Ten Years of Science and Technology

Kim Moldofsky is the publisher of The Maker Mom and STEM Kids Chicago.

October 17, 2017 will be a big day for a special group of young scientists. The 17th also marks the tenth anniversary of 3M and Discovery Education co-hosting our nation’s premier science competition for middle school students. This means that this year’s competitors were mere toddlers when the competition launched. To get some perspective on how science and technology have developed along with these kids, I thought it would be fun to look back at top stories of 2007.

A Decade of Science and Technology

 

The Smart Phone

I’m going to hazard a guess that many, if not all, of this year’s contestants own a smartphone, or at least have access to one. The granddaddy of all smart phones (originally written as two words) debuted in 2007. Yes, the iPhone. The Guardian was skeptical, noting in late 2006 that “...even if Steve Jobs does manage to turn out a phone that people coo over, who's actually going to use it?"

I think we know the answer to that one!

At the end of 2007 Time named the iPhone the invention of the year, optimistically assuring its readers, “You'll have one in a few years. It'll be very cool. And it'll be even cheaper.”  

Spoiler alert: the new iPhone X is set to launch at a price point of roughly $1,000.

Robots

Asimo, the most advanced humanoid robot wowed the crowds at the CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. It wowed the crowds as it ran, walked up and down stairs, and spoke with a voice to match its childlike size. You may recall President Obama playing soccer with Asimo just a few years later.

Humanoids, along with other types of robots, have continued to evolve. I think that the “other types” present some of the most interesting developments, though. I mean, we know what a human looks like and how people moves, but creators need to think more broadly to develop other types of bots. Along those lines, check out the latest from Boston Dynamics and watch the other dog- and (headless) horse-like robots they’ve created.

Hurricanes

A prescient piece of climate research published in 2007 called for new climate models. As a related article put it, “Huber [a researcher] says we may reach a point, with rising water temperatures from global warming and mingling, where ‘we will have gotten rid of [the] cold water to mix up.’ At that point the blending might produce warmer temperatures—and even stronger storms.”

If you’ve watched the news on recent hurricanes and tropical storms, you may have seen that meteorologists rely on several different models to predict storm paths and intensities. Although the models may vary, there is broad agreement that climate change is causing more severe storms.

Home DNA Testing

The idea of getting a glimpse into one’s own genetic code simply by sending off a vial of saliva to a distant lab was hard to grasp in 2007. In 2017, people routinely share their DNA test results on Facebook and connect with previously unknown cousins via online chat forums.

Prices were steep when 23andMe launched its consumer DNA testing service. What was once cost around $1,000 is now closer to $100 thanks to evolving technology and the presence of several competitors in the market.

And More

Other top stories from 2007 included the bee colony collapse and wireless charging. Sound familiar?

Get a Glimpse of the Future Next Week

Remember to tune in October 17 to see the new technologies this year’s crop of finalists has created. I’m sure they’ll give us a lot to look back on in 2027.