Jul 04 2017

Happy Independence Day 2017, USA!

Published by under Perspectives


Here’s the powerful speech by President John F. Kennedy of September 12, 1962 at Rice University where he announces the rationale and plan for the greatest exploration and technology event in history — the 1st landing of humans on the Moon in 1969 — and does it in the context of human progress over our entire history. His emphasis is the American spirit of freedom and discovery, and it remains highly relevant to the potentially transformative exploration and technology vistas which beckon us today.

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Jun 18 2017

Bruce’s New Op-Ed is in the Washington Times

Published by under Perspectives


My new Op-Ed, “Trump, the new JFK in space” appeared today in the Washington Times.
Click: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/18/donald-trump-sees-new-opportunities-for-space-expl/


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May 10 2017

ANNOUNCING this Fall, Bruce’s USC “Human Spaceflight” graduate engineering course

University of Southern California

    FALL, 2017 – ASTE 524 Human Spaceflight

Instructor: Dr. Bruce Cordell

Human spaceflight has become a dynamic international and commercial activity that promises to exceed even the 50-year old transformational space vision of President John F. Kennedy, which led to the first humans on the Moon in 1969. Engineers, scientists, and managers need to stay abreast of this arena as global needs and aspirations surge to new heights.

For example, the International Space Station has won approval from the White House and the International Partners (Russia, Japan, ESA, Canada) to extend operations to 2024. In 2012, the Dragon spacecraft (SpaceX) made history when it became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to ISS; Dragon is also designed to deliver crew. In 2018 SpaceX plans to send commercial tourists to the Moon.

In 2014, China became the first country in the 21st century to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. Human missions to its space station (Tiangong-1) since 2011 are well-known, and China has recently begun talks with ESA about a joint lunar base. NASA continues with development of the Space Launch System, a heavy-lift vehicle that could support human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars, as could SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.

At USC in Fall Semester 2017, ASTE 524 Human Spaceflight will explore a variety of attractive systems and technologies used in current and future human space missions to Earth orbit, the Moon, and Mars. This includes environmental control and life support, human factors and space environments, and crew accommodations. We’ll examine orbit selection and astrodynamics, as well as mission operations and safety, and communications. Applications will include launch vehicles and transfer vehicles, space stations, and surface bases.
ASTE 524: Section 29152D, 9am-11:50am, Friday; Lecture, DEN@Viterbi.

For information on off-campus enrollment: https://gapp.usc.edu/den/getting-started/enrollment-options or call 877-740-1336.
To contact Dr. Cordell: bcordell@usc.edu

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May 07 2017

The Maslow Window as a Self-Organized Critical System

Maslow Windows are rhythmic, transformative pulses — featuring great human explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and Macro Engineering Projects (e.g., Panama Canal) — that occur twice per century. A Maslow Window is often triggered by geopolitical conflict (e.g., Sputnik; Cuban Missile Crisis), but is powered by an exceptional economic and technology boom (e.g., the JFK Boom) which collapses unemployment and increases real wages across society. As a result many individuals experience “ebullience” as they ascend the Maslow hierarchy and their worldviews expand. The most recent Maslow Window culminated in the 1960s Apollo Moon program. And right on schedule, it appears we entered a new Maslow Window in 2016.

The Maslow Window as usually described here is an empirical model based on long-term trends, historical patterns, and scientific analysis that makes specific predictions about space, technology, and related areas. However, the Maslow Window also has an enticing, but still developing, theoretical side that’s featured below.

Punctuated equilibria characteristic of Maslow Windows hints they’re governed by self-organized criticality (SOC). Over the last 30 years SOC has become a popular tool to explain a wide variety of phenomena like solar flares, black holes and accretion disks, earthquakes, lunar craters, financial systems, and even wars. In this brief summary we’ll utilize the SOC model of Aschwanden et. al (2016) in Space Science Reviews (Vol. 198, Issue 1, pp 47–166).

The classic SOC system is the BTW Sand Pile described by physicist Per Bak (1948-2002) and his colleagues in 1987.
Sand is dropped grain by grain on a pile. Eventually the sand forms steep slopes that reach a critical threshold; i.e., one more grain may trigger a system-wide change called an “avalanche”. In our case the “avalanche” analog is the Maslow Window itself.

A SOC system at its critical threshold displays non-linear energy dissipation and scale-free, intermittent avalanches with power-law size-frequency distributions. In a solar flare the avalanche is associated with the explosion of electromagnetic energy emitted by the flare, and for an earthquake it’s the surge of seismic energy released during the event. The Maslow Window critical state is observed in the real world to sequentially dissipate energy in several key avalanches including: financial events (a Panic and later a Boom), major geopolitical conflicts, great human explorations, and macro-engineering projects (MEPs).

