Archive for the 'Wave Guide 9: Global Conflict' 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.

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May 07 2017

The Maslow Window as a Self-Organized Critical System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Aug 04 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”

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Jul 10 2013

Impressions and Implications of the 2013 Roswell UFO Festival

Yesterday Google cutely reminded us of the 66th anniversary of the Roswell UFO event. In the past, although intrigued, I’ve not attended the annual July Roswell UFO festival mainly because Roswell is far away and has very warm summers.

Each year for a few days around July 4, Roswell celebrates and evaluates the most famous UFO event in history. (Images by Bruce Cordell.)

But given the recently high profile of the UFO phenomenon — Citizen Hearing, scientific meetings at the Vatican and the Royal Society — and key people speaking at Roswell (e.g., Dr. Jesse Marcel, Jr.), I decided to take the plunge.

This time Roswell not only had elevated temperatures but also an unusually early and intense monsoon. Both may have conspired to bring the crowd down a little although everyone seemed to enjoying themselves.

In Roswell UFO-related gift shops and bookstores abound. My favorite was “Roswell Landing” where I found a speculative, but interesting book by mathematician and MUFON staffer Don Burleson, about how J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the A-bomb, may have been directly involved in UFO crash analyses.

My impression of the Roswell demographics was an interesting combination of the younger family-oriented groups you’d encounter at Disneyland plus the more senior folks who frequent WalMart. If you survey the festival’s schedule of events (linked above) you’ll see there was something for everyone from eight to eighty.

A lot of the action took place in the International UFO Museum and Research Center on Main Street. I remember strolling though it shortly after it was founded in 1992. This time it was much more elaborate including an autographed poster of wondrous actress Adrienne Barbeau who was a celebrity guest in 2010.

Friday afternoon in the IUFOMRC North Library well-known Roswell authors Tom Carey and Don Schmitt reiterated their contention that over the last 60+ years the U.S. government has fibbed often about UFOs and especially Roswell.

In particular, since 1947 the government has offered 4 different, official explanations of the Roswell event — the most laughable being a weather balloon! Carey and Schmitt continue to be firmly supportive of the idea that alien bodies were also retrieved at Roswell and expressed particular frustration with the New York Times for showing no interest in witness testimony. Big surprise.

Not being a Roswell expert myself, I’ve always been curious of what became of Roswell base commander Col. Blanchard who sent out the stunning first, but rapidly countermanded press release that indicated the military had retrieved a crashed flying saucer!

Did it hurt his career?

According to Carey/Schmitt, Blanchard shot up the ladder to the Pentagon and became a 4-star general. Shortly thereafter in May, 1966 Gen. Blanchard died “at his desk” of a massive heart attack, while expecting even brighter things in his sadly aborted future. Imagine what the conspiracy theorists of today’s politicized world would make out of that…

The highlight of the UFO Festival for me was Saturday morning at 9:30 am in the Roswell Civic Center Exhibit Hall when Jesse Marcel, Jr., M.D. recounted his story of how, as an eleven-year-old in 1947, he personally examined the debris from the Roswell UFO crash. Dr. Marcel and his daughter are pictured here.

Marcel comes across exactly like I expected him to: smart, authentic, competent, patriotic, and even very personable. It was quite an experience to hear the most celebrated (publicly speaking) living witness to what was apparently the debris of a crashed alien spacecraft. The fact that Marcel later earned an M.D. and became a successful practicing physician is relevant to his current testimony about events in 1947 because it indicates he has an excellent eye and memory for details.

Marcel likes to talk about the strange “mathematics-like” symbols on the I-beams, but I find the extraordinary properties of the “foil”-like materials more compelling. The symbols could have been faked by someone trying to simulate a crash site, but I doubt, even today, if the properties of the materials (as described by Dr. Marcel and his father, intelligence officer of the base) could be duplicated.

Dr. Marcel has no doubt personally that the Roswell debris was from a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft. Listening to him I began to feel the same way, although I still have serious doubts that are not related to Dr. Marcel. They’re based on new discoveries in astrophysics which suggest that human-level civilizations and Earth-like planets are so complex and unlikely that even in a Galaxy of 300 billion stars we could be the only custodians of high intelligence.

While smart aliens still might exist elsewhere they would need exotic transportation concepts (e.g., wormholes) to come here from other galaxies or even other universes, and would be way, way too sophisticated for clumsy Roswell-style crashes in thunderstorms.

The question is: Can we reconcile new insights about the low probability of Earth-style civilizations based on current astrophysics with Dr. Marcel’s and others’ observations of apparent extraterrestrial technologies and capabilities?

