Picking Apart the Pickens Plan - 5 Big Challenges

November 13 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2017   Rating: 10 Hot

Big Plans are susceptible to changes in the world around us, and even bold visionaries can have wrong assumptions about the future.

After blanketing the media landscape over the summer with The Pickens Plan, T Boone Pickens has announced that he is slowing down his plans to build a massive wind farm in West Texas. Pickens’ $2 billion order of GE wind turbines has not been affected, but scaling up of the project is likely to happen more slowly than originally hoped.

A changing world or wrong assumptions?
Pickens has certainly felt the pains of shifts in the market where money is now in short supply and the global economic slowdown has battered his energy intensive hedge fund. But there have always been flaws to his core assumptions that support the vision that have somehow escaped widespread critical thought or media scrutiny. Pickens deserves credit for his willingness to advance the energy conversation in the US, but it does not free his Plan from closer examination:

#1 Utilities won’t evolve without regulatory changes
#2 Wind needs storage to evolve
#3 Natural Gas is a globally integrated industry, no breaking ‘foreign’ dependency there!
#4 The Auto Industry’s problem is not oil, it’s the combustion engine.
#5 Building transmission lines in my backyard or ranch?! It’ll cost you!

#1 Utilities won’t evolve without regulatory changes

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Robots Rescue and Fix Trapped Victims

September 26 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2017   Rating: 5 Hot

October 16th, 2017, 02:12 The dreaded happens.

A 8.1 magnitude quake rocks the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge partially collapses, taking some cars returning to the east bay after a night at the bars into the waters below. The new Oakland span, finished less than a year before, weathers the quake with only minor structural damage. The buildings in San Francisco don’t fair as well.

For Harrison Thomas, the only thing he remembered was that the walls were shaking right before the floor of his apartment suddenly disappeared.

Responders on the scene did a quick survey of the scene and deploy snake-like robots to search for survivors. After twelve minutes Harrison Thomas is found wedged between the flooring of the second and third floor. A piece of wood has speared his leg, pinning him in place.

The crew at the scene uses the robots diamond-edged belt saw to carefully saw their way through the wood in order to aid in his removal. A doctor from St. Louis, on call since the disaster, views the proceedings from his local hospital. Seeing Harrison’s body, he determines that a surgery must be made before the rescue crews get to him in order to save his leg.

Morphine is injected into his leg in preparation for the surgery. UV sterilized tools, located inside the snake, are manipulated over a secure wireless connection to repair the neural and vascular damage done to his leg. Hours later, crews finally unearth Harrison and take him to a mobile hospital set up in a warehouse at Pier 5.

Without this technology, he would have lost his leg, possibly even died.

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Keep Your Mind's Eye on Cybernetics

July 08 2008 / by juldrich
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2017   Rating: 3

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

Imagine sitting in your home and being able to control a device in a different room, a different city or even a different country by thought alone. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Well, accordingly to this fascinating article from Popular Mechanics, advances in the field of cybernetics are occurring so rapidly that such things may be possible in the not-too-distant future.

Consider this: a monkey in North Carolina can already send a signal to Japan (where it controls a robot) faster than it can send a message from its brain to its own muscles. One immediate practical application of this technology may occur in the field of surgery whereby a surgeon could control a small robotic device faster and more precisely than she could move her hand. In a field like brain surgery such a distinction could make a big difference.

It will be some time before other cybernetic devices move into the mainstream, but it is interesting to consider how such mind-machine devices may change how we perceive and interact with our environment in the future. For example, imagine being able to control a robot by thought alone. Forget to feed your dog this morning, just “think” your bot to do it. Forget to water the plants or turn off the iron? Not a problem. A solution is just a thought away. (cont.)

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Fear of Arctic War Grows, Danish and Russian Fleets Clash – Copenhagen, 23 June 2017

June 08 2008 / by Cronos
Category: Economics   Year: 2017   Rating: 6 Hot

Copenhagen has admitted Danish warships were responsible for the sinking of the Russian frigate Czar Putin in the Arctic Sea. The commander of the Danish Destroyer Prince Frederik declared the vessel was in Danish territorial waters off the coast of Greenland and had ignored multiple warnings.

The Danish press release also stated it regretted the sinking of the ship and the loss of the Russian crew and that first shots were meant as deterrence only. Once the Russians started returning fire there was no other option than to target the ship itself, concluded the press release. Russian warships of the Northern Fleet are steaming up towards the area from bases all over Russia while the US is doing the same to come the aid of their Danish ally. (cont.)

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It's a Bird, It's a Plane ... No, It's Super Robot

May 24 2008 / by juldrich
Category: Business & Work   Year: 2017   Rating: 3 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.jumpthecurve.net

There’s that old saying that if walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Well, in the future, things are going to get a little more confusing. Soon, devices will walk like humans; feel like humans and see like humans, but that won’t mean it is a human.

To this point, I simply refer you to a handful of articles that were published only this morning. The first explains how researchers at Delft University in the Netherlands have developed a robot that walks like a human. The next article documents how researchers have constructed a new pet robot that communicates with humans only by touch. Lastly, there was this report outlining how advances in image recognition technology is improving to the point where computers and robots will soon be as good (and eventually even better) than humans at recognizing the images around them.

If you consider how all of these advances are likely to converge with one another, it is easy to understand how robots might soon be seeing, feeling, walking and even jumping their way around us.

To this last point about jumping, check out this short video which demonstrates how a tiny robot can already leap – kind of like Superman – “taller than the tallest building” :

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