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Today's quote:

Friday, July 21, 2017

Electric Universe


I wouldn’t want to be around for a complete blackout. Most radios and TVs plug in these days, so it would be difficult to find out whether your kids’ school was still open. Your cell phones might still operate, but with no way of recharging your battery, you’d be pretty careful about using it. Driving the kids to school on the off chance it was open would be too much of a gamble, for gas stations depend on underground storage tanks, and until the blackout ended, stations wouldn’t be able to use their electrically operated pumps to bring up more fuel. You couldn’t stock up on groceries – no credit cards working – nor could you get more cash, for ATMs depend on electrically-run computers too.

Within a week the city would have broken down. Police stations would be isolated with their phones not working, and pretty soon their radio batteries would lose their charge as well; no one could call ambulances, for their radios or phone links would be out too. A few people might try walking to hospitals, but there wouldn’t be much there: no X-rays, no refrigerated vaccines, no refrigerated blood, no ventilation, no lighting.

Going to the airport to try to escape wouldn’t help, for with backup generators not working, the airport’s radars would have shut, nor could planes take off on manual control, for any fuel that remained in underground tanks would be impossible to pump up. Ports would have closed, with no electricity to run the cranes that moved their large containers and no way to check electronic inventories. The military might try to guard fuel convoys, but with their own vehicles running low on fuel, that wouldn’t last long. If the blackout was worldwide, isolation would intensify. The internet and all email would have gone down very quickly; next the phone lines; finally, the last television and radio broadcasts would end.

Starvation would probably begin in the dense cities of Asia, especially with no air conditioning at food warehouses; within a few weeks of a complete blackout almost all the world’s cities and suburbs would be unlivable. There would be fighting, pretty desperate, for food and fuel. With a population of six billion, few people would have a chance of surviving."

Why bother reading fiction? Non-fiction - and popular science - books are so much more exciting. And this small book really packs a punch.