Friday, May 22, 2009

Ray Kurzweil - More on the singularity

More, today, from Ray Kurzweil - and how we'll all be immortal by 2045.

Ray Kurzweil: A singular view of the future

I'm interested to hear him put an actual date on it - I couldn't glean the date form the earlier material I saw.

This is one of the better summaries I've heard of Kurzweil's "exponential" calculations... from Kurweil himself of course:

"In the mid-1980s, I predicted the emergence of the World Wide Web for the mid-1990s. It seemed ridiculous then, when the entire US defence budget could only link up a few thousand scientists. But I saw it doubling every year and it happened right on schedule. It is quite remarkable how predictable these measures of the power of information technology are. Even so, millions of innovators are going to come up with unexpected ideas. Who would have anticipated social networks and blogs? If 10 years ago I had said we're going to create an encyclopedia and anybody can write and edit it, you'd have thought, my god, it's going to be full of graffiti and completely worthless. It's amazing how good it is if we harness the collective wisdom."

I suppose I was excited by this article, partly because my original reason for starting this blog was Kurzweil's own theories - and the exciting prospects that they encompass.

For more on my original reasons for starting this blog and Kurzweil's other recent writing, see this original post: The Big Bang.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Batteries Included

One of the great drags on the implementation of many green technologies has been the parlous state of battery technology - preventing the storage and retrieval of energy created by ecology friendly means.

Recently however, it seems we're getting much closer to many technological milestones we need to reach, in order to use batteries efficiently.

For example: this article, form the New Scientist outlines a new technology that could us to make cleaner batteries - which off-sets much of the damage potentially created by hybrid cars.

Staying with the New Scientist for a moment, we also see another innovation that allows much faster charging times. While it doesn't seem that these technologies are in any way compatible (i.e. they wouldn't allow for both advances to be installed in the same battery) it is encouraging to see two of the major problems with batteries being so conclusively dealt with.

Now I was suspicious when I found this next article, which claims to have knowledge of a "half biological and half technological" battery that "feeds on blood". But as it turns out, the story is actually backed up by a similar article - again, in the New Scientist. So apparently we can "have bio-batteries implanted in our bodies" - maybe we are "well on the road to becoming cyborgs".

Here's hoping.

Some advancements in battery technology must already be making their mark, as Renewable Energy World dot com reports that a wind farm on far West Ireland is using them to store power for later redistribution - a trick that was deemed far too inefficient to be worthwhile, only a short time ago.

And finally, in summary, Technology Review dot com reports on the same topic - with its own list of recent battery designs and innovations.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Removal and Reduction - the only way forward

Some 10 or 15 years ago, scientists began to agree amongst themselves that climate change was a problem. They stopped arguing, in peer-reviewed publications at least, about whether climate change was occurring and started discussing just how bad it was.

I believe that a similar transition point is being reached now, amongst climate change researchers.

It is becoming clear, in some recent research, referred to, for example, in this article, and this one, on the Arctic meltdown, that we may have already passed one or more tipping points in the process of warming the the planet, and that we might have already caused runaway positive feedbacks in the ecology.

So - what can we do about it?

If we've already triggered the problem - the solution can't be found reducing emissions alone - we need to start reducing the damage we've already caused, and the sooner the better.

How can we do it?

By cleaning the air... that's right - cleaning it. While the general public is now just starting to catch on to the idea of reducing emissions, what we probably need to concentrate on is removing emissions. And the sooner we realise it, the easier it will be...

Unfortunately, if the experience of emissions reduction is anything to go by, we'll be arguing about emissions removal well past 2020 before actually doing anything about it.

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Choosing the best eco-friendly car

This is an oldie but a goody...

While this article from the US ABC News was written in 2006, most of the information is still up-to-date... and interestingly enough, the problems they were writing about, for US readers, in 2006, are now much more likely to be in the front of the mind of Australian readers - and I thought it might be a good time to pull them out again.

So, if you've ever wondered what the environmental effects of batteries from hybrids might be, or whether or not you can get your SUV in Bio Diesel form... here's an article with all the answers to all the questions you never knew you needed to ask.

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Avoid giant spiders tracking you down, trade-in your old car

President Obama has cleared the way for the, so-called "cash for clunkers" legislation. While senators are still finding it difficult to come to agreement on some of the other, more difficult, details - the money for trade-ins seems more likely - as reported by the New York Times in their article on the subject.

In less technologically based ecological news, global warming appears to be creating giant arachnids.

So apparently, to avoid the world being taken over by giant arachnids, we should all go out and get a new car... from America.

And for more form the NY Times, on the US economy and fuel efficiency - see here.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Car Steals Light at Climate Change Conference

The Climate change Conference in Poland started this week. But stealing the limelight was Louis Palmer who arrived at the Conference in a solar powered car he had just driven "around the world" to be at the conference.

While the trip was augmented by some charging from the grid - the designers of the car claim that it could be mass produced for as little as 14,000 euros (including the panels, which may soon get cheaper).

Next year, Palmer plans to extend the cars range of sources by using, possibly, hydro, geothermal and wind energy. To showcase these extensions he is planning a follow up trip involving 5 more cars, traveling around the world in 80 days.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Everyone wants to be an eco-warrior these days.

This story
from the Sun in England (so it must be true) outlines one man's plans to create a modern day Noah's Ark.

At the other end of the scale, a student has managed to charge his iPod using an onion soaked in Lucozade... apparently.

So, assuming there's enough room to grow onions and manufacture Lucozade on the Eco Island, we'll still be able to listen to our music - if you're lucky enough to be one of the 50,000 on the island, I guess.

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