The New York Times just released its 7th annual Year in Ideas round-up, and there are some interesting inclusions.
Amidst short articles on airborne wind turbines, Islam in outer space, UPS’s ban on left-hand turns – all of which have been explored on BLDGBLOG before – and even so-called “marijuana mansions,” we’re asked to consider “whether full-scale lightning farms might one day become a meaningful source of electricity.”
Practically speaking, the NYTimes explains, building a lightning farm would entail the construction of an entire specialty landscape. You could probably even patent it.
There would be “a tower, an array of grounding wires to shunt off most of the incoming energy and a giant capacitor. Theoretically, if enough energy is delivered to the capacitor, it can be stored, converted to alternating current and transferred to the power grid.”
Unfortunately, the article explains, lightning farms don’t really work.
But no matter: BLDGBLOG would like to propose turning the entirety of Paris into a lightning farm. The Eiffel Tower would loom over a network of grounding wires. Groves of steel poles – orchards of power, virtually harnessing the sky – would stand amidst cobblestones, spiraling up hills, and the outermost streets of the city, connecting cafe to cafe down stairways, leading up to bars and scenic overlooks, glow every fortnight as that great central spike gets thrashed with aerial electricity. You can toast bread with all that power, draining the clouds, awaiting storms with videocameras in hand to film that apocalypse of alternating currents in the sky.