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Those Magnificent Googlers and Their Flying Machines

timothy posted about a year ago | from the this-corner-of-the-sky dept.

Google 53

theodp writes "To paraphrase Sean Parker: "Flying your fleet of planes using NASA-discounted fuel isn't cool, you know what's cool? Flying your fleet of planes using zero-cost fuel." Having piqued CEO Larry Page's interest with its solar and battery-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse is partnering with Google to promote its goal of circumnavigating the globe in 2015, a Green Movement take on Wiley Post's 1933 achievement."

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Much like the grid... (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#44892967)

As fat, spoiled Westerner, I am all for it as long as there's conventional fuel backing up the redeye I'm traveling on.

Re:Much like the grid... (3, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44895091)

Can we NOW put the "do no evil" bullshit to bed since TFA points out the fat cat CEOs of Google were flying on fuel that the American taxpayer was footing the bill for? If that would have been Cook or Ballmer pulling that shit the pitchforks would already be out and screams for a fraud investigation would be heard across the net, so fair is fair and I think an investigation is called for to see what other bills they may be sticking the American people. Of course since the DoJ was defanged ages ago its doubtful anybody will say boo to Google but at least it would be brought to the attention of the public.

As for solar planes? The problem is that even the best solar cells simply can't generate enough power to make it viable, the cells just haven't reached the level of efficiency required to get the job done. There is a reason why nobody has been able to truly replace internal combustion engines and that is the amount of energy per pound is unmatched by anything we've come up with so far,IIRC the closest we have come up with is hydrogen but it has 10 times less energy per pound than gas. Until we can come up with much more efficient solar cells and electric motors it'll always be a novelty.

Re:Much like the grid... (1)

bluemonq (812827) | about a year ago | (#44899621)

>Can we NOW put the "do no evil" bullshit

It's "Don't be evil", not "Do no evil". It would be ludicrously impossible for any publicly-owned and traded corporation to achieve the latter, while within the realm of possibility for the former.

Re:Much like the grid... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44899897)

Well WTF do you call their billionaire CEOs handing American public the bill for their Lear jet? fucking charity? I don't give a shit HOW you word it, its douchebag behavior and their sorry asses need to be brought before a court, have to pay ten times what they got in fines, and if there was ANY justice left in this country somebody would be going to jail.

Of course that is ignoring the truth of this country, if a poor man steals $500 he gets 10 years, if a rich man steals 500 million he get an awards banquet.

Greenwashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893005)

PR fluff is all this is.

Googlers? Really? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893025)

Amazing to me to see that a real innovator approaches Google for funding and the summary is already handing the credit to Google. If this was Microsoft or Apple doing the same thing it would be a flamebait story about how they're just riding the coat tails for another companies innovation.
I guess Slashdot is really transitioning from being the altar of Linux to the chapel of Google.

Re:Googlers? Really? (3, Interesting)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44893213)

The kids of Slashdot who were once the innovators have become the lazy old leeches, so it's natural for them to admire the biggest online leech of all.

Of course, no "one man feat" is impressive when you have billions of dollars and dozens of top quality engineers to back up your effort. Pioneers are impressive precisely because they have none of that, and try as they might, these spoilt kids aren't going to enter the history books for anything more than "largest advertising platform on the planet, and a good variant of Apple's iPhone".

Re:Googlers? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44899593)

The kids of Slashdot who were once the innovators have become the lazy old leeches, so it's natural for them to admire the biggest online leech of all.

I don't think people admire Apple that much on slashdot actually. Maybe on hacker news but not so much on slashdot.

Re:Googlers? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893305)

If it were Apple doing it we would be greeted with seven stories a day for a month about minor little details whatever it is Apple is doing, presented as if (the minor detail) is some groundbreaking new thing that will simultaneously improve everyone's lives for the better and destroy the "competition".

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44893475)

Real innovator? What innovation? Solar powered aircraft will never be a viable means of transportation, so this is nothing but a publicity stunt.

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44893571)

It looks like you just saved them a pile of money and effort! Thanks!