Here are two options (others are possible):
Option I. Dr. Marcel is right!
Roswell is due to an ET spacecraft. This implies that astrophysical cautions about high intelligence in our Galaxy are overestimated and high-tech civilizations exist elsewhere in the Milky Way. It also indicates that extremely advanced civilizations from other galaxies or universes also probably exist and we can expect visits from them, if they aren’t already here.

Option II. Dr. Marcel is wrong.
Roswell debris is not extraterrestrial and thus is probably due to a secret military project. If other suspected UFO crash sites are likewise not ET spacecraft it’s likely that, based on astrophysical insights, we are alone in the Galaxy. Other ultra-advanced extragalactic or extra-universal civilizations may exist and already be here, but would have little in common with us because they are tens- or hundreds- (or more) of thousands of years ahead of us.

Based on non-secret information, my evaluation of the situation is that both options are still potentially viable. And we need more data to resolve them. (Notice that in either case, we expect extremely advanced civilizations to be here, but they would not be expected to contact us directly.)

A dual track of activities like the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure as well as astrophysical studies that illuminate the origin and development of high intelligence (e.g., extrasolar planets) will eventually reveal these cosmic mysteries to everyone.

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Apr 27 2013

Are We Entering a Cuban Missile Crisis-like Phase of the Approaching 1960s-style “Critical State”?

A month ago, when the image of stealth bombers over South Korea (below) graced the front page of the Wall Street Journal, it was hard not to be impressed, although I suspected that — due to the irrational leaders in Pyongyang and the tentative ones in Washington — it would probably backfire.

U.S. flies stealth bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a “show of might,” (WSJ, 3/29/13).

And sure enough, just a few days later Lignet (4/4/13) reported that the Obama administration was “reconsidering” their “decision to stand up to North Korea’s recent provocations with displays of U.S. military force…”

However, our purpose here is not to evaluate the Obama “playbook”, but to marvel at the extraordinary spike in international tensions stoked by current nuclear-related confrontations, especially in the context of what appears to be a rapidly approaching 1960s-style “critical state.”

Over the last 200+ years the international system has displayed punctuated equilibria by self-organizing into twice-per-century, transformative “critical states” whose approach is typically signaled by major economic (e.g., Panic of 2008) and geopolitical (e.g., Spanish-American War) precursors.

Given their potential to rapidly destabilize their regions, accelerate nuclear proliferation, and threaten millions of lives and the global economy, ongoing nuclear-related confrontations involving North Korea and Iran remind us of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. During the 1960s “critical state” their nuclear-related crisis was resolved almost as soon as it began when the Russians removed their missiles from Cuba, however the incident intensified the Space Race to the Moon and a major technology boom during this most recent Maslow Window.

Because of their strategic significance, Iran and North Korea have the potential to approach the seriousness of the Cuban Missile Crisis; key evidence that they are becoming CMC-level precursors for the approaching critical state includes:

1) A Pre-Emptive Strike?
In response to North Korean threats of a nuclear attack against the U.S. and other nations, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe suggested on April 3 that the U.S. should be prepared to attack North Korea “now” in a “pre-emptive strike” to stop the “deranged” president Kim Jong Un. A few days later on “Meet the Press” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said a “major war” with North Korea is possible.

Although there is disagreement among national security experts, Dr. James Carafano (Heritage) warned on April 5 that North Korea “has the technical capability of attacking the west coast of the United States,” (Newsmax) with nuclear missiles, as well as places like Guam, Hawaii, Japan, and of course, South Korea.

His assessment was buttressed a week later by the errant revelation from a classified DIA report that concluded with “moderate confidence” that North Korea can arm a ballistic missile with one of its nuclear warheads. Although immediately downplayed (as you would expect) by top DoD and IC officials, the U.S. accelerated plans for deployment of an anti-missile system to Guam and, reversing a 2009 decision by Obama, decided to beef up the anti-missile interceptors stationed in Alaska and Vandenberg AFB, California by 2017.

2. Is it Now or Never?
Because North Korea and Iran have reportedly been sharing nuclear and missile technology with each other for many years, the two crises are linked and the formerly secret DIA assessment of North Korea’s advanced status is highly relevant.

For example, Jerusalem Post defense analyst Yaakov Katz points out that,

If the North Koreans are much more advanced than we assumed … your window of opportunity (to attack) is becoming smaller.

Yesterday Joel Rosenberg reported that earlier this week a close confidante of PM Netanyahu indicated that “It’s now or never…” for a military strike on Iran. And according to Tzachi Hanegbi, a close, trusted, long-time personal friend and confidante of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “… the option of never does not exist.”

