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1st Heinlein Prize Awarded 116

Posted by timothy
from the should-be-auctioned-off dept.
baxissimo writes "The first ever Heinlein prize for Advances in Space Commercialization is going to be awarded to Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, for various activities including his efforts as Founder and Chairman of the Ansari X Prize. The prize is a cool 1/2 million USD plus a few other nifty trinkets -- a gold Heinlein Medallion, the Lady Vivamus Sword (as described in Heinlein's book Glory Road) and a Laureate's Diploma. The award ceremony will be held in Houston, July 7, 2006. This prize has been around a good while (since Heinlein's death in 1988?) with no awardees. Hopefully this will make the existence of the prize a little more widely known, and help spur further developments like the X Prize."
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1st Heinlein Prize Awarded

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  • by daniil (775990) <evilbj8rn@hotmail.com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:09PM (#15606632) Journal
    Is this like selling air?
  • The perfect lady (Score:5, Informative)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:11PM (#15606643)
    This is a must see ... the Lady Vivamus Sword [albion-swords.com]
  • You'd think... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cleon (471197) <cleon42@@@yahoo...com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:11PM (#15606647) Homepage
    You'd think with a Heinlein prize, the award would be a giant gold breast. ;)

    But on a serious note, I'm glad this prize is out there. Aside from the usual flamewar about private industry versus government-driven research, it seems to me the more people/companies/organizations/entities that are trying to get into space, the faster our species as a whole will get off this rock and start exploring the universe.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      it seems to me the more people/companies/organizations/entities that are trying to get into space, the faster our species as a whole will get off this rock and start exploring the universe.

      From this moment on, you will be known as Mister Obvious.

      • by Cleon (471197)
        Yes, but you may refer to me as "Lord Obvious, Commander of the Conspicuous, Master of the Manifest, and Realizer of the Recognizable."
    • You'd think that they could skim a bit of that prize money off to work on their web site before they get excited about our species exploring the universe.
    • Why not give him a spacesuit? ('cause you just never know...)
    • by chiok (858005)
      You'd think with a Heinlein prize, the award would be a giant gold breast. ;)

      I think you meant "the award would be time travelling back to when your mom was still hot."
  • So Good! (Score:3, Funny)

    by bepolite (972314) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:15PM (#15606677) Homepage
    I just hope after this Dr. Peter H. Diamandis remembers TINSTAAFL! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TINSTAAFL [wikipedia.org]
  • There are only a half dozen comments or so and the site is already down. Bummer.
    • There are only a half dozen comments or so and the site is already down. Bummer.

      I actually saw the web-site before it went down. IMHO, It was a pretty poor design and we are all better off without it.

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:16PM (#15606687) Journal
    ...this is a prize for offering a prize?
  • by dr_dank (472072) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:16PM (#15606688) Homepage Journal
    He can yell "front!" at any time and have beautiful women available to do his bidding 24 hours a day. He even gets a fair witness included at no extra charge.
  • Why can't there be a Heinlein award for insect repellant?
  • He now has 50 or more billions for not-for-profit development. It would be interesting if he used a portion to persue this. OTH, Paul Allen has been spending money on space before it was even popular to do so.
  • by loose electron (699583) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:30PM (#15606810) Homepage
    Heinlein was one of the Sci-Fi authors that stimulated the imagination, while staying within the bounds (albeit loosely) of "possible" scientific reality.


    Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Larry Niven, to name a few.

    Heinlein also had some interesting commentary on some "not PC" topics as well:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange _Land [wikipedia.org]


    Do you grok? :)

    • by IdahoEv (195056) on Monday June 26, 2006 @02:22PM (#15607235) Homepage
      while staying within the bounds (albeit loosely) of "possible" scientific reality.

      Yes, Heinlein really cared about his science ... and particularly his engineering and orbital mechanics. He actually did the orbital mechanics calculations whenever he mentioned specific figures in a story. (I.E. if he said "We burned at 1.3G for 5 seconds to insert into a station-keeping orbit" it generally meant he had actually done that math.)

