Apr 02 2011

State of the Wave: The Maslow Window — A Brief Intro

This is a brief introduction to the Maslow Window model that forecasts another transformative, 1960s-style “golden age” to begin by 2015. (Just click on the titles below.) Keep in mind that on the Blogroll, posts are archived according to Category, publishing date, and keywords.

Future updates of this post will be archived as a Page. Click HERE.

What follows is NOT a complete list of relevant posts, merely a few key ones to get you started.

Introduction
A good place to start is The Concept page.

Economic Growth — A Brief 21stCenturyWaves Perspective

Economic Booms and Apollo-style Exploration: How Soon the 40-Year Moon Hiatus Will End

Joseph Friedlander’s view of Maslow Windows at NextBigFuture.com

Trends and Forecasts
State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011

DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020

Ebullience and Animal Spirits are the Drivers
Are Great Explorations Driven by Keynesian “Animal Spirits” on Steroids?

The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age

Is Booming Antarctic Tourism a Prelude to Earth Orbit and the Moon?

State of the Wave: Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 years — How Soon We’ll Go Again

Economic Growth is the Trigger
Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts

200 Years of GDP Trends Support a Near-Term, New Space Age

Standard Chartered Bank’s “New Super-Cycle” Points to the New Apollo-Style Space Age

Prosperity: A Technological and a Moral Imperative

The Coming Great Boom
State of the Wave — The Recession and the Next Race to Space

State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom

Stratfor’s George Friedman Likes Space-Based Solar Power in “The Next Decade”

“The Greatest Era in the History of Mankind”

Sketches of Each Maslow Window
1960s Apollo Maslow Window…
“The Liberal Hour” Supports Maslow Window Model and Points to the Approaching Greatest Boom in History

The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window was “Transformative”

Early 20th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Peary & Amundsen Teach Us About the Human Future in Space

10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

Mid-19th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume?”) Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience

Early 19th Century Maslow Window…
10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space

Maslow Windows as a “Critical State”
Why Humans Became #1 and How Technology and Sex Lead to Unprecedented Prosperity

Niall Ferguson — On the Edge of Chaos, Immersed in the Long Wave

Space: The Fractal Frontier — How Complexity Drives Exploration

Political Waves — Past and Present
How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age

A Major Economic Boom by 2015? … The Lessons of Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Obama

Historic, Wave Election Supports 21stCenturyWaves.com Forecasts

Key Space Policy Issues
Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?

The Shocking Truth About the Father of the Space Station

The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space age

Commercialization of the Moon — How Soon and Who?

“A United, Global Effort for Long-Term Human Space Exploration?” — Why Not?

Precursors Point to the New Space Age

China’s Recent Educational Quantum Leap Triggers a “Sputnik Moment”

The Cold War-style Arms Race in Asia and the New Space Age

Facebook-Aided Arab Uprisings & Their Historical Parallels Signal a Transformative Future

Korea, Iran, and the Venezuela Missile Crisis: Self-Organizing Toward a Critical State?

China Surges to #2 and Contemplates More Freedom: The Implications for Space

Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider Support Maslow Window Forecasts

State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage

Wildcards
Phobos, Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia, China

Major Wars Threaten Future Space Initiatives

Asteroid Threats — Rusty’s Call for A Global Response

One More Thought…
In the powerfully ebullient environment of the 2015 Maslow Window — not seen since the 1960s Moon Race, the early 20th century “Panama-fever” (of the Canal) and “Pole-Mania” (of the N & S polar explorers), the mid-19th century “Manifest Destiny” of the U.S., and the seminal exploits of Lewis and Clark over 200 years ago — almost anything is possible.

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Jan 09 2011

Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?

Former NASA engineer Homer Hickam recently asked, “How about a Moon base?” (Wall Street Journal, 12/14/10).

In 1984, the great NASA Administrator during the first human missions to the Moon (1968-70), Tom Paine (left, w Pres. Nixon) said “The Moon will never motivate the American prople again.” Was he right? Is the Moon a One Hit Wonder?
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The author of Rocket Boys (1998) and Back to the Moon (1999), Hickam feels that currently, NASA is up to … “Not much.” Because last year Obama sent

Mr. Bolden, the ex-astronaut, to Capitol Hill with a plan to cancel every one of NASA’s astronaut-related programs.

Hickham likes the Moon for all the usual reasons.

It’s close, it’s loaded with resources, and we can get there with existing technology.

Why not build a 21st century Moon base …

like the National Science Foundation’s South Pole Station, and invite the world to join us.

We’ll give our technological prestige a sorely needed boost, and something else will also happen: New and wondrous products based on NASA requirements for metallurgy, composite materials, solar arrays, computers and batteries will boost our economy, just as the technologies of the Apollo mission did.

Oh by the way, it won’t cost “vast amounts of money.”

Can you feel it?
That’s what we call ebullience” — the key driver of great explorations like Apollo, and macro engineering projects (MEPs) like the Panama Canal.

And Mr. Hickham, not surprisingly, has identified himself as among the elite early ebullients in the world today. We call them “early ebullients” because they are anticipating a trend that will sweep the world around 2015 — based on macroeconomic data and global trends over the last 200+ years — much like Apollo captured global headlines in the 1960s.

As an ebullience junkie myself, I personally find Hickam’s enhtusiastic Moon base idea almost irresistible. It’s spirit reminds me of the 1990 plan of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, “The Great Exploration Plan for the Human Exploration Initiative,” by three sensational physicists: Rod Hyde, Yuki Ishikawa, and Lowell Wood.

Speed was essential; the whole permanent base would take less than a decade to create, with its first inflatable hab modules in place on the Moon by 1997.

You’ve got to love their ebullient theme (circa 1990): “We already have in hand what we need for the Great Exploration of the inner solar system.” And the controversial cost estimate was great too — only $ 11 B — that’s less than $ 20 B in 2009 USD, compared to about $ 150+ B (2009 USD) for the entire Apollo program.

So simple, inexpensive starter-homes on the Moon are possible today. But the real question is: Will the American people get as excited about it as Homer and I are — or was Tom Paine correct?

This is where the long-term, empirical approach of 21stCenturyWaves.com can provide unique insights.

How Maslow Windows Work
Over the last 200+ years Americans and many others have gone exploring whenever they could afford it. These transformative, great explorations — always accompanied by MEPs and sadly punctuated by a major war — have clustered exclusively around rhythmic, twice-per-century major economic booms, such as the Kennedy Boom in the 1960s.

During the major booms, affluence-induced ebullience catapults many to higher levels in the Maslow hierarchy. Their momentarily expanded worldviews — due to elevated Maslow states — make great explorations and MEPs seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible. Trends associated with these “Maslow Windows” provide insights to our future.

The chronology of great explorations is as follows:
Late 18th/Early 19th Century Maslow Window: Lewis and Clark
Mid-19th Century Maslow Window: Dr. Livingstone (equatorial Africa)
Early 20th Century Maslow Window: N and S Polar Expeditions
1960s Maslow Window: Apollo Moon missions

It’s clear that great explorations of new, interesting geographical sites progress from more-to-less accessible regions, consistent with the technologies of the times. For example, President Theodore Roosevelt could not outfit Adm. Peary to explore the Moon, but he did encourage him to reach the North Pole. And John F. Kennedy chose to go to the Moon — rather than Mars — because he thought it would be a challenging, yet doable global demonstration of America’s technology and economic system.

Where Will the Next Great Exploration Be?
A reasonable forecast for the next great human exploration during the 2015 Maslow Window would be Mars colonization. No one’s ever been there and it’s the next accessible (beyond the Moon) new site of interest. Plus it’s the most Earth-like world.

But suppost Mars colonization does not begin after 2015? What then?

Over the last 200+ years each Maslow Window has featured a “great exploration.” If the 2015 Maslow Window doesn’t have one it would be the first time in over 200 years that’s happened.

What about the Moon? We know it has major commercial and scientific potential, but could the Moon again have the power to rivet the attention of the global public like Apollo, the polar expeditions, Dr. Livingstone, and Lewis and Clark did generations before? Will the public see the Moon as an Earth-style “golden oldie” (i.e., a pleasant memory) with real potential for more excitement, or a “one hit wonder.”

