Category Archives: Contemplation

Bankers & Small Children

I cannot help but to share the following article I found on ScienceDaily:

Cocky kids: the four-year-olds with the same overconfidence as risk-taking bankers

I will quote:

The cognitive bias has been consistently observed among a number of professions including business executives, bankers and physicians across different countries and cultures but a new study led by Dr Dominik Piehlmaier indicates that overconfidence is persistent and widespread during early childhood.

The research also found that girls were more successful than boys at a card game in the study thanks to a more low-risk strategy but also experienced greater swings between overconfidence and lack of confidence in their abilities.

[…]

“Girls’ behaviour is much more unpredictable. When the girls’ overconfidence plot is compared to their payoffs, it can be noticed that they closely align.

So the question are bankers behaving like little children or are little children acting like bankers? What do you think? Should we treat bankers the same way as we will deal with children?

O Tempora, O Mores

This morning I went to my local supermarket to do some groceries. Of course, there were many empty shelves but what I found most remarkable, was what shelves were empty. The Crisps were virtually completed sold out!

I know, we are in the middle of a pandemic but folks, if you are going to hoard, get at least your priorities right. This is not the potato plague, it are humans who got sick. Crisps are the last thing you need right now, buy fruit and vegetables to strengthen your immune system.

I spoke to the store’s manager and he agreed with me that people act strangely in this weird and difficult times. So did another customer I spoke.

Neuromorphic computers?

ScienceDaily reports that researchers from Texam A&M University have found an inorganic material, β’-CuxV2O5, that mimics the transmission of neural signals within the human brain. Though neuromorphic computers are not expected in the near future, this discovery might eventually lead to the development of computers that “think” in a similar manner to humans. Continue reading →

Powering the world in 2050

Interesting Engineering reports a review study that shows that it is possible to meet global energy demand completely with renewable energy sources.

The full list of consulted studies can be found here.  A quick first glance shows that some studies consider the economic aspects of a full transition to solar, wind and water power. Though I cannot (yet) find a comprehensive analysis.

Feeding & Powering the Future

The planet Earth is facing a substantial crisis as the total amount of humans is growing to about ten billion by 2100. Not only will there be more of us, the average wealth of our grand children will be larger – though this might be highly unequally distributed among the population.

Continue reading →

Some geopolitical notes

Within the context of my stories set in the Elynesia Universe the USA is supposed to have collapsed due to civil war during the 2030s. One of the possible causes for such a civil war is suggested by the following article on ScienceDaily:

Sea level rise could reshape the United States, triggering migration inland

According to researcher from the University of South Carolina about 13 million people within the United States alone will have to be relocated because of rising sea levels. In comparison the population of Pennsylvania is 12.8 million.

Obviously the direction will be towards in the inner parts of the country. However, since the coastal states are in general more progressive than the inland parts of the US, this will have serious political consequences. That is if we assume the current US constitutional framework will remain the same, i.e. no major amendments to the way the US congress or the president is elected.

Of course, this changes will be gradual rather than abrupt – at least if current estimates of climate change are correct and won’t turn out to be worse. Nevertheless, it is very likely that this internal migration will increase the current tensions within the current US political climate.

The Power of Darkness

ScienceDaily reports that a certain Jeremy Munday, professor at the University of California, Davis, has developed a new type of solar cell that works at night. According to him this new type of solar cell could generate up to a quarter of power of a normal solar cell.

Interesting, Munday’s solar cells could also work at day time and hence could potentially issues of intermittence that plague all forms of renewable energy. Another application of this new solar power technology would be in powering Antarctic settlements.

Timber construction to combat global warming

A study reported on ScienceDaily proposes an interesting method to deal with global warming: building with wood. According to this research timber construction fight climate change in two ways:

  1. Reduce CO2 emission from steel and cement production
  2. Store CO2 in buildings

Continue reading →

Fusion Power is Always 30 Years Away – Could That Be 5 years? #fusion #energy

The prospect of viable Fusion Power is an important topic for any writer of mundane science fiction. Isaac Asimov described it as “energy without geopolitics”, as the required fuel is to be found anywhere on Earth. If this would become real, the political and societal implication will be substantial.

Kate's Science - Real and Fantastic

Sun viewed in X-rays The Sun: our only reliable source of fusion power

The joke is older than I am! Fusion power is 30 years away and always will be.

The joke works because, after almost a century and billions spent on government-backed megaprojects, we’ve failed. Huge, doughnut-shaped magnetic tokamaks or enormously powerful lasers suck up vast amounts of electricity to produce… no net gain.

Fusion needs a new approach, and today there’s more than one. At MIT, Oxford, and in southern California, researchers promise big things. Neutral hydrogen fuel, superconductors, and inertial-confinement, along with the latest artificial intelligence, could make a difference.

I’m jaded enough to ignore the latest claims if it weren’t for one thing:

If just one succeeds in building a reactor capable of producing electricity economically, it could fundamentally transform the course of human civilization. In a fusion reaction, a single gram of the hydrogen…

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The Irreversibility of Brexit

Today the Britons will finally leave the European Union. Though the Brexit-referendum was narrowly won by the Leave-campaign, I believe, contrary to many remain voters, that Brexit will be practically irreversible. In this post I will explain why. Continue reading →