Summary of Interview with Daniel Needles conducted by Mark Dodrill
(by Evan Smith)
Daniel Needles is writing a novel, Flash Memory, with Space Elevator as part of the backdrop of the story. He is interested in the applications of SE technologies to human society, including required precursors or nuances.
He feels that SE is definitely feasible, and that the biggest obstacle remains the materials and manufacture of the ribbon. (His father was a textile professor.) The rest seems doable. Some geopolitical event may be needed to help force progress forward. Some entity, commercial or government or both, will make the SE happen, and that entity has not yet been created. There isn’t a political force behind it now, like there was for the moon landing. For the private sector to do it, other motivations will be required. Must have a materials science revolution, then the rest of it will fall into place.
To explain SE to others, Daniel uses different approaches for different people. Jacob’s Ladder or Tower of Babel examples work for some. It’s a pretty simple concept for those versed in physics. If people’s eyes start to glaze over, then try a different approach.
His list of top SE benefits for humankind start with solving the energy problem, which in turn would solve many other world problems, like hunger. Many rare materials (lead, zinc, tin, silver, gold, H, He3, etc.) could be mined on the Moon. Space solar power could end dependence on carbon energies, solving global warming. And there would be many beneficial social effects in addition to tourism.
Included in his list of next steps towards SE are advances in both Substance and Sales & Marketing. “You can’t just hit home runs, you must have base hits.” There must be incentives for private business (open source) to get them working with what we have and solve the problems. For instance, let’s have contests for nanotubes with prizes: length, strength, etc. Have small prizes for key obstacles. Help businesses make the baby steps to the goal. Market the heck out of it, find something sexy for the application of the technology. Use Jedi mind-tricks to evoke emotions that are already there. Manipulate the masses. This is necessary for massive change.
Recognize that pushback to the SE concept is a good thing. It means there is energy there. They are taking it seriously. Apathy is the biggest problem. It is the opposite of love, not hate. Hate is still engaged. You don’t mind hate, because they’re engaged. It’s all about engagement, about getting people to take it seriously. When they take it seriously, you win! The fastest way to engage them, make a stupid argument. Make them argue with you. Then more and more people start participating, even if they are against you. You have to be willing to be beat up. The more you can get them to hate you, the faster it will go. It’s OK to be the scapegoat.
The SE conference has been quite engaging and interesting! Definitely need more marketing and sales! Create an idea and thrust it on the world — male energy. Figure out what is needed, and give it what it needs — female energy. How can I get noticed? Be hated. Rockets already play the hero role in the space game. The next role is scapegoat – the uglier the better – then people must pay attention to you. Use the Chinese model, yin and yang, not the American model. Need long term thinking, not short term thinking. Need a reason for the SE, from a nationalistic approach. We are working with a “teenager” nation (USA), overconfident, strong. How do you get this type of personality to do what you want? Think ahead several moves.