If it were made in the future, the movie just would have been called “Trains and Automobiles”


Since, as Matt Y. points out, the future for air travel is at best, uncertain:

It’s occurred to me now and again that pretty much every real or hypothetical technological development you hear about that could make things radically more fuel efficient relates to cars. But high oil prices would also imperil the viability of airplanes. And while it’s pretty clear in the case of automobiles that if 10-15 years from now oil is incredibly expensive we’ll be able to shift to plug-in vehicles of some kind nobody seems to think you can build an electric plane.

In my own attempts to figure out a life that’s less dependent on fossil fuels – fewer miles in cars, a growing affinity for trains – I still get stumped when I try to figure out how, for example, I would take that trip to San Diego in November.  The amount of power that it takes to spin a turbine or propeller fast enough to lift a jumbo jet into the air and then keep it up there must be enormous.  Since I’m not an aerospace engineer, I’ll just estimate it at “gobs and gobs.”  Doesn’t seem like any fossil-fuel free option short of a small nuclear reactor could generate that kind of power.

So… no.  It’s unlikely that wind and solar will every be able to propel our planes like, through the medium of the high capacity battery, the plug-in interface and improved electricity transmission, they will be able to do to our cars and trains.  It’s unlikely that extension cord technology will get to the point where our planes can fly while plugged into power on the ground.

I guess this leaves us with science fiction as your only hope.  Anyone have any dilithium on hand?


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