We tend to sometimes look no further than we can see. And we call those who claim to see beyond what's visible--visionaries. How droll!
Last week George Leopold, news director of our Web site www.eetimes.com, interviewed Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France. His story gave me pause to reflect on visionaries.
You see, Aldrin, who became the second man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969, said that future planetary exploration will be a "one-way trip to the stars," stressing that such journeys will begin only when mankind reconciles itself to the prospect that explorers may not return to Earth.
Aren't we all on a "one-way trip" every day in our imaginations? It doesn't have to be about outer space. It could very well be about our own space.
Innovators get daily visions that prompt them to pursue their individual goals, no matter where that pursuit may lead. Take the nanotechnologist who is manipulating genes, microbes, atoms and even smaller particles. Isn't he or she on a one-way trip to knowledge not yet attained? From the vastness of space to the nanoscale search in a laboratory, it's still a trek into the unknown.
India's president, Abdul Kalam, has a vision that nanotechnology will contribute to India's energy independence by 2030. He has even spoken of nanotech's potential to enable interplanetary transportation. Now that's a vision!
And last week, a top Russian official said the government would allocate $7.7 billion through 2015 to develop nanotechnology. First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying that "the development and use of nanotechnology provides real opportunities to create a modern economy, raise the nation's standards of living and ensure the proper security for the country." You can attain all three goals with nanotechnology? Some vision!
I had a vision once too. On the evening of July 20 thirty-eight years ago, my new wife and I sat in awe in a motel in Gatlinburg, Tenn., witnessing the first moon walk on a black-and-white "rabbit ears" TV, part of what has often been cited as the largest television audience in history. My vision? That following our honeymoon, in my parents' car going south after flipping a coin as to the direction that our wedding money could take us, we would become parents to three lovely children who, when grown, would bless us with six grandkids.
That vision was realized, but there will be more--I'm still on a "one-way trip" to the next adventures of my life. I like to dream along the lines of the another Buzz--the film character in Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear, who had a real vision: "To infinity and beyond!"