The history of energy is far from continuous: it is full of fantastic innovations, precursor devices that were judged to be irrelevant or unreliable in their time, failing to find interested users or lacking a technical device to build a truly efficient system. But today, these forgotten inventions have the means to respond favourably and no doubt unexpectedly to the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
COP21 returned our attention to the urgency of reviving among the general public this overlooked technical heritage based on renewable energies. We launched the Paléo-énergétique participatory and citizen research program in order to collectively excavate social and technical inventions, patents, forgotten or abandoned practices that have fallen into the public domain – to collect potentially catalysing social visions and weak signals from the past.
This rewritten history of energy, which shines a light on the invisible margins, calls for a global vision that leads to other fertile phases of analysis and creation. As a collective commons, this intellectual material can be redistributed to and revived by creative and collaborative open-source communities – where former inventions would no longer fall into the public domain, but instead rise to and emerge from it.
Since we first launched Paléo-énergétique, a number of projects for low-carbon flights and attempts to reach outer space have caught our attention, as our research has introduced us to various alternative flying machines. Meeting Tomás Saraceno and participating in his Aerocene initiative further motivated us to pursue our investigations into aeronautics and aerospace.
We have therefore decided to embark on a dedicated research project to collect all these counterfactual histories from the forgotten fringes of aviation and aerospace. Our current goal is to build a circular economy of knowledge about low-carbon flights by identifying and inventorying techniques and technologies that can be updated and adapted for today’s society.
This rich heritage and counter-history will be documented on a dedicated website – http://paleo-aero.org – as a collaborative research tool that makes available to the general public the collective intelligence of experts and non-experts alike.
We all invite all Paleo-investigators to join us on this journey through time, to discover surprising stories, revolutionary machines, and inventors who just might have changed the course of history.

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PALEO-ENERGY / An open research to explore forgotten energy inventions




PALEO-ENERGETIQUE / Recherche participative sur les innovations energetiques




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