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Science and technology for Sri Lanka in the 21 st century. Chandre Dharmawardana National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa and Université de Montreal.

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Presentation on theme: "Science and technology for Sri Lanka in the 21 st century. Chandre Dharmawardana National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa and Université de Montreal."— Presentation transcript:

1 Science and technology for Sri Lanka in the 21 st century. Chandre Dharmawardana National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa and Université de Montreal

2 Presentations of this PPT. Presented (version1) as a seminar at the Presidential Advisors’ secretariat, Colombo, June 2009 Presented (version2) as a seminar at The Institute of Chemistry, Sri Lanka. Presented (version3) at The Open University, Nawala, Sri Lanka. Presented (version4) as a seminar at ICTA, Colombo. Available (version A) on the web, at: http://dhweb.org/place.names/posts/dev-tech- 2009.ppt

3 What is on the plate? THE 4 Long-term CHALLENGES For SRI LANKA with population of 20x10 6 Increasing by 1000 a day  too much for sustainability. 1. Sea Inundation of coastal areas due to Global warming. TIME TO ACT IS NOW 2. Population  Energy crunch. Currently: 5000 kWh/capita increasing rapidly (USA is x50)  pollution 3. Population  Agriculture and water crunch 4. Multi-ethnic politics, There is a technical answer to divisive Language Politics.

4 Population graphs and projections, Sri Lanka: How many to feed ? – how many new jobs?

5 World problems and population Tendency nowadays to ignore the population bomb claiming that “populations have stabilized” However, see “Scientific American”, June 2009 issue (this month) More than a billion in Africa have no food. See the new book “Enough” by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman – uncontrolled population growth. Religions, traditional attitudes, & ethnic rivalry hamper population planning and family planning.

6 Increased Population and Energy use are a result of 20 th century Technology. Now we urgently need Population stabilization Sri Lanka will have to cope with 30-50 x10 6 Need lots more energy More energy use ↔ more garbage, industrial pollution More homes, no water ! Expect ~1 to ~3 meters slow rise in sea level Education and attitudes lead to stabilization Need alternatives to hydro and fossil fuel Solar Energy, Thorium-232 (local nuclear energy source.) Replace irrigation- agriculture by vat based agriculture. Need a 2-5 meter high dyke along the coast

7 Sri Lanka’s 1st challenge of the 21 st century Ancient vision was irrigation and tank-centered agriculture. This vision is untenable for a comsumer-oriented 30 million population The nation was a leader in the hydrulic civilization of the ancient world Today we need a new technological vision The old hydraulic vision (Parakrama samudra, Mahaveli etc) has to be replaced by a vision of building a Dyke around the country and connective roads The Dyke is a ring road for a fast rail network, work, connectivity, ports, people. The Dyke protects SL from Global warming and from naval terrorism

8 Sea-level increase threat Inundation will cover an area similar to the Tsunami.

9 Sri Lanka’s 1 st challenge of the 21 st century The first need of development is security and undisrupted connectivity (stop inundation and erosion) The sea-level monitors in Maldives have already shown an increase in sea level. Sea erosion is real. Global-warming CANNOT BE IGNORED. SL has to start NOW to protect the island.. Build a coastal Dyke-road and a SET of FAST rail- roads linked to it (public transport instead of cars) Such civil engineering creates JOBS and is consistent with the ancient genius of the people.

10 Sri Lanka’s 2 nd challenge of the 21 st century The current use of electricity (0.3kWh per household) will have to increase by a x of 10-20 Efficiently use garbage for energy and fertilizer SL’s wind-power potential is not high (60,000 mW) Better potential for Solar Increase electricity Tariff to subsidize solar panels. Tropics: Solar Energy. Follow Japanese Solar- energy policy. Use monazite in Thorium breeder-reactors. Nuclear Energy is a long-range, expensive option. WE LOOK AT OTHER OPTIONS – e.g., biomass for gas, heat pumps for cololing houses.

11 False claims and crackpot science Anything that goes against the laws of thermodynamics should be rejected Running the car by “burning water”! (H 2 O is the ‘ash’ !). Energy by making alcohol from straw How much straw? Fermentation product has to be distilled (costs more energy than you get out of it) Claims that “western science” is not applicable in Sri Lanka. Claims that “divine power” can be used for making predictions using “mediums”.

12 False claims and crackpot science Anything that goes against the laws of thermodynamics should be rejected Running the car by “burning water”! (H 2 O is the ‘ash’ !). Energy by making alcohol from straw How much straw? Fermentation product has to be distilled (costs more energy than you get out of it) Claims that “western science” is not applicable in Sri Lanka. Claims that “divine power” can be used for making predictions using “mediums”.

13 Energy -repeat Hydro energy already exploited- expensive capital investment (dams, turbines, grid) “Dendro” (burning biomass) now paying off and carbon neutral (Dendro pioneer - Mega10 in Bibile) Solar energy NOT exploited – great potential but expensive. Curent electricity tariff too low. Processing garbage for energy is A MUST Wind energy – Sri Lanka is moderately windy Geothermal sources (hot springs), heat-pumps

14 Comment about Solar and Wind power Wind-power installation costs in SL around $2m per mW * (e.g., Kalpitiya, Haley’s). Solar panels, 5-8 acres per mW, and $2-3m per mW *. This price* is going down. Subsidize or RAISE ELECRTICITY TARIFFS Float the solar panels on water in Tanks (cuts evaporation) to exploit land area. The ancient “village+ tank + farming” concept is upgraded to include solar-energy farming using the tank area. *2009 prices are indicated.

