My purpose in these remarks is to speculate on the role of energy in the “Asymptotic State of Humanity”—that is, the state toward which we are moving, inexorably, because man's urge to multiply is limitless whereas his resources are finite. In my talk I draw very heavily from many authors, in particular, Palmer Putnam, Hans Thirring and, above all, Harrison Brown, who has given much ingenious thought to the matters which I discuss. I choose to dwell on energy; first, because as physicists our basic subject of study is energy; and, second, because the character of the asymptotic state of mankind—whether it will be a bare existence or a passably abundant life—will depend centrally on our capturing an inexhaustible energy supply, either by learning how to burn the seas (fusion) or to burn the rocks (fission) or to trap the sun's energy in a practical way.

1.
Palmer Putnam, Energy in the Future (D. Van Nostrand, New York, 1953).
2.
Hans Thirring, Energy for Man (Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1958).
3.
Harrison Brown, The Challenge of Man's Future (The Viking Press, New York, 1954).
4.
Sir Charles Darwin, The Next Million Years (Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1953).
5.
Harrison Brown, James Bonner, and John Weir, The Next Hundred Years (The Viking Press, New York, 1957).
6.
P. D. Teitelbaum, Nuclear Energy and the US Fuel Economy 1955–1960 (National Planning Association, Washington, D.C., 1958), p. 148.
7.
New York Times, March 3, 1959.
8.
K. G.
Hernqvist
,
M.
Kanefsky
,
F. H.
Norman
,
RCA Review
XIX
,
244
(
1958
);
V. C.
Wilson
,
J. M.
Houston
,
H. F.
Webster
, and
J. E.
Beggs
,
Bull. Am. Phys. Soc.
3
,
266
(
1958
)
and
V. C.
Wilson
,
J. M.
Houston
,
H. F.
Webster
, and
J. E.
Beggs
,
J. Appl. Phys.
30
(
1959
);
G. M.
Grover
,
D. J.
Roehling
,
E. W.
Salmi
, and
R. W.
Pidd
,
J. Appl. Phys.
29
,
1611
(
1958
);
G. N.
Hatsopoulos
and
J.
Kaye
,
J. Appl. Phys.
29
,
1124
(
1958
)
and
G. N.
Hatsopoulos
and
J.
Kaye
,
Proc. I. R. E.
,
46
,
1574
(
1958
).
A thermionic converter using uranium fission as the heat source has been demonstrated at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.
9.
Putnam, op.cit.
10.
Thirring op.cit., p. 275. This figure agrees with Thirring's estimate that two square miles of collector would be required to produce 109kwh/year of electricity from the sun.
11.
F. Daniels and J. A. Duffie, Solar Energy Research (University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1955), p. 9.
12.
Ibid., p. 89. H. C. Hottel estimates a cost of $1130/kw or more but in making this estimate assumes that Carnot efficiency rather than Rankine efficiency is available. If the costs of transmission (say from the Sahara to London) and storage are included, this figure could be much higher—perhaps $2000/kw or more.
13.
H.
Brown
and
L. T.
Silver
,
Proceedings of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy
,
VIII
,
129
(United Nations, New York,
1956
).
14.
Keith Brown, private communication. If these higher estimates prove correct, the burnup cost is still small; however, the inventory costs would become very troublesome unless the inventory is derived from relatively abundant sources of U+Th.
15.
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations,
Proceedings of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy
,
I
,
3
(United Nations, New York,
1956
).
16.
C. F.
Barnett
,
P. R.
Bell
,
J. S.
Luce
,
E. D.
Shipley
, and
A.
Simon
,
J. S.
Luce
,
A.
Simon
,
Proceedings of the Second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy
,
31
,
298
and
;
C. F.
Barnett
,
P. R.
Bell
,
J. S.
Luce
,
E. D.
Shipley
, and
A.
Simon
,
J. S.
Luce
,
A.
Simon
,
32
,
343
(United Nations, New York,
1958
).
17.
Perhaps it should be pointed out that if only D‐T can be made to go so that Li0 must be used as a blanket material in fusion reactors, the same problem of high inventory costs will ultimately face fusion, as well as fission, reactors.
18.
The manganese bath experiments have been done by R. Macklin and G. deSaussure of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and reported in a paper entitled, “Measurement of η of U‐233 by the Manganese Bath Experiment”, American Nuclear Society Meeting, Session 18.2a, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, June 15–17, 1959.
The critical experiments have been done by D. W. Magnuson and R. Gwin, “
Comparison of Critical Experiments for the Determination of Eta of U‐233
”,
Trans. Am. Nuclear Soc.
2
, No.
1
,
146
(
1959
).
19.
Population Bulletin
XV
,
21
22
(Washington, D.C., March
1959
).
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