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Mike Reeves-McMillan
Novelist, short story writer, copy editor, book reviewer, nonfiction author
Novelist, short story writer, copy editor, book reviewer, nonfiction author


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One Nation Is Single-Handedly Inventing the Future of Transportation

"All over the world, the way people get around is changing quickly. However, it’s possible that there’s no greater hub for developing the future of transportation technology than the Netherlands.

The country is uniquely poised to facilitate this kind of work. It’s got great technological infrastructure, with complete 4G coverage that helps vehicles grab routing information and other updates quickly and efficiently. Moreover, it’s relatively small, making it easier to implement big changes to the transport network than it would be in a country like the US.

Coupled with strong governmental backing, these factors are incubating a lot of interesting projects that could have a profound effect on how the Dutch get from A to B..."

#future = #REALnews #selfdrivingcars #autonomousvehicles #robots #tech #innovation #science #design #singularity #engineering #automation #AI #artificialintelligence #cars #sustainability #climatechange #electriccars #electricvehicles #evs #hyperloop

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Good trends are not inevitable. Even the ones that stupid, heartless leaders and short-sighted decisions can't stop can be slowed by them, and even though a lot of the best work is being done outside governments, governments still matter.
What It Will Take for the World to Keep Getting Better

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Also, embedded nanotech monitoring your health.
AI powered implants within humans will allow them to control their homes using their thoughts within a couple of decades.

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As computers increasingly interact with the physical world, could malware attacks be embedded in it?
Can You Be Hacked by the World Around You?

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A sane, sensible, and informed perspective on AI.

So not much story fodder here.

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Went up north to the small town of Dargaville to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday today. She's still going strong, and I got to catch up with my sisters and my uncle too.
3 Photos - View album

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Via +Charlie Kravetz. Do you want to venture a bit further beyond the usual paths in your spec-fic?
From 2016. "Dreams From Beyond is an anthology of Czech speculative fiction freely available in English, edited for Eurocon 2016 (November 4-6, Barcelona). The anthology is free to share for all readers interested in world speculative literature. Showcasing some of the best current Czech SF authors, Dreams From Beyond will take you from the stellar pastures of long-gone mythical creatures through warring future cities and strange alien worlds to the mysteries within ourselves.

Download as a pdf, mobi or epub (note: the mobi and epub files are zipped, simply because WordPress doesn’t allow upload of these formats directly)."

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Electric planes. Not going to be ready soon, but probably eventually.
The pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the prospect of a world running largely on renewable electricity has sent research and development teams in every sector back to their respective drawing boards to look at options that might exist for electrification. Perhaps the most challenging sector is aviation, where liquid hydrocarbon fuels are the only form of energy carrier available (mainly of fossil origin, but with some bio-origin fuels now appearing).
The dependency on hydrocarbons is due to their high energy density and the challenge with fuel to weight ratio that planes have.
However, fuel costs can represent up to 70% of total costs for an airline, so the business model tends to focus on efficiency as a primary consideration.
Efficiency isn’t just about the plane itself, but about maximising passenger load, minimising extraneous weight, limiting taxiing and air traffic delays, using electricity for power at departure gates and optimising routes.
In the light of all the above, the idea of electrification in aviation is tantalizing, but there is little sight of this happening. At one end of the spectrum there is the prospect of single person electric drone taxis for short hops in cities, but after that there is nothing, until last week.
EasyJet, in conjunction with the startup, Wright Electric, announced that they hoped to be flying a short-haul battery electric passenger plane within a decade.
The concept illustration looks impressive, but is this really feasible?
Battery energy density is a key determinant and it is moving rapidly in the right direction. The energy density difference between the traditional Lead-Acid battery, still the standard for starting most cars and the best lithium based batteries is nearing a factor of 10, but lithium based batteries are still a long way from Jet A1 fuel as shown in the table below.
The difference in energy density on a weight basis is around twenty times, in favour of Jet A1.
Like an electric car, the efficiency of a battery electric aeroplane would be significantly higher than the combustion engine equivalent, although the starting point for a modern jet engine already exceeds that of vehicles...

