Building the World

October 29, 2019
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Happy Birthday, Internet

Internet’s 50th birthday. Image: wikimedia

October 29, 1969. Neil Armstrong had recently stepped onto another world: the moon. That same year, another new world was born. UCLA, Stanford, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah were working on ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Graduate student Charley Kline sent a computer message from UCLA to Bill Duvall at Stanford, typing the word “Login.” The system crashed; but the letters ‘L’ and ‘O’ transmitted. Leonard Kleinrock, professor of computer science at UCLA, helped to complete the message about an hour later

Now, we’re moving into 5G. 1G was analog cellular; 2G was CDMA and GSM digital. 3G technologies like EVDO were faster; 4G LTE was even faster. 5G will deliver three changes: faster speed (moving more data); lower latency (optimizing response); ability to connect multiple devices. 5G might help autonomous vehicles become more accurate; smart roads will become more responsive, too. 5G will enable Virtual Reality (VR) and instant transmission.

The internet was born fifty years ago today.  Since then, complex transmissions have spread science around the world, and a few chats, too. But some might opine that the first two letters ever sent best expressed the wonder: “‘Lo,’ and Behold.”

Novak, Matt. “Here’s the Internet’s ‘Birth Certificate’ From 50 Years Ago Today.” 29 October 2019. https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/heres-the-internets-birth-certificate-from-50-years-ago-1839436583.

Segan, Sascha. “What is 5G?” 28 August 2019. PC Magazine. https://www.pcmag.com/article/345387/what-is-5g.

Appreciation to Dr. George H. Litwin for suggesting this post topic.

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

 

 

October 25, 2019
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TRANSPORT: frequent flier programs

“Red Arrows at the Royal Air Show” August 2011 Image: wikimedia. Will frequent flier programs change with the climate?

First, it was Greta Thunberg who traveled throughout Europe to speak to, among others, the French National Assembly; the teen climate activist, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, declared the transport decision as a preference for lower-emissions travel. A new word came into common parlance: Flygskam (Swedish) or “Flight Shame.”

Greta Thunberg who traveled by train in Europe and by sailboat to the United Nations in New York, USA, in 2019. Image: wikimedia

Next, Imperial College London and Richard Carmichael reported to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), an independent advisory agency of the UK government, that the nation’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, to meet the Paris Agreement of COP21, must address air travel: “Flying is a uniquely high-impact activity and is the quickest and cheapest way for a consumer to increase their carbon footprint.”

As a result, frequent flier programs, both of airlines and of credit cards, might have to go. Citing data that just 15% of the UK population takes 70% of the flights, CCC report states: “Given the scope for frequent fliers to have carbon footprints many times that of the average UK household, a lack of policy in this area is likely to be increasingly seen as inconsistent and unjust and risks damaging engagement with climate action.” (Carmichael 2019)

In the United States, 12% of Americans fly more than six round-trips per year; mainly business travelers, these frequent fliers are responsible for two-thirds of air travel, and therefore participating in aviation emissions. That’s 3 tons of carbon dioxide per year, per flier. Some policy specialists differentiate between business and pleasure air travel. But 83% of Americans drive cars, and most heat or cool their homes – activities that also cause considerable carbon emissions.

Concerned about aviation’s future, some airlines are staying ahead of the trend: British Airways, Aer Lingus, and Iberia (art of IAG, International Airlines Group) announced a strategic sustainability plan to 1)replace older aircraft, 2)invest in sustainable jet fuel, and 3) develop new technologies that take carbon out of the atmosphere. (Guy, 2019) Businesses and universities are starting to allow longer travel time for staff who travel for work, so that they may avoid flying; train travel, including the Channel Tunnel, is recommended. Japan is updating Shinkansen (high speed rail originally built for the 1956 Olympics) in anticipation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Saying “bye” to frequent flier programs? Image: wikimedia

Do you have frequent flier miles? What is your opinion on how incentives in transport may change?

Carmichael, Richard. “Behavior change, public engagement, and Net Zero.” 10 October 2019. Committee on Climate Change, Centre for Energy Policy and Technology and Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-imperial-college-london/behaviour-change-public-engagement-and-net-zero-richard-carmichael/

Guy, Jack. “Ban air miles to combat climate crisis, recommends UK research.” 15 October 2019. CNN/Travel. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/air-miles-ban-report-scli-intl/index.html.

