Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beyond soft power and smart power: Transcendent power

By Steve Hammons

In discussions about the ideas of hard power, soft power and smart power, several observers have pointed out that the term soft power may not be a good name for this worthwhile, sound and valuable concept.

The word soft sometimes implies weak, flabby or inadequate characteristics in several kinds of contexts.

A term that truly embodies soft power and also includes hard and smart power elements is “transcendent power.”

This refers to the concept of “transcendent warfare” that is based on the idea of embracing and utilizing emerging and leading-edge assets and resources.

The term transcendent warfare was used by a U.S. Navy SEAL officer in a graduate-level paper written for the Marine Corps War College. Although the paper focused, in part, on research and development by the U.S. defense and intelligence communities into human perceptual capabilities, the author seemed to indicate that transcendent warfare goes beyond any narrow definitions.

We might think of transcendent power as the blending and optimization of a range of resources and methods typically associated with both soft power and hard power.

TAKING THE HIGH GROUND

Since transcendent warfare is often associated with unconventional intelligence acquisition and human consciousness research, the concept could be viewed as an "outside-the-box" idea. It is. It is the kind of innovative and forward-leaning thinking that can be very helpful.

At the same time, it is not easily defined or explained.

The idea of transcendent power would include the use of public diplomacy, American cultural resources, humanitarian operations, peace operations, human-based intelligence (HUMINT), constructive and non-manipulative psychological operations (PSYOP), open source intelligence (OSINT), special operations forces, unconventional operations, conventional defense resources, advanced technologies and various other assets.

In addition, transcendent power would dovetail with the emerging and developing nature of American society, the international community, the human race, Planet Earth and other elements that may not yet be fully understood.

Transcendent power weaves together these elements in ways that are creative, innovative and geared toward legitimate, moral and ethical objectives.

In its purest form, transcendent power by its very nature probably cannot be considered part of optional wars based on illegitimate intelligence, military actions to obtain natural resources, unwise sacrificing of the lives and limbs of our military personnel and the resulting devastation for their families, unnecessary killing and injuring of innocents, torture, war profiteering and vainglorious military adventures launched by "chicken hawks."

ASSERTIVE AND PROACTIVE

Some elements of soft power can be viewed as passive approaches. Attempts are made to attract potential friends, neutral parties and potential adversaries to your own point of view based on the attractiveness of your culture and other components of your society.

Transcendent power might be considered to be more assertive and proactive. It actively embraces leading-edge knowledge, advancements and understanding.

Transcendent power reaches out and touches friends, neutral parties and adversaries.

Transcendent power allies itself with, and is part of a fundamental and dominant force. It dominates human terrain by its association with, and basis in core knowledge of human consciousness and the forces that human consciousness is connected to.

It has characteristics that require a certain understanding. The SEAL officer who wrote the paper referencing transcendent warfare noted that there are Zen-like qualities to it that require an insightful perspective to appreciate some of the possibilities involved with it.

Learning about the interesting research in quantum physics, human consciousness and unconventional intelligence acquisition research and operations is a good beginning toward comprehending the potential of transcendent power.

Soft power is a valuable concept. The idea of smart power, which blends soft power and hard power is another worthy term.

Transcendent power moves us to the next level in our quest for progress on many fronts in the 21st century.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Deploy soft power communication on human consciousness

By Steve Hammons

As we increasingly look at our human capital to assess where we have been, where we are now and where we are going, it is probably helpful to consider the current overall understanding of human consciousness.

That is no easy task. The vague and varied nature of the human mind can be challenging to comprehend. It is not always readily visible, measurable or observable, although outward behavior and appearance stemming from consciousness is.

In our everyday lives, we can look at elements of society such as economic development, educational systems, health care, defense and intelligence activities, cultural creativity and social cohesion that reflect the current state of our comprehension of human consciousness.

At the heart of these endeavors is human consciousness, so trying to understand and optimize it seems worthwhile. When we consider deploying communication, information and education about consciousness, domestically or in the context of international soft power or smart power, what are some of the elements involved?

ASPECTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Although there are indications that consciousness itself can be utilized in interesting ways, more likely we are generally referring to practical and deployable communication, information and education about it. It is the development and understanding of a perspective on the human race and the current state of our societies and our world.

By using the viewpoint on and of human consciousness, we might be able to transcend many obstacles to problem-solving, rapport-building and creative, innovative approaches and solutions.

So what is particularly interesting about consciousness that might arouse the interest of average people, friends and adversaries?

First, we all have it. We can call consciousness the human mind, human psychology, awareness, perception or even a spirit or soul, depending on our perspectives and what elements we are discussing.

There are a few interesting aspects to consider.

One is that, generally, it is accepted in mainstream psychology that we have a conscious mind, a subconscious and a border area between the two.

In addition, various kinds of philosophies, spiritual beliefs and some significant modern research make reference to the connection between an individual person’s mind and a larger power, force, intelligence or field of some kind. Many different names are given to this in different cultural, philosophical and scientific contexts.

Another fascinating topic is the indication that human consciousness has a “sixth sense” that can pick up information and understanding that is not available to our other five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

The sixth sense can bubble up from the unconscious and enter into the conscious. We might call it intuition, instincts, hunches, gut feelings or something else. This might manifest itself in our nighttime dreams or even daydreams as the unconscious becomes more active in relation to our conscious logical-thinking brains.

In his 1972 book The Natural Mind, Andrew Weil, M.D., hypothesized that the human mind may have a natural inclination to seek understanding of a wider and deeper consciousness because the mind knows there is more to itself – and more to a possibly larger cosmic mind.

Weil thought that perhaps people have throughout human history then used prayer, meditation, fasting, exciting or dangerous activities, vision quests or even psychoactive plants (including fermented plants), cacti, mushrooms and other fungi to explore human consciousness. (We now even hear of people using secretions from the skins of certain frogs or toads for this purpose.)

Optimizing our understanding of these and other elements of human consciousness and behavior through communication, information and education might be helpful in wide and deep ways.

DEPLOYING COMMUNICATION

Although human consciousness is not always easily understood or measured, we know that as a general concept, it includes thoughts, feelings, emotions, dreams, beliefs, perceptions, awareness and similar kinds of characteristics.

And now that we suspect, based on credible research, that human consciousness also probably has abilities to tap a sixth sense, this adds to our more conventional understanding of ourselves and others.

A natural question may arise as to if it is wise to inform troubled people or international adversaries that their minds and consciousness might be worth exploring further along these lines.

One answer to this may be that research into human consciousness and even “anomalous” abilities such as the sixth sense (which actually are probably very natural and normal) are almost common knowledge nowadays. We find information on this in books, movies, articles and all over the Web. The information is in the public domain or what is sometimes called open source intelligence.

When the U.S. government’s defense and intelligence communities started researching this in the 1970s, it was in response to the old Soviet Union’s activities in these areas. China has also reportedly conducted research on human consciousness and human abilities along these lines.

This kind of research was later referred to as a component of “transcendent warfare.”

We might take a leap of faith and assume that as people understand themselves, their social and psychological programming, their own personal histories and the deeper and transcendent nature within and around them, they will grow as constructive human beings.

In fact, some of the research in human consciousness seems to include a faith-based component. That is, when we try to understand deeper possible realities – whether using psychology, spirituality, biology, quantum physics or other methods – things sometimes get mysterious and not necessarily logical.

Unusual phenomena, synchronicity (odd and meaningful coincidences) or other things that seem to be authentic and can be perceived by us might sometimes occur.

If we try our best to understand, communicate and educate ourselves and others about some of the emerging and leading-edge developments regarding human consciousness, we might be able to optimize these real resources and assets.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Arizona film, TV projects explore unusual topics, Phoenix Lights UFO

By Steve Hammons

Is it cosmic synergy and synchronicity or just a creative spirit that is making Arizona the focus of film and television projects linked to unusual phenomena?

The independent film The Appearance of a Man and the TV series Paranormal Matrix were both created in Arizona.


The Appearance of a Man will be featured at the 15th annual Sedona Film Festival which runs from Feb. 23 to March 1.

The Appearance of a Man earned two awards at the San Diego Film Festival in September 2008. These included Heineken's Red Star Award for Outstanding Film for Daniel Pace, writer, director, editor and executive producer. Lead actor and producer Michael Tassoni earned the festival's award for Best Actor.

The film also was also awarded Best Director at the Ohio University Film Festival, Best Feature at the Indie Fest and Best Cinematography at the Monaco Film Festival.

According to the film’s press release, it is “an intriguing, visually stunning story that begins on the night of March 13, 1997, when strange lights were seen in the Phoenix sky. An unknown, yet somehow vaguely recognized man appears in the streets of Phoenix, touching off a series of extraordinary events in the lives of those he encounters.”

Interestingly, in late January 2009, apparent new information began surfacing about the behind-the-scenes activities at Arizona’s two major Air Force bases during the Phoenix Lights incident.

The small screen is also part of recent creative endeavors in Arizona. The TV series Paranormal Matrix is being marketed by Ken Liljegren and Gregg Housey of Spectrum Video & Film, based in Phoenix. They have been conferring with programming executives from around the U.S. and internationally.

Paranormal Matrix is a half-hour program in a news-entertainment format. Segments include unconventional topics such as unusual human consciousness phenomena, leading-edge and emerging research as well as other anomalous subjects. Host Katie Cook guides viewers through these fascinating topics and guest interviews.

When the Paranormal Matrix creators had a preview party in Phoenix Jan. 22, 2008, the producer of the award-winning documentary film Phoenix Lights, Lynne Kitei, M.D., attended.

ARIZONA SPIRIT

Although the Phoenix Lights incident is associated with Phoenix’s “Valley of the Sun,” the phenomena actually stretched from Arizona’s border with Nevada all the way to the Arizona-Mexico border.

The large V-shaped craft that Arizonans say they spotted probably passed near the Sedona region.

When the Sedona Film Festival begins Feb. 23, people from around the country and around the world will converge on the beautiful, mysterious and magical “red rock country” of central Arizona. The festival will feature 140 independent films.

Sedona is an ideal place for creativity, and the appreciation of it, to bubble up into the consciousness.

Known around the world for its mystical energy vortexes, Sedona is located at an altitude of 4,500 feet on Arizona's Colorado Plateau. It is about 125 miles north of Phoenix and the Sonoran Desert (elevation 1,100 feet) and about 30 miles south of the pine-covered mountains of Flagstaff (at 8,000 feet).

Native Americans considered the Sedona area a special place. And today, it is a location enjoyed by people who want to experience the outdoors, the unique geography, the fine inns and resorts as well as the wonderful art galleries. The metaphysical bookstores, shops and healers also add to the special flavor of Sedona.

Whether Arizonans and visitors are enjoying the mountains, the desert or the special regions in-between, the unique beauty of the state continues to inspire the appreciation of Nature and Earth.

Telling the stories of humanity, in the forms of film, television, art and other creative endeavors, are part of the Arizona experience. Even “the ancient ones” did this – you can find petroglyphs and pictographs or "rock art" as well as the ruins of ancient peoples who lived throughout Arizona.

Wouldn’t they be fascinated by the platforms such as film and TV and the creative works being developed in Arizona?

The Appearance of a Man and Paranormal Matrix are just two examples of the creative spirit in the Grand Canyon State. They seem to reflect a special perspective on life and our Universe that is part of living in Arizona.



Monday, February 16, 2009

Should U.S. Government release more data on UFOs?

By Steve Hammons

Some people suspect that at least one craft from another planet and/or dimension crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in the summer of 1947, and that this incident was part of the beginnings of highly-classified U.S. Government research, intelligence and defense-related activities.

Some people doubt this or are very skeptical of this possibility.

Others may have inside information that there is some truth to the Roswell case and subsequent developments, but for one reason or another they help keep the sensitive situation in a semi-secret status.

Now, with a new U.S. Government administration and new leaders in key positions throughout the government, those who believe that information on UFOs should be more fully released to the public are making their cases.

However, if information related to this topic is buried in deep "black" programs, or even within organizations that have been separated from the U.S. Government, it might make an information-release process more difficult.

GRADUAL ACCLIMATION

In recent months, some other national governments have released "UFO files" to the public.

People who reviewed information in these releases could easily come to the conclusion that "something" interesting probably is at the core of many of incidents and circumstances noted in government reports on this subject.

Whether part of a planned effort or not, these releases seem to be serving as a gradual acclimation for the international public about the topics of UFOs and possible visitors to Earth from elsewhere.

In the U.S., information continues to surface indicating that similar acclimation and education efforts for the American public may have been going on for several decades. These activities may have included introducing ideas and concepts into movies, TV shows and other media.

Selective leaks may have helped in the gradual release of information about aspects of the UFO phenomena.

As a result, Americans and people around the world are probably more prepared to accept and adjust to further information on the subject.

