Building the World

August 25, 2017
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Zoom…

Trains that fly? In tubes? Hyperloop has reached another milestone. Image of a Copenhagen pipe tunnel, Wikimedia.

Hyperloop has achieved another milestone: the first trial run of the passenger pod destined to carry commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 650 miles per hour. Transportation advances have changed the world. China’s Grand Canal transformed a region into a nation; the New Silk Road may link 40% of the world. Once united by the Golden Spike, the Transcontinental Railroad shortened the trek across the United States from six months to 10 days. The Erie Canal reduced the cost of shipping goods from Buffalo to New York City from $100 to $10. The Channel Tunnel made breakfast in London and lunch in Paris an everyday occurrence. Now, with Hyperloop, London/Paris transit time could be 25 minutes; Dubai to Abu Dhabi: 12 minutes. What advances in business, culture, and perhaps even cooperation and peace, might come from a more connected future?

For a video test ride: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-40811172/hyperloop-one-passenger-pod-tested-successfully

To calculate time between any two destinations: https://hyperloop-one.com

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

August 11, 2017
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Grid Luck

Denmark, state banner from 14th century, location of world’s first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) commercial charging station. Image: wikimedia commons.

Batteries in electric cars could help to balance the grid. In 2017 electric vehicles drew 6-terawatt-hours; by 2040, draw will expand to a predicted 1,800 terawatt hours. Tokyo-based automaker Nissan is conducting trials in Denmark where car fleet operators earn $1,530 (€1300 Euro) per year via two-way charge points. Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) infrastructure could be a sign of the future. Major highway systems take note.

It may be time for a systems view of electric vehicles, predicted to account for 54% of new car sales by 2040, Electric cars will transform highways like the U.S. Interstate Highway system – more than 45,000 miles, and even more dramatically the service areas nearby. Should the Pan-American Highway, 30,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina, be the first to offer a network of V2G? Canada and the United States could rebuild the Alaska Highway for a new era. On a local level, commuter rail stations are adding charging stations; shopping centers are dotted with ChargePoint and Tesla pods. Every one of these installations is an opportunity for rebuilding the automotive energy system.

If the Nissan/Enel/Nuvve commercial vehicle-to-grid hub of 10 stations proves successful, Ernesto Ciorra of Enel predicts: “With V2G we can enhance grid stability, further enabling the integration of renewables. V2G is one of the sustainable innovation areas that is taking us towards a low-carbon society for the benefit of present and future generations.” As the number of electric vehicles increases is the future of gridlock, grid luck?

For more:

“Parked Electric Cars Earn $1,530 From Europe’s Power Grids.” By Jessica Shankleman, 11 August 2017, Bloomberg.https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-11/parked-electric-cars-earn-1-530-feeding-power-grids-in-europe

“Nissan, Enel and Nuvve operate world’s first fully commercial vehicle-to-grid hub in Denmark.” Nissan Newsroom Europe, 29 August 2016/ID: 149186. http://newsroom.nissan-europe.com/eu-gb/media/pressreleases/149186

“Electric Cars Will Total More Than 50% Of All New Car Sales By 2040,BNEF Forecasts.” By Steve Hanley.  CleanTechnica, 6 July 2017.https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/06/electric-cars-will-total-half-new-car-sales-2040-bnef/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

May 17, 2017
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Silk Road 2.0

Yo-yo Ma, founder of Silkroad, playing the cello at the World Economic Forum, 2008. Photographer: Andy Mettler. Image: wikimedia commons.

Yo-yo Ma, cellist and founder of Silkroad, might write new music for what is being referred to as the “new silk road.” The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation 2017 concluded this week in Beijing, with 1,000 international government representatives; 68 countries signed on to jointly develop infrastructure along the ancient Silk Road. It’s a big route, linking China, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Historians might add North America: the Canadian Pacific Railway customized railcars to transport silk worm cocoons from Vancouver’s docks to the mills of New Jersey and New York. The so-called “Silk Trains” carried armed guards, so valuable was the cargo. One Belt One Road (OBOR) is a land and maritime vision including Railway to London, Railway to Iran, Gwadar Port, Asian Gas Pipeline, and Khorgos Gateway for the biggest dry port in the world. Asian Development Bank estimates the need for $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure to respond to growth and climate change. Macro by any definition, the New Silk Road (One Belt One Road or perhaps to be called BRI) may open an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild the world for inclusion and environment, a topic worthy of the future 2019 Summit. The Grand Canal of China may be an inspiration. Will the Confucius Institute lead the way?

