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100km per litre July 6, 2008

Posted by Tom in Cars, Environment, future, Transport.

Imagine driving from Lisbon to the Algarve for under €10.  Ok that’s impossible because the tolls are over 15€ either way. But the money you could be spending on fuel isn’t… or at least it won’t be soon.  

VW 1 litre

VW 1 litre

Wired Magazine recently covered a very interesting development in the world of fuel efficient cars with Volkswagen’s attempt to build an ultra lightweight 2 seater car that does 100kmh to the litre.

Our recent holiday in the Algarve cost us about €150 in petrol (there and back + runs to supermarkets and beach). It used to cost about 80 or 90.

If we are to survive in a world where petrol keeps going up in price and down in availability we will need these cars sooner than they are being planned (2010-2012).

The price will probably be worth it… 20,000 to 30,000 Euros.


Cities 1 September 11, 2007

Posted by Tom in Cities, future, Long Now.
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I am going to dedicate a series of posts to cities as they are quickly becoming one of the most popular solutions when thinking about a sustainable future.

To get an idea of future and scale, the Long Now Foundation blog has found this excellent video.

The video is a time lapse of 35 years of Tokyo’s skyline. That is two more years than I have lived.

It reminds me of building a city in Sim City then pressing fast forward as you can see in the trailer for the game (about half way through):

Toms Shoes August 28, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, future, new world, Science Fiction (for now), social problems.
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I haven’t been suffering from writer’s block, or blogger’s block… I”ve been trying to find something really good…

Well, unless I’m wrong, I think have found another great New World Idea.

Toms Shoes

As far as I can tell this is a great idea and part of what I envisage in the future.

Business that gives to those who need.


By selling to those who have.

I might be wrong and I would like to research this further.

I like the idea.

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series he writes about a new economy for Mars as it is being terra-formed.

It is an ecological economy in which giving is fundamental to the way the economy works.

I would like to read more about this so any suggestions are welcome.

Anyway back to the point, here is a quick video with a slightly gushy we’re going to save the world feel about Toms shoes

Vertical Farming June 20, 2007

Posted by Tom in anti-car, Cities, Environment, future, Science Fiction (for now), tech news, Techstuff.
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One of the vertcal farm ideas
I have many visions of the future of humanity living in a world that we have finally grown old enough to manage sensibly. I have lots of ideas on this topic but one area I like to dwell on is the future of cities.

I would love to share them all now but I think I will finish my second degree first and get some more knowledge, then they (my ideas) might be taken more seriously and have some positive effect other than spreading ideas (which is, of course, useful). That is how I would like them to be taken so that’s the way I’m doing this.

Anyway one of my personal visions is that we all live close to one another. By this I don’t mean that all humans live crammed into a tiny space.

We will, I hope, reach a collective realization that our personal goals are less fulfilling than that of our planet’s and species’ survival and we will live in communities (I’m not envisaging some future communism) in which all services and needs are taken care of close by. If they aren’t serviced in that region they will be in the next. This will involve a dramatic decrease in the use of transportation of goods and people.

I cannot go into too much detail here as I mentioned earlier I wish to be able to develop this idea further.
What has struck me in the news this week was Vertical farms.We are one step closer to this idea. Vertical farms are skyscrapers built with farms on every floor. They will have a renewable power generator (solar or wind) on the roof that provide energy throughout the building and will have elaborate irrigation systems that recycle all the water.

So while people in cities live close to their food supply (that hasn’t been flown in from miles away), the countryside, outside the population centres, can thrive and seeds can evolve as they should.Some may feel this is removing the natural from food. What many don’t perhaps realize is that this happened a long time ago. What we may be looking at here, is allowing the natural food sources to develop themselves so we can develop our own versions safely without destroying the source.

One has to be careful though as with all miracle solutions, we do not then want to turn the solution into another problem. I would hate to see the remaining countryside be used for biofuel production.
Another projectAll images from the project’s site: http://www.verticalfarm.com/index.php

Top Greenhouse Gas emitters… China, US, Indonesia and Brazil May 16, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, future, social problems.

A non tech story… (though its complete inability to be solved with technological solutions makes it interesting)
I suppose the shocking news is that Indonesia and Brazil are top greenhouse emitters. They are, after all, not great industrial nations (Can you name a single product that is manufactured for international markets in either of these countries?) and I don’t really think of them as being large energy consumers like Europe or North America (or Australia for that matter).
More surprising is how much CO2 is produced from the deforestation process. I was sent a shocking article from today’s Independent (UK). In it, we learn that over the next twenty four hours more emissions will come from deforestation (slashing and burning) than from 8 million (yes, million) people flying from New York to London. That is (if my maths is correct) about 5555 people a minute.
I hate to push politics but this is pretty upsetting. It’s time for the world to put a price on leaving forests (particularly rain forests) untouched. It’s up to the UN at this week’s climate summit in Indonesia to find a solution. (Maybe legislation that enforces taxing use of the forests to subsidise non-use).
Quote from article:
“Standing forest was not included in the original Kyoto protocols and stands outside the carbon markets”

Hot Energy Issues May 15, 2007

Posted by Tom in Cities, Environment, future.

Solucar solar thermal power station
Solucar solar thermal power station

I remembered this story today when talking to João and Hugo, a couple of witty students in my BEC Higher course, about my latest project for my technology degree. It was about solar power, more specifically, photovoltaic panels (the solar power panels we see on roofs). I then remembered a story(real player needed) I’d seen on the BBC’s sci-tech website about a new type of solar plant in Spain.
This is solar thermal power and it is truly awe inspiring. Very basically, there is field of very, very large mirrors that shine the rays of the sun onto a tower. There, water is heated by the concentrated rays of the sun (over 400ºC) which is used to create electrical energy. One field creates 11 Megawatts of power, enough for 6000 homes.
There are zero emissions.
Some will say the tower and its light is unsightly. I would say that it is, in fact, beautiful like I think wind power mills are awe inspiring. I am amazed that people still prefer to protect a landscape while breathing noxious air.

Australia's solar tower
Australia’s projected Solar tower
Another , even more amazing project is in Australia where the technology simply takes heat from the sun and directs it up a tower. What makes it potentially more interesting than solar thermal power is that it does not need water (making deserts more feasible for location) and that they can generate more than 200MW. Having said that, the project’s own website includes a warning that deserts need to be protected as they are also necessary to our climate and the earth’s systems.
These new power stations are truly the power of the future… Now to buy property in the sahara :-)

Phone | Not phone May 15, 2007

Posted by Tom in future, Techstuff.
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 Phone necklace that sends a shiver down your spine when someone you know is close
Some 2nd year students from University of Dundee, College of Art, Science and Engineering’s product design course have designed some really fun looking future phones. In fact they are not really phones at all but use mobile phone technology.
Words cannot really describe them very well and their fun and well designed website is the best place to check them out. I suppose my favourite had to be the Aware for its imaginative value and clever use of technology. Some products are better than others and I’m not too sure what one of them does but its worth a look anyway. Be sure to check out some of the well created adverts for some of the products.

In answer to Joia de Familia’s challenge May 15, 2007

Posted by Tom in future.
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A nice techie quote from a great mind…

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
-Winston Churchill

In answer to this challenge.