For my Technology in Society and Culture…

For my Technology in Society and Culture class, today we (well, the class; the professor was nowhere to be seen) went to the NCSU Solar Home for a tour on green technology. (If I were feeling argumentative, I would wonder why we’re focusing so much on peak oil and green tech in a sociology/anthropology class, at the very least without studying past systems as a way of comparing. But, no we just study whatever random bricolage of technology-related crap he wants. But I’m not in that mood, so I’m not going to.)

So, the Solar Home. A house built around maximizing solar energy: built facing true South so it gets plenty of sun, heated passively (sun shining through the windows) and actively (sun hitting solar cells), geothermal water circulation system, the whole thing. The tour guide, who owns and lives in the house, seemed very knowledgeable, talking about 5.3 kilowatts here (actually, now that I think about it, she kept saying “5.3 K-W”…) and fuel cells there and hydrogen this and photovoltaic that.

But towards the end of the tour, she started talking about applications of this technology and mentioned putting solar cells on airplanes so they could get that sweet sunlight at cruising altitude, above the clouds and much of the atmosphere. Makes sense. According to her, they can stay up for days like that. “They’re basically doing the same thing as the international space station,” she continued.

Say what? I’m sure she means well, but it’s hard to take her seriously as a scientific resource when she confuses airplanes and orbital installations. When you’re advocating technology that will revolutionize society, you might want to try a little harder to keep your credibility.

Still, though. Cool house.

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