Does the Moon Have the Right Stuff?
As we saw above, over the last 200+ years the great explorations on Earth opened up spectacular new geographic vistas through a succession of quantum leaps from Lewis and Clark to (ultimately) the polar regions. And like the Earth, the Moon has many tantalizing surface locations awaiting intrepid human explorers.

But here are 3 reasons why the Moon may become a “one hit wonder” and prove Tom Paine’s forecast correct.
1) The Moon is subtle. The Moon is a small, airless, dry (at least on the surface!), impact crater-dominated world with a month-long day-night cycle. It’s omnipresent shades-of-gray color scheme completes its alien, repetitive presentation, at least to public eyes.
2) Space technology and the “Been there, done that” Syndrome. Since the 1960s the Moon has been studied in surprising detail with satellite technology, and we have a fair idea of what’s there — at least on and near the surface. So relative to pre-1960s Earth — when many regions were truly unknown — robotic and human exploration of the Moon has accelerated our understanding such that it may not provide another riveting, Apollo-style transformative milestone for public enjoyment.
3) Apollo 11 was a hit. During the 1960s Apollo program the Moon was a One Hit Wonder. Although the first humans on the Moon (Apollo 11) made a big splash globally — as did Apollo 13 because lives were threatened — subsequent Apollo landings featuring spectacular geologic sites were greeted by an increasingly distracted public.

On the other hand, here are 3 reasons why the Moon might again acquire the wonder and excitement required for a great human exploration.
1) Star Trek — The Next Generation. A new generation of young people, who are unaware of Dr. Paine and did not personally witness Apollo, are increasingly excited about exploring and developing the Moon.
2) ISS and Interspace:. Many of these folks are in countries (like China and India) with growing space programs and dynamic economies. International cooperation and competition — based on the International Space Station model — may focus attention on lunar exploration starting from an Antarctica-style base like that advocated by Hickham.
3) “Potential for cultural shock and social disorientation…”. According to Dr. Heywood Floyd at the American lunar base in Clavius (“2001: A Space Odyssey”, 1968), describing the alien monolith recently excavated on the Moon. Anything even remotely like this and you know the answer.
Click 2001’s Monolith on the Moon

The Tentative Bottom Line
Based on its questionable ability to motivate, Apollo-style the new Space Age, the Moon is probably a One Hit Wonder, although it will become much more than just a Golden Oldie (a pleasant memory). Indeed, the Moon is a scientific bonanza and has long-term potential for multiple MEPs supporting its future role as a major commercial, energy, and tourist center.

But barring some civilization-altering discovery on the Moon, the next great exploration will likely be in the Mars system.

Two key indicators to watch are plans for an international Moon base and a successful Russian/Chinese Phobos-Grunt mission. They’re important because they point in different directions.

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Nov 25 2010

Images Celebrate Gold, John Sutter, and the Ebullient Mid-19th Century Maslow Window

Since I planned to be in Sacramento last weekend, I decided to enjoy some of the key historical sites — e.g., of the extraordinary California Gold Rush — associated with the ebullient mid-19th century Maslow Window.

Typical of America’s exceptional mid-19th Century ebullience was the California Gold Rush (1848-1855); gold was first discovered here at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, CA by James Marshall.
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(All images by Bruce Cordell, 2010)

Maslow Windows over the last 200 years are usually preceded by a financial panic and major recession (much like the Panic of 2008 and our current global recession), and the Dr. Livingstone/James Polk Maslow Window (~1847-60) was no exception.

The Panic of 1837 was a monster — in 1960 Nobel winner Milton Friedman compared it to the 1930s Great Depression — but in 6 long years it finally gave way to an early-1840s recovery and boom that triggered the ebullience of “Manifest Destiny.” This Panic/Great Recession/Boom/Maslow Window sequence repeated one long wave later starting with the Panic of 1893 and culminating with perhaps the most ebullient decade in U.S. history: the Peary/Panama/T.Roosevelt Maslow Window.

For more background on Mainfest Destiny please see, “How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience,” and on the CA Gold Rush see #1 of “10 Lessons Lewis and Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space.”

I’ve written about this period a lot lately because it appears that we began reliving major elements of the 1893-to-1913 chronology two long waves later starting with the Panic of 2008. If this trend continues, as it has repeatedly over the last 200+ years, we should expect a new 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology triggered by a major economic boom, to emerge by 2015.

Shortly after the discovery of gold there, Sutter’s Mill was closed. The flood of 1862 destroyed the structure and the current replica (shown here from the river side) was constructed on the original site in 1967 — fittingly during the ebullient Apollo Maslow Window.

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The image below is not a cannon. It was used during “hydraulicking” to dislodge sediment and gold from rock walls. The jets of water were environmentally destructive. A realistic depiction of this technique is seen in Clint Eastwood’s popular 1985 movie “Pale Rider”.

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The Gold Discovery Museum of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma has a number of captivating exhibits.

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I was originally headed up 80 to Tahoe to take a peek at the Donner Museum and the famous snow monument, but ran into an electronic sign announcing the need for chains at the summit. Since Hertz had rented me a red Mustang convertable (not my choice!), I was unequipped for the trip so I headed first to Coloma and then back to Sacramento to see Sutter’s Fort.

Proof of the macho Sierra storm was provided by this car’s snowy roof (and many others). It was fleeing westward down the hill Sunday afternoon on highway 50 just west of Placerville.

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The famous, ebullient John Sutter who owned Sutter’s Mill also founded Sutter’s Fort in 1839 (he called it “New Helvetia”) that eventually grew into Sacramento. This interior view was taken looking southeast. I was in front of the Blacksmith Shop (doors on the right) in the West Yard looking toward the fort’s main entrance (near the left edge). Sutter would have been fascinated by the modern Sutter Medical Center in the distance.

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Here’s the Blacksmith Shop. State-of-the-art for its time. In terms of the craftsmen and technologists required to support early 19th century frontier life, the fort was essentially self-contained. It was the first non-native American outpost in the Central Valley. Except for the more benign environment and the native inhabitants, Sutter’s Fort was the 19th century analog to a first lunar base.

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Cannons stationed in the second-floor bastion at the southeast corner made sure that anyone not invited to the party wouldn’t crash it.

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Sutter founded his fort only 2 years after the Panic of 1837 (see above). Relative to the long wave, that’s what we call — bad timing. And although he was the quintessential entrepreneur, Sutter was increasingly plagued by debt. Here we see the Central Building — the only original structure still standing in the rebuilt fort — including the 2nd floor offices of the doctor, clerk, and Sutter himself. It would have provided the last line of defense if necessary.

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It’s clear that everyone at Sutter’s Fort feasted well. This view — from the Clerk’s 2nd floor office — shows the northeast corner of the East Yard. Here are the Bakery and Bakery Storeage areas, and the outdoor Beehive Oven.

This must have been of great interest to the last survivors of the Donner party who were brought here in April, 1848, as the mid-19th century Maslow Window was gaining steam. Sutter’s Fort was near the end of the famed California Trail and welcomed many an ebullient pilgrim who came seeking their fortune in gold, agirculture, etc.

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In this image (pardon the screen) we are peering into Sutter’s 2nd floor business office in the Central Building. This is where Sutter planned his new enterprises, worked with his Clerk to monitor operations and finances, and sadly, watched his fortune dissolve.

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Sutter’s empire was short-lived. According to William Dillinger (The Gold Discovery, 2006), within only a decade of its founding, and …

After the gold discovery, Sutter’s heavily mortgaged fort and lands were overrun by gold-seekers and squatters until he was finally driven to take refuge at his “Hock Farm” on the Feather River.

In the Museum there is a revealing quote from Sutter to the effect that he would have become very rich if the gold discovery had happened only a couple of years later (~1850), but the ensuing chaos caused him to lose almost everything. In effect, if the normal major mid-19th century economic boom had not been temporarily subverted by gold fever, his under-capitalized (i.e., debt-ridden) businesses would have flourished — if his timing had been better.

