It’s obvious: I need a technical staff. Not, perhaps, this guy …
This is what Scientific American circa January 1890 says about him:
“The accompanying fancy sketch from the N.W. Mechanic presents a popular but very erroneous idea of what is supposed to be going on in the head of a first-class inventor. If the inventor’s caput contained anything like the hodgepodge of ideas intended to be suggested by this cut, he would be a pitiable creature, never able to invent or accomplish anything definite or useful. The truth is, the mind of the inventor is rarely fixed upon more than one subject at a time. In order to succeed, he must have a clear intellect, and be able to concentrate his thoughts strongly in a single direction. He is generally the most practical-minded man in the world, though by reason of his power to think a little differently, on new lines, or in advance of the gaping crowds around him, they ignorantly regard him as erratic or lacking in common sense.” Source
He’s so iron age, you know. This is, too:
Popular Science, May, 1932
The Hoop Car
No, I need a technical staff that can invent other things. Things like:
1. The High Volume Water Pump
Capable of collecting water from damp or even near-dry soil and pumping it to great height using water tension, osmosis and the transfer through long chains of tiny cells in a process rather like breathing.
Look at this device: a central body, with a water drawing tongue and solar-collecting wings. If those wings could contain solar cells, as in a leaf, or even in the pattern of the leaf miner below …
… they might be able to pump and collect water from tiny spaces, even from leaves, or could be used to create airflow immediately responsive to heating and cooling.
3. The Rotational Engine
The seeds have a drill-bit shaped tip, which plants itself under power from the flexing of its long, hanging tail in the heating and cooling of the day-night cycle of the earth: one small flex per day.
This is a slow form of energy capture, but an effective one that uses the enormous energy changes of the earth’s rotation through day and night, effectively harvesting changes of heat and cold. Of course, you could also do that like this …
4. The Heat Battery
Most of the lakes in the high country above the Okanagan are used as water reservoirs. Water is pumped down from them for use in the valley deeps. The thing is, the water collects cold and heat, which are wasted in this process. The energy in the water could be extracted through pumping mechanisms before it was used for irrigation. You could also harvest the earth’s rotation like this:
5. The Heat Plane
A group of Buddhist monks searched for the centre for a decade. They found it in an island in this old fault line.
Forests are dark. Grasslands are light. As the earth rotates from one to the other, massive amounts of energy are transferred in the form of wind. One could plant strategically and farm that wind. One could also control snow capture and release in this way, and extend the energy potential of winter. Imagine, controlling floods without damming rivers. Ah, but we’re talking of technical devices today. Well, we could scale this down …
6. The Heat Face
Grass Splintering Concrete
This pour of cement in a parking lot (a practice of redi-mix concrete companies flushing out their drums on a parking lot after delivering a load to a building site) has become a favoured site of grasses. If this material, or indeed any sidewalk material, was developed to harvest either the sun’s heat or the difference between the sun’s heat and shadow, as it does passively today, huge amounts of useful energy could be gathered, transferred, or stored. However, before we get too technical, we should remember this:
7. Energy Crystalization
Don’t think: Grass. Think: energy crystals. Is it not storing time, in the form of starch, in those seeds? What’s more:
8. Energy Concentrators
9. Energy Transmitters
…if those little animals migrate, they are effectively moving energy from one place to another, where it can be gathered. In another example, the sockeye salmon of the Okanogan River gather the energy of the sun in the North Pacific Ocean, and carry it up the Columbia River to the grasslands around McIntyre Bluff, in the old bed of the glaciers.
Which is the greater technology: dam? or fish?
Probably the fish. And what does a salmon do? It flows down with a river to the sea, it gathers energy, and it brings it back. We have ignored that. I mean, the most efficient way to use that energy is to eat the fish, and people did that for 10,000 years before other people started thinking they could harvest more fish and sell them. After that, things went all wrong, but now, now, could we not release millions of small generators into the rivers, which would capture river energy on their way downstream? Could they not be netted at river mouths, drained of energy, and released to make the journey again? Could we not do that with ocean currents and tides? Why dam the rivers, when the flow is already there? With the dams gone, could we not also bring back the fish? But why stick with water?
10. Wind Riders
Why does a wind energy generator have to stay in one place? What if it harvested the lightest puffs of wind?
Salsify Seeds, Ready for the Air
After a ride on the energy of the wind, they collect just as water does, in channels. Not only that, but they catch on leaves and flowers everywhere. They can, in other words, be combed or netted from the air, and the collision of wind-borne sail and net transfers energy, all at once. Using a device like the needle-and-thread grass, it should be harvestable.
