Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Networked Cars and Cosmonaut Hell

The September issue of Wired magazine is really cool. The cover story is about an amazing plan to fundamentally reshape cars and how we use them, by building a network of charging stations that will power electric cars whose batteries are owned and operated by the network company. Better Place is a strange sort of car company - more like a software or network company than a traditional car builder. They are partnering with Nissan-Renault to build the cars, and they have signed up Israel and Denmark as "beta test" countries.

Yes, countries. Without the infrastructure of charging and battery swap stations, and the network and computer software that help drivers make best use of the resources, the plan won't work. So they need small countries that are willing to support this development with tax breaks and other subsidies, with the payoff being a transportation system that (eventually) doesn't need oil. I know it sounds wild, and it's hard to see how the infrastructure for this could scale to a big country such as the U.S. (they might start with Hawaii). But read the article - they are really serious about this!

There are other cool articles too, especially the one about Richard Garriott. If all goes well this October, he will become the sixth private spaceflight participant to fly to the ISS on a Russian Soyuz. His training experiences at Star City were quite interesting (see the video on the Wired web site). You can also learn more about Garriott's $30 million mission at his own web site.

But wait, there's more: an article about Neal Stephenson (one of my favorite authors) and his upcoming book Anathem. And an article about Red One, an amazing new professional digital video camera that finally achieves film quality (4096 x 2304 pixels). A very wired Wired this month.

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