Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sunrise

I suppose as someone who drives less than 5000 miles a year it's easy for me to say, but I'm quite happy with $3 a gallon gas and hope it stays that way, artificially through increased gas tax if necessary. Europeans pay as much and it hasn't hurt their prosperity. What it does do is make alternate energy sources more economically viable. Keep petroleum prices high and we'll see more solar farms such as this one in Bavaria. Not quite "amber waves of grain," but certainly a "fruited plain."

In the May 12 issue of Science, a group of scientists from MIT report using generically modified viruses to synthesize and assemble nanowires for lithium ion battery electrodes! The same methods might increase the efficiency of photovoltaic devices. Not so many years from now, viruses and bacteria will be supplying electricity and hydrocarbons directly, ideally using human waste and garbage.

Every now and then, for one reason or another, I find myself caught in the commuter traffic that jams our highways and count my blessings that I was always able to walk to work. Even now, in retirement, I walk to the college each day, where I have been generously provided with an office. I get more writing done than if I stayed at home, I have a library next door, and I get to interact with stimulating people from a variety of academic disciplines. Wouldn't it be lovely if our suburbs were organized as green belted villages suitable for walking and biking, each with centrally located office complex with rental work stations. Instead of driving into Boston, say, for a job at company headquarters, a person might walk or bike to a work station or office paid for by his or her employer, and, in effect, commute by wire. In a typical village office complex would be people working for a wide variety of employers. Less traffic. Less gasoline. Less stress. More healthy exercise. More family life. More intellectual stimulation by working with colleagues from a variety of jobs. The "garden cities" of yesteryear connected by the internet.