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Rosetta Probe Landing: Live Stream & Breakfast Event

Posted on Monday, November 3rd, 02014 by Austin Brown
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ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

On November 12, 02014 from 6:00am to 9:00am PT, you can watch the live stream of the Rosetta Space Probe (which carries our Rosetta Disk) sending its lander, Philae, down to comet 67P.

Here in the Bay Area, The Long Now Foundation is partnering with the Chabot Space Center and swissnex SF to host a breakfast event at the Chabot Space & Science Center. The event will feature the live stream and our own Dr. Laura Welcher giving a presentation about the Rosetta Disk, as well as Chabot’s staff astronomer Ben Burress and a live Skype with Kathrin Altwegg from the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt. Doors & breakfast are at 6:00am; tickets and more information can be found here.

For over a decade, Long Now has closely watched the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission as it has orbited the Sun in search of comet 67P and untold scientific breakthroughs. This pioneering space probe was launched in early 02004, maneuvered itself into orbit around comet 67p earlier this year, and on November 12 it will be the first human-made craft to make contact with the nucleus of a comet.

Where is Rosetta?

For the latter purpose, the Rosetta probe carries Philae, a small landing craft bristling with scientific instruments and the harpoons and drills necessary to “landing” on a low-gravity object like a comet. At just four kilometers in diameter, comet 67P’s gravity is but a millionth of what we feel on Earth, which makes the landing a uniquely challenging endeavor.

While Philae descends towards the comet’s surface and immediately after it has touched down, it will perform a bevy of tests and observations in order to send back as much data as possible – via Rosetta, still orbiting the comet – in case any part of this tricky maneuver goes awry and damages or destroys the craft. Assuming the landing and deployment of Philae’s instruments goes according to plan, the probe will continue to monitor and study the comet as it approaches the Sun and heats up. At some point in March of 02015, it is expected that comet 67P’s proximity to the Sun will cause Philae to overheat, ending its useful life.

While Rosetta has been in orbit around comet 67P, it has been studying the terrain in search of a relatively safe landing spot for Philae. The comet’s landscape is characterized primarily by jagged cliffs and boulders, but the ESA team identified five potential options before choosing their preferred target for the November 12, 02014 landing.

ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Rosetta-Disk-on-Rosetta-Probe
The location of the Rosetta Disk on the Rosetta Spacecraft

Near the turn of the century, while the mission was coming together here on terra firma, a member of the ESA team contacted Long Now because of our own Rosetta Project.

The ESA’s Rosetta probe was inspired by the Egyptian artifact, just as our Rosetta Project was, because of what an essential historical “key” it represented. By allowing linguists and historians to decipher the long-forgotten hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, the Rosetta Stone “unlocked” the writings of the rich and long-standing culture that built the Great Pyramids, the Great Sphinx and ruled the Nile delta for millennia.

Photo by Hans Hillewaert

ESA’s scientists hope that comet 67P will serve a similar unlocking role for our understanding of life on Earth. It’s hypothesized that the molecules that eventually became DNA and gave rise to all living things on our planet came not from the Earth itself, but instead from comets and asteroids of the early solar system. By landing Philae directly onto the comet’s surface, scientists will have their first opportunity to directly analyze the material of a cometary nucleus for signs of the ancient organic molecules that can confirm this theory.

Long Now’s Rosetta Project has created a micro-etched, nickel disk meant to last thousands of years that houses an archive of human languages so that future archaeologists and linguists might be able to unlock the writings of civilizations whose languages are likely to be lost in coming centuries.

Inspired by the resonance of this hope to unlock knowledge of the past and future, the ESA team offered to put a copy of the Rosetta Disk on the Rosetta Probe and at this very moment an archive of 1,500 human languages is floating out among the solar system, in orbit around comet 67P.

Karen Marcelo at The Interval: San Francisco’s Art and Tech-Hacking History

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Karen Marcelo with SRL's Pulse Jet
Karen Marcelo photo by Jay Bain

Karen Marcelo (dorkbot SF, Survival Research Labs)
Tuesday November 4, 02014 7:30pm
at The Interval (check-in at 6:30)
Advanced Tickets recommended

Programmer, artist, and founder of dorkbot SF, Karen Marcelo discusses the tradition of San Francisco Bay Area technologically-minded artists and hackers in the past, present and future. For decades a curious creativity has thrived in the shadows of the high tech industry’s most famous valley. More J. G. Ballard than VC Capital. Un-monetized, non-productized, often subversive and sometimes in fact quite dangerous. Karen has been creating work herself and curating a community of tech makers and re-animators from way before 3-D printers, Maker Faire, or Arduinos existed.

