Hello there audience! Happy new year! It's good to see you again. I know we've been away from the blog for a little bit, but I promise it wasn't because we were mad at you, like your friend Greg who didn't go to your New Year's party.
We've been quite busy, developing countless new ideas for our company and website, just one of which could be a storefront where you could buy Blank Slate t-shirts and merch! In the coming months, our updates and new content posts here will be slowing down just a teeny bit, maybe blogs every other week instead of every week--however, we do plan to remain just as awesome as we have been, if not more so, as we keep bringing you cool new content from across the InterWebs while staying constantly focused on how we can move forward. We will be creating a new curriculum for college prep courses, helping students learn the math, science, and language skills they will need to ultimately succeed in STEM fields. We will be launching a new website soon for our scheduling management and virtual assistant services, to help fund our endevours. We will be souping up our search engine optimization to spread our brand of fun science and business education further across the internet. And we hope to be taking some big strides with our think tank and R&D potential this year! More on that later.
Over our holiday break, we did have a little time to relax. We spent time with our families enjoying the festivities, but we also spent it leisurely and nerdily enjoying both new and classic sci-fi. Some of our favorites were rereading Robert Heinlein's works The Man Who Sold the Moon and Sixth Column, as well as finding a series of Youtube podcasts called "Welcome to Nightvale." The latter is a silly mock radio show set in an eerie fictional town full of impossible happenings, and its nonsense is hilarious--Great background noise for your office, too. The former two are short novels by none other than our Hero of the Week, Robert Heinlein.
I personally have read The Man Who Sold the Moon about 100 times, and it really ties into what we do here at Blank Slate. It tells the story of well established entrepreneur named D.D. Harriman who dreams of going to the moon, (this was before Neil Armstrong), and puts everything he's got, (not to mention everything he can persuade from others), into investments, engineering, and planning to make sure he (and his fellow humans) actually get there. He organizes an international coalition to prevent war breaking out over rights to the Moon. He fields off reporters swearing it will never work and investors breathing down his neck as he hits setback after setback, and eventually gets so desperate that he starts soliciting money from little kids by promising to fly their name on a plaque in exchange for quarters. He inadvertantly destroys his marriage. But singlemindedly to the the point of obsession, he finally is able to scrape enough together to launch... and fly, (although he has to send someone else to actually be the one to go, because at this point he's the only one on Earth who can keep the whole thing running)... So his surrogate lands on the moon. And finds resources there as to exceed everyone's wildest expectations and make everybody stinking rich... Harriman was right all along.
So you'd think at this point he could finally go himself, right? Spaceflight's established now, the company is safe. Flying to the moon is now as common as flying to New York, and he owns the only airline in town. You'd think he would be allowed to go. But now he's the face of a multi-billion dollar company, not to mention too old to pass the flight requirements... and the local government and his Board of Directors decides it's a bad idea to allow him to take the risk. Bummer.
..It's ok, though, because in another story, set many years later, the same character, (now elderly almost to the point of immobility), somehow manages to sneak out of his own well-guarded house, and he hires two... we'll just say less than legal... pilots to take him anyway, in the only delapidated spacecraft they could get their hands on without raising questions. The spacecraft gets them all the way to the moon, but sure enough crashes in the landing. The two young pilots walk away relatively unscathed, but they are forced to leave the elderly and wounded CEO behind in the rubble as they head to the now-massive moon base his company founded in order to get help.
"Over the western horizon hung the Earth at last quarter, a green-blue giant moon. Overhead the Sun shone down from a black and starry sky. And underneath him, the soil of the Moon itself. He was on the Moon! He lay back still while a bath of content flowed over him like a tide at flood, and soaked to his very marrow.
His attention strayed momentarily, and he thought once again that his name was called. 'Silly', he thought, 'I'm getting old -- my mind wanders.'"
Such were his final thoughts; the two pilots came back to find him dead in his spacesuit, staring up at the Earth.
Yeah. I know.
So we decided we liked that story, and want to emulate D. D. Harriman as much as possible, at least as far as being quite so determined to get humans permenantly off the ground. I'd rather stay alive, of course, but hey... You gotta do what you gotta do.
The other story we consumed this holiday season was Sixth Column, also by Heinlein. (Binge reading, anyone?)
