Archive for the 'Wave Guide 1: Economic Growth' Category

Sep 10 2017

“Human Spaceflight to Mars as a Self-Organized Critical System”


This is the ppt for my talk to the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention on 9/7/17 at UC Irvine: “Human Spaceflight to Mars as a Self-Organized Critical System”

The presentation illuminates two questions:
1) Why has humanity been trapped in Low Earth Orbit for over 40 years?
2) Are we entering a new Apollo-level, international Space Age that will take us back to the Moon and/or on to Mars?

1. The US Economy is attracted toward Critical States 2x per century, including nonlinear “Avalanches” (physicist Per Bak’s metaphor).

2. Early geopolitical avalanches in the form of a Sputnik Moment and/or a Cuban Missile Crisis focus the public.

3. Economic avalanches include a major economic boom that’s preceded by a financial panic, a clear precursor of the new Maslow Window.

4. The Boom provides capital for Great Explorations/MEPs, and most importantly creates an “ebullient” public as many ascend the Maslow hierarchy and their worldviews expand.

5. Great Human Explorations (e.g., Apollo) and MEP’s (e.g., Panama Canal) rapidly follow.

1. The remaining key step required for a stunning 1960s-style decade of space exploration is the triggering of a JFK-level economic boom. Reportedly, that’s the #1 agenda item of the Trump administration.

2. The trajectory of Great Explorations during Maslow Windows (since Lewis and Clark) suggests Mars might be the emphasis of the next decade. However, the nomination of Rep. Bridenstine as NASA boss implies the Moon may be first, although both programs, properly structured, could be run simultaneously.

For example, the Moon program might feature an international group (e.g., ISS partners) focused on evaluation and early development of the lunar polar ice deposits. However, humans-to-Phobos would have spectacular science potential while not needing a Mars Lander or the risks and costs associated with landing right away on the Red Planet.

3. Should we expect a 21st Century “Sputnik Moment”? It’s possible the “Cuban missile crisis in slow motion”, as the North Korea crisis is called, will provide Sputnik-like shocks that eventually yield to non-military solutions. Like the 1960s space race, these could stimulate Cold War-like competitions in space.

4. The twice-per-century appearance of Critical States/Avalanches and their associated Maslow Windows is a very robust phenomena that’s likely to persist into the 21st Century. They have survived the greatest crises of the last 200+ years — including 2 world wars, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and key 19th and 20th century financial panics/great recessions.

Human spaceflight to Mars is likely to be the near-term culmination of a transformative 1960s-style decade known as a Maslow Window. Featuring great human explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and macro-engineering projects (e.g., Panama Canal), they are rhythmic pulses of unprecedented activity that occur twice per century.

A Maslow Window is triggered by geopolitical conflict (e.g., Sputnik; Cuban Missile Crisis), but is powered by an exceptional economic and technology boom (e.g., the JFK Boom) which collapses unemployment and increases real wages across society. As a result many individuals experience “ebullience” as they ascend the Maslow hierarchy and their worldviews expand. The most recent Maslow Window culminated in the 1960s Apollo Moon program. And right on schedule, it appears we entered a new Maslow Window in 2016.

Over the last 30 years self-organized criticality (SOC) has become a popular tool to explain a wide variety of phenomena like solar flares, earthquakes, financial systems, and even wars; e.g., Aschwanden et. al, Space Science Revs. (2016) Vol. 198, 1-4. The classic SOC metaphor is the BTW Sand Pile described by physicist Per Bak in 1987. Sand is dropped grain by grain on a pile. Eventually the sand forms steep slopes that reach a critical threshold; i.e., one more grain may trigger a system-wide change called an “avalanche”. In our case the “avalanche” analog is the Maslow Window itself.

A SOC system at its critical threshold displays non-linear energy dissipation and scale-free, intermittent avalanches with power-law size-frequency distributions. In a solar flare the avalanche is associated with the electromagnetic energy emitted by the flare. The Maslow Window critical state is observed in the real world to sequentially dissipate energy in several key avalanches including: financial events (a Panic and later a Boom), major geopolitical conflicts, great human explorations (e.g., Mars colonization), and macro-engineering projects. When the boom ends, and ebullience declines and animal spirits reverse, the Maslow Window slams shut, usually in response to a major war (e.g., World War I) — also a SOC process.