From San Francisco to Silicon Valley, since at least the late 01970s when Survival Research Labs was founded, the wealth of technological know-how and hand-me-down / cast-off resources in the area have led to all kinds of artistic endeavors of decidedly uncommercial sorts. Made by people with day jobs in mainstream tech firms or outsiders with an axe to grind, there’s a rusty cutting edge at the back of the tech startup garage. On Tuesday we’ll talk about it and The Interval.

Come hear about the history of loud, fiery machines and hacker artists in San Francisco and surrounding areas from someone at the center of the noise for years. Karen will talk about tech and art projects including her own work with Survival Research Labs and organizing dorkbot SF for more than a decade.

Our Interval event series tends to sell out ahead of time, so get your tickets now!  Donate to The Interval and you’ll be on our early notification list for all of our Tuesday salon talks.

 

Alexander Rose on The 10,000 Year Clock @ The Interval, Tuesday 10/28

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Zander photo by Chris Michel small
Alexander Rose photo by Christopher Michel

Alexander Rose: Designing for Longevity
Building The 10,000 Year Clock
Tuesday October 28, 02014 at 7:30pm
at The Interval (check-in at 6:30)
Advanced Tickets recommended

Late in the last millennium, Danny Hillis told a small group of friends about his idea for building a monument-scale clock that would last for 10,000 years. The group included Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly, and Brian Eno – and the conversations that followed led to the founding of The Long Now Foundation in 01996. Ever since then, Long Now has worked to bring the Clock into reality.

Alexander Rose has been there almost from the start. The first employee of Long Now, he assisted Danny Hillis in early design work. Now he is the Foundation’s Executive Director and serves as the project manager for the full-sized Clock construction which is now underway in Texas. In his talk at The Interval he will discuss both the beginnings of the Clock project and where we are today.

The Clock has been built slowly, methodically, with a dedication to doing it right for the long term. And without a short-term deadline. The design process has been slow and painstaking. Our prototypes are built from the highest-quality materials and feature hand-crafted custom work. Our durability testing approximates the wear of slow moving mechanisms running for thousands of years.

Tickets are still available but space is limited and this talk will sell out

This talk will also include the lessons that Long Now’s team has learned from studying these previous millennial design projects. Alexander has travelled the world researching other projects designed to last for a thousand years or more. These include the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the Granite Mountain Records Vault built by the Mormon Church, and most recently Ise Grand Shrine in Japan.

LabeledFaceSM

Alexander Rose is Executive Director of The Long Now Foundation and project manager of the construction of the full-sized 10,000 Year Clock which is now underway in West Texas.

Zander Rose and the first Clock prototype

Alexander’s combat robots have won six world championship titles and appeared in the TV show BattleBots. Alexander has built large pyrotechnic displays for the Burning Man festival, robotic bartenders, and other dangerous machines. He is part of the Thiel Fellowship Network, and founded the Robot Fighting League.

The Manual for Civilization takes The Knight Foundation News Challenge

Posted on Saturday, October 18th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Manual for Civilization Knight News Challenge

What captures your imagination about the future of libraries?

That’s the question asked by The Knight Foundation in an open call for innovative library projects. There have been 680 proposals from around the country, and only a few days remain to give feedback and “Applaud” your favorites.  We think our Manual for Civilization project fits well with The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge funding goal:

We view libraries as key for improving Americans’ ability to know about and to be involved with what takes place around them. The library has been a vital part of our communities for centuries—as keepers of public knowledge, spaces for human connection, educators for the next generations of learners. While habits are changing, those needs have not. We want to discover projects that help carry the values of libraries into the future.

Take a moment to read our proposal, comment, and click the Applause button to show your support for the Manual for Civilization. Many projects will be funded to fulfill the News Challenge’s aim of [accelerating] media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Your applause could help the Manual be one of them.

The Manual for Civilization is a crowd-curated library of the 3500 books most essential to sustain or rebuild civilization. Knight Foundation funds will help us complete our collection of books–including many rare, hard-to-find titles. It would also support live events to engage the community and online initiatives providing broader access to the project. Read more on the News Challenge website.

Kevin Kelly Seminar Tickets

Posted on Thursday, October 16th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Kevin Kelly presents Technium Unbound

Kevin Kelly presents “Technium Unbound”

TICKETS

Wednesday November 12, 02014 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

What comes after the Internet? What is bigger than the web? What will produce more wealth than all the startups to date? The answer is a planetary super-organism comprised of 4 billion mobile phones, 80 quintillion transistor chips, a million miles of fiber optic cables, and 6 billion human minds all wired together. The whole thing acts like a single organism, with its own behavior and character — but at a scale we have little experience with.

