Future Views Magazine
University Fees and Debt
Who is the main beneficiary of university education, the student, the employer or the nation?
Units of measurement and the end of space.
Six Point Pollution Solution
Part One: "Flowers In The City"
brighten our cities with many tiny garden?
Six Point Pollution Solution
Part Two: "The Transformation of Waste"
Instead of landfill, waste could be a valuable resource.
Hidden blueprints for the new cities of the sea.
Arabian Mights & Maybes
Plans for the future carefully copied by Brenda.
Arabian Might May Raise The Sea
Desalinated reverse rivers powered by nature
The Unpublished Manuscript
A hint as to what may lie in the future.
A curious twist to the laws of perception.
The Slop House
an alternative to the traditional public house
You Are A Winner
A willing victim is the best victim.
Maybe our prisons are not as wonderful as all that.
The Bright New Pants Manifesto
The hilarious solution to invevitable change
A raging argument is discovered
Arabian Might May Raise The Sea
Brenda teases with hints of secrets contained in her little black book
Present: Brenda, Euan, Tosh, Eta
After a long trek into the mountains by camel and mule we sat around an open fire cradling hot drinks and glasses of colourless hootch (it had quite a kick). The mountains soared behind us and the lights of villages and towns of Kyrgyzstan twinkled between the peaks in the valleys below.
I joined the others with a bowl of soup as Brenda continued explaining the contents of her mysterious little black book.
"What they are planning is to build a semi-circular tunnel a hundred feet wide by fifty feet high," she said, taking a folding page from a pocket in the back of the book. "Once completed they'll remove the barrier between it and the sea."
She unfolded the very fine A4 sheet round for us to examine. It showed a semi-circular pipe, flat side uppermost, protected by a four-layer mesh.
"Creatures will be prevented from entering by a revolving mesh, the outermost holes are nine inches, the next six inches, the third three inches and the last, half an inch. The strands between the holes are angled like propeller blades, the movement of the sea slowly turns the wheel. When exposed to the air, sun and wind clean the mesh." Brenda pointed to the drawing to show how the mesh rose high above the stone chamber.
"Sea water floods the cavern which tapers to a twenty foot wide aperture beyond which is a pumice-stone, carbon-fibre-coated sphere thirty foot in diameter. When the sea draws back the aperture is blocked by the sphere," Brenda continued.
"The second chamber is sixty feet wide and tapers to a ten foot wide pipe, similarly controlled by a floating sphere. Tidal power drives sea-water into the cavern, water trapped in the second chamber, already under pressure, is forced up into the pipe." Brenda pointed to the diagram, "the pipe has several ball-valves along its length ensuring minimal back-flow."
She took out another folded sheet, a colourful illustration of a building surrounded by water and plants.
"At the top of the pipe the sea water fills artificial lakes which are used for recreation, science and farming. From here the water passes through a porous wall - "
"Porous wall? What do you mean by that?" Tosh exclaimed.
"It's a thick concrete wall that had branches running through it. When the branches rot away, the result is a labyrinth of tiny holes and passageways through which sea water can pass but the rubbish cannot."
"OK," Tosh nodded.
"The filtered water flows into a series of shallower pools inside an elaborate and ornamented health spa. Some are warm, others extremely hot." Brenda folded up the drawing and showed us the next one, a plan-view of buildings with pools, chambers, water cascades and fountains.
"The health spas are heated by the sun and water evaporates, in some cases filling the hall with dense vapour. The steam condenses on the sloping glass roof and trickles down to a slate roof where it pours into a deep underground reservoir."
The next drawing showed the angled roofs with their grooved ridges where water trickled down.
"The water underground is cold and cools the slate roof far above. From here, the water is pumped by solar powered, no-maintenance pumps which have only two moving parts, into the conservatory gardens."
The next drawing showed how the pumps worked.
"The conservatory gardens are a mile long, seventy feet high and a hundred feet wide. The distilled water wends its way through the flower beds irrigating flowers, herbs, bushes and trees. By the time it reaches the great desert pipeline it has been enriched with natural minerals and nutrients."
"You'll need more than a couple of sloping roofs to distil that much sea water," Tosh the sceptic remarked.
"Oh yes, you're right. All around the spas there are these fast-distil towers," Brenda produced another wafer thin drawing.
"The roof is a black-body radiator at the centre of a parabolic bowl which focuses heat onto another radiator inside, thus generating intense heat. The water vapour rises up the inside of the parabolic bowl, over the inner partition and condenses on the thick, insulated, cooled outer wall."
Brenda rapidly moved from the illustration of the conservatories to the pipeline.
"The naturalised fresh water pours down the pipe into another underground chamber from where it is once more pumped by solar-powered, maintenance-free pumps. These pumps are dotted along the length of the pipeline which runs for a hundred miles or more into the desert."
The next drawing showed the pipeline snaking through the desert, flanked by a motorway on one side and some sort of railway on the other. Every few miles there was what looked like a village in an oasis.
Brenda removed the plan and showed us an artist's impression of the embryonic desert city.
"At the end of the pipeline there is another huge glass-house, again filled with plants of all descriptions. Here the piped water cascades in water falls, spouts from fountains, rains from the roof and flows through numerous streams and rivers, dispersing at last into irrigation pipes stretching into the desert on all sides."
