Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Two cows

He imagined that satellite broadcasting might help a hundred Indian villages save two cows a year and understood what an impact that might have. Says a commenter at PZ Myers' place, on the occasion of Arthur C. Clarke's death. Two cows a year; now that's genius. I can't presume to say whether this came true; I don't have any data on satellites and Bos indicus. But I do have some numbers on fish.

Brough Turner likes to keep track of this stuff, and here's an actual peer-reviewed study. You can get a presentation version here (pdf). On the coast of Kerala, not all that far from Clarke's home, mobile phone networks deployed in stages down the coast between 1997 and 2000; this graph shows what happened next.

Price is on the Y axis, time on the X. Not just that, but the improvement in allocative efficiency led to an 8% increase in the fishermen's profits and a 4% drop in the price to the customer; at the same time, the quantity of fish going to waste went down from 6% of the catch to near zero.




Ericsson RBS2111.

I was given Of Time and Stars as a very little boy; I am frankly terrified by the number of people posting all over the Web to say how much it inspired them with the sense of wonder and joy of science...what future was it preparing us for?


ejh said...

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

Alex said...

(There is a last time for everything.)

Chardonnay Chap said...

Justin, how odd then, that the stars aren't going out at all: " It’s hard to imagine anything that would have pleased Clarke more than having the heavens come alive with unimaginable energies on the day he left us."

Alex, I'm not sure I understand your point about 'Of Time and Stars'. I must have read it: I remember at least three stories Wikipedia entry and some other names seem familiar. I do think Clarke was big on the 'wonder and joy of science': he clearly believed something like "this is how the world is; science is the way to understand it". To answer your question, a lot of people thought the immediate future was pretty much screwed - nuclear war/population explosion (actually happening, disastrously, in Africa)/pollution/destruction of natural resources. The future looked like it was going to be bloody tough. As it still does.

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