Google is thankfully acting as a commercial entity that does care about the impact (and profitability) of their projects. So – see Reuters – among the projects it will be retiring or "sunsetting" by Spring 2012, we find:
- Google Knol: a framework that was collecting high-quality articles ("knowledge") written by users on various topics but never attracted too many users
- Google Search Timeline
- Google Gear: extension of browsers allowing new, especially off-line features; used (and now canceled) especially for calendars and e-mail
- Google Friend Connect: see the right sidebar of this blog to see almost 400 TRF readers who have subscribed and showed their avatars (can you do anything else with that?); it will be kept alive for blogger.com blogs such as TRF for some more time
- Google Bookmarks List
- Google Wave: an unsuccessful social and communication network
- Google Renewable Energy Cheaper Then Coal
Despite all these years, projects such as this one not only failed to deliver a renewable energy cheaper than coal: they haven't given us any new source that could survive without heavy subsidies or heavy harassment of the consumers. The money thrown into these projects will probably never be renewed again ;-) and it's good that companies are beginning to notice that such investments are not sustainable :-). This realization is also inevitable given the fact that the governments are increasingly showing their evaporating desire to subsidize such things. See e.g. wind of change hitting U.K. offshore wind turbines.
I am sure that sometime in the future, perhaps when the fossil fuels get too scarce (and it may take a few centuries), economically acceptable alternatives to fossil fuels will emerge. But it makes no sense to pay billions (if not trillions) for the search of this "holy grail" now, especially when a reasonable estimate when such a transition may occur may be around the year 2150. Moreover, this business is being investigated by so many people that every new dollar invested into this research makes this research even less efficient than it was previously (diminishing returns: the talented and motivated people are already doing it so you may only buy the researchers with a smaller potential, and they will still be largely redundant and create an unnecessary competition in something that could be found by a few people if it existed).
By 2150 or whatever is the right estimate of the transition, people will either naturally discover something (e.g. complete whatever is needed for [hot!] fusion) – not necessarily in companies dedicated to such "research" – or they won't. Even if they won't, there won't be any catastrophe awaiting the mankind. Even the technologies that exist today could be used to cover the energy needs of the mankind. So if coal is ever 5 times more expensive than today because it gets scarce, well, the construction of solar panels everywhere, including the roads and roofs of your cars, will probably become economical and mundane even if there are no big advances (and be sure there will be advances by 2150).
But it is not economical today and it's just wrong to speculate and invest lots of money (usually money taken from other people and taxpayers) into the assumption that the year 2150 discussed above will already arrive in 2015. Most likely, it will not. And this fact makes a difference because much of the projects paid for today will be much cheaper and more realistic in 2145.
And that's the memo.
Rossi claims to become a multimillionaire
Some sources say that Andrea Rossi claims that a $24 million order has been sent to buy his would-be cold-fusion device.
There are only two possibilities: 1) the consumer is real and a priori unrelated to Rossi; 2) the consumer is not real but just a theater invented by Rossi's friends and collaborators.
In the first case, the consumer will find out that he's been duped and I hope it will be able to send Rossi back to prison. In the second case, Rossi may avoid prison but I think it is very unfortunate because that's a fraud in preparation. By inventing fake consumers, he is visually elevating the price of his worthless crackpottery above the actual price – which is zero – and uses this trick to lure possible other, real consumers in the future who may think that they're buying something else than what they're actually buying, namely bullshit.
In my opinion, the only question should be when (but not whether) he gets investigated for this fraudulent behavior.