When science-fiction writers envision the future of mankind, a number of ideas for improving the world repeatedly pop up. They include free, unlimited energy and spaceships traveling at the speed of light. And they include the creation of miniature computers that serve as universal translators, eliminating all language barriers.
The last of these dreams, at least, is something Google intends to make a reality. The man in charge of the project is a computer scientist from a small village near Erlangen, in southwestern Germany.