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  • Writer's picturedcharold

The culture must be built. Dispatch 4.

‘“Milgrim looked up. The ceiling here, as white as the walls, was a good ten feet higher than it was in the adjacent space. Against it floated confusing shapes, silver, black. “Is that the penguin? From Paris?”

“It’s like the one in Paris,” she said.

“What’s the other?”

“Manta. Ray,” said Bigend. “Our first custom order. They’re ordinarily in the silver Mylar.”

“What do you do with them?” Though he already knew.

“Surveillance platforms,” Bigend said. He turned to Fiona. “How was it, in Paris?”

“Good,” she said, “except that he saw it. But that’s the silver, and daytime operation.” She shrugged.

“I thought I was hallucinating,” Milgrim said.

“Yes,” Bigend said, “people do. In Crouch End, though, when we first tried the penguin at night, we triggered a mini-wave of UFO reports. The Times suggested people were actually seeing Venus. Have a seat.”’

Sub-Saharan 12-Country Supergrid Proposed By Researchers (CleanTechnica)

“Sub-Saharan Africa has a poverty rate of 41% and 27 of the 28 poorest countries in the world are there. A lot of that is due to energy poverty, and not the kind experienced by less affluent Europeans during the recent energy crisis. No, this is real energy poverty, where they don’t have electricity in their homes and businesses and are constantly hunting for dry biomass to burn for cooking,” writes Michael Barnard. The answer, proposed in a peer-reviewed research paper, is a renewables-based transmission grid that covers over 10,000 kilometers and traverses vast deserts and the Great Rift Valley. It’s a remarkable geographical range compared to other studies.

The study modeled electric vehicles, pumped hydro storage, onshore wind, and solar photovoltaic across different countries. It considered six scenarios with varying generation and storage capacities, targeting implementation in either 2030 or 2040. Three scenarios focused on single-generation technologies, specifically onshore wind and concentrating solar power (CSP), while the other three scenarios were hybrids of these technologies. The team put significant effort into this comprehensive analysis but you might say, hey, it’s only a model. True, but there’s at least the hint of a chance that China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) might make this think real, which would be transformative for Africa, I think.

Ark’s budget micro EV offers affordable entry to e-mobility (Automotive World)

Subscribing to Automotive World is not cheap, and I don’t want to scrape their content, but I was very interested to discover this UK-based micro EV company, Ark. If you’ve been to China in the last few years you’ve probably seen a fair few different models of cheap and cheerful EVs and wondered why we don’t have them in the UK.

Ark CEO Yilmaz Bora, wondered the same, and came up with a micro EV, the Zero. “Micro-vehicles will address specific challenges in urban mobility that other vehicles cannot,” he said.

If you are wondering what challenges, try these:

- Short-distance commuting within urban areas.

- Efficient last-mile delivery of small packages and goods.

- Campus transportation for universities or large corporate complexes.

- Sightseeing and exploring local attractions.

- Shared mobility services, for neighborhood ‘hops’

The Ark Zero says it seats two adults “and a dog”. If that dog could be, say, a seven-year-old child, I’d take one for the very fair £99 a month. Not an Automotive World subscriber? Try:

Bionic Flying Fox (Festo)

Not new, but currently all over my LinkedIn feed, I couldn’t resist going back to the source for a full look. And you should too. This story dates from 2017, which I guess makes it at least as contemporary as the next one.

My Childhood Hero Is the First—and Only—Private Owner of an Object on the Moon (Robb Report)

The Robb Report, in case you are not a regular reader, is the place to go if you want to take the pulse of what the very rich are buying this season. It is generally fascinating and depressing in roughly equal proportions. Occasionally, it is also a window into some neat eccentricity that only the hoarders of global wealth can really indulge in. I love Richard Garriott. For weeks on end in my teens, I probably spent as much time in worlds he created as I did in the real one. I like the fact that he justifies his purchase (at auction in 1998) of a lunar rover, in situ on the moon, by pointing out its “innately high story value”. I have no idea why this story was published mere days ago, only his undated investments in space companies are in any way current news but take a look: this guy is living the dream.

A few notes on the culture

The culture? Is that a reference to Iain M. Banks? The Culture (capital C) is, according to Wikipedia, a utopian, post-scarcity space society of humanoid aliens, and advanced super-intelligent artificial intelligences living in artificial habitats. The culture (small c) is an informal but recognisably related set of people that align around the values of: Individual Freedom and Happiness; Growth and Education; Equality, Diversity and Tolerance; and Technological Advancement.

This newsletter is a “novelty aggregator”. Each week I’ll select a handful of things that seem to be to be ways in which technology is advancing our potential to survive, thrive and conjoin. They won’t necessarily be the biggest stories of the week; I’m presuming you saw those already. I may include a few things about my personal projects, when newsworthy. They include working as a fractional CMO (or whatever is needed) with companies in edutech, cleantech, and semiconductors, and a series of near-future spy novels (available on Amazon UK / Amazon US).


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