Sutter’s experience reminds us that the long wave is very formidable — especially when you are unaware of it. Or if you don’t plan for it. This key lesson — gleaned from transformative Maslow Windows over the last 200+ years — still applies in the 21st century to those who aspire to grow with human expansion into the cosmos, when it re-ignites by 2015.

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Oct 30 2010

The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space age

When I was with General Dynamics, Space Systems Division in San Diego studying manned Mars missions for NASA — e.g., see “The Challenge of Mars” — I often thought about the option of becoming a permanent Mars resident, and knew it would appeal to many people.

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Where would you rather live: the Ocean World or the Red Planet? Mars is growing in popularity.
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Professors Dirk Schulze-Makuch (Washington State Univ) and Paul Davies (Arizona State Univ) have recently advocated one-way manned Mars missions on cost and political grounds as a way to jumpstart the colonization of Mars (Journal of Cosmology, Oct-Nov, 2010). This is an admirable goal, but before I get into the details of their vision, I want to explore its real significance.

Mars Colonization Ascends into Pop Culture
I first became aware of their article through the Chronicle of Higher Education (10/22/10; D. Troop), which was a big surprise. The Chronicle is more likely to feature trends in education than the latest thinking in astronautics, which confirmed my suspicion that Mars colonization is again becoming a hot topic, just like it was one long wave ago in the 1960s; in fact it is becoming part of popular culture.

A New International Space Age by 2015
This, of course, is what we would expect as we approach another 1960s-style transformative decade — the 2015 Maslow Window. It is one of several key indicators that point to a new international Space Age igniting by 2015, including: 1) the financial Panic of 2008 and its great recession, 2) a great economic boom by 2015 and political realignments, 3) macroeconomic trends over the last 200 years, 4) expanding interest in extraterrestrials, new Earth-like planets, and UFOs, 5) birth of the space tourist industry, 6) surging international plans for lunar science and development and interest in human Mars exploration, and many others.

In the next 3 to 5 years — based on macroeconomic data and global trends over the last 200+ years — we will rapidly transtition from a multi-decade period of low self organized criticality (SOC) to an ebullient, fractal (high SOC) international environment (i.e., a Maslow Window) where almost anything is possible. Previous Maslow Windows have featured quantum leaps in human exploration (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and technology and management (e.g., Apollo Moon program), and are usually terminated by a major war (e.g., World War I).

True Space Colonization, Not Suicide Missions
One-way Mars missions — not to be confused with suicide missions — could be viewed as a subconscious longing to escape the current financial, environmental, geopolitical and other stresses of Earth. But they are much more than that as the authors show by emphasizing familiar themes of survival of the human race (from asteroid as well as Earth-based threats) and the human spirit to expand and explore the unknown. “A permanent human presence on Mars would open the way to comparative planetology on a scale unimagined by any former generation.”

Although the initial colonists would have estimated life spans on Mars of only about 20 years, in several decades (after numerous followon missions), the total Mars colony population might reach 150 and form a viable gene pool. The authors compare the risks of initial Mars colonists to “the first white settlers of the North American continent who left Europe with little expectation of return.”

Near-Term Mars Strategy Bypasses the Moon
Schulze-Makuch and Davies are focused on Mars colonization, not the buildup of near-Earth space infrastructure. A Moon base is not required, although a “split-mission” strategy is employed to build up necessities on Mars (e.g. energy sources, agriculture tool kits, rovers) prior to the arrival of the colonists.

No advanced propulsion is needed and the moons of Mars — Phobos and Deimos — are not involved, although the cost, safety, and scientific advantages of an early Phobos outpost for Mars colonization have been recognized for over 20 years.

Mars Colonizaton Requires a New Culture
Perhaps their most interesting insight is that a human colony on Mars

would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political correctness.

In addition to Amundsen, they could have also mentioned the exploration spirit of Lewis and Clark, Dr. Livingstone, and the Apollo crews — that captured international admiration during the extraordinary Maslow Windows of the last 200 years.

It takes a Maslow Window to colonize Mars. And Schulze-Makuch and Davies will get their wish sooner than they think … starting by 2015.

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Jan 03 2010

How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience

I had a very Merry Christmas season this year — specifically,  about 500 powerful pages by Robert Merry.   His new book is  A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, The Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent (2009). 

Many agree it’s enthralling.  The New York Times (Sean Wilentz, 11/22/09) calls it “one of the most astute and informative historical accounts yet written about national politics, and especially Waahington politics, during the decisive 1840s.”  The Wall Street Journal (Aram Bakshian, Jr; 11/6/09) says it’s an “authoritative biography …(that) provides a compelling, perceptive portrait of one of the oddest men (James Polk) ever to occupy the White House…”

Against all odds, this smaller-than-life man achieved the impossible and ebulliently changed the world in only 4 short years; President James K. Polk in 1845. 

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In his unlikely, self-imposed one-term presidency, Polk accomplished the nearly impossible — he “engineered the triumph of Manifest Destiny” (NY Times) — including the annexation of Texas (1845), and the acquisition of the Oregon Territory (1846) and essentially the rest of the U.S. West including California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona — all by 1848.

This is an extraordinary story that occurred in ebullient times that we call a “Maslow Window”  — see  “Buzz Aldrin — A Man For All Maslow Windows!” —  less than half a century after Lewis and Clark  explored the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific, and still a few decades before the U.S. became the leading economic power on Earth.  Probably for this reason, neither the Great Exploration of this Window — see 10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume?”) Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space —  nor the primary Macro-Engineering Project (MEP)  — the Suez Canal —  were closely related to the U.S.  (although Stanley was dispatched by a New York newspaper to find Livingstone in Africa). 

However, the affluence-induced ebullience  — see The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age—  that triggered these epochal events abroad was also strongly present in the U.S. as evidenced in Merry’s book.  Here are a few examples:

1. New Technology Was “Exploding” in America.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1844, “American is the country of the Future.  It is a country of beginnings, of projects, of vast designs and expectations.”  

Merry explains that a key reason the “impulse of exuberant expansionism” continued to surge was because,  “Just as America was encompassing ever greater distances, technology —  steam power and Morse’s telegraph — was obliterating the sluggishness of distance.”

2. The Financial Panic of 1837 and Great Recession Recovered by 1843 to a most “Prosperous State of Affairs.”

The financial Panic of 1837 was a major contraction where 40% of the U.S. banks failed and unemployment was at record highs; the resulting Great Recession lasted 6 years until 1843.  According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman writing in 1960, the Panic of 1837 “is the only depression on record comparable in severity and scope to the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

Merry notes that,

Within nine weeks of Van Buren’s innauguration, economic collapse swept the country. It began when New York banks suspended specie payments, causing widespread alarm and setting in motion a deflationary period as credit dried up … The Panic of 1837 ushered in “a cycle of recession, recovery, and depression” that would dominate American politics for the next seven years … Van Buren lost much of his popularity … Polk remained a stalwart floor leader for Van Buren’s agenda, but the tide had turned against his party.

Polk left the House and won the Tennessee governorship in 1839, but lost it in 1841 and 1843. “At forty-seven, he knew he looked washed up…”  But due to his pro-Texas annexation position which mirrored the expansionist electorate, Polk, against all odds, became the Democratic candidate for president and was elected in 1844.

As Polk assumed the presidency in 1845, the dynamic duo of prosperity and ebullience was everywhere.  According to Merry,

The national economy had been expanding at an average annual rate of 3.9%.  Not even the Panic of 1837, for all its destructive force, could forestall for long this creation of wealth.  And throughout the land could be seen a confidence that fueled national success. “We are now reaching the very height, perhaps, to which we can expect to ascend,” declared the Democratic Wilmington Gazette of Delaware.

Despite the Panic of 1837 and its Great Recession, the mid-19th Century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window (roughly 1847 to 1860) opened on time and featured Africa’s most famous explorer (Dr. Livingstone), the “technological jewel” of the 19th Century (the Suez Canal), as well as impressive secondary MEPs (including the Great Eastern ship).   In addition to the stunning culmination of American Manifest Destiny in 1848,  this Maslow Window’s ebullience is also  exemplified by the famous Gold Rush of the American West (1848 – 1855).

Over the last 200 years, financial panics and great recessions have usually preceded Maslow Windows; see “Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts.”  Two 19th Century panics (1837 and 1893) , were both about one decade prior to their Maslow Windows;  none in 1949 (during the post W.W. II boom) one decade before the Apollo Maslow Window;  and one in 2008 (7 years before our expected 2015 Maslow Window). The New York Times (11/30/08) also describes a “deep recession” that appearently occurred somewhat after 1776, about 10+  years before the Lewis & Clark Maslow Window.

In fact, during the last 200+ years, no financial panic/great recession pair has ever delayed or diminished, in any observable way, any Great Explorations or MEPs associated with a Maslow Window. And there’s every reason to expect this 200+ year pattern will continue.

3.  The Controversial Mexican War Played a Major Role in U.S. Expansion.

Wars that occur early in the Maslow Windows of the last 200 years are complex, destructive events  — far beyond the scope of our discussion here — but according to historical accounts, usually play an important role in the ensuing events of the Maslow Windows.  It appears that ebullience — also known as “animal spirits” and “irrational exuberance” in an economic context; see “Are Great Explorations Driven by Keynesian “Animal Spirits” on Steroids?” — played a central role.

A few of the interesting parallels are sketched here:

Despite the (then) unresolved issues of slavery and the legality of the war, the Mexican War was vigorously and successfully executed by Polk with the support of the American people. Their ebullient expansionist belief in Manifest Destiny transformed the world.  According to Merry, the U.S. was “a vibrant, expanding, exuberant experiment in democracy whose burgeoning population thrilled to the notion that it was engaging in something big and historically momentous.”  This is the language of societal ebullience.

One Maslow Window earlier, the Napoleonic Wars in Europe played a major role enabling the Lewis and Clark expedition and in launching U.S. westward expansion.  Napoleon’s need to fund his war machine encouraged the sale of Louisiana to Jefferson;  see “10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space.”

Likewise, the Spanish-American War of 1898 — as the Great 1890s Recession was ending and as the ebullient Peary/Panama Maslow Window began — played an intriguing role in Maslow Window events.  “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!”, an Alamo-like cry in response to the deaths of 266 US sailors while anchored in Havana Harbor, helped ignite the Spanish-American War.  To replace the Maine, another battleship (USS Oregon) stationed on the Pacific coast rushed 14,700 miles around South America to Cuba — while Teddy Roosevelt, leader of the famous “Rough Riders,” vectored toward Cuban battle himself.  Since the Oregon arrived at Cuba two months after war began, it didn’t require much abstract thinking for TR to recognize the Panama Canal’s potential strategic advantages;   see “10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space.”

Early in the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, Cuba again was the focus of an even bigger crisis for America and President John F. Kennedy: the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Because of Soviet emplacement of offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba the world came closer to a major nuclear exchange than ever before or since.  Although this crisis did not ignite the Space Age — the surprise 1957 launch of Sputnik did that — it intensified the Moon race and showed that the global stakes were high; see “The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte.”

The “early Maslow Window wars” are continuing into the present — Iraq, Afghanistan, the War on Terror — as we recover from our Panic of 2008/Great Recession combination (analogous to the Panic of 1893/Great 1890s Recession and Panic of 1837/Great Recession), and as we ebulliently head toward the much anticipated, spectacular 2015 Maslow Window.  

4. Manifest Destiny Was Fueled by an “Exuberance of Spirit” Across the U.S.

There are many visionary quotes in Merry’s book that clearly indicate the extraordinary level of ebullience permeating mid-1840s America, but one of the most striking is from an obscure Democratic congressman from Ohio (then a western state) named John D. Cummins, who referred to the disputed Oregon Territory as nothing less than,

“the master key of the commerce of the universe.”  Get that territory into U.S. jurisdiction, he argued, and soon it would fill up with “an industrious, thriving, American population” and “flourishing towns and embryo cities” facing west upon the Pacific within four thousand miles of vast Asian markets.  Now contemplate, he added, ribbons of railroad track across America, connecting New York, Boston, and Philadelphia to those burgeoning West Coast cities and ports that would spring up once Oregon was in American hands. 

Cumins continued, think about how the “inevitable external laws of trade” would render American the necessary passageway for “the whole eastern commerce of Europe.” … “The commerce of the world would thus be revolutionized.”

Cummins bold vision was easily dismissed as hopelessly fanciful in a world utterly dominated by Great Britain. And yet it crystallized a fundamental element of the era’s politics — the widely shared conviction that America was a nation of destiny, that one day it would supplant Britain as the world’s dominant power, that Oregon represented merely an interim step toward realization of that vision.

Merry’s bottom line regarding Polk and American ebullience of the 1840s  is simple but powerful:

his legacy comes down to … the map outline of the continental United States, which is very close to what Polk bequeathed to his nation … To look at that map, and to take in the western and southwestern expanse included in it, is to see the magnitude of Polk’s presidential accomplishments … It didn’t come easily or cheaply …It unleashed civic forces that hadn’t been foreseen and couldn’t be controlled … But in the end he succeeded and fulfilled the vision and dream of his constituency.  In a democratic system that is the ultimate measure of political success.

The expansionist effects of ebullience apparently drove not only the Manifest Destiny of 1840s America, but also Jefferson’s seminal Lewis and Clark expedition, and the early 20th century’s international races to the north and south poles as well as the greatest MEP of the last 200 years (until Apollo): the Panama Canal.  In the 1960s the expansionist effects of ebullience finally drove us offworld to the Moon. 

As we approach another ebullient golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology — the 2015 Maslow Window — it’s very likely the impossible will be accomplished again and the world will be changed.

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Dec 24 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Christmas is the time of the year that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who according to Matthew and Mark in the New Testament, was born to the Virgin Mary in the city of Bethlehem;  in about 4 BC.

Adoration of the Child (1439-43), a mural by Florentine painter Fra Angelico.  

Click 

Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, and in his trial before the Sanhedrin Jesus himself  indicated that he is the Messiah (Mark 14: 53-65). 

Jesus’ moral teachings are as extraordinary today as they were 2000 years ago and include: the Golden Rule — Do unto others as you would have them do to you, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, etc.  Jesus is also famous for his outreach to all who would listen, including sinners and even tax collectors, such as the apostle Matthew.  You can read more about Christ’s teachings in any online Bible and in many online commentaries.

The Star of Bethlehem — The Christmas Star

According to Matthew, the “Wise Men” from the east followed the star to Jerusalem and eventually found their way to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus had been born.

Adoration of the Magi by Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337). The Star of Bethlehem is shown as a comet above the child. Giotto witnessed an appearance of Halley’s Comet in 1301. 

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 Although Giotto portrayed the Star of Bethlehem as a comet, other explanations have been suggested including a supernova or a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus.  This time of year many planetariums offer interesting public programs on this phenomenon.  Be sure to check out  the Vatican Observatory’s  perspective on the star.

Christmas in Africa with Dr. Livingstone (“I presume”) and Henry Stanley

One of the Great Explorations of the last 200 years was Dr. David Livingstone’s adventures in central Africa.  You might be interested in reading about how he and Henry Stanley celebrated Christmas in 1871, in “10 Lessons Dr. Livingstone (“…I presume?”) Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space

And although not directly about Christmas, you may also enjoy checking out the spiritual side of the human expansion into the cosmos in, “10 Spiritual Connections of the Human Exploration of Space“.

Merry Christmas!

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Dec 19 2009

The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age

Special thanks to Contributing Editor and psychologist Dr. Ken Meehan for helping me think more clearly about this discussion.  (This post is taken from a working paper soon to be submitted to a journal.)

Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com, “ebullience” is a technical term. 

It’s defined as a very positive, somewhat irrational — almost giddy — emotional state,  that’s usually due to 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 and MEPs seem not just intriguing, but almost irresistible  —  hence the name “Maslow Window.”  

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 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 and thus are empowered negatively; i.e., they sometimes trigger conflicts or even major wars (e.g., WW I) that can terminate Maslow Windows. 

SOCIETAL EBULLIENCE DRIVES MASLOW WINDOWS

It appears that ebullience has been the fundamental driving force behind the stunning exploration and engineering activities during Maslow Windows over the last 200 years, and ebullience appears to be similar to the “animal spirits” of behavioral economist John Maynard Keynes and the “irrational exhuberance” of Alan Greenspan.    Historically, widespread ebullience is usually short-lived because it is fundamentally a psychological phenomenon that often responds to feelings and perceptions — both positive or negative —  more than facts.

Societal ebullience is usually triggered by a major economic boom, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.  For example,  if benevolent extraterrestrials landed at the White House, this would probably trigger at least momentary global ebullience, regardless of our financial state.  Conversely, ebullience is often terminated by bad financial trends (such as the economic boom moving past its peak and declining), but the psychology of ebullience can be eroded by almost anything negative, such as a war or even unfriendly extraterrestrials landing at the White House.

However,  recently we’ve seen again that even the availability of large amounts of funds — e.g.,  the $ 787 B stimulus package — does not guarantee ebullience, as evidenced by negative attitudes and actions of the U.S. public (documented through surveys and opinion polls).  Even a small fraction of the stimulus money would enable the greatest human space program of all time, but it hasn’t happened yet because the public isn’t in the mood. They are simply not ebullient.

THE ECONOMICS OF EBULLIENCE

The issues are:  What specific economic factors trigger ebullience?  And can we create a numerical Ebullience Index composed of economic parameters that will allow us to track and analyze it?

 One possibility is that the public is responding to increases in GDP like those experienced before and during the 1960 Apollo Maslow Window; see plot below.

Figure 1 — The U.S. GDP (in B of 2000 USD) since 1950 shows the 1950s post-WW II boom and the major economic boom of the Apollo Maslow Window between 1961 and 1969.    CLICK   

It’s clear that rapid economic growth occurred until about 1961 when the economy went into even higher gear and produced the greatest economic boom up to that time.  But who really cares about GDP?  Undoubtedly economists and business forecasters do as well as some politicians, but nobody can spend GDP so it’s probably not triggering ebullience in typical American employees.

Better hints are found in Benjamin Friedman’s 2005 book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. The Harvard professor suggests that sustained economic growth is important because these are times when typical workers feel like they are really getting ahead; i.e., their wages are increasing relative to inflation.

But common sense informs us that ebullience will not result from a comfortable increase in real wages if we’re worried about losing our jobs.  So healthy growth in real wages coupled with low unemployment rates may be related to the widespread feeling of ebullience in society.

THE EBULLIENCE RATIO AND THE 1960s APOLLO MASLOW WINDOW

As an experiment, let’s define the Ebullience Ratio (ER) as proportional to real wages divided by the rate of unemployment as percent of workforce.  Keep in mind this is an attempt to express widespread feelings of affluence-induced ebullience in terms of common economic parameters.  Annual values for the ER have been computed for the 1950s and 1960s Apollo Maslow Window; see plot below.

Figure 2 — The Ebullience Ratio from 1950 to 1974 peaks at 1969 (Apollo 11 Moon landing) and clearly displays the Apollo Maslow Window from about 1961 to 1969.  

CLICK   

As unemployment drops, the ER increases, and as unemployment approaches full employment, the ER dramatically increases,  reflecting the presence of a major economic boom during the 1960s Maslow Window (from about 1961 to 1969).  Short business cycles are seen in the 1950s ER data that are superimposed on pre-Maslow Window economic growth.  In 1958 the short business cycles subside as unemployment declines signaling the approach of the Maslow Window.  The highest ER is in 1969 and drops rapidly thereafter as the Maslow Window closes.

The consistency of both the economic (GDP) and ebullience (ER) trends — especially between 1961 and 1969 — suggests that the Apollo Maslow Window is well described by these parameters.

THE EBULLIENCE INDEX

As another experiment,  let’s define the Ebullience Index (EI) for an interval of time as the integral of the ER function (i.e., the fractional ER increase per year as a function of time) over the duration of the interval in question (e.g., the Maslow Window).   This synthesizes the annual rate of change of real wages divided by their rates of unemployment — the two things that matter most to a typical worker — into a single index for any Maslow Window.

Using ER values for the interval between 1961 and 1969, the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window has an Ebullience Index of 4.9.  This number is most meaningful in comparison with other Maslow Windows and/or intervals, so we’ll  look now at the economics and ebullience of the Peary/Panama Maslow WIndow.

WHAT  ABOUT THE EARLY 1900s PEARY/PANAMA MASLOW WINDOW?

It’s interesting to compare the 1960s Maslow Window ebullience values with those of the early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window, because Peary/Panama was preceded by the financial Panic of 1893 and the great recession of the 1890s (like our current panic/recession), while neither existed before the Apollo Window (although WW II did).

Figure 3 —  This U.S. GDP (B in 2000 USD) plot from 1890 to 1914 clearly shows the great 1890s recession that transitions into rapid growth, interrupted by two brief recessions, until 1913 when the Peary/Panama Maslow Window ends abruptly.
CLICK
  

Notice that GDP is flat during the 1890s great recession but perks up — signaling the onset of the Peary/Panama Maslow WIndow — after 1901.

Figure 4 — Ebullience Ratios from 1890 onward clearly convey the psychological dimensions of the 1890s great recession which began with the financial Panic of 1893, and the supersonic Maslow Window recovery beginning in 1898. 

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If you compare the 1960s ER trends (Fig. 2) with Fig. 4 you see that Maslow Windows preceded by a financial panic are quite different from those without. Athough GDP data (Fig. 3) suggest the economy was already humming again by 1896, the ER data (Fig. 4)  suggest the psychological impact of the 1890s great recession lingered until about 1898 when the Maslow Window opened.  Although ER peaks in 1906, historical events suggest the Window itself continued until 1913; WW I began in 1914.

Just to give you a little chronology here: Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency ran from 1901 to 1909; U.S. construction of the Panama Canal began in 1904 and was completed in 1914;  the international races to the poles culminated between 1909 (Peary first to N pole) and 1911 (Amundsen first to S. pole).

For  the first 8 years of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window — from 1898 to 1906 — the Ebullience Index is 13.9,  almost 3x the value (4.9) for the Apollo Window.  This supports my impression from reading historical accounts of the era (e.g., America 1908 by Jim Rasenberger) that the Peary/Panama Maslow Window was even more ebullient  — if that’s possible!! —  than the 1960s Apollo Moon decade.

The Peary/Panama Window apparently produced so much affluence and ebullience  that extraordinary exploration and engineering activities  — characteristic of populations at elevated Maslow states —  continued until 1913, well after the 1906 ER peak.  On the other hand, this may suggest our Ebullience Index may not include all psychologically relevant factors.

OUR CURRENT LACK OF EBULLIENCE AND THE COMING GLOBAL SPACE AGE

 Over the last 200 years, Maslow Windows tend to culminate every 55 or 60 years near peaks of the energy cycle; and open about 10 years earlier.  This led to my initial forecast (made in 1996) for another spectacular, 1960s-style Maslow Window  opening near 2015 and culminating by 2025.  Although wildcards can alter this nominal timing,  the economics of ebullience suggests our time is coming soon:  indeed, we appear to be only a few more years from the next Maslow Window.

In particular, the financial Panic of 2008 suggests that our current trajectory might be more similar to the Peary/Panama Maslow Window than the 1960s Apollo Window, which had no financial panic/great recession in the decade just preceding it. 

Figure 5 —  The U.S. GDP (B in 2000 USD) from 1985 to 2009 displays the Panic of 2008 and our current great recession in the 2 points on the right adge. 

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The recessions of 1990 and 2001 are seen by flattenings of the GDP curve, and the Panic of 2008 (next to the right edge) preceded the current great recession.  Note that the theoretical trough of the 56-year energy cycle is in 1997.

 Figure 6 — Ebullience Ratios from 1985 to 2009 show the Panic of 2008 and our current great recession, as well as a very interesting boom from 1991 to 2001. 

CLICK 

 The dramatic collapse of ER starting in 2007  just preceded the Panic of 2008 and the great recession continuing to the present.  If you compare Figure 6 to Figure 4 you’ll see that our future could evolve something like the Peary/Panama Maslow Window — a rather exciting prospect once we recover from our current challenges.  We’ll return to this in a minute.

Notice the impressive economic boom in the center of  Figure 6, from 1991 to 2001; it’s the longest expansion in U.S. history.  Although it occurred at the long wave trough (1997), the 1990s boom has many basic economic characteristics of a Maslow Window  — duration of 10 years, rapid real GDP increase, and an amazingly large Ebullience Index of 5.3 (compared to Apollo’s 4.9 and Peary’s 13.9)  —  but, although plans for the International Space Station (to be completed in 2011) began in the early 1990s and construction began in 1998, the next major international thrust into space did not occur then.

The Apollo-size Ebullience Index of the great 1990s boom suggests this parameter, as defined above,  is incomplete.  To make a long story short: the answer is provided by the economics of the 1990s and the nature of ebullience.  To have widespread ebullience, large segments of the population must share in the boom’s affluence, but during the 1990s income inequality grew appreciably;  this continued a long trend that interestingly began in 1968 near the end of the Apollo Window.  Without going into the numbers here, merely inserting an income inequality factor (e.g., the Gini index) into the denominator of the Ebullience Ratio will significantly decrease the Ebullience Index of the 1990s boom and increase Apollo’s EI (when income inequality declined).

The bottomline is that the appearance of the Panic of 2008 was historically monumental.  It signaled that our future trajectory will be more like that of the early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window and less like the 1950s.

This is both good news and bad news:

The Bad News is that the current great recession could last up to 5 years, like the 1890s great recession did (1893 to 1898; See Fig. 4).  Ebullience and a shorter recession will be favored by government policies that stimulate economic growth,  increase real wages, and reduce unemployment for most segments of society.

The Good News is that once we survive the recession, the future’s so bright we’ll all need shades!  The Peary/Panama Maslow Window had a measurable ebullience of nearly 3 times the Apollo Moon decade and suggests that  — if unabridged by wildcards —  global space-related investment between 2015 and 2025 should be at the $ 1 T to 3 T (2007 USD) level.  Empowering the 2015 Maslow Window with Peary/Panama-level ebullience points to  many of our fondest, unprecedented dreams like major space-based solar energy systems, international lunar commercialization, and even the first Mars colonists.

 

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Dec 13 2009

Are We Entering the “Superproject Void”?

The New York Times (11/29/09) thinks we are.  According to Louis Uchitelle,

Generation after generation, giant public works projects have altered the American landscape. The Erie Canal and the transcontinental railroad come to mind. So do massive urban sewer and sanitation systems, the Tennessee Valley Authority, rural electrification, the Hoover Dam, the Interstate System, the subway networks in San Francisco and Washington, the Big Dig in Boston … and the list abruptly stops.

For the first time in memory, the nation has no outsize public works project under way.

Actually, the Times’ Superproject data is supportive of  21stCenturyWaves.com’s  Maslow Window model and its relation to Macro-Engineering Projects (MEPs) over the last 200 years — including the early 19th century, near-MEP Erie Canal mentioned by the Times — as well as current MEPs and those anticipated during the 2015 Maslow Window.

1. The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window appears in public works spending data for the last 60 years.
The signature of the long economic wave is visible in the Times‘ graphic of public works spending as a percentage of GDP from the late 1940s to the present; Click HERE.

The rapid rise in spending during the 1960s was enabled by  the major economic boom that triggered the 1960s Maslow Window;  it slammed shut just before 1970 and was followed by a precipitous decline across the 1970s and beyond. Both mirrored the trends of the long wave at those times.  As Uchitelle points out, “the strongest periods of economic growth in America have generally coincided with big outlays for new public works and the transformations they bring once completed.”

The  post-WW II spending boom of the 1950s and late 1940s has not been replicated in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Instead, the Panic of 2008 and our current great recession appears to be following the pattern of the Panic of 1893 and the great 1890s recession, which, after 1899,  rapidly rebounded into one of the most ebullient decades in U.S. history:  the 1903-1913 Maslow Window.  It featured Theodore Roosevelt’s transformative Panama Canal and the spectacular international races to both the north and south poles.

2.  Over the last 200 years, MEPs tend to cluster in rhythmic, twice-per-century pulses.
In The Way MEPs Really Work,”  I adopted the definition of an MEP from Eugene Ferguson (1916-2004), a well-known professor of engineering and later history, and a founding member and former president (1977-78) of the Society for the History of Technology  According to Ferguson,

MEPs are: 1) at the state-of-the-art of technology for their time; 2) extremely expensive (at least $ 1 B,  in 2007 USD) and usually large in size; and 3) sometimes practical in purpose, but often they are aimed at satisfying intangible needs of a spiritual or psychological nature and are highly inspiring.

This is a demanding definition that excludes many extraordinary projects like trans-continental railroads or large highway systems because, while expensive and significant, they do not stretch technology.

The rhythmic, twice-per-century pulses of MEPs are visible in Cordell (1996).  Their association with Maslow Windows and regular timing suggests that the next flurry of Superprojects and MEPs will begin near 2015.  So, any “Superproject void” should be short-lived.

3. The Erie Canal was considered by Thomas Jefferson to be “a little short of madness.”

ErieCourtesy of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.

Uchitelle correctly identifies the Erie Canal as the key Superproject of early America, although I have been unable to convince myself that it is a true Ferguson-style MEP in the context of other MEPs of the last 200 years (e.g., the Panama Canal or Apollo Saturn V).

The Erie Canal is considered to be the greatest engineering marvel of its day and was often referred to as the 8th Wonder of the World.  Construction began in 1817 and it opened in 1825; the canal featured 18 aqueducts and 83 locks to accommodate the 568 foot rise from Albany to Buffalo.  It led to a population boom in western New York state, caused a drop in transportation costs by more than 90%, and opened up the western Great Lakes area to new settlers. In essence, the canal was a response to the pressures for westward expansion that had been ignited by the Great Exploration of Lewis and Clark earlier in the Maslow Window.

Jefferson’s “madness” quote referred to the canal’s cost: $ 7 M, courtesy of the New York state legislature; that’s about $ 0.1 B in 2007 USD, which is a little low for a true primary MEP. More impressive is its cost expressed as a fraction of GDP: 0.1 %.  That’s large and puts it in the same class as the Panama Canal (Apollo was 0.2 % of GDP); this is the best case for Erie being a Ferguson-style MEP.   However, despite the Erie Canal’s “engineering marvel” reputation, the project leaders were ebullient amateurs, not professional engineers because there were none in the U.S. at that time.  And its key technology advancements were limited to new, efficient techniques for removing tree stumps so the canal could be kept on schedule and within budget. 

The Erie Canal is definitely a Times-style Superproject, but not quite a Ferguson-style MEP.  I view it as transitional between the smaller, but still important, engineering projects of the late 18th century, and the more modern, true MEPs beginning in the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone-Suez Canal Maslow Window.

4. Construction of the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge from 1932-37 did not end the Great Depression.
Uchitelle’s interest in the history of American superprojects relates to our recovery from the current great recession. 

President Obama has earmarked just $80 billion — a tenth of his stimulus package — for megaprojects, and put off most of that down payment until next year. His focus instead has been on spending hundreds of billions to quickly and visibly repair existing public works, especially highways, and also levees, dams and locks, particularly in the New Orleans area. That’s not a bad thing — those repairs are certainly needed — but it doesn’t create permanent wealth.

By the standards of the past, however, they are not the spectacular feats of engineering and ingenuity that greatly enhance the economy. The Erie Canal was just such a feat …

“Last year at this time we were debating whether we should be concentrating our spending on big projects that, in the long run, add to economic growth,” said John J. Wallis, an economic historian at the University of Maryland. “That debate never got resolved, and the stimulus bill we enacted in February ended up focused instead on quick spending.”

This is consistent with Harvard economics professor Robert Barro who finds that stimulus spending doesn’t work to stimulate the economy; “The available empirical evidence does not support the idea that spending multipliers typically exceed one, and thus spending stimulus programs will likely raise GDP by less than the increase in government spending,” (Wall Street Journal, 10/1/09)

The Golden Gate Bridge is a spectacular Northern California landmark that was built between 1932 and 1937 during the Great Depression  for $ 35 M; that’s about $ 530 M in 2007 USD.  As a fraction of GDP it’s 0.01%, much smaller than the Erie or Panama Canals, but still a sizeable amount of cash.

It’s significant that GGB was financed privately (without any significant expenditures of state or federal money), so it could have stimulated the economy, but in 1938 — almost a decade after the Crash of 1929 that triggered the Great Depression and 6 years after Franklin Roosevelt was elected — U.S. unemployment was still about 14%.  Well-known Keynesian economists George Akerloff and Robert Schiller believe that FDR and Hoover were ineffective. In fact, “Confidence — and the economy itself — was not restored until World War II completely changed the dominant story of people’s lives, transforming the economy,” (Animal Spirits; 2009).

5. Current MEPs, the Panic/Recession of 2008+, and our current recovery suggest that any “Superproject void” will be brief. 
Indeed, the 2015 Maslow Window — a Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology — should not be late, based on the last 200 years of financial panics and great recessions (e.g., the 1890s great recession) that commonly occur in the decade just prior to Maslow Windows.  Plus pre-Maslow Window secondary MEPs — like the Large Hadron Collider and the International Space Station — point to the on-time opening of the 2015 Maslow Window.

 

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Sep 24 2009

How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age

Fear not. The Augustine Commission and Congress notwithstanding, President Obama is setting the stage for the next Space Age. And below I examine 2 specific, well-constrained scenarios, and their dynamics, showing how this is likely to occur.

Norman Augustine, former Lockheed Martin CEO, states we need $ 3 billion more per year to have a viable Moon program. Click augustine.jpg.

It is true that chair Norman Augustine — who’s becoming known as “the 3 billion dollar man” — insists, “The current program that’s being pursued is not executable,” because a return to the Moon requires $ 3 B more annually. It’s also true that in response to an Arizona Congressman (who’s married to an astronaut) who accused Augustine of presenting “a set of alternatives that look almost like cartoons,” Augustine retorted, “I respect your feelings, but I must question your facts.”

But this is all just the usual short-term political stuff.

In reality — as the last 200+ years have shown — extraordinary pulses of activity in exploration and engineering are enabled by reliable, long-term business cycles. And all indicators suggest we’re sneaking up on the edge of another Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology(GAPET).

Typically, during the twice-per-century upswings of the long economic wave and within a decade after a major financial panic (such as the Panic of 2008) and its major recession, we emerge into an ebullient, transformative decade known as a Maslow Window. Perhaps the most ebullient one followed the Panic of 1893 and was led by Theodore Roosevelt: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window from 1903 to 1913. But before that the mid-19th century Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window produced the “technological jewel of the 19th century,” the Suez Canal, and the famous Lewis and Clark Maslow Window opened the Great Northwest to the world in 1805.

Our most recent Maslow Window — the stunning 1960s Apollo Moon decade — was unique in the last 200+ years in that it wasn’t immediately preceded by a financial panic or great recession. But the approaching Maslow Window, expected to open near 2015, resumed the much more “normal” sequence of the last 200+ years when the Panic of 2008 heralded its impending arrival.

So one key lesson of the last 200 years is: The Panic of 2008 supports our expectation that the next Maslow Window — the next Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology — will open near 2015.

And President Obama is playing a key role in triggering GAPET, although there is understandably a lot of confusion about that, especially among those unaware of the long-term forces that govern the ebullient, large-scale human affairs of Maslow Windows.

For example, shortly after the Panic of 2008, Reagan economist Arthur (“Laffer Curve”) Laffer complained that President George W. Bush “will be remembered like Herbert Hoover…(and that) the age of prosperity is over,” (WSJ, 10/27/08). And others — including Obama — have compared Obama to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was president during the Great Depression. Surprisingly, Keynesian economists George Akerloff (a Nobel-winner) and Robert Shiller don’t think FDR (or Hoover) went far enough:

“Confidence — and the economy itself — was not restored until World War II completely changed the dominant story of people’s lives, transforming the economy.”

In reality, 21stCenturyWaves.com has identified the Great Depression as an example of panic/recessions that occur 16-18 years after a Maslow Window (another is the Great Victorian Depression of 1873); they tend to be very long and severe as the long wave descends. Conversely, the Panic of 2008 is typical of upswings in the long wave that precede, by less than a decade, the transformative GAPET of Maslow Windows. While still an economic crisis characterized by major suffering, the Panic of 2008 had only a small chance (e.g., WSJ, 9/1/09; Allan Meltzer) of ever evolving into a true 1930s-style Depression (e.g., 25% unemployment).

Given the high likelihood of our next Maslow Window materializing near 2015, the key question is: How will Obama create the exceptional prosperity that is the hallmark of such Camelot-like times?

There are basically 2 options:

OPTION I: Obama becomes a 2-term President: He becomes the new John F. Kennedy without the Vietnam-style baggage of LBJ.
Historical/Economic Model: The 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

Three ways Obama could trigger prosperity are:

a) The recession will end naturally and prosperity will follow.
Post-War recessions have averaged 11.3 months in length (with the longest 16 months) and the current one is 22 months old. Most economists think the economy hit bottom recently and is currently recovering.

b) Obama will “reset” his presidency resulting in prosperity.
Ted Van Dyk, a long-time Democrat and formerly Vice President Hubert Humphery’s assistant in the LBJ Whitehouse, advises Obama to cut back his proposals and expectations (WSJ, 7/17/09):

“You made promises about jobs that would be ‘created and saved’ by the stimulus package. Those promises have not held up. You continue to engage in hyperbole by claiming that your health-care and energy plans will save tax dollars. Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates otherwise.”

c) The Keynesians are right and major government spending and deficits result in prosperity.
For example, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the idea of slowing major stimulus spending would be an “error of historical proportions,” (WSJ, 9/22/09; B. Stephens). And George Akerloff and Robert Shiller (WSJ, 4/24/09) believe that,

An understanding of animal spirits — the human psychology and culture at the heart of economic activity — confirms the need for restoring the role of regulators as guiding hands in a healthy, productive free-enterprise system. History — including recent history — shows that without regulation, animal spirits will drive economic activity to extremes.

Importantly, an especially intense version of animal spirits (called “ebullience” here) is apparently responsible for the extraordinary exploration and engineering activities during Maslow Windows.

Bottom Line for Option I:
It appears that combinations of b and c are unlikely, but various combinations of a and b or a and c could occur.

In either case, Obama becomes the new JFK. He continues the brilliant, transformative lagacy of Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal, that began with Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

OPTION II: Obama becomes a 1-term president: He becomes the new Grover Cleveland (and possibly LBJ), and leads to a pro-prosperity Republican presidency.
Historical/Economic Model: The Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13).

The New York Times (9/6/09; Richard Stevenson) observed that,

Nearly eight months after the inauguration, the economy … has stabilized sufficiently that the nation is no longer gripped by the sense of urgency that allowed Mr. Obama, almost without challenge, to carry out an audacious act of industrial engineering: reshaping the automobile industry from the Oval Office in a matter of weeks … On health care, he is getting no such philosophical pass … The most relevant political framework instead appears to be a more problematic one inherited from his predecesser: a general loss of faith in government.

On August 21, the Wall Street Journal (8/25/09; William McGurn) reported that,

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said his boss was “quite comforrtable” with the idea that sticking to his agenda may well mean “he only lives in this house” for one term.

Indeed, if unemployment remains high into 2012, reelection will be a challenge for Obama.

Three things that could hinder Obama’s reelection are:

a) The Stimulus has not worked.
The Wall Street Journal (9/17/09; Cogan,Taylor,Wieland) reports that,

The data show government transfers and rebates have not increased consumption at all … and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic — not the fiscal stimulus program — deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first to the second quarter.

