Year in Review 2014

For this year’s civilization metrics, I announced a change earlier this year from the the hard-to-measure number of interplanetary probes to the comparatively easy to measure peak solar power production in the United States. What I’d like to use is the planet-wide Kardashev scale that I’ve been calculating, but those are always a year behind. There’s nothing particularly special about solar power in terms of being an advanced technological civilization, as other forms of energy like nuclear or shale gas require plenty of technical expertise, but solar does seem like it could potentially change the game so that’s how it’ll be for now.

2011 2012 2013 2014
Supercomputer (PFLOPs) 10.51 17.59 33.86 33.86
Known exoplanets 716 854 1055 1855
ATLAS Integ. Lumin. (fb-1) 5.30 27.03 27.03 27.03 
GenBank base pairs (billions) 135.1 148.4 156.2 184.9
US Peak solar production (thousand MW-hr) 229.2 527.1 1,000.7 2,060.9
Kardashev score 0.7240 0.7248 0.7257 NA
World population (billions) 7.0 7.1 7.1 7.2

The LHC is currently in shutdown mode and the Top500 supercomputing list has been a bit stagnant for the past few years. Missions like the Kepler telescope are finding tons of exoplanets and we’re beginning to be able to get good statistics. Solar power has been booming for the past few years, though we’ll see if that continues as the price of oil tanks and government subsidies potentially disappear. The Kardashev scale is a flawed measure (if two civilizations produce the same amount of stuff, the less energy-efficient one has a higher score) but are fun to calculate and may in broad strokes tell us something interesting. The world population continues to tick up, and I’m of the contrarian opinion that Earth is still underpopulated. SpaceX continued to be cool.

On this blog I’ve been keeping a schedule of publishing at least one article per month, and I do hope to write more in 2015. I started grad school and have a paper pre-print up on the ArXiv that’s currently making its way through peer review. For podcasts I started using Overcast which has rapidly become an iOS killer app for me (my phone is an HTC One but I’ve been using an iPod touch for podcasts, which is stupid. In 2015 I’ll enact a merger).

I’m currently reading:

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