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44893715)

What about solar cargo zeppelins? Yeah they have all their usual known drawbacks vis-a-vis weather but it's cool if it takes a long time to ship some kinds of cargo

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44898733)

The term "aircraft" typically refers to [heavier than] aircraft, relying on aerodynamic lift rather than buoyancy. Still, the same surface area that gives an airship more power gives it more drag, requiring more power to resist weather. Now you are better off with an airship than an aircraft. If you covered the entire surface of an airship with solar panels, you would actually produce about half as much power as those airships would otherwise have. On the other hand, there is no way in hell you're going to get the thing off the ground covered in solar panels. You might be able to using one of the "thin film" technologies, but then you're only going to end up with about a third as much power.

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about a year ago | (#44893973)

Solar Planes are all ready possibly using 20% efficiency solar cells, with new cells able to hit 40% efficiency that are entering production never may come very soon. With battery weight going down it's a very good possibility that in the next 10 years a solar powered plane will be able to transport 4 people across the country. Add in the fact that maintenance costs will be less and there will be no fuel costs these planes could very easily compete with the Pipers.

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

RevDisk (740008) | about a year ago | (#44894695)

Powered glider, sure, you could make solar powered. Conventional aircraft for moving people or cargo don't have the surface area to be solar powered, even with 99.999% efficient cells. Too much power requirements for too small of a space.

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about a year ago | (#44894733)

And there we have a shining example of what happens when you extrapolate a small dataset without regard for externalities.
How about this: instead of claiming that PV cell efficiencies will climb to some magical number and simultaneously a massless battery with infinite charge capacity will be invented, try some simple calculations. Pretend that 100% of all solar power (roughly 1kW/m^2) is converted to electricity, calculate the amount of lift required to carry 300 to 350 kg (four medium sized people), and figure out just how large the aircraft's surface area would have to be.

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44898657)

"New" cells exceeding 30% efficiency have been around for decades. The trouble is that they are obscenely expensive multi-junction cells, and it's only worth the cost for spacecraft and concentrated solar power. When used in concentrated solar power, increased quantum efficiency brings thermodynamic efficiency closer to 40%, but this is not available to aircraft for obvious reasons.

The trouble is merely one of power. Aircraft require it, and solar cells need lots of area to provide much of it. Consider a 737. It's a convenient size considering it's right at around 100 sq.m. At 40% efficiency, you're looking at some 40kW, or 53HP. A 737 is somewhere around three orders of magnitude higher than that. 53HP is the high end of what you would find in an ultralight aircraft. Considering the fact you're only actually going to hit about half that with modern technology, what you've produced is basically a powered glider. Just as with gliders, they are pleasure craft, but not really good for anything else. While there is nothing wrong with some form of battery that is charged by a solar array on the ground, the only productive use for a solar powered aircraft is for unmanned and extremely long endurance.

Re:Googlers? Really? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44895385)

Solar powered aircraft will never be a viable means of transportation

Transportation is not the only use for aircraft. Solar powered planes would be ideal for surveillance, and as communications relays. For these applications speed is not important, but long loiter time and low maintenance are big benefits.

Re:Googlers? Really? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44898595)

Sure, and there is no value sticking a person in such an aircraft.

No longer necessary (5, Funny)

jabberw0k (62554) | about a year ago | (#44893075)

Didn't I just read that circumnavigation was no longer considered a moral or medical necessity?

Re:No longer necessary (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44893371)

Yeah, but it turns out the whole thing was a cover-up by a bunch of dicks.

No, it's Solar Impulse (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893077)

Solar Impulse is doing all the work.

Google is just using this for publicity for their products.Yahoo! or Facebook could just as easily been the "partner".

So let's concentrate on the folks who are doing the real innovation here, shall we? Instead of getting sucked into the PR horseshit like the little lemmings we are.

Re:No, it's Solar Impulse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893521)

Wow the apple shills are getting very touchy these days about how much more publicity their competitors are getting.

Google and government jet fuel. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893219)

It really pisses me off that these billionaires like to get these sweet deals at our expense and have the nerve to blame us when we unemployment is high.

The billionaires are getting richer and in the meantime, our wages are stagnant at best or are going down - and it doesn't matter how hard you work or what your educational background is.

Those people rigged the game in their favor and then make it sound like it's our fault. And then you have people who go out and protest to allow the game to be further rigged in the billionaires' favor - Tea Party.

The numbers ARE showing that the billionaires are getting the bulk of the pie and it's all because they've rigged the system. I went and did the right thing and went to school - a state school - got a graduate degree because more education is always better, right?! and I'm worse off. And yet assholes like those people get cheap Jet A subsidized by you and me.

