Monday, October 31, 2011

Illusion is Reality

There was a fairly remarkable occurrence this Halloween. Somewhere just before one on October 31st, the population of humans on earth reached 7 billion. Since it was daylight savings time, I guess it was actually close to noon. Of course, since these are pretty gross estimates, it could have been a nice piece of promotion.

I tried to watch the world-o-meter, but as the time grew close, the site was overrun, and I didn't see it actually hit 7 billion. (based on their prediction)

When I was born, there were 2.5 billion folks on the planet. It is estimated that the population of the world reached one billion for the first time in 1804. It would be another 122 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to rise by another billion people, reaching three billion in 1960. Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, and now, seven billion in October 2011.

Of our 7 billion sailors on this spaceship, almost a billion are undernourished and one and half billion are overweight. Meanwhile, about 30,000 will die of

The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth, which was ratified by 58 member national academies in 1994, called the growth in human numbers "unprecedented", and stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, were aggravated by the population expansion.

At the time, the world population stood at 5.5 billion, and lower-bound scenarios predicted a peak of 7.8 billion by 2050.

Yesterday, I made a speech to the Texas Electric Professionals at the Ritz Carlton in Dallas. The title of my speech was the Unified Photonic Energy Web. Even though I was one of the keynotes of the day, these folks weren't much interested. They were more interested in selling electricity in our deregulated electric markets...any kind of electricity. Their markets do not consider carbon, or for that matter depletion. But to their credit, they did invite me.

I wanted them to imagine the possibility that they were like a bunch of buggy whip manufacturers in 1905... That a huge wave of change is upon us much like it was at the turn of the century 100 years ago. Here is part of my speech:

For thousands of years, humankind traveled locally from town to town, province to province with the assistance of animal power. Look at the pictures of our cities in the late 1890s. They look like the cities in 1790. The City planners of the day proclaimed that cities would never grow over a million people because of the limitations imposed by the amount of manure that needed to be managed. Yet these limitations were transformed in a proverbial blink by a new way of thinking. Horses would be replaced by Horsepower.

In 1905, just before WW1 was getting started, the British Automobile Association was formed and the Wright brothers stayed aloft for a whole 38 minutes. William Durant buys Buick. There were 6500 Oldsmobiles, not quite 4000 Cadillacs and 4000 Ramblers made that year. Ford and the Franklin and the White each made a little over a 1000 cars each. The 5th National Automobile Show had 177 gas powered cars, 31 electrics, and 4 steamers. And Goodyear came out with universal rims. A new car cost $1500 and a new house cost $2400.

By 1915, car manufacturers in the US alone produced a million cars and trucks. Cannons that were pulled into place by horses at the beginning of the war were now moved with trucks and tanks. Meanwhile, the US auto industry agrees to cross license its patents. Due to Henry Ford’s innovations in mass production and marketing, Ford was now dominant in this new market with 500,000 vehicles a year.

And because of Ford, the average cost of a car dropped to $500 while the cost of a house rose to $4500. In 1915, daily traffic on 5th Avenue in NY is now 25,000 vehicles a day.

Meanwhile, Albert Einstein proposes a new theory on gravity, and on space and time. And the telephone begins to appear in our houses.

And it is Einstein’s work with Light that I speak of today.

Albert Einstein's mathematical description in 1905 of how the photoelectric effect was caused by the absorption of quanta of light (now called photons), was in a paper named "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light". This paper proposed the simple description of "light quanta", or photons, and showed how they explained such phenomena as the "photoelectric effect".

Einstein's explanation of the photoelectric effect won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921... Not E equals MC Squared... Not the theory of Relativity.

And just as the car meme took off in the last century thus completely changing the landscape of our cities, our neighborhoods, our roadways, our homes themselves, and the very fabric of our culture, Einstein’s ideas about light are now perched on the gantry of human experience. And a new cultural meme is about to take off."

I told them that the cost of solar was dropping...that in the last 3 years silicon had dropped from $360 /kilogram to $36/kilogram. I showed them that solar in large quantities in our deserts was now around 8 cents/kWh, and thus cheaper than new nuclear or new coal. I talked of a unified photonic energy web that would be fat with capacitance and smart. That it would be unified with our transportation sector through the new Volt like plug-in transportation appliances that are now at your local car dealer.

And of course I told them that Climate Change is real, and dangerous, and that we must deal with it now. I read quotes like this from the American Association for the Advancement of Science: "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society."

I told them that the Future will change us. I had lots of great graphs and pictures. I closed with that famous picture of "earth rising" taken by our astronauts and with that Bucky Fullers Dymaxion World map which depicts a connected earth if you just take a different point of view.

They were more interested in the guy who told them that the fuels of the future are the fuels of the past.....That the answers to our problems tomorrow are the problems of today.

Einstein often said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

He also said, "Reality is merely an illusion,

although a very persistent one”.

With these folks,

Illusion is Reality

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