A dialog of thoughts and ideas about software, usability, and products, with random science and wacky ideas thrown in for good measure.

When weather events come close to surpassing a previous record, part of me hopes the record is indeed topped, because that would at least make the trouble feel worth something. In Boston, we've had around 70-77 inches of snow so far - still shy of the 1995/1996 record of 107 inches, but winter's not over yet.

How will we better cope with snowfall 20, 50, or 100 years from now? Here are some ideas.

1. Sidewalks that are white in the summer, black in the winter. The darker surface would absorb more of the sun's energy and help melt the snow and ice, while the white summer color would keep the sidewalk cool.

2. Robots that clear the snow. Can we please call them "snowbots"? And unlike iRobot's Roomba or Robomow's mowers, I really want these snowbots to be anthropomorphic. After all, we'd have to buy snow shovels for these guys, right? They'll have to be aware enough to make sure the sidewalks aren't slippery for the kids walking to school, prioritizing that over brushing off the car. And they have to want a nice hot chocolate when they're done.

3. This business of mining salt from a salt mine so we can distribute it over snowy streets all over the country seems to have a limited life. No matter how huge the salt mines are, they'll run out (kind of like the phosphorus mines, and that's really scary). And then what? It seems we need some 21st Century sewer technology that can reclaim minerals (and, more widely, pollutants) for recycling. 

4. Black snow. This would definitely make better science fiction (the black snow nanodust escapes the lab and threatens to inhabits all life!) than science fact, but my idea is that black snow would melt more quickly than white snow because it will absorb more solar energy.

5. And, of course, flamethrowers.
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