In this story, the "PanAsians"... (This was published right before America joined WWII - did we mention Heinlein was also a hotshot Navy engineer who worked on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos? He knew the scoop.) Anyway, the "PanAsians" have successfully taken over the entire (former) U.S. of A., shooting anything that moves; Washington has been completely destroyed; the last man standing, Colonel Ardmore, has final orders to go to the super secret science lab base under the Rockies and take command of any staff and/or technology they have created, as the only hope of recovery. ...And he gets there and discovers that the scientists have already inadvertently killed all but a handful of themselves with some new fancy-schmancy tech that no one yet really understands or knows how to operate.
That's right, all that is now left of the last hope for the US is a mid-level commander, 6 scientists, and a technology that has the power to levitate, transmute, and may or may not kill the people actually using it.
...A technology that in many ways sounds remarkably like the mysterious real-life effect currently being studied today in California, Houston, and a handful of other labs around the globe... including one in China. Art begets life.
I'll save you the spoilers from the book, but seriously. Go check it out, then check out the papers from the labs below. Then listen to some Twilight Zone music. I'll wait.
...Mind blown yet? Yep, me too.
Now, granted, the real effect so far has no sign of actually harming anyone, and is probably yet several years from becoming viable for any sort of practical application, but still, read about how Colonel Ardmore and his labmates-in-arms managed to take that single asset of a mysterious technology and turn it into a massively effective tool to help them circumvent their conquerers, and it begs the question of what we could do with something similar today to help humans in relative peace-time. It also speaks to the exact same determination and grit that fueled D.D. Harriman, and that we at Blank Slate like to think we share. (Incidentally, Heinlein had a lot to say about tolerance through the course of Sixth Column as well. One of my favorite characters was Frank Mitsui, an Asian-American who personified the tragedy of American racism towards their own citizens during times of war, the same racism that ultimately led to the West Coast interment camps for Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, and could arguably be applied to Muslim citizens today. Heinlein seems to have foreseen it all. (Just one more reason why he's our hero of the week.))
Stories like these make me wonder where on earth these sci-fi authors get their ideas. Over and over again, people like Heinlein, and Jules Verne, and Asimov and Clarke and H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury and others, all create stories straight from their head, (or rather from their experience in engineering and their study of human nature), stories that not only withstand the test of time but surpass it. Gene Rodenberry single-handedly created a universe in Star Trek with literally hundreds of technologies that we use today, technologies that most people could not even conceptualize in the 60's but that were such cool ideas that scientists saw them and immediately had to figure out how to make them real. Cell phones. MRIs. 90% of NASA. Come to find out, even a lot of the imaginary technobabble and made-up explanations of how these cool ideas could work seem tied to the way the universe actually works when we finally get close enough to see; they're not only cool, they're necessary. How could they possibly portend that?
Well, that and other things got us thinking about how we could contribute to furthering this path of discovery and instigating the future of science and technology, and we have a big, big announcement. (Go big or go home!) But first, to prime you for our exciting reveal, let's take some time to zoom out and have a look at where science has been.
(And buckle in, because we still have a lot to cover in this blog.)
In the beginning of written history, sprouting from ancient pantheons, it was assumed that the earth was flat, and the Sun (and the entire universe) revolved around the earth. This became a written, studied and accepted truth for a very long time. Then, following along the timeline of astronomy as we know it, Copernicus, Galilei, Brahe, and Newton--the great astronomers of the 16th and 17th centuries changed many of those "truths" as the world knew them, proving that nothing but the moon revolves around the earth, and figuring out that the stars did not dance intricately and inexplicably around our heads. We look back at that as a nonchalant and simple fact of history, but in the time of these discoveries, they broke the laws of physics as anyone and everyone understood them--and created new ones! They were discoveries of world-shattering proportions, and shifted the perspective of not just the scientific community, but of all of humanity. Time kept rolling along, and our understanding of the universe around us kept growing, and more great minds unlocked more secrets and formulas, such as Einstein with the theory of relativity and quantum theory.The history of sciences has largely been a living amalgamation of the changing of theories through observation, trial and error over thousands of years. When you step back and look at it, it becomes a sophisticated and beautiful thing to behold: like the efficient en-masse oneness of ants building their ever-changing fortresses, science keeps moving forward.
