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Terraforming of Mars – Painting by Ekaterinya Vladinakova

Terraforming of Mars – Painting by Ekaterinya Vladinakova

Ekaterinya Vladinakova

“Terraforming of Mars” by Ekaterinya Vladinakova

Left-click on the image for a fuller view. You can also download this painting (3200 by 800 pixels) here.

This piece was painted by Ekaterinya Vladinakova in January 2016 as a tribute to Space X’s reusable rocket success. As a result of these pioneering steps, perhaps humankind will someday, hopefully during our lengthened lifetimes, establish settlements on Mars like the ones depicted in this painting. This painting is available for viewing and download on Ekaterinya Vladinakova’s DeviantArt page here.

Artist’s Comments: Being able to re-use a rocket has the potential to make space travel MUCH cheaper, by a factor of a hundred. The reason is because the fuel costs something around 200,000 dollars, while the rocket costs millions. The problem with today’s rockets is we use them once, and then they are thrown away. An analogy would be using a 747 aircraft for only one trip; think of just how expensive it would be.  The significance of SpaceX’s second launch was that it was done on a floating platform. The benefit of such a platform is that it would save more fuel for the rocket, since the ocean platform can move, and less fuel overall is spent navigating the rocket back to base.

Ekaterinya Vladinakova is an accomplished digital painter. See her gallery here and her DeviantArt page here.  

Apollo 11 on Human Achievement Day – Article by Edward Hudgins

Apollo 11 on Human Achievement Day – Article by Edward Hudgins

The New Renaissance HatEdward Hudgins

There are holidays and days of commemoration stretching from New Year’s to Independence Day to Christmas. A new one should be added to the calendar – informally rather than by government decree: Human Achievement Day — July 20th, the date in 1969 when human beings first landed on the Moon.

The most obvious benefit of living in society with others is that we can each specialize in the production of goods and services at which we are best and then trade with others, making us all prosperous. But in society we also have the opportunity to witness the achievements of others, which are constant reminders just how wonderful life can be. And among the greatest achievements in history, individuals using the three pounds of gray matter we each have in our heads figured out how to go to the Moon.

Think of the millions of parts and components and the engineering skills needed to make them function together in the Saturn V rocket, the Columbia Command module and the Eagle lunar lander that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of another world. Think of the applications of old knowledge and the discovery of new knowledge needed to create those incredible systems.

Novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand understood the full moral meaning of these efforts when she wrote, “Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one’s judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty.” It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.

Ayn Rand‘s take on the landing was particularly instructive because of her novelist’s understanding of art, which, at its best, is a selective recreation of reality in light of the artist’s values. Thus Michelangelo’s David and Beethoven’s 9th portray humans as heroes. We go to art for emotional fuel and for the vision of the world as it can be and should be. In Apollo 11 she saw such a vision made manifest.

Concerning the pure exaltation from watching the launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Ayn Rand said that, “What we had seen in naked essentials – but in reality, not in a work of art – was the concretized abstraction of man’s greatness.” The mission “conveyed the sense that we were watching a magnificent work of art – a play dramatizing a single theme: the efficacy of man’s mind.” And “The most inspiring aspect of Apollo 11’s flight was that it made such abstractions as rationality, knowledge, science perceivable in direct, immediate experience. That it involved a landing on another celestial body was like a dramatist’s emphasis on the dimensions of reason’s power.”

Of course the Moon landings were government-funded; if the private sector had led the way we still probably would have traveled to the Moon, only some years later. Today it is private entrepreneurs — the kind who have given us the personal computers, Internet and information revolution — who are turning their creativity to the final frontier. Burt Rutan, who won the private X-Prize by placing a man into space twice in a two-week period on the private, reusable SpaceShipOne, follows in the spirit of Apollo. The celebration of those flights in late 2004 showed how healthy human beings relish the display of efficacious minds.

So on July 20th let’s each reflect on our achievements — as individuals and as we work in concert with others. Let’s recognize that achievements of all sorts — epitomized by the Moon landings — are the essence and the expected of human life. Let’s rejoice on this day and commemorate the best within us with, as Ayn Rand would say, the total passion for the total heights!

Edward Hudgins is the director of advocacy for The Atlas Society and the editor and author of several books on politics and government policy.

