automakers’ “clouds” are behind self driving cars. 

To be specific, Tesla and Google are currently at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle industry, though nearly every major automaker trails in the same pursuit. Google has already begun using some self-driving cars to update their Maps (with plans for more consumer vehicles on the way), and Tesla’s autopilot feature has been a part of their cars for several years. 

Autonomous cars work as part of the Internet of Things, which is a connected network of devices that all communicate with one another in real time. Because of their connectivity, these self driving cars are able to take into account potential traffic jams, weather concerns, and detours. 

While the idea of taking a nap, reading a book, or watching a movie while your car does the work of getting from point A to point B is quite appealing to most, that’s not the only application for self driving technology. 

Changing Every Industry

Certainly daily life and travel will be greatly impacted by the rise of self driving cars, but there’s one industry that will be much more impacted than any other by this technology: delivery. From packages to pizza, it likely won’t be long before everything you find on your doorstep made its way to you with the help of a self driving car. 

Actually, depending on where you live, that process may have already started. UPS and the United States Post Office have already begun engaging in trials with self-driving vehicles for deliveries. This technology is probably a way off from being adopted nationwide (or worldwide), but it’s clear that businesses and agencies recognize the opportunity it presents. 

Still, for all the buzz, self driving vehicles probably won’t be commonplace for a few more years. 2019 and 2020 have been touted as major development years for this technology, but automakers are having trouble accounting for one thing: human error. 

Because it’s difficult to predict with an algorithm what other drivers or pedestrians will do, it’s difficult to effectively program a self-driving vehicle to react quickly enough to other people’s errors. 

There’s no doubt that plenty self driving cars will be available for you to purchase within the next decade, but if you had your sights set on buying one in the immediate future, you’ll likely need to practice some extra patience before it can happen.

Ultrasonic Showers

We’ve all seen it before: somebody aboard a polished chrome starship or in a secret NASA laboratory steps

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into a tubular containment unit fully clothed, touches a button, and relaxes while sonic impulses clean both the individual and his or her clothes.

But is this technology really science fiction? Thanks to modern advances in scientific technology, it looks more like science fact!

Ultrasonic Cleaning Appliances

The use of sound waves as a commercial cleaning appliance was first invented in 1952 and quickly rose in popularity over the following decades.

This technology involved the use of ultrasonic vibrations to agitate liquids in a manner that–in layman’s terms–caused the liquids to clean themselves as well as anything inside of them.

Unfortunately, no such technology functioning in that way would go on to be invented for use in bathtubs, as the negative effects of prolonged or intense exposure to ultrasonic waves would cause severe damage to the anatomy of human beings.

Technology Today

Even today, the knowledge of how to commercialize ultrasonic cleaners in a way that is safe and effective for human absorption still eludes us. However, as of July 1, 2019, we are now closer than ever!

Through Makuake, a Japanese crowd-funding website, researchers raised enough money to finance the development of an ultrasonic cleaning device called Sonic Soak. The devices just might be the technological precursor to the sonic bath, the first step in sonic shower technology.

In order to appropriate this technology for showers, however, it still needs to be made safe enough to allow for prolonged contact with human skin, ears, and brains without causing permanent damage.

Until that day, the sonic shower will unfortunately be relegated to the realm of science fiction, although there is quite a bit of mounting evidence for the claim that these Japanese researchers are on track to bring this technology into reality.

Look to the Stars

In the film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, released in 1979, the ship’s computer beeps out an intruder alert and says that the location is inside of a sonic shower on the ship. This is the first major reference to sonic shower technology in science fiction, perhaps spurred by the cleaning technology of the 50s and 60s.

Since then, multiple other episodes have come out featuring sonic showers in much greater depth. In one episode in particular of Star Trek Voyager, Belana Tores can be seen “bathing” in a sonic shower.

More recently, in 1995, Fantasy Flight Games released a sourcebook for their popular tabletop roleplaying game, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, in which ultrasonic showers were made available to players as purchasable equipment for the team’s starship.

