For more information on the wide variety of areas concerning science and technology where I have involvement, visit the Futurescience home page.
For nearly 8 years after receiving my degree in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado, I worked for the Ampex Corporation, the company that invented the video tape recorder. During most of that time I was a test engineer, developing test procedures and designing test interface equipment for their professional audio products. I wrote all of the test procedures for the electronic sub-assemblies (as well as the final system test) for the ATR-100, which was the last major innovation in analog audio tape recorders. I also did some engineering work on the production testing of Ampex professional video recording equipment.
From August 1978 until January 2008, I worked as a radio and television transmitter engineer, most of that time as Transmitter Supervisor, for the ABC affiliate in Colorado Springs. I worked atop Cheyenne Mountain, just outside of Colorado Springs. (I never worked inside of this famous mountain, but I have been inside of it on two different occasions.) I have driven to the summit of Cheyenne Mountain more than 4,000 times, and I still do work as an electronics consultant atop that mountain several times a year.
My main goal as transmitter supervisor was to never go off the air (and I remember nearly every minute of those rare times when we were off the air). In spite of constant severe lightning strikes to the towers on top of the mountain, we were on the air almost continuously during the decades that I worked there. When we had only an old 1959 model RCA transmitter (and no backup transmitter) there were some problems with the old television transmitter in the summer of 1980 due to volcanic ash from the May 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens. The volcanic ash caused high voltage breakdowns across the old porcelain high-voltage insulators. The only other television "off-the-air" times were an hour of down time due to a severe lightning storm in 1981, (before I got the extensive lightning protection and grounding systems installed) and on Christmas day of 1982, due to a generator failure during a power outage in a snowstorm. After that, there were only two outages of less than an hour due to a "baseball switch" getting jammed.
The FM transmitters were always more problematic. Many of the FM problems were due to high-voltage breakdown and intermittent arcing due to the high altitude. Even with elaborate surge protection and grounding, the frequent lightning was very hard on circuit breakers, and I learned to keep a large supply of spare circuit breakers at the transmitter site.
I now have a multi-faceted career operating two separate one-person businesses. I am a science writer for my one-person company called Futurescience, LLC. which is now primarily devoted to distributing advanced information related to preventive medicine and healthy life extension.
I have a very large amount of scientific information on the futurescience.com web site on the subject of nuclear electromagnetic pulse. I have been editing some books related to electromagnetic pulse.
Futurescience, LLC also still provides a very limited amount of support for the hundreds of superconductor kits that were produced from 1991 to 2006 by the old company Futurescience, Inc. These superconductor kits are still in use in universities around the world. Since none of these kits have been produced since early 2006, though, the need for customer support has pretty much gone away.
From 1999 through 2004, I co-authored the information in the nationally-distributed page-a-day Easy Answer Science Calendar. Many of my entries were also in subsequent calendars. Those calendars were produced and distributed by Accord Publishing, which is now a division of Andrews-McMeel (and their products are now distributed through Simon and Schuster). I was also the original webmaster for Accord Publishing when they first started their web site, and continued as webmaster for the first years of the web site's operation.
I also developed the Storm Watch weather forecasting unit, which was sold nationally by Accord Publishing for many years (along with a story book, which I did not write). The product went on the market in about 1990. There were originally a large range of science experiments that were designed to be performed with the manometer in the device that I called the "Air Balance;" but cost constraints forced Accord to eliminate most of those very educational science experiments (along with capabilities that were actually built in to the device as sold, but never revealed to the user).
I have a considerable amount of information on needle phobia, which is a major medical problem, on the Needle Phobia Page at needlephobia.com, which I started in 1997.
I am a Wikipedia editor who has made more than 500 edits on more than 50 different articles on Wikipedia. I have also started several new articles on Wikipedia over the past few years. My Wikipedia name is X5dna.
I also do some electronics consulting through a one-person company created in 2008 called Transmitter Maintenance, LLC. There was very little work to be done in this area in years 2009-2013 because most smaller and mid-sized broadcast stations in the United States were just letting their transmission equipment deteriorate and become quite fragile. This situation was forced on the broadcasters because of the severe expense mandated by the Federal Communications Commission in requiring television stations to operate both analog and digital television stations simultaneously for many years, while having only a single revenue stream for both costly operations. (This is very much analogous to a hypothetical situation where you would be "given" a second house, but would be required to pay the mortgage and maintenance on both houses while having only the same one job that you always had.) The situation has gotten a little better in 2014.
As a college student, I successfully predicted, 45 years ago, in an article in an economics journal, the chaos and inefficiency that would be caused by the continued control of the broadcast spectrum by the Federal Communications Commission. See The Freeman, Ideas on Liberty, Vol. 19, No. 10, October 1969. I would phrase the problem using much different words if I were writing the article today (especially the title), but the basic principles that I discussed in the article remain the same.
In May 2008, I had more than one million points on my DNA decoded by a division of Decode Genetics in Iceland. In November 2008, I had another scan of nearly 600,000 points done by a company called 23andMe.
You can see many of the results of that DNA scan linked from my personal DNA page. The information that I have online includes a detailed outline of health risks using Promethease software. These DNA scans (technically known as single nucleotide polymorphism scans) may not be very useful to most people, but I have already found the information enormously valuable to me.
My experiences as a genomic early adopter have been used in at least three medical journal articles:
McGowan, et al., Department of Bioethics, Case Western Reserve University. Personal genomics and individual identities: motivations and moral imperatives of early users. New Genetics and Society. September 1, 2010; 29(3): pp. 261-290. (I am quoted three times in this article, but only identified as User 17.)
Do, et al., Web-Based Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Two Novel Loci and a Substantial Genetic Component for Parkinson's Disease. PLoS Genetics. June 23, 2011. 7(6): e1002141. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002141 (My genome is not specifically mentioned in this article, but was used in the genomic data. My paternal grandmother had Parkinson's Disease in her 80s, and it was presumed to be the cause of her death.)
I was one of more than 20,000 customers of 23andMe who participated in the self-reported data used in the medical journal article in the Public Library of Science:
See: Tung, J.Y., et al., Efficient Replication of over 180 Genetic Associations with Self-Reported Medical Data. PLoS Genetics. August 17, 2011. 6(8): e23473. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023473
More about my personal DNA information can be found at http://www.futurescience.com/dna.html.
Life Extension: I've been an experiment-in-progress in life extension and anti-aging medicine for most of my life. Many advanced techniques in preventive medicine have a good scientific basis, but are seldom used. By the time I was 20, I had decided that it was time to make a real effort to prevent the deterioration of the aging process. I also realized then that I was living in a time when such an effort might really pay off -- and it has.
In 1981, I stepped up my personal life extension to a point that requires regular medical supervision. An important method of life extension is maintaining one's hormone and enzyme levels at what would be normal levels for a healthy person in his twenties. I've been taking things like DHEA, melatonin, deprenyl, testosterone, human growth hormone and pregnenolone long before most people had ever heard of them. In the past few years, I've had to scale back my life extension program quite considerably for financial reasons. (Before I make use of any potentially life-extending substance or technique, I actually read the more important research reports on the subject in legitimate medical journals -- and I get frequent medical testing). It is important to read the research at the source. Medical reporting, like all forms of science reporting in the popular media, is frighteningly awful. Even the practice of medicine, all too often, is based more on tradition than scientific evidence.
Anti-aging medicine has finally matured to the point where it is a legitimate medical specialty. Physicians who take a rigorous exam can become board-certified in anti-aging medicine.
For more information on Life Extension and anti-aging medicine, I have written a free on-line Life Extension Manual.
Superconductors: In the image on the right, a magnet levitates above a black ceramic superconducting disk partially immersed in liquid nitrogen. From 1987 until 2006, I made hundreds of these ceramic superconductors in two bench-top lab furnaces in my little ceramics lab.
Most of these superconductors were sold to schools and universities for demonstrations of the basic concepts of superconductivity. All of my superconductor business has been phased out, and I haven't made a superconductor since early 2006.
