Christian Long

George Dyson: Project Orion

In TED Talks on May 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Reflection by HERSH T.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

George Dyson:  Project Orion

What is space?

Our worlds revolve around us so much that all we can think about is ourselves. Thinking of space requires that quality that allows people to give up what ties them down to earth. Themselves.

The reason that some people are unable to imagine the vastness of space is not because they lack the appropriate “3-D” vision, or they are not mentally advanced enough. Those are all just excuses. It requires a mind that is not contained within the boundaries of the earth. A mind that is free to explore all the area of not only our earth, but the incredible variety of space.

Project Orion was a rather interesting case.

The idea of propelling spaceships with nuclear bombs is controversial. Think about the consequences of something like that. The bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima are examples of what happened when a nuclear bomb is dropped. Not only the bomb explosion itself but also the radiation fallout and the effect it could have on everyone in the area. The idea of a controlled nuclear explosion would be like trying to control the ocean or, ironically enough, space itself.

Mr. Dyson does a good job mixing in some humor to allow everyone to enjoy a topic which is usually not very exciting. Personally, space is not very exciting; it represents a black space of nothing which is so complex that it is not humanly possible to wrap our minds around its magnitude. So why worry about it? I mean, we have our own “space” here on earth in regards to the human body and how it works. But, through humor and science, Mr. Dyson managed to draw me in, making me wonder about the outcome.

Controlled nuclear propulsion would not work.

Scientists had put together so many charts and graphs depicting the effects of the explosion and how to counter it. For example, they calculated the range of the fallout, the g-forces the pilots would encounter, etc. However, going to Mars in a nuclear propelled rocket simply was impossible. I believe that this talk was about something more.

This talk was about how classified information can slowly transform and lose importance.

Classifying information gives one a huge sense of personal glory and power. When something has prestige associated with it, then it gains an importance which was originally not included in it. However, information can eventually grow outdated. Information can change and adapt to its surroundings. Information can evolve. And this evolution allows for the declassification of information. However, with people like Mr. Dyson still interested in this kind of thing, this declassified information can slowly add up and uncover information which is not currently open.

Declassified leads to classified.

Therefore, our hope for discovering knowledge and information that our government deems to important for us everyday people lies with people like Mr. Dyson. Mr. Dyson, don’t give up yet.

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