Freeman Dyson is a scientific historian, the son of Freeman Dyson and brother of Esther Dyson. He is the author of Project Orion: The Atomic Spaceship 1957-1965 (Google Books) and Darwin Among the Machines (1998), where he suggested that the internet is a living, sentient being.
George Dyson tells the amazing story of Project Orion (above), a massive, 1957-era nuclear-powered spacecraft that would have taken a crew of 20 to Saturn. Orion would have worked by dropping thermonuclear bombs out the rear of a vehicle, detonating them 200 feet (60 m) out, and catching the blast with a thick steel or aluminum pusher plate.
It’s illustrates how governments can keep crazy, Big Science projects, secret. Something to consider when government press conferences strain credulity.
TED2008, February 27-March 1, 2008 in Monterey, California, addresses The Big Questions; Who are we? What is our place in the universe? What is life? Is beauty truth? Will evil prevail? How can we change the world?
This year’s TED prize winner, cosmologist Neil Turok, wrote Endless Universe which speculates that The Big Bang is simply part of an infinite cycle of titanic collisions between our universe and “a parallel world”. Look for the World Wide Telescope to be unveiled in the next few days at TED.