February 22, 2013

Super Supercapacitors, Cardboard Bikes & the Ultimate Dream Car.

Are you down with hope? What is your vision of the coming five, ten years? Do you see people flying around in personal hovercraft?

“Hope is the ‘feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best’ or the act of look[ing] forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence”

There are three minutes worth watching right here, because you can’t get enough of unbelievably cool breakthrough awesomeness in this life. Unbelievably breakthrough awesomeness, as we all know, is pretty much Hope’s bitch.

And if you have 40 minutes, then watch this: it’s the National Geographic story of Tesla Motors. Most uplifting.


The film is a mental springboard, really, deliberate drama, dumbing down, and frightful music aside. Tesla has done something extraordinary, they are creating untamed, beautiful cars with performance ratings higher than the last episode of MASH. No matter where you stand, it’s an exciting time to be alive.

Guess what? If you sat through the first video, you know something the movie producers of this Tesla film didn’t know already. Richard Kaner and his team at UCLA have created a supercapacitator-based battery about, oh, 10 times better than the lithium ion Tesla is now using. It is environmentally friendly. You can make it using a DVD player. Well, components of it. It weighs nothing. You could charge your car as fast as gassing it. Really.

Now, why not add to our candy store window the nine dollar cardboard bike?


It is easily possible that in our lifetimes, we could see $900 cardboard cars, faster than your Suburu, too. Or even sooner, fast motor-assisted bicycles. (Don’t even talk to me about safety, please, save it for someone concerned about safety—they’ll triangulate roll bars, it will be okay, ya whiner.)
 The momentum now is stronger than a rainbow hitchhiker who ran out of patchouli. Inventions are meeting inventions, and mating without so much as dinner and a movie.

Spray-on-skin is here. We really do not get to say what’s possible, what the limits are, or what we will be doing as little as three years from now.  That excites the hell out of me. I grew up with a phone in the kitchen, tethered to the wall by a curly wire. Socially, you were entirely limited to who you met in school. When fax machines first appeared, it was magic.

If inventiveness is “having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally,” then we all have it, more or less.

Being inventive can be as simple as asking: “Is there a different way to do this?” or “Is there a way to make unintended use of this?” DVD players were never intended to make super semiconductors. Inventiveness is a choice, or at least not trying to have it is a choice. Ask.

The thing is, Paul Simon was right. These are the days of miracle and wonder. There is a guy who made wings. Come on. Google created glasses where up in the corner there is an internet screen. Really. My son-in-law Wes calls it “Global Consciousness For Dummies.”

Google introduced the Google Glass not too long ago, a computer you wear like glasses. Software developers first. Then we the people should get a crack at them in 2014. Instant, intimate communication capability literally in your face. And clearly, this is just a beginning. We are at the dawn of far easier human/computer interfaces, and effortless contact with people we cherish is on the wing. Use it for whatever banal and senseless time waster you want, but hey, ya gotta admit, this new tool is simply the balls.

Photo: Youtube

The hive mind is becoming a reality. We are creating tools that will enable us to read each other in the moment, and use collective consciousness whenever. Essentially, Glass is a computer you wear just like glasses. There’s a little camera and video camera facing out, so you can share your live experience, and a lens just up and to the side, so you can get your soup to nuts pre-picked reality right there in your eye. Dude. They are calling them reality augmenting devices. It’s kind of way easier than being hunched over a laptop. The sexy little rascal responds to voice commands, of course, and a speaker just over the ear talks to you.

Two word synopsis: simply awesome. No less awesome of course, is that this points to a coming time when glasses will be seen as a huge useless object to lug around, like a laptop is now. There will be computers the size of a grain of rice: thinking will be the new typing.

But it isn’t the silly goggles, or the wings (even though wings are pretty seriously cool.) It is what the inventions grant us. Dwelling on what is coming next, on the wonder of our capabilities and the fruit that they can produce, changes our outlook.
 Suddenly there is hope, and we are going to be more than okay. We are going to become like those white birds toward the last scene in “Earthlings” and we are going to know that heart intelligence is as strong as mental intelligence and of course we are going to stop inflicting pain on animals and yes, the good guys are gonna win and technology will get us out of this mess and she was only kissing him because she lost a bet, and yes, yes of course there is a Santa Claus!

Its tempting to get lulled, isn’t it? Into a semi-stupor. I often find myself growing a little trance-like, edging towards apathetic, slouching toward torpor. But what about thriving? 
And what about Kerouac, coming of age in America, our great lost subculture?  Paint “LOVE” on your jeans.

The super semiconductor, cardboard bike-electric car combination alone could seriously bring back the road trip as rite of passage. Imagine teenagers buying awesome thousand-dollar cars. Imagine them, hell, you, taking a car like that anywhere, free. There are solar fields in Germany generating more power than the nuclear plants in the States. Cardboard car with unlimited lightweight batteries—ya gotta wonder, can hovercraft be far away?

It is quite possible that we’re going to be fine.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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