Tag Archives: big-tech

Why Did Car Companies Cave on CAFE?

Car companies have been complaining about fuel economy standards ever since they began back in the 1970s.  All through the 80s, 90s and Zips they’ve managed to block increases in the standards, by spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about their … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“BLAST!” and Good, Cheap Science

“BLAST!” is a documentary about the Balloon-Borne Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope, and it  opens with this teaser: The telescope is that huge instrument on the end of crane.   It’s supposed to measure light in the far infrared from the early … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Oldest Active Computer

Digital computers are a fairly old technology at this point.  The first ones date from the mid-1940s, which makes them older than nuclear reactors, integrated circuits, polypropylene, and orbital satellites. What they aren’t is a durable technology.  Computers age fast, … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

The Robot Population of Deep Space

In 1978 I heard Carl Sagan speak at MIT.   The two most important space probes ever, Voyager 1 and 2, had just launched the year before, and  Sagan had been deeply involved with them.  It was his idea to do … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The End of the Shuttle and the Start of Nothing

So last Friday I watched the liftoff of the last Space Shuttle on the NASA feed in my office.  I saw it for real once in 1992, when I went down to Florida just for the show.  I had just … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Big Dig Is Ugly

“It doesn’t matter how much it costs, so long as it looks cheap,” goes the old line about government contracts.  So what does the most expensive civil engineering project in US history look like? Randomly patched pavement.  Fluorescent light fixtures … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

When People Were Proud of Their Government

If you happened to be driving around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Boston and saw this building, what would you imagine it to be? A town hall?  A library?  Those are certainly the kinds of buildings that got this Richardsonian … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Maniacal Energy Storage Schemes

A common complaint about renewable energy is that it’s intermittent – the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing.  One rarely hears the opposite charge against nuclear power – it’s generating electricity even when no one wants … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Long View

At a time when the US Congress is divided on whether climate change even exists, the Massachusetts Audubon Society is making plans on how to adapt to it.   Their problem is that climate change emperils their nature sanctuaries.   They own … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Electric Cars Are Just Better

Last month I attended the New England Auto Show, and had a chance to see the three mass-market high-electric cars: The Nissan Leaf: 100 mi all-electric range, 24 kWh battery, 80 kW motors, no gas engine, $33K. The Chevy Volt: … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments