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Japan dreams: Moon solar panels, pyramid cities

Japanese contractor Shimizu's plans to ring the moon with solar panels and build pyramid cities won't be realized soon. But they are cool.

Shimizu's idea is that to ensure continuous generation of power, an array of solar cells would extend like a belt along the entire 11,000-kilometer (6,835 mile) lunar equator. Shimizu

Japanese construction company Shimizu likes to dream big. Big as in ringing the moon with solar panels and beaming the energy to Earth. But in light of Tokyo's plans to build a $2 billion robot moon base, Shimizu's recent ideas for futuristic engineering projects, including the construction of pyramid cities, seem a little less far-fetched.

Shimizu's "Proposals to Benefit Future Generations" include an offshore pyramid city, home to 750,000 people, that was featured in Discovery Channel's Extreme Engineering, seen in the video below. The pyramid would be the largest structure on the planet, and, natch, hasn't been built yet.

Not that Shimizu isn't an accomplished builder, with projects ranging from airport terminals to wind farms and skyscrapers. It's just that the concepts and costs are out of this world. Other than Dr. Eldon Tyrell, do people really want to live in pyramid cities?

I love extravagant engineering plans like floating prisons that promise a brighter future on Earth or in space, partly because they're usually absurd and partly because they look so cool.

At best, they keep architects and filmmakers busy cooking up neat visuals; at worst they divert resources from more practical but less grandiose solutions to humanity's problems. But they're good fodder for daydreaming.

Check out our photo gallery of Shimizu's visions, from floating botanical cities to artificial desert lakes to orbiting space hotels. Need a soundtrack? Break out your vinyl copy of Donald Fagen's tribute to futuristic dreams "I.G.Y." and enjoy.

(Via Pink Tentacle)