READY OR NOT

Despite this preparedness, it remains unclear whether the Earth's populations are psychologically and emotionally ready to deal with more sophisticated information on the possible situation regarding UFOs and visitation of intelligent beings from elsewhere.

Attitudes about the topic appear to be complex, and do not seem to be based strictly on educational levels, socio-economic status, ethnicity, cultural contexts and other conventional demographic categories. Attitudes about UFOs and visitors seem to transcend many of these elements of human society.

Equally complex might be the actual overall situation of the history of U.S. and international government activities regarding UFOs. In addition, the deep and unconventional aspects of the situation could be surprising and even troubling.

That said, releasing information about possible realities involved in the UFO situation will probably continue as it reportedly has over the decades – gradual and safe acclimation in ways that benefit American citizens and people internationally.

If further efforts and activities are able to make progress in these areas, then they can be carefully evaluated and implemented.

The general public will undoubtedly continue to basically keep open minds and a healthy skepticism about such unconventional topics as our understanding of them becomes more complete.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New intel group IARPA should explore soft power

By Steve Hammons

(An updated version of article was posted on my LinkedIn profile 8/5/15.) 

The U.S. intelligence community’s new research and development group can include efforts to enhance soft power assets as well as R&D in advanced technology as part of their ongoing activities and emerging challenges.

The newly-formed Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) has evolved from previous intelligence activities and is now trying to model itself on the respected Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which was created in 1958.

Can the new IARPA follow DARPA’s example to recognize and identify the current and coming challenges facing the national security community, or even provide newer and more innovative transcendent intelligence resources, such as the optimization of soft power assets? IARPA could be helpful. 
 

A key element in soft power is the ability to attract people in many walks of life, in many countries and in various tactical and strategic contexts to become friends and allies. These goals can be as important as R&D of technologies.

When the U.S. is engaged in worthwhile efforts that are intelligent, beneficial and morally sound, the ability to communicate these factors internally and externally becomes not only quite important, but imperative in taking the high ground.

FUTURE CAPABILITIES

Technology and gadgets do have their place in today’s society. And, they can be merged with soft power modalities to create a synergy of transcendent warfare and transcendent intelligence activities.

Dr. Lisa Porter, IARPA director, and Dr. Timothy Murphy, deputy director, lead the agency. According to the group's Web site, “IARPA reports to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Director of Science and Technology. IARPA by design does not have an operational mission, and its focus is on capabilities that the user community might want in the future, not on the requirements they have today.”

The future will require that the U.S. take intelligent and ethical positions, implement activities accordingly and then communicate via soft power resources about our stances and intentions. These steps will have many benefits, including the ability to attract intelligence from human sources (HUMINT).

U.S. activities internationally, and in space, are essentially an expression of human nature, human psychology, human behavior and human consciousness. The same is true for other nations, cultures and societies on our planet.

Various aspects of hard power and soft power are results and reflections of this human consciousness in one way or another.

Therefore, when we more fundamentally address and explore human consciousness, we get to the heart of human attitudes and behavior. This is important in understanding others – and ourselves.

HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS

If we accept that human consciousness, perception, awareness and understanding are basic parts of successful endeavors and soft power, then adequate and intelligent R&D should be focused on them.

From conventional theories of human psychology and the behavioral sciences to leading-edge research on anomalous cognition, much has been learned about human consciousness and human behavior over past decades.

However, basic understanding about this body of knowledge is sometimes lacking among the general public and people in many walks of life, both in the U.S. and internationally.

Because human behavior is so significantly linked to the human mind and human consciousness, the appropriate dissemination of information about this topic is important to make progress on a myriad of fronts.

In addition, because of emerging and leading-edge research indicating that human consciousness has greater potential than most people previously believed, it is useful to convey information on these topics. 


We might wonder if the understanding about human consciousness, nationally and internationally, will result in significant improvements in many areas important to the U.S. These include, but are not limited to: counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, prevention and resolution of regional conflicts, mitigating humanitarian challenges, enhancing social cohesion and cooperation, expanding creative problem-solving, improving overall human functioning and obtaining HUMINT.

AMERICA LEADS AGAIN

Deploying information to enhance understanding of emerging leading-edge knowledge about human consciousness can and should be done in many ways.

Methods of communication should be specific to the target audiences and fit their demographic characteristics (geography, age, gender, ethnicity, cultural elements, profession, etc.). Platforms for communication can include dissemination of articles and books or the use of radio, TV and movies. The internet also provides rich possibilities as an educational platform.

At this time, the U.S. is re-perceived by many at home and internationally as a force for decency and progress. Building on this current situation and being a leader in transcendent warfare and human consciousness education could enhance HUMINT opportunities and resources in many contexts and scenarios.

By focusing on human consciousness and the interesting body of knowledge about it, soft power efforts can potentially reach a wide portion of the U.S. and international population. This can result in the U.S. being perceived as a leading influence in efforts for human progress of many kinds.

This posture could also help position the U.S. as a leader in transcendent warfare expertise and create a synergy when combined with U.S. hard power, public diplomacy, intelligence activities and other efforts.

Will IARPA be an agency that recognizes and contributes to soft power and transcendent warfare R&D, optimizing understanding of human consciousness and deploying leading-edge and emerging approaches? If they do, it could benefit all of us.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Funding for ‘soft power’ R&D needed now

By Steve Hammons


In a recent open letter to President Obama, an official of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Pedro L. Rustan, told the president that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) could be helpful in renewing our economy and optimizing “human capital.”

DARPA provides funding for leading-edge research and development of technologies and systems to help the Defense Department. Of course, other federal government and private organizations also provide grants and funding assistance for a wide range of useful R&D activities.

Although the focus is sometimes on devices and technologies, it has also become apparent that “soft power” resources can be as valuable, or sometimes even more valuable, than “hard power” technologies and weapons. User of soft power can also be merged with and enhance hard power elements.

Soft power approaches generally refer to diplomacy (including public diplomacy), persuasion, information and communication, economic pressures and incentives, psychological operations, public relations and similar activities.

These may be overt, covert or some combination of both. They may be geared toward friendly nations or hostile adversaries. They may be aimed at the international community or at the American people.

Research funding geared toward new and advanced understanding of soft power may be helpful.

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION

In international and U.S. defense matters, whether we consider the “winning the hearts and minds” efforts of the Vietnam War era or a newer concept such as optimizing the “human terrain,” there seem to be important factors that can lead to success or failure.

The same could be said about economic issues, social progress, health and medical care, education, cultural affairs and a wide range of other human endeavors. Studying and applying leading-edge aspects of human perception, awareness, understanding and consciousness can be used to make progress in all these areas.

However, we can look at defense matters as an example.

Not to be confused with “mind control,” deceptive propaganda activities or manipulative psychological operations, an emerging concept sometimes referred to as “transcendent warfare” incorporates a new view of soft power. The idea of transcendent warfare includes the use of knowledge and understanding about leading-edge research into human consciousness.

How to best apply this awareness in pursuit of legitimate goals is something that seems worthy of research and funding from federal government-related organizations.

According to a recent Associated Press report, “As it fights two wars, the Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls ‘the human terrain’ of world public opinion. An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year.”

These expenditure and efforts reflect the recognition that soft power, information operations and communication activities to influence human consciousness can have value.

They can also backfire, or create “blow-back” if people feel they are being lied to or manipulated for questionable purposes.

THE HUMAN MIND

When trying to understand human behavior and the underlying thoughts, feelings and beliefs that motivate behavior, we might sometimes think in outdated ways. Various conventional theories of psychology indicate that our understanding of the human mind is evolving and that there are many views about what is involved in human consciousness.

The human mind involves a myriad of factors including the conscious and unconscious, thoughts and feelings, dreams and imagination, biological and biochemical aspects, creativity and destructiveness, health and pathologies, cultural and sociological influences, gender, age and maybe even genetics, among other influences.

Some longstanding psychological theories even include the idea of a kind of collective consciousness or group subconscious. Spiritual and philosophical approaches have long proposed that humans can connect to a transcendent consciousness through prayer, meditation or other methods.

Newer research has included indications that the human mind has capabilities and potential to perceive more, and in different ways, than we previously understood. Some of this research was funded by the U.S. Government in recent past decades and it did yield very promising results.

Sometimes called “remote viewing,” sometimes called “anomalous cognition,” these capabilities of the human mind were discovered to be quite useful in our current times. They probably also existed in ancient humans and in other creatures because they can be key to sensing danger and survival.

The ability to perceive may not be limited in space and time in ways we were brought up to understand.

APPLY AND DEPLOY

How do we take this new understanding and deploy it for American society, U.S. national interests, our public diplomacy and our international activities?

