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Entries in solar power (18)


GM Car of the Future (1962)

The advertisement below ran in the Official Souvenir Program for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. The ad proclaims that General Motors is, "setting a course for the future" by showcasing the "fully functional Firebird III space-age car." The full text of the ad is transcribed below.

Mobility - the easiest, fastest, surest kind possible - turns your world of tomorrow into an accessible and amicable place. The fret is removed from traffic and it is fun, not frustrating, to take short jaunts on vehicles which float along on a pad of air or to Sunday-drive down automatic highways.

The General Motors Corporation exhibit in the Coliseum presents a preview of the fascinating changes coming in the automobile industry. You see now the full-size, experimental Firebird III. This pace-setter for the car of the future, proven in road tests, is thrust with a turbine engine. Its simple control stick accelerates, brakes and turns. Push the control forward and the Firebird III moves ahead; swing it left or right and the wheels turn; pull back and it brakes. The electronic guide system can rush it over an automatic highway while the driver relaxes.

Although the Firebird II stands as the center attraction in the exhibit, you see other displays of the future. There is a model of the automatic highway, prototype of a stretch of experimental roadway which was built in New Jersey to demonstrate how electronics can steer cars and even stop them. This quarter-mile stretch of road has been received enthusiastically by officials, who predict that electronic mechanisms in the future can eliminate routine driving chores and make long distance highway travel safer and easier.

The General Motors exhibit includes solar energy demonstrations and you may test your skill with sun-powered guns which activate parts of the display. Yet another exhibit reveals the principles of ground effect machinery, where objects are moved along a flat surface on a cushion of air. In the next century, more people will be going more places in fascinating new vehicles . . . and they'll go safely.

See also:
Magic Highway, U.S.A. (1958)
Seattle World's Fair Official Souvenir Program (1962)
Century 21: Space Needle Designs (1962)
The Future World of Transportation


Solar Power of 1999 (1956)

The fascinating book 1999: Our Hopeful Future by Victor Cohn explains in chapter nine how the world will harness the power of the sun. Below is an excerpt from chapter nine titled, "We Hitch Up the Sun."

The sun rose as usual on January 10, 1999, and went to work.

In a great, sun-drenched desert, a thousand acres of collector plates soaked up the sun's heat, intensified it and relayed it to boilers. This was the energy source for an electric power plant that operated a great sea-water purification works a few miles away. The sea water irrigated the desert.

In a field, winding rows of plastic-topped trenches soaked the sun's light into a deep green liquid that turned thicker almost as you watched. This was an algae farm using the sun's energy to grow food.

On millions of roof tops, glass collectors absorbed sun heat, to be stored in tanks. These were home-heating plants without other fuel. The world of 1999 had begun to tap the greatest energy source, the daily rays of the sun, and with this golden treasure was lighting cities and making deserts bloom, milking cows and baking sunshine cakes.

See also:
Solar Energy for Tomorrow's World (1980)
Delicious Waste Liquids of the Future (1982)
Sea City 2000 (1979)


Like Earth, Only in Space .... and with monorails (1989)

This image is featured in the 1989 book Checkerboard Press Computers and Electronics (Encyclopedia Series). The caption appears below.

Space colonies are now being considered seriously by some people. The one in the picture [above] is controlled throughout by a big central computer. The colony is positioned 240,000 miles (350,000km) from Earth and about the same distance from the Moon. It consists of a great tube 430 feet (130m) across. This tube forms a ring over a mile in diameter. The tube houses the main living and agricultural areas and can support up to 10,000 people. The big wheel rotates once a minute. This makes an artificial gravity on the surface of the tube away from the center. "Up" is towards the hub and "down is away from it.

Sunlight is reflected from huge mirrors that can be adjusted to give as much or as little sunlight as required in different parts of the tube. The sunlight also gives the energy to drive the generators which produce the colony's electricity.

Long "spokes" attach the tube to a central hub. At the hub there are docking ports for spaceships and vast antenna arrays for all the colony's communications with Earth.

See also:
Space Colony Pirates (1981)
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)
Space Colonies by Don Davis
More Space Colony Art (1970s)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)


Starfire (Part 6, 1994)

Part 6 of the Sun Microsystems video Starfire shows how a presentation can be prepared and presented (to floating heads).

I apologize for the glitchy video. Parts 7 and 8 should look much better.

See also:
Starfire (Part 1, 1994)
Starfire (Part 2, 1994)
Starfire (Part 3, 1994)
Starfire (Part 4, 1994)
Starfire (Part 5, 1994)
Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future (1993)


Space Colony Possible (The News, 1975)

On August 22, 1975 The News (Frederick, Maryland) ran an article titled, "Space colony possible," which advocated the building of a space city. Below are excerpts from the piece.

A $100 billion city in space that would house 10,000 people and beam solar energy to earth could be a reality within 20 years, according to a select team of scholars.

The scholars said a space colony, once built, could transmit limitless solar energy to earth 24 hours a day.

As envisioned, the space colony would resemble a mile-wide wheel and have 10,000 inhabitants living in the outer rim. The vessel would orbit between the earth and moon, some 280,000 miles out in space.

Food for all residents would grow on 111 acres, with crops bathed in continuous sunlight. To maintain gravity similar to earth's, the craft would make one complete revolution every minute.

Residents would have a half-mile long landscaped vista and pure water would be recycled from sewage. The air would be cleaner than that in any city on earth because of constant filtering.

[Dr. Gerard] O'Neill said construction could begin now, using present technology, and the first colony could be functional by the early 1990s.

See also:
Delicious Waste Liquids of the Future (1982)
Robot Rebellion (1982)
Space Colony Pirates (1981)
Sport in Space Colonies (1977)
Space Colonies by Don Davis
More Space Colony Art (1970s)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Challenge of Outer Space (circa 1950s)


Delicious Waste Liquids of the Future (1982)

The 1982 book Our Future Needs (World of Tomorrow) by Neil Ardley envisions a world where liquid waste is converted into food.

A food factory of the future serves a desert city. Pipes bring waste liquids from industries in the city to the factory, where they are converted into foods by bacteria in tanks. Solar panels capture the Sun's rays to provide heat for the food-manufacturing processes in the factory.


1980-1990 Developments (1979)

The last two pages of the 1979 book Future Cities: Homes and Living into the 21st Century describes what will happen over the course of "the next 120 years." Naturally, we'll begin with the 1980s.


-Satellites in Earth orbit beam educational programmes to many countries in the underdeveloped Third World.
-Wind turbines - modern windmill designs - are developed which can supply electricity economically.
-Domestic computers run household equipment. Electronic chores include keeping accounts, ordering supplies, suggesting menus, cooking meals and keeping a diary for the people living in the house.
-Newspapers supplied to homes either via a computer print-out or in electronic form over the TV screen.
-First domestic robots used as household 'slaves' to do simple tasks.
-Terrorists steal nuclear warhead from military base. Threaten to blow up a city unless their demands are met. General realization of the appalling risks of poor security promote measures to keep atomic weapons under proper 'lock and key.'
-Nuclear fuel detector-satellite placed in orbit to maintain a watchful electronic eye on the world's supplies of atomic material.
-Good insulation and other energy-saving features built into all new houses.
-Solar panels in general use to heat water in homes. Solar-electric cells used to generate electricity for some uses, such as recharging batteries.
- World tree planting programme begun. Aim is to restore the oxygen-producing capacity of the world's plant life. Centuries of being chopped down have reduced the world's forest areas to a fraction of their former size. Other benefits include the production of wood-alcohol to use as a substitute for petrol in cars.