International Airlines Group (IAG). “Sustainability.” https://www.iairgroup.com/en/sustainability

Tabuchi, Hiroko and Nadja Popovich. “How Guilty Should You Feel About Flying?” 17 October 2019, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/10/17/climate/flying-shame-emissions.html.

Thunberg, Greta. “Address to the National Assembly” July 23, 2019. France. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESDpzwWrmGg

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

July 25, 2019
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TRANSPORT: Flygskam (Flight Shame)

“C-141 Starlifter over Antarctica.” Photographer Gralo. Image: wikimedia.

Flight shame, or as coined in Sweden “Flygskam,” is taking off. The movement prompted France to levy a flight tax ranging from 2-18 euros. KLM celebrated its 100th anniversary with a campaign urging passengers to fly less, stating that aviation causes 3% of human-caused carbon emissions. Recommended transport alternative for short distances: trains. Japan is upgrading fast-train system, Shinkansen, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Channel Tunnel and EuroStar encouraged travelers to take the train. Will the United States, developer of the market-changing Transcontinental Railroad, redesign tracks for mag-lev or hyper-loop?

Greta Thunberg speaking at French Parliament 2019. Image: wikimedia.

Flygskam began when Olympic gold medalist Bjorn Ferry, and others championed the movement including climate activist Greta Thunberg; the teen nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize completed a climate-change European speaking tour mostly by train, urging travelers to forgo short-haul flying. As linguists note, every neologism might give rise to its opposite: now there is a new term:Tagskryt” or “train bragging.”

BBC. “What is flygskam? Greta speaks up about ‘flight-shaming.'” 19 July 2019. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/49032117/

Elking, Isaac and Robert Windle. “Examining Differences in Short-Haul and Long-Haul Markets in US Commercial Airline Passenger Demand.” Transportation Journal. Vol. 53, No. 4 (Fall 2014), pp. 424-452. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/transportationj.53.4.0424.

KLM. “Fly Responsibly.” https://flyresponsibly.klm.com/en

Pennetier, Marine and Geert De Clereq. “France to tax flights from its airports, airline shares fall.” 9 July 2019. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/aticle/us-france-airlines-tax/france-plans-new-tax-on-outbound-flights-airline-shares-fall-idUSKCN1U412B.

PRI. Public Radio International. “‘Flight shame’ in Sweden prompts rail-only travel movement.” 30 April 2019. PRI’s The World. https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-04-30/flight-shame-sweden-promts-rail-only-travel-movement.

Thunberg, Greta. “Speech at French Parliament” 23 July 2019. @GretaThunberg. https://mobile.twitter.com/gretathunberg/status/1153940926517194752/ and https://www.facebook.com/gretathunbergsweden/

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

June 28, 2019
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TRANSPORT: Ask Alice

Alice: electric and ready to fly. Image: Eviation and Wikimedia.

Alice is a bit unusual looking. But she may be just what the world is looking for. The name, given to a new aircraft build by Eviation, Alice is a plane powered by three rear-facing push-propellers. It’s electric, and it promises to transport nine passengers, and two crew, at 276 mph (440 km/h) for 650 miles. Eviation, located in Israel, may be soon flying between Boston and Hyanis; Cape Air has ordered a number of Alice aircraft. The market for short-range air travel is considerable, but environmentally questionable. Alice may change that: using electricity. It’s also cheaper: using conventional fuel, 100-mile flight costs $400; with electricity, $8-$12: overall cost per hour is estimated at $200. The market is developing quickly. MagniX is working with Vancouver’s Harbour Air to electrify their fleet. Rolls Royce, Airbus, Siemens, and United Technologies are all working on electric aircraft; Zunum Aero, backed by Boeing, uses a French engine from Safran; EasyJet is using Wright Electric for potential flights from London to Amsterdam.

TVA logo: Image: thanks to Social Welfare Library, Virginia Commonwealth University.

