Do you think your connection speed is fast? Do you tout your torrent bit rate? Perhaps your rig is swift, but there's no reason it couldn't be many times faster. The only thing standing in the way is some creative materials science, and researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology may have just found the key to converting everything from individual computers to data networks into blazing-fast, all-optical transmission devices.
In a world of real-time Twitter search and smartphones that whisk pictures and videos around a very mobile Web, it's hard to believe that data transfer rates to and from space often border on dial-up speeds. The ISS is one of the most advanced pieces of technology man has ever dreamed up, yet crew members got their first Internet connection just last week.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.