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by Elon Musk


TaggedAdvocacy, Families

In 1964, the year of the New York World's Fair, one of the cornerstone books of the space business was released, "Islands In Space, The Challenge of the Planetoids" by Dandridge Cole and Donald Cox.

Islands In Space is considered a masterpiece because even to this day its core information remains up to date and its theories on the human capabilities based on the data remain viable and sound.

In 1996, one of the authors worked on what was hoped to be an exciting update and extension to Islands in Space.  When the book came out it was with a dedication many hard core space workers gave a moment of silence...

... and, unfortunately, with a title reflecting the world to which it was targeted:

Most of the data had not changed.  Much of the human related aspects of minor planets were lightly touched on in the new release. But right at the first cover impression we got something creepy, and it is not just that Cole was very clear that "Asteroids" was not a good term for these rocks and that that clarity was clearly ignored.

Hungry readers skimming the stacks for material with exciting potential likely would have passed this one over on the shelves and walked out of the stores empty handed, and the people into fast disaster movie thrills likely would not have read all the way through to the very good mining and colonization chapters deep into part 3.

They may have gotten to page 127 and read:

"It should be noted that in 1964 this timetable projected by Cox and Cole for those various steps was to have the first flyby missions conducted in 1967, and the soft landers and surface crawlers in operation by 1972, some twenty five years ago!  This schedule was certainly technically feasible given the pace and momentum of the space program in the early 1960s.  The notion that we would abandon all space flight beyond low earth orbit by 1972 was utterly incredible.  No one could have predicted then that no new space leader would arise to replace Werhner Von Braun, that NASA would become the unwieldy bureaucracy of today, and that the public would become so indifferent to space as to permit our thrust into the solar system to be thwarted." 

That is the "cynicism and pessimism" that Astronaut Kathy Sullivan spoke of our leaders and our colleagues and our co-inhabitants on Earth falling into in her introduction to Gerard K. O'Neill's High Frontier.  While the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists had started their famous countdown clock back in 1947 as a 'call to action', it does seem that most of those in a position to move themselves and others forward have decided to see their doors closed and impress that vision on their readers rather than take up the un-cool position that we can change things for the better if we just try. 

In 1964, 5 years before we traveled 230 thousand miles to land on the moon, we were presented with a "Challenge ..."

In 1996, 24 years after we were told that 3 hundred miles was to be the absolute Human limit for generations to come, we were eagerly anticipating the release of "Doomsday..."

Of course we understand that the change in title and attitude of the book was encouraged by the publisher and made sense to everyone involved, as professionals we got it, it would just sell better.  


Of course.  

-  - -  -

If you haven't yet gone to see the movie Tomorrowland.. do it. 

I'm not going to tell you that it's the best thing ever... go in with low expectations. 

But please do see it on the big screen... for the look of it IMAX is truly best.  It is a big screen movie.  Seize this day while it is here :-).  

SSI Director Robin Snelson and I went yesterday, did the 12 o'clock midweek show so there would be almost nobody in the theater and we got seats right in the sweet spot.  

She and I both had read odd reviews of it, one that hit me funny started with the words 'everyone knows that the future is not going to be good...'  Seriously, the reviewer wasn't joking and that is the most ironic thing I have read in a long time.  And very sad. 

Robin told me she has seen reviews from people who admit not to having even seen the movie .. and say that they won't because it's "about global warming" Seriously?  Guess what... it's not about global warming... or cooling.  Honest, it's not. Really!  I don't know where the heck that one even came from (oh yeah, EVERYTHING from lint to cheese is either about global warming or Obama these days... even when things aren't).  

It's a Disney, but it's not a princess movie and it's not Pirates of the Caribbean.  It's more like the Trons; The above-little-kid-stuff writing seems at the Tron minimum age level. It's the first Disney movie I have ever seen where Human Beings are killed in the action scenes, that was a new one for Disney.  It fit though.  One guy gets squished, the other few get poofed away in a manner that little kids shouldn't be freaked at but, again, this isn't for little little kids who want minions and unicorns, they probably won't get it.  Is it only for the Tron-age set?  No, there are definitely parts that only people who have lived and loved will feel.  I had a tear of bittersweet at one part - all three times.  

Go see it if you can, on the big screen if at all possible.  IMAX is really worth it for the look of this.  It's without a doubt High Frontier Robert McCall Horizons filled in by Syd Mead.  It's not out in 3d, which is actually good for the look.  

Technically, because of our family's particular business dealings, Mad Max Fury Road is the movie that we *should* be fully pushing folks to see.  But personally, this is the one to see first.  On the big screen.  I've seen it three times now, and I'm hoping for four because each time the rough edges are smoothing and I'm picking up on stuff that is low key.  But it's just for Fun! 

Its not going to be huge, which is a bit of a shame.  It's not going to win any awards for anything, which is okay. But for what you personally do in your professional life, it is something to see. 

"It is essential to maintain a positive vision of the future, from which to draw our goals, the motivation to pursue them, and the compulsion to meet the complex human challenges we will face along the way"

-Kathy Sullivan, Astronaut.  From her preface to The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'Neill


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