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I have been keeping an eye on a number of different technologies around the world of the past decade or so and it makes my eyes water.
No, I'm not crying for a good reason, I'm crying because I see so much money being wasted on things that were never, ever going to work.
Here in New Zealand we've had hour share of ridiculously stupid technologies and the Martin Jetpack springs to mind as one of the most recent. However, when you look at the global stage, our idiocy pales into insignificance.
A concept that has soaked up huge sums of money in the USA, the Netherlands, France and a raft of other countries is the "solar roadway".
Some bright spark came up with the idea that if we could replace good old tar and stone chip with a textured solar panel, all that space represented by the word's roads could actually be put to good use, generating clean, renewable energy.
I won't bore you with all the science but if you want to see this solar roadway concept totally debunked, take a look at this video by Dave Jones of the EEVBlog.
Another online critic of solar roadways is Thunderf00t and here is just one of his videos explaining the folly of it all.
The crazy thing is that otherwise educated people seem happy to buy into the ridiculous claims being made for these roadways and governments are throwing huge sums of cash into their development -- despite the fact that "educated" folk the world over have proven that this is a total waste of time.
Perhaps now we can see why national and global economies go from boom to bust in a regular cycle -- the people in charge are two sandwiches short of a picnic when it comes to seeing the obvious.
But wait, there's more...
A number of "water from air" projects have also been both crowdfunded and supported by government funding. These projects claim that they can use sunlight to extract the water vapour from the air around us, thus producing fresh drinking water from the air no matter where you are (at sea, in a desert or anywhere).
One of the most high-profile of these "water from air" projects was the crowd-funded Fontis self-filling water bottle. Both Dave Jones and Thunderfoot both debunked this scam quite some time ago with videos like this and now, as the science predicted, they've been unable to deliver on the promise and folded, taking all their investors' money with them.
It seems that the technology field is littered with projects like these... where some "slick willy" type has come along and pitched a "too good to be true" story to the public, whereupon the media has hyped it up and publicised it (clicks, clicks, clicks -- not properly researched reporting). In the wake of all the hype, individuals, investment funds and governments soon buy into the dream and throw lots of money at it, despite warnings from scientists and those who have done the math to prove that it's impossible.
Weeks, months and years go by, often with extra rounds of funding from government sources, only for the inevitable failure and total loss of invested money to spell the end of the project.
But why are people with money so damned stupid?
Why are governments, to this day, still throwing money at lunatic ideas such as solar roadways?
And now we've got otherwise-sane people throwing money into nutzo ideas like Tesla's Hyperloop (once again, despite the science). Search for videos pointing out the massive flaws in that idea.
It beggars belief that the world is run by people who are so stupid and who seem to consider science as "unimportant" when making these decisions.
It's starting to look as if the quickest way to make a fortune is to become a writer of fiction -- coming up with the idea for a fantastic new piece of technology, issuing a few well-crafted press releases, knocking up some slick 3D renderings then sitting back and waiting for the money to flow in. Leave it a year or so then say "sorry, didn't work out", before retiring with all that money to the Maldives or some other sunny place with no extradition treaty.
It sure beats robbing banks or stealing cars... right?
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