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Entries in alternative energy (16)

Saturday
May012010

Will Science Harness Sun Power After the War? (1942)

In 1942, with World War II raging, people were naturally thinking about what a post-War world might look like.

Once the present world-wide orgy of destruction has come to an end, there will be a tremendous job of reconstruction to do. Ruined cities, factories, power stations will have to be rebuilt, wrecked railroads and highways relaid, blasted mines and oil wells reopened, sunken ships replaced.

This syndicated piece by Dr. Frank Thone, found in the March 22, 1942 Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX), imagines a world -- should it not be destroyed outright-- on which humanity could build a bright new future using the latest in solar power technologies. The entire piece appears below.

1942 March 22 Galveston Daily News - Galveston TX paleofuture

(While doing a quick search to learn more about Dr. Thone I found this interesting article he wrote in 1934.)

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Wednesday
Apr212010

Follow-The-Sun House (1959)

Today we have yet another panel from Arthur Radebaugh's excellent Closer Than We Think series of comic strips. Though the strip often ran on Sunday, the more eagle-eyed amongst you (read: nerdy) may notice that this particular strip was published in the Toronto Star Weekly on Saturday, May 2, 1959. 

Before alternative energy policy became a political wedge issue, techno-utopians like Radebaugh promoted renewable energy as sleek and sexy. Solar energy was supposed to power our cars, drive our space colonies and make deserts bloom. As we enter into a new era of optimism --driven by the New Optimists, if you will-- it seems that "the future" just might become less politicized and more dependent upon the scientific, the dynamic and the rational.

But then again, maybe I'm just an optimist.

Don't be surprised if many of tomorrow's homes are built on turntables. They would slowly pivot all day long to receive maximum benefit from health-giving sun ray and insure heat in winter.

This warm and colorful year-round design is adapted from an aluminum firm's summer house which has been studied and admired by architects. It would be built, together with a patio, over a service and garage area.

Ground and living levels would connect through a glass-enclosed staircase. Two-way glass could bring the outside view to those on the inside, while protecting the latter from inquisitive passersby.

Next week: Space Farmers

 

A special thanks to Tom Z. for a color scan of this strip.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Saturday
Jun202009

Chrysler VP Predicts Solar-Powered Cars (1958)

The current crisis in the American auto industry has led to louder (though long-standing) charges that it did not do enough to produce fuel-efficient vehicles using cutting-edge automotive technologies. Given Chrysler's bankruptcy filing, and recent sale to Fiat, it seems appropriate that we look at what the auto industry was telling the American public about the future of cars 50 years ago.

This February 9, 1958 edition of the sunday strip Closer Than We Think by Arthur Radebaugh quotes James C. Zeder, a Chrysler vice-president. Mr. Zeder predicted that in the years ahead solar-powered cars would be feasible and that the expanding knowledge of nuclear and solar energy would bring more abundant power to people everywhere. The full text of the strip appears below. As always, thanks to Tom Z. for the color version of this panel.

Detroit, Feb. 7 -- The automobile industry may be producing cars driven by solar power in the years ahead, James C. Zeder, Chrysler vice-president, predicted today.

"We know how to get electrical energy from sunlight by means of silicon converters," said the Chrysler engineering expert. "If we continue to increase the efficiency of these converters, and if we are able to develop small, efficient energy storage cells solar powered cars will be feasible."

Zeder added that expanding knowledge of nuclear and solar energy is "bringing into sight" more abundant power for people everywhere.

SUNRAY SEDAN

Tomorrow the sunmobile may replace the automobile. The power of bottled sunshine will propel it. Your solar sedan will take energy from sunrays and store it in accumulators that work like a battery. This power will drive your car just like gasoline does today.

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jun142009

Oil and Gas Will Eventually be Exhausted (1909)

The July 19, 1909 Titusville Herald (Titusville, PA) ran an article containing predictions by the United States Geological Survey of a coming energy crisis. The report predicted that all petroleum and iron would be exhausted by 1939, all natural gas by 1934 and all coal by the middle of the 21st century.

Interestingly, the report notes that both conservation and technological advancements might be able to head off this energy collapse. In the case of iron, the report notes that the best ores were being rapidly exhausted and that unless a new process is invented it would mean much higher prices. We see that this is precisely what happened in mines such as the one my grandfather worked in on the Iron Range of northern Minnesota, with new technologies that made use of cheap taconite, once considered a waste product.

You can read the entire newspaper article below.

The photo above is of the Fayal mining pit, circa 1940. The man on the right looks like my grandfather, though I'm not completely sure.

 

1909 July 19 Titusville Herald - Titusville PA Article 1909 July 19 Titusville Herald - Titusville PA Article Matt Novak

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jun012008

The Technotopia of 2000 (1962)

In 1962 the French weekly l'Express postulated about a technologically advanced utopia in the year 2000.

By the year 2000 all food will be completely synthetic. Agriculture and fisheries will have become superfluous. The world's population will by then have increased fourfold but will have stabilized. Sea water and ordinary rocks will yield all the necessary metals. Disease, as well as famine, will have been eliminated; and universal hygienic inspection and control will have been introduced. The problems of energy production will by then be completely resolved.


From the essay Food - the great challenge of this crucial century by Georg Borgstrom in the 1975 book Notes for the Future: An Alterative History of the Past Decade.

 

See also:
Our Friend the Atom (Book, 1956)
Closer Than We Think! Fat Plants and Meat Beets (1958)
Closer Than We Think! Hydrofungal Farming (1962)
Man's Future Beneath the Sea (1968)
That 60's Food of the Future
Solar Power of 1999 (1956)
Hubert H. Humphrey's Year 2000 (1967)

Friday
Feb292008

Closer Than We Think! Weather Control (1958)


This Closer Than We Think strip about weather control appeared in the June 22, 1958 Chicago Tribune.

In years to come, there will be satellite equipment for forecasting - as well as controlling - the weather.

 

The effects of air and humidity masses can be calculated more precisely from above. Sunspots, solar rays and other space disturbances will be more easily observed and studied. And sensitive sighting and analysis devices will make long-range predictions highly accurate.

Control of weather is the next step. In the words of Dr. I. M. Levitt, Director of the Fels Planetarium at the Frankline Institute: "In time, huge solar mirrors five or more miles in diameter may be used to reflect radiation of the sun to specific areas on earth to increase evaporation and to prevent crop-killing frosts."


See also:
Foolproof Weatherman of 1989 (1939)
Communities May Be Weatherized (Edwardsville Intelligencer, 1952)
American Version of Postcards Showing the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
The Coming Ice Age (1982)
A Wonderful Day to Fly (1980)
Glenn T. Seaborg's 1989 (1964)
Lyndon B. Johnson on 2063 A.D. (1963)
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)
Space Colony Possible (The News, 1975)
Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)

 

Monday
Jan072008

Future Buses (1939)

The September 9, 1939 Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, NY) ran a short piece about the shift from railways to buses as a form of mass transit in New York City. The piece ended on an optimistic note about buses and alternative energy of the future. An excerpt appears below.

Doubtless some day the operators will have to meet the problem of increased fuel costs, for consumption of gasoline cannot go on forever at the present rate. But the day seems far distant when curtailment will be necessary - so far distant that no one save a few scientists and government conservation people are giving it any thought.

 

Even should shortage of gasoline develop, say, 50 years hence, it seems wholly probable that some new and economical means of propelling buses will have been discovered by that time.

Certain scientists are convinced that in the comparatively near future a method of transporting electrical current by wireless will be discovered which will make it possible to provide buses with power from central development stations.


See also:
Nazi Paleo-Futurism (1941)
'Flying Saucer' Buses (1950)