Future Earth, Future Travel

John Carter of Mars, eat your heart out

No Comments 05 September 2012

I have to say this latest expedition to Mars has really caught my imagination.  Continue Reading

Future Travel

Blast Off

No Comments 21 July 2012

Exactly one year ago today Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy Space Centre in Central Florida for the very last time after flying 135 missions. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Are you a Petrol Head?

No Comments 25 June 2012

I recently blogged about robot cars and our subsequent loss of one more area of personal freedom as computers start doing something else for us. Well, when writing said blog I never considered that we might actually be moving into a post car world. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Iceland is one big movie set

2 Comments 27 March 2012


I watched a promo clip for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus the other day and immediately suspected some of it must have been shot in Iceland. A few clicks later my suspicions were confirmed. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Iceland’s Very own Loch Ness Monster.

No Comments 12 February 2012

Have you seen this video ( Iceland\’s very own Loch Ness Monster) doing the rounds recently. It claims to show a rather large snake like creature winding its way up the glacial river Jökulsá í Fljótsdal, in east Iceland. Continue Reading

Future Travel

The Blue Lagoon

2 Comments 08 February 2012

National Geographic has recently included the Blue Lagoon in their special feature on 25 wonders of the world. Not only that but the venerable magazine has also listed Iceland as one of the places to visit in 2012. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Solar Storms brighten the Northern Lights

1 Comment 06 February 2012

If proof were needed of our relative insignificance in the grander scheme of things, one needs look no further than the incredible auroras that have burst into life across the Northern Hemisphere during the few weeks after a relative period of quiet for the last few years. Continue Reading

hydrogen filling station

Future Travel

Fracking hell! Why hydrogen isn’t happening.

No Comments 27 September 2011

Last week the UK’s first public hydrogen filling station opened in Swindon. This news item slipped through the net somewhat, as all the media attention seemed to be focused upon the discovery of a natural gas field beneath Blackpool. However I believe that our new hydrogen filling station is just as significant a development, if not quite as “sexy” as 200 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.

The hydrogen filling station looks like a conventional petrol station, and it takes a similar time to fill a hydrogen-powered vehicle as it does to fill a vehicle with petrol or diesel. Of course, Uma from The Human Race would have been delighted. Her father spent his lifetime decarbonising the Icelandic economy and hydrogen stations were the final piece of his jigsaw.

As a reluctant environmentalist, I love the idea of hydrogen filling stations. Compared to shale gas, hydrogen is a virtuous source of energy because it produces almost zero emissions. The process to “manufacture” pure hydrogen takes energy but, other than a small amount of nitrogen oxide, it does not produce any chemical by-products. So in theory, hydrogen allows us to drive around relatively unencumbered by green guilt.

So why hasn’t it caught on?

Well two reasons really.

Firstly, it takes as much energy (with attendant emissions) to synthesize Hydrogen as the use of the actual Hydrogen saves. Until the technology is developed to reduce this aspect of hydrogen production, then it will continue to be sidelined.

Even if this was not the case the distribution channels for this energy are simply not there for mass consumer take up – in say cars.

Take the USA. There are a few hydrogen filling stations there (such as the one pictured above), but there are more than 120,000 petrol stations. There is no way to replicate that sort of infrastructure overnight. It would take years to open enough hydrogen filling stations to produce a serious alternative to the gas filling station.  Although some are built or added to existing sites, I can’t imagine that the petrol companies will be bending over backwards to ensure that they are rolled out on a wider scale.

Any competitors would have to consider acquiring other outlets, making planning applications, building the structures and manning them. Even with significant resources, it would take years to roll them out.  Petrol already has that in place.

Electricity has an even greater advantage: it has an existing infrastructure everywhere. The clincher: it is in the home. That’s why electric cars are so attractive. The distribution network is in place. It doesn’t matter that electricity is a dirty fuel.

Which brings me back to the shale gas discovered in Lancashire last week. Now there’s another fuel with an established distribution infrastructure. Add in the benefit of thousands of jobs plus national fuel security and, leaving aside the high cost of extraction, isn’t it a no-brainer? No wonder politicians are tap dancing around the environmental issues.

So there you have it. Sadly hydrogen will never catch on in the UK – but expect fracking on a grand scale.

Image credit: ideowl.

This post was selected for Everything Home End of October Edition, hosted by My DIY Home Tips.


Future Travel

Why flying will always be a dirty word

5 Comments 20 July 2011

Back in 2002, when I was researching The Human Race, I dug deep into the world of the airline industry and found it to be in some degree of turmoil. Still recovering from the devastating aftermath of 9/11, the airline industry also had additional challenges to contend with. These included the SARS virus, the continued threat of terrorism, sky high oil prices, a nascent green movement and economy airlines undercutting the established carriers. There was also a strong perception amongst passengers that flying itself was awful. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Where the old towpath meets the motorway

No Comments 30 April 2011

Canals are great places to visit. They transport you back into another age, where the tempo of life was by necessity so much slower than it is today. They also reconnect you with Mother Nature – they can’t fail to as they calmly wind their way through the quiet countryside.

I’ve just returned from visiting the Lake District where, on the very last day, we decided to make the most of the unseasonably good weather and cycle down the Lancaster Canal towpath.  We made our way down the pretty waterway in the Spring sunshine. We saw nesting swans, grazing sheep and cows, countless butterflies, wild flowers, small bream and trout, grey geese, the odd fox and even a family of roe deer. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Teleportation must be real – 24% of us think so

No Comments 15 March 2011

Is the line between fact and fiction beginning to blur? According to a recent survey, nearly a third of people in the UK believe their lives could soon be made much easier thanks to the gift of time travel, and almost a quarter believe that teleportation is real.

The survey of 3,000 people, commissioned by Birmingham Science City to mark this year’s National Science and Engineering Week (11 – 20 March), has revealed that 30% of adults across the UK believe that time travel is possible. Continue Reading

Future Travel

Electric cars: cutting or increasing emissions?

No Comments 04 March 2011

This big push towards electric cars has long puzzled me. On the face of it, the move looks like a great way to reduce emissions by replacing the internal combustion engine with batteries. However, what everyone seems to be forgetting is that in most countries electricity is generated by coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels around.

According to the World Coal Association, coal accounts for 41% of global electricity production. However, what is really worrying is that in some of the world’s largest countries, coal accounts for an even larger percentage of electricity production; namely the USA at 49% and China at 79%. Continue Reading

Is this really the “golden age” of flying?

Future Travel

Is this really the “golden age” of flying?

No Comments 21 December 2010

For the past few days the newspapers and news sites have been filled with images of jumbo jets frozen to the ground at Heathrow, departure lounges crowded with angry, would-be travellers and shivering queues that stretch to the horizon and beyond. It reminds me of a recent story in USA Today, about the “golden age” of air travel. Has it passed? Continue Reading

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Reviews of The Human Race

Unputdownable. Yes, I know it's not a word, but it definitely applies here, anyway. That's the word I'm going with, to describe The Human Race by O.C. Heaton. - Hira N. Hasnain

An outstanding first novel from O.C. Heaton that catapults him into the Best Seller league… - Justine Bond

"This is an exciting, fast-paced read. The Human Race is a book that is very easy to forget to put down. Bring on part two!" - L. H. Bowers

"If you are looking for a well-plotted and well-written thriller to while away the hours of a long flight, this offering might suit you very well." - David Bryson, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer

For further reviews of The Human Race by O.C. Heaton click here.

Author Bio

Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

O.C. Heaton’s bookshelf

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O.C. Heaton's post about Harold Haw was featured in the Guardian.

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O.C.'s bookshelf: read

The BeachThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLife of PiOuter DarkThe FirmAlexander 3: The Ends of the Earth: A Novel

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