The Guardian has an interesting article on a project, Sun Cable, to export Australian solar power to Singapore. Currently Australia is one of the largest exporters of coal, also exports a great deal of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is a major supplier of uranium – though the country itself has no nuclear power plants. Continue reading →
The age of (cheap) oil is doomed in the long run, even if we do not care about climate change, as petroleum is a finite resource which would eventually be depleted. However, our modern industrialized society requires a lot of energy and without it our planet cannot sustain a ten billion population. Continue reading →
Robots resembling humans are no longer purely science fiction, though we are far away from true stand in replacements of ourselves. Nevertheless, it reasonable to assume that over the course of this century they become a greater part of daily life. One important point we need to address is the energy supply for our lookalikes. Continue reading →
In Japan, where space is scarce, one need to be very efficient with the little space you can afford. So we should not be really surprised that the Japanese came up with a capsule hotels. Instead of sleeping in a room, guest will have to spend the night in a small pod.
The good news: science shows that wormholes can exist; the bad news, however, they are unusable to travel through interstellar space. Apparently travel through a wormhole would be much slower, then travel outside it.
This is a real dumper on those who hoped to cross the galaxy in relatively short time – as wormholes used to be the most promising method of effective “faster-than-light” travel… But perhaps we should not give up as science might still find another way to use wormholes as a potential interstellar road network.
Animal uplifting, the use of scientific methods and genetic engineering in particular to increase to (cognitive) abilities of non-human animals, is coming a step closer to reality. Chinese scientists have added human genes associated with intelligence in monkeys.
Though the effectiveness of this method has yet to be established, it raises the question on whether animal uplifting is something we should want. Save from the obvious question if we have the right to do so, we need to answer a series of questions:
- should we uplift all animals?
- If not, which animals should we uplift and which not?
- How can we make such a distinction?
- What role should uplifted animals play in society? Should they be partners or slaves?
I could easily increase this list with many more questions. I won’t answer this question right now, but these might be a serious plot element of some of my mundane science fiction stories, which feature animal uplifting.
More generally, I believe that authors of (mundane) SF should use fiction as a tool to explore the ethical and social consequences of the trends in scientific and technological progress. Reflection is, as far as I am concerned, one of the primary functions of literature. Writers should stimulate discussion on important issues.
Though this an old post by me, I think it still relevant.
On march 11, 2011, Japan was hit by an earth quake and a tsunami which resulted in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Consequently the public opinion in Japan turned 180 degrees against nuclear power. Even their government began to consider a nuclear free future. But Japan is so heavily dependent on nuclear power, that last summer two nuclear power plants had to be restarted in the face of massive public opposition. The question of this post is what are the alternatives for Japan? I will discuss solar power, wind power and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). [However, both wind power and OTEC are in fact indirect forms of solar energy since both winds and the oceans are powered by the Sun.]
Wind and Solar power
These are the “classical” kinds of alternative energy sources. Both options require a lot of space, and the intensity of solar radiation…
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Oceans cover two-thirds of the surface area of our blue planet. So it is not really surprising that people are looking to the seas to solve the problems caused by a growing world population. Continue reading →
With increasing fuel costs as a result of the depletion of cheap oil and the abundance of helium as by-product of fusion power, I can easily imagine that airships will make a comeback in the second half of this century. At least Lockheed Martin has some serious designs of the next generation of airships.