Dumbass NY Times Article: “The Elusive Big Idea”

A recent article in the NY Times is getting buzz and making rounds.

Its crap.

Just off-hand, here are some big idea innovations that are and will change the world:


The Evolution Machine [ref] == Radical Health and Biological Science driven advances

It is a strange combination of clumsiness and beauty. Sitting on a cheap-looking worktop is a motley ensemble of flasks, trays and tubes squeezed onto a home-made frame. Arrays of empty pipette tips wait expectantly. Bunches of black and grey wires adorn its corners. On the top, robotic arms slide purposefully back and forth along metal tracks, dropping liquids from one compartment to another in an intricately choreographed dance. Inside, bacteria are shunted through slim plastic tubes, and alternately coddled, chilled and electrocuted. The whole assembly is about a metre and a half across, and controlled by an ordinary computer.

Say hello to the evolution machine. It can achieve in days what takes genetic engineers years. So far it is just a prototype, but if its proponents are to be believed, future versions could revolutionise biology, allowing us to evolve new organisms or rewrite whole genomes with ease. It might even transform humanity itself.

Thorium Powered  Vehicles [ref]  == Replacement of Fossil Fuels for mobile vehicles

“Thorium, an abundant and radioactive rare earth mineral, could be used in conjunction with a laser and mini turbines to easily produce enough electricity to power a vehicle. When thorium is heated, it generates further heat surges, allowing it to be coupled with mini turbines to produce steam that can then be used to generate electricity. Combining a laser, radioactive material, and mini-turbines might sound like a complicated alternative solution to filling your gas tank, but there’s one feature that sells it as a great alternative solution: 1 gram of thorium produces the equivalent energy of 7,500 gallons of gasoline.”

The Space Shaft [ref] == Cheap Orbital Lift Capacity

A private European organization has a proposal for creating 100-300 kilometer high multipurpose towers. The towers would be composed of moveable lighter-than-air rings stacked upon each other. Modules would be added from the bottom up and filled with a light gas. Shuttles within the shaft could take people and payloads to the top, slowly but inexpensively. In an interview with Sander Olson, Patrick Vankeirsbilk describes how the first towers could become operational within a decade, and could be used both for tourism and for getting payloads inexpensively into space.

Universal Anti-Viral[ref] == Better health and Quality of Life for all

Too good to be true? You might think this is impossible.

“Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.”

It works against 15 viruses tested so far.

Cure for Cancer via Applied Genetic Engineering [ref] == Increased Human Longevity and Quality of Life

Cancer Cured By Injecting White Blood Cells that had been genetically altered by a modified/harmless version of HIV


Applying Economic Thinking and Quantitative thinking to Everything!


3D Printing [ref] Manufacturing only limited by our imaginations

Think: 3D Printing + Semi-autonomous Robots + Interplanetary Internet + Cheap Space Launch/Lift Costs + off-planet atomic power


Abundant and Cheap Energy for all should be our goal [ref]

I want to drive an affordable electric or gas/electric or some sort of flex-fuel vehicle as a mobility device. I want to take a train once a month to Madison or the Fox River Valley. I want to see a new nationwide network of smart electrical grids powered by small scale nuclear plants, municipal plasma furnaces, wind and solar (where the make sense) or whatever else entrepreneurs can dream up and successively execute. I long for the day of orbital solar power.

I love the idea of (and the change it will make) of Russia and Saudi Arabia and the others of their ilk being deprived of their ability to make mischief  and misery for the rest of the world. I welcome their fall. This will be a good thing for the world.


Micro Robots For Health Care [ref] == Loner and Healthier Lives

They look like spirals with tiny heads, and screw through the liquid like miniature corkscrews. When moving, they resemble rather ungainly bacteria with long whip-like tails. They can only be observed under a microscope because, at a total length of 25 to 60 µm, they are almost as small as natural flagellated bacteria. Most are between 5 and 15 µm long, a few are more than 20 µm.[…]


What are your ideas?

50th Anniversary of DR Who is Coming up…

I’d like to see a 50th Anniversary episode that brings back the main living doctor-actors and perhaps others portraying the prior version faithfully.

I don’t want a big action adventure episode though. I want talking and story.