      However, nearly all of his stories depend on "torchships": ships with nuclear drive engines that have a combination of high thrust and high specific impulse that is extremely unlikely in the real world. The closest thing that has been proposed is Zubrin's Nuclear Salt-water Rocket [wikipedia.org] which uses an aqueous solution of plutonium or uranium salt as both fuel and reaction mass, expelling this radioactive mixture out the back -- and a lot of physicists aren't even sure the NSWR could really work. It does have the charming feature of completely ruining the landscape underneath the launch site, which matches Heinlein's torchships pretty well.

      There's a fantastic discussion of all this [projectrho.com] at a website called The Atomic Rocket [projectrho.com], which collects in one place all the useful scientific information about space travel and ship design for anyone who is writing fiction or designing games.

      For my money, it's the best damn geek site in the history of the web by a clear margin. (Though you have to be an old-school geek who thinks space is even cooler than computers.) Every few months I get sucked in and read the whole thing over again (and it's huge).
      • Yes, Heinlein really cared about his science ...

        No, RAH *appeared* to care greatly.

        and particularly his engineering and orbital mechanics. He actually did the orbital mechanics calculations whenever he mentioned specific figures in a story. (I.E. if he said "We burned at 1.3G for 5 seconds to insert into a station-keeping orbit" it generally meant he had actually done that math.)

        Sure he did that. But if he didn't find any numbers that worked - he simply didn't use any and forged ahead

        • [...] if he didn't find any numbers that worked - he simply didn't use any and forged ahead with his stories anyhow. Or he didn't even bother to try and find numbers - he just went with the dramatic flow. Leaving the impression that he was always mathematically correct - even when he had done no math at all.

          The writer implies. The reader infers. When the writer is not attempting to imply, is he responsible for what the reader infers? Oh sure, it's a good idea to think about it, but he's not responsible

      • You forgot his most useful invention: the water bed [wikipedia.org].
    • Heinlein was one of the Sci-Fi authors that stimulated the imagination,

      That wasn't all he stimulated. Very engaging reading for the early pubsecent teen male, too.
  • by tpjunkie (911544) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:32PM (#15606830) Journal
    Apart from some of the technical stuff he mentions, check this out (From the wikipedia page): In Solution Unsatisfactory, written in 1940, Heinlein set out the following predictions: in 1941 the US government would start a large-scale secret project, which would make nuclear weapons available for use by the end of 1944 (radioactive dust rather than a bomb - but with much the same strategic implications); the weapon would be used to destroy an Axis city in 1945; this would bring WWII to an end, but start a nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviet Union. (In Heinlein's story, it leads to a new war which the US wins, gaining domination over the whole world but becoming a military dictatorship in the process).
  • by amightywind (691887) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:41PM (#15606901) Journal
    awarded to Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, for various activities including his efforts as Founder and Chairman of the Ansari X Prize

    An award for someone who gave out an award? Why don't we recognise actual innovators?

    • by markjo (977895)
      Maybe every now and then it's good to recognize the inspiration that drives the innovators.
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:38PM (#15607888) Journal
      An award for someone who gave out an award? Why don't we recognise actual innovators?

      Did you even read the linked page? I think his list of accomplishments more than qualifies him for the prize:

      2004 - Co-founded and currently serves as Chairman of Rocket Racing League - Combining the excitement of Indy car racing with the challenge of Rocketry, this league will have rocket planes race against each other on a 3D race track in the sky. Races are scheduled to begin next year.

      1997 - Co-founded Space Adventures Ltd - Space Adventures is the leading space tourism travel agency. Space Adventures is best known for arranging the flight of Dennis Tito to the International Space Station in 2001, making him the first space tourist.

      1996 - Founded and currently serves as Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation - In addition to the successful Ansari X PRIZE, Diamandis is leading the Foundation in its effort to create prizes in several other industries including genomics, water treatment, education, as well as, the automotive industry.

      1995 -Co-Founded and served as President of Angel Technologies Corporation - Angel Technologies Corporation is a commercial communications company developing wireless broadband communications networks.

