David Brin's latest novel, and a TED talk

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by RAMA, May 13, 2012.

  1. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    So as I eagerly await the book in 6 days...I thought I'd take a look at some of his previous work brought to visual fruition in a video competition:

    http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=144608

    I'll have a review of the novel after I read it...hmm my first in depth book review on the board I believe.

    RAMA
     
  2. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Utter nonsense
     
  3. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are ways around these issues mentioned here in this thread, at length...

    http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=170590

    Also mentioned in my new signature...added before I read your post!:techman: The full quote:

    Again, like many of my examples, not pie-in-the-sky, but very real...there are two examples in this article:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2010/03/06...ed-non-toxic-low-cost-thin-film-to-the-table/

    Also, as in my example about solar power's competitiveness with traditional fossil fuels I mentioned in the top 5 technologies thread I just linked to, the price went down 80%!:

    http://themoderatevoice.com/141959/the-biggest-energy-news-isnt-oil-or-natural-gas-its-solar/
     
  4. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    You're still talking about nascent technologies that may not pan out.

    We used to think nanotech would do all sorts of things for us. We've had to check our expectations numerous times in that area.

    As for solar power: how do you store it? Don't say "batteries." Existing battery technology doesn't scale. I guess you could say "fuel cells," but those may not go mainstream either.

    The bottom line is, you can't predict the trajectory technology will take. Technologies that look promising today may be dead in 5 years, or they may get stuck in R&D hell for decades, like fusion power. So many technological breakthroughs have been "right around the corner" for decades, and they still aren't here. Why do you think any of the stuff you post about will be any different? You don't know; I don't know. There are too many variables. You are certain we'll find a solution in time, based on extrapolations of current trends--and such extrapolations are so simplistic as to be meaningless. I recognize that nobody can know that for sure--either we will, or we won't.
     
  5. { Emilia }

    { Emilia } Black Opium Moderator

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    That's the problem Germany is trying to solve as part of its "Energiewende" policy. Phasing out nuclear energy switching to renewable energies.

    Due to the power fluctuation inherent to wind power the maximum capacity of power production needs to be about double as high as it is today. That way you can store the excess energy produced during peak times.

    How to store it?

    Short-term: Batteries. Only good to counter-balance short power fluctuations. Also expensive.

    Medium-term: Pumped-storage hydroelectricity. These are in use already. You basically pump water to higher elevations during power production peak times of wind and solar power plants. When their electricity production decreases (less wind/less sun) you use that water to produce electricity.

    Long-term: Power-to-gas technology. You use excess power to produce hydrogen by electrolyzing water. The hydrogen gas is then co-mingled with natural gas in the existing natural gas infrastructure, namely the gas pipeline network and its associated underground storage facilities. The German Fraunhofer Society (a big group of research institutes) has been conducting research here for quite a while. The basic technology is ready for use but the power equivalent of a barrel of oil still costs about $150-200. Fraunhofer info on power-to-gas. I suppose the costs will decrease once the technology gets more mature, while the oil price is probably going to keep rising.
    Advantage: You can use the existing gas infrastructure and it only takes about 20 minutes to power up a gas turbine in a gas plant. Pretty flexible tech.



    Sidenote: RAMA's ramblings about nanotech are obviously science fiction but I figured I'd bring him up-to-date to actual technology and solutions we're currently working on.

    Oh, and this isn't an easy transition process. It's going to be very expensive but if we're lucky the effects of peak oil will take a couple of decades to manifest completely.
    But even then: I suppose a country like Germany can make the switch and they're the first to actually work on this. The transition costs will decrease once these first steps are done so it'll be even cheaper for other countries (while Germany could make a profit from selling technology and expertise).

    But I'm also sure that some countries will fail at implementing the changes fast enough. These things are long-term but even then there's the possibility of a major crash in economy either in unlucky countries or (more unlikely) world-wide. The technology is there (at least in part) but you need the political will and society needs to be willing to take on the costs. Good luck with that, America. :p
     
  6. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm dubious about all predictions based on extrapolations from current trends; we're not much better at forecasting anything important than Greek augurers were. Apolcalyptic predictions of society's collapse are in the same category as the Singularity - one can find the logic persuasive or not, but they're fiction.
     
  7. { Emilia }

    { Emilia } Black Opium Moderator

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    Yeah, that's why I completely ignored RAMA's ramblings and focused on actual technology and solutions.

    He's got a vivid imagination but that's not going to solve the issues we're facing. He's just wasting his time hoping for a magical scifi solution when he should be focusing on actual solutions possible with current technology.

    The advantage his view offers is that we don't have to worry about all these problems and don't have to change our behaviour.
    The downside to his view is that it's got nothing to do with reality.
     