When electricity first began to be used for commercial and consumer applications, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built a new town just to demonstrate the new power source for refrigerators, toasters, and porch lights. The Town of Norris was the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of its time. Now electricity will see a new era, as battery storage improves through innovation. According to UBS, aviation will soon move to hybrid and electric aircraft. Zero emissions; cheaper; quieter – it’s an answer to the environmental and financial costs of regional travel. Electricity may be looking up: go ask Alice.

Bailey, Joanna. “Who is Alice? – An Introduction To the Bizarre Eviation Electric Aircraft.” 26 June 2019. Simple Flying. https://simpleflyingcom/eviation-alice-electric-aircraft/.

Bowler, Tim. “Why the age of electric flight is finally upon us.” 24 June 2019. BBC/Business.

Eviation. https://www.eviation.co/alice/

Take a test flight from the Paris Air Show: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8rr4q717HUrQHilER6DcaQ.

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

May 20, 2019
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TRANSPORT: Channel Tunnel Celebrates 25 Years

“Chris Froome: First person to cycle through Eurotunnel.” In the Chunnel’s third ‘service’ tunnel. Image: wikimedia.

Frank P. Davidson, American co-founder, in 1957, of the Channel Tunnel Study Group, coined the word “chunnel” for the fixed link between France and England that had been a dream of Napoleon, and drawn up as an engineering plan by Albert Mathieu-Flavier in 1802. Many historians credit Davidson whose Study Group worked with Charles Dunn of International Engineering Company/Morrison-Knudsen. Bechtel Corporation, Brown & Root, and banker Thomas Lamont, to design the three-tunnel system, as the “father of the Channel Tunnel.”

“Folkestone White Horse” carved by artist Charlie Newington as a Millennial Landmark on the cliffs overlooking the English Terminus of the Channel Tunnel.

Built by 13,000 workers from France and England, the tunnel opened 6 May 1994 and was immediately named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It’s an economic, and environmental, success. The Channel Tunnel has proved valuable to participating economies (2018 figures):

Total passengers: 20,611,337

Total cars: 2,610,242

Total freight trains: 1,797

Total trucks: 1,641,638

Total trade through the Channel Tunnel: Euro 137.8bn

Source: Ernst & Young 2018

ENVIRONMENT: Economic contribution is matched, perhaps exceeded, by environmental value: the tunnel helps to collect and mitigate emissions, making the Eurostar trip from London to Paris 90% cleaner than a short-haul air flight.

ANNIVERSARY GIFT: For its 20th anniversary, in 2014, Eurotunnel added another Channel to the Chunnel (the neologism was coined by Davidson): mobile telephone and internet came to the Channel Tunnel. What should the Channel Tunnel do for its 25th anniversary. One possibility: enhancing the power of connectivity, seeing borders as opportunities, not barriers.

Davidson, Frank P. MACRO (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1983). ISBN: 0688021824. Pages: 38-40; 94-102, 296-97.

Davidson, Frank P. editor. With photography by Lilian Kemp. Tunneling and Underground Transport: Future Developments in Technology, Economics, and Policy. (New York: Elsevier, 1985). ISBN: 0444011307

Ernst & Young LLP: Peter Arnold, Harriet Walker, Carmela Carrea. “Economic Footprint of the Channel Tunnel in the EU: An analysis of the value of trade traveling through the Channel Tunnel between the UK and EU countries.” June 2018. https://www.getlnkgroup.com/uploadedFiles/assets-uk/the-channel-tunnel/180604-EY-Channel-Tunnel-Footprint-Report.pdf/

Hunt, Donald. The Tunnel: The Story of the Channel Tunnel 1802-1994. (London: Images Publishing, 1994). ISBN: 1897817347.

Minihane, Joe. “How the Channel Tunnel changed Europe forever.” 4 May 2019, CNN.com. Includes video about how the world’s longest sea tunnel was built with 13,000 English and French workers. “A shared achievement that should stand the test of time.” https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/channel-tunnel-anniversary/index.html.

