Son of Groucho
7 Massive Ideas That Could Change the World | Wired Business | -
"Tesla. Prius. Volt. The auto industry is stocked with radical new designs that reduce the environmental impact of driving. The airplane industry has been incrementally improving fuel efficiency for decades, but it’s maxing out the potential of current designs and will soon need to come up with a similarly transformative rethink. And it has to move fast. Air travel is set to explode—more than double by 2031—as developing nations grow more prosperous. That growth could eat away at any other improvements we may make from cleaning up cars or energy grids. There are a number of ways to tackle the problem. NASA is rethinking airplane design by sponsoring eye-popping concepts like the MIT D Series—in which a double-cylinder body allows for rear-mounted engines and an overall fuel reduction of about 50 percent. (They’re much quieter too.) Smarter navigation systems could let airlines fly shorter, more direct flight paths. And small, short-range planes could eventually become electric: The Slovenian firm Pipistrel has developed an electric four-seater, with double the mileage of a similar plane. “All these technologies are converging to produce capabilities that were not imaginable 10 years ago,” says David Hinton, NASA’s deputy director of aeronautics research. The sky’s the limit. —Clive Thompson" - Son of Groucho from Bookmarklet