Remember that when you hear Rush, Hannity, or some other Fox News/Talk Radio asshole condemn the progressives for wanting wealth redistribution and for acting on class warfare.

Yeah, there's wealth redistribution all right - from the poor slobs like us to the billionaires - and it's NOT because they work harder or are smarter. They CHEAT!

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893819)

By government subsidized, they mean that they're paying NASA's cost. Given the (tenuous) science work they're doing for NASA with thier aircraft, this is a)normal b) appropriate and c) necessary at Moffet. Does it really make sense to have a private entity at a government airfield just to sell fuel to one customer? No, hence a). Do you really want to pay some corporation a passthrough on the government's dollar when your government is paying for R&D out of a government airfield? No. Hence b) and c), that real estate is very expensive, it doesn't make sense to waste it on another fuel handling service there.

Sorry, but I manage a few flight test projects, and it would be really stupid if I had to pay inderectly a private entity to pump jet fuel at Moffett when I can buy government jet fuel there.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#44894401)

Here's how your left wing wealth redistribution works:

Politician to voter#1: One for you, one for me.
Politician to voter#2: One for you, one for me.
Politician to voter#3: One for you, one for me.
Politician to voter#4: One for you, one for me.

And so forth.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44896107)

Here's how your right wing wealth distribution works:

CEO to worker#1: A thousand for me, one for you.
CEO to worker#2: A thousand for me, one for you.
CEO to worker#3: A thousand for me, one for you.
CEO to worker#4: A thousand for me, one for you.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#44896149)

Yeah, but the CEO obtains the money by voluntary exchange of goods & services, not by having an increasingly militarized police force.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44897393)

but the CEO obtains the money by paying off the government's increasingly militarized police force


I'll declare Libertarian when I see one that actually wants to eliminate the protections that our corporatist government has given to big business. Want to cancel the EPA? Fine, rescind the laws that permit you to release x pounds of benzene per year and you so much as fart and you become responsible for every case of cancer down wind.

As a side effect once curing cancer cheaply becomes the priority of someone other than big pharma who wants to treat it expensively, I bet we'll get it cured pretty quick.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | 1 year,27 days | (#44975181)

Most of the ones I know are all about removing protection for corporations. Many aren't all that fond of corporations in the first place.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#44894423)

Oh, and where were Google getting their cheap fuel from?

NASA, a *government* agency.

Getting any clues yet?

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44894819)

Oh, and where were Google getting their cheap fuel from?

NASA, a *government* agency.

Getting any clues yet?

So what's your point? The billionaires rig the game. Government doesn't work for us little people, but for them. Government is their bitch and moving money to the big shots. Just look at what happened after the economic meltdown: they got billions from the taxpayer and we little people got the shaft.

Are you honestly that naive to think your vote means anything?

This is what happens, little person, they control BOTH parties, they are the ones who pick the candidates, and then we little people go to the polls and fool ourselves into thinking we make a difference. Sure they throw us a bone here and there, but when it comes down to it, they get what they want the way they want it and WE pay for it.

But go ahead and defend the system. Things are gonna get worse - much worse. And regardless of who you are, when people get desperate and sick and tired of being trampled on, that's when they revolt. And then everyone loses.

Left wing my ass. You've been brainwashed into being a sucker. Brainwashed into playing a rigged game. And when someone points out how it's rigged, you just call them "left wing" or some other label and parrot their propaganda. We've have one of the most unjust economic systems in over a hundred years no thanks to enablers such as yourself. And you know what eventually happened? See the 1930s, bub.

The US is heading towards an economy of a Third World shithole. No upward mobility or opportunites for one to move up.

The standard of living for the average person is MUCH better in Europe; especially in those socialist leaning Scandinavian countries. That's where I want the US to head. It is impossible for me to become a billionaire myself because I don't know the right people. It's not about brains or hard work: it's ALL connections and all of those people keep to themselves.

Eat the rich, baby! Because they are just parasites. The only people offering jobs where I live are other peons. The billionaires are just hoarding their money off-shore in tax havens. WE pay the taxes; not them.

Anyway, WTF do you care. You're just a Fox News watching mindless lemming who has no clue what's going on.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#44894875)

My point is that the answer to government created problems is not more government.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

impossiblefork (978205) | about a year ago | (#44896201)

The solution to problems created by the goverment is usually to govern the goverment, a process excellently facilitated by democracy.