Confucius Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston: https://www.umb.edu/confucius and https://m.facebook.com/The-Confucius-Institute-at-UMass-Boston-187408381366993/

National Development and Reform Commission. “Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. 2015/03/28. People’s Republic of China. en.ndrc.gov.cn/news/release/201503/t20150330_669367.html.

Liu Qin. “China needs to pave ‘One Belt One Road’ with green finance, say experts.” 07.01.2016, chinadialogue.net. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/8532-China-needs-to-pave-One-Belt-One-Road-with-green-finance-say-experts-

Quinn, Zoë G. “Silk” 17 July 2012. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2012/07/17/silk/

Tweed, David. “China’s Silk Road.” 15 May 2017. https://www.bloomberg.com/quicktake/china-s-silk-road/

For a map: http://www.economist.com/news/china/21701505-chinas-foreign-policy-could-reshape-good-part-world-economy-our-bulldozers-our-rules

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

March 10, 2017
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Bridge to the Future

Bridges to the future: in the next 15 years, the world will build more infrastructure than is currently on the planet. Photo: “Gaoliang Bridge: The Summer Palace” by Hennessey, wikimedia commons.

Rebuilding may characterize the next era. Bridges, roads, rail, energy, and water systems are in need of an upgrade. There is so much backlog in the United States, costs are estimated at $4.6 trillion by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon states it’s not just the United States, or even North America. Global infrastructure needs an upgrade. History suggests a few guidelines. Focus on projects; jobs will follow. Target both macro and micro: on the grand scale, choose iconic projects of national (or regional) impact; on a micro scale, concentrate on towns and local improvements that can be seen in four years. Government allocations should not focus on profit (certain infrastructure pays for itself in tolls, as Charlemagne proved, and such ventures can be public/private), but on rights and commons. Consider creation of a national clearinghouse where states and cities can learn from each other (such as the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership program). Some of these suggestions are offered by Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute, and others by Michael Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust in their recent announcement: “Helping mayors do their job.”

Felipe Calderon adds: “There’s evidence that 1% of GDP spent on infrastructure can lead to a 1.5% increase in GDP within 4 years. But, given the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are accumulating, the type of infrastructure we build matters more than ever. Building a solar plant is better than building a coal plant. Building light rail is better than expanding a highway. Solid flood defense systems can hold back rising seas. We will be building over the next fifteen years more infrastructure than currently exists on the planet.

Global infrastructure investment, over the next 15 years, is expected to reach $90 trillion. It’s an opportunity for structural sustainability perhaps unprecedented in history. Can we build the bridge to a better future?

For more: “America’s Infrastructure Scores a D+” American Society of Civil Engineers, Infrastructure Report Card. http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

Bloomberg, Michael R. and Drew Gilpin Faust, “Helping mayors do their job.” The Boston Globe, 25 August 2016. https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/08/25/helping-mayors-their-job/1HblR7a4hKsQMJEbXmnAgP/story.html

Calderon, Felipe. “Global infrastructure needs an upgrade.” 7 October 2016. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/07/news/economy/felipe-calderon-oped-us-infrastructure/index.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

February 10, 2017
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Trains that fly

Trains that fly: Hyperloop. Image: Camilo Sanchez, 2015. Wikimedia commons

Trains that fly? In tubes? Like the Channel Tunnel designed for trains, Hyperloop (a term coined by Elon Musk; the competition is sponsored by SpaceX), uses tubes to enhance transport. The difference? These trains fly: Hyperloop is maglev. In development through open competitions inviting students to design the transit pods, HyperLoop has now achieved another milestone: first-ever low pressure Hyperloop flight. MIT won the award for safety and reliability, placing in the top three along with Delft University of Technology and Team Warr (pronounced Varr) of the Technical University of Munich. The goal? Los Angeles to San Francisco, or Amsterdam to Paris, in 30 minutes.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

December 31, 2016
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New Year’s Bonus

“Happy New Year” by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo, photographer. Image: wikimedia commons, 1 January 2013, Copacabana, Rio de Janiero.

