Friday, July 27, 2012



Where do our next economic booms come from?

The wealth-drivers we have gone through are legend: roads; rail; bridges; tunnels; air transport; automobiles; trucks; communications; publications; radio; movies; TV; Internet; energy (coal, oil, and hydroelectric power and their distribution); shipping; defense weapons, aircraft, ships and vehicles; space exploration; satellites; agriculture (food production and distribution); restaurants superhighways,super tunnels and long bridges; real estate (land development, homes, and buildings); merchandising; insurance; finance; banking; stock markets; sports; cosmetics; and sundry others. The question is what will the new drivers be if we are to break out of the doldrums we seem to be caught up in?

Obviously, there is a lot that could be done to ensure all of the drivers we have now are renewed and remain productive, but new drivers will be needed to spark yet another round of economic growth. What inventions are on the horizon that may fill this need real soon now?

My dream list includes: far better battery technology for electric cars, and other applications; small, inexpensive and safe nuclear power units suitable for railroad engines, the neighborhood or office, or even the home; clean coal power units; adapting roads to automated driving, together with the sensors and controls for vehicles; new building materials for home and office that offer ease and speed of construction, strength and imperviousness to the weather, as well as adaptability to a wide range of arcihitectures; road-building materials and processes that are superior to any current methods for durability, speed of laying, cost and smoothness, particularly where cut and fill is not a serious problem; clothing materials that improve on cotton, wool, nylon and similar fabric for durability, comfort, cost, color and style; far better diagnostic tools, and medicines for the ill that have a higher cure rate for all of our afflictions; and the introduction of superior teaching methods, materials and, yes, qualified teachers, at an accelerating rate throughout our education system.

There are undoubtedly many more drivers out there than I have suggested here that will spur us on in the future, quite largely independent of politics. What are they?

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