Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Solar Age

There used to be a magazine called Solar Age.

It was the official publication of the American Solar Energy Society, which is still very much around. The new magazine is called Solar Today.

I think the first person to divide human history into a Stone Age, a Bronze Age, and an Iron Age was Titus Lucretius Carus , a Roman philosopher and poet just before the time of Caesar about 95-55 BC.

Since then, we have refined that a little so that the general outline of human progress looks more like this.

We have the Stone Age: A period from two million years ago until 4,000 BC in Europe, the earliest of the three periods when stone tools and and stone weapons were used.

Some divide the Stone Age into sements.

There is the Old Stone Age: (2,000,000 - 13,000 BC). Here, chipped stone tools were first used, and hunting and gathering were common. This was the era of Cro-Magnon man in France, and the time of many wall paintings.

The Middle Stone Age (13,000 BC - 8,000BC) came about when the weather got better and food became more readily available. Here, the first agricultural villages developed.

The New Stone Age ( 6,000 BC - 3,000 BC) in Europe and western Asia represents the time when stone and horn tools were refined by grinding and polishing. During this period there was also the beginning of pottery and some use of copper. Man also first tamed wild animals, used the wheel, weaved, and cultivated crops.

The Bronze Age started in about 1500 BC in Europe when most tools and weapons were made of bronze, succeeding the earlier stone or copper implements. During this time, agricultural villages evolved into townships. Animals were used for riding and for pulling wheeled vehicles, and trading and shipping began. The plough was developed, as was writing and arithmetic, and men became specialized in their jobs.

Most historians start the Iron Age at Around 1000 BC in southern Europe, and later in northern Europe. This marked the beginning of the forging of tools, and the crafting of all kinds of pots and weapons.

It should be noted that this classification is somewhat blind of Egyptian, Chinese, Persian, and Indian cultures.

It is, in short, a very Eurocentric version of history and the development of humankind.

Surprisingly, most anthropologist still consider this culture to be in the end of the Iron Age. I guess when you think about it, it is not that surprising. Our great buildings are made of iron and steel, we still use steel in our cars, in our railroad tracks, and in our concrete. Even the wires in our computers are alloys of various metals.

We think of the Industrial Age starting in the mid 1750s with the invention of the Steam Engine by James Watt, a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer.

In 1765, Watt was assigned the task of repairing a Newcomen engine, which was deemed inefficient but the best steam engine of its time. Most notable was Watt's 1769 patent for a separate condenser connected to a cylinder by a valve. Unlike Newcomen's engine, Watt's design had a condenser that could be cool while the cylinder was hot. Watt's engine soon became the standard for all modern steam engines and helped bring about the Industrial Revolution.

And, he even got a unit of power named after him. The Watt

The Modern Age started after World War II. This was the beginning of the Consumer Society.

But just like some parts of the World were significantly ahead during the Stone Age, some parts of the world are signficantly behind others in development in this age.

This modern age has at least two sub-ages, the Nuclear Age and the Information Age

And, according to anthropologist, there are still a few pockets of Stone Age civilization on the Planet today.

So, it should be no surprise that we may see a New Age start before an old one ends.

After all these are not really Ages,

these are words.

I would even call this age the Carbon Age.

And someday soon, if not already, it will turn into the Solar Age.

Yesterday, I saw a report from the Photovoltaic Industry Insider.

It said that in 2004, there will have been 1200 MWs of Photovoltaics

produced and installed.

That is one giant Nuclear Plant every year.

Three years ago, we humans only produced 400 MWs a year.

Most PV is manufactured and installed

in Germany and Japan.

Not bad for the guys who lost the War.

And, there are exciting new technologies for sell now,

and revolutionary power paints in the labs.

So the Solar Age is here.

Its just not here.

We're still stuck in the latter part of the Iron Age.




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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the sixties was the stone age. har har.

2:44 PM  
Blogger OZ said...

Admistration officials used to joke that they were going to bomb the taliban UP to the stone age.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Germany and Japan are leading because of their policies for buying green power. They are doing with solar what California did with wind in the mid 80s

12:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is he nuclear age one of hope or holocaust. am prepared to make it an age of a long awaited hope

8:14 AM  

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