You continue to post thoughtful, intelligent comments and questions in response to my Era of Radical Change columns. Thank you.
This tells me we have a very savvy, active, and well-informed set of readers. I'm always eager to see what you bring to the discussion. Without your help and input, this column wouldn't be so successful (or nearly as fun to write).
Of course, the sheer volume of comments I get makes it impossible for me to address them all individually along the way. But I promise to keep doing my best.
With that in mind, let's tackle some of your latest queries…
Starting with a really interesting comment about 3D printing stocks.
Q: My background in materials strength and stress-strain analysis tells me we must expect a development period of some five to ten years until 3D-printing can become a real breakthrough in terms of manufacturing of mechanical parts. I would be cautious about investing heavily now in the hope of short or mid-term profits. ~ Al G.
A: Al, I can't compete with your knowledge of materials, and I won't even try.
But I do want to point out that we may be talking about two different aspects of 3D printing.
Clearly, there is a growing market for small businesses and consumers. These are lower-priced, entry-level printers. The cheapest mass market machine from a major company costs about $1,300. As Al points out, that's not going to give you solid, working metal parts that you might want to use in a car or a plane or for a lathe in a machine shop, for that matter.
However, many big companies are buying much more robust, expensive printers and putting them to good use throughout their supply chains. One publicly traded company for your radar screen is Stratasys Inc. (NasdaqGS:SSYS).
This firm is going after more of the upper end of the market – big outfits that can work this tech into their manufacturing lineups.
As regards investing, you should always be careful. But I don't think it's too early to make money from 3D printing stocks.
And here's proof…
Subscribers to my trading service, Radical Technology Profits, already took nice, short-term gains on two 3D printing stocks in 2012. We scored 29.86% on 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE:DDD), and we took a 95.34% gain on Organovo Holdings Inc. (OTC:ONVO) (in less than a month).
Let me make a statement here that will address several more questions I'm always getting about tech stocks – whether this one or that one is a good "buy."
Here's the thing. I can't provide that kind of service here.
My subscribers at Radical Tech Profits pay quite a bit of money for my research, analysis, stock picks, and trade recommendations. It wouldn't be fair to charge them for a service that I then turn around and provide for free to you folks. Of course, I am passionate about giving readers of Era of Radical Change a deep database of breakthroughs and new trends that will help them make money in the long run.
We'll keep doing that.
If you do want to sign up for Radical Tech Profits, I'd love to have you on board. I've got a great opportunity coming for in the next few weeks for new members, so please stay tuned.
[Editor's Note: To learn more about Michael's service right away, feel free to contact our VIP Services Director John Wilkinson at 855.509.6600 or 410.622.3004.]
Now let's move on to a good question about my Sept. 14 post, "Two New Advances Fusing Man and Machine:"
Q: Soon this will be old hat! How will this link with deep, extra deep space travel? We will need to repair ourselves as in a hospital either on a planet or flying to it. ~ Walter M.
A: Walter isn't the only one to pose the question about how the fusion of man and machine will play out in the future of space travel. Right now, we are still sorting these issues out as we seek new systems that will take us deeper into space, to other planets and asteroids.
I do believe that we could make these kinds of tissue repairs on humans or on machines in deep space. But more to the point, I see the same issues and questions facing us here on Earth.
We are headed toward what I call "the Great Convergence" – in which man and machine become so deeply connected that humans will be a far more sophisticated species than we can even hope to understand today.
In that world, I foresee us moving toward two types of advanced "beings:"
- Cyborgs: robots enhanced with human tissues and "thinking" systems; and
- "Bionics:" biologic humans that have added sensors, chips, smart prosthetics, neural implants, and the like.
No doubt, some find that future world scary. I believe it's inevitable… and that we already well on the way there. I also think we have a duty to use high tech to improve the human race. And this fights right in with that.
Next, on Sept. 25, I wrote about a key breakthrough in fusion power that could be a game changer in the near future.
