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2013 technospective

 
 
 

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2013 technospective

Somewhere I read that writing cements the memory.

So.

Here’s my list of technological things I saw, learned, or read about in 2013 and don’t want to forget.

Comeback

After their Petone factory was gutted by fire, Hutt Valley car parts manufacturer Racetech set up shop around the corner and got right back into business.

Flop

Envia promised General Motors a breakthrough battery by October 2013 that would lead to a mass-market “electric car” they could sell at a profit. The deal collapsed in a screaming heap of lawsuits.

Green thing

Perovskite photovoltaics.

Headline

“Record U.S. Auto Exports Fill Ships, Help Carmakers With Costs.” US carmakers are flat out exporting cars to China. Is that why General Motors decided to move Holden production to the States?

Idea

Smart sprawl: Joel Kotkin reckons car-friendly suburbs and small cities are the engines of economic growth, because that’s where families prefer to live. (I think population stability is important, but that's not incompatible with Kotkin's ideas).

Insight

Declinism drives innovation. A good way to find out if an engineering graduate is going to amount to anything is to tell them the world will end next week, because [insert favourite doom-gloom scenario]. If they leap up, eyes blazing, and say: “no it’s not! We will [any technical proposal]”, you’ve got a good one.

Prognostication

In February 2013 I showed that phasing out fossil fuels won’t hurt the global economy. The worst that can happen is that carbon-neutral petrol and diesel in 2080 will be more affordable than today’s fuels.

Public Transport

You’d think Elon Musk would have enough to do, inventing space-craft so he can retire on Mars, and battery-powered cars so he’s got something to drive when he gets there. But that didn’t stop him suggesting Californian commuters should be locked inside capsules and rail-gunned through a steel tube linking LA with San Francisco.

Quip

“Without economic growth we’ll be poor and polluted,” Deirdre McCloskey.

Quote

“With battery people... you have to make sure that a statement applies to all parts of the sentence.” Jeff Dahn, head of battery research at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia).

Revelation

After more than twenty years of denial, the IPCC accepted that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels will permanently warm the earth’s climate.

Technologist

Leon Toorenburg combined a fleet of advanced technologies into a gadget that makes map-making as easy as point and click. He’s years ahead of the competition, but his company is not letting up. Toorenburg told me in August his company is already making the product smaller, lighter and better.

Yacht Race

Trash-talking Jimmy Spithill proved that if you want to win, you need Russell Coutts on your team. Russell got his engineering degree from Auckland University, but we should not hold that against him because he learned the basics of sailing at Petone’s Heretaunga Boating Club. Their boat was built almost entirely in Warkworth. It’s fair to say Auckland’s grandiosely-named Emirates Team New Zealand was beaten by a Kiwi team with an American owner (and an Australian skipper).

2014

If it’s half as good as it looks from this end it’ll be a cracker.

Merry Christmas

 

Kevin Cudby is a Wellington-based Freelance Writer and Parametric Modelling Consultant who loves writing about cool new technology. Email him to discuss your requirements: hello {a} kevincudby.com

 
 
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