Archive for the 'Wave Guide 10: Pop Culture' Category

Jul 03 2012

Happy 4th of July — Independence Day 2012 !

The 4th of July is the day Americans celebrate freedom and all its fruits, including prosperity, innovation, and the pursuit of happiness!

To read about Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Click HERE.

Dr. Harrison Schmitt, the first scientist on the Moon, shows how good the American flag — the symbol of freedom — looks on the Moon during Apollo 17.
Click

Princeton University professor Gerard O’Neill (1927-1992), author of The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space (1977), believed that the colonization of space would open up …

a hopeful future for individual human beings, with increasing personal and political freedoms, a wider range of choices, and greater opportunities to develop individual potentials … The most chilling prospect that I see for a planet-bound human race is that many of those dreams would be forever cut off for us.”

As I pointed out recently in Ad Astra of the National Space Society, the macroeconomic and technology history of the last 200+ years indicates we are approaching a transformative, 1960s-style decade known as a Maslow Window.

It will feature a new international, Apollo-level space age that will be triggered by a major economic boom … by mid-decade.

However in the short term, there is still plenty of bad news — e.g., the Wall Street Journal reported this morning (top, front page headline) that the U.S. manufacturing sector shrank in June for the first time in 3 years — and some see this as evidence for another recession.

While hopefully this will not occur, it’s important to realize that “double-dip” recessions are common in the years immediately preceding Maslow Windows, and signal the approach of much better times.
Click: “Slow Recovery Fits 200-Year Pattern”

And historical analogs indicate that — during times like now — the widespread drive for prosperity results in a political realignment that triggers a new economic boom.

Enjoy the 4th’s fireworks and remember that the new Space Age is just around the corner…!

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Decades of sightings of unidentified flying objects that have been archived and studied by scientific groups like MUFON, suggest extraterrestrials may be visiting Earth.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

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):
Click
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)
Click
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):
Click
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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May 19 2012

Tall Tales from the CTBUH Point to a New 1960s-Style Golden Age

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) in Chicago is the world’s arbiter of all things tall. They keep endless, ballistic statistics on tall buildings of all kinds, and make official, industry-recognized decisions about whose building is The One.

The 20 tallest buildings completed in 2011 point to a new 1960s-style “Golden Age” that’s just around the corner.
Click

For example, last month the CTBUH announced that the new One World Trade Center tower in New YorK City (at Ground Zero) might not become the tallest in the Western Hemisphere after all because the 408 foot antenna atop the building would not be enclosed in an architectural spire; according to the CTBUH, spires count, but antennas sans spires don’t (Wall Street Journal, C. Bialik, 5/12/12).

Indeed, such erigible esoterica is of considerable significance as we at 21stCenturyWaves.com continue our development of a global ebullience index.

This is 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.

Earlier this year at the University of Southern California an internationally recognized architect confided to me that erecting tall buildings is usually more about egos than profits.

The CTBUH executive director agrees and the early abullience shown by Saudi plans for the first kilometer supertower — that bests the current tallest Burj Khalifa in Dubai by 500+ feet — and other recent extraordinay endeavors suggest we are indeed headed for a new 1960s-style “golden age”.

For example, in their annual review (for 2011) of tall building trends, the CTBUH noted:
1) 2011 continues the trend since 2007 that each successive year has more 200 meter+ buildings completed than ever before; this record-setting pace is now expected to continue even through the current great recession.

Looking to the future, it is now foreseeable – indeed likely – that the recent trend of an annual increase in building completions will continue for the next several years, perhaps even through the end of the decade. This represents a change in recent predictions. It had been expected that skyscraper completions would drop off very sharply after 2011, as a result of the 2008 global financial crisis and the large number of projects put on hold. Now however, due in large part to the continuing high activity of skyscraper design and construction in China, as well as the development of several relatively new markets, this global dip is no longer expected.

