Our family DNA has a strong geek strand. As mentioned previously, Cyrus Field, an uncle removed about five times, was a very popular geek in the 1850s. He convinced enough people with enough money that dropping a piece of wire all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from the U.S.A. to England was a good idea. And it took a few tries, but he did it. That technology was pretty awesome … at the time. He then sold the extra cable in four-inch souvenir segments.
Now another relative, let’s call him “Howie,” has come up with an idea that sounds even more promising. He heard about the guys who have figured out how to use lasers to make nuclear fusion happen remotely. That was the news last week from those ‘where-it’s-at’ labs in California. He knows the big problem is the loads of public funds that are going into this and then the bigger problem of the accountability of it and the slightly less big problem of keeping the cash flow valves open by creating PACS to fund them … and what we can only hope is the biggest problem, the nuclear frickin’ waste.
So Howie has an idea.
Instead of polluting earth when we create energy to run our televisions, microwaves, hairdryers… let’s pollute the universe.
A little background: this relative, as a teenager, was a basement dweller who communicated with people around the world using the highest technology of the time: Ham radio. Talking to someone using a weird frequency and beeps and bops known as Morse code was very very cool. Among the geek set anyway. In his sixth-grade school picture you can actually see the ridges left by the photographer’s comb in his hair. So yes, Howie couldn’t possibly talk to the girl sitting next to him, but he would talk to her if she was in east Khazhakstan and had a Morse code key.
Fast-forward almost forty years and Howie is still doing really geeky stuff. Except that now being a geek is actually kinda cool. And he’s learned to wash his hair. He has a company he started that best I can figure out, manufactures gizmos to measure how much electricity your solar panels are producing. Big market for those actually, despite Exxon’s best efforts.
So yesterday Howie noticed a Washington Post article. The article announced this fusion milestone that actually sounded like progress. And Howie’s idea … well, it sounded like it could save the planet.
But you decide:
A bunch of guys messing around with nuclear fusion in California has apparently figured out how to touch off the chain reactions remotely. That means basically they don’t have to be there to get cancer from the radiation. Or deal with that toxic waste. For a more precise description click here.
So, Howie asked, what if we made this reaction happen in say … the 45th quadrant of the galaxy Goomazoo? There’s no intelligent life down there, right?
So let’s get the nuclear stuff to happen Out There Somewhere, leaving the waste, the radiation, the nasty mutant ninja whatevers … and ship the goods, the energy, back to the home planet. (I can’t wait to hear what Exxon execs come up with to challenge this.)
Oh, but wait, this is already happening, dude.
Like, it looks like someone has beat us to it: The Sun. Okay, maybe there are better sites explaining this (I don’t actually get it when they start putting letters and arrows into graphics … but this site is my alma mater (University of Oregon) which is way better than Howie’s (Cornell University.)
SO anyway, Howie might be pretty geeky the way he gets around to saying it, but I think he’s basically telling those dudes in California, “No, Shit, Sherlock.”
I think the cartoonists are a little cooler the way they say it: