"Nothing New Under The Sun": Cliché Is Literally True

solar power brightsource gernsback image

Images credit Brightsource, Modern Mechanix

On the right is an illustration from a 1911 science fiction novel Ralph 124C 41 +, reprinted in a 1935 issue of Science and Mechanics, reproduced in Modern Mechanix.

The author writes that it is:

a project of, supposedly, the year 2660, which appeared twenty-four years ago in a novel written by the Editor of this magazine, and entitled "Ralph 124C 41 + ." The illustration, part of which is reproduced here, shows a field of sun-power devices, rotating to face the sun, in a field electrically rid of fog and moisture.

But it happened a lot sooner that 2660, looking pretty much like the Brightsource Energy plant that Mike wrote about in Google Invests $168 Million in 392MW Mojave Desert Solar Thermal Plant.

The author of the article and the science fiction novel turns out to be Hugo Gernsback, and the the book turned out to be, according to Wikipedia, " one of the most influential science fiction stories of all time." Even the title is prescient of modern textspeak, meaning "one to foresee for many".


Gernsback also shows an interesting proposal for a Russian urban solar thermal system.

The Tashkend, Central Asia, group, recently published in Russian magazines a proposal for utilizing the sun's rays at low cost-- not for electric power, but for heating rooms, cooking, and providing hot water. Tanks, with black surfaces, properly insulated, and turned full toward the sun, will heat water almost to boiling.

That makes sense. As I have noted, Solar Hot Water First. Then Photovoltaics.

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