In this case it seems a bit fiddly, since the US is so large and has its particular voting system, but had this happened in a smaller country I imagine that there would be an inquiry followed, in a year or two, by new laws, banning this kind of government favour to companies.

I would however not be surprised if this kind of thing is not already illegal. How much government you can have strongly depends on how well-functioning a democracy you have. With multi-party system without campaign contributions you'd have fourth or fifth parties seizing upon this kind of thing almost before it ended up in newspapers, and without the campaign contributions the inventives to favour an individual company might not even be there in the first place.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44897337)

My point is that the answer to government created problems is not more government.

Indeed, the answer to government-created problems is better government, not more government or less government. If your legislators are of the opinion that government is always the problem, it will be. Just don't vote for those candidates. Since you seem to be a guy who wants small government, I'm guessing you're part of why the politicians in office are governing badly.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44897443)

It's a shame that guy's not logged in, and that I don't have mod points, it was a good comment, but this was incorrect:

We've have one of the most unjust economic systems in over a hundred years no thanks to enablers such as yourself. And you know what eventually happened? See the 1930s, bub.

Actually, after WWI it was much worse.The 1920s looked like now, only worse. Citation:

On the day before the coal strike was due to begin, the Attorney-General secured from a Federal judge in Indianapolis an order enjoining the leaders of the strike from doing anything whatever to further it. He did this under the provisions of a food-and-fuel-control Act which forbade restriction of coal production during the war. In actual fact the war was not only over, it had been over for nearly a year: but legally it was not over-the Peace Treaty still languished in the Senate. This food-and-fuel-control law, in further actual fact, had been passed by the Senate after Senator Husting had explicitly declared that he was "authorized by the Secretary of Labor, Mr. Wilson, to say that the Administration does not construe this bill as prohibiting strikes and peaceful picketing and will not so construe it." But Mr. Palmer either had never heard of this assurance or cared nothing about it or decided that unforeseen conditions had arisen. He got his injunction, and the coal strike was doomed, although the next day something like four hundred thousand coal miners, now leaderless by decree of the Federal Government, walked out of the mines.

The public knew nothing of the broken pledge, of course; it would have been a bold newspaper proprietor who would have published Senator Husting's statement, even had he known about it. It took genuine courage for a paper even to say, as did the New York World at that time, that there was "no Bolshevist menace in the United States and no I. W. W. menace that an ordinarily capable police force is not competent to deal with." The press applauded the injunction as it had applauded Calvin Coolidge. The Fighting Quaker took heart. His next move was to direct a series of raids in which Communist leaders were rounded up for deportation to Russia, via Finland, on the ship Buford, jocosely known as the "Soviet Ark." Again there was enthusiasm-and apparently there was little concern over the right of the Administration to tear from their families men who had as yet committed no crime. Mr. Palmer decided to give the American public more of the same; and thereupon he carried through a new series of raids which set a new record in American history for executive transgression of individual constitutional rights.

Under the drastic war-time Sedition Act, the Secretary of Labor had the power to deport aliens who were anarchists, or believed in or advocated the overthrow of the government by violence, or were affiliated with any organization that so believed or advocated. Mr. Palmer now decided to "cooperate" with the Secretary of Labor by rounding up the alien membership of the Communist party for wholesale deportation. His under-cover agents had already worked their way into the organization; one of them, indeed, was said to have become a leader in his district (which raised the philosophical question whether government agents in such positions would have imperiled their jobs by counseling moderation among the comrades).

In scores of cities all over the United States, when the Communists were simultaneously meeting at their various headquarters on New Year's Day of 1920, Mr. Palmer's agents and police and voluntary aides fell upon them-fell upon everybody, in fact, who was in the hall, regardless of whether he was a Communist or not (how could one tell?)-and bundled them off to jail, with or without warrant. Every conceivable bit of evidence-literature, membership lists, books, papers, pictures on the wall, everything-was seized. On this and succeeding nights other Communists and suspected Communists were seized in their homes. Over six thousand men were arrested in all, and thrust summarily behind the bars for days or weeks-often without any chance to learn what was the explicit charge against them. At least one American citizen, not a Communist, was jailed for days through some mistake-probably a confusion over names-and barely escaped deportation. In Detroit, over a hundred men were herded into a bull-pen measuring twenty-four by thirty feet and kept there for a week under conditions which the mayor of the city called intolerable. In Hartford, while the suspects were in jail the authorities took the further precaution of arresting and incarcerating all visitors who came to see them, a friendly call being regarded as prima facie evidence of affiliation with the Communist party.

