4 Technologies That Will Transform the World

More Powerful Medical Imaging

Cheers to the National Science Foundation (NSF) as it celebrates 67 years of service to the nation this month. Since its launch in 1950, NSF has provided funding for basic research that has laid the foundation for many of the technologies we rely on today such as mobile communications, the Internet, and GPS. The following images illustrate just a few of the areas touched by NSF research.

The first six images represent past or current technologies helped by NSF funding and the second six preview opportunities where NSF support will make a difference in the decades to come. Pictured here: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a now-common medical imaging technique, advanced because of NSF funding over several decades. New MRI systems using magnets made of materials like these golden superconducting strands are increasing the power and precision of this important clinical tool

Connected from Coast to Coast

Texting, snapping and tweeting is all possible because of the internet. From humble beginnings as NSFNet in the academic research community to its current ubiquitous presence, the internet’s infrastructure grew in a relatively short period of time as private-sector providers scrambled to meet rising public demand for access and bandwidth. This growth will continue into the foreseeable future as the network evolves and more devices are brought online.

In this image, the nationwide rainbow represents the connections between routers in major urban areas.

Slipping the Surly Bonds

This glowing corridor represents some of the latest hardware for testing cloud computing, the practice of using a network of remote servers, rather than a local server or personal computer, to store, manage and process data. Flanking the aisle are the 200 or so servers that served as a testbed for Apt, the precursor to NSF’s Experimental cloud computing effort CloudLab. CloudLab and its twin testbed Chameleon are part of the NSFCloud program that is now creating opportunities to experiment with novel cloud architectures, applications, and security measures.

The experiments performed through CloudLab and Chameleon will lead to new capabilities for future clouds and a deeper understanding of cloud computing fundamentals.

Protecting Life and Property


When Mother Nature wields her fury through natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes, weather forecasters and emergency personnel alert local communities based on input they’ve received from event modeling and simulations. With the help of NSF funding, these technologies can now provide highly localized, real-time data. In the case of a tornado, simulations like the one pictured here provide forecasters with valuable information such as wind speed, air flow, and pressure. The orange and blue wisps represent the rising and falling airflow around the tornado.

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