Archive for May, 2012
Commercial space travel was long confined to the realm of science fiction.
But no more.
With SpaceX’s successful rocket launch on May 22, commercial space travel is now a concrete, viable reality… and one that will yield lots of investment opportunities in the very near future.
After a three-day delay, the well-funded startup’s private space ship – a gumdrop-shaped capsule called Dragon – rocketed into outer space. It then docked with the International Space Station on the very first try. SpaceX made history. It was the first time a private firm has flown such a mission.
In my letter to you two weeks ago – “Why I’m Watching Tomorrow’s Rocket Launch (and You Should Too)” – I predicted the venture would succeed.
Now that it has, I believe this event will serve as the tipping point for the whole commercial space sector.
And to think, we have a small group of billionaire investors to thank for it all…
The most infamous man in the complex field of neuroscience died 152 years ago.
Yet just last week, railroad construction foreman Phineas Gage made headlines again, reaching out from the grave to offer crucial new insights about the how the brain works.
Thanks to a new discovery of old scans of his brain, a crack research team just found key data that will help them solve the riddles of complex brain diseases, with Alzheimer’s at the top of the list.
No doubt, these new findings will improve the quality of life for millions. More to the point for investors like us, they could be worth a fortune.
Let me explain.
When it comes to breakthroughs in the fast-moving robotics field, the mainstream media is once again bringing up the rear.
Last week, the major news outlets were abuzz with details about how two patients paralyzed from the neck down used their minds to control robots.
No doubt, this is a worthy breakthrough. On the other hand…
I first wrote about a similar case back in early January, four months before the New York Times got onto the story. That’s when my report on how the tech sector delivers life-changing gains ran on our sister website, Money Morning.
In fact, I got so much great feedback on that and other stories like it, I decided to launch the Era of Radical Change.
I mention this not to brag, but to remind you that by subscribing, you really will learn about key trends in cutting-edge tech long before the general public.
And that’s clearly true when it comes to robots. Just two weeks ago I wrote to tell you how a new series of smart machines will have a profound impact on the world around us.
Here’s what I said:
“Robots of all sizes are already capable of doing some very complex tasks: They can perform surgery, hair transplants, and even climb inside the human body – through the mouth – to “eat” stomach cancers.”
You may recall that I also told you to keep an eye on Heartland Robotics, a startup based in Boston that I believe is a good IPO candidate. The firm says it will produce a range of machines that will serve as “the PC” of robots.
Today, I’d like to tell you about another startup that’s pushing the boundaries of the robotics revolution.
A few minutes before dawn tomorrow, Saturday, May 19, we’re set to cross what could be a major space-related milestone.
Tomorrow morning, an intriguing little startup firm called SpaceX is scheduled to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets from Cape Canaveral, Fl., to dock its Dragon spacecraft with the International Space Station.
Make no mistake about it – this could mark a turning point for the U.S.
NASA ended the shuttle program last year. That leaves the U.S. hitching rides to the Space Station from our “good friends” the Russians. That’s not good for national security, much less for innovation and exploration.
We’ve already talked about the “New Space Race” – part of that being the asteroid mining initiative that private company Planetary Resources is embarking upon.
When it comes to space transportation, thankfully, SpaceX plans to pick up where cash-strapped NASA left off. Tomorrow’s launch could eventually have a value of at least $1.6 billion – that’s the total price tag for a contract NASA gave to SpaceX for 12 Space Station flights.
But there’s more to the story than that…
Today I want to tell you about a huge new scientific discovery that will have a dramatic impact on our understanding of the most complex organ in the human body…
This breakthrough will – at the very least – provide us with better contrast agents – the substances needed to get good, clear images during brain scans. That alone would be huge.
You see, the contrast agent used in most MRI scans today is a rare-earth mineral called gadolinium. And it can have major side effects. Right now the FDA is looking into reports that patients who receive these agents develop nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF); that can mean skin thickening, decreased joint mobility, and fibrosis in the diaphragm, muscles, and lungs. (Over time, NSF gets worse and can cause death. And there is no treatment for it.) Already, the FDA has told all five makers of this compound to put warning labels on their products. So there is a serious need for a better contrast medium.