Favorite Books and other stuff:
My favorite book is How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne, a book that almost perfectly reflects my own worldview. Everything in this book just seems to me to be very simple and logical, but it is very different from how most people think. This book was originally published in 1973 and was been out-of-print for some time; but it was re-released in 1997 in a new hardcover edition with a new foreword and afterword by the author. In the afterword, he explains how his thinking has changed on some subjects in the years since the book was originally published. (Yes, this is the same Harry Browne who ran for U.S. president in an attempt to experience freedom in a free country.) Harry Browne died of ALS in March, 2006.
My favorite book on science and technology is Engines of Creation by K. Eric Drexler, which I also believe to be the most important book of the 20th century. The entire text of the book is on the web.
My favorite television program is Jacob Bronowski's Knowledge or Certainty episode from his Ascent of Man television series that was shown during the early 1970s on PBS.
My favorite regularly-scheduled entertainment program was Dark Angel, another one of those science fiction shows that became even more popular after it was cancelled. Since it was cancelled in 2002, it has since been often shown in reruns on the cable/satellite channels, and all of the shows are available on DVD. The setting of the show is the United States in the aftermath of a terrorist EMP (nuclear electromagnetic pulse) attack, which is a very likely form of attack that is now either being largely ignored or else plagued by huge amounts of misinformation when it is discussed. Dark Angel is about what happens to kids who have been genetically engineered to be soldiers who have escaped from the government, and who just want to live free in this post-EMP environment.
Dark Angel deals with all of the issues that are likely to affect us most during the first half of the 21st century, including EMP attacks, genetic engineering, stem cells, nano-medicine, and bigotry against people who have been genetically or technologically modified. We are already seeing such anti-technology bigotry becoming evident in the world today. (Most of these important concepts were borrowed from other science fiction works, especially Robert A. Heinlein's novel Friday.) My favorite episode of Dark Angel was Freak Nation, a special extended episode directed by James Cameron, which turned out to be the final episode of the series.
Nearly everything in Dark Angel, including the cometary viral plague that was supposed to be the focus of the third season, is based on serious scientific possibilities. See my Dark Angel Science page.
Another of my favorite television shows was Venevision's El Club de los Tigritos, which has been out of production for many years. This show was supposedly a "children's show." but when I was growing up, this show would not have been called a "children's show." The idea that shows with mainly teenage performers and actors are only for children is a strange phenomenon that did not occur until about 1980.
My favorite movie is the 2000 remake of On The Beach. This movie is quite uncharacteristic of the type of movie that I normally like since it has a very sad and hopeless ending, and it is also based on a scientifically inaccurate premise (and Nevil Shute, who wrote the original book, would have hated this 2000 movie). Nuclear war, even with cobalt-salted weapons, could not cause humans to go extinct. There are, however, other things that could cause human extinction. This (very long) 2000 movie illustrates the tragedy that human extinction would be, and it does so much more starkly and vividly than either the book or the 1959 film.
Nevil Shute's original book may have saved our advanced civilization, considering that the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union both saw the 1959 movie, and considering how close these two countries came on several occasions to all-out nuclear war, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a very successful self-preventing prophecy. If enough people watch the 2000 movie version of On The Beach, we humans may yet become the great exception to the potential threat to our continued existence alluded to by the Fermi Paradox.
My favorite science fiction book is The Great Explosion by Eric Frank Russell. This is the story of the attempt by the Terran bureaucracy to establish "official relations" with various nonconformist societies across the galaxy. Most of the book, which is now out-of-print, is a build-up to the last section (which was originally published separately as a novella entitled And Then There Were None) on the hilarious ultimate cultural clash between an authoritarian bureaucracy and a free society.
As a last resort, in case I ever need an ambulance to the future, I'm signed up for cryonic suspension with the Alcor Foundation. With current freezing techniques, reviving someone in cryonic suspension would probably only be possible with molecular nanotechnology (which is related to what is now called atomically precise manufacturing).   Fortunately, unless some catastrophe happens that stops technological progress, the development of atomically precise technology seems nearly inevitable in the middle of the 21st century. (See the reference above to Engines of Creation.)
