reflections on the technium

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

Letter to entrepreneur : Thomas Heatherwick

I was very impressed with Thomas Heatherwick’s TED Talk, especially his power plant design.  So I just had to suggest that maybe that design would benefit from the addition of controlled environment agriculture.

Subject: Building the Seed Cathedral
Date: Thu, 26 May 2011 12:59:00 -0700
From: Charles Petras <>

I'd just watched your TED talk and was most impressed.

In regards to the Power Station project, one additional aspect 
of any future design should make allowances to support 
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).

Since one of the natural by-products of thermal power generation 
(as is the consumption of that power, e.g., data centers) is 
waste heat, which is a free (as in sunk cost) resource waiting 
to be tapped. Unfortunately no one seems very interested in 
harnessing this resource and putting it to other uses.

Recently Discovery news featured an interesting application of 
CEA that would dovetail beautifully with your power station 
design. Specifically crop production in modular units. A design 
similar to that could be embedded in the earthworks surrounding 
your station to give even greater land use efficiencies.

Best regards,


Written by Chuck Petras

June 2, 2011 at 21:39

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