      1993 - Chairman & CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation - The only commercial space company in the world offering FAA-certified weightless flights utilizing a Boeing 727-200 aircraft. More than 200 people have experienced weightlessness since flights began three years ago.

      1991 - Founded and served as Director of Constellation Communications, Inc. (CCI) - CCI is one of five low-Earth orbit applicants designing a low-Earth orbit satellite constellation for voice telephony.

      1989 - Founded and served as CEO of International MicroSpace, Inc. (IMI) - IMI was an entrepreneurial space technologies company focusing on the provision of low-cost launch services (ORBEX(TM) launch vehicle program).

      1987 - Founder & Managing Director & CEO of International Space University (ISU) - ISU is the world's leading graduate program for multi-national and multi-disciplinary study of space.

      1985 - Co-founded the Space Generation Foundation - A non-profit organization to create a sense of identity in all people born since the advent of the Space Age on October 4, 1957. The Foundation supports numerous educational and research projects.

      1980 - Founded the Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) - SEDS is currently the world's largest student based pro-space organization.
    • No, it's quite in keeping with Heinlein's stories. Have you read "the man who sold the moon"? The hero in that wasn't the engineer who built the rocket, but the guy who moved heaven and earth so the rocket would get built - by funding and organizing the project.
  • I got mine ready to go, just got to finish up duct-taping the capsule and finish drawing my logo.
    Anyone else?
    But seriously congratulations to Dr. Diamandis for winning! On to the moon!
    http://www.xprizefoundation.com/news/LunarLanding. asp [xprizefoundation.com]
  • by tringstad (168599) on Monday June 26, 2006 @01:56PM (#15607007)
    The award ceremony will be held in Houston, July 7, 2006.

    The article doesn't mention it, but I assume this date was chosen because it is Heinlein's Birthday.

    I know this because it is also mine, and I always thought that was cool.

    -Tommy

  • ..the Lady Vivamus Sword (as described in Heinlein's book Glory Road)..

    But what if it's not as described? Who will know? Sounds like undercover advertising to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When thinking about net neutrality I am often reminded on one of his quotes.

    "There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this
    country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a
    profit out of the public for a number of years, the government
    and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such
    profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances
    and contrary public interest."

    -- Robert Heinlein, "Life-Line" (1939)

  • You know I can think of only one other writer to beat Heinlein in the totally weirded out stakes that being Philip K. Dick. Don't take my word for it, just sit down to the PKD reader [powells.com] in one sitting. The Turning Wheel [wikipedia.org] set in a post-apocalyptic future is uncannily prescient where the 'Caucs` are at the bottom of the social pile and everyone gives praise to the church of Elron (clearness be upon him) another lunatic .. er visionary of the SF world. Who knows PKD might have made a fine mainstream writer if he o
    • i know it's fashionable and noble to take any opportunity to denounce someone's drug use, but fact is, phil had more issues than a newsstand [philipkdick.com]. Go read VALIS...

      the flip side of your coin is maybe the mainstream would make better visionaries if they tried a dangerous chemical now and then besides alcohol, tobacco, the atmosphere, and the opiate of the masses...

    • Im not sure Phil wanted to be a mainstream writer. He always said the reason he wrote was to approach the question of "What is an authentic human being" and "What is reality" which lately have not been very mainstream topics. As we've seen, so far the movies "based on his novels" that have been popular so far are the ones with the philosophical content removed & gunfights added to fill the empty space. And the secret is he was off the amphetamines for the best parts of his writing career.
  • The guy that designed, built & launched a (suborbital) spaceship [wikipedia.org]? Or the guy that's actually selling tickets for spaceflight [wikipedia.org] (which qualifies as commercial [wiktionary.org] by definition).
    • In think 'commercialization" means a little more than lobbing a suborbital once, or selling tickets to a bunch of saps (for which there _should_ be a W.C.Fields 'never give a sucker an even break'-prize).

      It _might_ be considered commercial _after_ he delivers on those tickets - for all the good tourism is.

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