Can the existing research be leveraged to enhance U.S. prosperity and successes of various kinds? Can the research results be utilized in our economic situation, peace operations, humanitarian operations and other worthwhile efforts?

How do we blend transcendent warfare concepts with constructive engagement in the international community while also making progress at home? How do we apply lessons learned from anomalous cognition research to our own people, our economic engines, our armed forces, our intelligence community, our educational and health care systems?

These questions seem to need answers. Appropriate research funding to examine possible ways forward could be helpful on many fronts.

After all, anomalous cognition may not really be so “anomalous.” It may be quite normal and natural. Learning ways to apply existing research seems like the next logical step – a step that can be applied widely and probably with good results.

Let’s get moving on this aspect of developing human capital and using leading-edge and emerging understanding about human consciousness.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

DARPA, In-Q-Tel can expand efforts for U.S.

By Steve Hammons

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) should be used in expanded ways to help the U.S. economy and American society, an official of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) wrote to President Obama.

In an open letter to Obama published Jan. 12, 2009, in Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, Pedro L. Rustan wrote that "Expanding this entrepreneurial and innovative agency's role beyond traditional defense-related industries will help you rebuild the U.S. economy and create jobs.”

Rustan is director of the NRO’s Ground Enterprise Directorate. The NRO is an agency of the U.S. intelligence community.

“For more than 50 years, [DARPA] innovations have enhanced the Defense Dept., the intelligence community and commercial industry,” according to Rustan.

He told Obama that, “Expanding DARPA's role will cultivate our nation's entrepreneurial spirit and enable us to continue to lead the global economy.”

As Rustan pointed out in his letter, today’s Internet is the result of the earlier ARPAnet, developed by DARPA.

Although he focused on DARPA’s past, current and potential future activities, Rustan’s views might also apply to other organizations. One example is the not-for-profit independent venture capital firm In-Q-Tel.

In-Q-Tel provides funding for innovative R&D that helps the U.S. intelligence community. Could In-Q-Tel’s activities also be expanded to help America?

HUMAN ELEMENT

Rustan pointed out that nanotechnology, biotechnology and information/communication technology are three general areas that should be focal points. He also noted that human development, education and training are key elements.

”Refocusing DARPA to address both military and commercial areas cannot be successful without paying equal attention to the development of human capital,” he wrote. “DARPA should expand efforts in cognitive sciences,” Rustan said.

Taking his idea further, we might consider that leading-edge developments in cognitive sciences, neurosciences, behavioral sciences, human communication, studies of human consciousness and related fields seem to offer tremendous potential.

After all, activities of our defense and intelligence communities, as well as our educational, economic and cultural endeavors are all tied to human behavior, perception, understanding and the other elements of the human species and human civilization.

The “hard power” technologies that groups like DARPA and In-Q-Tel have traditionally nurtured can be expanded to include “soft power” elements. Soft power not only can greatly enhance hard power resources, but can also serve as stand-alone tools to make progress on many fronts.

TRANSCENDENT APPROACHES

Emerging understanding and leading-edge research of many kinds remind us that our world is rapidly changing, sometimes in ways that cause us great concern.

Safety and security, freedom and justice, creativity and innovation, natural resources preservation and conservation, social cohesion and cooperation, effective agriculture, sustainable energy, economic prosperity, improved education, human development and many other fundamental goals are worthy targets for increased and advanced efforts.

At the heart of these efforts and goals are the many aspects of human consciousness.

The study of this intriguing field is no less important than our R&D of advanced technologies that organizations like DARPA and In-Q-Tel have traditionally cultivated.

Similar to the defense and intelligence communities’ study of “anomalous cognition” and “remote viewing” which include interesting and promising elements of human awareness, we can expand activities to take the next steps in these areas.

Several years ago, when a former Navy SEAL officer wrote a graduate-level paper for the Marine Corps War College about remote viewing research and operations, he referred to these efforts as being part of “transcendent warfare” – a way of optimizing leading-edge research results and innovative approaches to successfully accomplish a wide range of missions.

The SEAL and NRO official Rustan may be on to something. Maybe we should expand our thinking beyond what has sufficed in the past when considering what is valuable for our defense and intelligence communities.

After all, we are all part of a larger “intelligence community” – the community of the United States of America and of the human race. Let us hope that this community is intelligent enough to move forward in positive and constructive ways.

