Archive for the 'State of the Wave' Category

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:
http://thespaceshow.com/guest/dr.-bruce-cordell

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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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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Mar 10 2014

State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2014 – Getting Our Ducks in a Row for the New Space Age

2014 will be a “Year of Decision” in the U.S as a mid-term election will influence how rapidly the anticipated new Apollo-level international Space Age will arrive. Specifically, U.S. voters will decide if the status quo will continue for two more years or if a new balance of power will set the stage for a transformative, 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.

The new face of space? Supermodel Kate Upton suggests how exciting zero-g can be!
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For a brief intro to how space exploration is likely to go ballistic in the near-term, see my 2012 Ad Astra article; Click: A New Apollo Level Space Age.

Ironically, our weak recovery and global turmoil indicate that our multi-century “ducks — economic, geopolitical, technology — are nearly in a row”, signaling the rapid approach of a 1960s-style “critical state” as described here last year in “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2013“, as well as four years ago for the coming decade, “DecaState of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020.”

Here are 10 key Space-related Trends for 2014:

10. China Triumphantly Joins the Moon Landing Club
In December China became first in the 21st Century to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon! No one had achieved this since 1976 when the Russians last did it; indeed Russia was first to accomplish an unmanned soft landing on the Moon in 1966. The first manned landing on the Moon was by the U.S. in 1969, followed by 5 more U.S. manned lunar landings (3 with manned rovers) through December, 1972.

This nearly 4-decade long hiatus of manned and robotic exploration on the lunar surface is apparently due to the Maslow Effect, involving multi-decade self organization of the international economic system into twice-per-century, transformative, “critical states”; the most recent one in the 1960s triggered the race to the Moon and changed the world during the first space age.

The end of the Moon hiatus is signaling the approaching new Space Age.

China’s new rover on the Moon is farther away than the Senkaku Islands, but is its geopolitical meaning the same?
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China’s spectacular achievement is not just of scientific significance, as most recently pointed out to me by planetary scientist Paul Spudis in a comment on my December post:

The real geopolitical threat is not necessarily from a base on the Moon but rather from China’s clear acquisition of the ability to routinely and freely move throughout cislunar space … (where) all of our national security space assets and economic space assets reside. … They have already shown their proclivity for anti-satellite activities.

Lignet.com concurs with the above point but also sees the possibility of an “asian space race” in both the civilian and military arenas. For example, if the U.S. abstains from the Moon …

The absence of a pre-eminent power on the Moon could turn into a Wild-West style land rush for the lunar surface.

By analogy with the 1960s, also a time of increasing geopolitical tension, will China “spur the U.S. into action?” asks Forbes columnist Alex Berezow.

China is now envisioning the very same sort of ambitious megaprojects that the U.S. once dreamt of more than 50 years ago, when President John F. Kennedy urged America to commit itself to achieving the goal of landing a man on the Moon..

China reminds Americans of the days of JFK when we thought we could do anything. It’s called “ebullience” and is coming soon to a country near you, as the new Maslow Window approaches this decade.

9. NASA’s Mars Fleet and Kepler Continue to Dazzle Fans of Earth-like Planets
Mars is awash in evidence suggesting the Red Planet had a large, ancient ocean of liquid water. “Oceanus Borealis” would have covered 1/3 of the Mars surface in its northern lowlands. This increases the odds of martian life as well as offering a key resource to future Mars astronauts.

Using new high resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) a Caltech team recently found ridge-like features called “inverted channels” that are believed to be the eroded remains of coarse, heavy material deposited in deltas when rivers poured into the Mars ocean. Recently, a University of Texas geologist suggested large boulders seen in MRO images of Arcadia Planitia (the ocean’s presumed location) are the result of catastrophic underwater landslides.

Sedimentary deposits imaged by Curiosity in Yellowknife Bay of Gale Crater on Mars suggest that an ancient water lake lasted tens of millions of years as recently as 3.7 billion years ago.
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The car-sized Curiosity Rover touring Gale Crater has discovered lake and stream deposits that could have supported simple life. Last March NASA announced evidence of pH-neutral water in Gale Crater, which increases the odds for ancient martian life. And future Mars explorers welcomed the news that Curiosity found 2% of the martian soil was water.

One of the most important NASA science missions of all time, Kepler is the first spacecraft specifically designed to detect habitable planets, which traditionally equates with having liquid water on its surface. Currently its website lists 961 confirmed finds, including Kepler – 69c, about 2700 light years from Earth, which was the first super-Earth (1.5 Earth masses) discovered around a Sun-like star that’s in its habitable zone and might have water.

Although a reaction wheel failed last August which limits Kepler’s pointing capability, scientists are still confident they can do a reduced schedule of planet hunting.

Recent in situ radiation measurements by Curiosity en route to Mars and on its surface suggest to some that human Mars missions would represent a large fraction of the lifetime exposure allowed by NASA for an astronaut. However, the actual increase in cancer risk is only a few percent which, compared to other Mars mission risks, is very manageable. Although NASA has no current plans to send humans to Mars, Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society states that,

We are much closer to being able to send humans to Mars today than we were being able to send men to the Moon in 1961, and we were there eight years later.

However, Apollo-level space initiatives do not happen in a vacuum or by accident, and Zubrin’s insightful assertion will only be true if the 1960s (the Apollo Maslow Window) is analogous — economically, geopolitically, technologically — to the next 10-15 years. And the message of current and long-term global trends is yes: the opening of the new Maslow Window/Critical State is likely to occur very soon.

8. No New Flagship Missions for NASA: Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
According to The Huntsville (AL) Times, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden indicated to the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee in early December that,

We have to stop thinking about flagship missions … The budget doesn’t support that.

Bolden also reportedly indicated that Congress could “force” one (e.g., Space Launch System) onto NASA, but “that may be the only way to get one in the future.”

Does that mean we should forget about starting major Apollo-level space initiatives now that could culminate in the 2020s, like human spaceflight to Mars, international development of the Moon, and/or large-scale space-based solar power systems?

Under normal circumstances, the answer is yes. But with the near-term approach of a new 1960s-style critical state, these are not normal circumstances!

As in the late 1950s when NASA originated, dramatic transformations will occur to enable new, unprecedented macro engineering projects in space and on Earth. In 1989 Yale professor Garry Brewer characterized JFK’s NASA in the context of a complex system as a “perfect place”:

(NASA) came close to being the best organization human beings could create to accomplish selected goals. If not the best or perfect, they were nearly so … close enough. Ironically, this very success ensured their eventual demise.

Like the critical state itself, NASA’s residence in the “perfect place” was relatively brief. To get back there, or close to it, and to do great things again, one of the pieces of the puzzle that NASA will naturally require was mentioned by Bolden: an increased budget. And, interestingly, the complementary geopolitical and technology trends are visible all around us.

7. Geopolitical Tensions Point to the Approaching 1960s-style “Critical State”
Over the last 2 centuries, great human explorations (e.g., Apollo) and huge macro engineering projects (e.g., the Panama Canal) have clustered together in decade-long, twice-per-century Maslow Windows. The Windows are apparently triggered by critical states in the international economic system that self organize over decades.

Invariably Maslow Windows start off with a bang: early in the Window (or just before it) there is either a war or an international crisis with war potential. A famous example is the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 involving Russia and the U.S. who together nearly ignited a nuclear war before it was rapidly resolved. Ironically, the CMC actually intensified the Space Race to the Moon between the two countries.

In 1998 National Academy of Sciences member Donald Turcotte (then at Cornell) and a colleague published their discovery that the frequency/intensity (measured in deaths) statistics of wars over the last 5 centuries displayed the clear signature (i.e., called “fractal”) of a complex system subject to self-organized critical states. In their summary:

World order behaves as a self-organized critical system independent of the efforts made to control and stabilize interactions between people and countries.

In other words, surging geopolitical tensions are harbingers of the approaching new critical state.

Last spring when the U.S. scrambled a stealth bomber to Korea in response to provocations by North Korea, it appeared that the crisis had parallels with the Cuban Missile Crisis of the previous Maslow Window.
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Last fall the rapidly evolving Syrian crisis had all the earmarks of an early Maslow Window crisis suggesting the arrival of the 1960s-style critical state was just around the corner. Click: “Syria reveals that the 1960s-style “Critical State” is Imminent

Perhaps of greatest concern, the current high-stakes crisis surrounding Iran and its nuclear program continues to intensify. Reaction to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was immediate. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz called it a “cataclysmic error of gigantic proportions” and Israeli PM Netanyahu said it was a “historic mistake.” Even NY Senator Chuck Schumer was “disappointed” because the deal was not “proportional”; “Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.”

A January, 2014 poll revealed that nearly 2/3 of Israelis believe Obama will let Iran go nuclear. More recently Stratfor.com reported that the Iranian Supreme Leader essentially agreed with the Israelis when he remarked, “Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program will go nowhere.”

All of this is in the context of an UN report last October that Iran may need as little as one month to produce enough uranium for a nuclear bomb, which might motivate Israel to consider a strike before that occurs.

As global tensions escalate toward unprecedented levels reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis, it’s reasonable to see the imminent approach of a new, 1960s-style critical state. The Iran crisis is particularly dangerous, however even with all the bad news, multicentury historical patterns suggest we are not approaching a WW I analog. Instead the geopolitical chaos reminds us we can expect major space and technology initiatives to develop sooner than you think.

6. New, Game-Changing Technologies Are Setting the Stage for the New Space Age
In my December interview on The Space Show hosted by Dr. David Livingston, one of our live callers asked a compelling question: If we believe for a moment that a new, near-term Space Age is in the cards, shouldn’t we see more government and private technology development to support it?

The answer, of course, is yes. And we do.

During the early 1960s the X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft that became the world’s first spaceplane. It set speed records (4520 mph, Mach 6.72), flew into space officially (above 100 km) twice, and its pilots included Neil Armstrong (1st on the Moon in 1969) for whom NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center is being renamed.

In 1961 the X-15 was glamorized by Hollywood in a full-length theatrical movie of the same name that used real flight footage. Stars included Charles Bronson and Mary Tyler Moore.

Today we’re not so lucky because the Air Force X-37b is a Mach 25 spaceplane whose technology development missions are secret. It’s public knowledge that it’s unmanned and reusable, essentially an advanced, miniature version of the Shuttle. It launches on a Atlas V in Florida and lands like an airplane at Vandenberg AFB in California although that may change soon.

The X-37b is famous for its long missions. Its current orbital mission began on December 12, 2013, and it’s still in orbit! Boeing advertises that the X-37b has advanced silica tiles, totally automated de-orbit and landing operations, and electromechanical actuators for all flight control surfaces.

DARPA is planning to build an Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) that will begin flight testing in 2017. It will place 3000-5000 lb payloads in LEO for under $ 5M per launch, and is envisioned as a true hypersonic and space access vehicle that could contribute eventually to a broad range of advanced military, commercial, and NASA missions.

Although initial U.S. work on hypersonic missile weapon systems dates back to the 1960s, it is accelerating today according to Lignet.com. The “boost-glide” concept involves a boost by a ballistic missile followed by a very rapid glide path to target — up to ~Mach 20 — culminating in a flat, low trajectory that could evade defensive systems.

U.S. hypersonic vehicles could become operational in 10 years (during the next Maslow Window) and are potentially destabilizing. Russia and China are reportedly pursuing similar systems. China recently confirmed a test of its hypersonic strike vehicle, the WU-14.

One captivating, and much less secret technology is 3-D printing which NASA and the European Space Agency believe could build a lunar base. 3-D printing has been identified as potentially having a very broad and profound influence on global business during the next decade.

The European Space Agency believes that 3D printing could facilitate the development of a Moon base leaving astronauts to just manage the process.
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An attractive idea is to mix lunar material with magnesium oxide to make a “paper” the 3-D printer can use. Engineers believe that a next gen 3-D printer could create an entire lunar building in only a week.

A variety of game-changing technologies are being developed with an eye toward facilitating human operations in space and on other worlds in the coming decade. This is consistent with the broad awareness that we are nearly ready to take a giant step in that direction.

5. Observation-based Models of the Sun and Climate Point to A Positive, Expansive View of the Future
Both the scientific community and the public are moving toward an observation-based view of climatic change as our scientific understanding expands.

For example, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in January asked a scientific sample of U.S. adults to prioritize 13 key domestic and foreign policy issues in terms of their importance to the national agenda. The number one issue was job creation (91%), followed by issues including trimming the federal budget and Iran’s nuclear program. Addressing climate change was dead last on the list (advocated by 27%).

The unfortunate irony, of course, was Secretary Kerry’s recent speech on climate change where he referred to those who disagree with him as “shoddy scientists” and “extreme ideologues.” Two atmospheric science professors (both fellows of the American Meteorological Society) from the University of Alabama in Huntsville — Richard McNider and John Christy — replied in the Wall Street Journal. The basic problem is predictions from complex climate models since the 1980s have not been able to match observational temperature data from satellites and balloons of the deep atmosphere (surface up to 75,000 feet); see their figure.

In fact according to McNider and Christy, NASA and NOAA satellites since 1978 have measured a warming of the deep atmosphere of only 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit, per 100 years, while the models (which cannot model the physical effects of clouds, etc.) forecast much larger values.
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The “science is settled” crowd — which sadly includes some who hold scientific positions — is willing to ignore significant observational data which does not support their naive and/or politically-motivated beliefs. McNider and Christy see a parallel with the 18th century British sailors who died of scurvy when many sea captains and doctors knew the cure, and yet this information was officially withheld for over 50 years because it didn’t fit the “consensus science” of their time. In the 21st century, climate science that is not observation-based could potentially reduce economic growth, distort government policy, and promote continued fear-mongering, even of young children in school.

A rather remarkable European physicist at the Technical University of Denmark (Copenhagen), Henrik Svensmark, has stated openly that,

In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth — quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable.

Svensmark and his colleagues have authored an ascending theory linking variable activity on the Sun with warmings and coolings on Earth. Currently the CLOUD Experiment at the European facility CERN — conducted by an international team of scientists — continues to generate experimental data supporting the idea that some low clouds (which cause global coolings) are nucleated by the effects of galactic cosmic rays, which are naturally modulated by solar activity.

Over the last two centuries, critical states in the international economic system have led to transformative, twice-per-century Maslow Windows that have featured 1960s-style golden ages of prosperity, exploration, and technology. Evidence — some cited here — suggests the public and many scientists are recovering from fear-mongering of the past and are moving toward a more positive, observation-based view of the human future, facilitating the likelihood of near-term prosperity.

4. SpaceX Shakes the Commercial Satellite Industry To Its Roots
SpaceX, “The World’s Fastest Growing Launch Services Provider” of Hawthorne, CA launched its first satellite into geostationary transfer orbit using its Falcon 9 rocket on December 3.

The SES-8 telecommunications satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, VA will use its internal systems to circularize its orbit at nearly 36,000 km above the equator so it can provide direct-to-home tv broadcasts to India and Southeast Asia.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on December 3 launches it first commercial satellite to geo transfer orbit.
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According to Space News, the launch solidifies SpaceX’s market credibility that “it will now use to attack the global commercial market.” In the next year or so, SpaceX will compete with Arianespace for at least 15 small geostationary orbit satellites.

Since achieving its first delivery of payloads using its Dragon spacecraft to ISS in May, 2012 it has made several cargo flights to ISS. SpaceX is modifying Dragon to carry crew to the ISS and is developing the Falcon Heavy, which they expect will become “the world’s most powerful rocket.”

On the other hand, someone still waiting to make private space headlines is Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic; Aerospace America (Feb, 2014) calls it “Prove-it time for space tourism.” Last month Branson indicated that Virgin Galactic will make its first commercial flight this year, although he has indicated the same in previous years. Beginning commercial operations this year will involve a “tough schedule.”

In January SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its third test flight, this time up to 71,000 feet and a max speed of Mach 1.4. However, Branson intends to take his customers much higher than that — into space officially at 62 miles — and reports indicate subsequent engine tests in the Mojave Desert.

Branson reportedly has 650 customers signed up who have already paid deposits of $ 80 M, and he has repeatedly pledged to personally be on the first commercial flight.

What’s even more interesting is that Steven Isakowitz, president of Virgin Galactic finds that university students are excited about commercial space (Space News, 12/9/13).

What inspired me was the Apollo program. But now we have new generation of young people who are saying it was SpaceShipOne.

Given today’s economic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions, many young people today are looking for a reason to get excited about space, their studies, and the future in general. Imagine what they will be like when the Maslow Window arrives and someone somewhere — maybe SpaceX+… — is leaving for Mars!

3. The Panama Canal Expansion Project Radiates an “Ebullient Spirit” Characteristic of the Approaching New International Space Age
Prior to the First Space Age of the 1960s, Maslow Windows always featured at least one monumental, non-space macro engineering project (MEP) and usually a few secondary ones. During the early 20th Century Roosevelt Maslow Window, the Panama Canal was the big one and secondary MEPs included the celebrated Titanic ship.

According to historian David McCullough, Panama Canal “was one of the supreme human achievements of all time.” It was the most expensive construction project in U.S. history — ~$ 8.5 B in 2012 USD or about 5% of the 1960s Apollo program — and consumed about 0.1% of U.S. GDP compared to 0.25% for the Apollo program.

For more, click: “10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space.”

The Panama Canal Expansion Project was initially estimated to cost $ 5.25 B, about 2/3 as much as the original Canal! In 2006 in an ebullient vote, the people of Panama approved this project by 76.2%. According to the Panama Canal Authority, the Third Set of Locks project will respond to sustained increases in international trade by allowing more and larger ships through the Canal.

Because of disputes and cost overruns the Panama Canal Expansion final cost may eventually approach that of the original Canal and completion could be delayed for years, possibly even until 2020.
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According to the Wall Street Journal (2/18/14),

There are many cities, countries, and port authorities who are spending billions of dollars in anticipation of the traffic that will come from the newly expanded canal.