The next drawing showed the expanding fertile fields and gardens with new houses under construction.
"Slowly but surely the dry desert sands become increasingly fertile," Brenda continued, "the man-made oasis grows bigger and bigger. Trees grow, forming shaded areas and people are able to build houses and cultivate the land."
"It would still be baking hot," Tosh, the eternal sceptic, remarked. "Who on earth would want to live in a place like that?"
Brenda smiled as she revealed the next drawing.
"Cooling towers, again powered by the sun with few moving parts and requiring no maintenance, blow cool air into the streets. The houses themselves are designed on a grand scale, utilising solar power as never before." The drawing showed cut-away views of the cooling towers.
"'As - Never - Before'?" Tosh was incredulous, "what on earth do you mean by that?"
"Fridges, air conditioning, central heating and ovens are all powered by harnessing natural forces, instead of by oil or electricity." Brenda revealed another drawing, this time a plan and cut-away of a house.
"The south face of the building is flanked by two towers, under the roof there are black-body radiators which heat the air in the towers causing it to expand. The expanded air travels along pipes and can be directed behind the skirting boards if heating is required. The hot air is directed to the kitchen where it is compressed into the walls of the oven. With the aid of lenses and valves the air can be made hot enough to cook both in the oven and on the hob."
"What about the fridge?" Eta asked.
Brenda pointed to the diagram.
"After leaving the oven, the hot air passes under the hot-water tank, heating the water and cooling the air. The cooled air is pumped into a chamber under pressure. During the day it is warm, by night it cools. When the pressure reaches a certain level, a valve opens and the air blows into the hollow walls of the refrigeration rooms, one for freezing, one for refrigerated food and one for cool storage such as wines."
"Thought of everything, haven't they?" Tosh muttered, "how do you know it will work?"
"A little experimentation is all it takes to find out how to make it work. Most of the designs are based on common sense and basic principles." Brenda removed the page and revealed another, detailing the air control.
"And air conditioning?" I asked, how do you use hot air to cool a house?"
"As with refrigeration," Brenda replied, "compressed air cools when released, hot air expands, fills the pipe network where it is compressed, over night it cools and is compressed further. To cool a room, open a valve. Cool air blows in. Set the valve to 'bleed' small amounts of air and the room is kept steadily cool."
"Sounds simple," I remarked.
"In principle, it is, yes," Brenda replied, "but it'll still take a fair amount of working out to put it into practice."
"Patents?" Euan asked.
"Oh yes, lots of patents," Brenda grinned, "teams of lawyers have been working on these for years. Ask Saleh."
"Those towers, they'll be blazing hot, won't they?" Eta asked, "could anyone go inside them?"
"That depends, maybe they'll double up as saunas!" Brenda lifted up the last drawing and began rolling them all together.
"I'm sure they could be imaginatively designed with aquaria or elaborate water features."
"What about transport and communication," Tosh asked, "how to people travel between this desert city and the rest of the country?"
"The underground pipeline runs between the highway and the railway - or rather, the 'Hoverway'."
"Pardon?" Euan interrupted.
"Instead of conventional trains running on rails which can warp and distort in the constantly heating and cooling of the desert," Brenda explained, "these trains have double-skinned skirts fitted with spheres in place of wheels that protect them from the edges and floor of the concrete hoverway. The front locomotive has a massive gas-turbine engine that sends high pressure air down the length of the train through the skirt, keeping the carriages clear of the ground."
"I see," I said, frowning as I tried to imagine the thing.
"What's wrong with rails?"
"Costly to maintain and warp in the heat."
"Every two miles along the pipeline route there is a watering house where people and animals can draw on the underground water," Brenda was confident and, in a way, proud, even although the plans had nothing to do with her, or so I thought.
"A mini-oasis," Eta said, thinking out loud.
"Exactly," Brenda enthused, "the 'pipe' itself is large enough for people to walk along the banks of the underground river. It's not like an oil or gas pipe, stuffed full, but rather, it is a seven-foot deep river flowing over rocks, stones, pebbles and sand flanked by walk-ways and cycle-ways. Illumination by day is via fibre-optic cable."
"Next you'll be saying there's a rapid-transit maintenance pipe running alongside with sealed double-door emergency exits every hundred yards. This is going to cost all the money in the world!" Tosh snorted with disbelief.
"By building thousands of these desert-greening spas and oases all around the desert-coastlines of the world, who knows, we might even be able to offset the rising sea-levels!" Brenda's eyes shone in the evening light.
"I think you could be going a bit too far there, y'know," Eta sounded like a reprimanding school teacher admonishing her pupil.
"Where do you come into all this, did you do these?" Euan asked.
Brenda shook her head, "No, but I came up with the ideas," she slipped the rubber band over the drawings and returned them to her bag. Her face fell as she added, "I never got a penny for them, hence, I felt I deserved to keep the drawings."
We looked at her in stunned silence.
The fire smouldered and looked about to go out. Saleh al Moharbi appeared, he crouched down and carefully added twigs and branches, blowing gently on the embers. Flames sprang up, warming the cool air.
- oOo -