Category Archives: Technology and Society

A New Problem

I hadn’t previously given this much thought, but it makes sense. More people buying increasingly affordable big-screen televisions is going to skyrocket the nation’s electrical consumption. People don’t realize how much electrical demand is driven by computers and server farms, but this is a new application for the home that will start to exceed the electricity used by multiple computers and home networking.

Of course, I only have the television on when I’m watching, whereas I rarely turn the computers off.

Concorde, The Sequel

The Japanese are foolishly teaming up with the French to build what they call “Son of Concorde“:

The new plane will have 300 seats and cut the flight time between New York and Tokyo to six hours, reports said.

While there’s unquestionably a market for such a plane, assuming the right ticket price, they provide no clues as to how they can build a supersonic plane this large, with that much range, let alone one that won’t be unaffordable to fly, given its fuel consumption. They do pretend to, though:

The ministry added that Japan had successfully tested an engine that could theoretically reach speeds of up to five times the speed of sound.

Whoop de doo.

That’s nice, but it has zero to do with building an affordable, boom-free supersonic airliner, about which they seem clueless. One can only imagine that government money is involved.

At least it’s no longer US government money.

This effort will share Concorde’s ultimate fate, if it’s lucky. More likely it will simply be a black hole of tax dollars, ending in nothing but paper, just like NASA’s equally poorly-conceived, and disastrous High-Speed Research program in the 1990s.

Better Than Nanopants


The brushes can be used for sweeping up nano-dust, painting microstructures and even cleaning up pollutants in water.

The bristles’ secret is carbon nanotubes, tiny straw-like molecules just 30 billionths of a metre across.

This is pretty cool, but it remain irritating that the prefix “nano” has come to mean the scale of the objects themselves, rather than the scale at which they are built. That’s why Eric Drexler had to abandon “nanotechnology” and come up with the phrase “molecular manufacturing” to represent his concepts for precise placement of atoms in building objects both small and large.

[Via Geek Press]

Liberation Biology

I just got an advance copy of the book in the mail. I don’t know when I’ll get around to reading it, though–it’s a big one. But it looks pretty good. Note that the only “review” at Amazon so far is an ad hominem attack by someone who obviously hasn’t even read the book yet. Appropriately, few found his “review” useful.

Personal Vidcams

Glenn points to this article about battlefield use of high-storage-capacity videocameras.

I suspect that it won’t be long before people start having these installed in their cars to quickly resolve disputes in accidents. It would be particularly helpful against people who deliberately cause fender benders for insurance fraud. I’d think that the insurance industry would start offering discounts for people who have them, and that eventually they’d become factory equipment.