Yet ironically, even with all its current concerns, the PC Expansion Project is a spectacular, expensive, exciting, complicated, international project that countries and companies all over the world are eagerly awaiting. It remains a shining example of “early ebullience” — much like the original Canal was a century ago — that points to the near-term arrival of a new golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.

This is important because — over the last 200+ years — large macro-engineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal) and great explorations (e.g., discovery of the N and S poles) appear to be triggered by large economic booms, but are fundamentally driven by “ebullience” (e.g., “Panama fever”, “pole mania”) — a somewhat irrational, but highly positive view of the future.

For example, 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 fever and (north & south) pole mania; in the mid-19th century it 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.

In the powerfully ebullient environment of the coming Maslow Window almost anything can happen. The only remaining question is: Where’s the Boom?

2. It Takes a Maslow Window To Go To Mars, but It Takes a Boom to Make a Maslow Window
Everybody agrees that any new major space initiative like sending people to Mars needs more budget than NASA has now. And NASA is fairly criticized for developing its Space Launch System (SLS) ahead of requirements for a specific, major exploration path.

The Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has recently encouraged Congress to develop “a long-term, committed and stable strategic plan for the U.S. space program.”

As an AIAA member myself, I appreciate her leadership on this hugely important issue…but let’s get serious for a second. The U.S. Congress: Long-term? Committed? Stable? Wow…

Even charismatic JFK during “Camelot” in the early 1960s didn’t attempt that, and his ducks — economic, geopolitical, technology — were all in a row!

Ducks matter! Only 15 years later in the mid-1980s the equally charismatic Ronald Reagan couldn’t sell a space station to Congress or the public within a decade of his proposal — and it cost a lot less than Apollo! That’s because his ducks — mainly economic ones (e.g., “Black Monday”, 1987) — were not lined up.

JFK inherited the post-W.W. II Boom and then made it even better through his economic policies. Here’s what a Maslow Window looks like: rapid economic growth (>4 %), unemployment approaches zero, and the poverty rate falls like a stone, until the Maslow Window ended around 1970.
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And what happened to post-Apollo plans for humans to Mars? As widespread ebullience sagged in the late 1960s, due to geopolitical (Vietnam) and economic (slowing economy) ducks becoming seriously misaligned, serious consideration of human spaceflight to Mars disappeared, until recently — as we approach the new Maslow Window.

In our current counter-ebullient country, where polls indicate 80% think the American dream is over because it’s much harder now than in previous generations to get ahead, will prosperity in the form of a JFK-style boom actually return?

In fact, over the last 200 years that’s the way it usually happens. For example, following the financial Panic of 1893 the U.S. was afflicted with a serious double-dip great recession that’s has parallels with the Panic/Great Recession of 2008-10+. Recovery took off like a rocket in 1899 when growth went ballistic with a JFK-style boom that resulted in one of the most ebullient decades in U.S. history.

In fact, the current slow economic recovery is part of a 200-year pattern that, over the last 2 centuries, has always culminated in a transformational Maslow Window. Can you imagine the pent up consumer demand that will explode when the economy turns around, negative animal spirits are reversed, and an expansion reminiscent of the 1960s begins?

Last year in this space I suggested that the trigger for the next Maslow Window — a JFK-style economic boom — would be associated with: 1) the U.S. oil boom, 2) the tech-led boom, and 3) the green-plus boom.

All three trends and others have remained in play and are strengthening the prospects for prosperity. In particular, the International Energy Agency says the U.S. will overtake Russia this year as the top oil producer in the world. According to WSJ (1/31/14), “The shale boom is greasing the wheels of the U.S. economy,” although 4th quarter GDP for 2013 was recently revised down from 3.2% to 2.4%.

For details I’d recommend Jack Plunkett’s book, The Next Boom, which addresses America’s favorable demographics, the next billion new consumers emerging soon globally, and how trends from energy to health care and new technologies suggest we’re “on the verge of a period of major economic growth.”

Also, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler — in Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think — show how innovations in energy, education, health care, freedom, and a variety of high technologies will provide us with “the ability to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet.”

President Kennedy provided us with a powerful economic model that stimulated economic growth and prosperity at the highest level up to that time, and triggered the widespread ebullience that drove the transformative 1960s Maslow Window, including the world-altering Apollo program.

In today’s world, it might surprise some to hear that JFK’s highest priority was to lower tax rates, including personal and corporate, and to control government spending, which through “free market processes” would create new jobs, higher income, and more tax revenues. Given JFK’s extraordinary success, should we give it a try again?

1. “History, said Mark Twain, never repeats itself but it rhymes.” Noted Historian Margaret MacMillan
A professor of international history at Oxford University, Margaret MacMillan is also an acclaimed author, including her recent The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, which collects her wisdom on the origins of World War I.

The difficulty of this task, now in its 96th year (since the end of The Great War), is exacerbated by the fact that it appears to be the result of a complex system in its critical state — such as that which apparently existed near the end of the early 20th Century Maslow Window — where a minor event can have large, unexpected system-wide effects.

Will a new JFK-style U.S. President be elected in 2016?
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However, the following brief list of key space-related events to watch for (with brief comments) adopts Professor MacMillan’s guideline above that the best view we can have of the future is a rhyme of the past, not a repetition.

It’s based on long-term cycles, historical patterns, and current global trends, which are interpreted here in the context of the 1960s-style critical states that great human explorations, the international economic system, and wars have exhibited over the last two centuries.

Key space-related events converge on the expectation that a new 1960s-style critical state is imminent and a new Maslow Window is expected to open by 2017:

1. The appearance of the financial Panic of 2008 is a clear, multicentury, near-term harbinger of the coming JFK-style boom.

2. Over the last 2 centuries, Maslow Windows are always triggered by a JFK-level economic boom. Current U.S. growth remains sluggish suggesting the boom may be 1-3 years away, but it is coming. For example, in 2013 the Wall Street Journal (2/10) observed,

America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.

3. The current Iran crisis and that of North Korea — each potentially nuclear — have the potential to rise to the level of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and indicate the critical state is imminent.

4. The landing of China’s rover on the Moon ends the nearly 4-decade hiatus of robotic and/or human exploration directly on the lunar surface. This major milestone has the potential to trigger events which could lead to a future Sputnik moment for the U.S.

5. The general lack of direction for NASA’s human exploration program coupled with economic uncertainty, geopolitical stress, and unsettling performance of K-12 education, suggest the U.S. would be psychologically vulnerable to a Sputnik moment within the next few years.

6. The 2014 midterm election in the U.S. may play a pivotal albeit indirect role in NASA’s exploration plans by either creating a realignment of power that will ignite growth and trigger the new Maslow Window, or continue the status quo which might delay a move toward prosperity for 1-3 years.

7. Will the new JFK-style “Space President” be elected in 2016? This would be a MacMillan-style “rhyme” of JFK’s election in 1960 just prior to the opening of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

It’s intriguing to imagine potential candidates.

No responses yet

Aug 01 2013

State of the Wave: The Physics of Finance As We Approach the 1960s-Style Critical State

For most people the financial Panic of 2008 is probably the most famous evidence that conventional economic models — like those long-used by the Fed and other central banks — are simply not adequate. In fact, many decades have been littered with officially unforeseen recessions and initially minimized expansions. So many that in 2010 economist Russ Thomas (Hoover Institution & George Mason Univ) finally asked, “Is the dismal science really a science?” (Wall Street Journal, 2/26/10).

Thomas’ bottom-line is revealing:
“The economy is a complex system, our data are imperfect and our models inevitably fail to account for all the interactions.”
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Momentum is growing in this direction. For example, after asking whether economics is “a science or a religion” physicist Mark Buchanan concluded recently (Bloomberg, 7/17/13) that,

Economics is riddled with hidden value judgments that make its advice far from scientific … (and) economists would do well to derive their prescriptions from observations of how the world really works, with a healthy respect for its complexity.

In 2010, The Economist (7/22/10) reported on growing insight into complexity in the economy using Agent-based Models or ABMs, with an eye toward forecasting major fluctuations.

ABMs do not suffer from key assumptions that limit traditional (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium) economic models including a theoretical equilibrium that attracts all prices or that markets must be fundamentally rational. Instead an ABM assigns specific rules for each agent (e.g., an individual, a firm) including for example, how it regards fundamentals or technical analysis of market data. Agents can also interact with each other and learn from experience, and thus mirror real-world activities.

Michael Casey (Wall Street Journal, 7/10/13) concludes that

the Universe’s dynamic tendency toward disequilibrium and instability … (is) a direct challenge to the prevailing economic theory that markets are inherently self-correcting and always reverting to equilibrium.

Mark Buchanan sees sudden events like the 1987 stock market crash as an “avalanche” in economic behavior. In the 1980s physicist Per Bak and his colleagues originated the term “avalanche” in reference to his famous sand pile analogy to explain the behavior of a fractal system that has self-organized to a “critical state.”

