Technological Stagnation

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Into Darkness, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is an example of how--in some ways--science fiction has spoiled us.

    Wingless flying cars in an atmosphere, and winged RLV spaceplanes orbiting in a vacuum.

    But we find airplanes and capsules, and rockets boring.

    But that is taking advantage of the local environment. Winged RLVs and flying craft with no wings bespeak freer energy and less restraint.

    Worse, making spaceflight look eay makes people want to sepnd less on incremental improvements to curret architecture in terms of size. Increased capability gets a little tougher.

    Star Wars is the biggest offender, as is the shuttlecraft in that the craft are all payload. It would take large rockets to put either into space, and then they would just be satellites stuck in orbital path circles. No atmosphere to bank against. Solar sailing will be as dynamic as it gets, short of NTRs, NSWRs and nuclear pulse detonation craft.

    Once again--this will be more public works than a couple of folks bodging things together in a garage, a la Explorers.

    For an example of how even modest advancements in aerospace are abandoned by venture capitalists--proving they really don't love risk--I give you the book FREE FLIGHT about the Air Taxi/Very Light Jet debacle.
     
  2. Irishman

    Irishman Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, I think what we're seeing is that the majority of those "predictions" about future tech from futurists back in the day were little more than shots in the dark.

    We've certainly gotten better at offering contextual predictions of coming technological innovations. See here http://futuretimeline.net/index.htm .

    One thing that makes it far more difficult to predict the future is the concept of the technological singularity. The site above is based on Kurzweil's ideas on artificial intelligence, and how quickly tech will develop possibly within the next 20-305 years.
     
  3. M'rk son of Mogh

    M'rk son of Mogh Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But if the other cars are controlled by computers as well, there will be no more irrational driving.
     
  4. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You have irrational pedestrians, animals and bikers.
     
  5. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    The 1970s is an odd cut off since we now have fuel injection instead of carburetors, computer-controlled systems to increase efficiency (incorporating by reference the massive advances in computer technology since the 1970s), etc. Automobile technology today is about as different from 1970 as 1970 was to 1930.
     
  6. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Different". An interesting choice of words. Meant to obscure the fact that the incremental/limited changes you mentioned did not bring any substantial advancement:
    http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?p=8633287&postcount=91

    And yes, DO compare what cars/planes we had in the '30 and what cars/planes/rockets we had in the '70.
    Compare what they could do.
    And then do tell what can we do today that was beyond the 1970s transportation tech.
     
  7. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Do you consider the move from prop planes to jet aircraft to be evolution or revolution in terms of a technological advancement.
     
  8. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

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    Still not sure what you are expecting to have changed in that time. The basic workings of cars, boats, planes, and trains are perfectly adequate to their duties. You don't change everything about them for no good reason. What are you expecting to have changed?
     
  9. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You do know we had the Boeing 747 in 1970, yes?
    Well - if not, you know now.
    Haven't I even given you examples of potential non-incremental advancements?
    Here it is:
    http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?p=8633287&postcount=91
     
  10. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was more talking about the Germans advancements during WWII in terms of jet technology and after the war importing their scientists to the then Soviet Union and US and quick and dramatic gains in aircraft speeds.

    But generally speaking - yes advancements in transportation have been more incremental. I could argue that steam train technology in the 1900's however did represent dramatic advancements in travel and technology and transformed Europe iand the United States as much if not more than private car owernship.

    How about medicine instead? Flemming's discovery of antibiotics, and Salk's cure for Polio where huge advancements in medicine, dramaticallyl extending people's lifespan.

    In terms of technology - while the technology isn't necessarily revolutionary what Jobs did with the introduction of the the iphone/ipad has been in terms of consumer electronics and the way we consume iinformation.

    Additionally, advacements in flat screen television technology has all but rid of of a tv picture tube in a relatively short period of time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  11. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes, DarthTom, all scientific and technological areas have advanced greatly since ~200 years ago.

    Transortation advanced rapidly in the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. Since about 1970, its advancement curve plateaued.

    Nowadays, microelectronics*, material science and biology advance relatively rapidly.

    *Not due to the cosmetic approach used by Jobs, though. This was a marketing move - a very successful one. Technologically, it consisted of market-ready touch-screens and little else.
     
  12. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The speed of sound and how it effects on how fast we can travel in our atmosphere is a physics limitation. Short of solving anti-gravity technology we aren't moving forward any faster - anytime soon - at least on planet Earth.

    Additionally while the Concorde travelled faster society imposed limitations on where the plane could travel because of the noise and the sonic boom. So in terms of supersonic plane travel we are stagnating ourselves because of the noise. I think that's an understandable tradeoff. Also, fuel efficiency drops dramatically making supersonic travel not cost effective for the airlines en mass.

    And as I understand it - antigravity technology is decades away if ever.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  13. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Your reasoning is vulnerable from several angles:
    The speed of sound is less a limitation that you might think; indeed, it was long ago surpassed. The shock-wave actually gets smaller for the plane once it surpasses the speed of sound.
    Decreasing the cost of transportation would constitute substantial advancement, despite no increase in speed.
    Easy access to LEO does not need atmospheric speeds greater than currently available.
    etc.

    Ultimately, the reason advancement failed to materialise in transportation tech - zeitgeist, economic conditions, the difficulty of the problems to be solved - is irrelevant to my point, which stands regardless of it:
    Transportation tech stagnated since ~1970.
     
  14. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The Boeing, 777 Dreamliner is between 13% to 23% more fuel efficient than any Airbus in production, is made of 100% composite materials and travels nearly at supersonic speeds but is limited by socities desires to not have a sonic boom over population centers and the airline companies to maximize efficiency because jetfuel is their biggest cost exceeding even employee expenses.

    Boeing 777

    It as a passenger jetliner that was a substantial evolution in aircraft design and efficiency.
     
  15. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    13% to 23% more fuel efficient - due to new materials. That advancement, in 40 years (the cars did slightly better).

    That is, for you, advancement on par with what came before 1970?
    DarthTom, by comparison, these incremental improvements are snail-paced.
     
  16. DarthTom

    DarthTom Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^ to move out of transportation and back into computing another example is 3-D printer technology that is currently dramatically enhancing the design and manufacture of new and existing products.
     
  17. M'rk son of Mogh

    M'rk son of Mogh Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You have irrational pedestrians, animals and bikers.[/QUOTE]

    Good. Clean the dummies from earth, you're not listing a downside. ;)
     
  18. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So what happens when a 14 year old kid or a terrorist hack into the traffic control computer and play bumper cars? Seems a bit vulnerable to me.
     
  19. Scroogourner

    Scroogourner Admiral Admiral

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    What traffic control computer? autodrive cars do not need a centralized control system. Each car will manage itself.
     
  20. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell so far this is a dumb future Premium Member

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    Those were so vague as to not really mean anything, but what the hell:

    What about the cost of travelling 1 km by car/plane going down? In real dollars, it has gone down. However, those costs are at the mercy of fuel prices. Cars and planes have become more energy-efficient, though.

    Cheap, easy access to LEO? What purpose does that serve for everyday life? The vast majority of the population has no reason to go to space.

    Why not easy access to the solar system? See above.

    You're basically asking why we don't have things no one is clamoring for. The answer to that is self-evident.