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Max The Magnificent
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The Time Traveler
Max The Magnificent   3/24/2014 12:37:07 PM
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Re H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, were you aware that the time traveler's name is never actually given in the book? (It seems as though the narrator wishes to protect his inventor friend's identity).

BillWM
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Freelancer
A lot of gloom coming out of that machine
BillWM   3/24/2014 1:22:06 PM
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Max, There is a lot of gloom comming out of that machine -- Possibly of more interest is how companies like Sun Edison are now able to produce electricity cheaper via solar than natural gas  (25 year contract rate)  You need to post my article I sent you on that

antedeluvian
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Relative rates
antedeluvian   3/24/2014 1:28:19 PM
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What I found interesting is that the population increase was slow enough to see each birth and death. Marriages and divorces in the US were surprsingly static. Looking at number of cans of beer produced the rate is staggering. Max you need to slow down!

Max The Magnificent
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Re: A lot of gloom coming out of that machine
Max The Magnificent   3/24/2014 1:40:07 PM
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@BillWM: You need to post my article I sent you on that

I'm going to -- it's at the top of my list of things to do :-)

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Relative rates
Max The Magnificent   3/24/2014 1:41:00 PM
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@Antedeluvian: Max you need to slow down!

I think I need to speed up to keep on top of it all...

DMcCunney
User Rank
CEO
Re: The Time Traveler
DMcCunney   3/24/2014 2:42:39 PM
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Yes, I am.  But technically, the inventor's name was largely irrelevant.  What he experienced was the point of the story.  (And in literary terms, it's a story Wells might have told as a first-person narrative, and it would have been interesting had he done so,)

As for Poodwaddle's predictions, I take those with a sack of salt.  The notion we'll run out of oil in 47 years, for example, rest not only on production but estimated reserves.  Those estimates get continually revised upwards as new deposits are found.  (And we'll never actually run out of oil.  It's a supply and demand function.  As supply decreases, prices rise.  Oil will simply become too expensive to use for most present purposes long before we actually run out.)

 

Duane Benson
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Blogger
Re: The Time Traveler
Duane Benson   3/24/2014 5:13:03 PM
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Funny you called out the oil prediction: "the world will run out of oil in approximately 47 years based on current rates of production"

When I was in high school, back in the late 1970's, we were tought that the world's oil supply would run out in 50 years. So, I guess, that here, three and a half decades later, we're three years closer to running out.

DMcCunney
User Rank
CEO
Re: The Time Traveler
DMcCunney   3/24/2014 5:39:55 PM
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@Duane: based on current rates of production was what jumped out at me, as it ignored supply.

And the changes you mention since the 70's are part of the reason my reaction to pushes for alternative energy as best described as nuanced.

In the early 70's, I worked for a HUD/ERDA sponsored project to push alternative energy, specifically solar.  OPEC was in first flower, gas prices at the pump we rising over $1/gallon, and there was healthy interest in reducing US dependence on foreign oil producers.

What my shop pushed was using solar collectors to heat hot water.  That was about 20% of the average residential energy bill, and had a relatively low initial cost and relatively fast payback period.  We were aware of and tracked a variety of other alternative enrgy sources, but didn't expect them to get traction because they simply cost too much.

They still do.  As a general rule, the form of energy used will be the cheapest available, and alternative energy sources won't get significant traction till they are cost competitive with fossil fuels.  Except in specific niche applications, that hasn't happened yet, and I don't expect it to for some time.

 

Wnderer
User Rank
CEO
Re: The Time Traveler
Wnderer   3/24/2014 5:56:16 PM
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An interesting book to read is Isaac Asimov's The Beginning and the End. It is written in the 1970's. It predicts the internet/wikipedia. It also predicts we run out oil by the year 2000. The US is overpopulated with 265 million people and becomes a net food importer.

Linear projections are tempting but don't work.

One real interesting part is where the book talks about how global warming could cause the next ice age. The north polar ice cap melts. This increases evaporation, which increases snowfall, which increases albedo, which lengthens winter until the albedo beats the green house effect. The polar ice cap refreezes and the glaciers slowly recede.

DMcCunney
User Rank
CEO
Re: The Time Traveler
DMcCunney   3/24/2014 11:21:06 PM
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@Wnderer: I knew Isaac, back when.  He was highly intelligent and broadly knowledgeable beyond his own field of biochemistry.  He had the ability to research a topic, absorb it, and turn out a book about it aimed at an intelligent lay audience in a form understandable by them.

But as you mention, "Linear projections are tempting but don't work.", and I think Isaac would have acknowledged that.  He wrote science fiction and attempted to forecast development, but his track record wasn't all that much better than his peers.

You can make highly plausible guesses based on what you think you know, but what you think you know might be wrong, and there will be all manner of things you don't know that can invalidate your guesses.  Predicting we would run out of oil by 2000 implicitly assumed that oil we knew was available when he wrote the book was all there was to get - an example of "What you think you know that's wrong."  Predictions of over-population and being a net food importer were also based on flawed assumptions.

If Isaac were still around to talk about it, I have no doubt he'd say "I guessed wrong.  It wasn't the first time and won't be the last. My crystal ball isn't any clearer than anyone else's."

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