An Old Story, With A New Twist

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about inventiveness. Specifically, an invention that reverses pollution.

…Seriously? Wow. This is actually really hard. Okay, let’s think about this.

Pollution comes in many forms. For simplicity’s sake, let’s stick with the big ones, like air and water pollution. There would need to be a way to not only filter pollutants prior to emission, but to keep them from escaping into the atmosphere at all. They’d have to be harnessed and converted into fuel, but the scope of such a process is anyone’s guess. Not all air pollution is man-made; volcanic eruptions, cattle digesting food, and radioactive decay are all naturally-occurring processes. Also, having something like sulfur oxide replacing gasoline would likely have its own hazards. However, nitrous oxide engines aren’t unheard of. It’d be really interesting to see an engine running on water pollutants like chlorinated solvents or perchlorate, but there would be a plethora of health and environmental issues with them. How do you convert something so toxic into a working, viable fuel? Chemical reaction? Particle physics?

I don’t know.

I’d say that it’s just a matter of technology catching up with chemistry, but that doesn’t address the bigger problem: Sustainability. Anyone who’s even glanced at an article about economics and natural resources knows how messy things have gotten. Politics aside, our society runs on finite resources. Period. It’s the same problem that’s plagued every single living creature since the dawn of time: We do not have enough of what we need to survive. It’s practically the theme of our history. The only way we survive is to adapt by changing what we need. Since our current technology (including the manufacturing of potential anti-pollution facilities) runs on fossil fuels, we’d have to devise an engine that runs on something else. Since energy can’t be created or destroyed, it would need to be converted from a naturally-occurring source. Solar panels and wind turbines have taken great strides in the last few decades, but the technology still has a long way to go. I’d be more interested in a large scale magnetism-based electrical engine. Magnetism and electricity go hand in hand, but using it in everyday life is still pretty far off.

Unless you’re Magneto.

…And now I’m going to be spending my afternoon reading up on physics, electromagnetism, and comics. Thanks, Daily Prompt!

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6 thoughts on “An Old Story, With A New Twist

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Necessity is the Mother of Invention | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  2. Pingback: And you wonder why there’s a budget crisis on . . . | Rob's Surf Report

  3. Very interesting view/s. It sounds like a catch 22 situation. There are so many variables and some much at stake that a solution, albeit very welcome, would be beneficial and detrimental at the same time. Until technology catches up, we would do well educating people about what their appetites for consumerism actually do to the environment. Lets be honest, as hard as you try to be less of a contributing factor to green house gases, sometimes the difference is negligible if not non-existent. But every negligible difference helps in the big picture. I lived in Port Elizabeth South Afrca, which is a very windy place. They are harvesting the wind which would otherwise have been wasted. What a great idea. However there are factories across from the wind turbines that pump out vast amounts of pollution. So man is making great strides in one aspect of the fight against environmental destruction, but going backwards in other aspects. There is a fantastic podcast from Feakonomics Radio on a similar topic. It puts this subject in a different light. Thanks for the great blog.

    • Eh, Magneto would be good just for the magnetism aspect. The Silver Surfer is of course much more powerful and useful in terms of converting energy, but civilization would be doomed if he changes his mind or leaves Earth. Plus, there’s the whole Galactus factor; are we saving the planet just so it can be a tastier snack for him? If any super hero is capable of reinventing the world’s energy infrastructure on a reliable and long-lasting scale, it’s probably be Reed Richards.

      • Reed Richards could use is superior intellect to find a safe way of harnessing some of Silver Surfers immense power. Silver Surfer was somewhat of a genius in his own right. Maybe if they put their heads together they could solve this energy issue once and for all.

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