What should be the next Manhattan Project?

What do you think will and/or should be the next great endeavor by the American people? If the atom bomb marked the 1940’s and the Apollo Program was our triumph in the 60’s, and the greatest technological achievement of the 80’s was…. okay skip the 80’s. Where should we head now?

I’d like to propose that our time, money, and hearts should be directed to renewable energy. For political, economic, and ecologic reasons it is in our interests to free ourselves from fossil fuels and the heavy burden they place on us. Hydrogen, ethanol, wind, wave, solar, fusion, and all the other energy alternatives in the labs and making a dent in real world power production need to a kick in the pants to make them as cost effective and readily available as oil and coal in the market place. For somewhat obvious reasons, I don’t expect our friends from Halliburton will be heralding in a new age of clean fuel.

Thoughts, arguments?

Well personally I’d opt for a gas core nuclear rocket tied to a dedicated Mars colonization program. It would allow large scale investigation of Mars for past/present life, localized resources and the opening of the solar system to humans. Energy needs of space travel and colonization would spur research into safer fission reactors, improved solar technologies and potentially fusion power plants.

I am curious though, why would you think Halliburton would want to prevent the start of a hydrogen economy? What do you think they pump out of the ground anyway?

The Manhattan project and the Apollo program pretty much had to happen because of the Nazi threat and Soviet threat, respectfully. BTW in the 80’s the big technological endeavour was SDI (star wars).

At this point I don’t think we’re close to exhausting the fossil fuel supply, so there really isn’t a need for a crash program to develop renewable energy, as much as I’d like that to happen.

How close does close have to be? IIRC the oil should be running out in about 30 years. Of course, it won’t shut-off overnight but it will be significantly rare by that point to probably be too expensive to produce gasoline and expect people to be able to afford it. I have no idea about coal or natural gas reserves.

I think the next big ticket item we should work on would be the Superconducting Supercollider or try and get a workable fusion power reactor going (they are working on the last one but they’ve been saying a workable [read profitable] reactor is 10 years away…they’ve been saying that for 20+ years).

The goal, though, mack, would be to develop renewable energy before we need it. Technology should anticipate needs, ideally.

I was referring to ex-Halliburton employee, Dick Cheney, and indirectly to the present White House in general. I’m of the opinion that they intend to continue supporting oil and coal technologies as long as they can. In fact in Bush’s first budget clean coal was allotted significantly more federal funding than renewable fuel research. I’ll see if I can dig up a cite. On a political note, I also think they have chosen to make strong use of militarism to protect our access to oil, specifically Middle East oil; which isn’t to say all foreign policy in that region boils down to oil, just that it is an important factor.

This humor piece from the 80’s, which I caught yesterday expresses the ideology I’m speaking of under a previous administration rather bluntly.

Here’s that cite:

Respectfully? Respectively?

From cainxinth

I agree with Grey, a Mars mission should be the next great project, especially if it was a REAL mission of discovery (read several years on planet with enough people to really do the job right). I think such a mission, especially if we were to do it in cooperation with several other countries, would be not only worthwhile doing, but would do a lot to bring back some of the good will towards America that seems to be lacking lately. If we don’t take the lead and do it, someone else will, and the oppertunity will be lost to America.

Renewable energy is a noble project…but its not a GREAT project. A great project is one that uplifts a people as well as the human spirit…like the Pyrimids or Apollo (plus you get great bonus’s to your peoples for doing them in Civilization :)). America COULD undertake such a project at this time, if she chose too. The real question is, will she ever do such a project again.

Besides, I firmly believe the search for renewable energy sources (or alternative energy sourcse) will be driven by economics anyway, with no need for a massive project by the government. Private industry (or even private individuals) will drive it, when it becomes feasable to do so. There is no over-riding sense of urgency atm…after all, the perception is that there is still years and years of our current energy sources left.

As the current energy sources become scarce though, they will become gradually more expensive. At a certain point, alternative fuel sources will become economical, and a drive will be on to find even better/more cost effective solutions. Why? Not for alturistic reasons…not to save the environment…but because someone will make tons of money doing it, thats why.


God, I hope we don’t need another Manhatten Project. Those should be reserved for desperate situations in times of war.

I’d like to see the government stay out of the technology business altogether. If we need to keep the pols busy, let’s have them dismantle our Byzantine tax code and implement a simply system with the sole goal of raising tax revenue with the least distortion to the market possible.

Who needs
[li]clean air, [/li][li]less pollution, [/li][li]independence from the middle east (and therefore less terrorism and fewer wars), [/li][li]independance from nuclear power and its dangers and environmental shortcomings (nuclear waste) [/li][li]cheap energy (and therefore a better economy), [/li][/ul]

if you can have a couple of guys marching on mars? Come on, a better life may be a high moral goal, but will it be more fun???

irony off

I think the next big project should be teleportation.

Bye-bye, traffic.

How about artificial photosynthesis?


You’ll note I was talking about colonization, not a flags and footprints media stunt. However, I would image you’d approve of some of the benefits.

  1. Self contain environments and the required technology to recycle waste
  2. Non fossil fuel energy sources for long term power generation
  3. Confirmation of non terrestrial life
  4. Development of next generation fission plants
  5. Development of fusion power plants
  6. Development of a new branch of humanity

Renewable energy is nice, but it’s a refinement/acceptance issue.

The Japanese have offered to install a nuclear power generator in an Alaskan village. The equipment is the size of a spruce tree, will replace the current diesel generators, provide power for 30 years, and will generate hydrogen as a by-product. The problem, of course, will be getting it past the greenies who love to tell Alaska how to manage its resources.

I am a fan of space exploration… so normally I would go for the Mars thing. Seeing how the ISS - International Space Station is being left totally aside… any hopes are illusion. The ISS was a first step to Mars exploration… :frowning:

I think America won’t be doing anything grand for quite a while…

ISS was the reason to have a shuttle, which was around becasue a shuttle needed a station. Neither one is really of any use to a Mars project.

From flonks

Ah yes, I see your point, flonks. Why not let the government, who is notorious for its innovative abilities, handle it, as opposed to people/corporations who are motivated and have a vested interest in doing it (by greed if nothing else). That way, we can spend OUR tax money instead of letting private individuals/corporations spend THEIRS, it will cost 5 times as much, and we’ll be lucky to get half the results. Great plan flonks!! You’ve convinced me! Who needs a dusty old Mars mission anyway…nothing there to find or see, right?

/sarcasm off


We have to prepare for asteroid collision avoidance. It is imperative to develop a real way to detect and stop the next truly life-as-we-know-it altering event. We’re due any day now for an asteroid the size of Manhattan (not our Manhattan, the island with part of New York City on it) to annihilate 96% of the life on the planet.

C’mon, dopers! Let’s get this ball rolling. The first step of any huge government program is a really catchy acronym. I’m sure we can come up with a good one.

Realistically, in terms of something I beleive can be done (teleportation would be great, but I don’t believe it’s happening anytime soon) I say, go to Mars. I’d pay more taxes for that.