Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hubbert's Peak: The End of Oil (movie review)

You might have trouble finding this one. Thanks to Laughing Horse Books for stocking it. The Illahee Lecture Series is locally produced, similar to the ISEPP lecture series in that way. Kenneth Deffeyes is speaking in the First Congregational Church, as Jared Diamond did, and in some ways about the same topic: why civilizations fail (or not, as the case may be).

Yes, this is the "peak oil" guy, an engaging and avuncular teacher who asserts we hit peak production around December 2005. He sketches some of the alternative sources of energy humans have developed, as well as ways to stretch what we have (remember to turn out those lights, a 100 watt bulb is like Lance Armstrong riding a bicycle, in terms of power requirements -- per an apparatus at Princeton he remembers).

Especially interesting to me was his mention of Richard Smalley, who had recently died of lukemia at the time of this talk (Kenneth was visibly saddened). Smalley was one of the Nobel Prize recipients for the discovery of buckyballs, and had been working on buckytubes in connection with high efficiency electrical current transmission.

This project was close to the heart of Bucky himself, who spent a lot of time/energy focusing on the global grid, work carried on by GENI, at least in terms of PR. Would that the popular media pay more attention to these memes, not just back office engineering firms.

This mention of buckyballs prompted me to dig out my Pergamon Press satchel from the first international conference on buckminsterfullerene in Santa Barbara in 1993, where I had the privilege of meeting both Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto. I found a fun stash of documents therein and am uploading some of them to my "chronofile" (Flickr Photostream).

Speaking of Bucky, I enjoyed chatting with D.W. Jacobs at some length by cell yesterday. He was driving along Hwy 101 from the Bay Area to LA. His play opens next June in Washington, DC.