Saturday, January 05, 2008

The French Engineer

As we were packing up to leave our sixth floor room just off the circle at Denfert-Rochereau, we checked up on Buzzflash and some other sights. We knew the results from Iowa because we turned CNN International on just long enough to get the word.

But 100 dollar oil? I had managed to miss that. The Energy Bulletin of course didn't.

"The $100 a barrel price is a sign that times will never be the same again. According to, the world is entering a new era, where the supply of energy will come to dominate the political landscape in a way that is currently not recognized by any of the leading candidates. "

Curiously enough, we celebrated the symbolic price theshold by traveling from our hotel in Paris to our hotel in London without using one drop of gas. All day we traveling on rail, electric rail to be precise. And, I'm not quite sure why, but I found it immensely satisfying.

The Eurostar crossing was even nicer than before due to our choice to travel in the dining cabin. Our seats were more comfortable and roomy than any restaurant chairs we had enjoyed thus far. And our dining table was larger than the one we had at La Dome. The food was pretty dang good and the server could care less if I took a nap during the meal (which I did). Sure, it wasn't the best food we've had this week, but it was certainly the best price.

Traveling at 180 miles per hour while enjoying the beautiful French countryside and eating a delightful meal with red wine and sparkling water is my idea of traveling. It was actually relaxing.

I mentioned as we traveled that the electricity that was powering our high speed journey could just as well be coming from wind turbines or an advanced solar power plant as it was from France's significant nuclear fraction.

And that reminded me of the conversation I had at a dinner party earlier in the week with Michel, the French electrical engineer. There in that crowded three story atelier, I opined about a solid state electric future with two way advanced materials that convert photons to electrons, electrons to photons, with surfaces that heat or cool our bodies, or light our rooms and hallways.
I went on about how Einstein received the Nobel prize for the photovoltaic effect, not his work with the atom or space/time.

I spoke of a new generation of electric transportation devices with high voltage, high density ultra-capacitors that can be inductively charged in seconds, perhaps even while waiting at the street light.

And as I went on with this former nuclear engineer, I could see his face light up. And I could see that even with the large divide created from our respective native tongues, a bridge of imagination and light formed, and "he got it".

Just now, a British radio announcer is reporting a story about the effects of today's announcement of new higher energy prices on British citizens, with the poor being the most effected.

As the Energy Bulletin story says, "According to, the world has now entered a period of fragile balance between demand and available supply. Unfortunately the situation cannot be expected to improve. "

And I suppose it won't

until more of us,

like the French Engineer,

Get It


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