TransVision Thursday Afternoon Session I
26 July 2007 (updated 12 June 2020)
I’m in Chicago for TransVision 2007. Here are some notes and thoughts from Thursday afternoon session I.
Giorgio Gaviraghi spoke on the eva project. Mothership eva is a space settlement. Main obstacles are high costs, long times government regulation and poor public perception. There are various strategies for reaching space.
A space settlement is a needed intermediary on the way to mothership eva. Main goals include profitable space activities, decreasing costs and jump-starting a space economy. Phase 1 will be to go and get the basic resources from asteriods to build the ship. this would involve deflection systems and mining facilities.
Phase 2 will be to fly the asteroid-mothership to the moon to extend activity to the moon and found a base. Phase 3 will be to extend activities to Mars. The eva mothership attached the the asteroid moves from project to project. Phase 4 will be transmars activities subsequent to having an infrastructure in place.
The eva space settlement would include agriculture for long term settlement. Over time, inhabitants of moon or mars would become unable to return to earth. Synthetic bases in space thus provide a better option for space colonization.
Jose Cordeiro works for the Millennium project. They focus on different themes each year. This year they are focusing on education. He spoke on energy scenarios for 2020, and a study that is being put together on the subject.
Four scenarios were considered: business as usual, environmental backlash, high tech economy, and political turmoil. Comments from 300 experts were considered. If current trends continue, the largest growth is in natural gas and alternative energies will remain minimal. If there is an environmental backlash, common energy sources today will remain stable in usage.
If there is a high tech economy, we might be able to access higher-cost oil more easily. Energy usage has moved in waves from wood to coal, to oil, to gas, and beyond. Technology puts off limits. Energy return on energy investment (EROEI) is key.
An energy internet may be coming, first with wires and then without. Some are working on bacteria that consume air and water and excrete gasoline. The stone age did not end because of lack of stones, and the oil age will not end because of lack of oil. Fusion, helium binding, matter-energy equivalence and antimatter may provide new energy sources.
There is a project to use the moon to capture solar energy and transfer it to the earth. We receive over 10,000 times solas energy on earth than what our current civilization consumes. Energy industry is much bigger than IT, and oil is the biggest segment. There is a lot of political consequence to this, which has and may continue to lead to turmoil.
The geopolitics of oil is real. The chinese symbol for crisis, consists of two symbols: one for problem and one for opportunity.
Tihamer Toth-Fejel spoke on nanotech. Top-down concept is directed assembly. The bottom-up concept is like chemistry. Regular top-top is macro tech.
Bottom-bottom is nanotech. This gets strengths of top-down and bottom-up: mass production with precision. There are four stages to nantech: statis nanostructures, functional nanodevices, physical finite state nanomachines, and productive nanosystems. In the near term, we can increase the strength of materials, such as with carbon nanotubes.
A crack in the space elevator would spread faster than the speed of sound, producing an explosion. There is a dramatic increase in proportional surface area as size decreases, which is near term useful. Semiconductor quantum dots may help with solar panels. Nanocoatings will improve surface hardening, biocides and self-cleaning.
Labs on a chip, gas censors, are near. Medium term, we will be able to build arbitrarily complex heterogenous nanostructures. Filters can be created with precision by leaving blocks out of flat structures. Fuel cells can be improved.
Extreme broadband and improved solar cells will be possible mid term. The goal of mid-term nanotech is to produce desktop nanofactories. In the far term, we can imagine everything from molecular printers to the omega point. Self-assembly, self-replication and indirect replication will become possible.
Space elevators and space piers would be possible. Molecular printers could produce more printers. Input cartridges would be made of cheap material, but eventually the air might not be free – good bye global warming, and hello cooling as CO2 removed. These risks and possibilities are analogous to the emergence of photosynthesis.
Mother nature’s message is adapt or die. Think hard. The nanotech revolution is coming quicker than you think.
Here are my other other notes and thoughts from TransVision 2007:
- TransVision Tuesday Morning Session I
- TransVision Tuesday Keynote Aubrey de Grey
- TransVision Tuesday Morning Session II
- TransVision Tuesday Afternoon Session II
- TransVision Wednesday Keynote Ed Begley, Jr.
- TransVision Wednesday Morning Session II
- TransVision Thursday Morning Session I
- TransVision Thursday Keynote Peter Diamandis
- TransVision Thursday Afternoon Session II
- TransVision Thursday Keynote William Shatner
- TransVision Thursday Keynote Ray Kurzweil