Ultimately a considerable proportion of the prisoners were released for want of sufficient evidence that they were Communists. Ultimately, too, it was divulged that in the whole country-wide raid upon these dangerous men-supposedly armed to the teeth-exactly three pistols were found, and no explosives at all. But at the time the newspapers were full of reports from Mr. Palmer's office that new evidence of a gigantic plot against the safety of the country had been unearthed; and although the steel strike was failing, the coal strike was failing, and any danger of a socialistic regime, to say nothing of a revolution, was daily fading, nevertheless to the great mass of the American people the Bolshevist bogey became more terrifying than ever.

Mr. Palmer was in full cry. In public statements he was reminding the twenty million owners of Liberty bonds and the nine million farm-owners and the eleven million owners of savings accounts, that the Reds proposed to take away all they had. He was distributing boiler-plate propaganda to the press, containing pictures of horrid-looking Bolsheviks with bristling beards, and asking if such as these should rule over America. Politicians were quoting the suggestion of Guy Empey that the proper implements for dealing with the Reds could be "found in any hardware store," or proclaiming, "My motto for the Reds is S. 0. S.-ship or shoot. I believe we should place them all on a ship of stone, with sails of lead, and that their first stopping-place should be hell." College graduates were calling for the dismissal of professors suspected of radicalism; school-teachers were being made to sign oaths of allegiance; business men with unorthodox political or economic ideas were learning to hold their tongues if they wanted to hold their jobs. Hysteria had reached its height.


Nor did it quickly subside. For the professional super-patriots (and assorted special propagandists disguised as super-patriots) had only begun to fight. Innumerable patriotic societies had sprung up, each with its executive secretary, and executive secretaries must live, and therefore must conjure up new and ever greater menaces. Innumerable other gentlemen now discovered that they could defeat whatever they wanted to defeat by tarring it conspicuously the Bolshevist brush. Big-navy men, believers in compulsory military service, drys, anti-cigarette campaigners, anti-evolution Fundamentalists, defenders of the moral order, book censors, Jew-haters, Negro-haters, landlords, manufacturers, utility executives, upholders of every sort of cause, good, bad, and indifferent, all wrapped themselves in the Old Glory and the mantle of the Founding Fathers and allied their opponents with Lenin. The open shop, for example, became the "American plan." For years a pestilence- of speakers and writers continued to afflict the country with of "sinister and subversive agitators." Elderly ladies in ornate drawing-rooms heard from executive that the agents of the government had unearthed radical conspiracies too fiendish to be divulged before the proper time. Their husbands were told at luncheon the clubs that the colleges were honeycombed with Bolshevism. A cloud of suspicion hung in the air, and intolerance became an American virtue.

Is William J. Burns put the number of resident Communists at 422,000, and S. Stanwood Menken of the National Security League made it 600,000-figures at least ten times as large as those of Professor Watkins. Dwight Braman, president of the Allied Patriotic Societies, told Governor Smith of New York that the Reds were holding 10,000 meetings in the country every week and that 350 radical newspapers had been established in the preceding six months.

But not only the Communists were dangerous; they had, made well-disguised or unwitting allies in more respect circles The Russian Famine Fund Committee, according to Ralph Easley of the National Civic Federation, included sixty pronounced Bolshevist sympathizers. Frederick J. Libby of the National Council for the Reduction of Armament by one of the loudest of the super-patriots to be a Communist educated in Russia who visited Russia for instructions (although as a matter of fact the pacifist church man had never been in Russia, had no affiliations with Russians and had on his board only American citizens) The Nation, The New Republic, and The Freeman were classed as revolutionary" by the executive secretary of the American Defense Society. Even The Survey was denounced by the writers of the Lusk Report as having "the endorsement of revolutionary groups." Ralph Easley pointed with alarm to the National League of Women Voters, the Federal Council of Churches, and the Foreign Policy Association. There was hardly a liberal civic organization in the land at the time at which these protectors of the nation did not bid the citizenry to shudder. Even the National Information Bureau which investigated charities and was headed by no pillar of New York respectability than Robert W. DeForest, it was claimed, must be too busy to pay attention to what was going on; with him were people like Rabbi Wise and Norman Thomas and Oswald Villard and Jane Addams and Scott Nearing and Paul U. Kellogg, many of whom were tainted by radical associations.