Our new Maslow Window is a complex system that has slowly self-organized over decades to a critical threshold which allows short-lived (< decade) avalanches — both good (e.g., SpaceX) and bad (e.g., North Korea) — to exist. However, the history of JFK’s Cuban Missile Crisis during the 1960s Maslow Window (plus all others over the last 200 years) argues convincingly that major kinetic conflicts are unlikely in the next several years.

No responses yet

May 07 2017

The Maslow Window as a Self-Organized Critical System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No responses yet

Mar 12 2017

U.S. Optimism Rises Toward “Early Ebullience”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No responses yet

Sep 02 2013

Syria Reveals that the 1960s-style “Critical State” is Imminent

The Sunday New York Times (9/1/13) headine — “President Pulls Lawmakers Into Box He Made” — sums up the current dangerous Middle East situation that Obama aggravated by announcing, a year ago, his Red Line against the use of Syrian chemical weapons and then blinking when it occurred (see also David Sanger, NYT, 9/1/13).

A popular theme is emerging that sees parallels between the current crisis and the summer of 1914 which quickly led to World War I. For example, in “Obama is Playing With Fire in Syria” (8/30/31, CounterPunch) Rob Prince and Ibrahim Kazarooni of the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies see real dangers:

The militaries of virtually the entire region are on alert. It might not take much to set a war in motion that extends far beyond Washington’s borders. What makes matters worse, is that many of the parties are itching for a fight. Indeed, a scenario not unlike that which existed in Europe in the summer of 1914 appears to be shaping up.

Are we approaching a 1914-style “critical state” in the Middle East? The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln patrols in the Arabian Sea.

And in its recent politics blog, The Guardian (8/29/13) expressed the key idea in the title of its piece: The Syria dilemma: we don’t want it turning into another Sarajevo 1914.

A hint of what’s fundamentally driving this crisis is provided by historian Niall Ferguson in his 2010 Foreign Policy article, “Complexity and Collapse”:

Great powers and empires…operate somewhere between order and disorder … Such systems can appear to operate quite stably for some time; they seem to be in equilibrium but are, in fact, constantly adapting. But there comes a moment when complex systems “go critical.” A very small trigger can set off a “phase transition” from a benign equilibrium to a crisis.

In the spirit of Ferguson, Christopher Clark in his new book (The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914) summarizes how the WW I complex system went “critical” (italics below mine).

The etiology of this conflict was so complex and strange that it allowed soldiers and civilians in all the belligerent states to be confident that theirs was a war of defense , that their countries had been attacked or provoked by a determined enemy, that their respective governments had made every effort to preserve the peace.

This Ferguson/Clark concept is broadly consistent with’s model of transformative, twice-per-century Maslow Windows that are triggered by “critical states” of the complex global economic system due to self-organization over decades. The last one was in the 1960s — which featured the Apollo Moon program — but Maslow Windows can be traced back 200+ years to Lewis and Clark.

A brief intro to Maslow Windows is found HERE, and more info is HERE.

Because financial systems, wars, and NASA space programs are now known to be “fractal”, it’s reasonable to expect that the approach of a “critical state” will trigger extraordinary behavior (also known as “avalanches”) in all three, and history supports this. For example, the greatest economic expansion (the JFK boom) in history and the greatest ever technology and exploration program (the Apollo Moon landings) both occurred during the 1960s.

So in this context, the questions are: 1) Is Syria a harbinger of the approaching 1960s-style critical state? and 2) Is Syria likely to evolve into a global war like WW I?

Although predicting the future of a complex system in its critical state is tricky, the answers are probably and probably not.

History shows that Maslow Windows are asymmetrically bookended by wars; i.e., a smaller war or international conflict (e.g., Cuban missile crisis) just before or early during the Maslow Window, and a major war (e.g. WW I) that terminates the Maslow Window.
For more, CLICK: “Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age.”

World War I, which originated during the most intense portion of the critical state, terminated the Maslow Window in 1914. While the smaller, early war was the Spanish-American War of 1898 which only briefly preceded the onset of a stunning JFK-style economic boom that triggered one of the most ebullient decades in US history.