This is an increasingly popular theme with econophysicists. For example, European geophysicist Didier Sornette founded the Financial Crisis Observatory in Zurich and developed his “Crash Risk Index” to monitor the approach of market-related critical states. Researchers at Oxford University, the Santa Fe institute, and elsewhere envision a super-ABM — by linking many ABM modules — that can anticipate avalanches across the globe.

Although the details in some physics-based models are proprietary (because of their commercial potential), the physics of finance has achieved significant success and recently even became a marketing tool. The Paris-based Capital Fund Management, whose chair is physicist Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, prominently features this on their website:

Research in the statistical properties of financial instruments and the development of systematic trading strategies are carried out at CFM by a team of Ph.D’s, most of them former physicists from prestigious international institutions …

And we should remember that on September 15, 2008, Scientific American magazine republished an article by Benoit Mandelbrot (who originated the concept of a fractal) on “How Fractals Can Explain What’s Wrong With Wall Street,” with this note:

This story was originally published in the February, 1999 edition of Scientific American. We are posting it in light of recent news involving Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch.

This is a glimpse of the exponentially expanding world of the physics of finance that provides theoretical support for our empirical model of the Maslow Window. Indeed, Maslow Windows appear increasingly to be the manifestation of “critical states” in the international economic system.

Twice-per-century, rhythmic pulses of unprecedented activity — in great explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark), monumental macro-engineering projects (e.g., the Panama Canal), and major wars (e.g., World War I) — produce transformational, 1960s-style decades called Maslow Windows powered by “critical states.”

The last one was in the early 1960s and it led to the first human landing on the Moon.

Over the last 200+ years, the approach of a Maslow Window is signaled by a financial panic (e.g., Panic of 1893) that precedes it by 6-7 years. Such panics are now understood as “avalanches” in the complex international economic system due to the development of “critical states” over decades of self-organization.

Based on 200-year patterns, the Panic of 2008 signaled that we were within 6-7 years of the opening of the next Maslow Window (~2015).

Recovery from the Panic/Great Recession duo typically results in a JFK-style economic and technology boom that momentarily creates an “ebullient” population ready to tackle major projects like Apollo despite the rather bumpy road (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis). The rapid-fire juxtaposition of both “good” (e.g, Apollo, Peace Corps) and “bad” events (e.g., CMC, Cold War) is understood now as characteristic of a complex system in a critical state subject to major avalanches (technological, economic, or geopolitical) in both positive and negative directions. Once in the critical state almost anything can happen.

Our recent statistical study of the costs of NASA space programs — over the history of the agency — showed they are fractal, in the same fundamental sense as financial markets. Thus the fact that Apollo became a featured element of the 1960s is now understood as being due to the development of its critical state.

The ongoing, linked North Korea/Iran nuclear crisis is, in some ways, reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis and signals that the opening of the next Maslow Window is imminent. Just how imminent is still uncertain. Until the JFK-style boom appears the Maslow Window cannot blossom.
For scenarios that lead to a near-term JFK-style boom, click: “State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2013 — Featuring the Approach of the New International Space Age”

Historically, wars and/or major international conflicts punctuate Maslow Windows. For example, the 1960s Maslow Window began with the Cuban Missile Crisis (nearly triggering a nuclear war) and ended as the Vietnam War destroyed any remaining societal ebullience.

This is to be expected because in 1998 geophysicist Donald Turcotte and his colleagues discovered that wars are fractal and subject to self-organized criticality — like financial systems and NASA space programs! According to Turcotte:

World order behaves as a self-organized critical system independent of the efforts made to control and stabilize interactions between people and countries.

The early war/conflict is always smaller than the major war that abruptly terminates the Maslow Window. Widespread affluence-induced ebullience early in the Maslow Window may moderate conflicts at that time, while the terminal war accelerates collapse of the Maslow Window; the classic example is World War I.

The fact that Maslow Windows are bookended by wars and/or major international conflicts is now understood as a natural consequence of the fractal nature of wars and the development of a critical state before and during each Maslow Window.

The fractal nature of financial systems, wars, and NASA space programs informs us why “avalanches” in these entities cluster exclusively during the self-organized critical states of Maslow Windows. Expanded ABM’s will reveal the details of these mutual relationships in time (hopefully!) to illuminate our near-term, 1960s-style transformative future.

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Mar 22 2013

Bruce Returns to “The Space Show” Friday (3/29)

It’s a pleasure to announce that I’m returning for my 5th visit to The Space Show (www.thespaceshow.com) global internet live radio program, this coming Friday, March 29, 2013, from 9:30 am – 11 am Pacific time.

You can listen to my September, 2012 appearance on The Space Show by clicking HERE

Thanks to Dr. David Livingston, the show’s host, for inviting me. You can learn about him by visiting his personal website, www.davidlivingston.com.

We’ll explore my annual look at space-related trends for the coming year; Click: 10 Space Trends for 2013 — Featuring the Approach of the New International Space Age.

For example, human spaceflight to Mars — and even near-term colonization of the Red Planet — is closer than you think as shown by NASA’s captivating Curiosity Rover.

Extraordinary trends in private commercial, secret DoD, and key international thrusts into space are converging with long-term and current macroeconomic indicators (e.g., the financial Panic of 2008) and geopolitical conflicts (e.g., Iran, North Korea) that point to a transformative, 1960s-style “critical state” arriving by mid-decade.

If the last 200+ years of technology development and great explorations (back to Lewis and Clark) are any guide — a new, international, Apollo-level Space Age won’t be far behind.

See you Friday!

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Feb 13 2013

State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2013 — Featuring the Approach of the New International Space Age

2012’s bright spots included NASA’s hugely popular Curiosity rover on Mars and the impressive expansion of current activities and future plans for the commercial space arena. As expected, 2012 also featured continuing economic difficulties, and — with the re-election of President Obama and the Republicans in the House — the promise of continuing political sparring through the coming year.

The space-related world remains firmly on track with trends identified here early last year ( “State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2012“) — e.g., increasing global evidence for the approaching 1960s-style “critical state” — as well as the expected directions sketched almost three years ago for the coming decade (“DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020“).

2013 will be a “Year of Uncertainty” in space especially regarding the lack of direction for NASA, plus a slow economy and events in the Middle East and elsewhere that will impact our trajectory toward prosperity, the impending Maslow Window, and the new international Space Age — all expected to begin emerging by mid-decade.
For a brief intro to how space exploration is likely to go ballistic in the near-term, see my 2012 Ad Astra article; Click: A New Apollo Level Space Age.

Here are 10 key Space-related Trends for 2013:

10. NASA’s $ 2.4 B Curiosity Rover Points the Way to Mars:
Billed as “the most complex spacecraft ever landed on another planet,” the one-ton Curiosity Rover has been a challenge to operate on the surface of Mars. “Everything is taking longer then we had hoped,” according to chief engineer Rob Manning.

Curiosity rover is becoming known as a “scientist’s dream,” and recently became the first robot on Mars to extract a sample by drilling into a local rock.
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The immediate goal is to find evidence for life — past or present — in Gale crater. Such locales may present the best chance for Martian microbial life because impact craters exhume rocks that show evidence of being altered by water below the surface; and this is where bacteria would be shielded from the hard radiation on Mars’ surface.

Although funding for future robotic Mars exploration remains uncertain, in the coming year Curiosity will “Follow the Water” to better understand the present, past, and future of Mars’ climate, surface, and its possible biology, including preparing for human exploration and settlement.

At the Annual International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena last August 5, just before Curiosity landed on Mars, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on “Our Future in Space” with former astronaut Story Musgrave, astrophysicist Richard Gott (Princeton Univ), and Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society.

You can see the Mars Convention video HERE.

Current global trends suggest that near-term human spaceflight to Mars is doable before the mid-2020s and in fact may become geopolitically leveraged like Apollo in the 1960s.

9. Private Commercial Space Begins to Surge
Perhaps the most stimulating words spoken by candidate Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign were, “We must unleash the genius of private enterprise to secure the United States’ leadership in space.” And as president in 2010 he canceled the development of NASA’s Aries 1 and V heavy-lift rockets and the Moon program.

“This was a crucial step. It makes the things in the future, and the ultimate path toward humanity becoming a multi-planet species, much, much more likely,” remarked SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in reference to his unmanned Dragon space capsule launched on a Falcon-9 rocket becoming the first private spacecraft ever to dock with the International Space Station (5/25/12).

Regular cargo missions to ISS began last October and manned flights of Dragon are planned within a few years.

Recently, Robert Walker and Charles Miller (Wall Street Journal, 1/28/13) interpreted Obama’s positive approach to commercial space as part of a “30-year arc” of space policy that originated with Reagan in 1982 when he created the Office of Commercial Space Transportation and encouraged “the fullest commercial use of space.”

Walker and Miller now recommend that Obama relaunch his commercial space policy by completing “the privatization of all U.S. Space Transportation.” They assert that, “Just as the government does not design or build automobiles, ships, trains or airplanes, NASA should not be designing, building or launching rockets to go to low Earth orbit.”

