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The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future
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The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  22 ratings  ·  4 reviews
In 1969, Princeton physicist Gerard O'Neill began looking outward to space colonies as the new frontier for humanity's expansion. A decade later, Eric Drexler, an MIT-trained engineer, turned his attention to the molecular world as the place where society's future needs could be met using self-replicating nanoscale machines. These modern utopians predicted that their techn ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published December 9th 2012 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Brian Clegg
It may sound like a job at a Walt Disney theme park (where designers are called imagineers), but ‘visioneer’ is Patrick McCray’s portmanteau word combining ‘visionary’ and ‘engineer’ – not a hand-waving futurologist, but a scientist or engineer who is coming up with blue sky ideas that are, nonetheless, based on the projection of solid science and engineering.

The two key figures here are physicist Gerard O’Neill, who devised space colonies, and engineer Eric Drexler who was at the forefront of t
Fred Beshears
The Visioneers by Patrick McCray traces the careers of two visionary engineers: Gerard Kitchen O'Neill (1927 - 1992) and K. Eric Drexler (1955). Since both men were strongly influenced by the 1972 classic Limits to Growth, McCray sets the stage with a detailed account of the Malthusian vision set forth in Limits in the first chapter: Utopia or Oblivion for Spaceship Earth?

In the first chapter, McCray give Kenneth Boulding credit for coining the term Spaceship Earth, which first appeared in print
Kirsten Zirngibl
Though I wish this book had done more than gloss over the 21st century transhumanism/singularitarianism, it provides an excellent historical context for today's brand of futuristic idealism. The book doesn't focus on science fiction authors, but instead real scientists and engineers from about the 1960's to the early 1990's, which I appreciate since that sphere tends to be overshadowed.
I found sense in its explanation for why America lead the visioneering movements (though I'm sure that's less o
I was a big fan of Dr. O'Neil's High Frontier and have always been intrigued by Drexler's ideas about nanotechnology. This book discusses the two of them and describes their roles as both engineers and visionaries, coining the term "visioneer" to describe their roles in the advancement of science and big, new ideas. the book is an interesting look at the way new technologies are introduced and how science is actually performed in society.
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