This is more than just a metaphor. Kelly takes the idea of a global super-organism seriously by describing what we know about it so far, how it is growing, where its boundaries are, and what it will mean for us as individuals and collectively. Both the smallest one-person enterprises today, and the largest mega-corporations on Earth, will have to learn to how this Technium operates, and how to exploit it.

Drew Endy Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

The iGEM Revolution

Tuesday September 16, 02014 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Endy Seminar page.

*********************

Audio is up on the Endy Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

*********************

Massively collaborative synthetic biology – a summary by Stewart Brand

Natural genomes are nearly impossible to figure out, Endy began, because they were evolved, not designed. Everything is context dependent, tangled, and often unique. So most biotech efforts become herculean. It cost $25 million to develop a way to biosynthesize the malaria drug artemisinin, for example. Yet the field has so much promise that most of what biotechnology can do hasn’t even been imagined yet.

How could the nearly-impossible be made easy? Could biology become programmable? Endy asked Lynn Conway, the legendary inventer of efficient chip design and manufacturing, how to proceed. She said, “Go meta.” If the recrafting of DNA is viewed from a meta perspective, the standard engineering cycle—Design, Build, Test, Design better, etc.—requires a framework of DNA Synthesis, using Standards, understood with Abstraction, leading to better Synthesis, etc.

“In 2003 at MIT,” Endy said, “we didn’t know how to teach it, but we thought that maybe working with students we could figure out how to learn it.” It would be learning-by-building. So began a student project to engineer a biological oscillator—a genetic blinker—which led next year to several teams creating new life forms, which led to the burgeoning iGEM phenomenon. Tom Knight came up with the idea of standard genetic parts, like Lego blocks, now called BioBricks. Randy Rettberg declared that cooperation had to be the essence of the work, both within teams (which would compete) and among all the participants to develop the vast collaborative enterprise that became the iGEM universe—students creating new BioBricks (now 10,000+) and meeting at the annual Jamboree in Boston (this year there are 2,500 competitors from 32 countries). “iGEM” stands for International Genetically Engineered Machine.

Playfulness helps, Endy said. Homo faber needs homo ludens—man-the-player makes a better man-the-maker. In 2009 ten teenagers with $25,000 in sixteen weeks developed the ability to create E. coli in a variety of colors. They called it E. chromi. What could you do with pigmented intestinal microbes? “The students were nerding out.” They talked to designers and came up with the idea of using colors in poop for diagnosis. By 2049, they proposed, there could be a “Scatalog” for color matching of various ailments such as colon cancer. “It would be more pleasant than colonoscopy.”

The rationale for BioBricks is that “standardization enables coordination of labor among parties and over time.” For the system to work well depends on total access to the tools. “I want free-to-use language for programming life,” said Endy. The stated goal of the iGEM revolutionaries is “to benefit all people and the planet.” After ten years there are now over 20,000 of them all over the world guiding the leading edges of biotechnology in that direction.

During the Q&A, Endy told a story from his graduate engineering seminar at Dartmouth. The students were excited that the famed engineer and scientist Arthur Kantrowitz was going to lead a session on sustainability. They were shocked when he told them, “‘Sustainability‘ is the most dangerous thing I’ve ever encountered. My job today is to explain two things to you. One, pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Two, optimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

The Interval is Crowdfunded!

Posted on Thursday, October 2nd, 02014 by Mikl Em
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The Interval at Long Now in San Francisco

On October 01, 02014 we successfully concluded our ‘brickstarter’ fundraiser for The Interval at Long Now. The money raised goes toward the construction costs of our newly renovated headquarters as well as funding a pair of robots that will soon be installed in the space. We reached our initial goal and even surpassed our stretch goal, ending up at over $590,000 after nearly two years of fundraising.

This project was a crowdfunding triumph. We were supported by a global community of Long Now members and fans. We’d like to thank everyone who made it possible: our donors, partners and staff.

We also want to thank our customers who have made The Interval’s first three months in business such a success. We hope they appreciate our commitment to excellence in serving fine coffee, cocktails and spirits in a unique, stimulating environment surrounded by artifacts of Long Now’s projects.

The Interval is now open to all from 10AM to midnight every day. This is only the beginning. What a beginning!

 

Last Day of the Interval Brickstarter: Put Your Name on Our Wall

Posted on Wednesday, October 1st, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Stewart Brand - a Library is a window

Tonight is your last chance to become an Interval Charter Donor
all donors by 9pm Pacific on 10/1/02014 will be listed on our Donor Wall
at The Interval in San Francisco. Please help us reach our goal!

Today culminates two years of raising funds to build and open The Interval at Long Now.

We have had an incredible response from people around the world donating to help us complete Long Now’s new home which is also a gathering place for our members and the public. Only a few hours left and we are getting ever closer.

