The chart below offers an excellent summary of the changes in energy supply by tracking investments in different sectors:
Notice that oil, gas, and coal investments are now declining, while the renewable energy investments are increasing. This decline in oil and gas investments is even more obvious from this chart:
While this might look like a good thing at the moment, it is worth remembering that the majority of energy we consume still comes from fossil fuels. And this energy powers our daily lives.
During my recent trip to Japan, I used the Shinkansen, which is a Japanese bullet train, a lot.
It is very comfortable and allows to move around the county fast without the hustle associated with air travel (luggage checks, security lines, time spent getting to the remote airport and from it, etc.) Shinkansen travel isn’t cheap: the average ticket price was close to $100 one way, per person, for a 1.5-2 hour ride. But, considering other things, this was still a good choice and helped us save precious time and preserve our energy.
But, the Japanese are not staying still and, instead, are working hard on the next generation of fast ground transportation–Maglev, or Magnetically-Levitated trains.
Below is the record-setting demo of the fastest Maglev train ride so far−603 km/hour or 374 mph. This event took place on 21 April 2015:
Another short video on Maglev transportation and on the possibilities it creates:
By the way, I spoke to a young student at Nagoya University who is joining JR (Japan Railways) later this year and will be working on a Maglev project. He was pretty excited and pointed out that the first commercial Maglev line in Japan will be connecting Tokyo and Nagoya, and will open in 2028 (Wikipedia suggests 2027 for this event). In any case, this should happen in approximately 10 years from now, which gives me another good reason to visit Japan and get a ride on this new super-fast train…
An interesting subject is discussed in this article (with some references to more articles and discussions), regarding the question of our dependence on major service providers such as Amazon. Amazon is a dominant cloud service provider (see here), and lots of what we do and experience every day depends on it. For example, Netflix, which most of us use frequently (see here), is relying heavily on Amazon AWS.
The article’s focus was on the risks of having one such large cloud service provider that is, essentially, a single point of failure for many of us and for many companies in the US and around the world.
Amazon AWS is engineered to provide the highest data reliability and availability. But, obviously, these are the “best-laid plans of mice and men.” In other words, things do happen and the service goes down from time to time. You can read about AWS failures elsewhere on the Web, including this site.
I personally agree with the above sentiment, but don’t think of this as a huge issue: even the largest past accidents were addressed quickly. Within a few hours. And the main reason Amazon got into this dominant position in the first place is that the company is very good at providing their services and meeting customer expectations. If this changes in the future, other players will naturally take over Amazon’s market share…
Here is an interesting and concise (5-minute long) look into the future of cars. Most likely, it will all happen differently, of course. But this is an entertaining example of futuristic thinking.