Not everyone agrees. Former NASA boss Mike Griffin comments (WSJ, 2/4/13) that NASA’s planned heavy lift vehicle (the Space Launch System) will carry more than 10x the payload to orbit than any commercial vehicle and that “no commercial program is positioned to tackle” the deep space challenges of a return to the Moon or humans to Mars.

Things are jumping at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. According to the February Spaceport Newsletter, “We achieved a major milestone — we gave Virgin Galactic the keys to the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space on January 15 and correspondingly they started paying rent.”

If you haven’t seen their recent construction, check out my images taken January 6. The word is that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will do its first flight — with paying passengers and Branson himself — late this year, and given the increasing readiness of the Spaceport and the SpaceShips, this may be it!

“We have ambitions to go to the Moon someday, have a base there,” the visionary real estate and hotel magnate Robert Bigelow indicated recently.

On January 16, 2013 Bigelow Aerospace and NASA announced their plan to attach a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the ISS in 2015 to test the viability of inflatables in space.
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By 2016, Bigelow hopes to attract tourists, private companies, and small countries seeking an inexpensive space program to his inflatable orbital outpost for 2 weeks to 2 months of orbital bliss with a per-seat tab between $ 25 – 35 M.

And for the first time ever, two private companies — Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries — announced they intend to commercially develop near Earth asteroids for water and platinum-group metals, to provide propellants for access to space and to directly enrich Earth’s economy.

Appropriate technologists, entrepreneurs, and billionaire-investors appear to be involved and both companies plan to fly initial spacecraft by 2015 as they seek the new “Gold Rush” in space.

8. The Panic of 2008 and Slow Recovery Point Toward a 1960s-Style, Transformative Decade, Including a New International Apollo-level Space Age by Mid-Decade
It’s not a coincidence that about 45-50 years after Lewis and Clark drew international attention to the American northwest, the California Gold Rush became symbolic of its commercial potential.

Likewise, it’s no surprise that a “gold rush” into space — symbolized now by Planetary Resources and DSI — will materialize 45-50 years after the Apollo Moon program initially introduced the international community to the resources and commercial potential of space.

All four of these seemingly unrelated seminal events were (and are) fundamentally driven by twice-per-century JFK-style booms (>4%) apparently triggered by self-organized “critical states” in the international economic system, known as Maslow Windows. The most recent one featured the Apollo program and the first Space Age, and the next transformative 1960s-style decade is expected by mid-decade and should trigger an international renaissance in space.

The first economic precursor of a typical Maslow Window is easy to recognize. It’s a financial Panic which is followed by a multi-year great recession, like that of 1893 or 1837 – both of which led to transformative Maslow Windows.

Based on macroeconomic patterns of the last 200+ years, the financial Panic of 2008 signaled that we were within about 6-7 years of the opening of the next Maslow Window. The slow recovery since the Great Recession (2008-10) is also consistent with a 200-year pattern.

U.S. economic trends continue to be very daunting:
a) Unsustainable Fiscal Path:
The Government Accounting Office (GAO), in its recent (1/17/2013) audit of the U.S. Government, concluded that, “…absent policy changes, the federal government continues to face an unsustainable fiscal path.” So unless government spending is brought under control and entitlement programs are reformed, the value of the U.S. dollar will decline rapidly.
b) Our Debt is a National Security Imperative:
The U.S. national debt is now about $ 16.5 T – an all-time record – and increasing rapidly. To show their concern for the future stability of the U.S., fifteen former leaders from government and military explained why “Addressing our Debt is a National Security Imperative…” (WSJ, 12/5/12). The bipartisan list included Michael Mullen, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, and George Schultz.
c) Slow Growth and High Unemployment Continue:
The slow recovery since 2010 has featured consistently high unemployment (recently up again to 7.9%) and low GDP growth; indeed, the last quarter of 2012 actually contracted by 0.1 %.

Historically, slow post-Panic/Great Recession recoveries are usually remedied by political realignments such as those in the national elections of 2008 and 2010. However, in 2012 — the first post-Great Recession national election — the American people voted for the status quo which suggests we can expect a resolution by 2014.

Current economic trends indicate that the anticipated twice-per-century JFK-style expansion – like that of the early 1960s and early 1900s – has not yet arrived. However, this observation is completely consistent with the timing of the Panic of 2008, our political trajectory, and with long-term trends that point to a new, transformative Maslow Window opening by mid-decade.

7. The Secret X-37B Suggests a Possible Roadmap to a National Security Moon Base
One of the most interesting space programs is one that we know very little about: the USAF X-37B spaceplane.

It’s missions are secret and the third successful X-37B launch occurred on December 11, 2012. A previous X-37B technology development mission ended on June 18, 2012 after 469 days in orbit! Thus the current X-37B mission may last beyond 2013.

Built by Boeing, the X-37B is an unmanned, reusable, winged, Mach 25 spaceplane, about 1/4 the size of NASA’s Space Shuttle. It’s launched on an Atlas V in Florida and lands like an airplane at Vandenberg AFB in California.

It’s well-known that a vehicle like the X-37B could change the world. For example, it could deliver weapons systems or civilian passengers (whatever you need!) anywhere in the world, very fast.
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According to former NASA executive Charles Miller, reusable spaceplanes are also the key to commercial space.

The nation that builds the first true reusable spaceplace will be in a position to dominate the much broader commercial space industry…such as satellite servicing, tourism, and medical breakthroughs from zero-gravity research.

And as our strategic space assets like surveillance satellites and comsats become increasingly vulnerable to anti-sat weapons being developed by China (successfully tested in 2007) and even North Korea and Iran, an X-37B-style spaceplane would transform national security by their ability to rapidly replace such orbiting assets, and thus reduce the incentive to attack them in the first place.

Traditionally, the Moon has been viewed as the most secure location for Earth surveillance, as expressed in 1984 by the famous physicist Edward Teller at the Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century Conference. (I also spoke at this event on importing water from the moons of Mars for use in the Earth-Moon system.)

Teller stated he would like to see an outpost on the Moon (~12 people) as soon as possible. As a “special proposal” he recommended that,

Surveillance of the Earth — permanent continuous surveillance that is hard to interfere with — is an extremely important question, important to us, important to the international community, important for peace-keeping … It is in everyone’s best interest to have observation stations that are not easy to interfere with.

Miller suggests a Moon base would become cost-effective by reducing Earth-launch costs by a factor of ~10 to $ 500 per pound and achieves this by development of a totally reusable spaceplane.

Given the geopolitical significance of the Moon in the coming mid-decade Maslow Window, I searched for recent studies of potential national security applications of a Moon base.

The closest I could come was a chilling Moon-related military scenario in George Friedman’s (Stratfor.com) book The Next Hundred Years (2009); he agrees with Teller’s opinion of the value of Earth surveillance from the Moon and suggests that, “Sustaining and defending a base on the Moon will actually be easier than doing the same for orbital systems.”

In Friedman’s mid-21st century fictional scenario, both Japan and Turkey — two key space powers by then — become understandably threatened by powerful U.S. command and control “battlestars” in Geostationary orbits that can very rapidly direct a variety of weapons — advanced versions of the X-37, lasers, hypersonic missiles — at any point on Earth or in space.

By this time many nations will have bases on the Moon, however Japan and Turkey build an underground base on the Moon’s farside where they secretly use lunar materials to develop, build, and launch missiles to attack the Battlestars in Earth orbit.

I won’t give away how the story ends here. However, it is unlikely that “secret” military activities could go unnoticed for long on the anti-Earth side of the Moon. For example, many astronomers have already chosen the Moon’s farside as the best location for a radio observatory in this part of the solar system.

6. Geopolitical Events Accelerate Toward a 1960s-style global “Critical State”
A surprise during 2012 was North Korea’s December launch of its first satellite into orbit. The South Koreans warned that, for the first time, the North might be able to deliver a warhead to the U.S. West Coast, and the Wall Street Journal (12/13/12) echoed that “the nuclear threat to Japan and the U.S. will soon be real.”

The tragic irrationality of North Korea’s $ 1.3 B (estimated) missile program is that instead it could have bought millions of tons of food for its starving population, especially amid reports of cannibalism and a variety of other human rights atrocities. Lignet.com reports that Pyongyang’s brutal treatment of its own people and plans for another nuclear test suggest it may be inclined toward “engaging in military aggression.”

Apparently not wanting to be left behind as the world approaches another 1960s-style transformative decade, Iran reportedly sent a live monkey into suborbital space last month and recovered it. “This success is the first step towards man conquering the space and it paves the way for other moves…” claimed Iran’s Defense Minister.

Analysts in the West naturally warn against Iran’s missile technology providing the capability to launch nuclear warheads against targets in the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger warned recently at the World Economic Forum that an Iran nuclear crisis is close.

Unilateral intervention by Israel would be a desperate last resort, but the Iranians have to understand that if they keep using the negotiations to gain time to complete a nuclear program then the situation will become exteemely dangerous.

It’s estimated that the “Red Line” will be crossed by Iran, in late spring, 2013, as it gets nuclear weapons, thus changing the balance of power in the region forever.