15 Sri lanka’s 3 rd tech challenge of the 21 st century – agriculture & water shortage Mahavaeli type projects no longer viable. Practice minimum-water agriculture. More Evaporation with global warming. Bio-technology and DNA based farming - (Plant breeding and controlled- GM) Grow in vats where the correct DNA produces, e.g., ‘tomato’ or ‘soya paste’ or ‘vegetarian chicken’ from nutrients. Shading tanks with solar panels to cut evaporation Nitrogen fixation to generated nutrients Biotech approach to garbage

16 Agriculture, fertilizers and poisons The expanding population CANNOT be fed using purely “green methods”. There is heavy overuse of pesticides, and fertilizers in Sri Lanka – educate our farmers reg. Arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), and over run of phosphates etc., in water due to over-use. Power plants using coal emit As, Hg, SO 2 etc. Big infrastructure and irrigation projects release As, Hg, heavy metals to the environment. POPULATION HAS TO BE STABILIZED. School Curricula have to deal with these topics.

17 Communication - Sri Lanka’s 4 th Sc. & Tech. challenge Communicate in Sinhala, Tamil, Hindi, English, Chinese, i.e., multi-lingualism needed in the global market but people are mostly unilingual. Diffuse the danger of Language politics. Quantitative thinking for the general public. The technological revolution already provides adequate (but imperfect) on the spot translations - check your browser Computers, internet, and information tech. for every one Mathematics

18 E-language Language barriers (Sinhala, Tamil, English) - basis of political agitation and civil strife - hampers commerce and development - yet we live in a “global village” There is a technical solution to these “political problems”. Exploit the tech. solution !!!!

19 Consider three aspects of e- language 1. Connecting Sinhala and Tamil writing to the ASCII keyboard – easiest part 2. Rendering spoken Sinhala to spoken Tamil and vice versa, for example., in a cell-phone conversation. 3. Translation of a Sinhala text into Tamil and vice versa by a click on your browser. (translation is imperfect but adequate – already available for European languages) WE are NOT looking for translation of poetry or literature. Translating precise legal text is actually easy!!!!

20 E-language, objective- page1 Keys on a cellphone or keyboard (English) to Sinhala or Tamil mapping schemes- nothing new: Every symbol grouping has a Unicode value and a corresponding Sinhala letter grouping. See: www.ucs.cmb.ac.lk/trl/services/econvert/t1.html Hence we can write on a standard English Microsoft keyboard and output directly into Sinhlala or Tamil letters. The cellphone does the translation/volcalization

21 E-language, objective page2 Multi-lingual conversations from one mobile to another is a feasibility. Each person talks in his/her language. Tamil and Sinhala have nearly the same grammatical structure and colloquial structure. If a Sinhala sentence be taken and each word be replaced with the corresponding Tamil word, you already get a meaningful Tamil form. This is ENOUGH for most conversations via a mobile telephone!

22 Mulit-lingual conversations in Sinhala-Tamil-English “Cell-phone accuracy” translations can be done in several ways: –Hardware using micro-processors (chips) –Software in the cell-phone + memory – Hybrid approaches –ICTA can best approach this problem at the software level. –Same software for Sinhala↔Tamil browser interfaces.

23 Multi-lingual Text messaging Many cell-phone talk, twitter, blog, e-mail facebook etc., involve text messaging This involves the use of the standard ascii keyboard. Text messages written in one language (say, Tamil) can be instantly rendered into sinhala and BOTH the Tamil and Sinhala Unicod versions can be presented to the subscriber. THIS WILL mostly RESOLVE THE “LANGUAGE POLITICS” that has plagued this country for over half a century.

24 E-democracy Given an electronically connected society, at least SOME aspects of government can be carried out by immediate e-voting. Example: legislation regarding information processing etc., can be put to the IT community and their opinion can be assessed via the internet and cell-phone links. Eventually, elections can be conducted electronically, avoiding the enormous expenditure involved in the current style of electioneering

25 Managing e-waste In western countries, obsolete computers and electronic equipment constitute the fastest growing waste sector: e-waste E-waste contains toxic elements like Ga, In, As USA exports 80% of its e-waste to developing countries, contravening international treaties We should require every seller of electronic equipment to take back the defunct unit which should NOT be put into normal garbage.

26 Conclusions regarding Language Politics Information Technology (IT) can radically change the confrontational character of language politics by offering a cheap technical solution making language legislation and “devolution” irrelevant. IT can democratize the process of government by make it very easy to consult the public electronically. We have to deal efficiently with e-waste (toxic).

27 Conclusion FOUR BASIC challenges – Rising sea level, Energy shortage, water shortages, and E-communication. The glory of the ancient hydraulic society can be surpassed by the Sri Lankans in the 21 st Century. There is a wealth of competent local expertise but poor vision. The energy sector is the key to development. Raise electricity tariffs, subsidize Solar power. Political and economic success is tied DIRECTLY to Science & Tech. and NOT TO CONSTITUTIONAL HAGGLING, or rejecting “western science” due to misguided nationalism. Use technological solutions to political problems.


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