Conclusion

While the idea of being able to bath in sonic waves and to clean yourself without getting wet might sound, pun intended, like a great way to speed up and improve hygiene, it remains incredibly dangerous. Although, hopefully, scientists are on the verge of another great discovery!

Further Reading

For more information on the 1995 sourcebook for Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, check out this Wookieepedia article. (Wookieepedia is the go-to website for Star Wars roleplaying free-to-access equipment indices.)

Self- Washing, Drying, and Folding Clothes

Imagine never having to do your own laundry ever again! No, we don’t mean moving back in with your parents.

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We’re referring to advances in modern technology that make the science fiction prospect of self-washing, self-drying, and self-folding clothes look more like reality.

The Origin of Robots

Robots have been around for decades now, but did you know that engineers have been attempting to create self-operating machines since way back in the Ancient days? Ancient Egyptians attempted to build robots with purposes ranging from labor to music.

After many hundreds of years, those designs would come to sound less like fantastical musings of bored engineers and terrified musicians and more like the active studies of university roboticists.

As of the mid 2010s, the invention of Foldimate brought robotic laundry-folding from theory into reality. Resembling a printer, Foldimate enables you to insert your clothes and remove the folded results. However, this is far from self-washing, self-drying, or self-folding.

Robots are Everywhere, Even in Our Clothes

While the idea of robotic clothes sounds nonsensical and borderline facetious, it is very much on the horizon. Researchers at York University in the U.K. have discovered a way to create robots inspired by origami, capable of being designed in small sizes and folding in on themselves.

If this technology were to be applied to the textile industry, which it very well might be in the coming years, clothes would be able to be programmed to perform a variety of different functions including, of course, folding in on themselves.

This would mean that the robots in your gym shorts could theoretically be programmed to release an odor or perfume in response to increased levels of sweat in order to prevent that horrid gym smell from following you everywhere you go. 

In fact, self-drying clothing technology is already somewhat popular in the global textile market. Although this is more accurately referred to as “quick-dry” technology, how much different would it really be from a robotic t-shirt quickly drying itself?

Popular Media

In 2016, self-cleaning clothes were making waves and occupying headlines in the technology industry when Australian researchers discovered a way to manufacture textiles that could clean themselves when exposed to sunlight.

The textiles were designed with an intricate nanostructure designed to speed up the degradation of various organic compounds, even including common stain-inducing nightmares such as tomato sauce or fruit juice.

This was supposed to be done by enabling the nanostructures to react positively to sunlight giving them a metabolic boost, which would act as an adverse reagent in the decomposition of the stain-causing matter.

Conclusion

Although nobody has yet to succeed in the creation of self-washing, self-drying, and self-cleaning clothes, the technology already exists! That means, it’s only a matter of time until somebody finds a commercially viable way to produce this science-fiction oddity.

Further Reading

For more details on how sunlight affects ordinary clothing, check out this great article. For more information on what clothing that relies on sunlight would require in order to prevent putting the wearer at increased risk of skin cancer, click here.

Projection Keyboard

As the visual capabilities of tech become more advanced, it’s no surprise that they intersect with functionality.

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That’s precisely the case with projection keyboards, a concept that may feel wholly removed from reality, but which are actually not all that complicated at its core. 

New Millenium, New Ideas

Not long after the turn of the 21st century, several companies decided that it was time to improve upon the regular old computer keyboard, a piece of technology that was becoming more and more common in the average home. 

Of course, keyboards had already undergone more than their fair share of renaissances. From the concept’s beginnings on typewriters, to the wholly foreign development of a computer keyboard, it’s only natural that tech businesses were looking for the next big thing in 2002. 

As it turns out, projection keyboards didn’t exactly take off the way you might expect in those early days. This could be due to cost, usability issues, or the simple fact that a laser keyboard was, at the time, far too futuristic a product to take root. Now, though, no tech innovation is off limits for digital natives. 

A Different Type of Input

No matter what type of keyboard you’re using, it’s simply an input device at its core. When you type on your laptop’s keyboard, you’re inputting a series of commands that writes out words, opens new tabs, or copies and pastes. Using a projection keyboard is largely the same. 