There was danger lurking in the theater and the movies. The Moscow Art Theater, the Chauve Souris, and Fyodor Chaliapin were viewed by Mr. Braman of the Allied Patriotic Societies as propagandizing agencies of the Soviets; and according to Mr. Whitney of the American Defense Society, not only Norma Talmadge but-yes-Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers were mentioned in "Communist files."

Books, too, must be carefully scanned for the all-pervasive evil. Miss Hermine Schwed, speaking for the Better America Federation, a band of California patriots, disapproved of Main Street because it "created a distaste for the conventional good life of the American," and called and called John Dewey and James Harvey Robinson "most dangerous to young people." And as for the schools and colleges. here the danger was more insidious and far-reaching still. According to Mr. Whitney, Professors Felix Frankfurter and Zacharia Choice Chafee (sic) of Harvard and Frederick Wells Williams and Max Solomon Mandell of Yale were "too wise not to know that their words, publicly uttered and even used in classrooms, are, to put it conservatively, decidedly encouraging to the Communists." The schools must be firmly taken in hand: text-books must be combed for slights to heroes of American history, none but conservative speakers must be allowed within the precincts of school or college, and courses teaching reverence for the Constitution must be universal and compulsory.

The effect of these admonitions was oppressive. The fear of the radicals was accompanied and followed by a fear of being thought radical. If you wanted to get on in business, to be received in the best circles of Gopher Prairie or Middletown, you must appear to conform. Any deviation from the opinions of Judge Gary and Mr. Palmer was viewed askance. A liberal journalist, visiting a formerly outspoken Hoosier in his office, was not permitted to talk politics until his frightened host had closed and locked the door and closed the window (which gave on an air shaft perhaps fifty feet wide, with offices on the other side where there might be ears to hear the words of heresy). Said a former resident of a Middle Western city, returning to it after a long absence: "These people are all afraid of something. What is it?" The authors of Middletown quoted a lonely political dissenter forced into conformity by the iron pressure of public opinion as saying, bitterly, "I just run away from it all to my books." He dared not utter his economic opinions openly; to deviate ever so little from those of the Legion and the Rotary Club would be to brand himself as a Bolshevist.

"America," wrote Katharine Fullerton Gerould in Harper's Magazine as late as 1922 "is no longer a free country, in the old sense; and liberty is, increasingly, a mere rhetorical figure. . . . No thinking citizen, I venture to say, can express in freedom more than a part of his honest convictions. I do not of course refer to convictions that are frankly criminal. I do mean that everywhere, on every hand, free speech is choked off in one direction or another. The only way in which an American citizen who is really interested in all the social and political problems of his country can preserve any freedom of expression, is to choose the mob that is most sympathetic to him, and abide under the shadow of that mob."

Sentiments such as these were expressed so frequently and so vehemently in later years that it is astonishing to recall that in 1922 it required some temerity to put them in print. When Mrs. Gerould's article was published, hundreds of letters poured into the Harper's office and into her house-letters denouncing her in scurrilous terms as subversive and a Bolshevist, letters rejoicing that at last some one had stood up and told the truth. To such a point had the country been carried by the shoutings of the super-patriots.

Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday []

I have a forty year old copy that was required reading in an undergrad general studies history class I took at SIU back then.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Meyaht (2729603) | about a year ago | (#44895031)

That is a very well done AC troll. Good job. On the off chance that you believe any of what you said, I've got one piece of advice for you: When the well runs dry, the survivors move to where the water is.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44897251)

That is a very well done AC troll.

Well, congrats to him for being modded +4 insightful. If I were moderating he'd be at +5, tool.

When the well runs dry, the survivors move to where the water is.

Where might that be, and how are the downtrodden to get there? History is repeating itself, fool. Read this history of the 1920s [] (required reading in a general studies undergrad history class I took in 1978, it's a very good read). The same shit is happening now. Then, it was Bolsheviks. Now, it's terrorists. Now you right wingers say "liberal" like it's an insult, then it was "socialist" when a working man wanted a living wage.