2) Global shifts in the locations of the top 100 buildings are significant. For example, Asia (with 46) is edging toward 50% of the all top 100 towers, and the Middle East increased by three, while Europe dropped to only one building in the top 100.

3) While China remains a dynamic market for 200 m+ buildings, its production declined from 33% in 2010 to only 26% in 2011, which indicates the market is diversifying. For example, Panama — site of one of the most ebullient MEPs in the world today: the Panama Canal Expansion Project — is enjoying a 200 m+ spurt:

Before 2008, no 200 m+ buildings existed in all of Panama. Then, between 2008 and 2010, three buildings opened. In 2011, Panama City completed ten 200 m+ skyscrapers, more than any other city and more than double the number of completions in all of North America. With these completions, there are now 12 such buildings in Panama, perhaps signaling a new day for the tall building in this region.

The CTBUH Summary for 2011 concludes by forecasting a decade-long surge in tall buildings around the globe.

With over 300 projects above the 200-meter mark currently under construction internationally, the tall building community is set to continue to develop at an incredible pace. As new markets continue to discover and develop the tall building, it is quite possible that this pace will continue through the end of this decade. Without a doubt, the skylines of the world will see tremendous change by the year 2020.

The tall building community sees beyond current global economic difficulties to a more ebullient 1960s-style “golden age” that will sparkle into the 2020s. It’s called the 2015 Maslow Window and will also feature the new international Space Age.

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Mar 26 2012

James Cameron Becomes the World’s Deepest Human

Yesterday famed filmaker James Cameron became the first human to go solo to the bottom of the Mariana Trench — 35,810 feet below sea level — the deepest place on the ocean floor.

Cameron’s space-inspired description of the Challenger Deep included “very lunar, a very desolate place, very isolated.”
Click

Cameron repeats a stunning feat first accomplished in 1960 — early in the Apollo Maslow Window — by the ocean’s most daring explorers, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh who first descended into the Challenger Deep, which is much farther (a mile+) below sea level than Mt. Everest is above it. Although unmanned submersibles have been there in recent times, until Cameron no human had risked the trip again.
Click: Nereus, Mohole, Apollo and the New Race to Space

Although Cameron and National Geographic view this voyage into inner space as an important scientific and engineering project, it’s also evidence of increasing “early ebullience” as we approach a new international Space Age expected by mid-decade.

Despite continuing economic challenges, early ebullience is evident around the world today — e.g., booming Antarctic tourism, architectural projects such as the Shanghai Tower, the Panama Canal Expansion Project, Spaceport America and the birth of the space tourism industry, the International Space Station (an “international marvel”), international plans for bases on the Moon.

One might ask the rather naive question of why — in this day of remotely operated vehicles (ROV) and telepresence — he risked the trip personally. After all Cameron did have to surface early because of hydraulic problems.

Patricia Fryer (University of Hawaii) gives the standard “scientific” explanation:

The critical thing is to be able to take the human mind down into that environment, to be able to turn your head and look around to see what the relationships are between organisms in a community and to see how they’re behaving—to turn off all the lights and just sit there and watch and not frighten the animals, so that they behave normally. That is almost impossible to do with an ROV.

While true, considering the ebullient entertainment instincts of Cameron, it reminds me of the NASA official who once pointed out that,

We don’t give tickertape parades to robots.

Widespread ebullience and an increasingly fractal geopolitical situation will fundamentally drive public interest in Apollo-style space spectaculars and briefly become the dominant global zeitgeist over the coming decade, as they did during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

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Mar 19 2012

Kepler Update: Earth-like Planets are “Extremely Rare”

Recently the Kepler Science Team released the results of the first 16 months of searching for Earth-like planets around nearby Sunlike stars. A statistical analysis by Space Daily (John Rehling, March 8,2012) suggests that Earth-like planets are likely to be “extremely rare” in the Galaxy.

