Around Sand Hill Road you see lots of odd books under people’s arms. It’s an unusual location with the SLAC on one side of the street and the rows of 1980s styled venture capital offices on the other; while both sides are technically tech, the workers of the area tend to have very different ideas of their customer’s needs and for their own personal goals.
Last week at a little table outside the local’s bakery I saw a person with a coffee and copy of the book Doomsday Has Been Cancelled, and I couldn’t figure out which side of Sand Hill he came from. So, what the heck, this complete stranger said to him: ‘that’s a tough thing to believe these days’ and he said ‘it was tough back when it was written too.’ I had a minute so I asked him what the book was about and he said ‘some things that might be actually possible, technically anyway, if people wanted them.’ And he went on, talking about how the word Crisis isn’t exactly used today to fit its original meaning, and he spoke of options in the book and in some others he had been reading lately.
And then he said ‘have you ever considered how important energy is to (and he emphasized this word) Everything?’ He asked me, kind of shyly, just that side of sheepishly, in the way many things that are personally important to people seem to be brought up these days, if I had ever considered that the fuels we use for everything in every minute of every single day are just batteries for a small amount of photons that made it to the Earth millions of years ago? And then, looking around like to see if someone else was watching us, he asked ‘what if we didn’t have to wait millions of years to charge the batteries and what if we could not get stuck with all of the used up batteries from watches to Teslas filling up landfills and eventually leaking into drinking water supplies?’
Now I looked around for the candid camera. But I took the chance… ‘Like Solar Power from satellites?’
The look on his face. He wasn’t alone in knowing about this strange idea. And so he said that he had started looking into it after someone years back had sent him a link to a youtube video. Was funny that admitting “youtube” visibly put him on edge, that’s of course the place where lots of crazy stupid ideas are floating. But as he described this particular video, I opened my phone and put in the google “Youtube SSI High Frontier Concept Overview” and I handed him my screen. He said ‘that’s the one! how did you get to that?’