It led to the KKK, and even worse things (including the Great Depression). Read the book. Learn history, or be doomed to repeat it -- the same shit is happening now.

Re:Google and government jet fuel. (1)

Meyaht (2729603) | 1 year,28 days | (#44961065)

the downtrodden could try walking?

Great, but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44893401)

Its a great achievement and all, but only for the record books. I don't think there is any conceivable way that a the technology could ever result in a real world passenger/cargo solar powered aircraft. They simply don't have the durability, capabilities & reasonable maintenance necessary. Even (possible) aircraft with low fuel consumption high surface area like that Aeroscraft zeppelin in development probably wouldn't be able to completely power their flight using solar. If solar panels are made light, cheap and durable enough though pasting them to aircraft & cars could at least be used to increase their efficiency/range.

Boring boring boring (4, Insightful)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year ago | (#44893429)

Nobody gives a crap about some unwieldy gossamer solar-powered plane that's built solely as a publicity stunt. If Google really wants to change the world, they need to focus their resources, brains and dollars, on making the über battery.

Re:Boring boring boring (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#44893585)

If Google really wants to change the world, they need to focus their resources, brains and dollars, on making the über battery.

And you somehow think this won't be part of that?

Publicity stunt or no, it means Google is helping fund research into both solar and the required batteries. At which point they should be entitled to all of the publicity this will generate.

It's basic research and some of these "never been done before" stunts which actually help push things forward.

Re:Boring boring boring (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year ago | (#44893967)

Bah. People, companies, organizations, etc have been trying to solarize vehicles for decades and it always winds up being a reality check in engineering disguised as a publicity stunt. Oooo look! They built a solar powered car that can be driven across Australia! Big whoop. Nobody would ever use it for anything practical. Bottom line is that all manner of sci-fi gadgets, robots, flying cars, interstellar spacecraft, jet packs, etc. are all hampered by the lack of a power source the size of a brick that can power a podracer at ludicrous speeds. That is what everyone should be doing Manhattan Project style. Everything else is cart before the horse.

Re:Boring boring boring (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about a year ago | (#44894331)

As the electronics payloads continue to be more and more miniaturizable, even unwieldy gossamer aircraft become a viable platform.

Re:Boring boring boring (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year ago | (#44896659)

For one zero-percent body-fat freak of humanity. Wake me when you can pack a hundred or more people with all their luggage in it and fly across the pond at the same speed and cost or better as that of a 777.

Re:Boring boring boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44894659)

If Google really wants to change the world,

I stopped right there. Just how much must they change for it to count already? They've done more to free the web in the last 10 years than any other company or government.

Re:Boring boring boring (1)

Viceice (462967) | about a year ago | (#44895107)

Erm. Google already HAS changed the world. What they are doing now is using their success to help push the frontiers of Science, to make Science cool again. How is this not a good thing?

Re:Boring boring boring (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about a year ago | (#44896707)

Putting resources towards medical research is one thing but publicity stunts are pointless. Until a solar panel can power a fully loaded Ford F-150 for 400 miles, I'm not interested. And why wouldn't they take that money and use it as VC funding for people who don't want to work for Google. Or fund things like the X-Prize but with practical real-world goals.

Re:Boring boring boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44899695)

they need to focus their resources, brains and dollars, on making the über battery.

They already are doing that. By making Google a cool place for researchers to post their findings, post videos on youtube of their experiments and then take what best information for themselves. I'm sure Google uses their search engine for themselves when it comes to research.

Do it with one eye. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#44894045)

If they want to equal Wiley Post's achievement, they have to do it with one eye.

All fossil fuels are taxpayer subsidized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44894241)

The true cost of the gasoline you put in your car is far higher than what you pay at the pump. We simply ignore any costs that can be extenalized like cleaning up the air and intervening militarily in the middle east.

It won't be free ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44895005)

when some patent troll get their hands on it.

Not NASA discounted, but NSA discounted (1)

lobstertail1212 (3130113) | about a year ago | (#44895371)

The truth is that the fuel that they are getting is not NASA, but NSA discounted fuel. That is a slight and subtle difference. The fact is that NSA gets much more data from Google, than NASA and the real sponsor needs also to be pointed out.
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