Jet Engine Efficiency
Even with near 100% efficiency for the battery electric aeroplane, the energy density of Jet A1 still gives that fuel a factor of ten advantage. As such, it will be distance that suffers, given there is a weight restriction for aeroplanes.
I am a regular traveler out of London City Airport and often see the Embraer 190 plane, which is similar in size to the easyJet concept photograph distributed with their announcement. But the Embraer 190 has a range of over 4,500 km, so one tenth of this gets near to the 335 mile range goal mentioned by easyJet, ideal for the flight I often take from London City to Rotterdam.
So on paper, this would appear to work, but a plane with a range limit of a few hundred miles might significantly restrict the operational flexibility that airlines enjoy; for example, it couldn’t be swapped at short notice for a London City to Rome flight, should that be necessary.
Battery electric planes also bring with them a particular design change, apart from the obvious. Currently, planes land some 20% lighter than they take off, as they burn the fuel. With battery electric planes, they will land heavier than they take off, because the discharge of the battery means oxidation, meaning it gains mass. This will require very different landing gear.
Another facet of the EasyJet announcement is the desire to see these planes carrying passengers within 10 years. Given that the plane is concept only and doesn’t come from an existing family of similar planes, this may be ambitious.
The 787 Dreamliner was announced in concept by Boeing in early 2003, finally receiving certification in late 2011. That’s nearly nine years for what is essentially a new version of an existing product, albeit with some significant changes such as the use of carbon fibre in the fuselage. But the 787 then had problems with its battery system for on-board electronics, leading to a temporary grounding and eventual regular flights from April 2013.
The 787 was not Boeing’s first attempt at a new aircraft following the 777 series. In the late 1990s it started development of the Sonic Cruiser, releasing a concept proposal in March 2001. With aviation business models changing rapidly at that time, Boeing abandoned this concept and instead moved to the 787, but this evolutionary process still consumed valuable design years.
At least from one perspective, it could be argued that the 787 took over 13 years to go from concept to regular use.

The Wright Electric concept represents a revolutionary change in aircraft design and propulsion, so there is every chance that this may take longer than anticipated to get going.
It will require extensive certification and testing by airlines, airports and the aviation authorities and may go through more than one design iteration, depending in part on the evolution of battery technology and the resultant changes in energy to weight and volume ratios.
The story of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet is outlined here, and is a saga of changes and delays spanning 17 years. It is a conventional jet aircraft, but represents a first for Mitsubishi for a very long time.
A further ambitious aspect of this project is the notion that a start-up can take on the likes of Boeing and Airbus and find the necessary investors to back what is typically a multi-billion dollar investment in design, engineering, prototype development, manufacturing, testing and certification of a new aeroplane.
Behind all this is the pressing need for electrification across society, so this type of thinking and risk taking is essential.
The question that remains though, is whether I will be able to ride in such a plane from London City Airport before 2030.

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This exhibition is sponsored by Art for Change, an organisation in my city that works with refugees (I know one of the organisers).

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I have a personal corollary to Chekov's Gun (the principle that, if a gun is mentioned in Act I, it ought to be fired by Act III). I call it Reeves-McMillan's Shiv: if a plucky heroine improvises a shiv, she ought by all means to shank the villain with it. I've read a couple of Regency romances where the heroine improvises a shiv and doesn't shank the villain with it, and I found them disappointing on that account.

I also read a steampunk story recently in which the heroine, in a flashback early in the book, improvised a shiv and did shank the villain with it, causing me to buy the book. Unfortunately, near the end of the book she ended up like practically every other steampunk heroine: at the mercy of a (different) villain because she'd made a foolish decision, and having to be rescued by the men. This is what we call "not fulfilling your promise to the reader".

This article reminded me that I've potentially violated my own principle in my Auckland Allies series, in that Steampunk Sally wears a soft top hat and secures it to her ballerina bun with hatpins. She has not, as yet, stabbed anyone with them.

But the series isn't complete yet, so there's still time.
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