American society and culture will survive and thrive if we cultivate the intelligence of our people, improve understanding of emerging developments and show the world that we are a powerful force for good on Earth, and beyond.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Algae-based jet fuel gets DARPA funding

By Steve Hammons

Jet fuel and other fuels made from algae are being developed in San Diego. Some of the research is being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the Department of Defense.

DARPA has provided $35 million to San Diego-based companies SAIC and General Atomics to pursue the creation of algae-based jet fuel.

This investment has triggered more interest in San Diego as a research hub for algae-based fuels. According to a Jan. 12, 2009, article in the San Diego Business Journal, “A consortium of academic researchers is pushing to make San Diego a hub for research on algae-based fuels, a task that, if successful, could pour more jobs and funding into the area.”

The article also noted that an associate dean at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Stephen Mayfield, is leading efforts to make the San Diego region a center for fuels created from algae.


Mayfield wants to establish joint activities that include the Scripps Research Institute, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and University of California San Diego.

A “handful of companies” in San Diego are trying to create high-octane algae-based fuels, the article explained.

The funding provided by DARPA to General Atomics will also include Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which was enlisted by General Atomics to assist in the project.

MILITARY JET FUEL FOCUS

The DARPA money for SAIC could total up to $24 million to develop algae based military jet fuel JP-8 that costs $3 per gallon, according to an article on the Web site Earth2Tech.com. That is in addition to a $14.9 million contract also related to algae-based biofuels, the Web site reported.

Large energy companies like Shell and Chevron are also working on alternative jet fuels, Earth2Tech.com said.

According to Earth2Tech.com, “the military spent $6 billion on 71 million barrels of JP-8 in 2006.” The Defense Department wants to reduce that cost.


Earth2Tech.com also reported that the publication Defense News recently noted, “It’s no secret that jet fighters can fly on fuel extracted from algae. What’s not yet known, though, is how to squeeze oil from algae at a reasonable price.”

The Web site CleanTechnica.com also noted the interest in algae fuels. It reported, “SAIC says there will be two phases to the project. The first will involve refining the technology and developing lab-scale production capabilities. The second phase will involve the construction of what SAIC calls a pre-pilot scale production facility.”

CleanTechnica.com also stated, “SAIC will do the work at company facilities in Georgia, Florida, Hawaii and Texas. The company will work with a team of industrial and academic partners."

In addition, CleanTechnica.com explained, “DARPA is looking to reduce the military’s dependence on traditional forms of fuel, which makes sense from both an economic and strategic standpoint. While it remains to be seen if farmed algae provides an answer to the military’s energy needs.”

ALGAE VS. CROP-BASED BIOFUELS

Aguaculture-based biofuels may have advantages over corn and other crop-based fuels.

Critics of corn-based biofuels have claimed that as much energy is need to fertilize, grow and harvest corn as is derived from corn-based biofuel.

Research efforts to find ways of breaking down the cellulose in other plants are underway. Progress in this area would allow many other types of high-yield plants and plant waste products to be efficiently converted to biofuels.

“PetroSun opened the first algae to biofuel facility in the U.S. last April. Such operations don’t require the crop land that corn or switchgrass use, and can produce as much as 100 times more energy per acre than crop-based biofuels,” CleanTechnica.com reported.

Growing and harvesting algae also has unique challenges.

According to an SAIC press release, “SAIC and its team will develop technologies and processes to help achieve DARPA's goal including integrating algae strain selection, water and nutrient sourcing, farming, harvesting, separation, triglyceride purification, algal oil processing, and economic modeling and analysis.”

SAN DIEGO HUB

The Web site Xeconomy.com also found the project significant. The site stated that “the San Diego region is undertaking a broad initiative to accelerate development of algae-to-biofuels technology by establishing a new organization, the San Diego Center for Algae-based Biofuels, or SD-CAB.”

Xeconomy.com that, “The center is being organized by a consortium of academic and industry researchers and represents a regional effort to make sustainable algae-based biofuel production a reality in the next 5 to 10 years.”

According to the Web site, Steve Kay, dean of biological sciences at UC San Diego, said that a “collaborative effort” getting the center going was an outcome from the non-profit membership group “Cleantech San Diego.” That group began in 2007, a combination of local government and regional economic development activities.


The Web site also claimed that “at least nine companies in the San Diego area that are working to develop algae-based substitutes for conventional petroleum products.”