“New Channel in the Chunnel,” Lusk Brooke, 6 May 2014, Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2014/05/07/new-channel-in-the-chunnel/

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 12, 2019
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Happy Birthday, WWW

“30” by photographer Claude Covo-Farchi, Paris, France. Image: wikimedia

It’s been thirty years since the World Wide Web was invented. Like many innovations, it was the solution to a problem: a young computer scientist found it inconvenient to switch computers when the data needed was not on the machine at hand. What if a shared database of hypertext links could be sent across a network? The scientist was Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and the network was the three www sequence we now see in http://www. Empowered by COMSAT, an array of communication satellites, the internet and the world wide web have changed the transport of ideas and exchange of cultures. But there are problems: Berners-Lee issued an assessment:

Problems of World Wide Web (and possible paths to their solutions)

Deliberate, malicious intent resulting in hacking, crime, harassment – (laws and codes of conduct);

System Design that creates perverse incentives – (redesign for incentives);

Unintended negative consequences of benevolent design – (research and new models).

Summing up the import of the web’s 30th birthday milestone, Berners-Lee stated: If we give up on building a better web now, the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.

What actions can we take in the next thirty years to build a better web?

Berners-Lee, Tim (Sir). World Wide Web #30. https://webfoundation.org/2019/03/web-birthday-30/

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

October 27, 2018
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Bridging the Future

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, China. Take a test drive. Image: wikimedia.

World’s longest span, China’s Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, stretches 34 miles  (55 km) across the Pearl River Delta. An artificial island supporting Zhuhai’s port joins the financial centers of Hong Kong, Shenzhen (Special Economic Zone), and manufacturing areas like Dongguan. The bridge cuts travel time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong, formerly taking 4 hours, to 40 minutes. One unique aspect revealing cultural history: traffic patterns change from left-lane driving (in once-British Hong Kong) to right-lane vehicular traffic (the rule of the road in China).

Brooklyn Bridge. Image: wikimedia commons.

Bridges have long encouraged economic activity. London Bridge was perhaps the first shopping mall: spaces along the span were leased to stores whose taxes paid for bridge maintenance. The Brooklyn Bridge cost $15 million to build. Tolls varied: it cost one penny to walk across but double that if you brought a horse or cow, and ten times more with a one-horse wagon. Fifteen years after the bridge joined Manhattan and Brooklyn, the latter’s population doubled and both economies grew rapidly.

China’s new bridge may promise economic development but also drew headlines for costs: $7 billion for the 14 mile main span; $13 billion for tunnels. The project used enough steel (400,000 tons) to build 60 Eiffel Towers. There were also costs in lives lost: 10 people perished during construction; another 500 were injured. There were costly delays (the project was two years late) and troubling scandals: 19 people were indicted on criminal charges for fake concrete. Another cost: the number of rare white dolphins (sometimes called China’s marine panda)  swimming in Hong Kong waters dropped by half, even though $68 million was devoted to their protection.

Rare white dolphin (Sousa chinensis) sometimes called China’s marine panda. Image: wikimedia commons.

How can the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge assure environmental stability? Will the University Alliance of the Silk Road and the Confucius Institute help to bring sustainable and inclusive values that are perhaps the most important bridges?

Confucius Institute. http://chinesecio.com

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Test Drive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9VOhEH4te0

Ramsey, Austin. “China opens giant bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland,” 23 October 2018, The New York Times.

University Alliance of the Silk Road. http://uasr.xjtu.edu.cn/About_UASR/UASR_Introduction.htm

Zhou, Christina, and Bang Xiao. “China’s massive sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai slashes rare white dolphin population.” 25 October 2018. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-25/white-dolphin-numbers-drop-worlds-longest-sea-bridge-opens-china/10428038.

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

 

July 6, 2018
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New York/London: 2 Hours or New York/Shanghai: 30 minutes

Hypersonic 51A “Waverider” from US Airforce. Image: wikimedia.

Faster: that’s the quest of transport. From wheel to rail, from sail to steam, from wing to rocket, the history of transportation might be summed up in one word: speed. Speed changes economies: when the Transcontinental Railroad connected the United States, travel from coast to coast went from several months to just 10 days. Two new developments may set a new pace. Boeing announced development of a hypersonic jet with the speed of 3,800 mph, cutting the current 7 hour New York to London trip to 2 hours. Not fast enough? Why not hop a ride on BFR that may fly from New York to Shanghai in 30 minutes, when it is not landing on Mars, predicted by 2022, by Elon Musk of SpaceX.