During the 1960s critical state, the Cuban Missile Crisis was the early international conflict that had the potential for a full nuclear war between superpowers but was rapidly resolved. In this sense it appears to have parallels with the developing Syrian crisis, as we approach the new Maslow Window/Critical State expected by mid-decade.

Although the current geopolitical situation is not held hostage to the 200+ year historical patterns of Maslow Windows and their critical states, it appears that a major war is more likely to occur in the mid-2020s after the approaching Maslow Window/Critical State has lost momentum.

Support for this general view of a limited scenario for Syria (as opposed to a WW I analog) was reported in The Daily Caller last week. Jeff Poor quotes Charles Krauthammer as asserting Friday that any missteps by Obama in Syria could trigger a “major regional war.”

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.”

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.

No responses yet

Apr 10 2013

New at “The Space Show” and in Space Policy journal

Dr. David Livingston has archived my recent (3/29/13) appearance on The Space Show at:

After introducing the Maslow Window concept I reviewed my annual summary of space-related trends which highlights the approach of the new international Space Age.

For example, the widespread excitement associated with Curiosity rover on Mars is reflected in a recent national poll on human Mars exploration by Explore Mars and Boeing.

This type of “early ebullience” — including that associated with Dennis Tito’s proposed 2018 manned free return mission to Mars — suggests the new Maslow Window is just around the corner.

Likewise, geopolitical and macroeconomic precursors also point to the near-term arrival of a 1960s-style “critical state.” For example, escalating conflicts in nuclearized North Korea and Iran remind us, in some ways, of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which played a role in accelerating the race to the Moon.

And the financial Panic of 2008 indicated we can expect the new Maslow Window to open by mid-decade; it’ll be triggered by a JFK-style boom powered by development of US energy resources and led by high-technology innovations, and will feature pent-up demand that you can’t believe.

Our new article — Economic rhythms, Maslow Windows and the new space frontier — happily written with my UT Dallas colleagues Kruti Dholakia-Lehenbauer and Euel Elliott, appeared in Volume 28, Issue 4 of the UK journal Space Policy and is available HERE. (The Preprint is HERE.)

Here is the Abstract:

This paper explores the possible relationship between space exploration and long swings in the economy and socio-technical systems. We posit that the early phases of long upswings are characterized by periods of optimism and the spirit of adventure that provided a motivation for large-scale explorations and other great infrastructure projects in the past. These Maslow Windows help us understand prior eras of exploration and cultural dynamism, and offer a hopeful scenario for space exploration in the next two decades. We offer some observations as to what the exploratory thrust might look like, including a return to the lunar surface combined with other activities. Of course, we also point out that the next great wave of space exploration will almost certainly have a much more international flavor than has heretofore been the case.

No responses yet

Feb 02 2013

Deep Space Industries Joins the New Gold Rush into Space

Last week Deep Space Industries of McLean, VA publicly announced their mission, as a new space company formed only six months earlier, to commercially develop the resources of space. They’re reminiscent of another new company, Planetary Resources of Seattle, that promised last April to also seek its fortune in the stars.

DSI believes it’s time “to begin harvesting the resources of space — including asteroids, sunlight, low gravity — both for their use in space and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people of Earth.”

In August, 2008 I suggested that based on the last 200 years of macroeconomic trends and the history of exploration and technology development, that a “gold rush” into space was likely to emerge by 2015 as part of a 1960s-style transformative decade called a Maslow Window.

Click on “10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space.”

For example, 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/are fundamentally driven by twice-per-century JFK-style booms 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 next transformative 1960s-style decade is expected by mid-decade.

Importantly, both asteroid mining companies expect to be operating during the approaching Maslow Window (~2015 to 2025). For example, DSI’s public business plan features initial asteroid explorations using it’s off-the-shelf, cubesat-based systems (“Fireflies”) by 2015, while larger “Dragonflies” will do asteroid sample-returns in 2016.

They also speak of supporting Solar Power Satellites and human spaceflight to Mars by 2025.

There are, of course, great financial, scientific, technological and other risks associated with such an ambitious endeavor. For example, it might take years to identify commercial-level asteroid targets — not to mention the initial requirements for significant investor capital.

However, I was impressed with DSI’s vision, direction, and human resources. Indeed, one of my closest colleagues during General Dynamics days — Chris Cassell, Ph.D. — is a Founder of the company.