And as unempoyment heads toward 10%, Obama’s promise that rapid passage of the stimulus package would keep unemployment below 8% has not been realized.

b) Obama’s economic policy may be fundamentally flawed.

Published economic research by the current head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors — Christina Romer — raises doubts about Obama’s policy of major government spending to end the recession. The Wall Street Journal (8/21/09; Alan Reynolds) quotes Professor Romer’s 1999 study (J. Econ. Perspect.) that between the pre-WW I era and the era of big government (post-WW II), “recessions have become only slightly less severe…and recessions have not become noticeably shorter,” in fact post-WW II recessions are one month longer. WSJ concludes that, based on economic history since 1887, “bigger government appears to produce only bigger and longer recessions.”

If this is true, Obama’s large stimulus/bailout packages and large federal budgets will not stimulate the economy in his first term.

According to William Gale of Brookings,

The budget outlook at every horizon is troubling: the fiscal-year 2009 budget is enormous; the ten-year projection is clearly unsustainable; and the long-term outlook is dire and increasingly urgent.

Add to this White House projections of a 10-year record federal deficit of $ 9 T, and by next decade’s end the national debt will be 75% of GDP, and it’s easy to see why Obama’s job approval ratings have settled into the low 50s.

c) Afghanistan turns into Vietnam.

The New York Times (8/23/09; Peter Baker) has focused on the dangers a protracted conflict in Afghanistan could have on Obama, “The LBJ model — a president who aspired to reshape America at home while fighting a losing war abroad — is one that haunts Mr. Obama’s White House as it seeks to salvage Afghanistan while enacting an expansive domestic program.”

And despite considerable personal popularity around the world, “All that good will so far has translated into limited tangible plicy benefits for Mr. Obama … foreign leaders have not gone out of their way to give him what he has sought,” (NYT, 9/20/09; Peter Baker)

An interesting bottomline emerges:

Re: Prospects for the New Space Age Near 2015:
Based on patterns in macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200 years, all realistic roads lead to a 2015 Maslow Window featuring a Golden Age of Prosperity, Exploration, and Technology, although wildcards are possible.

Re: Mr. Obama’s Prospects:
Despite the fact that Mr. Obama is currently setting the stage for a robust, transformative new Space Age within the next 3-5 years, his presidential prospects remain uncertain.

Obama’s long wave timing and election circumstances (i.e., panic/recession) have more parallels with the 1893-1913 Peary/Panama Maslow Window — in which a 1-term Democrat (Grover Cleveland) was replaced by a pro-prosperity Republican — than with the 1949-1969 Apollo Maslow Window of John F. Kennedy. And Obama’s continuing challenges with high unemployment, record deficits, huge budgets, and Afghanistan, pose real dangers for him.

As the New York Times noted and as evidenced by Obama’s descending poll numbers, many Americans are again expressing skepticism about big government and the economy. Obama will have to create prosperity — the cornerstone of the 2015 Maslow Window — and given Obama’s popularity and flexibility, he’s quite capable of doing it.

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Aug 21 2009

Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider Support Maslow Window Forecasts

Grandiose structures with cosmic aspirations have a lot in common, regardless of when they were constructed, according to the New York Times (8/9/09; James Glanz). Built around 1500 years ago, Xunantunich, the sacred Mayan pyramid, was the product of a lofty, cosmically sophisticated society that mysteriously disappeared.

Xunantunich and its modern cousin, the Large Hadron Collider, point tantalizingly toward the spectacular 2015 Maslow Window. Click xunantunich.jpg

According to Dr. Richard Leventhal, an anthropologist with the University of Pennsylvania and an authority on Xunantunich,

All of these multigenerational projects are based upon a strong and ongoing belief system in how the world works.

As long as that world view remains in tact, the project continues and is updated by each generation, but if it falters, “all bets are off.” This mirrors the views of 1960s sociologist Fred Polak who cited 2000 years of evidence supporting the importance of a positive vision of the future to the viability of a civilization.

With the Mayans we are apparently seeing evidence of a civilization-level collapse, but Xunantunich itself also speaks of the enduring power of the cosmos to motivate humans toward large, state-of-the-art engineering projects — supporting a major theme and expectation of 21stCenturyWaves.com as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window.

Glanz, himself “a former physicist,” seems to flirt with an anti-technology bias by suggesting that Xunantunich and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) “have something in common: overreach.” However, Nobel prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg counters, “I don’t see it in quite those apocalyptic terms.”

And of course Weinberg is right. In reality, despite it’s current technical snags, LHC is becoming a stunning Macro-Engineering Project (MEP) that fits the patterns of MEPs for the last 200 years and points to even bigger things during the 2015 Maslow Window.

Our technical definition of an MEP requires more than just state-of-the-art technology and a large price tag: it must also inspire and excite a large international audience, like the Saturn V Moon rocket of the 1960s did and the Panama Canal still does. As I noted before, in the case of the Superconducting Super Collider, this demand for global interest was one of the nails in its coffin, because major particle accelerators are buried underground and thus hard for the public to see and fall in love with. However, it appears that as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, the LHC is overcoming this limitation based on its pop culture references — e.g., searching for the “God Particle,” and speculations about small LHC-produced black holes that might gobble up the Earth — and its long wave timing.

Construction of LHC was approved in 1995, near the trough of the 56 year energy cycle, so the project benefitted from the generally upward trend of the long wave until recently. However, cost overruns, budget cuts, and engineering difficulties have driven the cost up to $ 9 B and delayed the opening date to September 10, 2008. Over the last 200 years, this is typical of MEPs that originate far from Maslow Windows.

Rather than comparing LHC to Xunantunich, it is much more interesting to compare it to analogous MEPs of the last 200 years, especially if we want a glimpse of the 2015 Maslow Window.

Each Maslow Window of the last 200 years — except for the first one, the Lewis & Clark Maslow Window — features one primary MEP and one or more secondary ones. For example, the Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-13) features the Panama Canal as its primary MEP, and the Titanic ship as a secondary MEP.

In the context of the last 200 years, the timing, technological complexity, and cost of LHC suggest it is a secondary MEP associated with a much larger primary MEP that will appear during the 2015 Maslow Window. LHC appears to be analogous to the Mackinac Bridge (connecting the peninusulas of Michigan), a secondary MEP of the 1950s that preceded the primary MEP — the Apollo/Saturn V transportation infrastructure — of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window.

I have previously estimated the cost of the 2015 Maslow Window’s primary MEP as between $ 1T and 3T, based on a simple extrapolation of 20th Century MEP costs into the 21st century. (This assumes rapid economic growth characteristic of Maslow Windows as we exit our current major recession in a few years and reignite the “greatest global boom ever” that was interrupted by the Panic of 2008.)

Using simple ratios between the costs of primary and secondary MEPs for each Maslow Window, and assuming that LHC is a secondary MEP of the 2015 Maslow Window, allows another interesting estimate of the cost of the primary MEP after 2015.

Here are the primary MEP to secondary MEP cost ratios for the last 3 Maslow Windows:

Dr. Livingstone/Suez Maslow Window:
Suez Canal cost/Great Eastern ship cost = 50

Peary/Panama Maslow Window:
Panama Canal cost/Titanic ship cost = 50

Apollo Moon Program Maslow Window:
Apollo Moon cost/Mackinac Bridge cost= 200

If we multiply the cost of LHC by these factors we estimate the cost of the primary MEP during the 2015 Maslow Window.

The primary to secondary MEP cost ratios of the 19th and early 20th century Windows suggest a 2015 Window primary MEP cost of $ 0.5 T.

And the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window ratio suggests about $ 2 T.

This cost range — $ 0.5 to 2 T — is close to the earlier range ($ 1T to 3T) that I obtained from simple extrapolation of primary MEP costs.

One could argue that the most modern (e.g., 1960s) cost ratio might be more characteristic of the 21st Century, which would favor 2015 MEP costs of between $ 1T to 3T, like my previous estimates.

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