|Jute stalks, drying. By Auyon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16936026|
Polyethylene terephthalate, known as mylar to the grocery industry, which relies on it as a structural material,* polyester in the textiles industry, and PET to bottlers, is what ICI had the temerity to dub "Terylene." This silly English name, used by ICI for no better reason than that it was invented in Britain, ignores America's manifest high technology destiny and right to name all modern chemical industry products and byproducts.
Among the many uses of polyester is in a wool/polyester blend that stretches the global supply of the natural, protein-based fibre, and which makes it less vulnerable to detergents and wash water. Goodbye, Ardil and its happy families.
Because the modern literature on the history of the environmental movement makes such a big deal of the pioneering Osborne and William Vaughn (actually Vogt) books, it is worth noting that Henry Tizard's presidential address hits many of the same themes, albeit with interesting differences. (Apropos of anything else, who else was gobsmacked that the calculated life expectancy in 1948 was still 48?) In Enginering's commentary on the British AAS, "novelist A. G. Street" is invoked. Street could hardly be further from Vogt and Osborne if he tried. Whereas the American writers are obsessed with what American farming is doing wrong, Street is a champion of the English farmer.
Finally, there is Joseph Philips connecting Italy, overpopulation, and the election. Setting aside the ridiculous numbers coming out of Rome, we have the connection here being drawn in red pen between election and my "apparently coordinated Malthusian blitz." "Overpopulation" is the story of the day this September, from explicit stories to The Economist's sly rebuke, quoting The Economist of 1848 as quite rightly pointing out that the swingeing rate of emigration that was actually happening in Britain in 1848 did nothing, or worse than nothing, for its social problems.
|By Source (WP:NFCC#4), |
Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57030114
Maria Telkes' Dover Solar Home, given a nice writeup by the MIT Technology Review. The key to an effective solar heating installation is heat storage to last through low light flux periods. Telkes' system used bins containing 21 tons of sodium acetate decahydrate, which melts at 90 degrees Fahrenheit and has a specific latent heat seven times higher than water. Hot air from the solar panels is ducted across the bins, melting the crystalline solid within, which then freezes, releasing heat, during cooler days.
As better living through chemistry goes, this is, of course, insane. Sodium acetate isn't a particularly obnoxious chemical, as these things go, but it's not exactly benign, either. The tanks needed constant maintenance because of corrosion issues, and the battery solution separated in the middle of the third winter. As a proof of concept it is defensible, but as a house heating technology, it is just weirdly impractical. Fortune begins its long article on home heating alternatives with the observation that insulation is the homeowner's single best value for money, and this remains true today. After that, anyone worried about ecological or Malthusian catastrophe, even in 1948, ought to be worried about decarbonisation. I'm not going to go back in time and lecture a brilliant scientist like Dr. Telkes about global warming. I'm thinking here more of "end of coal"/ "end of oil" worries. After all, it is the oil and coal shortages of the winter of 1947 that inspired these concerns in the fall of 1948 to begin with. It might not be obvious in 1948 how one was to get current/steam/fuel delivered to one's doorstep that wasn't implicated in fossil fuel use, but as long as solar heating does not provide for cooking, hot water, or lighting, it is not a solution to much of anything.
I won't trouble you with a review of the heat pump articles. Put your hand around the back of your refrigerator, and you should be able to feel the heat. That's pretty much the principle. It would be a lovely technology if it didn't involve regular air, with its distressing range of water vapour content, and pumping fluids back and forth in closed circuits while they expand and contract. As it is, any superintendent of a complex HVAC system (for example, grocery store evening manager) will tell you that they are, like electronic gift cards, things of the devil. I'm sure that the modern ones are awesomely reliable and last nearly forever, but still . . . Insulation, I tells ya.
As to what's driving the boomlet for Whole Earth Catalog technologies in the fall of 1948? Fear and anxiety bred by American electoral politics. It's mostly coming out as xenophobia, but there's plenty of social withdrawal in there, too. Power grids involve you with other people!
It's a theory, anyway.