The Improbable Origins of PowerPoint

Walking into the hall to deliver the speech was a “daunting experience,” the speaker later recalled, but “we had projectors and all sorts of technology to help us make the case.” The technology in question was PowerPoint, the presentation software produced by Microsoft. The speaker was Colin Powell, then the U.S. Secretary of State. Powell’s…

Net States Rule the World; We Need to Recognize Their Power

“We reject: kings, presidents, and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code.” So declared MIT professor David D. Clark in 1992. Twenty-five years later, this sentiment mirrors the global zeitgeist more than ever. The American public distrusts government in record numbers. Other nation-states disdain the US to world-historical degrees. A non-nation-state, Facebook, just topped 2 billion users—more than a…

We are entering PV3.0 and High-efficiency Monocrystalline Solar Panel Dominance

The photovoltaic industry is undoubtedly at a turning point. High margins and low costs have made solar module technology cost-competitive in the energy economy and created a race-to-the-bottom phenomenon among panel manufacturers. While low costs are great for short-term market expansion, this focus on cheap materials compromises the quality and long-term reliability of modern solar…

The Mathematics of Interstellar Space Travel: Voyager

One of the key equations needed to understand spacecraft navigation is Newton’s inverse square law of gravity: We learned this in Physics 101 in the university as engineers. Essentially, the force measured (F) is gravity’s (G) work attracting two masses (m1, m2) that weakens/strengthens as the square of the distance between those two bodies changes.…

Autonomous Cars Someday, Autonomous Transport Now

The autonomous car is getting lots of press, and generating considerable controversy, for its potential to replace humans behind the wheel. But it remains only a potential; the technology is not robust enough yet to start building a significant presence on the world’s highways and byways. But there’s a subset of autonomous cars that is…

How Hybrid Electric Vehicles Can Pay Off

While other alternatives have emerged, including plug-in hybrids (PHEV) and the extended range electric vehicle (EREV) subset, full electrics (EVs), hydraulic hybrids in the commercial vehicle sector, and other alternative fuel combustion engine vehicles; hybrids remain the predominant alternative option with the Prius selling more than 100,000 vehicles per year over the last seven years,…