You see how that works? You don’t generate energy. You capture it, move it, and harvest it. Still, look at that seedhead again…
11. The Wind Sphere
Tiny filaments, webbing convex dishes, and delivering captured energy, in whatever form, to a central collector. If a device were fashioned like this, from which the filaments were not removed by the wind, but merely caught it, or caught the light, then it could draw energy into a grid. As the plant has arranged it, it goes the other way: from the central collector outwards, which leads us to:
Or some other chemical could be stored in a stable form like this, or, if you wanted to look at it another way, time could be stored in this fashion. That is, of course, what seeds do:
13. Time Storage and Travel
Arrow-Leafed Balsam Root Seeds, A Syilx Crop
They store three months of sun through three seasons, and then release it as life. That is actually a reversal of the entropy of time. That is time travel.
That too could be used. No, this is not this kind of time travel:
Time Cheating is More Like It
I mean, the harvesting of time, its storage in a new form, and its release as another, with the net effect of stopping entropy. The thing is, this is not time travel for an individual. It is time travel for a collective, for a species, let’s say. Intriguingly, the Syilx, the first people around this place after the glaciers, used such technology to stop time. Intriguingly, the US Calvary, the Methodist settlers, and the Hudson’s Bay Company and California Gold Rush men, used such technology to cheat time and draw a profit from these processes. In other words, they increased entropy by drawing up on the vast store of stored time in the plant stuffs of the hills and the salmon of the rivers. They withdrew all the time from the bank, at once. Now the bank is crashing. It is time to invest in it again.
When such time capsules fall and roll away with gravity …
14. Gravity Harvesters
Ponderosa Pine Cones on the Move
… they are actually harnessing it. What if they were smaller, and carried up on the wind by wind-borne sails powered by solar energy, which then fell again when the earth turned away from the sun, harvesting gravity on their way down? Or if the sails were designed to decay after so many minutes or hours in the light? They could be gathered up, discharged of stored energy and released again. Or what about harvesting gravity like this:
15. Run of the Drain Hydro
This drain could be harvested by being diverted through a high grassland wetland, where it could be cropped, or its gradient can be used for a small hydroelectric turbine. What’s more …
16. Renewable Hydro
Water Wheel, Cordoba Source
This device uses the gravity created by the rotation of the earth to power a wheel. It can also be used to lift water against that gravity. In other words, by this method, you could passively lift water to great height, and then store that energy and harness it all at once.
Shorts Creek, Fintry
Over a century ago, these falls powered pressurized water and electrical systems.
You could even repeat the process, until the water that reached the valley floor was stilled, like this…
Ponderosa Pine, Stopping Water in Its Tracks
Note the deer trail that continues past it.
17. Climate Creation.
You could even pipe the water collected through rock, to release it where you wished, generating power along the way, or…
Natural Spring, Spences Bridge
Who needs a greenhouse.
…creating site-specific microclimates (or cooling houses.) If you wanted, you could pour it into a device like this…
18. Reverse Pump
Retaining Wall, The Rise, Vernon
Most pumps lift water. This one draws water downward, with gravity, through life, and the sun. The life and the sun slow the water’s progress, allowing for full utilization on its way down.
Crops grown on the face of such a pump would be easy to harvest. Soil compaction would be zero and transportation (the street at the bottom) would be a snap.
19. Mechanical Hydro
Neuthal, Zurich Overland, Switzerland. A stream stripped of gravity by a standard waterwheel about three hundred metres away, is harvested again by a waterwheel in this structure. Its energy is not translated into electricity but mechanical force, which is transferred by means of cables …
…back to the factory, where the cable sheds its energy to a system of gears and pulleys. There are lots of ways to move energy: steam, electricity, water, and cables are just a few. But what is energy? Yes, it is force — the means to do work. It’s also a more tenuous but equally powerful thing, a kind of spirit, like this.
20. Food for the Winter, for Both Body and Soul
Garlic, Gallagher Lake
Not just a product of agricultural industry but a spiritual substance that delights and sustains people by its taste and smell alone. All food is like that — some more than others.
That, too, is technology, as is this …
Joy in colour, balance and design gives humans energy and inspires them towards sustaining and intensifying experience, which might mean simply sharing it. Without that, without all of that, we have this …
Wasted Water, Wasted Earth
There is a simple word for that: death.
Well, there you have it. That’s 21. There are dozens more. As you can see, I come from a long line of agricultural fiddlers. There is so much we can do, while at the same time adding life to the planet rather than subtracting it. It’s all technology, and it’s all art. Science owns a small corner of it. Don’t let the gene-tech boys and girls tell you any different. I could sure use an inventor, though. I can observe things. I need someone with fiddly fingers. Not this guy, though …
I think he’s trying to look like Oscar Wilde, but I could be wrong.
Here’s Nikolai Tesla, with a similar pose:
Hey, maybe it’s the Hamlet look?
And what do I have? Just a happy garden gnome with his grandfather’s hair…
If nothing else, think of this: technology does not have to invade the earth. More on that shortly.