L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Fri, 21 Jul 2000 05:44:26 -0500


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Ah, see this gets back to what I was originally saying.
Civilian/Consumer technology is most certainly not well suited to
revolutionary development, because consumers are primarily concerned
with getting the "best buy" they can. In the early days of civilian
aviation, it was a novelty, only appealing to people who were either
in an extreme hurry, or wealthy enough to want to experience the
newest mode of transportation. In both cases, the people designing
the vehicles had the freedom, and at times obligation, to push the
envelope, because the customer base was looking for the fastest,
newest thing. However, today air travel is the most common form of
international travel, and in many nations it is the number one form
of consumer travel for even relatively short journeys.

There have been several attempts at modern revolutionary developments
in consumer air travel, but much like the most notable example, the
Concord, none have really caught on. It is not that airplanes are
such a mature technology that there is no room left for improvement.
It is that commercial air travel has become a big business, and as
such has to cater to the consumers' expectations. If you design an
airplane that has a radically different airframe, but is five times
as fuel efficient, or ten times as fast, you still have a hard time
getting people to book flights on the plane, because it doesn't look
like it is "suppose to." However, if you design a plane that looks
just like a 747, but has a larger interior cabin, then no one notices
anything but the extra leg room.

I don't know how old you are but I still remember communities
picketing about not wanting the Concord to come to their airport,
because they were worried about what effects the sonic boom of the
plane would have on their property values, and environment. It
doesn't make sense, it is not rational, but it is how people are. I
also remember quite a few civilian planes in the '80s that used
radical airframe designs to achieve better fuel efficiency, but none
of those designs really took hold, because the materials needed to
construct them were more expensive than what the civilian market
would bare, and at the high end of the market, the shape of a
Gulfstream had come to be a status symbol.

I don't really think the maturity of a given technology really has
much to do with its possible progression. I mean, look at the field
of medicine. It is one of the oldest technologies mankind has ever
had, yet it is the only field producing more patents every year than
the computer industry!

I think the important factor is where the focus of the "market" is.
If the focus of the "market" is for the "product" to do a better, or
less expensive, job of whatever it is doing currently (as is usually
the case in consumer markets) then evolutional development is the
best path to follow. If, however, the focus of the "market" is to
make a "product" that exceeds the capabilities and mission of the
current version, then revolutionary development is often the best
path to take.

In Gundam they were faced with two factors that had not been present
before, in the personal experience of the generals in charge of
everything:

1- The loss of radar as a homing/targeting system,which required
combat to be conducted at relatively close quarters.

2- Humans with unprecedentedly fast reflexes, learning times, and
heightened "senses."

In an environment like this, a revolutionary approach is the only one
that makes any sense. To try to just keep improving the same suit
would have been suicidal! Imagine what would happen if only one side
ever researched new alloys, or psycomm control systems, or handheld
beam weapons, while the other side just kept making evolutional
upgrades to the same suit.

- ----- Original Message -----
From: Blackeagle <cdupchurch@hotmail.com>
To: <gundam@aeug.org>
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2000 4:06 AM
Subject: Re: [gundam] Questions for Mark Simmons (and everyone else)

>
> Another factor which acclerates the pace of technological
> development during war is the fact that the effectiveness of new
> concepts and new technologies can quickly be proven or disproven
> on the battlefield. During peacetime, you can speculate and test
> and hold war games but there is no real way to be absolutely sure
> that your fancy new gear will work like you expect it to until the
> next war comes along (by which time it may be to late).
>
> Another factor is that even when new technology enters service
> during peacetime, tactics take a while to catch up. This is what
> happened to the French in tank warfare in WWII. Their tanks were
> better than the Germans, and they had more of them, but they were
> essentially using the same tactics as they used in WWI. Their
> tactics didn't really exploit the tremendous advances in tank
> technology in the intervening years. On the other hand, the
> Germans spent a considerable amount of time developing tactics
> which fit the newer technology.
>
> However, we can look at civilian airliners, rather than military
> aircraft in order to mitigate the effects of wartime development.
> Civilian aircraft generally do not leap forward during wartime, as
> resources are devoted to military purposes, but they do tend to
> get a boost immeaditely afterwords as military technology is
> applied to civilian uses. To screen out this effect, why don't we
> compare two timeframes that are at least a decade removed from the
> end of a major war.
>
> Compare the development of civil avation between 1930 and 1939 to
> the development from 1960 to the present. Around 1930, the state
> of the art passenger aircraft were the old trimotors. However, by
> the end of the decade, the trimotors were obselete and airlines
> had moved on to aircraft like the DC-3 and the enormous Pan-Am
> flying boats. These aircraft represent wholesale shifts in
> passenger aircraft technology. By comparisom, state of the art in
> the early '60s was the Boeing 707. Forty years later we've got
> the 777. The 777 is quieter and more efficent, but the basic
> technology is still the same. The advances of the '30s seem to be
> going at a far greater pace than those of the '60s-present and
> that's without even taking into account that the '30s were a time
> of global economic depression, which probably held back the pace
> of technological development. I would say that this difference in
> pace is due mainly to the fact that back in the '30s, avation
> technology was much less mature, and thus development proceeded at
> a faster pace, even in the absence of war.
>

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