Yet I think this same breakthrough could actually be a game-changer for the field of neuroscience, with profound implications for the entire human race.
And to think, all these changes will result from a tiny protein most people don’t even know exists.
A recent breakthrough at the nano scale means we won’t have to rely on wind and solar as the main ways to fuel the coming Green Economy – to drive our cars and trucks and planes and keep our factories running.
And that’s a huge relief.
You see, there’s a problem with “clean energy”.
Nothing in the world today can compete with the power provided by oil.
At present, it only takes a few barrels of oil to match the power a big windmill or a massive array of solar panels can provide. And efficiency is just one problem. Unlike oil, it’s very difficult to store clean energy to use (after the sun goes down or when the wind refuses to blow).
On the other hand, drilling for oil poses big risks. We want to keep our land and water clean and need to protect ourselves from the huge damage oil spills do to the environment.
Those safeguards, however, raise the cost of drilling and the price you pay at the pump. But what if you could drill for oil without concern for spills?
It would provide a boon to the entire U.S. economy and reduce our need for oil imports. We could save billions a year at the pump, lower the cost of making U.S. products, and create millions of jobs in the process.
No doubt, that would be a game changer…
Many people think the United States has turned its back on the Space Race.
And it certainly looks like our leaders have thrown in the towel…
Two years ago the Obama administration cancelled plans for another manned moon shot. The thinking goes, it’s not prudent to work on extraterrestrial exploration when we’ve got so many problems right here at home.
Just two weeks ago, the very symbol of our commitment to explore the heavens flew for the last time. I’m sure I’m not the only person who felt sad watching the Space Shuttle Discovery take its last “flight” by piggy-backing on top of a Boeing 747.
Now, with history’s most-flown spacecraft mothballed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, that’s the end of the story, right?
Not so fast…
You may not live or work with any robots today… but you will soon.
The robotics market is about to explode.
I predict that, in the next few years, we will see swarms of robots entering the workplace. Of course, we’ve had bots working in factories for years now. But as they get both cheaper and smarter, we will find lots of new jobs for them to do. And they’ll do those jobs better and better.
Robots of all sizes are already capable of doing some very complex tasks: They can perform surgery, hair transplants, and even climb inside the human body – through the mouth – to “eat” stomach cancers.
To understand the scale of the robotics revolution, just look at what’s happening in China.
Cheap labor in that nation not only stole U.S. jobs, it vaulted China to the front ranks of fast-growing markets. But now robots are invading Chinese factories in a big way. Take the case of Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., which is based in Taiwan and makes electronic components and other goods for big computer firms (it supplies parts for the iPad, iPhone, Xbox, and Kindle).
Well, Foxconn announced it plans to buy enough robots to replace roughly half the firm’s 1.2 million workers in China. This is the largest robotics rollout in the history.
The trade group the International Federation of Robotics says there are about one million industrial robots now in use around the world. So, based on Foxconn’s rollout alone – one company in one country – we know that figure is set to more than double by the end of the decade.
The robotics revolution is here.
So what’s a clever tech investor to do?
Getting a truly modern outlook requires a little help.
Fortunately, you may soon be able to buy a unique pair of eyeglasses that do the job for you.
In early April, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled a stylish pair of Web-connected spectacles that serve as a computer you wear on your face (or perhaps a smart phone for your eyes). It’s a great twist on what are known as “heads up” displays used by U.S. defense forces.
Most of the has never seen anything quite like this before – except in sci-fi films.
This high-tech, mostly hands-free device could change the way you live your daily life. Put these eyeglasses on, and you have instant access your email. You can check the weather, get traffic updates, display maps and walking directions on the go, take photos, send texts, schedule meetings, listen to music, and make wireless video calls. You can operate the glasses’ functions by moving your head – nodding, for one – or clicking a small button.
This is the kind of breakthrough I have in mind when I say we are living in the Era of Radical Change. The next two decades will be like nothing we have seen before.
And it all started right here in the good ol’ USA.