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jeffolie


Moving from R&D into production would be a huge step for these materials.


" I'm not smart enough to know exactly what will seem dated a few years from now. This book is like a photograph -- the second you take a photograph, the moment is obsolete."

"The materials industry is a moving target. And we'll be looking at totally different materials in two years."

GK

Yes. It's all about an inflection point, however.

If it becomes semi-inexpensive, and a famous developer puts it into a very famous building, then the curve starts.

Note that as a derivative of molecular science, the cost is all IP and manufacturing practices, not raw materials. The cost can drop at a rate similar to the rate that electronics drops in price.

jeffolie

Commodity prices have recently reached all time new highs. China is buying concrete like crazy.

I don't see that translucent concrete will help them build dams. If they can get past their corruption, government sponsored enterprises and political central planning, then perhaps they will be open to more innovation.

Our housing and building boom is over for now. New technologies and materials will have to wait for the next round of boom-bust to apply concrete and such. By then, a new group of materials and technologies probably will compete for the opportunities that will then arise.

GK

Surely you realize that commodities like concrete will not be expensive for ever...

We are not talking about dams, but rather highrise downtown buildings. That translucent concrete would allow some natural light to come through.

Fewlesh

Concrete is produced on such a massive scale, and has huge economies of scale, and has tremendous inertia. This transparent concrete has a huge barrier to break that market.

Transparent concrete doesn't have a large use in 90% of the concrete market. I doubt this technology will go anywhere. I don't think it will be able to generate the economies of scale to converge to regular concrete.

I prefer Rastra, or other materials that are hybrid recycled plastic formed concretes. http://rastra.net/rastracom/web-site/
You get insulation, greater strength with less weight.
Weight and insulation are much more important than transparancy.

Now, something much more cool: 3D displays
http://www.aist.go.jp/aist_e/latest_research/2006/20060210/20060210.html

No entreched market. Lots of gadget monkeys willing to buy it. Relatively low cost (lasers, optics, inert gases for the plasma)

GK

If translucent concrete gets down to costing only 5 times as much as normal concrete, it will still be used in many places where the application could be beneficial. This would still amount to a presence in thousands of commercial buildings.

Note that could save some of the electricity used for lighting as well.

Translucent concrete needs a good trial in the harsh conditions that mother nature offers. Without adequate testing, what architech or builder will risk the liability.

Fewlesh

GK,

Modern skyscapers are moving to almost all insulating window designs. Secondly, most skyscrapers use steel. Concrete doesn't have the strength to hold up the building. I thought people inside skyscapers like to look out the window? Why do they need this transparent stuff, when windows do just as well? Skyscaper = windows + steel. it's been very effective for a long time.

It would be a really ugly building to have all concrete walls that were only 10% transparent and not that many windows.

The majority use for concrete is foundations. Water tightness, insulation and strength are the needs of concrete, not transparancy. This transparant concrete has all the halmarks of problems looking for solutions, not the other way around.
Here is one of the best hotels in the world:

http://www.burj-al-arab.com/

Notice how it is steel and mostly windows?

Fewlesh

That was supposed to be solutions looking for problems.

jeffolie

For 1 or 2 level construction glass blocks are much more attractive and better insulation than concrete.

jeffolie

Learn about the Kondratieff Long Waves. All futurists must have a working knowlege of it.

A significant piece of it includes technological innovation.

GK

jeffolie,

I am familiar with the Kondratieff waves. I already believe that we are in the 'winter' phase, and have been for 5 years.

This is for reasons similar to what I described about how technology is already in a depressive phase. That it isn't as bad as people expect simply means the megatrendline is higher in the modern age, through general acceleration (which I know you don't believe).

There are many indications that the Nasdaq is currently in a very similar situation that the Dow was in 1935, 6 years after the 1929 peak. Same here.

jeffolie

I have read translations of the works, but am not sure how good the translations were.

The long wave was mostly based on data of agricultural products in a mostly agrarian world. Physical commodities in the original work comprised all of the data in the upward slope. The 40 to 60 year cycle has many interpretations. Many have added inflextion points with social, political, wars (popular and unpopular).

Many cycle popularists claim to know the "truth" about the long wave.

You can pay your money for many newletters, buy books or simply go to the library.

jeffolie

Most cycle theorists agree, however, with the "Schumpeter-Freeman-Perez" paradigm of five waves so far since the industrial revolution, and the sixth one to come. These five cycles are

The Industrial Revolution--1771

The Age of Steam and Railways--1829

The Age of Steel, Electricity and Heavy Engineering--1875

The Age of Oil, the Automobile and Mass Production--1908

The Age of Information and Telecommunications--1971

According to this theory, we are currently at the turning-point of the 5th Kondratiev.

jeffolie

Look at this interpretation.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d4/Kondratieff_Wave.gif

GK

I'd say the turning point was March 2000. Or maybe 9/11/01. So we are about 5 years in.

someone_balding

What i want to know is when will hair cloning/multiplication become a reality? There's arguably a much bigger market for that and major $$ being put into research, yet many say it is over a decade away. when will this become a reality, in your opinion?

Also, what does that mean for the obsession of youthful looks in our cultures. If, 35-yr olds who are smarter and more interesting than 25-yr olds, lets say, but lose out in the looks department will now be able to compete there as well, what implications can that have on our social structures?

GK

someone_balding,

A very interesting topic, and was already something that I was planning to write on in March. e.g. what causes standards of beauty to change over centuries, and across cultures?

Stay tuned....

Fewlesh

someone balding:

This technology will make your hair come back:

gene therapy with homologous recombination

It's the key that unlocks gene therapy. Right now, when we try to insert gene's into an already living (stem or othertype of)cell, we scramble up the DNA (because we use retro-viruses). This leads to cancer, and why we have a moratorium on gene therapy in humans.

Inserting gene's into a living cell using retro-viruses is like putting a big wrench into a running engine and trying to add a new valve. We don't have a way to stop the engine, insert the genes, and start the engine back up.

Fix this problem and we will be able to modify the genes in your existing cells to turn them back into nice hair producing cells. Maybe even make you blonde or a red head while they are at it. The scalp is nice because it's really easy to make a topical solution to modify the hair cells.

MANY people are working on it. I say it could be solved in the next year, or next decade. Hard to tell. I'd predict sooner than later. Definitely within your lifetime.

someone_balding

Thanks GK and Fewlesh.

Fewlesh - while 1-10 yrs is a range a bit too broad for my palatte, you provide an interesting explanation and a comforting one vis a vis "within my lifetime."

So basically I should hang on to Rogaine with every fibre I've got and hope that gene therapy happens soon.

What's interesting is that if it happens within my lifetime, but towards the end of it (I'm in my late 20s now), then I'll go through a phase of looking older due to balding for, say, a decade or two and then one day in my 60s come back with a full head of hair!

Interesting implications, this brings. Combined with gene therapy for facial wrinkles, and other such age-related 'beauty' degeneration, what will the world turn into?

Will older men continue to leave their wives for younger women, or will younger men in fact chase after older, more 'interesting' and 'experienced' women who now look as good as they did in their 20s?

GK - I look forward to when you touch this topic in your blog.

lee sarah

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