Our recent discovery that NASA space programs, over the history of the agency, are “fractal,” — as are wars and financial systems — implies that all three are attracted to “critical states” due to decades of self-organization of the international economic system. They are extraordinary because during the critical state almost anything can occur — both good and bad — and often does.

For example, the most recent critical state was in the 1960s. It featured the Cuban missile crisis (1962) which almost triggered a nuclear war, but was over almost as fast as it began. And instead it stimulated the intense Space Race that resulted in the first humans on the Moon in 1969.

The Cold War-style Asian arms race stimulated by China’s impressive expansion as a military and space power is also a key part of this picture.

For example, China announced its first jet landing on its new carrier in November, a classified US study last year cited China’s increasing ability to disrupt US strategic space assets (e.g., military communication satellites), China will expand its nuclear missile capability with rail-based ICBMs that can disappear in tunnels (Lignet.com), and China’s manned space program and plans for the Moon continue to enhance its national prestige.

Current economic and geopolitical trends — as well as the history of the last 200+ years — suggest we are moving into a new 1960s-style critical state featuring the potential for major, but short-lived international conflict, a stunning economic and technology boom, and unprecedented great explorations in space.

5. The Sun Takes Center-Stage in 2013
Our DayStar is expected to reach the maximum of its current 11-year Sunspot Cycle (#24) in 2013. The latest official NASA forecast — as of 2/1/2013 — is for a maximum sunspot number of about 69 in the Fall, 2013.

Are sunspots, as plotted in this NASA diagram, going out of style?
Click .

As can be seen in the Figure above, the current cycle is much smaller than the previous one (#23) and, in fact, will be the smallest solar max since 1906.

Nevertheless, even a weak solar cycle can produce spectacular solar weather, as occurred in 1859 with the increasingly famous Carrington Event. If a Carrington-like solar flare occurred today the National Academy of Sciences estimates damages could reach $ 1 – 2 T, mostly due to our high-tech infrastructure (e.g., power grids, transformers, communications); for comparison, Hurricane Katrina cost around $ 125 B.

About 18 months ago Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory announced that “The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus.”

In fact, based on their extensive observations of sunspot magnetic fields in both Cycles 23 (previous) and 24 (current), Matthew Penn and William Livingston (NSO) concluded in 2010 that Cycle 24 should have only about 1/2 the number of sunspots of Cycle 23 — broadly consistent with the above NASA plot — and after 2020 (Cycle 25) there would be “virtually no sunspots.”

Low sunspot numbers are historically associated with global coolings on Earth; e.g., the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age. Indeed, the international CLOUD Experiment at CERN continues to reveal how galactic cosmic rays — which are modulated by solar activity — may stimulate cloud formation in Earth’s low atmosphere, and thus enable either global cooling or warming depending on the solar cycle.

In this developing solar context, it’s interesting that British environmental guru James Lovelock — author of the iconic “Gaia” model of the Earth as a living organism — recently admitted that he “made a mistake” about man-made CO2 global warming, and indeed was an “alarmist” about climate change.

The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.

Lovelock added that as an “independent and a loner” it was easier for him to admit a mistake than for a university or government scientist who might fear loss of funding.

Oxford-trained biologist and author Matt Ridley recently explained (Wall Street Journal, 12/19/12) that new analyses of observational data related to the sensitivity of global climate to CO2, reduce our reliance on unverified global climate models. His observation-based estimate is that a doubling of CO2 will lead to an increase in global temperatures of 1.6 – 1.7 degrees C. — much less that the IPCC’s best estimate of 3 degrees C. Other independent, observation-based estimates from the Norwegian Computing Center and the University of Illinois also converge on 1.6 degrees C.

Ridley concludes that,

A cumulative change of less than 2°C by the end of this century will do no net harm. It will actually do net good … Rainfall will increase slightly, growing seasons will lengthen, Greenland’s ice cap will melt only very slowly, and so on.

As our observation-based understanding of climate change — including the Sun-climate link — increases, replacing an ideology-based approach to tax and energy policy with one based on observational science will promote economic growth and accelerate the approach of the new international, Apollo-level Space Age.

4. The Coming Boom
As noted previously, all the expected geopolitical and economic precursors of our near-term Maslow Window featuring the new international, Apollo-level Space Age can be seen except for the final one: the major, JFK-style economic boom.

Historically, the Boom provides financial resources that enable large technology and exploration projects (e.g., the Panama Canal, Apollo), and it also creates a widespread, buoyant sense of getting ahead in the public as real wages rapidly increase. Indeed, prosperity is both a technological and a moral imperative.

There are many potential sources of the next JFK-style U.S. Boom:

a) The North American Gusher
The U.S. Boom will be powered by abundant, cheap oil and gas, and the Wall Street Journal (1/19/13) reports that the oil boom is already on.

U.S. oil production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic industry , which began in 1859, and is set to surge even more in 2013.

Application of the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) have opened up deposits previously thought to be non-commercial, such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale region.

Daniel Yergen of IHS (WSJ, 10/23/12) points out that the energy revolution in the U.S. is “already providing a foundation for a domestic renaissance in manufacturing.” Even California could decide to become “the next shale boom state”!

In their report “Energy Outlook 2030” the London-based energy company BP forecasts that the U.S. will be 99% energy self-sufficient by 2030 due to the shale oil and gas boom enabled by hydraulic fracturing, which will trigger “a reindustrialization of the U.S.”

The U.S. will likely surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia in 2013 as the largest liquids producer in the world (crude and biofuels).

b) The Tech-led Boom
Several breakthrough technologies are poised to transform our future as telephony and electricity changed the past.

Physicist Mark Mills and Northwestern engineering dean Julio Ottino (WSJ, 2/10/13) highlight three transformative technologies: 1) Big data, 2) smart manufacturing, and 3) wireless communications.

Because processing power and data storage are “virtually free” and due to innovations including “cloud” computing, Mills and Ottino assert “we are on the cusp of unimaginable markets.” According to Michael Malone (WSJ, 7/5/12) big data will,

have an impact as great as mass production did more than a century ago — creating a new world of mass personalization of products and services.

New materials will be designed from the molecular level up (nanotechnology) and will possess properties “not possible in nature.” When combined with 3-D printing — which is already being studied for bases on the Moon — it could revitalize manufacturing and bring jobs back to the U.S..

Wireless communications will soon allow billions of people around the world to “communicate, socialize and trade in real time.” Billions of humans will be stimulated to learn, problem-solve, and innovate as never before.

c) The Green-Plus Boom
William Halal (emeritus, George Washington University) forecasts a major economic boom by 2015, based on his work with the TechCast Project (www.TechCast.com), which he describes as a “virtual thinktank” that tracks potential breakthroughs in a wide variety of technologies.

Entrepreneurs are working on alternative energy sources – wind turbines, biofuels, nuclear plants, and solar cells. This entire “green revolution” is growing 30-50% per year, roughly the same rate of the famous Moore’s Law that drives information technology to double every 2 years.

He argues that all sectors of the economy will be revitalized by a high-technology boom, and — because it is connected with cycles that affect U.S. markets — that a “global boom” is likely to erupt in 2015.

A number of other sources will contribute to the mid-decade Boom, but it’s clear the American economy is ready.

Negative animal spirits that currently afflict the economy can be overcome with tax and immigration polices that promote innovation, a regulatory environment that enables business expansion, and liquid financial markets.

In the near-term these objectives will be achieved as current (and future) politicians evolve in favor of economic growth and prosperity as the expected political realignment forms by 2014.

As Mills and Ottino point out,

America’s success isn’t preordained. But the technological innovations circa 2012 are profound. They will engender sweeping changes to our society and our economy. All the forces are in place. It’s just a matter of when.

3. Have NASA and America Lost Their Pioneering Spirit or just Their “Ebullience”?
Dr. Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and ISS commander, asked recently, in the post-Shuttle world,

Did America somehow lose, or see a diminished pioneer spirit?

He blames NASA’s organizational atrophy as it grew larger and became more complex for the problem, and recommends that NASA be de-politicized, stabilized, and streamlined back to its original vitality.

While NASA has indeed become more bureaucratic, it also suffers from generational changes that are symptomatic of something deeper.

In fact, the history of the last 200+ years reveals that great explorations (like Apollo, and Lewis and Clark) and the largest macro engineering projects (like Panama Canal and Apollo) are triggered by twice-per-century JFK-style (>4%) booms and sustained by what we call “ebullience”.

As the boom causes affluence to surge through the population, many become “ebullient” and ascend to elevated states in Maslow’s Hierarchy where their momentarily expanded worldviews make great explorations and MEPs seem not just intriguing, but almost irresistible. But as “ebullience” weakens due to a war or the slowing boom — as it did during the late 1960s with Apollo — space program support declines (as when the last 3 Apollo Moon missions were canceled by President Nixon).

To see why President Obama’s $ 800 B Stimulus package did not trigger “ebullience” in 2009, Click: “Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 years — How Soon We’ll Go Again”

Today we are in “counter-ebullient” times much like people experienced a few years after the financial Panics of 1893 and 1837, and many investors suffer from a related effect called negative animal spirits.