Copyright The Atlas Society. For more information, please visit

Are We Entering The Age of Exponential Growth? – Article by Marian L. Tupy

Are We Entering The Age of Exponential Growth? – Article by Marian L. Tupy

The New Renaissance HatMarian L. Tupy

In his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines, the famed futurist Ray Kurzweil proposed “The Law of Accelerating Returns.” According to Kurzweil’s law, “the rate of change in a wide variety of evolutionary systems (including but not limited to the growth of technologies) tends to increase exponentially.” I mention Kurzweil’s observation, because it is sure beginning to feel like we are entering an age of colossal and rapid change. Consider the following:

According to The Telegraph, “Genes which make people intelligent have been discovered [by researchers at the Imperial College London] and scientists believe they could be manipulated to boost brain power.” This could usher in an era of super-smart humans and accelerate the already fast process of scientific discovery.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has successfully “blasted off from Cape Canaveral, delivered communications satellites to orbit before its main-stage booster returned to a landing pad.” Put differently, space flight has just become much cheaper since main-stage booster rockets, which were previously non-reusable, are also very expensive.

The CEO of Merck has announced a major breakthrough in the fight against lung cancer. Keytruda “is a new category of drugs that stimulates the body’s immune system.” “Using Keytruda,” Kenneth Frazier said, “will extend [the life of lung cancer sufferers] … by approximately 13 months on average. We know that it will reduce the risk of death by 30-40 percent for people who had failed on standard chemo-therapy.”

Also, there has been massive progress in the development of “edible electronics.” New technology developed by Bristol Robotics Laboratory “will allow the doctor to feel inside your body without making a single incision, effectively taking the tips of the doctor’s fingers and transplant them onto the exterior of the [edible] robotic pill. When the robot presses against the interior of the intestinal tract, the doctor will feel the sensation as if her own fingers were pressing the flesh.”

Marian L. Tupy is the editor of and a senior policy analyst at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. He specializes in globalization and global wellbeing, and the political economy of Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. His articles have been published in the Financial Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, The Atlantic, Newsweek, The U.K. Spectator, Weekly Standard, Foreign Policy, Reason magazine, and various other outlets both in the United States and overseas. Tupy has appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN International, BBC World, CNBC, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and other channels. He has worked on the Council on Foreign Relations’ Commission on Angola, testified before the U.S. Congress on the economic situation in Zimbabwe, and briefed the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department on political developments in Central Europe. Tupy received his B.A. in international relations and classics from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of St. Andrews in Great Britain.

This work by Cato Institute is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Liberty Through Long Life – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Liberty Through Long Life – Video by G. Stolyarov II

To maximize their hopes of personally experiencing an amount of personal freedom even approaching that of the libertarian ideal, all libertarians should support radical life extension.

– “Liberty Through Long Life” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II –
Resources on Indefinite Life Extension (RILE)
– “Libertarian Life-Extension Reforms” – Video Series – G. Stolyarov II –
– “Massive open online course” – Wikipedia
Mozilla’s Open Badges
– “Open Badges and Proficiency-Based Education: A Path to a New Age of Enlightenment” – Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “Deep Space Industries” – Wikipedia
– “Planetary Resources” – Wikipedia
The Seasteading Institute
– “Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview” — Essay by G. Stolyarov II
– “Seasteading’s Potential and Challenges: An Overview” — Video by G. Stolyarov II
– “Bitcoin” – Wikipedia
– “Benjamin Franklin and the Early Scientific Vision – 1780” – Foundation for Infinite Survival
– “Revisiting the proto-transhumanists: Diderot and Condorcet” – George Dvorsky – Sentient Developments
– “Marquis de Condorcet, Enlightenment proto-transhumanist” – George Dvorsky – IEET
SENS Research Foundation
– “Ray Kurzweil” – Wikipedia

Liberty Through Long Life – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Liberty Through Long Life – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
April 14, 2013

            It is commonly recognized among libertarians (and some others) that the freedom of individuals to innovate will result in a more rapid rate of technological progress. In “Six Libertarian Reforms to Accelerate Life Extension” I described six liberty-enhancing political changes that would more swiftly bring about the arrival of indefinite human longevity. But, as is less often understood, the converse of this truth also holds. Technological progress in general improves the prospects for liberty and its actual exercise in everyday life. One of the most promising keys to achieving liberty in our lifetimes is to live longer so that we can personally witness and benefit from accelerating technological progress.