According to Space Daily, “the pessmistic characteristic of these results suggest that to find earth-like worlds elsewhere, we should prepare to look hard – and quite possibily very hard for decades if not centuries.”
Click

This is important because, to the public, the two most enticing drivers of human expansion into the Cosmos during the approaching new International Space Age are: 1) the discovery and exploration of Earth-like worlds, and 2) the prospects for extraterrestrial life, especially with intelligence.

The new Kepler data is consistent with analysis by JPL scientists Joseph Catanzarite and Michael Shao, that I discussed here, based on 4 months of Kepler data, but not with other more optimistic estimates.

Catanzarite and Shao — whose paper was accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal in 2011 — adopted an Earth Analog region characterized by a planet radius of 0.8 to 2 (Earth radii). The lower value corresponds to a mass of about 50% of Earth’s, the lower limit for retention of an oxygen atmosphere. The upper value is adopted by the Kepler scientists and, assuming Earth-like parameters, implies a planet with twice the surface heat flow of Earth and half Earth’s lithospheric thickness. Active plate tectonics and volcanism would be expected..

Catanzarite and Shao fit the Kepler transit data to power laws for both the planet radius and the scaled planet distance; they judge that the power laws are excellent fits to the data for distances from 0.2 AU to 0.5 AU (inside the HZ limits) and planetary radii from 2 to 4 (just larger than the EA range).

Using the power laws, the Kepler data set is then extrapolated into the Earth analog region defined above to obtain their estimate — based on the first 4 months of Kepler data — of the fraction of Sun-like stars likely to have Earth-analog planets: 2% +1.6%/-1.1%.

The addition of 12 more months of new Kepler data is summarizied in this table from Space Daily:
Click

Bins of planet radius versus bins of planet period, out to the habitable zone (Earth is 365 days) are shown here; planet frequency estimates are the product of actual observed numbers of planets times their de-bias factor. This compensates for Kepler bias towards close-in and larger planets in the data.

The Kepler data show that planets with nearly exactly one Earth mass (0.9-1.1) are most likely at periods of 4-8 days, well inside a Mercury-like orbit (88 days), and also 6 bins inside the habitable zone. These are hot planets.

We can make this data more comparable to the radius limits of Catanzarite and Shao by summing appropriate bins and extrapolating them to the right (to the habitable zone) using Rehling’s median factor (0.72) relating a bin’s frequency to that of the bin to its left.

The new value — based on 16 months of Kepler data — for the fraction of Sun-like stars with Earth-analog planets is about 3.6%. This is very close to Catanzarite and Shao’s previous result, and suggests strongly again that Earth-like planets are rare.

This latest Kepler analysis reinforces:

1) An updated, anthropic Drake Equation, suggesting that high intelligence is rare in our Galaxy.
Click: Kepler, Watson, and Gott Point to the Rare Earth Hypothesis,

and

2) The proposition that — in defense of high intelligence — space colonization should be a high priority for humanity.
Click: Is Earth Unique? What this “Benchmark Moment” Means for ETs and Our Future

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Jan 05 2012

Is Earth Unique? What this “Benchmark Moment” Means for ETs and Our Future

Astronomer John Gribbin (Alone in the Universe; 2011) uses the latest astrophysics to make an impressive scientific case that we are alone in our Galaxy.

This is despite several hundred planets currently known to exist around nearby stars, and despite NASA’s recent discovery of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars, as well as the potential for billions of such worlds in our Galaxy of almost one trillion stars.

Even Gort and Klaatu (from “The Day the Earth Stood Still“; 1951) could learn a trick or two from the ultra-ETs — suggested by current astrophysics and physics — that might be visiting us today.
Click

Despite this “benchmark moment in the history of science” according to Berkeley astronomer Geoffrey Marcy (Wall Street Journal, 12/21/11), Gribbin traces the origin of human intelligence and civilization from the Big Bang to today, and shows that the odds of our development are so small that we are most likely the first high civilization to arise in the Milky Way.

