Electric Cars, Forget About It

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With all the talk about electric cars, I think what we’ve forgotten is that they are still just cars and oh-so 20th century. 


What I mean is that they are not transformative. 


You’re still in a car, traveling around 15-60(+) miles per hour, stopping at stop lights/signs, yielding to other cars and pedestrians, driving over potholes, getting stuck in traffic, and having to fill up on “juice” every few hundred miles. 


And with the cost of oil way done (about half from last year), there may be a positive environmental impact, and that’s important, but that’s about it for this invention. 


So if you can get over the range anxiety and fear of running out of electric power and not finding a convenient place to plug into, and you don’t mind waiting an hour or so for the fill up, well then you can drive on batteries–and all the power to you. 


But like the toy cars and trucks that I played with as a child, they too often ran on batteries, and I’d zoom them around on the kitchen and dining room floor with lights and sirens flashings–now that was exciting. 


And yes, a driverless car (like from Google) is a little more of a step forward in terms of really changing how we travel…but then again, maybe it’s like sitting on a bus, metro, cruise ship, or airplane today–read the paper, snooze, listen to music, or watch a video, but you don’t have to do anything to move the vehicle or navigate the terrain. 


In a way, cars are pretty much just fancy horses with wheels–whether powered by hay, gas, or electric–they are terrestrial and sort of boring on the ride–even with the windows down and music playing. 


In my opinion, it is high time for some travel without the crunched seats, traffic jams, no turn lanes, traffic cameras, expensive tickets, looking for parking spaces, pot holes, flat tires, and all the other nuisances of daily car commuting. 


What I like about the picture in this blog though is that it makes me think of a much greater leap when it comes to transportation–whether by transporter, jet pack, pneumatic tubes, or time/space machine–we can get there effortlessly and lippity-snappity quick.


And the car, it can stay in the garage–or find its place in the Museum of History–for all I care. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

>Awesome Emergency Management Technologies

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Obviously, I am a technology aficionado, but there is none more awesome than technology, which saves lives.

So to me, defense systems (a topic for another blog) and emergency management systems are two of the most fascinating and compelling areas of technology.

Recently, I have been closely following the story of the Chilean miners trapped beneath 2,200 feet of rock and earth due to a cave-in on 5 August.

It took 17 days to even find the miners in the winding underground mineshaft, and since then the ongoing determination and ingenuity of the emergency rescuers has been incredible.

The Wall Street Journal, 1 October 2010, in an article called “Inventions Ease the Plight of Trapped Miners” describes this unbelievable rescue effort.

Here are some of the technologies making their way a half-mile underground to the 33-trapped miners:

The Paloma (or Pigeon)—supply pod that is “a five-foot-long hollow cylinder that works like a pneumatic tube.” Rescuers stuff it with supplies and lower about 40 of these every day through a 4 inch diameter shaft to supply the miners food, medicine, electrical supplies.

The Phoenixrescue capsule, 10 feet tall, 900 pounds, with its own oxygen supply and communication systems designed to extract the trapped miners and bring each of them for the 15-40 minute ride it will take to get them to the safety of the surface.

Fiber Optic Communications—the miners are using a fiber-optic video camera and telephone link hooked to videoconferencing equipment. This has been cited as one of the biggest boosters of the miner’s morale.

Video Projectors—cellphones with built in projectors have been sent down to the miners allowing them to watch films and videos of family and friends.

iPods—these were considered, but rejected by the chief psychologist of the rescue effort who feared that this may isolate the miners, rather than integrate them during this emergency.

Modern Hygiene Products—Dry shampoo, soap-embedded hand towels, and self-sterilizing socks, have helped reduce odor and infection from the miners.

NASA engineers have exclaimed about the innovation shown by the Chilean emergency rescuers: “they are crossing new thresholds here.”

There are some great pictures and graphics of these devices at an article in the U.K. Telegraph.

What was once being targeted as a holiday rescue, by December, is now being envisioned as an October-November rescue operation. And with the continued application of innovation and technology, the miners will soon we back safe with their families and loved ones.

Also, ongoing kudos to the heroic rescuers!