I’ve just finalized the deal on my next book project for Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins. The new book, to be completed in about a year, will focus on the blue sky technologies advanced by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Kicking off the project, I have the top story on wired.com today, about a DARPA project to build a prosthetic arm that’s as fully functional as a native arm. That’s project engineer and test subject Jonathan Kuniholm in my photo at work on the arm’s software at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab.

Today through Thursday I’m at the DARPA Technology Symposium in Anaheim, California, where DARPA program managers, engineers working on DARPA-funded projects, and mad scientists from all over the country are meeting to figure out how to turn science fiction into science fact.

The exhibit hall hasn’t even opened yet, and already my mind has been blown by talk of plants that can grow hydrogen as a cheap power source, the effort to define how the brain thinks with new forms of mathematics, and programmable materials that can morph to form any product imaginable.

Stay tuned for updates.