As the body of science as the human race understands it keeps advancing, it will keep changing. Here at Blank Slate, we are very inspired by this idea, and by the inkling that we--all of humanity here in 2016--are standing on the brink of research and discoveries that could "break" or change the laws of physics, quantum mechanics, and relativity as we know them. We believe that humanity is ready and excited for the next "giant leap" for science, and we want to be an active part of it. Our study and research interests in quantum mechanics, relativity, advanced propulsion and space exploration are simultaneously what fuel us to keep dreaming and looking for a way to make our dreams of space travel come true.
Speaking of our research interests, as a quick and fun interjection, I've gathered a couple of bonus videos from youtube for a brief intro or refresher for quantum mechanics and relativity. If you've got about 15 minutes to kill, they are fun and informative--funformative, if you will:
Now, with all of this in mind, from Heinlein's sci-fi to the theory of relativity, and all the way back down to earth--let's zoom in on the actual R&D happening right now, on planet earth, in our lifetime that earnestly inspires Blank Slate to reach for the stars.
Eagleworks Laboratories is based here in Texas, with NASA, in the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center on the south side of Houston. Eagleworks is an advanced propulsion physics laboratory, and is working on "technologies necessary to enable human exploration of the solar system and interstellar spaceflight." They have a Facebook page, if you are interested in following for updates. Here is what they have published so far of their research with their design for advanced propulsion physics. We are very interested in their research technique involving a Quantum Vacuum Plasma Thruster (cough, Sixth Column, cough) to test the possibility of new and faster methods of space travel for humans.
And lastly for Eagleworks, I have a video of Dr. Harold "Sonny" White talking about Eagleworks' research. It is an hour long, but well worth the time, and very interesting:
Earth Tech International
Earth Tech International, based in Austin, Texas, is a privately funded research organization. Their research interests include "gravity, cosmology, and modifications of standard theories of electrodynamics, particularly as they may apply to space propulsion and new sources of energy." Their website is very clean, straightforward and informative. Here is a link to what they have published about their various strands of research. We are very inspired by their work with advanced propulsion and the quantum vacuum.
Dr Jim Woodward, & the Woodward lab, Calstate Fullerton
Dr Jim Woodward is a professor of physics at California State University, in Fullerton, CA. His website lists his research interests and achievements, some of which include gravitation and Mach's Principle. Here is a link to some of his most recent published work, and here is a Wikipedia link Woodward himself recommends (on his website) to check out his R&D on the Mach Effect, which is now also referred to as the Woodward Effect. (Heinlein mistakenly called his the Ledbetter Effect... but to be fair, Dr. Woodward wasn't born yet.) We are particularly interested in Woodward's theories and R&D about warp drives and stargates. (We are also huge Stargate nerds. ...Yes, we are just giant nerds in general. Join us!) Below is a short video of Dr. Woodward talking about wormholes and even the potential for time travel!
Gary Hudson & the Space Studies Institute
Gary Hudson is a very accomplished engineer. Currently, he is the president of the Space Studies Institute, an organization founded in 1977 to "open the energy and material resources of space for human settlement within our lifetime." We are very intrigued by the SSI's views on space exploration, space colonization, and the profitable use of resources from outside our planet.
Gary Hudson's beginnings in private spaceflight started in the 1990s, when he founded Rotary Rocket Company to develop the Roton, a single stage to orbit launch vehicle inspired by the ease of movement in atmosphere and fuel-conserving properties of helicopters. His project was not a success, and ran out of funding in 2001, but Hudson continued to pursue an engineering career with a pronounced interest in spaceflight. We are pleased to look at his body of work and see that he is actively helping pave the way to space.
So, what's the big news? What could possibly tie this huge jumble of information (and rambling) together? Well, while we clearly haven't been daydreaming about space exploration alone, it turns out that our daydreams about our future as a multifaceted think tank and company with a vested interest in space exploration may not be as far in the future as we had anticipated! Over our extended break, we have been talking to some potential investors and all around advice wizards about our future. We have been making some very exciting connections with people who share research interests with our own.
We are pleased to announce our plan to build an advanced propulsion research lab, where we will pull together all the talented contacts we have been grooming to host a wide variety of verification and R&D for advanced propulsion physics from various theoretical and studied roots. We want to get the world closer to space travel by providing space for (more) independent R&D. We believe that encouraging the rest of the world to reach for the stars and beyond will be an excellent way to gain more global interest, and hopefully incite an insatiable hunger in humanity for space exploration!