ADQ, Fall 2040 : Newswatch



SDI History


1958: The Advanced Research Projects Agency is set up for the development of ground-based missiles to intercept incoming nuclear warheads, a forerunner to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Program.
1972: The US and the USSR signed the ABM treaty, which permits deployment of only limited ground-based systems and prohibits any missiles with multiple warheads.
1983: President Reagan delivers his "Star Wars" speech, promising to make nuclear weapons "impotent aid obsolete."
1984: The 437 Program tests an ASAT (anti-satellite) weapon launched from an F-15.
1985: At White Sands Missile Range, a prototype laser destroys a rocket booster.
1986: A flight vehicle targets a 44" diameter sphere at 12,000 feet, achieving the accuracy required for SDI missiles.
1989: The Air Force installs a new radar system to detect enemy bombers and cruise missiles up to 2,000 miles distant.
1990: The railgun is secretly developed in the U.S.
1991: The first B-2 "Stealth" bomber becomes operational, with six being delivered to Offutt Air Force Base.
1993: Several SDI battlestations are launched into orbit. The U.S. denies all reports of the launches.
1995: SDI becomes fully operational in the U.S. and the USSR.
1997: World oil supplies begin to be depleted. Experts say the total supply will run out in the early 21st century.
2000: All U.S. and USSR missile treaties are nullified by widespread abuse and violations.
2003: The U.S. and USSR nuclear weapons arsenals proliferate without any limits.
2012: The grain blight strikes the U.S. and the USSR.
2016: The Food Riots break out. The U.S. and the USSR fight the "Short War," using nuclear weapons. 98% of all missiles launched are destroyed by SDI. SDI is depleted and shuts down.
2034: An SDI battlestation crashes in southern Missouri.
2040: The President flatly denies that SDI is anything but space junk. He also denies that it has been maintained for the last 20 years. Several radical pacifist groups are openly skeptical.

50 YEARS AGO TODAY

A team of inventors, headed by a Florida electrician, have developed a hybrid car that runs on both gas and electricity. The car derives part of its electrical power from the sun.

Doug Cobb and his team built the hybrid engine into a 1984 Honda Civic. The car has a special battery charger which allows it to recharge quickly when plugged in to a standard wall socket.

The gasoline engine -- a tiny, eight-horsepower, one-cylinder unit, also by Honda -- is used to power the car over long distances at relatively high speed, such as on interstate highways.

The gas engine can also run a generator to recharge the vehicle's batteries. Cobb's design includes what he calls a "two stage" brake pedal. On the first touch the driver hears a click, and the car begins to slow slightly. Then, before the brakes are actually engaged, the momentum from the car is used to drive a generator that puts back into the battery pack some of the energy originally used to accelerate the car.

The car's exterior is covered with solar cells that generate electricity, which is stored in a battery pack located where the gas tank used to be. The sun provides most of the car's energy.

Cobb and his associates created the car in just two months, for only $20,000, using easily-acquired parts and technology. The car's acceleration compares favorably to four-cylinder gas burners, and has a projected cruising range of 100 miles -- longer, if parked in the sun. The acceleration comes from an electric motor connected to the original Honda five-speed transmission.

Cobb has formed a company, Solar Car Corp., and once he's satisfied with the vehicle's performance he plans to start selling kits. Cobb estimates that he could build and sell hybrid cars for about $15,000. A kit would cost just over half that.

***************

Texas artist Donna Hensley is America's first and only roadkill artist. Hensley's art makes use of the bones and skulls of animals killed on Texas highways in jewelry and elaborate wall hangings that sell for as much as $2,000.

"Roadkill art touches the fear of death," Hensley told the Chicago Tribune. "Death really does, more than anything, get people's attention. The first thing people ask me is,'Doesn't it really smell bad?' They're real fascinated by the gory details, by the dark side of it."

Hensley's first work, entitled "Initiation," was a bleached deer's skull, mounted on wooden and tin crosses and framed by black lace, glass shards and vulture bones. The vulture's shoulder blades hold candles at the bottom of the piece.

At first, she said, salvaging road kill was "kind of nasty." Now she compares it to changing a diaper. Hensley makes use of any animal she can find, except skunks.

Hensley prepares her finds by leaving them in a cage inside a bat cave. There the beetles that live in the bat guano efficiently clean the carcass over the course of a few days.


Previous Page:
Next Page:
Contents: