Sunday, April 10, 2011

Solar-Powered Gas Clouds Coming to 2022 World Cup Stadium

Awhile back I wrote about the competing architectural designs for the 2022 World Cup, to be held in the tiny Persian Gulf oil-state of Qatar.

That these oil barons have money to burn is very evident in the designs themselves: each stadium seems to be begging to take the prize for outlandish and most extravagant arenas in sports. One featured a "media membrane" with live footage covering the outer stadium walls, another goes to the lengths of sheathing its roof in a continuous film of flowing water in the cooling process.

Here's probably the most bizarre idea coming from architects who clearly have their 'budget' taken care of. Engineers at Qatar University have developed a solar-powered, gas-filled cloud that supposedly will shade spectators and athletes from the 125-degree heat. The clouds can be maneuvered via remote control and run a cool $500,000 each.

I wonder how long it will take for this type of "remote-control solar-powered gas-cooling cloud" trend to trickle down to the consumer masses. It isn't too hard to imagine decades from now, people walking down the street in Phoenix, AZ using their 12G iPhones to power their own personal gas-cooling clouds, utterly oblivious to the baking heat around them. That sounds so Jetson's, doesn't it? Perhaps that is a bit like other "technologies of the future" that always will be - like hydrogen fuel cells, cold fusion, retinal scanners, and robotic prostitutes.

What do you think of this type of technology? Is it an achievement that we can now, with the click of a remote-control, create steady shade wherever we want? Or might it have more sinister consequences, like heavy greenhouse gas emissions that Arabs with deep pockets are simply too insulated to ignore?

Via: Inhabitat

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