This comes on the heels of remarks by former four-star USAF general and former director of the CIA Michael Hayden who recently predicted military action against Iran (Lignet, 4/5/13).

I am doubtful and pessimistic that we’re going to be able to solve this without someone taking some sort of kinetic action against the Iranians.

3. The Coming Nuclear Breakout.
On their editorial page recently, the Wall Street Journal (4/8/13) noted that as Iran develops its nukes, others prepare “for their own nuclear breakout,” including Saudi Arabia which is planning to build 16 nuclear reactors. We should keep in mind that,

The world’s largest oil exporter does not need nuclear power for electricity.

Likewise, because “the U.S. has acquiesced in North Korea’s weapons program”
South Korea and Japan are edging toward developing their own nuclear capability.

WSJ concludes that,

As the U.S. (nuclear) deterrent fades … (we are) setting the stage for the greatest (nuclear) proliferation since the dawn of the atomic age.

The bottom line is that current nuclear-related confrontations are unprecedented since the 1960s and appear to be developing into Cuban Missile Crisis-style precursors signaling the rapid approach of a new 1960s-style, transformative “critical state” known as a Maslow Window.

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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.

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Mar 28 2013

“One does not need technology of 2010s to place a nuclear warhead half a world away…”

“… The 50-year old rocket technology from 1960 would suffice,” concludes USC Professor of Astronautics Mike Gruntman in his recent presentation on the North Korea (DPRK) satellite launch.

After 4 previous attempts, North Korea successfully launched its first satellite into Earth orbit on December 12, 2012.

Mike cautions against the derisive tone of many media commentators,

Dismissing, denigrating, and jeering at North Korean real achievements is irresponsible, unfair, and consequential. It may lead to dangerous miscalculation by policy makers.

Based on tracking data, Mike calculates that North Korea intended to achieve a repeating sun-synchronous orbit with daily revisits covering the South — perfect for a reconnaissance satellite. And they came close; orbit inclination error was only ~0.1 degree.

Considering that North Korea’s third nuclear test was last month, Mike’s professional assessment is that,

It’s only a matter of time when North Korea achieves indigenous intercontinental ballistic missile capability and deploys operational satellites.

Last month I concluded that current geopolitical trends — such as those in Korea — suggest “we are moving into a new 1960s-style critical state featuring the potential for major, but short-lived international conflict.”

And it continues to accelerate.

For example, former chief of the CIA’s Korea Branch, Bruce Klingner notes that North Korea recently refused to recognize the armistice of the Korean War that ended in 1953, only 4 years prior to Sputnik and the opening of the 1960s “critical state” (the Apollo Maslow Window).

Earlier this week North Korea announced that all of their artillery and rocket forces have been placed on “highest state of wartime alert,” including those

assigned to strike U.S. imperialist aggressor bases on the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific, as well as all enemy targets in South Korea.

Lignet (3/19/13) concurs that the threat of a “Hot War” is real.

For the first time in decades, U.S. intelligence and defense analysts believe that the threat of an outbreak of significant hostilities on the Korean Peninsula is a distinct possibility … with casualties potentially in the hundreds of thousands, if not more.

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Oct 07 2012

The End of Israel and the Approaching 1960s-style “Critical State”

There’s a sense among many today that the world seems to be falling apart.

Do events around the globe suggest we’re entering a 1960s-style “critical state”?
(The U.S. consulate in Benghazi after a terrorist attack on 9/11/12 that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.)

For example, there is essentially zero chance that Israel will cease to exist within 10 years, although a NY Post columnist claimed recently that Henry Kissinger, of all people, suggested just that.

The columnist offers no details or confirmation and a quick scan of Kissinger’s website reveals nothing of the sort. Plus Israel’s near-term disappearance would be wildly inconsistent with Israel’s many ties — historical, cultural, strategic, political, technological, and theological — with the U.S..

Nevertheless, such rumors persist for numerous reasons including President Obama’s cool relationship with PM Netanyahu, and the Prime Minister’s recent speech to the U.N. where he casually moved the deadline for an Iran attack from pre-election back to next summer.

A friend who’s well-informed about these matters told me recently that at this point it’s unlikely Israel will attack Iran, at least without U.S. military support. And of course, a nuclear Iran would support the above rumor.

Plus there’s the recent secret U.S. intelligence community document, “Preparing for a Post-Israel Middle East,” whose title and content are consistent with the ongoing crisis in the Middle East as the U.S. continues to disengage from the region.

