Jul 21 2013

Does “Man of Steel” Support the Rare Earth Hypothesis?

I happened to catch Man of Steel recently and it is definitely one of the best fantasy movies ever made. But, special effects aside, this Superman has one key difference with George Reeves, an earlier MOS who flew into living rooms across America as the first space age was gaining steam.

There was once another Man of Steel who, on small screens in the 1950s, used his superpowers to defend “Truth, Justice, and the American Way.”
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The difference is George Reeves never had to contend with General Zod, a super-villain from Superman’s original neck of the woods, Krypton. Although Gen. Zod first appeared on the screen in Superman (1978) and also in Superman II (1980), he really started to get nasty in this movie.

His casual, but deadly approach to stamping out humanity started me wondering if there could be any REAL Gen. Zods out there.

As I’ve documented previously, widespread interest in extraterrestrials — even evil fictional ones — tends to spike as we approach a Maslow Window. The canal-building Martians of Lowell a century ago were part of this trend, as were George Reeves (Adventures of Superman) and the SETI program of Frank Drake in the 1950s and 60s, as are now the discovery of hundreds of extrasolar planets, scientific meetings contemplating ET visits, and cinema like Man of Steel.

But it isn’t just Gen. Zod. For example, Putnam Books is spending big money to exploit the current “renaissance” in popular science fiction (Wall Street Journal, 5/10/13), with Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, characterized as an “alien blockbuster invasion.”

Yancey’s aliens would have warmed General Zod’s heart (if he had one); he envisions eradicating humanity in 5 stages “to preserve the planet’s resources.” First is an EMP-style attack that would fry our electronic and communications infrastructure, then trigger large earthquakes that would kill billions, and third release a lethal virus carried by birds (an idea toyed with earlier in a fun 1965 SciFi film with George Maharis, The Satan Bug)… Anyway, you get the idea!

Very popular super-villain entertainment like Man of Steel and The 5th Wave highlight three obvious issues relating to potentially real extraterrestrials:

1) HUMANS WERE DWARFED:
A major theme of the movie was the extraordinary technology that Gen. Zod and his pals had relative to humans. In one violent encounter, Gen. Zod’s aliens simply flew to an attacking jet, pulled open the cockpit and dragged the pilot out to his death. (Most of us were sitting there eating popcorn thinking it doesn’t matter because Superman will soon take them out … but let’s forget about the “it’s not an S”-guy for a minute.)

In the context of the real Galaxy, it’s a wild sensation to imagine such a demonstration of vulnerability in state-of-the-art human military forces. How should we, as people hoping for a long positive Galactic future, react to such a prospect? This is an important question that is already being openly addressed in the scientific literature.

2) ARE THERE GOOD ETS?
Near the end of the movie, as they were drumming up interest in MOS sequels, a human general (who obviously had thought about Point 1) asked Superman an important question: How can we know that you (Superman) will always be on the side of humanity?

Let’s get real for a second. While everybody would like to weekend on Alpha Centauri, isn’t it more likely that even well-meaning, “Good” ETs would have a net negative effect on humanity? Contact with highly advanced ETs would involuntarily transform our culture — a complex system subject to the Butterfly Effect — in unintended ways. In the original Star Trek TV series, this gave birth to the Prime Directive.

3) DO THE BAD GUYS REALLY EXIST?
Imagine a real Zod-style civilization of advanced aliens who casually view humans as a group that should be wiped out — as long as Earth’s resources are preserved! Think how they behaved in Man of Steel. Of course that was only a movie so it was fun, but let’s imagine now that it’s real.

They could easily find us using their galactic network of self-replicating Von Neumann probes (or something even more exciting), and would have no problem terraforming Earth, as they started to in the film. There would be no compunctions like The Prime Directive, only a focus on achieving their alien goals.

If they existed, wouldn’t they already be here by now and wouldn’t we be under attack? If worlds very similar to Earth are rare in our Galaxy — part of the popular Rare Earth Hypothesis which says that high intelligence is very rare in our Galaxy — this doesn’t help our survival chances very much, because, although there will be fewer space aliens out there — it only takes ONE group to come here. And because they’re evil (and Earths are rare), they would come here as we’ve seen above.

This type of Fermi Paradox argument can be used to assert that NASTY space aliens like General Zod do not exist. If they did, they would already be here. And, as in Man of Steel, we would know it.

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Mar 10 2012

Bruce’s Article, “A New Apollo-Level Space Age” Appears in Ad Astra

Hope you enjoy my new article — “A New Apollo-Level Space Age” — which just appeared in Ad Astra, The Magazine of the National Space Society for Spring, 2012 (Volme 24, Number 1).

Coming Soon: A Window of Opportunity for the Next Space Age; Pictured is Wernher Von Braun, the great German rocket scientist and visionary who was the driving force in the post-W. W. II American space program.
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Thanks to Pat Silver, Managing Editor of Ad Astra for producing such an excellent magazine and for this introduction:

Dear Ad Astra reader,

Are we on the verge of a new space age? Bruce Cordell thinks we are. Based on historical trends and the Maslow Window model, he sees that a resurgence of public interest in space exploration is coming soon! And that’s great news for space enthusiasts like us. In this issue, we look at the many preparations needed to send mankind back to the Moon and beyond, and how they’ll fourish there.

But when will we actually see these things happen? According to Cordell, a Maslow Window, or a period of high interest in space, is due by mid-decade. The last Maslow Window opened during Kennedy’s presidency in the early 60s, the period when Wernher von Braun fathered the American space program …

Thanks especially to Katherine Brick, Associate Editor of Ad Astra, for her many suggestions to improve the article; For the text, CLICK “A New Apollo-Level Space Age.”

For more information on Maslow Windows and the new, international Apollo-level Space Age expected by mid-decade, CLICK HERE.

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Mar 04 2012

Readers’ Favorite Posts — February, 2012

SPECIAL NOTE: Be sure to look for my new article in Ad Astra (Spring, 2012): “A New Apollo-Level Space Age.”

This is an updated end-of-February list of our readers’ favorite posts, based on the number of times each post was visited during the times indicated below.

Timeframes of the readers’ lists below are: I) Favorites during February, and II) Favorites during the Last 7 days.

To see readers’ favorite posts for each previous month, click HERE.

The lists below give only the top 5 favorites in each category in order of reader preference.
All posts below are clickable and their publishing dates are given.

Updated 3/1/2012

I. FEBRUARY — Readers’ Favorites

1) Are Stratfor’s “Generational Shifts” Like “Falling Grains of Sand”? — 2/13/12
2) Parallels Between Presidents Truman and Bush Provide Insights into the Future — 4/15/10
3) Phobos — The Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia and China! — 3/27/10
4) Long-Term Stock Trends Support Maslow Window Forecasts — 11/3/11
5) State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2012 — 1/10/12

II. THE LAST 7 DAYS — Readers’ Favorites

1) Foreign Affairs Features the Case for Space — 2/27/12
2) The Moon is Not Enough…! — 11/22/08
3) Long-Term Stock Trends Suppport Maslow Window Forecasts — 11/3/11
4) The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space Age — 10/30/10
5) Parallels Between Presidents Truman and Bush Provide Insights into the Future — 4/15/10

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Feb 06 2012

Readers’ Favorite Posts — January, 2012

SPECIAL NOTE: Be sure to look for my new article in Ad Astra this month: “A New Apollo-Level Space Age.”

This is an updated end-of-January list of our readers’ favorite posts, based on the number of times each post was visited during the times indicated below. The lists below include both Daily Wavelet posts and State of the Wave posts.

Timeframes of the readers’ lists below are: I) Favorites during January, and II) Favorites during the Last 7 days.

To see readers’ favorite posts for each previous month, click HERE.

The lists below give only the top 5 favorites in each category in order of reader preference.
All posts below are clickable and their publishing dates are given.

Updated 2/1/2012

I. JANUARY — Readers’ Favorites

1) Is Earth Unique? What This “Benchmark Moment” Means for ETs and Our Future — 1/5/12
2) State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2012 — 1/10/12
3) The Maslow Window — Summary — 4/2/11
4) 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space — 5/18/09
5) The Maslow Window — Intro — 7/6/11

II. THE LAST 7 DAYS — Readers’ Favorites

1) State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2012 — 1/10/12
2) Phobos — The Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia and China! — 3/27/10
3) Space: The Fractal Frontier — How Complexity Drives Exploration — 5/1/10
4) The Moon is Not Enough…! — 11/22/08
5) A Major Economic Boom by 2015?…The Lessons of Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Obama — 7/31/10

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Jan 10 2012

State of the Wave: 10 Space Trends for 2012

2011 featured continuing economic difficulties and the retirement of the Space Shuttle, and followed most of the trends identified here last January ( “State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011“) as well as the expected directions sketched almost two years ago for the coming decade (“DecaState of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for the Decade 2010-2020“).

2012 will be the “Year of Decision” especially in the U.S. as presidential and other major elections occur that will impact our trajectory toward prosperity, the impending Maslow Window, and the new international Space Age — all expected to begin emerging by mid-decade.

For a brief intro, see my recent Ad Astra article; Click: A New Apollo Level Space Age.

Here are 10 key Space-related Trends for 2012:

10. Phobos-Grunt Symbolized A Key Approach to Mars Exploration:
Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission was to be the first sample return of Phobos material to Earth — a highly attractive Mars science and colonization strategy that was recommended by us at The Case for Mars III Conference — as well as to deliver the Chinese Mars orbiter Yinghuo-1 and the Planetary Society’s LIFE capsule. Sadly, Phobos-Grunt became stranded in low Earth orbit shortly after launch on November 9 and its launch window closed on November 21.

In Space News (9/2010) I had indicated that a Phobos-first approach is a “safe, inexpensive, and smart” strategy for Mars colonization and a successful Phobos-Grunt mission might tempt Russia and China to employ it jointly. Last January I concluded that:

Two key indicators to watch in 2011 are plans for an international Moon base and a successful Russian/Chinese Phobos-Grunt mission. They’re important because they point in different directions.

It’s interesting that less than 2 months after the loss of Phobos-Grunt, China announced its development of a “preliminary plan for a human lunar landing,” (see 9 below).

However, interest in Mars remains high, including the successful launch of NASA’s $ 2.5 B Mars Science Laboratory, the continuing success of ESA’s Mars Express, NRC’s identification of Mars Sample Return as highest priority, and continued advocacy for near-term human spaceflight to Phobos (Unified Space Vision) and Mars (The Mars Society).

9. China Ascends in Space and Global Power
On December 29, shortly after the loss of Phobos-Grunt, China released a white paper announcing its intention — within the next 5 years — to pursue preliminary planning for a human landing on the Moon. In addition to the continued development of their space station and enhancing their Long March series,

China will launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration. In the third stage, China will start to conduct sampling the moon’s surface matters and get those samples back to Earth.

China’s rise as a global power has accelerated. In its “New Military Strategy” report released last February, the Pentagon sees connections between China’s growing military and its aspirations in space and elsewhere,

We remain concerned about the extent and strategic intent of China’s military modernization, and its assertiveness in space, cyberspace, in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and the South China Sea.

Surprisingly, China’s economy may become its biggest challenge due to aging demographics, a difficult regulatory environment, and bad debt; Strafor predicts China will experience a Japan-like economic collapse by 2015.

China is well positioned to competitively encourage the U.S. to become a dynamic leader in deep space as we approach the next Maslow Window.

8. A Global “Critical State” Continues to Self-Organize and Points to the New International Space Age
Iran’s actions include war games in the Persian Gulf and threats to close the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. returns its aircraft carrier (the USS John C. Stennis) to the Gulf. Recently the US Secretary of Defense reiterated that the US would not allow the Straits to be closed by Iran, and that attempts by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon will “get stopped.”

Iran’s provocations suggest irrationality. For example, most of the oil through the Strait goes to asian markets, not the U.S., although global oil price spikes might be the result of closure. Iran knows the US can use force to keep the Staits open if necessary, and also that covert operations have been utilized to delay their development of nukes. And speaking of irrationality, nuclear North Korea — who apparently shares its rocket technology with Iran — has previously threatened its neighbors and others with attacks. The recent loss of their long-time dictator has heightened tensions there.

So why all the turmoil — now? “Maslow Windows” — the rhythmic, twice-per-century pulses of great explorations, macro-engineering projects, and major wars — are actually brief critical states of the international economic system, achieved through decades of self organized criticality processes. And serious conflicts or wars are typical features of the years just before a Maslow Window or early in the Window itself.

The most recent example of such a pre- or early Maslow Window conflict was the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (early in the Apollo Maslow Window;1958-69) which almost led to a major nuclear exchange. The Iran/Korea-style conflicts suggest a world rapidly approaching a 1960s-style “critical state” that is expected to trigger the next transformative Maslow Window — including the new international Apollo-level Space Age — by mid-decade.

7. NASA’s Kepler Discoveries Trigger A Copernican-level Expansion of Worldviews
One of the most important space programs of all time — NASA’s Kepler mission — is currently searching the skies for Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars, with considerable success. As of today its website lists 33 confirmed new planet discoveries, 2,326 planet candidates, and most importantly, the recent discovery of the first Earth-size planets orbiting a Sun-like star.

In what Berkeley astronomer and planet hunter Geoffrey Marcy calls “a benchmark moment in the history of science” (Wall Street Journal, 12/21/11), many people and some astronomers are naturally jumping on the Earth-like planet bandwagon. For example, following scientific meetings in 2009 at the Vatican on extraterrestrials, the prestigious UK Royal Society had 2 scientific meetings in 2010 to consider if extraterrestrials are here on Earth and how to properly greet them.

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

However, Howard A. Smith (Harvard Center for Astrophysics) recently concluded in American Scientist (July, 2011) that the Rare Earth Hypothesis remains viable:

“Despite the growing catalog of extrasolar planets, data so far do not alter estimates that we are effectively on our own.”

In December, UK astronomer John Gribbin published Alone in the Universe (2011) in which he traces the development of human intelligence and civilization from the Big Bang to now, and concludes that the odds of our development are so low that we are probably alone. He cites, as just one of a large number of unlikely events, the exceptional circumstances of the large impact that produced our Moon and yet did not destroy Earth’s spin or axial tilt.

This is a scientific debate of Copernican proportions that has major implications for the presence of ETs in our Galaxy and elsewhere, the importance of human civilization and space colonization, and theological perspectives. It’s intensity will grow as more Earth-size planets are discovered.

6. Apocalypse Not Now, but the Doomsday Story will “go nuts in 2012”

The UCLA magazine (1/2012) interviews Dr. Ed Krupp (Ph.D., UCLA, 1972), 35-year director of Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory and an authority on prehistoric and ancient astronomy. Given his research and professional background, he’s ideally qualified to comment on the end-of-days prophecies for 2012.

According to Dr. Krupp,

The great thing about astronomy is that you actually can predict some things. I can predict that (the doomsday story) is going to go nuts in 2012.

The pop culture fixation that when the Maya cycle of time ends on December 21, 2012 and the winter solstice Sun aligns with the center of the Milky Way – 27,000 light years away, by the way – that global havoc will ensue is “just totally untrue,” Krupp assures us.

Indeed, the Mexico Tourism Board expects more visitors in 2012 focused on the relevant Maya sites.

However, it’s important to realize that many people do not relate to space in terms of business plans, scientific advancements, technology development, national prestige, or even the excitement of discovery, but through the mystical world of astrologers and psychics. And because of the coincidental alignment of Maya end times with the approaching Maslow Window, it’s reasonable to expect that the magnitude of the public’s response – suggested by Dr. Krupp — will be intensified by the by the same “critical state” that is currently rippling into global business, geopolitics, science, and technology.

5. Slow U.S. Recovery Fits a 200-Year Pattern and Points to a JFK-style Boom by Mid-Decade
The financial Panic of 2008 and the subsequent great recession are classic precursors of the twice-per-century “critical state” over the last 200 years. While creating great hardship for many, the panic/great recession also signaled that the next JFK-style economic boom – not seen since the 1960s Maslow Window – is due by mid-decade (~2015), and would trigger the next transformative Maslow Window, featuring a new international Space Age.

That’s been the pattern over the last 200+ years, and explains why Apollo occurred during the 1960s and why we’ve been trapped in low Earth orbit for 40 years.

Stanford economist John B. Taylor (Wall Street Journal, 11/1/11) suggested recently that,

With a weak recovery – retarded by new health-care legislation and financial regulations, an exploding debt, and threats of higher taxes – the U.S. is in no position to lead as it has in the past.

Unfortunately this impacts U.S. leadership in space as well as in business, education, and technology.

Although previous pre-Maslow Window panic/great recessions have featured “double-dips” – and such concerns still exist today – the pace of the recovery will be strongly influenced by the elections of 2012 and the wildcards of Trend #1 below.

The eerie parallels between the economic and political trajectory of the 1890s – which led directly to one of the most ebullient booms in U.S. history and a transformative Maslow Window featuring the Panama Canal – and today, suggest that the prospects for prosperity will trump party affiliation or candidate identity for voter approval in 2012.

4. Solar Activity May Decline Significantly

The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus. This is highly unusual and unexpected, but the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation,

according to Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory last June. He was reporting the results of a 300-person meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The Sun’s erratic behavior is based on long-term observations of its missing east-west jet stream (discovered by Hill’s group 15 years ago), the Sun’s erratic corona, and the declining strength of sunspot magnetic fields. Indeed, a simple extrapolation of the sunspot data indicates sunspots could completely disappear by 2022 (an earlier, less conservative interpretation of the data suggested 2015).

Hill suggested that one possibility is a nearly spot-free condition like that observed between 1645 and 1715 known as the Maunder Minimum.

Due to increases in solar activity over the last few months, the Solar Physics group of NASA/MSFC updated their forecast this week for the next solar max (in February, 2013) to 96. This is still the smallest solar cycle in more than 80 years but about 50% greater than during the Dalton Minimum (1790-1820).

Both the Maunder and Dalton Minima are associated with significant coolings on Earth (The Little Ice Age; B. Fagan, 2000). and are active areas of research. Likewise, breakthrough research at CERN is illuminating the possible connections between solar activity, cosmic rays, cloud formation, and global climate change on Earth. These studies are important to radio communication, power grids, satellite longevity, human spaceflight, and major climate and economic events.

3. The Commercial Space Age Has Begun:

I wanted to create a spaceship where myself and my children could go into space, and our friends could go into space,

explains Virgin Galactic founder and CEO Richard Branson (Wall Street Journal, 12/17/11).

I think it just simply goes back to watching the moon landing on blurry black-and-white television when I was a teenager and thinking, one day I would go to the moon—and then realizing that governments are not interested in us individuals and creating products that enable us to go into space.

In October, Branson christened Spaceport America – “the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport” – near Las Cruces, NM, and despite delays, predicts his first commercial flight by next Christmas.

Msnbc.com (Leonard David, 1/3/12) predicts that 2012 will be “a pivotal year” for private spaceflight. According to Carissa Christensen, of the Tauri Group in Alexandria, VA, the commercial achievement in human spaceflight by companies like Sierra Nevada, SpaceX and Blue Origin made “the end of the Shuttle program (feel) as if we mourned the passing of the mainframe but overlooked the emergence of the PC.”

Author/engineer Homer Hickam (Wall Street Journal, 11/17/11) concludes that:

What’s a government for if it isn’t funding research and development to make new stuff so we can all make new money? Human spaceflight is in that category. If we’re looking for a way to stimulate our economy today and in the future, a new space race—not relying on the Russians—is a good place to start.

2. Is the U.S. approaching a 21st Century “Sputnik Moment”?
The first “Sputnik Moment” occurred in 1957 when – in the context of an intense Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and attempts to work together in the International Geophysical Year – the Soviets launched the first artificial satellite, without warning. It was called the “Shock of the Century.” Americans who had provided leadership during W. W. II and promoted international economic growth in the post-War world suddenly experienced a crisis of confidence in their educational system, their ability to compete in technology development and space, and even in their ability to guarantee national security. It seemed that the U.S. trend was down while others were headed up.

Something similar may be occurring today.

For example, the U.S. educational system seems to be in the middle of the pack in international tests of math, science, and reading. On tests given to 15-year-olds in 65 countries in 2009, Shanghai’s teenagers topped every other jurisdiction in all three subjects, and in 2011 SAT scores in reading and writing have set new lows. Many students are looking for inspiration.

NASA seems to be adrift. While visits to asteroids and possible human missions to Mars (in the 2030s) are discussed, there is no plan or financial roadmap.

The U.S. is experiencing a slow economic recovery and uncertain future in response to the financial Panic of 2008 and the subsequent great recession. There is the perception of a lack of leadership in Washington.

President Obama’s proposed “historic shift” in military strategy involves major cuts in the Army and would limit U.S. ability to endure long-term conflicts and project power around the world (Wall Street Journal, 1/6/12).

There seems to be an unusual number of tipping points or wildcards (See Trend #1 below) that could have a major impact on the U.S. in 2012 and beyond.

Highlighting our “Sputnik Moment,” Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. Senator Harrison H. Schmitt summarized it recently this way:

America’s eroding geopolitical stature, highlighted by the July 21, 2011, end to flights of the United States Space Shuttle, has reached crisis proportions. Obama Administration officials now spin the nebulous thought of Astronauts flying many months to an undetermined asteroid in 2025 as an actual “National Space Policy”. On the other hand, Republican candidates for President have not yet recognized the importance of international civil space competition in the federal government’s constitutional function to provide for the nation’s “common defense”. Candidates appear to be uninterested in having the United States lead deep space exploration, including establishing American settlements on the Moon…

Over the last 200+ years, at this stage of the recovery from a financial panic/great recession just prior to the next “critical state” and Maslow Window, a political realignment (such as the one that began in 2008 and is continuing) has typically put the U.S. back on the road to prosperity and geopolitical ascent.

1. Several Wildcards Could Dramatically Influence U.S. and Global Trends in 2012 and Beyond
There is a perception today of an unusual number of wildcards that have the potential to dramatically influence current economic, geopolitical, and political realities. This is typical of the unusually dynamic and highly interactive environment seen during previous “critical states.”

For example, during a brief period of President Kennedy’s administration in the early 1960s, the tipping points included: the first human in space (Gargarin), the first American in space (Shepard), the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis, the beginning of the Peace Corps, JFK’s “To the Moon” speech, and JFK’s offer to the Soviets to go to the Moon jointly.

Here are just a few well-known wildcards – and potential tipping points — that face the U.S. and the world in 2012:

a. A major recession in the Eurozone could trigger a global depression.
b. The threat of nuclear weapons could trigger a war with Iran.
c. The threat of oil flow disruptions in the Gulf might trigger a price spike and a recession.
d. The constitutionality of Obamacare will be decided in the Supreme Court.
e. As we approach solar max in early 2013, a major solar flare produces blackouts and other EMP-related effects on Earth, resulting in economic stress.

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

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May 15 2011

Celebrating 3 Years of 21stCenturyWaves.com at ISDC 2011 in Huntsville

This week we’re celebrating our 3rd exciting year of exploring the future of space, technology, and education at 21stCenturyWaves.com!

I’d like to thank Rachel Nishimura, who is the co-founder of 21stCenturyWaves.com, for making it possible, and all the Contributing Editors who have provided invaluable advice and information over the last 3 years, as well as new colleagues who help this quest continue to grow.

Most of all I’d like to thank the readers of 21stCenturyWaves.com from around the world who’ve visited this site for a glimpse of the future. Please come back often because long-term indicators and current global trends show we’re accelerating toward a 1960′s-style transformative decade — including a new international Space Age — by 2015. And 21stCenturyWaves.com is just getting started.

This week I’m celebrating 3 years of 21stCenturyWaves.com by speaking at the International Space Development Conference (ISDC 2011) at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL. In “Economic Booms and Apollo-Style Exploration” we’ll see how rhythmic, twice-per-century 1960s-style decades over the last 200+ years culminated in humans on the Moon and point to a spectacular future…

The history of the last 200+ years – back to Lewis and Clark — shows that Apollo-style explorations and macro engineering projects emerge only during brief, twice-per-century intervals called “Maslow Windows”. They are exclusively associated with major economic booms (e.g., the 1960s Kennedy boom) and appear to be fundamentally driven by long-term business and generational cycles. During the booms, affluence-induced ebullience catapults many in society to elevated states in Maslow’s hierarchy where great explorations seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible.

For your enjoyment, here are…
The Top 10 Readers’ Favorite Posts During Our 3rd Year:

1) The Moon is Not Enough…! — 11/22/08
2) 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space — 5/18/09
3) Phobos: The Key to the Cosmos? Just Ask Russia and China! — 3/27/10
4) State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom — 8/29/10
5) The Allure of Moving to Mars Points to the New Space Age — 10/30/10
6) A Major Economic Boom By 2015? … The Lessons of Cleveland, Roosevelt, and Obama — 7/31/10
7) State of the Wave: Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 Years — How Soon We’ll Go Again — 7/11/10
8 ) Kepler, Watson, and Gott Point to the Rare Earth Hypothesis — 3/20/11
9) China Surges to #2 and Contemplates More Freedom: The Implications for Space — 8/21/10
10) Space: The Fractal Frontier — How Complexity Drives Exploration — 5/1/10

Here are a couple of Honorable Mentions…

Standard Chartered Bank’s “New Super-Cycle” Points to the New Apollo-Style Space Age — 3/5/11

State of the Wave: The Maslow Window — A Brief Intro — 4/02/11

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Apr 11 2011

JFK, “The Kennedys” and the Next Space President

Just finished watching the last episode of The Kennedys on REELZ Channel. It’s an 8-part miniseries that focuses mainly on political and military events related to John F. Kennedy’s presidency, and JFK’s and Robert’s relationships with their father and families.

President John F. Kennedy (right, in 1963 at Cape Canaveral, FL) is the ebullient model for a 21st century “space president” — in 2012 or 2016 — who will lead the U.S. and the world into the large-scale utilization and colonization of space.
Click .

I liked the miniseries.

Although it had little directly to do with space — e.g., there is a fleeting image of an Atlas missile lifting off during the credits (!) — the historical insights provided into related events (e.g., Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis) and the Kennedy’s personal challenges are compelling, although not particularly revealing if you know their family history.

The authors of “Camelot” — the fondly remembered zeitgeist of the 1960s — the Kennedy’s have been called America’s “Royal Family” as well as the “Beatles of the political arena”. And although JFK’s presidency lasted only 1000 days, his legacy has influenced generations.

Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com we’re huge admirers of JFK for his visionary leadership of the Apollo program during the 1960s Space Age. In the context of human exploration, JFK is truly the mid-20th century equivalent of Thomas Jefferson (for Lewis and Clark), and in terms of technology, he’s nothing less than the Theodore Roosevelt (for the Panama Canal) of his generation.

But the question is: Who will be the new JFK — the 21st century “Space President” who will lead global expansion into the cosmos? Long wave timing suggests this individual will be elected either in 2012 or 2016 so he or she should be visible now.

In late 2008, because of her close family association with JFK and his legacy, contributing editor Carol Lane and I suggested Caroline Kennedy might be perfect. Her political timing would have worked too, but she decided not to run for Hillary’s Senate seat.

Earlier in 2008, managing editor Rachel Nishimura and I speculated that — due to his charisma and youth — Barack Obama might be the next JFK-style Space President. But because of the economy and Obama’s space policy, that seems increasingly unlikely — although it still is possible.

Over the last 200+ years, one thing becomes clear,

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

History shows that someone who strongly “models ebullience” and “manifests prosperity” will soon emerge on the political scene. For example, take Donald Trump; his business success and financial resources are reminiscent of JFK’s father (e.g., both are billionaires in 2011 dollars), and Trump’s charisma and media presence are obvious.

However unlike JFK in 1960, Trump has no political or military experience. Whether or not Trump can achieve political support for 2012, it’s likely that someone with his ebullient characteristics will lead the U.S. and the world into the next Space Age.

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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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Mar 28 2011

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

The New York Times (3/27/11) features an opinion piece by British historian and writer Simon Sebag Montefiore on current Arab uprisings and their historical precedents. Although all revolutions have differences because they are “local”, he emphasizes that historical parallels can offer us “clues to the future.”

British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore sees current Arab uprisings as reminiscent of the watershed European revolutions of 1848.
See

21stCenturyWaves.com has previously identified the decade just prior to (or early during) Maslow Windows, over the last 200+ years, to be dangerous times of international conflicts, wars, and upheavals. The classic example is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis early in the Apollo Maslow Window that could have led to a major nuclear exchange. Indeed, recent conflicts with North Korea and Iran suggest that the world system is approaching a “critical state.”
See: Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age.

The question is: Do the Arab uprisings of today — and their historical parallels — support that pattern?

According to Montefiore, there is something to be said for spontaneity.

Leaderless revolutions without organization have a magically spontaneous momentum that is harder to crush … This time, headless spontaneity has been aided by Facebook, which certainly accelerates the mobilization of crowds — and the transmission of Western culture…

Montefiore believes that for today’s Arab uprisings, “technology’s effect is exaggerated…” For example, in the stunning European revolutions of 1848,

uprisings spread from Sicily to Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Budapest in mere weeks without telephones, let alone Twitter. They spread through the exuberance of momentum and the rigid isolation of repressive rulers.

As Montefiore surveys uprisings over the last 200 years, the revolution of 1848 is

the revolution that most resembles today’s.

Like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the watershed European revolutions of 1848, began early in their Maslow Window, suggesting both were influenced by the ebullience of the approaching critical state. Although the United States was not directly involved, it was certainly affected by this mid-19th century zeitgeist. Indeed, against all odds, a smaller-than-life man — President James A. Polk — achieved the impossible by “engineering the triumph of Manifest Destiny” (NY Times) in only 4 short years.
See: “How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience”.

Interestingly, Dr. Lawrence Beale — a 77-year old African American, retired pastor, college counselor, and college administrator — sees parallels between current Arab uprisings and the U.S. civil rights movement during the last Maslow Window.