No responses yet

Feb 01 2013

Lunar Bases Via 3-D Printing?

The European Space Agency announced today that they and their collaborators — including London architects Foster + Partners — are investigating the possibility of using 3-D printing to facilitate the expansion of human civilization to the Moon.

Typical of Foster + Partners’ spectacular projects is the Millau Viaduct in southern France. Completed in 2004, the bridge is so high — towers stretch up to 1125 feet — that drivers often “glide above the clouds,” (Wall Street Journal, 1/26/13).
(Daniel Jamme)

3-D Printing has been identified previously as being one of three key developing technologies (the other two are big data and the wireless revolution) that are likely to have as much impact on our future as electricity and telephony had on the last century.

These and other 21st Century technologies are poised to trigger a near-term JFK-style boom. In the last 200 years such twice-per-century expansions have repeatedly led to Apollo-level great explorations and 1960s-style cultural transformations, and can be expected to do so again.

According to Mark Mills (founder of Digital Power Group and Forbes columnist) and Julio Ottino (engineering dean at Northwestern), in WSJ (1/30/12):

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.

ESA, Foster + Partners and their collaborators believe that building a lunar base using lunar materials and a 3-D printer would be simpler and more economical than previous ideas.

Because 3-D printing has already been used to create buildings on Earth, Foster + Partners is using their experience designing structures for extreme climates on Earth to envision 3-D printer technology on the Moon.

One 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 will be able to create an entire lunar building in only a week.

2 responses so far

Sep 18 2012

Bruce on The Space Show (audio) & 15th International Mars Society Convention (video)

Dr. David Livingston has archived my appearance yesterday on The Space Show; Click HERE.

We had a lively discussion — including several call-in guests — about our recent discovery that NASA space programs are “fractal” and why this, plus the financial Panic of 2008 and current unrest in the Middle East, ironically imply we’ll have an excellent shot at human spaceflight to Mars during the coming decade+ (i.e., by 2025).

My Mars Society Convention presentation on “Fractal Maslow Windows and the Near-Term Colonization of Mars” is available HERE.

On the final evening (8/5/12) of the 15th International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, CA, I had the pleasure of being part of a panel on “Our Future in Space.” Emceed by Dr. Robert Zubrin of The Mars Society, it also included, Dr. Story Musgrave (physician and former NASA astronaut) and Prof. J. Richard Gott of Princeton University.

This panel interacted with a packed house from 8:45 pm until just after 10 pm when the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars. Here’s the YouTube version (first 30 minutes):

The remainder of this panel can be seen at The Mars Society link;
Click HERE.

No responses yet

Sep 16 2012

Bruce’s Mars Society Convention Presentation (8/3/12)

This is my ppt presentation to the 15th International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, CA on August 3, 2012: “Fractal Maslow Windows and the Near-Term Colonization of Mars”
Click Mars.8.3.12.cordell

For the presentation Abstract, Click HERE.

This presentation introduces the concept of a “Maslow Window” which has been very successful in providing an economic explanation for why humans have not returned to the Moon (or even left Earth orbit) in 40 years, and also why we expect a new Apollo-level international Space Age to dawn by mid-decade.

The Maslow Window Economic Model:
Over the last 200+ years, great explorations like Lewis and Clark, huge technology projects like the Panama Canal, and major wars like W.W.I are seen to cluster exclusively near twice-per-century major economic booms. The most recent example was the 1960s Apollo Moon program.

Maslow Windows as “Critical States”:
Our recent discovery that NASA space programs are “fractal” suggests that space programs — like financial systems, earthquakes, wars, and many other large complex systems — are due to “critical states” which spontaneously self-organize over decades. Once in the critical state, almost anything can happen (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis, Apollo, Peace Corps), even if triggered by only the smallest stimulus. We are apparently entering another 1960s-style critical state now.

Forecasts and Issues:
Rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East support our entry into the new critical state/Maslow Window by 2015, as the arrival of the financial Panic of 2008 did four years ago. Based on patterns observed over the last 200+ years, near mid-decade the great global boom of 2007 should re-ignite and trigger human colonization of Mars and/or major scientific and commercial development of the Moon and near-Earth space.

For more info on Maslow Windows, Click HERE.

No responses yet

Next »