The world needs more crazy people

There's an interesting article at Wired: NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology. It's all about a part of NASA that funds projects that many would consider completely crazy. Like Shape-shifting space suits, Antimatter-powered probes to Alpha Centauri and a Robotic armada to destroy incoming asteroids. This agency is, of course, in danger of having its miniscule budget evaporate. It's this kind of over-the-edge thinking that brings about the most interesting innovation. Even really crazy stuff, like large networks of computers (thanks DARPA!).

Most real innovation is done by crazy people doing crazy things. The keys are:

  • Learn all you can before you go adventuring.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
  • Only make new mistakes.
  • Keep your eyes open.
  • Don't just look straight ahead: develop your peripheral vision.
  • It's the things that go in unexpected directions are the most important.

One of the classic stories of serendipity and invention is the color mauve.

May 8, 2004