            Consider, for example, what the Internet has achieved with respect to expanding the practical exercise of individual freedom of speech. It has become virtually impossible for regimes, including their nominally private “gatekeepers” of information in the mass media and established publishing houses, to control the dissemination of information and the expression of individual opinion. In prior eras, even in countries where freedom of speech was the law of the land, affiliations of the media, by which speech was disseminated, with the ruling elite would serve as a practical barrier for the discussion of views that were deemed particularly threatening to the status quo. In the United States, effective dissent from the established two-party political system was difficult to maintain in the era of the “big three” television channels and a print and broadcast media industry tightly controlled by a few politically connected conglomerates. Now expressing an unpopular opinion is easier and less expensive than ever – as is voting with one’s money for an ever-expanding array of products and services online. The ability of individuals to videotape public events and the behavior of law-enforcement officers has similarly served as a check on abusive behavior by those in power. Emerging online education and credentialing options, such as massive open online courses and Mozilla’s Open Badges, have the power to motivate a widespread self-driven enlightenment which would bring about an increased appreciation for rational thinking and individual autonomy.

            Many other technological advances are on the horizon. The private space race is in full swing, with companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Deep Space Industries, and Planetary Resources embarking on ever more ambitious projects. Eventually, these pioneering efforts may enable humans to colonize new planets and build permanent habitats in space, expanding jurisdictional competition and opening new frontiers where free societies could be established. Seasteading, an idea only five years in development, is a concept for building modular ocean platforms where political experimentation could occur and, through competitive pressure, catalyze liberty-friendly innovations on land. (I outlined the potential and the challenges of this approach in an earlier essay.) The coming decades could see the emergence of actual seasteads of increasing sophistication, safety, and political autonomy. Another great potential for increasing liberty comes from the emerging digital-currency movement, of which Bitcoin has been the most prominent exemplar to date. While Bitcoin has been plagued with recent extreme exchange-rate volatility and vulnerability to manipulation and theft by criminal hackers, it can still provide some refuge from the damaging effects of inflationary and redistributive central-bank monetary policy. With enough time and enough development of the appropriate technological infrastructure, either Bitcoin or one of its successor currencies might be able to obtain sufficient stability and reliability to become a widespread apolitical medium of exchange.

            But there is a common requirement for one to enjoy all of these potential breakthroughs, along with many others that may be wholly impossible to anticipate: one has to remain alive for a long time. The longer one remains alive, the greater the probability that one’s personal sphere of liberty would be expanded by these innovations. Living longer can also buy one time for libertarian arguments to gain clout in the political sphere and in broader public opinion. Technological progress and pro-liberty activism can reinforce one another in a virtuous cycle.

            To maximize their hopes of personally experiencing an amount of personal freedom even approaching that of the libertarian ideal, all libertarians should support radical life extension. This sought-after goal of some ancient philosophers, medieval alchemists, Enlightenment thinkers (notably Franklin, Diderot, and Condorcet), and medical researchers from the past two centuries, is finally within reach of many alive today. Biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey of the SENS Research Foundation gives humankind a 50 percent likelihood of reaching “longevity escape velocity” – a condition where increases in life expectancy outpace the rate of human senescence – within 25 years. Inventor, futurist, and artificial-intelligence researcher Ray Kurzweil predicts a radical increase in life expectancy in the 2020s, made possible by advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology, aided by exponentially growing computing power. But, like de Grey and perhaps somewhat unlike Kurzweil, I hold the view that these advances are not inevitable; they rely on deliberate, sustained, and well-funded efforts to achieve them. They rely on support by the general public to facilitate donations, positive publicity, and a lack of political obstacles placed in their way. All libertarians should become familiar with both the technical feasibility and the philosophical desirability of a dramatic, hopefully indefinite, extension of human life expectancies. My compilation of Resources on Indefinite Life Extension (RILE) is a good starting point for studying this subject by engaging with a wide variety of sources, perspectives, and ongoing developments in science, technology, and activism.

            We have only this one life to live. If we fail to accomplish our most cherished goals and our irreplaceable individual universes disappear into oblivion, then, to us, it will be as if those goals were never accomplished. If we want liberty, we should strive to attain it in our lifetimes. We should therefore want those lifetimes to be lengthened beyond any set limit, not just for the sake of experiencing a far more complete liberty, but also for the sake of life itself and all of the opportunities it opens before us.

Frontier-Making Private Initiatives: Examples from History – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Frontier-Making Private Initiatives: Examples from History – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 8, 2012

In my video “SpaceX, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Private vs. Government Technological Breakthroughs”, I provided a brief discussion of notable counterexamples to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s assertions that private enterprise does not have the resources or exploratory orientation to open up radically new frontiers. Tyson argues that only well-funded government efforts can open up space or could have opened up the New World. History, however, offers many examples of precisely what Tyson denies to be possible: private enterprise breaking new ground and making the exploration of a frontier possible. Indeed, in many of these cases, governments only entered the arena later, once private inventors or entrepreneurs have already established an industry in which governments could get involved. Here, I offer a somewhat more thorough list of such examples of groundbreaking and well-known private initiatives, as well as links to further information about each. I may also update this list as additional examples occur to me.

The Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution – the explosion of technologies for mass production during the late 18th and early 19th centuries – itself arose out of private initiative. The extensive Wikipedia entry on the Industrial Revolution shows that virtually every one of the major inventions that made it possible was created by a private individual and put into commercial use by private entrepreneurs. This paradigm shift, more than any other, rescued the majority of humankind from the brink of subsistence and set the stage for the high living standards we enjoy today.

Automobile: The automobile owes its existence to ingenious tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. The first self-propelled vehicle was invented circa 1769 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. Cugnot did work on experiments for the French military and did receive a pension from King Louis XV for his inventions. However, subsequent developments that made possible the automobile occurred solely due to private initiative. The first internal combustion engines were independently developed circa 1807 by the private inventors Nicéphore Niépce and François Isaac de Rivaz. For the remainder of the 19th century, innovations in automobile technology were carried forward by a succession of tinkerers. The ubiquity and mass availability of the automobile owe their existence to the mass-production techniques pioneered by Henry Ford in the early 20th century.

Great Northern Railway: While some railroads, such as the notorious repeatedly bankrupt Transcontinental Railroad in the United States, received government subsidies, many thriving railroads were fully funded and operated privately. James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway – which played a pivotal role in the development of the Pacific Northwest – is an excellent example.

Electrification: The infusion of cheap, ubiquitous artificial light into human societies during the late 19th centuries owes its existence largely to the work of two private inventors and entrepreneurs: Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison.

Computing: The first computers, too, were the products of private tinkering. A precursor, the Jacquard Loom, was developed by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801. The concept for the first fully functional computer was developed by Charles Babbage in 1837 – though Babbage did not have the funds to complete his prototype. The Wikipedia entry on the history of computing shows that private individuals contributed overwhelmingly to the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to construct the first fully functioning general-purpose computers in the mid-20th century. To be sure, some of the development took place in government-funded universities or was done for the benefit of the United States military. However, it is undeniable that we have private entrepreneurs and companies to thank for the introduction of computers and software to the general public beginning in the 1970s.

Civilian Internet: While the Internet began as a US military project (ARPANET) in the 1960s, it was not until it was opened to the private market that its effects on the world became truly groundbreaking. An excellent discussion of this development can be found in Peter Klein’s essay, “Government Did Invent the Internet, But the Market Made It Glorious”.

Human Genome Project: While the United States government’s Human Genome Project began first in 1990, it was overtaken by the privately funded genome-sequencing project of J. Craig Venter and his company Celera. Celera started its work on sequencing the human genome in 1998 and completed it in 2001 at approximately a tenth of the cost of the federally funded project. The two projects published their results jointly, but the private project was far speedier and more cost-efficient.

Private Deep-Space Asteroid-Hunting Telescope: This initiative is in the works, but Leonard David of writes that Project Sentinel is expected to be launched in 2016 using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. This is an unprecedented private undertaking by the B612 Foundation, described by Mr. David as “a nonprofit group of scientists and explorers that has long advocated the exploration of asteroids and better space rock monitoring.” Project Sentinel aims to vastly improve our knowledge of potentially devastating near-Earth asteroids and to map 90% of them within 5.5 years of operation. The awareness conferred by this project might just save humanity itself.

With this illustrious history, private enterprise may yet bring us even greater achievements – from the colonization of Mars to indefinite human life extension. In my estimation, the probability of such an outcome far exceeds that of a national government undertaking such ambitious advancements of our civilization.

SpaceX, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Private vs. Government Technological Breakthroughs – Video by G. Stolyarov II

SpaceX, Neil deGrasse Tyson, & Private vs. Government Technological Breakthroughs – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Mr. Stolyarov celebrates the May 22, 2012, launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule and responds to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s claims that private enterprise cannot make the biggest breakthroughs in science and exploration. On the contrary, Mr. Stolyarov identifies historical examples of just such privately driven breakthroughs and explains why private enterprise is more suited than a political structure for making radical improvements to human life.


Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 – Video from NASA
Beautiful picture of SpaceX Falcon 9 flight
– “Neil deGrasse Tyson: Bringing Commercial Space Fantasies Back to Earth” – Video
– “SpaceX rocket on its way to outer space” – Marcia Dunn – The Associated Press – May 22, 2012
– “SpaceX rocket launch hailed as ‘a new era in space exploration‘” – W. J. Hennigan – Los Angeles Times – May 22, 2012
– “Neil deGrasse Tyson” – Wikipedia
– “SpaceX” – Wikipedia