The traditional New Year’s Eve kiss might linger a little longer, this year. The world will add one second tonight as 11:59:59 flutters a new beat, according to the International Earth Rotation Reference System Service (IERS). Global time was the idea of Sandford Fleming, surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway: new train systems across the continent required precise coordination. Google, however, is handling the extra second in an extra-long fashion: the tech giant is running computer clocks slower by 0.0014% for ten hours before, and after, the midnight hour. Osculatory results may be observed.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

November 4, 2016
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Faster Than A Speeding Bullet Train

Chuo Shinkansen: Japanese “flying trains” will travel 1 mile every 10 seconds. Image: wikimedia commons.

What’s faster than a speeding bullet, a phrase used to describe Superman? The new Shinkansen, or Japanese bullet train. Japan Rail announced the design of a magnetic levitation train that will achieve speeds over 600 kilometers per hour (374 miles per hour), or 1 mile (1.5km) every 10 seconds. Maglev trains are already in regular service in China: Shanghai and Changsha; as well as Korea, in Incheon. When Japan hosted the 1964 Olympics, Shinkansen was introduced, with the Tokyo-Osaka line. By  2002, Shinkansen had transported 382 billion passengers, with a 99% on-time record. Japan’s success inspired France’s TGV and Germany’s Intercity-Express. Maglev Chuo Shinkansen will shoot from Tokyo to Nagoya in 40 minutes; the line will soon extend to Osaka. Japan will follow a new law passed in 2001 that decrees that developers need not purchase land above, if digging more than 40 meters (131 feet) below. The law names the underground territory as daishindo (extreme underground). When will Amtrak emulate Japan’s leadership in train transport?

Hongo, Jun. “Tokyo underground: taking property development to new depths.” Japan Times. 12 April 2014. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/04/12/lifestyle/tokyo-underground/#.WBuoQygylDJ/

Lo, Andrea. “Can mega-fast maglev revive Japan’s rail reputation?” 3 November 2016. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/31/asia/japan-record-breaking-maglev-train/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

September 30, 2016
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A Planet of Opportunity

A Planet of Opportunity: Mars. Image: Hubble 2003, wikimedia commons.

Want to be one of a million who begin a new branch of human civilization? Elon Musk has presented, in Guadalajara, Mexico at the International Astronautical Congress in September 2016, four factors to achieve multi-planetary success. The SpaceX Mars mission will take off from the launch pad that Nasa used for Apollo 11. Mars could have a new city with one million people by 2060. Musk states: “It will be a planet of opportunity.”

For Elon Musk’s presentation, “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” with specific details, at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFA6DLT1jBA.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

September 17, 2016
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Auto-Mobile

What will soon be missing, in Uber cars? The Driver. Image of an Uber car (and driver) in Bogota, Colombia: wikimedia.

When driving your car, how many times do you look at the distance between your vehicle and others on the road? How about 1.4 million times — per second? That’s what Uber’s driverless cars do, and that’s why many believe autonomous vehicles will ultimately be safer. Uber made history this week, becoming the first commercial service to offer driverless cars. The chosen location? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fourteen cars are at the ready, each with two professional drivers, just in case, to serve 2,000 Uber customers who have signed up for the beta test drive. When the United States Federal Highway System was built, the goals were the same: seamless and safer roads and fewer accidents. The autonomous vehicle market is estimated to reach $42 billion by 2025.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

June 25, 2016
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TransAtlantic Flight — without a drop of fuel

Solar Impulse. Wikimedia commons.

Solar Impulse 2 crossed the Atlantic ocean without a drop of fuel, making history and opening a wing to the future. New York to Seville in 71 hours, Betrand Piccard landed escorted by an honor guard. Some might say you’d have to be crazy to fly across an ocean without fuel; but Piccard is a psychiatrist, a balloonist, and a pioneer. Tweets aloft included a photo of an oil tanker, contrasting fossil fuels with solar tech. Picard and partner Andre Borschberg share the adventure of flying SI2 around the world: “You can now fly longer without fuel than with fuel, and you fly with the force of nature, you fly with the sun. It’s the new era now for energy.” Flight history was made by Nasa when the Apollo team traversed space to land on the moon. Solar flight may be next the “giant leap.” While floating above, Piccard read Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing, poems written in reflection in meditation, and set to music by Philip Glass, who also composed Itaipu. An excerpt?

I know she is coming

I know she will look

And that is the longing

And this is the book.

  • Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing, read by Piccard on historic solar flight over Atlantic.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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