Current tensions in the Middle East (and elsewhere like North Korea) — including Iran and Israel — support the idea that we are approaching a 1960s-style “critical state.”

Serious international conflicts are key features near the onset of every transformative, twice-per-century “critical state” (also called a Maslow Window) of the last 200+ years. Although they may lead to war, the critical state always triggers a great exploration (e.g., Lewis and Clark), at least one huge macro-engineeriing project (e.g., the Panama Canal), and a stunning economic resurgence (e.g., a JFK-style, 5% boom).

In complexity theory, critical states such as a Maslow Window are due to spontaneous self-organizing over decades of the international economic and geopolitical 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 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin being the first humans on the Moon in 1969.

Earlier Maslow Windows were afflicted by wars. For example, the Spanish-American War (1898) followed the financial Panic of 1893 and a double-dip recession (with parallels to the Panic of 2008 and the great recession). This included the mysterious sinking of the USS Maine and future President Teddy Roosevelt’s leadership of the “Rough Riders” in Cuba. By 1899 the economy began to expand into a JFK-style boom which resulted in the Panama Canal and the heroic age of discovery of the N and S Poles.

The history of the last 200+ years and current economic and geopolitical trends suggest we are moving into a new 1960s-style critical state featuring the potential for major international conflict, a stunning economic and technology boom, and unprecedented great explorations.

As in the past, it is likely that U.S. leadership will be required to survive and prosper from the coming “bumpy road.”

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Sep 30 2012

The Napoleon of the Poles and Our Future in Space

Stephen Bown’s new biography (The Last Viking) of Roald Amundsen expands our insights about the great Norwegian explorer who – during the early 20th Century Maslow Window – discovered the South Pole in December, 1911.

Amundsen was a stunningly ebullient character during perhaps the most ebullient time in the history of the United States.

According to Bown,

Amundsen was a towering public figure. In an era before the Internet, television, radio, and easy travel, he excelled at selling excitement and adventure to the public … The New York Times archives between 1903 and 1928 reveal over four hundred articles about Amundsen.

And for Theodore Roosevelt’s America, Amundsen realized the likely ebullient appeal of his planned, but still secret race to the poles.

Americans seemed less preoccupied with the objects of science and more accepting of conspicuous achievement, especially in a sporting event … Adventure was a form of entertainment, and Amundsen was increasingly aware of his role in satisfying the demand for vicarious competition in a dangerous and little-known region.

Amundsen (1872-1928) would have enjoyed living in the transformative 1960s Maslow Window, and in fact once wrote that he was glad he hadn’t been born later,
“… because then there would have been nothing left for him to do but go to the Moon,” – a particularly revealing comment because he died 41 years before the Apollo Moon landing.

Amundsen’s success and fame as an explorer were no accident, and his meticulous approach was later emulated by NASA mission planners who achieved the Moon during the 1960s Maslow Window. Indeed,

His military-style execution of his objectives, carried out with gusto and flamboyant self-promotion, changed forever the way the geographical world would be perceived and future expeditions planned.

This well-deserved praise being said, it is also true that Amundsen – often called the “Napoleon of the Poles” — carried out a cold, but effective Sputnik-style deception of not only his polar competitor (the British explorer Scott who died after realizing Amundsen had won the polar race), the Norwegian government, his financial backers, and even his own crew, until the last moment.

They all thought he was headed to the North Pole, but Admiral Peary had already claimed that distinction in 1909.

After being late to the North Pole Sweepstakes, Amundsen was determined to claim “the last remaining symbol of geographical conquest” because the South Pole was “his final chance to achieve fame as an explorer, to build a reputation that could be leveraged to undertake other projects in the future.”

We can forgive Bown’s biographer-like attempt at moral equivalence when he compares Scott’s use of publicity to “clear the field” of competitors to Amundsen’s sweeping deceptions.

However, on the next page Bown has to admit that…
“… if Scott had known he was in a race, he might have set sail earlier, or perhaps the excitement of a race would have helped Scott with his own fundraising.”

The Amundsen story has a lesson for future international cooperation in space, especially transformative space initiatives like manned Mars missions. Although I proposed a Grand Alliance for Space in 1992 (see InterSpace), the history of great explorations in the 20th Century suggests we should exercise caution.

As I wrote in 2008:

The Amundsen-Scott pole mania episode is reminiscent of the 1950s Cold War, which featured the International Geophysical Year’s plans to launch satellites into Earth orbit and resulted in the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957; Sputnik ignited the Race to Space as the Apollo Maslow Window opened. As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, is an Amundsen/Sputnik-type surprise likely to trigger the Next Race to Space?

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