For example, late last month Gallup recorded that American optimism — closely related to “ebullience” — hit its lowest point since the Carter Administration; i.e., only 39% rated the U.S. in a positive manner, the most negative self-feedback since 1979.

And for the first time, the U.S. slipped out of the top 10 (to #12) in the Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index, an annual ranking of 142 countries based on 89 indicators from several categories affecting happiness, affluence, and safety.

The bottom-line is: Until the arrival of the next JFK-like Boom — expected by mid-decade — the lack of ebullience will slow the development of the new international Apollo-like Space Age.

2. Our Sputnik Moment Expands
The first “Sputnik Moment” occurred in 1957 when – in the context of an intense Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and attempts to work together in the International Geophysical Year – the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, without warning. It was called the “Shock of the Century.” Americans who had provided leadership during W. W. II and promoted international economic growth in the post-War world suddenly experienced a crisis of confidence in their educational system, their ability to compete in technology development and space, and even in their ability to guarantee national security.

It seemed that the U.S. trend was down while others were headed up.

Something similar may be occurring today, and the trends have intensified since last year. For example:

NASA’s Strategic Direction is Up In the Air —
The National Research Council finds that NASA is adrift in their recent report: “NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus” (2012):

There is no strong, compelling national vision for the human spaceflight program … The lack of national consensus on NASA’s most publicly visible mission, along with out-year budget uncertainty, has resulted in the lack of strategic focus necessary for national agencies …”

Defense Cuts Leave the U.S. Vulnerable
Douglas Schoen, a Democratic strategist and author (Newsmax, February, 2013), expands on the rarely-mentioned critical point that U.S. national security is “inexorably linked” to its economic strength, as emphasized by the bipartisan group, the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security.

We lack credibility in terms of national security across the board. We do not have a strategy on the budget, or a strategy on upgrading our weapons systems, or an overall vision for who we are as a nation and how we provide for our national security.

Americans are Losing Trust in Their Institutions and it’s Hurting the Economy
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Jon Hilsenrath (Wall Street Journal, 1/28/13) cites the importance of trust in society to economic growth and good government.

Only a third of Americans trust banks, and about one in six trust the stock market or large corporations … Gallup found that only 25% of Americans had much confidence in newspapers, while only 21% trusted television news or organized labor. Congress got a vote of confidence from just 13% of the population … A September Gallup poll showed that only half of Americans trusted the government to solve domestic problems.

A Possible “Financial Pearl Harbor” Looms
Just prior to the last “critical state”/Maslow Window of the 1960s, a “Cold War” set the stage for their Sputnik Moment; and as we approach the new mid-decade Maslow Window the new context may be a “Currency War”. Investment banker and DoD advisor James Rickards believes that a Currency War could strike unexpectedly and be devastating to Americans, much like the 1957 Sputnik Moment.

A currency war, fought by one country through competitive devaluations of its currency against others, is one of the most destructive and feared outcomes in international economics.

1. There’s No Shortage Today of Wildcards With Global Strategic Implications
One feature of an approaching 1960s-style “critical state” is an unusually dynamic and highly interactive international environment, particularly as manifested by a large number of “wildcards.”

Here are just a few wildcards – and potential tipping points — that face the U.S. and the world in 2013:

a. A deep recession in the Eurozone triggers a global depression.
b. The threat of nuclear weapons triggers a war with Iran.
c. A potentially hazardous asteroid is discovered on an Earth-impact trajectory.
d. A major currency war erupts.
e. A Carrington-level solar flare produces blackouts and other EMP-related effects on Earth, resulting in economic stress and strategic uncertainty.

As I pointed out last year,

After a list like this it’s comforting to contemplate the good news: Over the last 200+ years – that included the Great Depression, several financial panics and great recessions, the Civil War and two world wars — no Critical State/Maslow Window renaissance has ever been delayed or diminished in any observable way.

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Jul 24 2012

Current Economic and Political Trends Support Maslow Forecasts

Poverty in the U.S. is soaring to levels not seen in several decades according to the Associated Press (Hope Yen; 7/23/12):

The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy …

Increasing poverty in the U.S. ironically points to the approach of a transformative 1960s-style decade by mid-decade.
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The AP’s broad survey of economists, think tanks, and academics reveals a consensus that the official poverty rate of 15.1% in 2010 may surge as high as 15.7% for 2011, although even a 0.1% increase will make it the highest since 1965.

In February the Congressional Budget Office indicated that the last 3+ years with over 8% unemployment have been the longest sustained period of high joblessness since the Great Depression, and the AP sees a connection to poverty.

Poverty is closely tied to joblessness. While the unemployment rate improved from 9.6 percent in 2010 to 8.9 percent in 2011, the employment-population ratio remained largely unchanged, meaning many discouraged workers simply stopped looking for work. Food stamp rolls, another indicator of poverty, also grew.

Although Maslow Windows are transformative decades that feature JFK-style economic booms — note the dramatic decrease in poverty during the 1960s Maslow Window (above) — they are typically preceded by a financial panic like that of 2008, a great recession and a slow recovery. Therefore the strong desire for a return to Maslow-level prosperity begins to dominate the political discussion.

In 2010, just before the election, I indicated that,

current trends support a continuing political realignment fundamentally motivated by the drive for prosperity more than any particular candidate.

While well-documented for the 2010 election, we are beginning to see the same widespread drive for prosperity surface in the current presidential campaign. For example, Rasmussen reports (7/19/12) that by a 2-to-1 majority, voters believe the government should focus on “economic growth” rather than “fairness.” This is partly due to the stumbling economy but also because only 1 in 5 voters believe that more government involvement in the economy results in increased fairness.

In early 2011, I expressed the strong connection between prosperity and winning:

History shows that as we approach a Maslow Window (such as the one expected in 2015), the leader who can best manifest prosperity and model ebullience wins. In the early 1800s it was Jefferson, in the mid-1840s it was James Polk (of all people), in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt, and in the 1960s John F. Kennedy. It appears that long-term economic circumstances do more to determine our leaders than the reverse.

While it is far from clear who will wn the U.S. presidency in 2012, for the first time, perceptions of President Obama’s economic policies are beginning to decline. Yesterday The Hill announced a new poll that shows

53 percent of voters say Obama has taken the wrong actions and has slowed the economy down. Forty-two percent said he has taken the right actions to revive the economy.

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Jul 13 2012

Bruce is Speaking at 15th Annual Mars Society Convention in August

It’s a pleasure to announce that I’ll be speaking at the 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention which runs from August 3 – 5 in the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, CA.

On Sunday evening (August 5) you’re invited to the Landing Countdown Celebration at the Pasadena Convention Center, for NASA’s Curiousity Rover as it touches down on the surface of Mars…
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For the full 2012 program schedule, Click HERE.

My talk is Friday afternoon and for the abstract, Click:
Fractal Maslow Windows and the Near-Term Colonization of Mars

Long-term indicators and current trends show that we’re approaching a 1960s-style “critical state” (i.e., a Maslow Window) that is expected to blossom into a new international Apollo-level Space Age, by mid-decade.

To avoid another 40 years of being trapped in Earth orbit (since Apollo 17) due to sudden closing of the approaching Maslow Window, human spaceflight should establish near-term bases on or near Mars and/or the Moon by the 2020s that do not require frequent re-supply from Earth. Because of its exploration, science, and colonization potential, Mars is preferred.

The Sunday (8/5) evening program is open to the general public and begins at 7pm with former NASA astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave speaking on: “The Spirit of Space: The Beauty, The Glory & The Sacred.”

At 8:30pm I’ll be participating in the Special Panel: Our Future in Space, along with Dr. Musgrave, Princeton astrophysics Professor J. Richard Gott, and The Mars Society’s Dr. Robert Zubrin.

At the conclusion of the Panel near 10 pm we’ll be watching live the countdown to the scheduled landing of NASA’s spectacular Curiousity Rover on Mars.

If you’re planning to be near Southern California in early August, you should stop by.

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Jun 27 2012

New Science and Prospects for Visits by Extraterrestrials

Decades of sightings of unidentified flying objects that have been archived and studied by scientific groups like MUFON, suggest extraterrestrials may be visiting Earth.

Where might they be coming from?

If new science continues to suggest that we are alone in the Galaxy, how should we rethink famous UFO sightings like Roswell?
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This is a question of growing public interest — a situation typical of times since the 19th century when we are approaching a transformative, 1960s-style Maslow Window (such as now) — as evidenced, for example, by serious meetings in recent years on ETs at the Vatican and the UK Royal Society.

What’s especially interesting is that new scientific data and theories — especially in astrophysics and physics — when applied to intriguing UFOs from around the globe, significantly narrow the range of plausible explanations for UFOs while they expand our worldview.

In one of the greatest space programs ever, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first roughly Earth-size planets in orbit around Sun-like stars, suggesting that — while still quite rare — they may be more common than expected in our Galaxy; i.e., about 2-3% of Sun-like stars may have one.

