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A visit to the Future, Masdar City and Institute

When I was young, I remember commenting aloud that in the future cars should be something people ride in, not drive. A person would just hop in, say where you want to go, then sit back and read a newspaper. People laughed at me.

Today, I experienced that world, except that now a person just reads their Iphone. The future has arrived, at least in Masdar City.

In it's "gate" is a Personal Rapid Transit vehicle, or better known as a PRT. This cute little unit will take you where you need to go in Masdar City at 40 Mph while you relax. Private fossil fuel burning cars are NOT ALLOWED inside the city!

Where to future boy? This is the control panel inside a PRT.

Now it is time to sit back and play with your Iphone. The PRTs run underground so that no dumb human gets in their way.

By now you are wondering where Masdar Cty is. It is on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. My wife attended a conference on library services there, and I just had to tag along.

I was a big a fan of the Jetsons. I thought that in my older  years I could  dress in silver Spandex, wear a beanie and ride around in a PRT, That world is here but limited. Unless you are a young future scientist type.

Right now, residents of Masdar are very carefully selected (7000 applicants,400 acceptances this year) from the elite of science students worldwide. If you get selected, you pay no tuition, get free books,free housing and a living allowance. All of this is from the coffers of the ruler of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is like the 7th leading producer of oil in the world. The leader could do any damn thing he wants with what is HIS money. This wonderful guy has decided to spend who know how much money (Forbes says 22 billion USD) on Masdar Institute. . His father, the founding father of the UAE, left him a legacy to “not rely on oil alone…and construct economic projects that will ensure a free, stable and dignified life for the people.” He also said the real asset of any nation is its educated people, The slogan of the institute is “Learning to Change the World”

Masdar institute is the heart of Masdar city. The institute is up and running, and the city will grow up around it.

This is a model of the residential area that exists today.

This is a model of the campus area. Take a look at the tower in the middle, more on that later.

In both these photos you will notice the roofs are covered with solar panels. Masdar also has a gigantic solar panel “farm” that produces so much power that they sell the excess to Abu Dhabi.

This is a real life picture of the dorms. The arcitecture is designed to both collect warmth and circulate tHe wind for cooling. There are no chemical paints used. This is the color of the desert near Al Ain ( not far away) and the sand is mixed with the cement to give this color.

This is the tower I mentioned before. It is a wind tower. It cools off the entire plaza it sits in. Modern idea you say?? Not really. The Arabs used towers like this for a thousand years. OK,not quite as modern as THIS one, but the concept is the same.

Basically, this is how it works. I have been in old forts and such with the antique version of this tower, and I know the concept works. Talk about renewable energy!

In the plaza cooled by the wind tower is what a future cafe might look like!

The institute itself is very very Jetson. This is a corner shot of a lab building, again notice the solar panels and the "environment compensating" architecture..

The reason I got to visit this city was because Mary Ann was attending a librarians conference. The library at the institute had less volumes than a decent book store. However, they were all extremely technical. They also had numerous computers, and I imagine these students do most of their reading on-line. Libraries of the future will abandon Gutenberg for Jobs.

The library has all the Masters Thesis of it's students. I chose this one because I could kinda understand the title.

Did I say ALL the books were extremely technial? OOPS

Masdar faculty comes from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley,  and few more of those little colleges. To be on the faculty of Masdar you must pass a review by MIT, and then spend one year on the Cambridge Mass campus developing graduate level course materials and participating in shared research projects.

Masdar has attracted tourists like Hillary Clinton and other potentate types.The ideas developed here should help the world progress past a dependency on oil. Don’t you find it ironic that oil is paying for it?

Thanks for reading, share with a friend and BACK TO THE FUTURE!

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