We live in interesting times. Huge changes are making themselves felt in all areas of life, the economy, science and technology. Like a magpie I have been collecting interesting potential developments in technology. Now I bring all of these together and in a series of postings will describe, critique and rate their likelihood.
In each post I shall give two possible developments, my estimate of their likelihoods, why they would be important, what draw backs they have and how long before we can expect to see them.
Development: Fusion power
Likelihood: Very low
Importance: Important because it would open up a huge and so far untapped energy source. Hydrogen is readily available in the form of water.
Drawbacks: A fusion power plant creates radioactive waste. The plant would almost certainly require intricate and costly maintenance. The cost of this maintenance may be difficult to estimate before the power stations come online.
Time scale: At least 40 years away. Fusion power always seems to be 40 years away!
Development: Room temperature superconductors
Likelihood: Low but feasible
Importance: Important for many reasons. Room temperature superconductors would increase efficiency in power transmission, allow power to be moved effectively between continents, decrease the size of many household appliances and bring us practical levitation technology decreasing the cost of moving freight on land. Room temperature superconductors would also hugely speed up computers and decrease the cost of various peaces of medical equipment.
Drawbacks: Would probably lead to new types of weapon.
Time scale: Not for another 10 years at least. A room temperature superconductor could be discovered tomorrow but it would take a decade to mass produce it.