For example, Gribbin points to the origin of the Moon by an impact with a Mars-size body over 4 billion years ago as a pivotal and yet very dicey event. The impact itself had to avoid destroying Earth’s spin (as apparently happened at Venus) and yet excavate and launch into space enough material to form an unusually large Moon that could gravitationally anchor Earth’s axial tilt. Without such a Moon our rotation axis would wobble chaotically due to tugs by Jupiter, Venus and other bodies, and undermine the long-term climate stability conducive to the development of high intelligence and civilization.

Last summer Howard A. Smith of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics also independently found ETs to be scarce in the Galaxy — in American Scientist (July-August, 2011) — as did I last March: Click HERE. I used an updated, anthropic version of the Drake Equation to show that unless a high-tech civilization lives for at least millions of years (highly unlikely) we are probably alone in the Galaxy.

However, other scientists hold contrary views. For example, as I noted in October, 2010:

Following scientific meetings in 2009 at the Vatican on Extraterrestrials, the prestigious UK Royal Society has had not just one, but 2 scientific meetings in 2010 (in January and just last week) to consider if exterrestrials are here on Earth and how to properly greet them.

This current growth of interest in ETs and Earth-like planets is part of a multi-century trend recognized by 21stCenturyWaves.com. It extends back to at least the 19th century and has presaged and figured prominently in each transformative Maslow Window since that time.

For example, just after the financial Panic of 1893 that ultimately led to “Panama fever” and “pole mania” of the early 20th century Maslow Window, it featured the founding of Lowell Observatory in Arizona to study evidence for a highly intelligent canal-building civilization on Mars. Early in the Apollo Maslow Window, Frank Drake began the radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) almost a decade before humans first landed on the Moon in 1969.
For more see: “State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage.”

If we take Gribbin’s conclusion seriously for a moment, it has a number of intriguing implications for the cosmos, ETs, and our future:

1. If we are the first lofty civilization to develop in our Galaxy then radio SETI should not expect success, and we will never see interstellar Von Neumann machines in our vicinity. But the good news was envisioned by Marshall Savage in The Millennial Project (1992):

The stars are our destiny…Strewn like diamonds…All these treasures are free for the taking. There is no guardian genie. There are no alien owners to be bargained with, no evil empires to be vanquished…The galaxy is free and open now in a way it never will be again.

2. If there are no native ETs in our Galaxy, then UFOs may come from very far away — other galaxies or even other universes — and will require exotic transportation concepts (e.g., wormholes) to arrive here. This is a future that could begin tomorrow or may already be in progress, and was imagined — both the good and bad news — by Deardorff et al. in JBIS (2005):

While the ‘We are alone’ solution to Fermi’s paradox was once a seemingly valid one, this answer is now incompatible with the infinite universe and random self-sampling assumption consistent with inflation theory. We thus find ourselves in the curious position that current cosmological theory predicts that we should be experiencing extraterrestrial visitation…

The huge technological head start of the presumed ETs would still come as a great shock to many … The implication that we would be powerless relative to their presumed capabilities and evolutionary advantage may be most unwelcome … science would have difficulty coming to terms with the situation.

3. If there are no ETs from anywhere, then UFOs may originate from covert, terrestrial sources (e.g., secret military aircraft) and we have arrived in Jacques Vallee’s intriguing world of Messenger’s of Deception (1979):

UFOs may be a control system…there is a genuine technology at work here, causing the effects witnesses are describing. But I am not ready to jump to the conclusion that it is … some kind of “spacemen.”

The social, political, and religious consequences of the (UFO) experience are enormous … over the timespan of a generation… Is the public being deceived and led to false conclusions by someone who is using UFO witnesses to propagate … social conditioning?

and

4. Gribbin’s conclusion scientifically elevates human civilization to the pinnacle of the Galaxy which has important implications for both space colonization and theology:

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…

Whether or not you see the hand of God in any of this, it would mean that we are the most technnologically advanced civilization in the Universe, and the only witnesses with an understanding of the origin and nature of the Universe itself.

