Pods and Self-driving Carriages

I'm not convinced we'll only want to rent self-driving taxis.  There are benefits to having a car with personal space: leaving things in your car such as a sweater for when a restaurant puts the AC too high, or storing packages purchased in different stores while out shopping, or simply having confidence that if you accidentally leave something in the car it'll still be there when you go back. 

But there's a possible compromise.  Design for separable carriage and passenger/cargo pods. 

Your personal pop sits along the street or in a garage.  You order a shared carriage, then sit in your pod to relax and listen to tunes, or start working.  In a few minutes a generic taxi-carriage comes along, slides under the pod to pick it up, and drives off with you.  There would be security features so no one else can order a carriage to pick up your pod from the street (i.e. steal it).  

You could order a carriage with better range for long trips - more flexibility than a normal car.  …

Newk - an Update

While trying to find a reliable way to insure secure and unique identification for purposes of tracking Newk (New Coin) creation and obligations, I realized that one approach might derive from the thought that no one can be in two places at the same time.

While not convenient for anyone who has a regular job, the system might, at scheduled times, have everyone in a region (who wishes to obtain Newks) take a walk to meet random other persons who are also creating coins.  The two would exchange randomly generated half-keys transmitted when they say they have met, to verify that they are in fact physically in each others' presence.  Those half-keys, plus the other half-key transmitted directly to each individual, would be logged as newly created Newks.

To get a full allotment of Newks, each person would have to meet at least that number of other people.  If an appointment is missed, the system would generate another meeting place and person - if necessary giving out a few bonus Newks…

Could a Minimum Income Cryptocurrency Nuke Bitcoin?

Achieving Minimum Guaranteed Income with a Cryptocurrency Suppose we were to create a new cryptocurrency in which EVERYONE who participates, gets free coins on a regular basis.   1 a day to start, eventually perhaps 10 a day.

Call it NewCoin(TM) - "Newk" for short.  

(FreeCoin is sort of taken, or it could have been "Freeks")

Declare a starting value of $1 for simplicity.  Or 1 euro.  It will float with market forces, but should not change as rapidly or as much as Bitcoin(TM) has.  It isn't intended to be a speculative instrument, nor a long term store of value. 

With NewCoin, there's no need for government involvement to establish a guaranteed minimum income.   The prospect of regular free money for anyone signing up should make this currency very popular, taking off with consumers FAR faster than Bitcoin has.  

[Yes, I know, somehow we'd need to make sure no one is able to sign up multiple times.  I'll discuss enforcement later.]


Cellular Mars Bio-bubbles

[One of my older speculations - feasibility unknown, slightly updated for posting]

Mars' atmosphere is severely lacking, from a human perspective.  Near vacuum pressure, mostly poisonous carbon dioxide and nearly lacking in free oxygen, unable to provide any decent radiation shielding.  Yet it's sufficient to support world-encompassing dust storms that can last long enough to be a major problem for any human colonists trying to use solar as an energy source.  If the atmospheric pressure could be increased and free oxygen added, humans might be able to go 'outside' on Mars with just warm clothing and a sort of artificial 'gill' to extract and concentrate the oxygen.

It seems reasonable to suspect that if Mars were given a denser and somewhat warmer atmosphere,  Mars soil might release frozen carbon dioxide and water to make the atmosphere even denser.

Synthetic biology has been making great strides over the past decade, closing in on the ability to create synthe…

Red/Green CryptoCoin

Bitcoin has some features that might be considered 'bugs'.  I'll propose here a couple of changes that might be improvements.

Bitcoin is currently deflationary - the number of coins increases at a declining pace, while the number of users has been increasing rapidly.  This has the benefit of making it very profitable to create bitcoins and hold bitcoins as an investment since they increase in value - encouraging people to mine them and merchants to accept them, though it also somewhat discourages spending them.

But even if Bitcoin becomes the sole currency for every person in the world, usage will eventually plateau and the currency will mostly cease to deflate.   With the end of deflation, more people will spend their coins instead of saving them, so that more coins will chase goods and services, which will begin driving down the value of a bitcoin.   Seeing inflation coming, the "smart money" types will dump their bitcoins as soon as they think Bitcoin has star…

Wind Power is Broken - How to Fix It

Any advocate of "wind power" should go through the “Electrical Energy, Science & You” presentation by John Droz, which very capably dissects the problems of wind power .

However, many of the conclusions derive from lack of a way to store wind energy, and I’m not yet convinced that is a dead end.

Regardless of the validity of the CO2 global warming hypothesis, we’re now politically on a path to CO2 reduction, so it makes sense to do it as economically as possible. Since there is also a lot of pressure to use wind power, we should also see if we can overcome as many as possible of the (quite reasonable) objections in the presentation, finding a way to make wind technology affordable and efficient enough to be picked up even in developing nations that are rapidly expanding their electricity production.

Rather than generating electricity and distributing it, wind power could be used locally to generate storable, transportable, useful products. While production would va…

Improving Mars Direct

It should be possible to improve upon Robert Zubrin's "Mars Direct" plan:

Zubrin's plan is good, but we could make the mission much safer. There are two main potential failure points in Mars Direct that are risky for humans: Will the crew vehicle be able to aerobrake into orbit and land; and will the ERV be able to lift successfully from Mars?

Reduce both risks by simply not landing humans in the first few missions. Instead, land robots to be tele-operated from a Mars orbital station. Eliminating the mass of the lander and aerobraking shield allows the ship to arrive with enough fuel to get into Mars orbit using the 3rd stage rocket. Even better, use two rockets, providing backup, and to act as each other's counter-balance when rotating for artificial gravity - no need to discard the 3rd stage rockets. Instead, the crew can return to Earth on the same ship(s) in which they arrived. They just need fuel for the return trip - and Zubrin's approach can be used to…