Q: Italian Physicist Rossi has had a working fusion reactor for 2 years now. He based his method on the 1984 announcement of cold fusion in the US. Greece just stole the plans and made their own version. He is about to make home and small business models for home power generation. We are talking about $10 a year power cost for typical home after initial cost to install the power system costing about 5k. It's got a 2.5 year ROI. It's based on nickel and hydrogen making copper. Where are you guys? Head in the sand? ~ George
A: George, I hope you don't think I have my head in the sand just because I haven't written about the Rossi "breakthrough!" Fact is, I haven't touched it for a couple of good reasons.
First, I haven't seen or read any follow-up work from scholars showing that "desktop fusion," a device operating at room temperature, will work. And believe me, I've looked into it. But if the Rossi system does in fact play out the way he says it will, that would have a huge impact on the entire planet. It's hard to foresee a better energy source than a small fusion device you could have in nearly every building in the advanced world.
Second, I've got a bit of a front row seat for this debate. My father-in-law, Dr. Bob Fisher, is a former researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, where he logged 40 years in the lab and wrote many papers. He focused heavily on cold-temperature physics. We have discussed the field of fusion several times.
Just a few months back, he and I talked at length about the Rossi system. Long story short, Dr. Fisher doubts it will work as billed and, like me, wants to see valid proof.
Until I get that based on tests run by more than one neutral scientist, I'm holding off. I suggest that investors do the same. And no, I don't think U.S. energy firms are keeping it off the market to protect their turf.
Last week, I told you about the "smart bra" that detects breast cancer.
Q: As regards your info about the Bra sensor and breast cancer detection, it is important to get your facts correct. You stated that 6% of women below the age of 40 die of breast cancer. What you should have stated is that 6% of breast cancer in women occurs below the age of 40. ~ Dr. Len O.
A: Dr. O is clearly correct that it's important to get the facts right, especially in the kind of high-tech reports I provide. That's why you I try to embed links in every article that provide verification of a wide range of facts and studies that I cite here at the Era of Radical Change.
With that in mind, the statistic I used came from the bra maker's own investor packet. It cited a study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). As I was writing the column, I went to the NCI's website and came to the same conclusion. That's why I used it.
However, after getting Dr. O's comment, I went back and checked the NCI data three more times. I saw that I could have misunderstood total deaths for young women overall compared to breast cancer as percent of all cancer deaths.
So, I called the NCI and spoke with a press officer who first said my version was inaccurate. But after I pointed out how the agency worded the stats on its website, she demurred, saying it could be construed either way.
So she did the smart thing and sent a query to an NCI stats expert himself. The result? We were both wrong! Dr. O stated that 6% of breast cancer cases occur in women under age 40. The correct stat is that women under the age of 44 account for 11.7% of all breast cancer cases and 6.5% of breast cancer deaths. Sorry for the confusion, but I'm glad we cleared it up. Here is the link to the NCI breast cancer stats.
Finally, my column on October's Fascinations of the Month drew a response regarding Boeing's work on electromagnetic pulse weapons.
Q: Read the book "One Second After" by William Forstchen to get a better idea of the consequences of an EMP. Not so cool. EMPs are cool until somebody uses it on us (the United States). And what makes you believe that won't happen? ~ Gordon E.
A: Short answer, nothing. But I believe the odds are very low that it will happen in the U.S. Clearly, any nation that hit us with that type of weapon would have declared all-out war.
I don't see anyone launching a massive attack on the U.S. now, or anytime in the near future. Yes, it's possible that a terrorist could build a system like this and launch it in a big city. But it would take several missile strikes or bomb sorties to have a widespread impact.
Meantime, I'm counting on America to maintain its military edge and to keep adding better ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems. Just last week I spoke to a CEO whose company has BMD contracts. As of right now, I think we're in good shape.
As for the book you cited, Gordon, I haven't read it and will look it up. Thanks.
Please, keep those questions and comments coming. You can leave them at the bottom of this page, or just email me at email@example.com.
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About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.