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Aug 20 2011

Is the Information Age Obscuring the New Space Age?

The New York Times featured a penetrating op-ed last Sunday (8/14/2011) by Neal Gabler of USC, who auggests the answer is yes.

The “Big Bang Theory” is now a popular American television sitcom, but in 1927 it was a Big Idea based on the work of Albert Einstein (below) and Edwin Hubble.
Click

Gabler perused the so-called “14 Biggest Ideas of the Year,” (e.g., “The Players Own the Game”) in The Atlantic (July/August, 2011) and came away forlorn that they were only “observations” not really Big Ideas. Big ideas not only connect the dots but they “change the ways we look at and think about the world.”

Examples of Big ideas include “the end of history,” “the Big Bang theory, and “the medium is the message.”

Gabler frets that we are in the “Post-Idea World”…

a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.

It appears that the “Age of Information” is part of the problem.

Courtesy of the Internet, we seem to have immediate access to anything that anyone could ever want to know … It may seem counterintuitive that at a time when we know more than we have ever known, we think about it less.

One Big Idea not mentioned by Gabler is “the colonization of space,” including human settlement and utilization of the solar system. If we apply Gabler’s point, is it possible that endless trivial information — especially via social media — stifles thought and serves as a distraction from the next step in human expansion?

A similar idea was advanced in 2003 by Marina Benjamin.

Since the death of the space program (!), frustrated would-be space travelers have taken refuge in cyberspace – another form of pop culture — where they now focus most of their “cosmic” energies.

Perhaps Gabler’s most serious concern is that America, in particular, lives in a “post-Enlightenment age,”

in which rationality, science, evidence, logical argument and debate have lost the battle in many sectors, and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition, faith, opinion and orthodoxy.

We often see this prominently displayed in the political arena where some advocate policies that run counter to decades of historical experience and scientific evidence, especially in areas like economics, business, and climate change.

Therefore, space colonization — excruciatingly dependent on high technology and science — might seem threatened by our post-Idea/post-Enlightenment world.

As we struggle to recover from the Great Recession that began in 2008, many are unaware that we also live within only a few years of the next stunning, 1960s-style Maslow Window, complete with unprecedented commercial and scientific adventures in space and an ebullient, Camelot-style zeitgeist.

Fortunately for us, patterns over the last 200+ years indicate these “golden ages” are not triggered by a widespead intellectual reawakening — but by major economic booms, such as the JFK Boom during the 1960s. Affluence-induced ebullience elevates many in society to higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy where their expanded worldviews make great explorations and large technology projects seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible.

Gabler laments that, “our current style of thinking no longer deploys the techniques of rational thought.” But, as in the 1960s, this will rapidly change as we strive to compete globally in the new Space Age. New energy sources will be developed, new worlds will be glimpsed, and genuine education reforms will transform newly motivated students.

In reality, the Maslow Window is the natural antidote to our current condition.

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Jul 31 2011

MUFON’s Stunning Vision of ETs is Consistent with a New Space Age

An intriguing multi-century trend in popular culture is the resurgence of broad interest in all things related to intelligent extraterrestrials — including potentially UFOs and the search for Earth-like planets — as we approach a new Maslow WIndow.

See: “The Klaatu Effect Signals an Accelerating Cultural Focus on Space.”

This weekend’s 2011 MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) Symposium in Irvine, California provided an irresistible opportunity to become immersed in the early 21st century world of UFOlogy and ascertain its long-term status.

Instead of its usual focus on examining UFO sightings, the theme of the 2011 MUFON Symposium is: ET Contact: The Implications for Science and Society.
Click

At the tony Hyatt Regency hotel just across the famous 405 freeway (“Carmageddon”) from the John Wayne Airport, the cost of attendance probably held the crowd down somewhat. For example, the main lecture room held an estimated 800 seats, and during the main presentation of the day (Richard Dolan), it was only about 2/3 full. But given the state of the economy that’s still not bad.