Thanks so much to all of you who have donated to our ‘brickstarter’ so far

If we make the goal we’ll throw a big party for our Charter Donors and the top donors will get a special tasting session with the Gin Possibility Machine that will be our Bespoke Gin Robot.

We hope you will consider a donation, or just spread the word to help us reach our participation goal of 1000 Charter Donors.

But just by the fact you are reading this blog means you’re showing an interest in long-term thinking. So thanks to you, because you are a part of realizing our mission to help everyone think more in the long now.

 photo by Catherine Borgeson

Larry Harvey Seminar Tickets

Posted on Thursday, September 25th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Larry Harvey presents Why The Man Keeps Burning

Larry Harvey presents “Why The Man Keeps Burning”

TICKETS

Monday October 20, 02014 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

“Scaling up will kill Burning Man.” “That new rule will kill Burning Man.” “The Bureau of Land Management will kill Burning Man.” “Selling tickets that way will kill Burning Man.” “Board infighting will kill Burning Man.” “Upscale turnkey camps will kill Burning Man.”

Ha.

What if Burning Man is too fragile to be killed? What if celebrating ephemerality is the best guarantee of continuity? What if every year’s brand new suspension of disbelief has deep-down durability? What if conservatively radical principles and evolving rules are more robust over time than anything merely physical?

What really keeps the Man burning? If anyone knows, it should be the event’s primary founder, author of The Principles, and ongoing Chief Philosophical Officer, artist Larry Harvey.

The Interval Brickstarter Funded: Support The Robot Stretch Goal

Posted on Monday, September 22nd, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Photo by Christopher Michel

The Interval brickstarter ends on October 1 at 5pm–that’s the last chance to become an Interval Charter Donor. We’ve set two ambitious stretch goals to reach before it ends: raising $550,000 in total (about $42K to go) and having 1000 total donors.

Thanks to hundreds of supporters around the world we have funded our ‘brickstarter’ for The Interval’s construction! This achievement was possible thanks to more than 700 long-term thinkers (and counting) who have donated over the last 2 years.

Our supporters gave from around the US and the world: Atlanta to Zurich; Australia to Croatia; New Hampshire to Hawaii! Thank you all for your generosity in helping build a one-of-a-kind venue, The Long Now Foundation’s new home: The Interval at Long Now.

Photo by Because We Can

The Interval is now open to all 10AM to Midnight every day at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. The names of our Charter Donors will soon be listed on our Donor Wall within The Interval as thanks for their support in making our new home a reality.

The money raised will help fund the Interval’s two robots by October 1st.

Let’s meet our Robots… 

The Bespoke Gin Robot will be stationed behind the bar and wields an array of 15 botanicals including coriander seed, lemon peel, and apricot kernels. Each botanical is individually distilled by the amazing folks at St. George Spirits and the bot’s with components were made by Party Robotics. 

Gin Robot design image by Because We Can

Including the juniper spirit base, the Gin Robot can create custom gin to-order in 87,178,291,200 possible combinations. The Interval could serve up a different gin variation each day for the next 238 million years. It’s our hope that this cocktail possibility machine will be worthy of sitting next to Brian Eno’s Ambient Painting.

Top 10 donors in the stretch phase get invited to a special tasting with the Gin Robot.

Our Chalkboard Robot has been designed by artist Jürg Lehni. The chalkboard itself is now up at The Interval. It awaits the artist’s arrival from Switzerland to install the bot which will then write or draw by our command. Below you can see Viktor, out robot’s elder cousin, in action.

In addition to all our usual donor benefits, if we hit BOTH the $550K mark and reach 1000 donors, we have a couple of Long Now surprises planned to thank all of our charter donors.

Everyone who donates by October 1 will be a charter donor. All of our great donor perks like Challenge Coins, Long Now flasks, and bottle keep bottles of exclusive St George Bourbon, Single Malt, or Bristlecone Gin are still available.

Long Now Challenge Coin

The stretch goal of $550,000–adding $55K to our brickstarter total–will help cover costs associated with building and installing the robots. We’ve set a participation stretch goal of 1000 Donors (less than 300 to go!).

The Interval is intended to be both a community hub and a funding source for the Foundation going forward. Your donations help to defray our construction and startup costs, so your generosity is incredibly important to getting this endeavor off on a flying start toward profitability.

If you haven’t donated, please consider a gift by October 1, to become a Charter Donor and enjoy first chance to buy tickets to Interval events and be listed on the Donor Wall. You’ll also be a part of starting up a unique venue that helps get important ideas about long-term thinking into the world.

If you have donated, thank you! We’d appreciate your help spreading the word before the October 1 deadline. And remember gifts (and employer matches) are cumulative–consider going up a level? We have only days left to reach our stretch goal and fund these wonderful additions to The Interval’s array of mechanical wonders.

Photo by Because We Can