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Industry Insight: Crisis on Asimov
Analysis & Commentary by Dr. Sheila Ronis

Chapter Two: Earth

Benson's wake-up alarm always told him what he needed to know first thing in the morning. He programmed it the night before.

"Oooo...it's so early. Maybe I had too much champagne last night. But, I better get moving. It's going to be a big day," Benson said to himself.

By the time the shuttle left, Benson was already concerned about how his presentation would go in front of the new company elders. It was easy to communicate in a virtual world, but reality?

Looking out of the shuttle, Benson saw the huge solar satellites collecting energy from the sun. Most of the Earth and its satellite cities use solar energy, including most PTVs and PTV hybrids. Solar energy is microwaved to Earth, and then beamed to power everything on Earth. Smaller versions of these solar satellites power the Moon and Mars.

PTVs move people and their cargo. On the Earth, they move, like hovercraft, over relatively flat spaces. Most road surfaces are green by law since the ozone hole has to stay closed. The bulk of the landmass on Earth is planted with special genetically engineered plants to ensure clean air. It took a few decades but, finally, the ozone hole was eliminated.

PTVs are available in any size - tailored for any number of people up to eight. Each one is uniquely designed by its buyer, based on the almost infinite combinations of modules. These modules come together to create vehicles that are programmed to transport people almost anywhere on the planet, satellite, or moon. It is quick, safe and inexpensive transportation. It is against the law for a person to manually drive a PTV. Driving is only for emergencies. Since this law passed, deaths from PTV accidents were reduced more than 99.9%. Computers make far better drivers than any human.

Vehicles operate on solar power as well as electric energy supplied by electric batteries they carry for emergency backup. The transformation of solar energy into electricity was improved greatly in the 20s when breakthroughs of efficiencies were accidentally uncovered by the Ford Sony Boeing Group. Since that time, FSB has remained the largest transportation company in the system, manufacturing PTVs as well as most mass transit ships.

Most mass transit is powered using nuclear fusion. Although the use of nuclear fission was used in the twentieth century, its toxic side effects were simply intolerable and all fission use ceased in the early part of this century.

No sooner did the shuttle take off, when Benson realized they were docking at the plant. The new plant manager, Ito Suzuki and several of his assistants boarded the shuttle.

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