Using an updated, anthropic version of the Drake Equation — including the latest Kepler data — I estimated last year that it’s likely we are alone in the Galaxy. This point has also been made in more depth by others, including especially UK astrophysicist John Gribbin in his 2011 book, Alone in the Universe:

Even if other earths were common, my view is that while life itself may be common, the kind of intelligent, technological civilization that has emerged on Earth may be unique, at least in our Milky Way Galaxy.

In their stunning JBIS paper of 2005, Deardorff et. al asserted that the UFO problem must now be informed by inflation theory which points to an infinite Universe including the real possibility of a multiverse. They conclude

that current cosmological theory predicts that we should be experiencing extraterrestrial visitation…

Extragalactic visitors or those from other universes (if they exist!) would be fundamentally different than emissaries from nearby stars or Mars. Unlike Klaatu and Gort (who originated from our Solar System), the very distant visitors would require exotic transportation concepts (e.g., wormholes) to physically reach us. This suggests an ultra-civilization that’s 10s or 100s of thousands of years (or more) in advance of us, as opposed to only 100+ years for more local visitors. So their technology would be unfathomable to us; as Deardorff et al. (2005) puts it:

The huge technological head start of the presumed ETs would still come as a great shock to many scientists as well as citizenry … It could be so great as to seriously challenge our consensual reality, a not insignificant danger.

For the moment let’s take these budding scientific paradigms seriously and assume we’re alone in the Milky Way Galaxy (the Empty Galaxy Hypothesis; EGH) but that very, very advanced ETs can visit from other galaxies or other universes (the Infinite Universe Hypothesis; IUH).

Here is a preliminary list of 5 EGH/IUH rules-of-thumb that can guide us as we rethink famous UFO cases:

I. Ultra-ETs are assumed to be living biological entities formerly like humans, but are now extremely advanced. For example, their nanosystems almost instantly detect and fix any system defect to the molecular level, so there will be no vehicle crashes or accidents. With such impressive command over space-time in this and possibly other universes, it’s unlikely that ultra-ETs wil experience any equipment-related or environmental surprises.

II. There will be no direct contact with Ultra-ETs. They are so advanced that it would be of little interest.

III. Radio SETI can be expected to fail and there will be no interstellar Von Neumann Probes due to EGH. VNPs — self-replicating machines that could colonize the Galaxy — would be archaic and unnecessary for Ultra-ETs.

IV. Ultra-ETs will be highly rational, for obvious reasons. But it will often be difficult for us to discern their thought patterns.

V. It is unlikely that ultra-ETs have violent or negative intentions toward each other or toward humans because they would have already exercised them. And we’re still here.

To demonstrate the potential utility of this science-based approach, let’s rethink some famous UFO cases in light of new science (EGH/IUH).

1. Roswell UFO Incident (1947):
Previous Analysis: Stan Friedman and other well-known UFO investigators have traditionally regarded Roswell as evidence of a crashed ET spacecraft complete with alien bodies. Indeed, the story has been subjected to multiple — even self-admitted — government coverups.

EGH/IUH Analysis: EGH suggests the Roswell UFO did not come from our Galaxy, and IUH argues that crashes are not viable (Rule 1). Thus it apparently came from Earth, and may indeed have been a secret military project, although not necessarily one of those specifically mentioned by the U.S.

Similar logic would apply to other alleged UFO crashes, such as Kecksburg, PA in 1965. The Roswell pattern is reinforced by stories of lost NASA documents relating to their investigation of the retrieved UFO. (NASA obviously couldn’t report on their study of a secret military vehicle.)

2. Fr. Gill, Papua, New Guinea (1959):
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Previous Analysis: The presence of 3 dozen+ witnesses watching a large UFO for many hours on 2 successive nights and the testimony of respected Anglican priest William Gill (1928-2007) make the case one of the best of all-time — this includes the 4 human-like creatures on the UFO who waved back to Fr. Gill. Dr. J. Allen Hynek investigated the incident and accepted their stories which imply an ET spacecraft.

EGH/IUH Analysis: This UFO probably did not come from our Galaxy because of EGH. Is it plausible that ultra-ETs who are extragalactic or even extra-universal were hovering for hours in full view of humans near Papua New Guinea while they repaired their spacecraft, and even waved back at the ground? This appears to contradict at least the spirit of Rule I and possibly Rule II above and argues against an Ultra-ET. So the Gill UFO apparently came from Earth. Initially Fr. Gill thought the UFO was an American experimental aircraft!!…and ultimately, he seems to have suggested the most scientifically likely explanation.

3. The Travis Walton Abduction (1975)
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Previous Analysis: This incident remains controversial despite 6 eyewitnesses to the abducting UFO whose basic story was supported by polygraphs, and active police searches for Walton during the 5 days he was missing. Inside the UFO Walton claims to have encountered 3 Greys with large eyes and a few other beings who appeared to be human-like.

EGH/IUH Analysis: The UFO was not native to our Galaxy according to EGH. The presence of both Greys and human-like creatures in the UFO is an interesting detail, but the Walton story suffers from the same issue of most alleged abductions — motive. Why would Ultra-ETs continue to abduct defenseless humans? It contradicts Rule V and suggests that either the event did not occur or Walton was manipulated by an Earth-based attempt to simulate an encounter with ETs, similar to what Jacques Vallee has previously suggested.

4. The Washington, D.C. UFO Sightings (1952):
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Previous Analysis: On two successive weekends numerous UFOs were spotted on both civilian and military radar, and seen from the ground and in the air by pilots and others. The UFOs appeared over the White House, Capitol and Pentagon and when fighter jets were scrambled to intercept them, the UFOs disappeared only to reappear when the jets left. Radar returns measured UFO speeds up to 7000 mph and in one close encounter with multiple UFOs and a jet, the UFOs easily outmaneuvered it. Apparently the Truman White House was concerned enough to issue a shoot-down order for any UFOs that didn’t land when instructed to.

EGH/IUH Analysis: EGH argues against the UFOs being Galactic, but it’s also difficult to imagine anyone from Earth testing secret military hardware over the White House, especially without Truman’s knowledge! This leaves Ultra-UFOs from far away and, with full awareness of Rule IV, invites us to speculate on their motives. Ultra-ETs would not need to test their systems against ours to ascertain their vast superiority, however they might be interested in seeing our reaction to our own helplessness, reminiscent of the Deardorff et al. (2005) quote above.

The theme of high UFO superiority also appears in other UFO incidents such as the Iran UFO of 1976, and the bottomline appears to be the same.

Although some have noted similarities between the celebrated Phoenix Lights of 1997 and the Washington UFOs, it appears more likely that a military explanation suffices for Phoenix.

A FINAL NOTE: None of these very brief discussions should be regarded as conclusive. The point is merely to demonstrate how new perspectives based on new science in astrophysics and cosmology can alter prevous interpretations of UFOs.

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Jun 19 2012

As the 1960s-Style “Critical State” Approaches, Space Surges

This morning the Wall Street Journal proclaims “A Leaderless World — Signs of disorder grow as American influence recedes.”

The list includes:
Syria, which may be heading for a civil war as Russia and Iran back Damascus;
Iran, who continues to move toward a nuclear weapon and may trigger an attack by Israel and/or nuclear proliferation throughout the region;
and the
Eurozone, who continues to try to solve a debt crisis by adding more debt.

As the 1960s Space Age began, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the edge. (President Kennedy and Premier Khruschev shown.)
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And the U.S. is hardly immune from growing turmoil. For example, a recent poll for The Hill revealed 75% of people are either very or somewhat worried that the U.S. is headed for another recession.

Unfortunately, double-dip recessions are typical features of the years immediately preceding a “critical state” over the last 200+ years, and growing national debt is a major contributor.
Click: Is High Debt Triggering Another Pre-Maslow Recession?

In the midst of this geopolitical turbulence, the development of space technology continues spectacularly.

For example, on Saturday China launched 3 astronauts — including its first woman — into space and achieved its first orbital rendezvous and docking with their Tiangong 1 module yesterday, becoming only the 3rd country ever to do so. China envisions a full-size space station in orbit near 2020.

The U.S. also joined the informal “Weekend Space Party” by culminating the 15 month secret mission of its X-37B spaceplace and landing at Vandenberg AFB in California. The X-37B is an unmanned, Mach 25 spaceplane that is developing technologies which will facilitate space commercialization as well as considerably enhance national security.

Given the recent kick-offs of two other space programs — asteroid mining by Seattle-based Planetary Resources and Mars colonization by the Netherlands-based group Mars One — it’s striking how this surge in space-related activity is concurrent with today’s growing international tensions, much like the early 1960s.

This suggests that the approaching critical state has major parallels with the 1960s.

The Bad News is the 1960s critical state featured a bumpy road known as the Cuban Missile Crisis — reminiscent of current threats in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The Good News is the lesson of the 1960s and all critical states over the last 200+ years: As we move through current geopolitical stress, we appear to be approaching a Camelot-style renaissance in space exploration, technology development, and commercial expansion … by mid-decade.

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