In addition to the main lectures which began Friday evening with astronaut Story Musgrave, the MUFON event featured 50 interesting vendors — including the celebrated abductee Travis Walton offering autographs — with many tempting books and other ET-related treasures, a concise but enjoyable UFO/ET art show, and a small, semi-secret-but-fun UFO/ET film festival. Definitely an impressive cultural event!

Dolan’s a well-known UFO historian and theorist who previously was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. His books come highly recommended so I expected a good show — and wasn’t disappointed.

Dolan’s stunning belief is that there exists a “secret space program” that he’s convinced will eventually become known to the public. He sees evidence for anomalous activities in space, including unidentified objects in Earth orbit (recorded during Shuttle missions), images of unknown bases on the Moon, and seemingly artificial structures on Mars (Cydonia). This, plus an estimated annual federal black budget of $ ~50 B (about 1/3 of the total cost of the Apollo Moon program), suggests to him the real possibility of a momentous program that may already include humans on Mars and routine interactions with ETs!

Regardless of its merits, Dolan’s story meets the criterion of an extraordinary vision of intelligent ETs as we approach within only a few years of the 2015 Maslow Window and the new International Space Age.

The afternoon session began with a puzzling presentation by John Alexander, Ph.D. who was expected to chat about “The Federal Government and Military Response to ET Contact,” but seemed more intent on offering counterpoints to most of Dolan’s talk. Alexander is a former Army colonel with apparently extensive government contacts.

After Alexander’s presentation, it would have been more satisfying to the audience to bring back Rich Dolan for a 2-person panel discussion with Alexander, including audience participation.

But more importantly, MUFON seems to have adopted the basic philosophy of the Vatican and the UK’s Royal Society toward ETs, — i.e., ETs probably exist and may be coming here, so the question is: How do we accommodate them?

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Jul 03 2011

“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” July 4, 1776

Happy Birthday America !

Independence Day fireworks NASA-style as the Discovery launches on July 4, 2006
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It’s wonderful to celebrate the Declaration of Independence issued on July 4 in 1776. In particular we celebrate its most famous clause:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Today we believe that Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness will be inceasingly experienced around the globe as humans expand into the cosmos.

And, although the U.S. continues to experience significant economic uncertainty as well as the bittersweet last launch of the Space Shuttle this Friday, it’s clear that — on Earth and in Space —

The Future Still Belongs to America,” according to Walter Russell Mead (WSJ, 7/2/11).

According to Professor Mead:

The geopolitics are favorable and the ideological climate is warming. But on a still-deeper level this is shaping up to be an even more American century than the last

The is because the mega-trend of the 21st century is a “wave of change.”

Scientific and technological revolutions trigger economic, social, and political upheavals … In a century of accelerating change, the United States is better positioned to adapt than China, Europe, or the Arab world.

Wall Street’s Robert Doll (WSJ, 6/4/11) concurs that America’s edge is its “faster population growth, companies that are global in scope, and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

We are still the source of technological innovation and home to the greatest universities and the most creative businesses.

These assessments are consistent with long-term macroeconomic data and global trends that point to an approaching global economic boom which should trigger a new international Space Age by 2015.

Enjoy the fireworks!!

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May 29 2011

Gaus’ Declining Anxiety Wave Points to the 2015 Economic Boom

1960s-style economic booms appear to be the triggers of great explorations from Lewis and Clark to Apollo, as well as the largest macro-engineering projects from the Suez Canal to Apollo.

That’s the extraordinary lesson of the last 200+ years.