Every SOC system needs to achieve a critical threshold so it’s capable of an avalanche. For an earthquake it’s the critical strength of the rocks that’s reached when the local stress field causes a fracture. For a solar flare the threshold may be reached by a critical configuration of the sunspot magnetic fields resulting in a magnetic reconnection process.

Interestingly, all of the above mentioned events during a Maslow Window are believed to be individual SOC systems themselves (although more data on MEPs is needed). They are apparently triggered by several specific thresholds associated with the decade-long Maslow Window critical state. Perhaps the most fundamental Maslow Window threshold is provided by financial prosperity. By analogy with a solar magnetic field, imagine a “GDP field” with spatio-temporal variability across the Earth. As it approaches a threshold value, the increasing GDP field launches many people to elevated levels in Maslow’s hierarchy where they experience “ebullience”. Maslow’s ebullience and Keynes’ animal spirits — substantially different, but still related ideas — combine to trigger potentially system-wide avalanches in the financial, technology, exploration, and geopolitical arenas. When the boom ends, and ebullience declines and animal spirits reverse, the Maslow Window slams shut, usually in response to a major war (e.g., World War I) — also a SOC process.

For a SOC system to experience avalanches in its critical state, it must be continuously driven toward its critical threshold; hence the name, “self-organized criticality.” For a solar flare the magnetic fields are generated and controlled by thermal convection ascending from the Sun’s interior. In the Earth, movement of the tectonic plates continually adjusts the stress field.

Consistent with our GDP field, the international economic system (IES) is the driver for a Maslow Window through the need for profits and income. (Other long-term factors may also influence the IES such as national prestige.) For a typical Maslow Window, separation of time scales is maintained because in the real world it takes several decades for the IES to self-organize to its critical threshold, but less than a decade to dissipate its energy through an avalanche (i.e., the Maslow Window).

Our new Maslow Window is a complex system with many degrees of freedom that has slowly self-organized over decades to a critical threshold which allows short-lived avalanches — both good (e.g., SpaceX) and bad (e.g., North Korea) — to exist. However, the history of JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis during the 1960s Maslow Window (plus all others over the last 200 years) argues convincingly that major kinetic conflicts will not occur in the next 10 years.

Major human exploration initiatives like Apollo are statistically identical and show similar generic features to other complex systems like solar flares and earthquakes. However, the physics is quite different. The Maslow Window centrally involves fundamental human nature through psychology (e.g., “ebullience”) and the basic laws of economics (e.g., “GDP field”). This and the Maslow Window’s persistence through the worst catastrophes (e.g., two world wars, the Civil War, Great Depression, several financial panics and great recessions) of the last 200+ years, suggest that Maslow Windows are robust and likely to continue into the future.

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Mar 12 2017

U.S. Optimism Rises Toward “Early Ebullience”

“With wealth never before imagined, America could dream dreams never before possible. In the early years of the 1960s, national optimism reached epidemic levels … (it made) anything — and everything — seem possible,” according to historians Mackenzie and Weisbrot (2008).

Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com, this feeling is called “ebullience” and is associated with a very positive — almost giddy — emotional state that’s historically associated with widespread affluence during a 1960s-style major economic boom. In response to affluence-induced ebullience, many people ascend the Maslow hierarchy where their expanded world views make Great Explorations (e.g., Apollo) and Macro Engineering Projects (e.g., Panama Canal) seem not just intriguing, but almost irresistible — hence the name “Maslow Window”.

A classic example of 1960s ebullience featured Walter Cronkite — a famous broadcast journalist/anchorman for CBS (1962-81), often referred to as “the most trusted man in America” — commenting on-air during the launch of the first astronauts to the Moon, that after Apollo 11, “everything else that has happened in our time is going to be an asterisk.”

According to the Maslow Window Model, full ebullience is historically triggered by a JFK-style economic boom. However the question arises now: Is merely the current widespread expectation of a future JFK-style boom actually triggering a preliminary version of the 1960s “epidemic” of optimism known as “early ebullience”?

Is Bloomberg’s Consumer Comfort resurgence a precursor of 1960s-style “Early Ebullience”?

In response to the recent closing of the Dow over 21000 for the first time, the Wall Street Journal headlined: Stocks Surge As Optimism Rises. They continue:

Wednesday’s stock-market rally echoed the response to the Nov. 8 U.S. election, when investors bet market-friendly market shifts would help boost economic growth , inflation and interest rates.

Late last week volatility from the oil market (not surprisingly) caused a pause in the Trump Rally. This early ebullience, based mostly on expectations of imminent rapid growth, is merely a precursor and not as robust as true 1960s-style ebullience that drives transformative change.

