How do we decide which worlds come true and which worlds are discarded? While we are typically thinking in terms of novel possibilities or scenarios set in different futures, it is rare to attempt an imagined past that might have led to a different present. Positioned at the right spot in the past, such counterfactual histories might offer an understanding of the forces at work as well as a fresh perspective on our present challenges.
The Golden Institute for Energy in Colorado was the premier research and development facility for energy technologies in an alternate reality where Jimmy Carter had defeated Ronald Reagan in the US election of 1981. Equipped with virtually unlimited funding to make the United States the most energy-rich nation on the planet, its scientific and technical advancements were rapid and often groundbreaking.
Its scope ranged from planetary engineering to the enabling of individual participation and profit from the creation of electricity. Notable projects include the development of the state of Nevada into a weather experimentation zone and the new gold rush in the form of lightning-harvesters that followed, or major modifications made to the national infrastructure in an attempt to use freeways as a power plants. The institute’s vision continues to inform the American consciousness to this day. In relation to energy preservation and harnessing, but also in terms of man’s relationship to the forces of nature.