However, Helmut Gaus asks if our prosperity is fundamentally more a matter of human psychology than just economics?
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Gaus, a professor of political science at the University of Ghent in Belgium, has spent decades documenting an “Anxiety Wave,” which is the inverse of the better known long economic wave. According to Gaus (Why Yesterday Tells of Tomorrow, 2003)

If we scan two centuries of European history … a certain number of cultural-historical and mental changes show the same cyclic course as Kondratiev’s (economic) long wave. Not all of them can be as easily followed back to fluctuations in the market … On the face of it, these currents indicate an increase and decrease in the level of anxiety in society, with peaks and low points that correspond with the peaks and lows of Kondratiev’s long wave.

If Gaus is correct, the Maslow Window expected near 2015 (plus all those of the last 200+ years) is caused directly by the mass psychology of an “ascending phase” of the long economic wave.

In a descending long wave, in a period of increasing uncertainty and existential anxiety, the keynote of the state of mind of a whole population is different from that in an ascending phase of the same long wave, in which self-assurance and self-confidence and all other states of mind that are typical of this begin to get the upper hand.

Gaus bases his Anxiety Wave on “the best documented mass phenomenon that appears to be the subtlest indicator of the collective unconscious in our Western world”: women’s fashion. For example, Gaus has identified a yellow/orange fashion metric that’s apparently indicative of a positive mind set, as indicated in Figure 2. Notice that the index ascends during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window until about 1968, when it begins a steep descent until the mid-1970s. Its decline continues more gently into the 1990s.

Fig. 2. According to Gaus, from 1956 to 2000 the bright color scheme (of yellow/orange) in women’s fashions indicates a “happiness wave” consistent with long waves in the economy
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If it is real, we’d expect that Gaus’ fashion-based Anxiety Wave — the inverse of the “happiness wave” shown above in Fig. 2 — would correlate well with unemployment; and it does, see Fig. 3. Notice how anxiety and unemployment decline during the 1960s Maslow Window until about 1968, and then begin a steady rise until the mid-1980s.

Fig. 3. Unemployment in Germany from 1956 to 2000 correlates well with Gaus’ fashion-based Anxiety Wave.
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Although the number of marriages (in the Netherlands) is inversely correlated with the Anxiety Wave, the mean age of the mother at the birth of her first child (in Germany) from 1956 to 2000 is directly correlated. As anxiety drops during the 1960s Maslow Window so does the mean age until about 1970 when both reverse and begin an upward trend.

Fig. 4. The mean age of a mother at the birth of her first child (in Germany) declined until 1968 and increased thereafter.
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Even astrology correlates with Gaus’ Anxiety Wave. The end of the 1960s Maslow Window near 1968 triggers a steep increase in the number of books on astrology in German and British libraries, which levels off in the mid-1980s.

Fig. 5. Apparently astrology comforted an increasing number of people (in Germany and the UK) after the 1960s Maslow Window ended near 1968.
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Because human anxiety is very difficult to measure, especially on a mass basis, Gaus’ data does not prove that an Anxiety Wave exists or that it drives the long economic wave (e.g. Kondratiev Wave). However, it does provide intriguing evidence of rhythmic, twice-per-century fluctuations of significant non-economic parameters in society, that correlates well with long-term economic trends.

Dimitri Maex at DoubleThink.com suggests that in addition to fashion, search engines might work too…

The idea that fluctuations in the economy are caused by the collective levels of anxiety is interesting but hard to prove. Data on the mental state of society is scarce, which is why Gaus used data on fashion as a proxy. There is however a relatively new data source that holds exteremely rich informatoion on what’s on people’s minds – it’s the data held by search engines. Knowing what people search on and how that changes over time could potentially lead to a barometer of society’s mental state.

Gaus boldly ends his book with 20 future behavioral trends, including the major economic boom of 2015 that is expected to trigger the next 1960s-style Maslow Window and the new international Space Age.

If the rhythm of rising and falling of the long wave in the coming decades is the same as in the past two centuries, we can expect the bottom of the anxiety curve, and thus the peak of the economic boom, around 2015 – 2020…

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