By W. Patrick McCray

In 1969, Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill begun taking a look outward to area colonies because the new frontier for humanity's enlargement. A decade later, Eric Drexler, an MIT-trained engineer, became his recognition to the molecular global because the position the place society's destiny wishes might be met utilizing self-replicating nanoscale machines. those glossy utopians anticipated that their applied sciences may perhaps remodel society as people mastered the power to create new worlds, undertook atomic-scale engineering, and, if really winning, overcame their very own organic limits. The Visioneers tells the tale of ways those scientists and the groups they fostered imagined, designed, and popularized speculative applied sciences akin to area colonies and nanotechnologies.

Patrick McCray strains how those visioneers combined countercultural beliefs with demanding technological know-how, entrepreneurship, libertarianism, and unbridled optimism in regards to the destiny. He exhibits how they outfitted networks that communicated their rules to writers, politicians, and company leaders. however the visioneers weren't resistant to failure--or to the lures of revenue, superstar, and hype. O'Neill and Drexler confronted hassle investment their paintings and overcoming colleagues' skepticism, and observed their rules co-opted and reworked by means of Timothy Leary, the scriptwriters of Star Trek, and so on. finally, either males struggled to beat stigma and ostracism as they attempted to unshackle their visioneering from pejorative labels like "fringe" and "pseudoscience."

The Visioneers offers a balanced examine the successes and pitfalls they encountered. The booklet exposes the hazards of promotion--oversimplification, misuse, and misunderstanding--that can plague exploratory technology. yet specially, it highlights the significance of radical new principles that motivate us to help state-of-the-art learn into tomorrow's technologies.

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Additional resources for The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future

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2 Americans’ conversion from unabashed enthusiasm for technology to ambivalence and hostility did not occur suddenly, nor can we trace it to a single cause. Some Americans, for example, were concerned about the mortal dangers of the escalating arms race, while others worried about the pollution of the country’s skies and waterways or questioned societal values that prized conformity, consumerism, and planned obsolescence. For others, the “plastic fantastic” futures depicted in corporate advertising weren’t just banal and boring but appeared threatening.

Released as a paperback book, Limits became a global sensation. Its troubling conclusions compelled more than eight million people to buy copies, and Limits was translated into some thirty languages. The ideas in Limits infiltrated popular culture as well, providing unsettling themes for movies, television shows, and fiction well into the Reagan era. By the time Jerry Brown spoke at Space Day, “limits” was a term charged with conflicting meanings. For some, it meant austerity, self-denial, and living responsibly with a small planetary footprint.

A considerable amount of charlatanism surrounded these fledgling efforts as well. From this milieu emerged charismatic personalities—visioneers—like Wernher von Braun, Robert Goddard, and Frank Malina, who combined their fascination with exploring new worlds with cutting metal, mixing chemicals, and drawing blueprints. Successfully launching their first rockets also meant selling the dream of spaceflight to the public and potential patrons. Von Braun long imagined ring-shaped space stations and missions to the moon and Mars.

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