27 Jan

Yutu rover down for the count



“As sunset approached, something seems to have gone wrong with the Yutu rover. In order to survive the lunar night, Yutu positions itself with one solar panel angled toward the direction of the rising sun. Then it folds down the mast that carries its color camera and its high-gain antenna into its body. Then the other solar panel is folded over the deck like a lid, insulating the interior and the mast, which are kept warm with a radioisotope heating unit. According to various reports online, it sounds like something in this sequence did not execute properly, although the reports are unspecific so I’m not sure yet what happened.”

(Via Bad news for Yutu rover | The Planetary Society.)

26 Jul

World’s tallest skyscraper start is stalled

I’ve been fascinated by Broad Group manufacturing. But their epic new project is stalled for now.

No megastructure to be built in 10 months just yet.

“Ground was broken for the world’s tallest skyscraper in an empty field in China’s Hunan Province last weekend. It was a festive and audacious occasion: the Broad Group, developer of the Sky City project, promised to build 202 floors stretched over 838 meters (2,749 feet) in a mere 10 months, using pre-fabricated modular, stackable pods that require less energy and materials than traditional construction methods.

The joy was short-lived.

On Tuesday, four days into the turbo-charged construction schedule, Sky City hit a snag: according to a (now-deleted) article in the local Xiaoxiang Morning Post — it was subsequently quoted widely in national-level Chinese media — local government officials suspended the project pending completion of a government approval process designed to ensure ‘safety and legality.’ In effect, the Broad Group hadn’t obtained a building permit.”

(Via World’s Tallest Skyscraper Remains a Hole in Chinese Ground – Bloomberg.)

13 Jun

China’s Shenzhou-10 docks with Tiangong-1


China has docked to their mini-space station. There are currently 9 hours now in orbit! Two space stations!

“The three member crew of Shenzhou-10 docked with the Tiangong-1 space module at 05:11 UTC on Thursday, marking the start of 12 days of docked operations. The arrival of the Chinese spacecraft occurred without the fanfare of previous missions, with no live coverage and just one official line of success from China.”

(Via China’s Shenzhou-10 successfully docks with Tiangong-1 | NASASpaceFlight.com.)

16 May

Sky City gets go ahead

In a few speeches I’ve given recently, I’ve talked about the incredible impact Broad Group’s system of remanufacturing skyscrapers and building them for a fraction of the cost will have on our skylines, urban planning, and ability to all move to the core downtowns of major cities. Well, they just got the go ahead to build their biggest building yet. It’s going to be the tallest in the world, and they’re going to build it in 6 months. It starts next month.

“The building is to cost $628 million and have 11 million square feet of space inside, which is about $60 per square foot. A 1000 square foot apartment would cost the developer about $60,000 and might sell for about $100,000. This would lower the cost of living in megacities like Shanghai, Changsha or New York. The lower cost versus $300 to 1000 per square foot for buildings like the Trump Tower Chicago or Freedom tower means that skyscrapers could hold not just expensive offices but also regular apartments, grocery stores, hospitals, schools and other regular applications. The low cost enables a city inside a skyscraper and not just high end offices, luxury apartments and high end restaurants.”

(Via 220 Story Sky City Gets go ahead to start construction in June 2013, so it should complete by the end of 2013.)

I really think this is one of the most underlooked, game changing developments of the last few decades we’re about to see.

1) more people in cities increases creativity (due to simple random exchange of ideas, it’s a known effect), decreases infrastructure needs on a per capita basis.

2) cities are greener

3) the invention of steel skyscrapers, and then elevators, in many places changed the landscape and economic impact and power of cities. This is another major accelerant for cities.

Take a look at the city before the invention of the elevator and after. Or when they moved from brick to steel.

Then make a similar jump for this new form of manufacturing.

15 May

China and the Arctic Ocean

China wants involved in decisions about the Arctic:

“Contrary to what you might expect, the reason China wants so badly to be a fly on the wall of the council doesn’t have as much to do with its push to mine the Arctic’s trove of oil, natural gas, and metals. It can negotiate mining and extraction concessions for that on a country-by-country basis.”

(Via Why China oh-so-desperately wants a claim to the Arctic Ocean – Quartz.)

The reasons? Fish and shipping…

17 Apr

China overtaking US in green energy research

Whoever invests in it, will own the profits from it down the road when everyone else is playing catch up or buying the technology from the person who invented it. Glad to see China taking cap-and-trade and a national carbon tax seriously.

“Green investments in China in 2012 rose 20% to $65 billion while they fell 37% in the U.S. to just under $36 billion.
‘Clean energy will be one of the biggest industries of the next 10, 20 years, and we’re handing it to China,’ says Ramez Naam, computer scientiss and author of the new book The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. Green energy will ‘become a multi-trillion-dollar industry.’

China is not only spending more money on green energy, it’s also writing laws and changing regulations will help attract more of those green dollars in the future. China is launching a cap-and-trade program in two regions this June which will go national in 2015 along with a national carbon tax, says Naam. Such policies have been debated in the U.S. but not enacted into law.”

(Via China Overtakes U.S. to Lead Green Energy Investments | Daily Ticker – Yahoo! Finance.)

04 Apr

China’s Ghost Cities? Not so ghost-like.

All that stuff about ‘ghost cities’ in China?

Turns out to be bullshit if you actually show up and look around.

Just like the news articles about no one using the high speed rail out there.

Now you know:

“I’d been chasing reports of deserted cities around China since last December, and I had yet to find one. Over and over again I would read articles in the international media which claim that China is building cities that are never inhabited only to find something very different upon arrival.”

(Via Zhengzhou: China’s Largest Ghost City.)

Not just different, vastly different.

CNN, 60 Minutes and the like are straight up full of shit, or extraordinarily clueless.

18 Mar

Storified twitter exchange between Stross and me about China’s $250 billion edu initiative

Charles Stross and I were both thinking out loud on twitter about the implications of China’s announcement of $250 billion in educational investment: