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

No responses yet

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.

No responses yet

Mar 05 2011

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

Standard Chartered bank (The Super-Cycle Report, London, 2010) asserts that,

We are in a new ‘super-cycle’ driven by the industrialisation and urbanisation of emerging markets, and global trade.

Two previous Super-Cycles have culminated in stunning economic booms during Maslow Windows in the early 20th century and the 1960s. The 3rd Growth Super-Cycle has already begun.

They define a growth super-cycle as,

A period of historically high global growth, lasting a generation or more, driven by increasing trade, high rates of investment, urbanisation and technological innovation, characterised by the emergence of large, new economies, first seen in high catch-up growth rates across the emerging world.

This is closely related to what we at 21stCenturyWaves.com call a “Maslow Window”.
See: State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011.”

In 2007, we were enjoying “the greatest economic boom ever” before it was interrupted by the financial Panic of 2008 and the Great Recession of 2008-10. As the recovery continues and the growth Super-Cycle takes off, we expect to accelerate toward the Great Boom of 2015 and another 1960s-style golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology.
See: “State of the Wave: Today’s Gloom & Doom, and the 2015 Boom.”

According to Standard Chartered bank, we’ve enjoyed two previous growth super-cycles.

The first super-cycle took place during the second half of the 19th century, from 1870
until 1913, the eve of the First World War. At that time, the world economy witnessed a significant step-up in its rate of growth, rising 2.7% on average per annum in volume, or real, terms. That was a full 1% higher than the average growth rate seen during the previous half-century. America was the big gainer, moving from the fourth largest to the largest economy.

The first super-cycle culminated in the Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window (1901-13), one of the most ebullient, transformative periods in U.S. history. It immediately followed a serious financial crisis known as the Panic of 1893 and the Great 1890s Recession, that have economic and political parallels with today.

The 2nd super-cycle featured the post-WW II expansion.

The second super-cycle was after the Second World War until the early 1970s. World growth averaged a huge 5% per annum, again in real or inflation-adjusted terms. Japan and the Asian tigers saw the biggest gains over this time. Japan, for instance, moved from 3% to 10% of the world economy.

The 2nd super-cycle culminated in the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window that featured the first great exploration that was “off-world”, the greatest macro engineering project of modern times, and probably the most transformative decade in U.S. history.

Although “emerging markets could propel a global boom comparable to the industrialization of the United States,” Standard Chartered believes the 3rd super-cycle represents a shift in global economic power from the U.S. and Europe to Asia. According to Ian Bremmer (Wall Street Journal, 3/2/11),

Americans and Europeans should be relieved to hear that other countries can do a bigger share of the world’s economic lifting.

However not everyone concurs. For example, Harvard professor Joseph Nye projects that,

China will give the U.S. a “run for its money” but it will not pass the U.S. in overall power in the first half of this century.

See also: “Harvard’s Joseph Nye sees U.S. “unlikely…(to) be surpassed…” Well Positioned for the 21st Century.”

And the eminent British historian and author of Modern Times (2001), Paul Johnson, believes America will stay on top (WSJ, 3/5/11; B. Carney).

I think America has such huge strengths — particularly its freedom of thought and expression — that it’s going to survive as a top nation for the foreseeable future. And therefore take care of the world.

In any case, the 3rd super-cycle will feature a return to prosperity that should usher in the stunning 2015 Maslow Window. If the last 200+ years are any guide, we will experience wonders like space-based solar power systems, international commercial development of the Moon, and the initial expansion of human civilization to Mars.

No responses yet

Jan 23 2011

State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2011

Dramatic change has swept the space world since January 2010, when “State of the Wave — 10 Space Trends for 2010” first appeared.

Nevertheless, current directions in space and related areas are well within the envelope of those idenified last year for the decade from 2010 to 2020. But 2011 will be a “Year of Transition.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a new era in space from Cape Canaveral on December 8.
Click .

Here are 10 space trends for 2011:

10. 2011 is a Key “Year of Transition” as We Accelerate Toward the New Space Age.
Major events of 2010 will ripple though the next 12 months and beyond. These include the Shuttle retirement in 2011, a political realignment that began with Obama and continued in 2010, the beginning of upward momentum in the economy, and major shifts in the international space world.

This is what we should expect as we approach another 1960s-style transformative decade — the 2015 Maslow Window.

In 2011 — based on macroeconomic data and global trends over the last 200+ years — we’ll accelerate our transition from a multi-decade period of low international self-organization toward an ebullient, fractal “critical state” in the world economic system 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; the Panama Canal); and they are usually terminated by a major war (e.g., World War I).

This year we can expect the stage to be set for the return to prosperity, continuing political realignments, major educational reform, simmering geopolitical conflicts, and a new vision of the future for NASA and the international space community.

9. The Cancellation of Constellation Puts the Focus on Commercial Space
Last February Obama took heat for planning the cancellation of Constellation, including dumping the Moon and postponing until 2015 a decision on a new heavy lift launch vehicle for deep space manned missions.

Retirement of the Shuttle this year required NASA to buy several trips to the International Space Station — for ~$ 60 million per shot — on the Russian Soyuz between 2013 and 2014. The last of 3 remaining Shuttle missions is STS-135 planned for June or later. Contrary to Obama’s plan, the NASA Authorization Act requires the agency to begin work on the heavy lift launcher in 2011.

By far the most innovative element of Obama’s plan was to let private companies eventually assume responsibility for moving cargo and astronauts to and from ISS. However last March, A. Thomas Young — and virtually all the 1960s NASA family — insisted that Obama’s plan created “a risk too high.”

Despite these concerns, SpaceX’s successful launch, orbit insertion and maneuvers, atmospheric entry, and recovery of the Dragon cargo carrier on December 8 demonstrate that commercial taxi service to ISS may eventually be in the cards.

8. The Economy Shows the Way Space Really Works
Over the last 200+ years, each ebullient cluster of great explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark) and macro engineering projects (MEPs: e.g., the Panama Canal) was triggered by a major economic boom like the 1960s Kennedy Boom; and another is expected by 2015.

Why hasn’t anyone been back to the Moon in 40 years?
Click .

Indeed the lack of a Kennedy-style boom explains why no one has been to the Moon in 40 years. See: “State of the Wave: Why No One’s Been to the Moon in 40 years — How Soon We’ll Go Again.”

Our current economic trajectory continues to look more like the 1893 to 1913 Panama Maslow Window (featuring the Panic of 1893) rather than the 1949 to 1969 Apollo Maslow Window (with no financial panic) — although both the Peary and Apollo Maslow Windows were exceptionally ebullient and eventful.

The New York Times (1/2/11) gets it:

The question for 2011 is whether growth will ever translate into broad prosperity … Yet growth is not expected to be strong enough to make a real dent in unemployment.

According to 55 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal (12/13/10), the probablity of a double-dip recession in 2011 has dropped to 15%, due to extension of the Bush tax cuts. However, growth for 2011 is only 3% and unemployment drops to 9% by December with job growth of only 100,000 per month.

Three years after the Panic of 1893 — about where we are now in January, 2011 relative to the Panic of 2008 — the second contraction of the 1890s Great double-dip Recession occurred. This may mean we’re either luckier or smarter than folks one century ago.

Or it may mean we’re not out of the woods yet. For example, Vernon Smith, the
2002 economics Nobel winner, and Steven Gjerstad’s empirical study (WSJ, 9/10/10) of all 14 postwar recessions and the Great Depression shows that…

the economy doesn’t recover until housing recovers.

And home prices are deflating; Case-Shiller home prices declined 1.3% month-over-month in October, and all 20 cities showed a sequential decline.

Given this and other unsettling economic news, it’s interesting that CBO director Douglas Elmendorf estimates that unemployment will not fall to around 5 percent until 2014, while Bernanke suggests (1/7/11) that “it could still take four to five years for unemployment to drop to … around 6 percent.” These government projections suggest that growth toward a 2015 boom — the historical trigger of the next Space Age — is realistic.

It’s important to realize that no Maslow Window of the last 200+ years has ever been delayed or significantly diminished in any observable way by a finncial panic or great recession in the decade prior to the Maslow Window.

7. The Wave Election of 2010 Supports Maslow Window Forecasts
When the Republicans won the House in November, it: 1) stalled Obama’s domestic agenda, and called into question his political future, and 2) showed our political trajectory — like our economic trajectory — has major parallels with the Cleveland/T. Roosevelt period (1893-1913), which resulted in one of the most ebullient decades in U.S. history.

Immediately after the November wave election, veteran election forecaster Larry Sabato (University of Virginia) rather surprisingly called the 2012 election against Obama.

There’s only one logical conclusion to be drawn: President Barack Obama is down for the count, will have an early lame duck presidency, and will be out of the White House in two years.

The political parallels between the elections of 1894 and 2010 are remarkable; see “Historic, Wave Election Supports 21stCenturyWaves.com Forecasts.” And indeed the polls show that voters were focused on smaller government, lower taxes, and bringing the national debt under control.

Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, recently underlined the challenge,

Debt is the most significant threat to national security.

In their recent study of 21 countries with major deficits over 37 years, three economists (Wall Street Journal, 12/29/10) concluded that,

the typical successful fiscal consolidation consisted, on average, of 85% spending cuts … (and) tax increases play little role in successful efforts to balance budgets …

These sound like economic directions the Republicans are poised to exploit during 2011. However, Obama is very recently perceived by the public as moving toward the center. Given the fact that Gallup reports that only 19% of Americans like the direction of the country, it’s likely that whoever can move the U.S. in the direction of prosperity — and, like the 1890s, trigger the next major boom — will win.

6. Potential Conflicts in Iran and North Korea Threaten Peace, Prosperity, and the new Space Age
Long-term indicators and current global trends suggest that we are within 5 years of perhaps the most transformative decade of the 21st century — when almost anything can happen. Typically at these times over the last 200+ years, conflicts, or even wars, can ignite or appear potentially devastating (e.g., the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962); see “Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age”.

Unfortunately current tensions in Iran and North Korea are perfect examples, not to mention 97,000 Americans still in Afghanistan.

The Los Angeles Times (D. McManus; 1/16/11) reports that Israel is convinced that Iran is “at least 4 years away from deploying a nuclear weapon, maybe more.” Recent intelligence signals “a dimished prospect for a military strike in the near term, whether by Israel or the U.S.,” (Wall Street Journal, 1/8/11)

The Wall Street Journal recently asked if Afghanistan will become a “forgotten war” like Korea, which ended in 1953 — about 6 years prior to the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window. The Korea conflict has recently threatened to reignite but has been dialed back apparently by China’s influence.

Contrary to several analysts last year, I recently concluded that it is unlikely — for strategic, political, and historical reasons — that Obama will attack Iran. And, although we should be mindful of avoiding another “disastrous 2007 Natonal Intelligence Estimate on Tehran’s weapons program,” as well as “Why we’re always fooled by North Korea,” current trends and historical patterns over the last 200+ years suggest that these potential flashpoints will not expand into wars during 2011 or even within the next decade.

It’s important to keep in mind that no Maslow Window of the last 200+ years has ever been delayed or significantly diminished in any observable way by a war or conflict just prior to or early in the Maslow Window.

5. ETs Surge toward Center Stage
When times are good, people like to have fun. And, over the last 100+ years, one way they’ve done it is to enjoy and encourage scientific speculations about life in space and distant Earthlike worlds.
See: Kepler, Carl Sagan, and the Guzman Prize: Our Century-Long Search for Space Aliens

A radio beam from the Kelvans (Kelinda and Rojan) in the Andromeda Galaxy could theoretically have been detected by Project Cyclops (circa 1971).
Click kelvans.jpg.
© 1968 Paramount Pictures

For example, in 1894 (one year after the Panic of 1893) Percival Lowell founded his observatory in Arizona to study Mars. Years later Lowell became convinced that the canals were a macro engineering project built by intelligent Martians to irrigate the Red Planet. His public loved it and in 1907 — during the spectacular Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window — the Wall Street Journal actually announced “…the proof by astronomical observations…that conscious, intelligent life exists upon the planet Mars.”

Unfortunately, by 1938 (during the Great Depression) the formerly peaceful, canal-building Martians had become dangerous invaders of Earth according to Orson Welles and his crowd. A similar transition in our vision of ETs was seen during the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window with Frank Drake’s ebullient SETI searches for radio signals from high-tech civilizations, followed by the ultra-ebullient ~ $ 10 B (nearly 1/2 the cost of Apollo!!) Project Cyclops. It failed to gain public support during the counter-ebullient 1970s.

As we ascend toward another crescendo in human achievement — the 2015 Maslow Window — something similar is happening again. 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.

4. The U.S. is Headed for Another “Sputnik Moment” in Education
Fifty-three years ago the surprise Soviet launch of “one small ball” became the “shock of the century” and instantly transformed U.S. education.

It’s hard to imagine how distraught Americans were about Sputnik in 1957, but as I wrote 2 1/2 years ago in Math and Science Education Perspectives,

Only 10 days after Sputnik the New York Times identified U.S. education as the problem, because Soviet science students were better motivated and given more prestige. Scholastic Magazine chimed in by announcing a “classroom Cold War” with the Soviets. Indeed, within a few months a Gallup poll reported that 70% of respondents believed that U.S. high school students should become more educationally competitive with their Soviet counterparts!

It’s a key forecast of 21stCenturyWaves.com, that major elements of this Sputnik-related history are likely to repeat.

As we approach the 2015 Maslow Window, legitimate public concerns about the state of education will skyrocket because of anxiety over America’s ability to compete with the rest of the world in space and technology. And it’s already begun.

According to Chester Finn (WSJ, 12/8/10) of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, China has delivered

another wake-up call to those who think American schools are globally competitive … On math, reading, and science tests given to 15-year-olds in 65 countries last year, Shanghai’s teenagers topped every other jurisdiction in all three subjects.

And the U.S. was just muddling in the middle of the pack.

This is consistent with last year’s report (9/23/10) by the National Academy of Sciences.

The nation’s education system has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in math and science … 78 percent of U.S. high school graduates in 2008 did not meet readiness benchmark levels for one or more entry-level college courses in mathematics, science, reading, and English. And the World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 48th in the quality of its math and science education.

Given their economic, demographic, and political challenges, it’s good that China is rising educationally. It’ll motivate the U.S. and others to consider real education reform, expecially in math and science, in 2011 and beyond. Plus China has become essential — as both a collaborator and competitor — to human expansion into the cosmos; see “10 Reasons Why China is Good for Space

3. BRICs+ Demonstrate International Momentum toward the New Space Age

BRICs and other space powers continue their surge into the cosmos.

In one of the most impressive firsts since the original Space Age, Japan confirmed last June that its amazing, 7-year Hayabusa probe mission actually returned samples from asteroid Itokawa. Although Japan’s ambitious Venus probe Akatsuki failed to achieve orbit last month, JAXA has plans to try again in 5 years when it swings by Venus.

The amazing asteroid Itokawa has twice the porosity of a handful of sand.
Click .

In 2009 former Harvard professor Richard Pipes wrote that, “Russia is obsessed with being recognized as a ‘Great Power’…” This is partly due to their victory over Germany in World War II and “the success in sending the first human in space.”

So Russia — like the rest of the world — sees being a great space power as a key part of being an important global power. And they see the approaching new Space Age as an important time to demonstrate again their impressive capabilities in several areas, including manned space (e.g., transportation to ISS), new infrastructure (e.g., the new Vostochny Cosmodrome), and future planning (e.g., asteroid deflection missions).

This has never been clearer than last month (Aviation Week, 12/30/10) when a Russian Proton rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites failed, resulting in 2 executives being fired by Russian President Medvedev, including the deputy head of Roscosmos; Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency, received an official reprimand.

China has become a major global player in the worlds of defense and space, and is prominently featured throughout this report. For example, in 2010 China had more successful space launches — 15 — than ever before. And for the first time, it matched the annual launch rate of the United States.

One of China’s launches last October was the Chang’e 2 Moon probe which was successfully inserted into lunar orbit from where it will map the lunar surface. It’s China’s second successful lunar mission in three years.

Last year China dropped hints that its long-term space plans include sophisticated Earth orbital operations including a heavy lift launch vehicle and assembly of a 30 ton space station. These are currently targeted for the early 2020s timeframe — i.e., quite late in the 2015 Maslow Window.

2. President Obama is Creating the New Space Age
Whatever the new Space Age will become, President Obama is creating it now. Although at this point, he may have substantially delegated the direction of NASA planning to John Holdren (science czar) and Charles Bolden (NASA Administrator), Obama continues to create the new Space Age by his policies and actions especially in the economic and technology arenas.
See: “How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age.”

Obama has wisely directed the U.S. away from a race to the Moon by 2020 — a competition the U.S. already won over 40 years ago. However, his most important, long-term contribution to space may be his stimulation of the commercial launch sector by offering them the job of Earth-to-LEO taxi service.

But even more important is the issue of prosperity. About twice per century we enter an ebullient pulse of major economic growth — a “critical state” — known as a Maslow Window. In addition to enabling great explorations and MEPs, the widespread ebullience has transformative effects across society, as in the 1960s. But the 1960s were only the most recent example.

History shows that 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.

The Wall Street Journal (1/22/11) predicts Obama will “push new spending,” while the Los Angeles Times (1/23/11) headlines Obama’s “shift to the center…for 2012.” These appear contradictory, and the question remains: Can Obama produce the 1960s-stye prosperity required for wide-spread ebullience that will trigger the transformative 2015 Maslow Window and the new international Space Age?

1. A New Vision of the Human Future in Space?
NASA seems frustrated.

While liberated by Obama from a new Moon race they won over 40 years ago, NASA currently has no real vision for the future. This makes it difficult to synthesize new strategic goals, space infrastructures, and rockets that will be meaningful and attract public support.

This uncertain mode is reminiscent of where we were 20+ years ago when NASA was internally debating the Moon and Mars.

Homer Hickam reflects many in the U.S. and elsewhere when he asked recently, “How About A Moon Base?” (Wall Street Journal, 12/14/10). The Moon has the traditional virtues of closeness and resource-richness, and it has been envisioned as a potential transportation center. It might also be able to support space-based solar power satellites that could make clean, cheap electricity abundant anywhere on Earth.

I looked again recently at the Moon option, and — despite its huge potential as a future commercial and tourist center, plus a scientific bonanza — I find myself agreeing with the 1984 comment of the great, former NASA Administrator Tom Paine that

The Moon will never motivate the American prople again.

He meant that the Moon will be important, but it will never drive human exploration again.
See: “Is the Moon a “Golden Oldie” or a “One Hit Wonder”?”

That leaves Mars.

And NASA has been thinking about Mars a lot lately; just check out their marvelous, 1000-page volume on Colonizing the Red Planet, edited by Joel S. Levine. One particularly interesting option is the one-way human Mars mission advocated by Paul Davies and Dirk Schulze-Makuch. It speeds up the timeline and is cheaper.

Russian and Chinese interest in Mars continues to grow. For example, Lev Zelyony’s (Russian Space Research Institute) intriguing comments in 2008 included,

We lost the race to the Moon. But we have something of a head start in this race as we have the most experience in long-duration, manned spaceflight.

It’s possible that their joint Phobos-Grunt mission could blossom into a Russia-China Mars colonization initiative.

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.

No responses yet

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?

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.

5 responses so far

Nov 06 2010

Historic, Wave Election Supports 21stCenturyWaves.com Forecasts

Last Tuesday American voters presented Republicans with control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats with the loss of 60 seats, with 9 other races still too close to call (Wall Street Journal, 11/6/2010). This dwarfed the Republican wave elections of 1946 and 1994 and conjured up images of the political realignment of 1894 as suggested here pre-election based on long wave economic and political trends.

This is significant beyond just the fortunes of U.S. party politics because it indicates the increased likelihood that we are reliving major elements of the financial Panic of 1893/Great 1890s Recession scenario that promptly triggered one of the most ebullient decades in American history — the Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window (~1901-13).

And thus a similar transformative, golden age of prosperity, exploration,and technology (i.e., a Maslow Window) by 2015 is increasingly indicated.

A good summary of our pre-election scenarios is in: “Michael Barone Comments on the 1894 Political Scenario of 21stCenturyWaves.com”

Checking Our Pre-Election Expectations versus the Results —

1) The current economic/political framework resembles 1893 – 1913 (the Cleveland/Roosevelt era) more than 1949 – 1969 (the Eisenhower/JFK era).
Although no financial panic/great recession pair occurred between 1949 and 1969, the historic Panic of 2008 signaled that we are returning to the dominant pattern of the last 200+ years where financial panics — e.g., the Panic of 1893 — lead stunning Maslow Windows by 6 to 10 years.

2) The Political realignment of 2008 should continue through 2010.
Grover Cleveland was elected president in 1893, the year of the financial panic. The Great 1890s Recession was a double dip that continued until 1899. Like 2010, the election of 1894 was a realigning election featuring a Republican landslide (Democrats lost 125 seats). Thus the political realignment of 2008 has continued.

3) Political trends are more associated with the drive for prosperity than any particular party or candidate.
Like the election of 1894, the recent election was driven by economic issues, and was less in favor of Republicans than it was against Democrats. Exit polls revealed voter concerns were focused on job creation, federal spending, the budget deficit, and taxes. This is consistent with both short-term trends resulting from our great recession, and the pattern of the last 200+ years when the drive for prosperity becomes paramount as we approach a Maslow Window.

Three Key Near-Term Issues and Trends

1) Will the Cleveland-Obama electoral parallel continue?
Both Cleveland and Obama were elected near a financial panic. In their midterm elections, both presidents experienced major public rebukes to their economic policies. For Cleveland, the election of 1894 set the stage for his defeat two years later.

Former pollster for Bill Clinton, Douglas Schoen, recently (WSJ, 11/4/10) characterized Obama’s “historic choice” as,

He can become marginalized and largely irrelevant — as was Jimmy Carter in much of his last two years in office. Or he can return to the promise of his campaign when he offered to eschew partisanship and pursue the centrist agenda that the American people elected him to advance.

Schoen recognizes that, from the voters’ perspective, the drive for prosperity trumps any particular candidate or party.

2) Will the current political realignment continue beyond 2010?
The Wall Street Journal (11/1/10; N. King, Jr.) anticipates a “historic era” in U.S. politics and sees parallels with the 1890s.

Financial panic in 1893 set the stage for a series of sharp swings in the 1890s. Republicans won a landslide in 1894, picking up 135 seats, but then lost 48 seats two years later , despite Republican William McKinley’s triumph in the presidential race.

The Journal is suggesting that change will continue, and is hinting that unless he changes course — which is not yet indicated by the president’s recent, post-election statements — Mr. Obama risks defeat in 2012.

3) Will the Great Boom of 2015 Materialize?
Opinion polls and the success of Tea Party candidates in 2010 suggest it’s the front-burner issue. And macroeconomic data and historical trends over the last 200+ years point to the central role of a major economic boom in triggering a new Apollo-style Space Age by 2015.

Three possible economic scenarios for the U.S. and the world over the next few years are being discussed. Based on the “nominal” forecast model of 21stCenturyWaves.com, here are the 3 scenarios from high probability to low:

1. MOST PROBABLE: Recovery from the (possible double dip) great recession followed by the Great Boom of 2015 which triggers a new global Space Age,

2. POSSIBLE: Major inflation triggered by the Fed’s new $ 600 B quantitative easing “Hail Mary pass” (WSJ, 11/4/10) policy,
3) LEAST LIKELY: A Japan-style deflationary decade of economic stagnation.

More discussion of these is coming.

No responses yet

Oct 14 2010

State of the Wave: ETs Surge to Center Stage

In the 1950s this might have been called a UFO “Wave”, but today it just appears that interest in extraterrestrials – some of whom might even be coming here – is the rage from China to London and of course to Hollywood.

Does our growing global fascination with extraterrestrials suggest the new international Space Age is just around the corner?

A Chinese Astronomer Says Yes
Wang Sichao, a veteran astronomer of the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said flat out in August that “extraterrestrial beings do exist and their UFOs have the ability to visit our earth,” (Peoples’ Daily Online, 8/23/10). His statements are as unequivocal as former Apollo Moon-walking astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who has claimed for years that “…we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real … It has been covered up by governments for quite some time now,” (7/28/2008, ABC News).

However, Wang believes that Stephen Hawking’s recent warnings that their arrival would be a bad day for humanity are premature.

“If they are friendly to us, we can promote the human beings’ civilization through exchange and cooperation with them. If they are not, as long as we prepared for their invasion, we can beat them back based on their weaknesses. After all, they are life entities, they would show their slips,”

Obviously the professor is an optimist. Anyone with the technology to travel across interstellar distances could also make us wish they hadn’t. The classic Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man” comes to mind!

Wang’s public statements come in the wake of 8 reported UFO sightings in China since June. For example, last month an airport in Inner Mongolia was shut down for over an hour because a UFO — reportedly seen both visually and on radar — was buzzing the field.

Unknowns Lurk Everywhere
UFO sightings are not limited to China — they appear almost everywhere. A quick scan of the Mutual UFO Network website, a 40+-year-old, science-based organization, indicates that current aerial unknowns range from a silent boomerang in Boise to agile cigars in Australia.

Over the last 100+ years, a global surge in UFO/ET interest has presaged and figured prominently in each transformative Maslow Window.

For example, the ultra-ebullient Peary/Panama/T. Rosevelt Maslow Window (~1901-13) followed the founding of Lowell Observatory in Arizona to probe the “canals” on Mars. Lowell saw the canals as convincing evidence for a global Macro Engineering Project built by intelligent Martians. His public loved it and in 1907 the Wall Street Journal actually announced “…the proof by astronomical observations…that conscious, intelligent life exists upon the planet Mars,”

Likewise, early in the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, astronomer Frank Drake inaugurated the famous Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) using a radio telescope in West Virginia. Later he and Carl Sagan ebulliently asserted that a million advanced civilizations might exist in our galaxy, and in 2010 Drake reiterated his ebullient belief that it’s “only a matter of time” before we detect them. Before aligning exclusively with radio SETI, Sagan wrote a stunning, but currently obscure scientific paper (in 1962) in which he argued that advanced ETs had already visited Earth using interstellar spacecraft aided by relativistic time dilation.

If this century-plus pattern holds, we should expect global interest in ETs, UFOs, Earth-like planets, and human expansion into the cosmos to accelerate as we approach the new international Space Age around 2015.

Is Life Abundant in the Galaxy?
It’s not just UFOs that are grabbing the global public, it’s anything to do with extraterrestrials. For example, Chandra Wickramasinghe, Director of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, flatly asserts that current astrophysical research “overwhelmingly” supports his theory that human life started outside of Earth; i.e., that all humans are, in fact, “aliens from outer space.”

In his recent article in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Wickramasinghe argues that the spectral signatures of interstellar dust clouds are due to “biologically derived aromatic molecules.” Thus major components of interstellar materials are actually “… degradation products of biology,” suggesting life is not rare in our galaxy.

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

At the Royal Society, Professor Paul Davies of Arizona State University suggested that, contrary to the approach of radio SETI, “We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach.”

This flurry of ET-related scientific meetings, astrophysical research, and UFO sightings occurs in the context of the exciting recent discovery of the first extrasolar planet with the potential to be genuinely Earth-like. It orbits the red dwarf star Gliese 581 and is nearby — only 20 light years away. If advanced Gliesan’s ever existed, they should be here by now.

What if ET Really Phones Home?
And finally, to complete the pop culture scene, the new movie Skyline opens November 12. It features UFOs and extraterrestrials on Earth and a Rapture-like scene that’s unforgettable. As in the 1960s Space Age, cinema is likely to play a major role in the 2015 Maslow Window.

One response so far

Oct 09 2010

Michael Barone Comments on 1894 Political Scenario of 21stCenturyWaves.com

This week Gallup.com released poll results that suggest voter trends in the direction of economic/political scenarios that have been previously identified by 21stCenturyWaves.com as potentially highly relevant to our future.

Does this obscure 19th century U.S. President hold the secret to our future trajectory?

In particular, Gallup’s results suggest that our continuing political realignment may have similar dynamics to the election of 1894 that was heavily influenced by the financial Panic of 1893, and culminated in the transformative Peary/Panama/T. Roosevelt Maslow Window of 1901 – 13.

Gallup’s generic ballot for Congress among registered voters reveals an extraordinary “double-digit advantage under two separate turnout scenarios” for Republicans. Among likely voters in their “higher turnout” model, the Republican candidate is preferred over the Democrat by 53% to 40%. Among likely voters in their “lower turnout” model — more likely in mindterm elections like 2010 — the Republican wins 56% to 38%.

This amazing margin is unprecedented for Republicans in the history of Gallup surveys (since 1942).

Michael Barone (WashingtonExaminer.com, 10/4/10), principal author of The Almanac of American Politics, indicates Gallup’s stiking poll numbers,

suggest huge gains for Republicans and a Republican House majority the likes of which we have not seen since the election cycles of 1946 or even 1928 … The Gallup high turnout and low turnout numbers suggest it looks like 1894, when Republicans gained more than 100 seats in a House of approximately 350 seats.

Two years ago (10/20/08) I wrote that the financial Panic of 2008 has an analog in 1893.

21stCenturyWaves.com has also characterized a class of panics that predates Maslow Windows by about a decade … Ironically, about a month ago I was in the process of writing a new post on the Panic of 1893 and its similarities to today — and trying to develop the courage to forecast a similar crisis today (!) — when the credit meltdown occurred. The Panic of 1893 caused estimated unemployment over 10% for 5+ years. It lasted 18 months but was followed by another recession that lasted until 1897. The combination of GDP declines of several % coupled with population growth meant that GDP per capita didn’t recover to 1892 levels until 1899.

Last year (8/29/09) I suggested there were two economic/political scenarios of particular interest:

Scenario 1: The 1960s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Replay … In which the economic and geopolitical trends of 1945 – 1960 reappear about one long wave later — between 2000 and 2015 — including the end of a world war, a great economic boom, and the election of a charismatic JFK-style Democratic president, that trigger a Super Apollo Maslow Window (2015 – 2025) featuring a Camelot-like zeitgeist.
Scenario 2: The 1900s Teddy Roosevelt (TR) Encore … In which the economic and geopolitical trends of 1888 – 1903 reappear about two long waves later — between 2000 and 2015 — including a financial panic followed by a major recession, and the election of a charismatic TR-style Republican president, that trigger a Super Apollo Maslow Window (2015 – 2025) featuring a Panama Fever-style zeitgeist.

Until recently, I have seriously considered only the “JFK Replay” as the nominal scenario for the 2015 Maslow Window, but recent economic and political events have convinced me to also consider the “TR Encore.”

I concur with Barone about the potentially monumental implications of recent Gallup polling data, and believe it reinforces my tentative conclusions of December, 2009:

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.

(See: The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age)

The 1894 Election Model adds weight to current trends supporting a continuing political realignment fundamentally motivated by the drive for prosperity more than any particular candidate.

Because of President Grover Cleveland’s (pictured above) inability to deal with the effects of the Panic of 1893, McKinley won the presidency in 1896 and presided over the return to prosperity. In 1901 McKinley’s successor, President Theodore Roosevelt led the U.S. into perhaps its most ebullient Maslow Decade in history …

Like its 1893 counterpart, the Panic of 2008 triggered a political realignment with the election of President Obama and Democratic supermajorities in Congress. Given current economic trends, it’s likely that Republicans will experience significant Congressional gains in November, and may continue the political realignment — but this time in their favor …

Although current history is not necessarily hostage to an 1890s-style replay, one thing seems likely: the drive for prosperity in the form of a major economic boom commencing by 2015. Over the last 200+ years, this stage in the long business cycle (the “long wave”) consistently features a major economic boom that drives unprecedented, ebullient exploration and technology programs immersed in a Camelot-like zeitgeist.

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

No responses yet

Jul 11 2010

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

As we search for clues to our economic future by looking for parallels between our current great recession and the past (e.g., the 1930s), it’s logical to also seek historical parallels relating other great events that are strongly dependent on economic conditions. For example, the manned space program, and specifically, human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars.

Viewed in this context, President Obama’s recent cancellation of Constellation — America’s program to return to the Moon by 2020 — is not a big surprise. It’s just a speed bump on the road to a near-term Moon base, including international commercial and scientific development of Earth-Moon space.

This glimpse of the future is not based on hope or optimism, but on long-term trends in the economy, technology, and geopolitics which point to a near-term re-ignition of President Kennedy’s nearly 50-year old vision of human exploration of the Moon and planets.

The 1960s Apollo Moon program was the greatest combined exploration and technology event in the history of the world, because it was off-world!
Click .

If we could understand what fundamentally drove Apollo, we might glimpse our future in space. And yet, as we discovered again last July during celebrations of the Moon landing’s 40th anniversary, we still can’t agree on why Apollo moonwalking ended in 1972. For example, Right Stuff author Tom Wolfe believes “the answer is obvious. NASA had neglected to recruit a corps of philosophers,” such as Saturn V developer Wernher von Braun, to explain the real meaning of Apollo to the public. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Heavens and the Earth (1985), Walter McDougall explains that

the bold lunar goal … encouraged Congress and the nation to believe that Apollo was the space program … Once the space race was over and won, Americans could turn back to their selfish pursuits.

Formerly with CNN, Miles O’Brien dismisses the most obvious manned space challenge — cost.

If you don’t want to mention the cost of the wars, if you would rather not get into Wall Street or Detroit bailouts, or if you don’t want to tell them the money we spend on the space program is about the same as our annual expenditure on coffee — why not mention India?…Calcutta can afford it — and Cleveland can’t?

This is an important clue. Apollo cost about $ 150 B (in 2007 USD). Imagine the Apollo-level manned space programs we could have funded with only a fraction of Obama’s initial $ 800+ B stimulus package. But although the money magically appeared, Americans did not spontaneously demand Moonbases or manned Mars missions. So the availability of money, by itself, does not fundamentally drive big space programs.

Wolfe alludes to powerful. but short-lived forces permeating Apollo: “

Everybody, including Congress, was caught up in the adrenal rush of it all.

This included the quintessential media figure of the time, Walter Cronkite, who predicted that after Apollo 11, “everything else that has happened in our time is going to be an asterisk.”

And O’Brien concludes that.

Truth is, we have done nothing to equal (much less top) the accomplishments of Apollo. And even worse, we haven’t tried. We did someting truly great, but then walked away from it.

This emotional component — and its rapid demise in the late 1960s — explains why money is not enough. The people also have to feel good.

This is reminiscent of a Keynesian concept called “animal spirits,” used to explain why investors become either irrationally exhuberant or unnecessarily discouraged by business conditions during a boom or a bust. However, public support for Apollo was not primarily driven by the promise of profits from space, nor in the end, even by beating the Soviets to the Moon.

Instead the unprecedented, widespread affluence from the Kennedy boom momentarily catapulted many average citizens to elevated levels of Maslow’s hierarchy where their expanded worldviews made the Apollo program seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible — as reflected in 1960s opinion polls.

Indeed, the strong connection between manned planetary exploration and Maslow-related values was emphasized in 1961 by the National Academy of Science’s Space Science Board, chaired by Lloyd Berkner, in their influential report to President Kennedy.

Man’s exploration of the Moon and planets (is) potentially the greatest inspirational venture of this century and one in which the whole world can share; inherent here are great and fundamental philosophical and spiritual values which find a response in man’s questing spirit and his intellectual self-realization.

But the Maslow effect was short-lived. As early as 1966, growing distress over Vietnam and budget issues began to erode affluence-induced “ebullience,” and this 1960s Apollo “Maslow Window” rapidly closed, as evidenced by Nixon’s cancellation of the last three Apollo Moon missions.

As recently as Memorial Day weekend in Chicago at the International Space Development Conference 2010, distinguished physicist and space scientist Freeman Dyson lamented that “we have been stuck in LEO for 40 years.” In the context of Apollo, this is consistent with the absence — since the 1960s — of a post-World War II-style long boom culminating in widespread, Camelot-style ebullience.

We almost got one started in 2007 when Fortune magazine (7/12/07) celebrated the “greatest economic boom ever.” But it was interrupted by the financial Panic of 2008 and our subsequent great recession. Will 2007’s great boom be revived? And how soon?

Intriguing parallels with Apollo go back at least 200 years to Lewis and Clark, but the last century is particularly revealing. For example, the financial Panic of 1893 and the great 1890s recession may have more parallels with our current circumstances than the Apollo-related decades from 1950-70. The 1890s featured a double-dip recession and unemployment above 10%, as well as a political realignment that led to a stunning 1960s-style economic boom after 1899. The resulting early 20th century Maslow Window featured extraordinary ebullience, including “Panama fever” as the new canal split the continent and transformed America into a global power, “pole mania” as heroic international teams risked death to be the first to the poles, the civilization-altering Wright brothers’ first flights, and perhaps the most ebullient U.S. president ever: Theodore Roosevelt.

The trajectory of future history is not confined to a choice between the 1890-1913 Panic/recession model or the 1950-1973 Apollo example. But significantly, they both point to a golden age of prosperity, exploration, and technology that’s just around the corner.

Based on the historical pattern of rhythmic, twice-per-century Maslow Windows — over the last 200 years — including the Panic/Great Recession pairs (like the Panic of 2008) that typically occur a few years before the Windows, we can expect the new international Space Age to start gaining momentum by 2015.

One response so far

Apr 02 2010

Near-Term Wars Threaten the New Space Age

Recently the Wall Street Journal (3/31/10) expressed concern about the “fading hope” of sanctions on Iran,

We are left with a stark alternative: Either Iran gets a nuclear weapon and we manage the risk, or someone acts to eliminate the threat,

according to Ms. Danielle Pletka, VP for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

And earlier this week Ronan Bergman, senior military and intelligence for an Israeli daily (Yedioth Ahronoth) and author of The Secret War With Iran (2008), pointed out that the three most likely scenarios for starting the next Middle East war “all involve Iran” (WSJ, 3/29/10). Despite the fact that a preemptive airstrike by Israel on Iranian nuclear installations is “somewhat less likely” now, due to Israel’s evolving perception of sanctions on Iran.

These issues need to considered in the context of the current “major flap in U.S.-Israel relations.” According to a recent interview in ForeignAffairs.com with Ehud Yaari, who is Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East Commentator for Channel 2 news in Israel, and the the co-author (with the late Ze’ev Schiff) of Israel’s Lebanon War and Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising — Israel’s Third Front,, regarding the Israeli prime minister’s recent visit to the U.S.,

The general sense in Israel right now is that the prime minister was sorely humiliated by President Obama. There is quite a degree of amazement the way he was treated. I think it’s fair to say that neither the prime minister nor his defense minister, Ehud Barak, were aware of the kind of reception that they were greeted with at the White House.

Because of its importance to world energy supplies and the global economy, a Middle East war in the next few years would significantly reduce global security, as well as possibily threaten the new international space age expected to begin by 2015.

This is a different military threat than the one I focused on in July, 2008:

In addition to the expansive joy of Great Explorations from Lewis & Clark to Apollo, and stunning Macro-Engineering Projects (MEPs) like the Panama Canal, the last 200 years also teach us one sobering fact: Each Maslow Window is also associated with a tragic, major war (e.g. W. W. I).

And sadly, the 2020s are unlikely to be an exception.

Instead of the major wars (e.g., WW I) that occur near the end (or after) a typical Maslow Window, the near-term conflicts referred to here are a feature of early Maslow Window times or the years just before them; e.g., from 2010 to 2016.

And all Maslow Windows are aflicted by them.

Neither the early/pre-Maslow Window conflicts (that threaten Maslow Windows) nor the late-Window major wars (that terminate Maslow Windows) over the last 200 years, can be scientifically predicted with much reliability. But they are historically associated with long wave trends, including the upswing toward the major economic boom that triggers the widespread affluence-induced ebullience of Maslow Windows, as well as the long wave’s decline after the boom has peaked and an economic downturn is looming.

The early/pre-Maslow Window conflicts and the long economic waves they are associated with over the last 200+ years may be thought of in the context of a complex adaptive system model where self organized criticality produces typical events — e.g., early/pre-Maslow Window conflicts, financial panics, great recessions — just prior to the major economic boom of the Maslow Window itself. Niall Ferguson has described a similar model for the onset of World War I and other major geopolitcal events of the last 200 years.

In any case, the patterns associated with early/pre-Maslow Window years are clear. For example:

The Lewis & Clark/Jefferson Maslow Window:
If Napolean hadn’t been distracted from his interest in a North American empire by the need to fund his European war machine, Jefferson might not have gotten such a good price for the Lousiana Purchase, which led to the opening up of the American Northwest during the first Great Exploration of the last 200 years. (See: 10 Lessons Lewis & Clark Teach Us About the Human Future in Space)

The Dr. Livingstone/Suez/Polk Maslow Window:
One long wave later, the Mexican War played a major role in the early mid-19th century Maslow Window due to the ebullient, expansionist belief by the U.S. population in Manifest Destiny. (See: How the West Was Won — The Expansionist Effects of Ebullience)

The Peary/Panama/Roosevelt Maslow Window:
Just prior to perhaps the most ebullient decade in U.S. history, the Spanish-American War (1898) taught the future president and “Rough Rider” Theodore Roosevelt the potential strategic value of a Panama Canal — the greatest MEP of the last 200 years until Apollo. TR waited in Cuba for a key U.S. battleship from the Pacific which finally arrived, after a long trip around the southern tip of South America, 2 months after the war began. (See: 10 Lessons the Panama Canal Teaches Us About the Human Future in Space)

The 1960s Apollo/JFK Maslow Window:
One long wave later, early in the most recent Maslow Window, Cuba again eerily rose to center stage as the world came very close to World War III during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962); this Crisis intensified the competition and global symbolism of the U.S.-Soviet race to the Moon, eventually won by the U.S. in 1969. (See: The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte)

That’s the Bad News, and early/pre- Maslow Window international tensions — characteristic, as we’ve seen, of the last 200+ years — appear to be building again now in the Middle East as well as potentially elsewhere. (See, for example, Krepinevich (2009), 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century.)

But the Good News is that — although each early/pre-Maslow Window conflict was a time of war and/or even potentially global doom (i.e., the Cuban Missile Crisis) — over the last 200 years, all have amazingly accelerated the world toward the stunning Great Explorations and Macro-Engineering Projects of each ebullient Maslow Window, and have served as global quantum leaps as they transformed the world.

No responses yet

Next »