Look up in the sky: Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a UFO? No, it’s a delivery blimp! NASA is developing the new generation of airships, which it believes will replace heavily polluting trucks, trains and ships (which need ports and docks, and these are expensive to build and susceptible to terrorism) as a way to transport freight.

The new generation of airships will take off and land vertically, and scientists say that blimps that can carry hundreds of tons of cargo at a time will be in the sky by the end of this decade. This comes more than 70 years after the Hindenburg disaster in New Jersey in 1937, which killed 36 people when the hydrogen-propelled dirigible exploded, bringing an end to the earlier era of blimps.

In the Telegraph, Richard Gray quotes NASA’s Simon Worden as saying, "Currently the majority of goods are put on trucks and trains to be transported around the country. That is a very expensive and time consuming process. You could imagine an airship landing in a field, loading produce directly and then delivering it anywhere in the world for much cheaper than we can today. Initially we are expecting to be able to lift tens of tons and we are building a demonstrator that we hope to fly at the end of next year. This will be very useful for remote communities like those in Alaska where there are no roads."

WHO KNOWS what will happen in the future, especially when that dreaded date of December 21, 2012 arrives? Sometimes a novel can tell you more than nonfiction, and Whitley Strieber’s novel "2012" is one of these. You can get it from the Whitley Strieber Collection, and it will come with an autographed bookplate that was designed by Whitley. One thing we DO know is coming in the future (in January) is Whitley’s sequel to Communion, "Solving the Communion Enigma," and you can be among the FIRST to get a copy if you pre-order now!

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