All posts by Lucy Ingham

Five must-read futuristic articles from Factor’s spring digital magazine

Spring is here and it’s time for the latest issue of Factor magazine, the mammoth quarterly digital magazine on all things future. Available to read on any device for free, it’s your go-to destination for serious thought, and the occasional bout of silliness, about the world of tomorrow.

With 33 pages of content there is a huge range of topics to read and explore, and listing every single one here would be a bit silly. Instead, here’s our pick of the five must-read articles that every future fan needs to check out.

How Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Could Make the Music Industry March to a Different Choon

Blockchain seems to be finding its way into everything at the moment, and the music industry is no different. Which is why in this issue we speak to Choon, the company using the technology to transform the music industry, and pay artists better in the process. Are we entering the post-record label age? Quite possibly.

Elon Musk’s Super Fun Pyro and Apocalypse Show

In what is probably the silliest article in this issue, we ponder a reality where Elon Musk really does create a zombie apocalypse in order to sell Boring Company flamethrowers. Why would he do such a thing? How would it turn out? And how would Musk create zombie anyway? All these questions are (sort of) answered.

The Buzz Around Bee Decline: Are Super Robotic Bees the Future of Farming?

Bees are vanishing but crops still need to be pollinated, lest we see a serious impact on our global food supplies. In this serenely presented article we consider the pros and cons of supplementing bees with robotic doppelgangers. Yes, this will bring back memories of a certain Black Mirror episode.

The Life of a Future Traveller

In this animated spectacular, we take you on a trip to the future, to look at what travelling could be like in a decade. From passenger drones to driverless cars and hyperloop to supersonic planes, there will be a lot of ways to travel, some of which will have a serious impact on how we live.

The Enhanced Future Brian: Kernel’s Mission to Shape Humanity’s Cognitive Evolution

Self-improvement is one of the universal goals of humanity, so why not make our brains better? In a mind-blowing exploration of how we could advance ourselves, we hear from Kernel’s Bryan Johnson about the company’s cognitive enhancement plans.

Stronger in old age: Stem cell research paves way for muscle-building medication

It could in the future be possible to take medication that will allow you to build muscle, even when you are in old age.

This is due to the findings of research at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, which found that large, and wholly unexpected, amounts of mutations in muscle stem cells blocks their ability to regenerate cells.

“What is most surprising is the high number of mutations. We have seen how a healthy 70-year-old has accumulated more than 1,000 mutations in each stem cell in the muscle, and that these mutations are not random but there are certain regions that are better protected,” said Maria Eriksson, professor at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition at Karolinska Institutet.

With this knowledge, researchers could develop therapies that would encourage such regeneration, and so allow older people to rebuild lost muscle.

“We can demonstrate that this protection diminishes the older you become, indicating an impairment in the cell’s capacity to repair their DNA. And this is something we should be able to influence with new drugs,” explained Eriksson.

The landmark research, which is published today in the journal Nature Communications, involved the use of single stem cells, which were cultivated to provide enough DNA for whole genome sequencing – a medical first for this part of the body.

“We achieved this in the skeletal muscle tissue, which is absolutely unique. We have also found that there is very little overlap of mutations, despite the cells being located close to each other, representing an extremely complex mutational burden,” said study first author Irene Franco, a postdoc in Eriksson’s research group.

While a significant step, the research is now being expanded to look at whether exercise affects the number of mutations – a potentially vital factor in understand why and how these mutations occur.

“We aim to discover whether it is possible to individually influence the burden of mutations. Our results may be beneficial for the development of exercise programmes, particularly those designed for an ageing population,” said Eriksson.

The research is one of a host of projects being conducted across the world that have potential impacts on ageing, an area that was long ignored by much of the scientific community, but is now garnering increased support.

If many – or even a fair minority – of these findings eventually become the basis of therapeutics, it could be transformative for old age in the future, allowing people to remain healthier for far later in life and potentially even leading to longer life expectancies.