Back to Top

bnnr news

posticon Editorial - Heat Pumps, Science Fiction and the Electric Grid

Opinions | Friday, September 20, 2019 | By Dan Veaner Print
Pin It
Editorial

Star Trek is commonly cited as a chief inspiration for things that didn't exist in the late '60s when the show originally aired, but do exist now.  Captain Kirk's communicator inspired the flip phone,which then went on to become a powerful computer in our pockets that does a lot more than just communicate.  It can actually do some of what tricorders could do.  For example it tells me how many steps I have taken each day, and I have a thermometer that connects to my phone to tell me whether or not I have a fever.  Food replicators inspired 3-D printers, presumably including the one I read about last year that was being developed to print a pizza in the International Space Station.  I recently talked to someone who used a translation app on a smart phone that was inspired by the universal translator.  They used tablet computers in 'The Next Generation' -- I can't explain how we have them now, they didn't have them in the 23rd century, then they had them again in the 24th.  And of course, talking to computers.  Right, Alexa?  Right Siri?

So I was curious to see what inspired heat pumps, the heating and cooling technology that appears poised to take over from oil and natural gas heaters.  The concept was developed in 1852, and the first one was built in the 1850s.  So it's not new technology.  And i can't find evidence that it was inspired by science fiction, though it certainly seems like a nifty scifi concept to me. The idea is to condense a refrigerant substance in a coil at one end, and evaporate it on the other end.  The evaporation coil extracts heat, and the condensation coil releases it.

Pin It

Read more ...

posticon Thoughts - The Economy

Opinions | Friday, September 20, 2019 | By Casey Stevens Print
Pin It
Caseythoughts One of my favorite U.S. presidents is Harry S. 'Give 'em hell' Truman. I am not alone in this admiration, as he rates highly in many people's minds and was/is certainly controversial. But, truth be known, many of our best presidents (and it takes a good twenty to fifty years for a real assessment of history and presidents) didn't exactly kowtow to current popular opinion or 'opinion polls', and possessed a longer range and high opinion of the office, but were frequently pretty humble in many aspects of their lives.

One of my favorite quotes of Truman is one where he said he wished for 'a one-armed economist' on the White House staff. When asked why, he replied that he would no longer be subjected to the phrase 'on the other hand'. That phrase was a favorite trope of economists and 'experts' then, and now, and indicated that perhaps the economist didn't exactly know what was going on.

Pin It

Read more ...