Cryonics isn't really all that expensive if you start while you are young enough. It's usually paid for with life insurance. The cost, however, has gone up quite dramatically since I first signed up with Alcor.
Here is my sister Brenda's eulogy for my father.
"To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to
unlearn old falsehoods."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
"A scientist is a magician who shows you how every trick is done." -- Sandy Shaw
"The U.S. Constitution isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than what we have now."
-- Sandy Shaw
"Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand."
-- Archibald Putt
"Small is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts."
-- Albert Einstein
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
"Progress doesn't come from early risers -- progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
"Being right too soon is socially unacceptable."
-- Robert A. Heinlein
"Being right, after many years and unrelenting persistence, becomes socially acceptable. Therefore, a long and healthy life is necessary to enjoy the all of the fruits of your efforts."
-- Jerry Emanuelson
23andMe no longer gives any details on health risks for new customers. They still allow you to download your complete DNA SNP file, plus ancestry information.
If you want to obtain your health risk information from your DNA file, you will have to either consult with a professional, or else analyze your raw DNA file as I have done (as described elsewhere on this site). The FDA will not allow 23andMe to directly provide any health risk information of any kind for customers ordering after November 22, 2013. The DNA scan price is still $99.
If you are an explorer, in the broadest sense of that word, you may be interested in an foundation that provides services for explorers.
The Explorers Foundation provides connections and insights to those who look deeply into the world and see things that others do not. Related to the Explorers Foundation is the freeorder scoop-it page.
More things about me than most people will ever want to know:
I hold a private pilot's license, but I have not maintained a current status for many years. I flew a lot during the 1970s, but when I decided to get back into broadcasting, flying just became too expensive for me. I also have a glider rating, but my last glider flight was during my check ride to obtain the glider rating. My only purpose in getting the glider rating was to improve my flying skills. I was also about 75 percent of the way toward getting my instrument rating, but I was taking instrument flight lessons at about the same time that I was deciding that it would not be financially feasible for me to continue to fly. When I started flying airplanes, I decided that I would either maintain my skills at a high level or I would stop flying completely.
I once held a general class radio amateur license; but I let it lapse many years ago, and I no longer own any amateur radio equipment.
I obtained a First Class Radiotelephone License when I was 17, which allowed me to operate, maintain and adjust broadcast radio and television transmitters. In 1985, this license automatically turned into a General Radiotelephone License, which is valid for life.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, I gave dozens of talks about science and did all kinds of science demonstrations for schools, from elementary schools to high schools. Along with a former president of the National Science Teachers Association, I tried to get a local Science Van project funded with the cooperation of the local chapter of the National Space Society. We never obtained sufficient funding, although a small contribution from Digital Equipment Company enabled me to continue the in-school science talks and demonstrations for a lot longer than what would have otherwise been the case.
Organizations that I once was involved with, mostly as just a member; but that I am no longer involved with for financial reasons (many of those memberships were quite expensive):
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Broadcasting Society).
Audio Engineering Society.
Society for Individual Liberty.
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (for more than 30 years). (Science magazine is a great publication, and I really miss reading it and being in this organization.)
The L5 Society. (I was an officer for many years in the Pikes Peak Chapter, and gave talks at two international conferences. If this organization had succeeded in even getting close to its goals, the entire world would be dramatically different today. I often think that this organization should be retroactively named the I Told You So Society, since we proposed solutions in the 1970s and 1980s for most of the major problems that are faced by 21st century civilization.)
The National Space Society (formerly the National Space Institute, and which merged with, and destroyed, the L5 Society).
American Mensa (for about 35 years). In my earliest years in Mensa, I was the national coordinator of the Audio Special Interest Group. I also met someone through Mensa who later turned out to be a very valuable friend. I hadn't been active in Mensa in recent decades, though, and didn't gain much of value during those recent years.
World Science Fiction Society.
The Planetary Society.
The World Future Society.
The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Organizations in which I still retain membership:
The Life Extension Foundation (continuously since 1981, just after it was founded).
The ALCOR Life Extension Foundation (since late 1987).