Science and technology for
Sri Lanka in the 21st century.
Chandre Dharmawardana
National Research Council of Canada,
Ottawa
and Université de Montreal
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-tech2009.ppt
What is on the plate?
• THE 4 Long-term CHALLENGES For SRI
LANKA with population of 20x106 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.
Population graphs and projections, Sri Lanka:
How many to feed ? – how many new jobs?
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.
Increased Population and Energy use are a
result of 20th century Technology.
• Now we urgently need
Population stabilization
• Sri Lanka will have to
cope with 30-50 x106
• 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 irrigationagriculture by vat based
agriculture.
• Need a 2-5 meter high
dyke along the coast
Sri Lanka’s 1st challenge of the 21st 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
Sea-level increase threat
Inundation will cover an area similar to the Tsunami.
Sri Lanka’s 1st challenge of the 21st
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 railroads linked to it (public transport instead of cars)
• Such civil engineering creates JOBS and is consistent
with the ancient genius of the people.
Sri Lanka’s 2nd challenge of the 21st 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 Solarenergy 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.
False claims and crackpot science
• Anything that goes against the laws of
thermodynamics should be rejected
• Running the car by “burning water”! (H2O 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”.
False claims and crackpot science
• Anything that goes against the laws of
thermodynamics should be rejected
• Running the car by “burning water”! (H2O 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”.
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
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.
Sri lanka’s 3rd tech challenge of the 21st
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 controlledGM)
• 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
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, SO2 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.
Communication - Sri Lanka’s 4th 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
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 !!!!
Consider three aspects of elanguage
• 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!!!!
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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 21st 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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Science, technology and the 21st century: Sri Lanka’s …