October 20, 2005
Space Travel as Inspiration and Vision at POPTech
Peter Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation which recently awarded a $10,000,000 prize for private spaceflight. Peter’s speech reminds me of how the Apollo space program inspired a generation of young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. (I remember my own starry-eyed wonder watching Apollo launches and how it set a course for my own pursuit of science.)
What I find remarkable about the energy of people like Peter is the passion behind the vision that he espouses. And when I think back on then President Kennedy’s call to put a man on the moon, I am struck by the alignment of energy that our entire country experienced in that period. With an entire nation of people working in such mass collaboration, amazing feats were possible. Seeing Peter’s photos reminds me of that spirit.
That’s the kind of passion that surely is possible on several dimensions of scale when we find a way to create alignments in our work communities. Innovation thrives, and teams achieve things at warp speed, which is impossible when a community is fighting itself.
Peter closes with, “The most critical tool for solving humanity’s most grand challenges, is a committed and passionate mind.” Bravo!
Post script: Just when I thought I heard my dose of inspiration for the day, along came Marcia McNutt on deep ocean research using marine geophysical data to study the physical properties of the Earth beneath the oceans. Then came Dr. Carolyn Porco, who is the leader of the Cassini Science Imaging Team and a lead imaging scientist on the New Horizons Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission.
In her closing remarks, Carolyn talked about the positively spiritual experience invoked from bearing witness to the marvels of space, and her warm and inspirational message brought the entire opera house to its feet in thunderous applause. It was truly a highlight of the conference, as it brought out the soul of the POPTech community.
My oh my…
Here in beautiful Camden Maine at the POPTech Conference. I was fascinated with the first two speakers, Graham Flint, a physicist, and Robert Hammer, a biologist. Graham is describing super-high resolution digital imaging – gigapixels. Robert is describing the taxonomy of cataloging species through barcoding.
The purpose? To preserve through high-resolution information, visual images of say, places around the world that are disappearing (e.g. areas of Rome, due to acid rain}, and species, which are losing their habitats.
I noted on the online chat that both are endeavoring to save information about that which is vanishing. An ironic and sad twist to “progress” in modern society.
And indeed, during the break I had a fascinating conversation with Robert, where his ultimate goal is to spark preservation and ecology. He was frustrated that, as a biologist, he can solve the cataloging of DNA problem, but the message about preservation and ecology is the one he really is trying to convey.
Any contributors out there would be greatly appreciated…