So I went to Stanford instead. I might actually have flunked out at CalTech, for friends much smarter than me barely graduated or transferred elsewhere. But if I made it, my future would have been pigeon-holed into something fundamentally scientific, retarding my proclivity to Save Planet Earth and Humanity. Thus, failure can sometimes guide you towards a more rewarding life. So, anyway, as my classmates mostly joined the Peace Corps, I went home to help the flagging sugar industry.
After gaining a PhD in biochemical engineering, on I went to the University of Hawaii, and my first real assignment was as reservoir engineer for the Hawaii Geothermal Project. While HGP-A was a success, and was the hottest geothermal well in the world in the mid-70's, Judge David Ezra essentially sided with the Hawaiians, marijuana growers, environmentalist and other protesters, limiting the potential for this technology.
Although 38 MW of this electricity are being generated, the rated potential should be well in the several hundred MWs. In the 80's studies were conducted to connect the Big Island to Oahu with a deep sea electric cable, and 500 MWs were mentioned as the potential. A third of century later, there is no discussion of this future. Failure? Guess so.
Pacific Geo-Spa Group, with local architectural and engineering firms, to utilize the effluents from a geopark, I visited a half dozen onsens throughout Japan and New Zealand, brought interested Japanese investors to Hawaii and got strong support from Seiji Naya, who ran the Hawaii Department of Business and Economic Development. We wanted to develop Hawaiian Onsens for resorts, golf courses and other enterprises. Today, nothing built, with no interest exhibited. How many failures am I up to now? They'll be more.
National Ignition Facility has spent $3.5 billion and has failed to reach net positive. ITER in France, a magnetic fusion experiment has a $20 billion budget, and is in worse shape. As our Sun and all the stars use fusion to produce energy, I still think that this is the pathway to longterm cleaner energy sustainability. Yet, I again failed.
3856 exoplanets. Yet, the greater challenge of SETI is to receive and interpret signals from advanced civilizations surely scattered throughout the Universe. As of today, no success.
Huffington Post article I published on this concept. I talked to the Department of Energy, fossil fuel industry, a variety of conferences, anybody.... One of my greater failures.
A second bill I shepherded through Congress was the Hard Minerals Act to develop manganese nodules and rare earths from the sea bottom. My Institute at the University of Hawaii became, with the University of Mississippi, the Department of Interior's Marine Minerals Technology Centers. However, no minerals are currently being extracted from the sea.
Marine Byproducts Engineering Center. We became the national center to produce nutraceuticals, biopigments, and all the high value microbio-commodities from the ocean. Today, no MarBEC and no new exotic pharmaceutical firm. Cyanotech remains alive, but they came early at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.
- Next Generation Fisheries, or the Ultimate Ocean Ranch.
- Rainbow Pearls International, a company to grow colored pearls.
- Blue Revolution, to which I donated my apartment to the University of Hawaii to help fund this initiative.
- Led an international team to remediate global climate warming and proposed a 5 cents/pound carbon dioxide credit program.
- Penned a series of articles for universal world peace. Yes, a bit preposterous, but there is a 10% Simple Solution for Peace that someday, perhaps, might gain traction. In a U.S. News and World Report debate on defense spending, I came in #2 to Ron Paul, but that is because his staff made sure he won.
SIMPLE SOLUTION for Humanities, I had a whole chapter on education entitled Teaching Rainbows. As an engineer you would think I would press for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). However, if you bother to read that chapter, I instead argued for four more R's to 'Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmatic: Rigor, Respect, Relevance and Relationship. These seven R's are far more important than science and technology. Clearly, I've failed to convince anyone, so let me leave this at that.
I've also, I guess, failed in the most consequential factor regarding my life and eternity: I do not believe in God and the Afterlife. Eighty percent of Americans think there is an Afterlife. Of course, they could be wrong, but if they are, they won't know about it. At least in this life they are psychologically confident and, thus, more comfortable about death than I am. Some religions try to convince you to take a stand on this key question, and make threats like you won't be allowed into Heaven if you don't have faith. As Doris Day sang, Que Sera Sera.
- I'm way ahead of my time and should be more realistic.
- I did not follow through to the conclusion by prematurely passing on leadership to someone else so I could initiate something new.
- These were pretty dumb things to do anyway.