Friday, September 02, 2011

Peak Everything, the Crashing Economy, and the Future

I have had my eyes opened by recent events. I had thought all I had to do was sit back and keep myself and my family alive and healthy until the Singularity, when pretty much every possibility would open; even the potential for immortality.
Now I find that "future history" and the fate of civilization is a race between MANY downward - pushing factors: peak oil, high government debt, climate change and financial uncertainty, and the hope that there will be technological fixes for humanity's problems. I'm no longer optimistic that our society will be saved by new energy technologies and the coming RBN (robotic, bio, nano) technology boom.

SO, I am investigating what I can do at home to make it more likely that I and my family survive the breakdown of easy access to food, shelter, transportation and security, and become a little bit (or a lot) more self-sufficient.

I'm learning, as quickly as I can, how to grow food. I'm studying grey water manuals, getting my hand tools in order, and deciding what to do with my vehicles. Should I get rid of the ones with computer chips inside, and just rely on the old Chevy pickup?

If anyone reads this, and wants to know where I started, just do a search on Dmitry Orlov. Find his book, "Reinventing Collapse". Watch the talk he gave at the Long now Foundation, or any of the other interviews. Get busy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Plans Goals Dreams

I have a dream / goal of building up a fully capable workshop / laboratory from scratch using recycled materials and utilizing the best engineering and scientific principles to make it truly capable. I'd like to document the process as I go, perhaps making videos and writeups for my website. I'd like to go from nothing but dirt and rocks, a few recycled materials and some energy input, all the way to bio- or nanotechnology.

I recently bought some books on the topic of building a metalworking shop by casting the components in a charcoal foundry, and using hand tools to finish it and put it together. At stages of the development process, the lathe, in particular, assists in its own creation. The series of books is a set of seven small paperbacks by the late Dave Gingery on making shop equipment using a homemade charcoal foundry. It looks great. I have done some blacksmithing in the past; I made a forge from an old hibachi grill. I'm gonna do the same sort of thing again.

In addition to metalworking, I'm interested in building all parts, including electronics, to achieve a degree of self-replication, similar to the goals of the Fab lab project at MIT.

One other thing I'd like to test is how hot a hotspot I can create using low tech but large-area reflectors and the sun's rays. If this became useful, I could maybe use a big collector as a heat source for a furnace. Maybe I could melt small amounts of glass or metal.