  8. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    Yeah, I don't claim to know what will happen--I don't think anyone can claim that. But it's not hard to look at current trends and see that we are facing a lot of problems. Maybe we'll solve them before they become catastrophic, maybe we won't. What I think is dangerous about the Singularity proponents is that they expect the Singularity to just handwave all our problems away--as you said, we don't have to change our behavior, because the Singularity will fix it for us soon enough. It allows people to be complacent and not really care about the future. They assume the future is something that just "happens," not that there is a ton of hard work that goes into it and a lot of things simply never pan out as expected.
     
  9. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    There always have to be contingency plans, especially when so many people's basic needs are dependent on it.

    Expecting nothing less than a magic gift of unlimited super technology or power to emerge on it's own and do it all for us is about the dumbest thing I've seen proposed so far.

    I remember all the hype about 3-4 years ago about hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels solving our transportation and smaller scale power production problems (individual buildings heating and lighting) in about 10-15 years, not seeing any great strides there.
     
  10. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    You could become a rich man if you came up with a cheap/efficient way to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen.
     
  11. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly, the currently catalytic cracking method is extremely ineffecient and very costly to produce a pittance of fuel. Yet similar "news" outlets to the ones RAMA is posting from where banging on about cheap, clean fuel cells within a few years.

    Still waiting. :p
     
  12. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    What's so hard? Just change the laws of thermodynamics. :p
     
  13. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's difficult to work in groups when you're omnipotent.
     
  14. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, it is that all? :p ( :lol: )

    [​IMG]
     
  15. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ramblings? :lol: Nanotech is already a $2 billion a year industry. The solar panel technologies are already facts....some of the technologies don't exist yet, so you could say they are science fiction, but in most cases there are real world examples that exist right now, making them closer to science extrapolation, and in many cases, the predictions of these expanding technologies have been extremely accurate.

    It is far braver and much bolder to be the ones saying we'll make this technology happen, as opposed to the crybabies, the whiners, the luddites, the pure idiots who can't see the technological development in front of them, and suggest everything will stay the same, that current predictions will come to pass about Earthly disasters without anything to modify them...the point being...it's just as likely we can "fix" them with current technologies or extrapolate likely technologies that can. It's a lot easier to fix than human behavior.

    As for the economy, crashes, etc, I counter that in the link I provided to the science and technology forum thread.

    RAMA
     
  16. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Solar is already demonstrably getting cheaper. It's also no mystery...it CAN provide the power needed if harnessed.
     
  17. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Part of it is the exponential nature of these technologies, some have only taken off in recent years, and we can expect them to increase doing so. These include both the creation and adoption of clean technologies. Fusion technology (as mentioned at length in the sci-tech forum thread) as a brute force energy tech will take some time, but that is also an option. Fusion is not a fantasy, there have been recent breakthroughs, and the test reactor will be online a few years from now, with a working production reactor sometime after 2030.

    Other technologies that have hit roadblocks before that are now experiencing both funding and technological gains, these include, AI, robotics, biogenetics, nanotech(in most cases, there seem to be advances almost every day if not every week in this field) , et al. In some cases, its the information tehnologies themselves that make the advancements possible.

    Such roadblocks even in expanding technologies isn't unknown: The seven stages in the life cycle of a technology(listen to all of it):

    http://www.slideshare.net/pcesari/302-unit3-kurzweil-8273923

    Solar power storage: There's a lot of experimentation going on with this, but this looks very promising because it's inexpensive! From MIT:

    http://www.gizmag.com/chemical-nanotube-solar-energy-storage/19228/

    Salt?

    http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2012/0...in-raade-molten-salt-making-solar-viable.html

     
  18. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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  19. { Emilia }

    { Emilia } Black Opium Moderator

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    You seriously felt writing this was appropriate after I spent a whole post on educating you regarding technology we're working on?

    Bizarre.

    As you can see I believe we can manage to solve our energy problems in the long term but your naive opinion is just hoping for magic to happen. I'm fine with researching technology that might or might not end up working (like nanotech and fusion power). We need that research. But we definitely need to focus on stuff we know is working and improve that to manage the big transition away from oil.
    We can't just hope for our problems to be magically fixed by new technology in 20 years. Cause if that hope doesn't materialize we're screwed.
     
  20. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    Fusion does have merits and a large fuel supply from the oceans should we ever get it sustainable, I feel we should at least keep reseaching it.

    But yes, practical methods using technology we have now should get the priority, hydroelectric has quite a good yield and a good track record.

    I still think windfarms are a dead end, the vastness of the farms and the resources/energy/man hours just are not repaid from what little energy they produce so far.
     

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