The 2002 General Motors Hy-Wire was a hydrogen fuel cell car built to represent the future of GM—and automobiles in general. I got to drive the thing way back in 2002 during a press event. The Hy-Wire represented decades of research by engineers, and turned out to be a pretty good prediction of the future.
Even if we stick solar panels on every roof in the world, we’d still need a way to store energy to use when it gets dark. And a way to use that energy later to do more than just power a lightbulb—to do things like power construction equipment or move a cargo ship across the Pacific. Metal powder may be a great way to do it.
I caught the tail end of the Pandora moth outbreak on a recent visit to Bend, Oregon. I lived in Bend for almost five years without seeing a single Pandora moth. This summer I saw thousands littering the streets and parking lots, mostly dead or dying. When I asked friends about the moths, I got shrugs. Nobody really knew what they were or where they came from. I was fascinated. Was this a foreign invader, a ravenous beast that would defoliate the state? Would its larvae overwhelm the town come spring?
In this podcast I talk to scientist and philosopher John McCone about his excellent article “Blueprint for a Solar Economy.” John outlines a way to transition from fossil fuels to solar power using some of our existing fossil fuel infrastructure and existing solar technology. He paints a pretty hopeful picture of a solar-powered society that produces almost no carbon emissions.
It’s a hopeful picture of the future, which is something we all really need right now—and I really need—especially after the last podcast on the pending global climate apocalypse.
We talk about a lot of really interesting things, including using existing gas pipelines in the solar-powered world, and jet engines that run on powdered iron.
You can read John’s article on his website: Blueprint for a Solar Economy
For the first time in human history, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is 415 ppm. But what does that mean? Are we doomed to suffocate under a blanket of carbon, slowly cooking to death as the planet melts away beneath us? It’s not quite that bad, but it does not bode well for humanity.
Listen, and head over to NY Mag and read David Wallace Wells’ article The Uninhabitable Earth. It’s masterfully written and utterly terrifying.
Digital is the past—the future is analog. Crackling, hissing, buzzing, messy, full-spectrum analog. The arcane electronic contraptions put people on the moon and they could be the key to true AI, perfect biological simulations, and even room-temperature quantum computing. Featuring a 1960s Smith-Corona electric typewriter and Ahmad Jamal.
She can punch through interstellar dreadnaughts like they were tissue paper, fire photon blasts that vaporize steel, and propel herself across the galaxy. She’s the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and the science behind her powers is nothing short of spectacular.
Dreamworlds are notoriously fickle. They exist solely in our minds, and thus aren’t grounded in any objective reality. In a very real sense, the act of observing something in a dream DOES change it because the dream and observer are one in the same. But what if the universe behaves in the same way? What if our mercurial dreams are really trying to reveal the deep, unsettling truth of reality? Do our observations create reality itself? Episode art by Nemi Fadda. Follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nemimakeit_designs/
Holding a miniature sun in a magnetic bottle isn't easy. But that's how you make a fusion reactor. In this episode I chat with plasma physicist John McCone about the challenges of building a functional fusion reactor. We talk about plasma blowtorches, neutron bombardment, lumpy magnetic fields, and ways to make a nuclear bomb.