Rather than a physical device, projection keyboards are basically compact lasers with special optical lenses. When placed on a flat surface, they project a standard keyboard in front of you using a red laser. Then a special infrared sensor, which sits just above the projected keyboard, analyzes the areas that your fingers touch to determine what you’re typing. 

Often through bluetooth technology, the projection device can connect with your smartphone, computer, or tablet, much like any other regular wireless keyboard might. This is particularly useful for those who have trouble typing out longer messages with touch screens, or whose fingers are simply too big for their phone keys. 

The Good and The Bad

Projection keyboards are different from virtual keyboards in that practically every electronic device has a virtual keyboard built in. When you go to type a text on your smartphone, or search Google with your tablet, you’re typing on a virtual keyboard. 

For many people, the comfort of an actual keyboard helps them more fully and efficiently express themselves, especially when it comes to formulating professional messages or completing work. Imagine if everyone in a fast-moving workplace could carry a tablet with a projection keyboard rather than a laptop; it would save both time and space. 

On the other hand, projection keyboards won’t work just anywhere. Say, for example, you commute on the train and like to catch up on your emails before you get to the office. Unless you have a dedicated flat surface in front of you, a projection keyboard simply won’t work efficiently, as it won’t be able to track your movements. 

Much like holograms and other visual trickery are becoming more sophisticated, projection keyboards are getting more useful as well.

Cryptocurrency

As the Internet drives toward a more connected planet, language increasingly seems the only barrier to a global culture, especially given the rise of cryptocurrency.

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This digital form of money knows no true homeland, and its encrypted, blockchain system makes it both incredibly transparent and extremely secure. If trends continue, paper money may someday be a thing of the past. 

Concept to Currency

As you may  have guessed given the technical nature of the beast, cryptocurrency hasn’t been around all that long. The earliest shades of this technology arrived in the late ‘90s, when several companies conceptualized cryptocurrency, but none ever actually developed.

It wasn’t until 2008 when a newsletter discussing a new peer-to-peer currency was sent to a select mailing list that the idea of cryptocurrency came to fruition. The newsletter heralded the arrival of Bitcoin, the world’s first and most famous form of digital currency. The creator of Bitcoin still remains a mystery today, but the software has now been available to the public for more than 10 years. 

Still, it took several years before anyone outside of the tech, finance, or startup realm had heard of cryptocurrency. By 2017, though, everyone knew of Bitcoin (even if they didn’t know exactly what it was). That’s because a single Bitcoin hit a record high price of $20,000 near the end of the year. 

Since then, the price has fluctuated pretty significantly, and other forms of cryptocurrency have broken into the market. The fact that every piece of Bitcoin (and all digital currency for that matter) is traceable, and that it doesn’t rely upon something like the Federal Reserve makes it an increasingly popular way to store wealth. 

How Cryptocurrency Gets You Paid

Perhaps you can follow along with the concept of cryptocurrency theoretically, but that all breaks down when you reach the actual function of a currency: how do you pay someone, or get paid, with digital currency? Can you actually buy anything with it? Can you cash it in for a centralized currency, like dollars? The answer to the latter two questions is yes, but the first is a bit more complicated. 

Because it is not tied to a government or central bank, cryptocurrencies operate on their own networks, separate from any sort of actual institution.  

For example, if you wanted to buy something from someone for 1 Bitcoin, you would simply access your Bitcoin wallet and transfer that money directly using the recipient’s Bitcoin number. This is the meaning of a peer-to-peer currency: it’s not a bank that decides whether money changes hands, it’s a series of security measures that must be met. 

An increasing number of services exist to transfer Bitcoin from your virtual wallet to your real one, and this is likely to become an even bigger industry in the years ahead. 

Where Does It Go from Here?

The future of cryptocurrency is difficult to predict, as it’s entirely uncharted territory. It could lead to a totally interconnected global currency, or it could completely melt down with little warning. 

The one certain fact is that cryptocurrency isn’t going anywhere. It will continue to be a source of interest and investigation for financiers and tech enthusiasts in the coming years, and it’s likely that cryptocurrency will eventually trickle down to become part of the average consumer’s life as well, the question is simply how long that will take.