The Future of Energy

The Future of Energy

Since pre historic times, man has evolved constantly and gradually in the methods by which he harnesses energy to get work done. From the use of stone tools by the Homo Habilis ,which were powered entirely by human effort to, the application of ox drawn carts in tilling of farms by the agrarian societies of Sumer and Mesopotamia. From the invention of electricity, to the tapping of atomic and sub atomic energy in the modern era. These changes have been steady and increasingly powerful.
Today man boasts of enormous, efficient and powerful sources of energy that would power his world into the foreseeable future. Modern energy revolution started with the invention of electricity in the 19th century. Henceforth, man has sourced from the smallest unit of matter, the atom, and manipulated it to produce energy; that is the broad field of nanotechnology that I wouldn’t elaborate in this writing. Man didn’t stop at the atomic level. The world needed newer energy reserves. He went sub atomic. He found a way to bombard the sub atomic particles, the protons and neutrons in a nuclear reactor to produce nuclear energy.
Perhaps the most interesting of all is the Anti Matter Energy. Anti-matter or anti particle is a highly unstable element of nature. Theoretical physicists’ postulate that anti particles were formed together with particles (matter) at the Big Bang as a result of high energy collisions between fundamental elements of nature (Hydrogen and Helium).
As the name suggests, it is the mirror image of matter. Whereas an atom of matter has protons which are positively charged and electrons which are negatively charged. The charges are reversed in an atom of anti matter which has anti electrons (also called positrons). They behave like electrons but are positively charged. Anti-protons have all other characteristics of protons of matter but are negatively charged. Scientists, up to date, cannot explain why anti matter particles do not exist in abundance as matter. However, there is a general consensus that more particles were probably produced at Big Bang than anti particles.
The anti particles were discovered by a British scientist, Paul Dirac in 1928 when he combined Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
An anti-particle is artificially generated when a beam of particles is bombarded with a target or another beam at high speeds. The resulting anti particles collide further with the freely available particles and annihilation (complete destruction of the anti particles) occurs. A huge amount of energy is dissipated in the process. The annihilation yields energy with 100% efficiency, mind you, nuclear fission is only 1.5% efficient. In addition, anti matter energy is pure. A gram of anti matter yields about 20 kilotons of energy, the same energy potential as the nuclear bomb dropped over Hiroshima during World War Two.
In practice, the anti particles have been generated and studied using huge particle accelerators know as Large Hadron Colliders, like the one available at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) cern.home and may well be on the way to being exploited commercially.
A hadron collider
Why then does the world over rely on fossil fuel, which is exhaustible, when we have more efficient sources, some of which are non exhaustible? The simple answer is that we have more knowledge on fossil fuel hence the technical capacity in exploring it. However, that is bound to change with more research going into solar, wind and atomic energy.

However, why does man continue discovering new forms of energy? Forms that pose existential threat to himself, when he could use the old, relatively safe sources? Why would a modern household prefer a propane filled cooking gas cylinder and risk the danger of explosion, to a charcoal jiko or an even safer option, the three stoned hearth? The answer is two fold; necessity and convenience.
The modern man isn’t smarter than the pre modern man. It’s those two words; necessity and convenience that have pushed man into discovering different sources of energy. Let’s look at this example; Stone Age man invented fire to tender his bush meat and to keep warm; that’s convenience. Sumerians and ancient Egyptians needed to plough and water large tracks of land to feed their ballooning populations, they invented ox hands and the Shadoof that’s necessity. The coal run British engines and trains of the 20th century needed a newer, cleaner and less laborious to exploit energy source to replace the rapidly depleting coal; The British turned to diesel; that’s both necessity and convenience.
The part-mechanical part-human powered Shadoof used by pioneer Agrarian societies.
This shows that man would continue to discover newer energy sources to sustain himself. Nature holds a prodigious energy potential. Fossil fuel accounts for just a tiny fraction of the whole loot. All plants, the largest energy holders in the ecosystem, utilize only 1-2% of solar energy. This means the remaining 98-99% goes to waste. Man will surely learn to exploit more of that waste energy in future.

The bottom line is, energy is infinite and overly abundant. It’s only that human realization, triggered by need and comfort, is still unconscious to it. To say that humankind is on the brink of an energy crisis because the renewable sources are getting exhausted is to be narrow minded at best, and ludicrous at worst.

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