Make it be a TARDIS only episode. The Doctor is alone on the TARDIS for some reason. The TARDIS is dying (maybe). The Doctor is dying (maybe). He is alone…except for the voices and images of his past selves who proceeds to argue and discuss his predicament, his failings, and his companions. Maybe flash back to his youth, and his initial escape from Galifrey with Susan. I am thinking to a bit of Magnum PI episode that was done with the lead character trapped in the ocean with just his own thoughts and stuff for survival. The older doctor/actors can rely mostly on their voices, personality and expressions (use makeup and shadows).

Bring on the SpaceShaft!

Found via a tweetNextBigFuture introduces me to the Spaceshaft!!!!


A private European organization has a proposal for creating 100-300 kilometer high multipurpose towers. The towers would be composed of moveable lighter-than-air rings stacked upon each other. Modules would be added from the bottom up and filled with a light gas. Shuttles within the shaft could take people and payloads to the top, slowly but inexpensively. In an interview with Sander Olson, Patrick Vankeirsbilk describes how the first towers could become operational within a decade, and could be used both for tourism and for getting payloads inexpensively into space.


Yes Please!!  Read it all! Hey is this the cheaper 80% alternative to Space Elevators/Beanstalks?















Recent Space Stuff

I would like to actually have the Science Fiction future I felt was come when I was young.


Falcon Heavy links.


A “Coast Guard for Space“…



Over the years, analysts have proposed several alternative schemes for organizing the American space sector. Most of these proposals have related specifically to the nation’s military space activities. So, for instance, some proposals call for the creation of a Space Corps that would relate to the Air Force in much the same way that the Marine Corps relates to the Navy: autonomous, but under the control of the Secretary of the Navy, and relying on the Navy for various functions such as legal and medical services. Other proposals would adopt the model of the historical Army Air Corps or the later U.S. Army Air Forces, making space a quasi-autonomous service within the parent service.

There is another proposal, however, that would restructure not just military but also civilian space activities. This proposal would create a U.S. Space Guard on the model of the U.S. Coast Guard, charged with carrying out a variety of infrastructure, support, constabulary, and regulatory tasks. The Space Guard would assume some functions now performed by the Air Force, NASA, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).



Zubrin: It’s time to build a transorbital railroad


The core idea is simple. The space shuttle program is ending. So, instead of funding NASA to spend the next decade developing another white elephant to replace it, let’s just take a quarter of the shuttle’s budget and use it to set up a regularly scheduled launch service to orbit using the most cost-effective boosters on the commercial market.

One-quarter of the shuttle program would provide a budget of $1.2 billion per year. Right now, the choice of most cost-effective launcher is a horse race…
Having bought these launches for $80 million each, the NASA transorbital railroad office would then turn around and sell payload space on board at a steep discount price of $50 per kilogram. Thus, a 53-ton-capacity launch could be offered for sale at $2.5 million or divided into 5-ton compartments for sale at $250,000 each, with half-ton compartments made available for $25,000. While recovering just a tiny fraction of the transorbital railroad’s costs, such low fees (levied primarily to discourage spurious use) would make spaceflight readily affordable.

As with a normal railroad here on earth, the transorbital railroad’s launches would occur in accordance with its schedule, regardless of whether or not all of its cargo capacity was subscribed by customers. Unsubscribed space would be filled with containers of water, food or space-storable propellants. These standardized, pressurizable containers, equipped with tracking beacons, plumbing attachments, hatches and electrical pass-throughs, would be released for orbital recovery by anyone with the initiative to collect them and put their contents and volumes to use in space. A payload dispenser, provided and loaded by the launch companies as part of their service, would be used to release each payload to go its separate way once orbit was achieved.

As noted above, the budget required to run the transorbital railroad would be 25 percent that of the space shuttle program, but it would accomplish far more. The U.S. government could use it to save a great deal of money because its own departments in NASA, the military and other agencies could avail themselves of the transorbital railroad’s low rates to launch their payloads at trivial cost. Much greater savings would occur, however, because with launch costs so reduced, it would no longer be necessary to spend billions to ensure the ultimate degree of spacecraft reliability. Instead, commercial-grade parts could be used, thereby cutting the cost of spacecraft construction by orders of magnitude. While some failures would result, they would be eminently affordable and, moreover, would enable a greatly accelerated rate of technological advance in spacecraft design, because unproven, non-space-rated components could be put to the test much more rapidly. With both launch and spacecraft costs so sharply reduced, the financial consequences of any failures could be readily met by the purchase of insurance by the launch companies, which would reimburse both the government and payload owners in the event of a mishap.