The Middle East and North Africa seems to be taking a page from the history of the civil rights movement in America during the 1950s and 1960s when black Americans demonstrated in the streets to gain the freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

At least some of the freedom-fighters are directly inspired by U.S. history. According to Dr. Beale,

Middle Easterners, North Africans, and now Chinese have taken to the streets in largely peaceful demonstrations crying out for human rights—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. On CBN Tuesday, a woman was asked by a reporter, “What do you want.” She responded, “We want freedom.” When she was pressed by the reporter about what she meant, she cited one part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but could not remember the rest. So she concluded, “We have been taught that freedom is not a right.” But she continued to insist that she wanted freedom.

Dr. Beale concludes that, “Like the civil rights movement, the demonstrators are unsettling their nations.”

Maslow Windows are identified by economic, technological, and political patterns over the last 200+ years. Parallels between the European revolutions of 1848 and the current Arab uprisings — as identified by historian Montefiore — and parallels between the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s and current Arab uprisings — as identified by Dr. Beale — support 21stCenturyWaves.com’s expectation that similar civilization-altering events are likely to occur just prior to or early in Maslow Windows of the future.

Therefore, the current Arab uprisings offer further empirical support for the arrival of another 1960s-style transformative decade — including an Apollo-style, international Space Age — by 2015.

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Mar 13 2011

Latest Data from NASA’s Kepler Mission Suggests Earths are “Relatively Scarce”

Jet Propulsion Lab scientists recently released calculations indicating that about 2% of Sun-like stars are expected to have “Earth-analog” planets. Joseph Catanzarite and Michael Shao base their estimate on the first 4 months of data (released February, 2011) on planetary transits of 150,000 FGK stars from observations by NASA’s Kepler mission. This is much lower than previous estimates.

Super-Earths like this one discovered around Gliese 876 probably have active plate tectonics and more volcanism than Earth, but are relatively scarce.
Click

The authors’ analysis informs planning for future missions that will study nearby Earth-analog planets, and it also highlights an important trend noticed by 21stCenturyWaves.com that is typical of approaches to 1960s-style golden ages of prosperity, exploration, and technology — e.g., the 2015 Maslow Window — over the last century+:

As we ascend toward another crescendo in human achievement — the 2015 Maslow Window … UFOs are being seen in China and around the world, potentially habitable planets are being discovered around nearby stars, and even the Vatican and the Royal Society are openly planning to properly greet intelligent interstellar visitors. One of the most important NASA missions ever flown — the Kepler spacecraft — will accelerate this ebullient trend in 2011.

Although a habitable zone (HZ) refers to the region where liquid water can exist on a planet’s surface, the fraction of Sun-like stars with Earth-analog planets is a strong function of the adopted HZ boundaries. Catanzarite and Shao define the scaled semimajor axis (mean planetary distance scaled to the square root of its star’s luminosity relative to the Sun) as between 0.95 AU to 1.37 AU (AU is Astronomical Unit = 1 Earth-Sun distance) from Kasting et al. (1993). Because Kasting et al. did not consider clouds (which can cool interior planets) and CO2 (which can warm distant worlds), the authors also consider the more optimistic scaled HZ boundaries of the Exoplanet Task Force Report (2008): 0.8 AU to 1.6 AU.

In addition to HZ boundaries, the JPL scientists’ Earth Analog region is defined by a scaled planetary radius (i.e., relative to Earth’s radius) from 0.8 to 2. The lower value corresponds to a mass of about 50% of Earth’s; the lower limit for retention of an Oxygen atmosphere. The upper value is adopted by the Kepler scientists and, assuming Earth-like parameters, implies a planet with twice the surface heat flow of Earth and half Earth’s lithospheric thickness. Active plate tectonics and volcanism is expected in these super-Earths.

Catanzarite and Shao fit the Kepler transit data to power laws for both the planet radius and the scaled planet distance; they judge that the power laws are excellent fits to the data for distances from 0.2 AU to 0.5 AU (inside the HZ limits) and planetary radii from 2 to 4 (just larger than the EA range). Using the power laws, the Kepler data set is then extrapolated into the Earth analog region defined above.

After removing probable false detections and correcting for the observational effect that not all planets’ orbit planes are in Kepler’s line of site (to produce an observable transit), the authors obtain their surprisingly low value of 2%, +1.6%/- 1.1%, for the fraction of Sun-like stars with an Earth-analog planet.

Although their estimate will become more accurate when the full 3.5 to 6 year Kepler data set is obtained, the authors comment on its surprising implications for planning future missions that will image and take spectra of Earth-analog planets,

Our result that Earths are relatively scarce means that a substantial effort will be needed to identify suitable target stars prior to these future missions.

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