New York Times on the Web Forums Science
Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's
war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars"
defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make
the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an
application of science be successful? Is a militarized space
inevitable, necessary or impossible?
Read Debates, a
new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every
(1126 previous messages)
- 06:25pm Apr 5, 2002 EST (#1127
Back to you!
I'll go back and get a few references -- getting the world an
endless source of energy -- getting global warming handled --
getting enough food - those are things that we can do - not
particularly fancy from where we are -- not impossible, like NMD.
But before I go do the searching, I'd like to say that, though I
worry in spots, fear the world could end, and have some other
concerns - - it seems to me to be a time that ought to be full of
Not so very long ago, smallpox was one of the great killers of
all time - - and now, it is gone. Could war become extinct - or at
least the worst kinds of war?
Plenty to fear, but still, it seems possible -- and maybe
possible pretty soon.
"All" we'd really have to do (not that it would be easy) would be
1. to get better about "connecting the
dots" - since most wars occur, escalate, and go out of control in
ways that require fictions.
2. to really learn how dangerous people
really are, and how they are dangerous - so we could know enough
to avoid putting individuals and groups into "fight to the death"
I thought Kristof's Kids With Bombs http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/05/opinion/05KRIS.html
was a fine contribution - probably steadied a lot of people.
I'll be back in a while, on more cheerful stuff.
As I go, I would like to point out that the current situation is
a little cheerful, compared to what it could be. The
Palestinian-Isreali mess is a classic set-up for a war of
extermination, by historical standards. And at least so far, body
counts are pretty low. Maybe the situation, ugly as it is, is
close to a solution. If it is, that's hopeful -- because
every kind of ugliness and complication involved in war shows up in
the Middle East, these days.
- 07:40pm Apr 5, 2002 EST (#1128
Basic fact: There's a LOT of solar energy
"1,750 Gb, the estimate of all the conventional
oil that there ever was or ever will be, is less than the amount
of sunlight that hits the earth in one 24 hour day."
- 08:35pm Apr 5, 2002 EST (#1129
4/5/02 5:57pm ... ends
Maybe Rshow's enlightening ideas of hydrogen-based
fuel system or aquacultural solution to world hunger will lighten
my spirit ? So spill the beans, rshow, how can aquaculture program
feed hungry NKs, for example?
Feeding hugry NKs requires talking to them, and some
issues of complex cooperation. For starters, let me review some
posting from last year on solar energy, and aquaculture. Just to
convey some ideas.
rshowalter - 09:08pm Jun 5, 2001 EST (#4524 of 4529)
Robert Showalter firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't feel like going on about technical possibilities just
now, in light of what Almarst has said. Anyway, some facts,
once you see them, have consequence that trace though pretty easily.
The energy content of world oil consumption (70 billion
barrrels/day) could be matched, if 2.1 x 10^11 square meters of
photocell area - at 5% efficiency, could be equatiorially placed --
there's plenty of room for that in equatorial oceans (that area, in
one floating square 460 km on a side would look very small on a
I think odds of practical, thin, inexpensive floatation, under
equatorial ocean conditions, look good. The plastic film supporting
structure for that would have a volume around 4.5 x 10^6 cubic meter
- which would take something like 5 days of oil supply to make.
Energy could be transported as hydrogen. The hydrogen would be
useful as feedstocks, and, combined with high carbon sources now in
oversupply, would work well for making natural gas.
Practical? - yes - I think so.
It would also be practical to put enough photosynthetic area on
equatorial oceans to fix all the carbon needed to control global
warming. (The carbon would have to be disposed of -- at the bottom
of the sea -- taken out of the photosynthetic cycle.) (about the
same area would be needed for this as would be needed for solar
Practical? Yes, I think it could be made to be.
Both approaches, it seems to me, could be a lot cheaper, and more
direct, than conservation in a world where most people are now
impoverished, and NEED much more energy than is now available if
that is to change.
We could have unlimited energy -- and the engineering resources
to make that supply real are available - in some ways "going wrong
for want of something to do" -- trying to make weapons that nobody
really needs, and that nobody can figure out how to make work.
New York Times on the Web Forums Science