Musk, Elon. “BFR: Earth to Earth.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqE-ultsWt0.

Wattles, Jackie. “Boeing’s hypersonic passenger plane could get you from New York to London in 2 hours.” 27 June 2018. CNN tech. http://money.cnn.com/2018/06/27/technology/future/boeing-hypersonic-plane-concept/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

June 1, 2018
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Hello Kitty: making transport fun

“Hello Kitty” image by Iamzette2493, 2016. Wikimedia commons.

Shinkansen, Japan’s high speed bullet trains, made transport fun as well as profitable, both financially and environmentally. When the transport line opened, Japanese National Railways invited the public to name the new trains. Nominations totaled 700,000, making the so-called bullet (referring only to shape) trains instant celebrities and profitable from Day One, Winning train names included Kodama (Echo), Hikari (Light) opened for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. A sign of the times, Tokyo-Kanazawa line added in 2015 was named Kagayaki (Glitter). Now, a new Shinkansen line will debut: Hello Kitty. Creator Sanrio, branding airplanes as well as every form of apparel, is partnering with West Japan Railway Company to showcase regional attractions and products, also for sale on the trains. Terminals feature Instagram-ready Photo Booths. Book a ride on the Hello Kitty Shinkansen.

Shinkansen “Eva” livery, celebrating Neon Genesis Evangelion. Image: wikimedia.

Shinkansen presented another special livery for anime series Neo Genesis Evangelion that proved so popular it was extended, leading up to the coming Hello Kitty debut. The Beijing Subway introduced bar codes linked to works of Confucius and other philosophers, offering free downloads to read while riding. Attracting greater public use of environmentally beneficial forms of transit may in part be encouraged by making transport fun again. What are your ideas?

Hello Kitty Shinkansen. http://www.jr-hellokittyshinkansen.jp/train/.

Maggie Hiufu Wong. “World’s cutest bullet train? Hello Kitty Shinkansen unveiled in Japan.” 29 May 2018. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/hello-kitty-shinkansen-train-japan/index.html.

Pinker, Joe. “What 50 Years of Bullet Trains Have Done for Japan.” 6 October 2014. The Atlantichttps://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/what-50-years-of-bullet-trains-have-done-for-japan/381143/

Sanrio. Hello Kitty Cafehttps://www.sanrio.com/pages/hellokittycafe

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 10, 2018
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Hail to the Ride

Didi’s app logo. Image: wikimedia.

Next time you hail a ride, consider this: China’s ride-hailing market is already greater than the entire world’s combined, at $30 billion. The United States ride-hailing market is $12 billion. A report by Bain & Company predicts China’s market will soon double. China’s equivalent of Uber and Lyft is Didi Chuxing. In fact, Didi bought out Uber’s China operations in 2016, giving the company instead a 18% stake in Didi. But only 40% of ride requests arrive via the Didi app; equally powerful are Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Allpay. Order movie tickets and dinner along with your ride? Do it in one click with Meituan Dianping, with 320 million users. Bain’s Raymond Tsang estimates China’s ride-hailing market will reach $72 billion by 2020. The advent of self-driving vehicles may be part of the strategy: Didi is an AI and autonomous conglomerate. When the United States Transcontinental Railroad was built, telegraph communications infrastructure was laid under the tracks. Will ride-hailing vehicle and communications infrastructure be planned as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, bringing the New Silk Road into the future?

Pham, Sherisse. “China’s $30 billion ride-hailing market could double by 2020.” 15 May 2018. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/15/technology/china-ride-hailing-market/index.html. Includes link to a video on Didi’s expansion into Brazil.

Alibaba Holding Group: stock symbol: BABA

Didi Chuxing: http://ww.didichuxing.com

Tencent: stock symbol: TCEHY

For telegraph infrastructure combined with transport building, see sections 18 and 19 of “An Act to aid in the Construction of a Railroad and Telegraph Line,” 1 July, 1862. Building the World, pages 237-238.

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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