With such a huge amount of lift capability available to the public at low cost, both public and private initiatives of every kind could take flight.


I want my Science Fiction Future.

“The most important country to the United States is…” and a bit more (strategy and energy)

I started writing this as a comment on a post at Coming Anarchy, but it is a bit too long for that.


So in answer to their question…not really an answer but a steam of thoughts…


The USA long peaceful border with Canada makes it an important relationship. They are a no problem neighbor.

The USA should want the Mexico relationship to evolve into the same type  of thing. The relationship matters economically and because a failed Mexico impacts the security of the US. Even longer term, the US goal should be to integrate (peacefully and voluntarily) Mexico fully into the USA in the next 100 years.

The UK had been the most important USA overseas ally. The decline of the UK (and NATO), the rise of the EU, and the actions of the current US President have reduced that relationship. Our challenge with the EU is to both prop up Europe slowing/preventing it from turning in Eurabia, and to at the same time benefit from an exodus of smart/innovative/entrepreneurial/motivated Europeans (with their brains and capital) from pre-Eurabia Europe to the US.

India needs to be targeted as a future most important relationship – Economics/Security/Democracy – it all comes together for the USA with India. The US should also support India getting a permanent UN Security Council seat (good for Obama on this).

The USA relationship with China is important because of the economic interrelationship (for better or worse), China’s rise toward superpower status, and because the PRC leadership is clearly positioning China as the alternative/opponent/adversary of the US. China is essentially waging a 5GW against the US now. The US needs to step up to it or face it that US decline is coming sooner rather than later/never.

Russia matters because it has nukes, oil, and KGB/Active-Measure skills a plenty. Russia is not the USSR. Russia is in decline. The challenge here is to manage the relationship so that while declining, Russia doesn’t hatch any Black Swans. The US also wants to avoid the creation of Russia/Turkey/Iran Axis of Mischief.

Iran matters to the US because they have oil, can effect access to lots of oil, will have nukes soon, has revolutionary Islamic expansionary activities, and has leadership that seems hell-bent on future war with the US. The US goal here must be regime change – hopefully without massive Iranian population/infrastructure destruction. One way or another, this is going to get ugly since most of the non-ugly options have been disregarded/ignored by the US ostrich strategy.

Japan matters to US right now because it is distinct (not Europe, not China, not Muslim) and for its partner potential. The US should support Japan’s JDF expanding and getting expeditionary (lots of US officers and SNCO’s should be detailed to the JDF). We should support this capital rich nation getting involved with financing/engineering stuff in Eastern Russia and Africa. The US should encourage Japan and India to become better friends. and to inter-operate.

Saudi Arabia only matters because of oil, and because (along with Egypt and Pakistan) it is at the heart of the 4GW Islamofascist War by Al-Qada et all against the US/West and of the Muslim Brotherhood/Salafist et all 5GW against the US and the West.

As for the nations that matter in a big way because of Oil (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Venezuela), the US should have as a major strategic goal that of breaking the world’s dependence upon oil for energy. The way to do that is:

1) Adopt something like Zubrin’s Flex-Fuel requirement for all new vehicles sold in the US (which means it would be adopted everywhere);

2) Easing/promoting/financing next-generation nuke and min-nuke power in the US and abroad (the US should want to be a world leader in this);

3) Adopting/promoting/financing Municipal Plasma Furnaces to generate electricity efficiently from trash in the US and abroad (the US should want to be a world leader in this);

4) Updating the US power grid into a network of smart grids and financing/deploying/promoting this around the world (the US should want to be a world leader in this);

5) The US should be making a major push for Orbital Solar Power systems and the related technology and processes. The US must be the world leader in this;

Note I am not calling for so-called hippy-friendly green energy (e.g earth-based solar, wind, etc, hemp/organic burning). Hippies can have an upside, just not on energy. There just isn’t potential enough of that at a reasonable costs to be the answer. Also, conservation isn’t the answer. I want more energy usage not less. I also want a future where Africans and Chinese, and Indians and everybody can have AC, bright lights in every corner of their homes and all of that. The happy future I want has more energy in total and more energy per capita, not less.


I want the Science Fiction Future of my youth.


Whoa…a 4 Hour TV version of ‘The Man in the High Castle”?

I hope it doesn’t suck.

Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick

WTF Video [Not Safe For Work or Kids]

Update (better pic):

Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury Pictures

Orig Picture:

Still has game?