June 22, 2010

"The poetry of the counting-house and wharf..."

How are these two things the same?

From the memoirs of Fanny Kemble...

...While we were acting at Liverpool an experimental trip was proposed upon the line of railway which was being constructed between Liverpool and Manchester, the first mesh of that amazing iron net which now covers the whole surface of England and all the civilized portions of the earth. The Liverpool merchants, whose far-sighted self-interest prompted them to wise liberality, had accepted the risk of George Stephenson's magnificent experiment, which the committee of inquiry of the House of Commons had rejected for the government. These men, of less intellectual culture than the Parliament members, had the adventurous imagination proper to great speculators, which is the poetry of the counting-house and wharf, and were better able to receive the enthusiastic infection of the great projector's sanguine hope that the Westminster committee...[Thanks to David Foster at Chicagoboyz]

The Space Review: Individuals pick up the space development torch:

...Wealth follows a Pareto distribution where 80% of the wealth is owned by 20% of the people, 64% of the wealth is owned by 4% of the people, and so on. At $1 million and more, there are about 110 times as many people as at $30 million and more. So if wealth continues to double every generation and the price of rocket development shrinks modestly, so that ten percent per year growth continues, there may be millions of people who can afford to develop a rocket in fifty years time—about the same number as the 8.6 million millionaire individuals in 2009.

The increase in the population of potential financiers in the last 50 years is likely to be the main reason that rocket development is now becoming a personal pursuit. In addition to Elon Musk’s orbital venture, many people have used the proceeds from other businesses to fund suborbital rocketry in the past 10 years (and perhaps orbital in the future), including Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, John Carmack, and David Masten. As successful developments conclude, the pursuit may become more popular and competitive. Keeping up with the Joneses amongst yuppie rocketeers may someday mean launching settlers to Mars....

By the way, I wrote back in 2006:

Having these proud-as-Lucifer dot-commers competing with each other to get into orbit is just too utterly cool. "Last guy into space is a girl!"

Well, it seems to be working...

Delta Clipper experimental rocket
That fascinating might-have-been, Delta Clipper. Image from space.com

They are the same because many of the real poets are, then and now, entrepreneurs.

Posted by John Weidner at June 22, 2010 8:03 PM
Weblog by John Weidner