Architects and engineers are among the most fortunate of men since they build their own monuments with public consent, public approval and often public money.John Prebble
Engineering & Nanotechnology
The substantial focus on nanotechnology in the late 2010s and onwards led to numerous commercial applications of advances made, such as carbon nanotubes in super-strong materials, graphene in conductivity and ultra-thin electronics, and C60 (buckminsterfullerene) in nano-medicine and chemical engineering. Nano-scale moving parts were also created to facilitate the construction and production of these atomic structures. Nanotechnology played a significant role in creating the ultra-light, ultra-durable materials used at the apex of human engineering efforts.
The fabricator units dispatched with Axiom-class colony ship pods utilise this technology in its construction, but without more specialist production facilities present, the specific machinery required to make additional fabricators is unavailable and cannot be produced from existing units. Most engineering has taken on a modular approach, allowing individual components on machinery, tools, vehicles, buildings and the like to be switched out as appropriate and replaced with something better suited to the task or conditions at hand.
It is also due to the advances in engineering processes that the Axiom and the orbital construction yards used to build them were possible to build in the first place. Such massive structures under constant gravitational strain, required to house vessels of truly immense dimensions, as well as shielding the workers constructing them from the perils of open space, need to be built out of incredibly durable materials. Mass fabrication was also vital in this process, and minerals obtained from asteroid, lunar and martian mining operations could be transported to the construction bays without ever having to descend to Earth's surface.
As memory of the large-scale nuclear accidents of the late 20th century faded from public memory, research into more advanced, safer and more efficient implementations of nuclear fission power was undertaken. The often-exulted thorium reactor and fast breeder reactor designs were prototyped, built and put into commission, as a less spoken-about facet of the Green Revolution of the 2020s. With nuclear fission filling in the gap left by the slow phasing out of depleting fossil fuel reserves, renewable sources could be exploited with commercially-viable technologies - without the constant fear of oil shortages, embargoes, or other political issues.
The availability of uranium and thorium remained stable throughout much of the 21st century, with many of the world's largest deposits of both elements being in politically-stable first-world areas. During this time commercialisation of nuclear fusion power was achieved, with the first generation of functioning fusion reactors deployed world-wide by a French nuclear technology company in the late 2020s and early 2030s.
Nuclear technology contributed in no small amount to the missile exchange that marked the end of World War Three, and afterwards the stigma that followed the likes of Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Cold War in the mid-to-late 20th century returned for a brief time. More focus was placed on renewable and alternative energy sources, though despite numerous protests the dependency on nuclear fission to provide the world's energy could never truly be reversed, and fusion power remained expensive throughout this period. To many of its advocates, it was not the ultimate solution to the world's power problems that it was originally marketed as.
Advanced fabrication methods allowed for the production of ever more efficient solar panels, which became the most dominant form of renewable energy produced across the world. Solar photovoltaic cells quickly superseded solar thermal energy and solar furnace technology. Extensive on-shore and off-shore wind farms were built, but their overall performance and public approval were lower than solar photovoltaic plants.