However, early ebullience is also clearly evident in recent, very positive sentiment about the U.S. economy. Last week Bloomberg indicated that,

Americans’ confidence continued to mount last week as the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index reached the highest point in s decade (since March, 2007) on more upbeat assessments about the economy and buying climate…

Bloomberg notes that this impressive consumer optimism extends beyond Republicans to Independents.

Historical analysis suggests that ebullience has been the fundamental driving force behind the stunning, civilization-altering exploration and engineering activities during Maslow Windows over the last 200 years. Indeed ebullience appears related to the “animal spirits” of behavioral economist John Maynard Keynes and the “irrational exuberance” of Alan Greenspan.

In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt’s Panama Canal fever and (north & south) pole mania; in the mid-19th century is was manifest destiny of James Polk and the central Africa adventures of Dr. Livingstone, I presume; and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark.

However, even during these rhythmic, twice-per-century waves of ebullience, some people remain stalled at lower Maslow levels — usually distracted by personal affluence, unproductive ideologies, and/or partisan politics — and thus are empowered negatively. Internationally, they sometimes trigger conflicts or even major wars (e.g., WW I) that can terminate Maslow Windows.

Widespread ebullience is usually short-lived because it is fundamentally a psychological phenomenon that often responds to feelings and perceptions — either positive or negative — as much as or even more than facts.

Despite the documented growth in consumer and investor optimism, the Maslow Window model forecasts that early ebullience cannot survive or transition into full 1960s-style ebullience without the near-term, large economic expansion promised by President Trump. Although initial trends look good, this is the key challenge confronting the Administration and Congress.

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Dec 22 2016

Maslow Window Model – Largely Confirmed in 2016 – Points to Emerging New Age in Space and On Earth

Published by under Uncategorized

The election of Donald Trump is impressive support for the Maslow Window model as well as its
timing. It’s important to realize that Maslow Windows are historically very bipartisan (e.g., President John F Kennedy, a Democrat, brilliantly led the 1960s Window),
and depend more on long-term trends in technology development, macroeconomics, and geopolitics than party affiliation.

JFK announcing in 1961 that the U.S. would send a man to the Moon.

These long-term trends are robust. In fact, on this basis 20 years ago in Space Policy journal, I initially sketched what a Maslow Window looks like and forecasted that a new 1960s-style Maslow Window would open about now.

For a brief summary of the Maslow Window model see the National Space Society publication, Ad Astra (Spring, 2012): “A New Apollo-Level Space Age”. Written in 2012, you’ll see mention of a key step toward the new Apollo-level Space Age — i.e., a future “political realignment” — that we have just experienced.

For a very recent verbal update please check my November 18, 2016 appearance on The Space Show, hosted by Dr. David Livingston: Click HERE. BTW, I’ll be back on The Space Show on April 28, 2017
to review President Trump’s first 100 days in terms of our trajectory toward the new International Apollo-level Space Age.

I agree with Bill Gates’ recent characterization of Trump as potentially a JFK-style figure. For example, like JFK, Trump is charismatic, likes to think big, wants to change things, and has demonstrated
a special connection with the American people that few in the media understood prior to November 8.

President-elect Trump’s stated objective is to stimulate economic growth which is the only remaining step (now that the political realignment has occurred), and he intends to
utilize updated versions of JFK’s policies which triggered the largest economic boom in history as of that time.

According to the Model we can expect the new international 1960’s-style Space Age to begin to materialize from the anticipated Trump boom as it gains momentum during 2017 and beyond.

ONE MORE NOTE: It’s important to realize that the most recent Maslow Window occurred in the 1960s so many people alive today have never seen anything like it. Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that in the powerfully ebullient environment developing now in the current Maslow Window — conditions not seen since the 1960s Moon Race, the early 20th century “Panama-fever” (of the Canal) and “Pole-Mania” (of the N & S polar explorers), the mid-19th century “Manifest Destiny” of the U.S., and the seminal exploits of Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago — almost anything is possible.

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May 28 2016

Bruce Announces the New Maslow Window during April 19, 2016 Appearance on The Space Show

It’s a pleasure to note that Dr. David Livingston has archived my recent 4/19/16 appearance on The Space Show at:

This focused on several key topics related to the near-term future of the U.S. and international space programs, including the opening of the new Maslow Window
that is likely to usher in one or more major international space initiative(s) such as initial human expeditions to Mars and/or its moons or development of a
crewed outpost on the Moon, possibly with international partners. The very public Mars colony aspirations of Elon Musk and SpaceX are a perfect example, although Paul Spudis sees the Moon as a profitable, more realistic near-term target.

