Comprehensive coverage

"Technology accelerates human evolution"

Dr. Lonnie Johnson, an inventor who registered over 100 patents and developed a solid state battery based on them, describes human evolution as an interactive process between biology and technology, in which each influences and is influenced by its own

Dr. Lonnie Johnson. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
Dr. Lonnie Johnson. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

"Technology is how we, humanity, accelerate our evolution, change our environment and ourselves, and open the gate to the discovery of new solutions to ancient problems," said Dr. Lonnie Johnson, who was a guest lecturer at Dassault Systèmes 3DExperience World 2024 conference, held in Dallas, Texas.

According to Dr. Johnson, "new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and genetic editing, not only change the way we live, but also the way we develop as a species."

However, he said, these abilities are accompanied by responsibility: "With the ability to change the human genome and develop artificial minds, we are required to ask ourselves not only what we can do, but also what we need to do for future generations."

From NASA to one of the best selling water guns

Dr. Johnson, born in 1949 in Mobile, Alabama, is an engineer, physicist and inventor, who has become an influential figure in the worlds of technology and energy. His diverse career spans many decades, and he has played key roles in innovation in many industries. Thus, for example, he served in engineering and analysis positions at NASA and the US Air Force, where he worked with the most advanced robots in the world at the time. Johnson was one of the first African-Americans to graduate from the engineering studies at Tuskegee University in Alabama in 1969, a short period after it was opened to African-Americans, after the removal of their restrictions and discrimination, which had been common until then, especially in the southern United States.

At the university he participated in a robotics competition and built, with the meager means of the sixties, a primitive robot that contained components from various devices, a primitive computer and a radio communication system that made it possible to communicate with it (by programming, of course).
Johnson talked about the passion for creation and problem solving that drives him to innovate and improve existing products. "I see a problem and want to solve it," he said. He shared that from a young age he believed that all great ideas had already been invented, but realized that one could contribute by improving the existing.

Dr. Johnson's best-known invention is the Super Soaker water gun - one of the best-selling toys in the world, but his achievements and contribution to the fields of science are much broader. Thus, for example, in his work at NASA he was involved in important space projects, such as the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn. He worked on space power and energy systems, focusing on applications of renewable energy technologies and efficiency.

More than 100 patents are registered in Dr. Johnson's name, most of them in the field of energy. He has developed innovative technologies in areas such as solid ceramic batteries, lithium-air batteries and high-efficiency heat-to-electricity conversion systems.

Evolution and technology

In his words at the conference, Dr. Johnson described a picture of human evolution as an interactive process between biology and technology, in which each affects the other and is affected by it. It offers a concept of human progress, which is not limited to physical or genetic changes, but also includes the ability to invent, create and use tools and technologies that improve our lives and the world we live in.

In his theory, Dr. Johnson points to three key periods for understanding human evolution in the technological context: the first phase was the use of tools and fire. He described how, over millions of years, man used various tools, from simple stones to more advanced tools such as tools and metal tools. The use of fire was, according to him, a turning point, which opened up new possibilities for cooking food, heating and protection.

The second period is the period of technology development. In his lecture, he demonstrated the rapid leaps in technological development, especially in the last 500 years - from the voyages of Columbus to spacecrafts circling the Earth. Dr. Johnson noted that the human ability to develop new technologies is the driving force behind our rapid progress.

As mentioned, he also emphasized the impact of technology on evolution, which is the third period. According to him, technology nowadays is not only a result of human evolution, but also a factor that influences it. He talks about technologies like artificial intelligence and genetics, which not only change the way we live but also the way we develop as a species. "The use of these technologies can accelerate human evolution in new directions, and perhaps even create improved versions of man," he said.

Improving the efficiency of energy production

After laying out his theory, Dr. Johnson focused on the issues at hand, especially the search for renewable energy sources. "As the world continues to see the effects of climate change, more research needs to be devoted to technologies that support renewable energies, and batteries will play a key role in storing this energy," he noted.

In the United States, a significant part of the electricity produced is emitted as "waste heat". According to Dr. Johnson, that "waste heat" alone produces $190 billion worth of available electricity every year. However, unfortunately, up to 69% of the energy produced by primary sources is wasted. One of his innovations, the Johnson Thermo-Electrochemical Converter (JTEC), reduces the amount of waste heat from 69% to 40%.

Dr. Johnson's continued dedication to solving the problem of renewable energy storage led to the establishment of Johnson Energy Storage - a company whose goal is to develop a proprietary solid-state battery with high energy density made of ceramic, glass and metal that doubles the travel time of today's lithium batteries, from 500 to -1,000 km.

Johnson licensed the use of solid-state battery technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "I knew this was the way to move forward beyond lithium-ion batteries," he said. Since then, he has been putting a lot of effort into developing a ceramic solid-state battery with a glass electrolyte, which he says will be safe, stable and have a much higher energy density than lithium batteries.

Johnson said that he became interested in batteries back in 1998, with the aim of promoting a transition to renewable energies. "I realized that if I wanted to influence the transition to clean energy, I had to enter the field of batteries," he said. He researched the existing technologies and concluded that solid state batteries were the future.

Johnson claimed that his ceramic battery withstands much higher temperatures than lithium batteries, so it is also safer. "We tested the cells at temperatures above 600 degrees Celsius. "Lithium batteries lose stability above 60 degrees only," he said.

According to Johnson, developments in the field of batteries are still at an early stage, but he is optimistic about the future: "It will take time to reach mass production, but the potential for change is great. We are on our way to a revolutionary battery that will change the world of energy."

According to Johnson, the new battery could enable a more extensive use of renewable energies: "With the help of the revolutionary batteries, we will be able to store solar and wind energy and provide clean electricity without dependence on fossil fuels."

Johnson left the audience with a message of hope: "When scientists and entrepreneurs join forces, they can solve climate and environmental challenges. Together we can build a more sustainable future." The veteran inventor's lecture illustrated that technological innovation can serve important social and environmental goals.

More of the topic in Hayadan:

One response

  1. Evolution also translates to development
    But apparently in the field
    The growing dependence on technological means for every operation
    causes calcification of the memory and the ability to think,
    causes damage to the language and ability to express,
    Technology overcomes ignorance
    to the point of stupidity,
    Hence not development but retreat...

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.