[ExI] Thoughts on Space based solar power (open source recruitment)

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 22 14:26:48 UTC 2008

hkhenson wrote:
 > You might note as a data point that I have yet to get people one this
 > list or several other ones to even check my calculations on the web
 > pages that underlie what we are discussing here.  This is hard work,
 > rocket science work.

Lack of recruitment for a specific project doesn't prove much in comparison 
to hundreds of thousands of person-years I can point to already given away 
in developing free software for Debian GNU/Linux and other projects (or 
millions of person-years so far to free content if you include blogs and such).

Part of the issue of the free and open source revolution is people work on 
what they care about -- whatever that is. Might be dancing paperclips. :-)
"The gallery is filled with small tables carrying black metal boxes onto 
which are placed a selection of small metal objects. Inside each box is a 
spinning magnet which moves the objects in a random choreography. Paperclips 
chase each other, pins and needles dance around the rubber bands that block 
their way, ball bearings trundle across the metal surface. There is a 
wonderful hypnotizing randomness to the movement of these every-day objects, 
and if your fingers are itching to get into the mix, there’s one table where 
you are allowed to place an assortment of them onto a box and see what happens."

A good book I'm current reading on running an open source project:
   "Producing Open Source Software" by Karl Fogel

If this is accurate,
you are about the same age now as my college advisor, George Miller, was 
when he *started* WordNet over twenty years ago.
Wordnet is now a big open source project that powers parts of Google, among 
other things. (Please forgive me for calling attention to age, but I thought 
it relevant in this specific case. I'm in my forties, so I have another 
twenty years to go until I can start something as good as WordNet. :-)

So, with a little bit of good luck and some continued improvements in life 
extension medicine, you could, if you wanted, lead the design of the clinic 
seed directly over the next twenty to forty years, as a volunteer effort in 
collaboration with others. It would be hard at first -- I'd expect that few 
people probably believed in George either; for example, Princeton University 
forced him to retire instead through a mandatory retirement policy. But 
George Miller kept at WordNet through ups and down for over two decades. And 
now we have a variety of wonderful tools as the fruit of all his hard and 
patient work.

This isn't to discourage you from developing the *technology* of solar power 
satellites, perhaps also collaboratively as an open source project 
contributed to by volunteers (and, say, for use in space to power an L5 
habitat. :-). I'm just presenting an alternative given your more recent 
inspiring vision and using an open source approach.

--Paul Fernhout

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