Growing up in Hershey, Pa., Brian spent his childhood summers at Williams Grove Speedway watching sprint car racing (high-powered race cars designed primarily for running on short oval or circular dirt tracks). I never thought this would be my thing. But the sport is growing on me; drinking beer and watching vehicles go really fast can be quite satisfying.
That said, we were in Iowa this week to watch the Knoxville Sprint Car National.
When we weren't at the track, we were doing other activities: horseback riding, golfing, visiting the drive-in
I quickly observed that Iowa is the land of corn.
The vista reminded me of some of my favorite paintings: Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World (1948), which depicts a woman lying on the ground in a treeless, mostly tawny field, looking up at a grey house on the horizon; Jean-Francois Millet's The Gleaners by (1857), which shows three peasant women gleaning a field of stray grains of wheat after the harvest; and many of Vincent Van Gogh's Wheat Fields (series of paintings).
As we were driving, I wondered how many of these fields would be here in a hundred years?
The world's first stem cell burger was cooked and eaten in London this past Monday. Brainchild Mark Post said the burger was made of 20,000 small strands of meat grown from a cow's muscle cells. The cultured beef burger took three months to create and cost around $330,000 to develop.
"I think most people don't realize that the current meat production is at its maximum. We need to come up with an alternative," Post told the Guardian last week. Meat consumption is expected to rise nearly 73 percent by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
"Cows are very inefficient; they require 100 grams of vegetable protein to produce only 15 grams of edible animal protein," Post continued. "So we need to feed the cows a lot so that we can feed ourselves. We lose a lot of food that way."
Developers hope that cultured beef could end up on supermarket shelves within the next 10 to 20 years.
No cows, no corn.
Another recent development is happening in the South Korean city of Gumi, which has begun testing an "electrified road" that allows electric public buses to recharge their batteries from buried cables as they travel.
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology explained that pick-up equipment underneath the bus, or Online Electric Vehicle, sucks up power through non-contact magnetic charging from strips buried under the road surface. It then distributes the power either to drive the vehicle or for battery storage. As a result it requires a battery only one-fifth the size of conventional electric vehicles.
The technology costs around $700 million now. But once the cost goes down, the institute believes more cities will incorporate the new transport network.
Again: no ethanol gas, no corn.
These are just two examples of the many ways in which the world is rapidly changing.
The human population is predicted to rise to 9.5 billion by 2060. And Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project just released results that 25 percent of Americans think that the average person will live to at least 120 by 2050, due to curing cancer and advancement in prosthetics.
These kinds of technological advancements are obviously necessary.
But after being in Nice, Provence, London, Tennessee, Manhattan, and Iowa this past month, I'm beginning to realize what a luxury rural vistas are, and just how bitter the technology pill is to swallow.
Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to
or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com