The geopolitical and economic precursors — that have presaged each Maslow Window over the last 200+ years — are in place and we only await two more steps:
1) the completion of the ongoing political realignment (e.g., similar to John F. Kennedy’s election in 1960), which typically results in Step 2…
2) the beginning of a large twice-per-century economic expansion (such as the early 1960s JFK Boom) expected (due to election timing) within the next year or two.

We explored parallels between today’s uncertain economic-political-geopolitical situation and those existing during the time between Sputnik (1957) and the election
of JFK. This analysis suggests we’ve entered the new Maslow Window (~2015 – 2025) and are on glide path for a major 1960s-level space initiative.

Although still uncertain, Presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to share key characteristics with the pre-Presidential JFK including charisma and his ability to resonate with a nation at the “tipping point” of a political “revolution” (see Pat Caddell).

More on the long-awaited opening of the current Maslow Window and its near-term implications will appear here soon…

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Jun 18 2015

Bruce Returns to The Space Show Friday June 19

Published by under Uncategorized

It’s a pleasure to announce that I’m returning to The Space Show, hosted by Dr. David Livingston on Friday, June 19, 2015 at 9:30 am PDT.

On Friday we’ll explore the increasingly compelling evidence that we’re rapidly approaching a new, international renaissance in space. Long-term trends, as well as current directions in international space activities, macroeconomics, and geopolitics, point toward a new, international, Apollo-level space age that’s right around the corner.

We’re currently experiencing the often disorienting economic and global challenges of a 1960s-style “critical state” that previously stimulated President John F. Kennedy to give birth to the 1st human spaceflight to the Moon. All indicators suggest another transformative JFK-style decade with unprecedented activities in space and on Earth is in our near-term future.

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Dec 06 2014

Bruce returns to The Space Show, Sunday 12/7

Happy to announce that I’m returning to The Space Show, hosted by Dr. David Livingston on Sunday, December 7, 2014 from Noon to 1:30 pm PST.

We’ll be exploring the status and future of Human Spaceflight in the world, the U.S., and at the University of Southern California, where I teach a graduate astronautical engineering course of the same name.

Ironically, our slow but accelerating recovery and global challenges indicate that our multi-century “ducks” — technology, economic, geopolitical — are nearly in a row, signaling the rapid approach of a new 1960s-style “critical state,” like that which triggered the Apollo Moon program and changed the world during the first Space Age.

Activated by the Maslow Effect, global trends and stunning milestones suggest we can expect even bigger and better things soon…

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Aug 04 2014

Time’s “Cold War II” Cover Suggests a New 1960s-style “Critical State”

The Cold War of the 1960s between Russia (i.e. the Soviet Union) and the U.S. was a time of major geopolitical stress (e.g. the Cuban Missile Crisis, which almost led to a nuclear war) and rapid economic expansion in the West (e.g., the JFK Boom, which resulted in the greatest prosperity up to that time) — that triggered the Moon Race and the first Space Age.

According to Time magazine’s August 4, 2014 cover, “Cold War II — The West is Losing Putin’s Dangerous Game.”

Although this is hardly a new idea — e.g., 6 years ago there were serious concerns about a new Cold War — the fact that a publication like Time is featuring it now means that nearly everyone is finally getting it.

Recently on CNN Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein confirmed her belief that current U.S.-Russia relations are “at Cold War levels.” And at a July meeting in Aspen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey compared Putin’s actions in Ukraine to Stalin’s invasion of Poland in 1939, just before World War II.

Also interesting is the Wall Street Journal’s recent (7/14/14) front page recognition of “An arc of instability unseen since the ’70s,”

A convergence of security crises is playing out around the globe, from the Palestinian territories and Iraq to Ukraine and the South China Sea … reflecting a world in which U.S. global power seems increasingly tenuous. The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn’t been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say…

As I indicated earlier this year in “10 Space Trends for 2014,” and this summer at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles (ISDC, 2014), the key point is that geopolitical stress is surging to levels not seen for decades.

This signals that a 1960s-style “critical state” is imminent.

As the complex international system self-organizes over decades, it produces twice-per-century “critical states” (AKA “Maslow Windows”) where almost anything — good or bad — can happen. The last one was in the 1960s, and although it began with a bumpy road (the Cuban Missile Crisis), it also produced unprecedented economic and technology booms, the Peace Corps, and the first humans on the Moon, on its way to becoming a transformative influence on U.S. and global culture.

As noted historian Margaret MacMillan likes to say, “History … never repeats itself but it rhymes.” And the growing parallels between the role of Cuba during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window and six years ago are intriguing (see: “The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte“), especially considering the recent swing of Putin through Latin America.

The Wall Street Journal (7/28/14) reports that in addition to an oil exploration deal, “the Kremlin and the Castros are chummy again, and Moscow is offering military aid.”

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