Jeff Bezos has been getting attention in recent years for doing things like creating Amazon and buying the Washington Post. His interest in space exploration and development hasn't attracted as much general attention. Perhaps that will change with the Transformers meeting on Wednesday, May 18 at the Washington Post.
Bezos has an interesting personal history. He was born in 1964. His biological parents marriage lasted less than a year. His mother remarried to one Miguel Bezos by the time Jeff was four. Miguel came to the United States from Cuba after the Communist takeover as part of Operation Pedro Pan (see Pedro Pan and Wikipedia on Peter Pan. Miguel (known generally as Mike) became an engineer in the United States
The Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union attracted much attention in the 1960s. It really got a good bit of attention after the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in 1957 and the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. The United States eventually won that race when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Jeff Bezos was five then. That was old enough to remember such a significant event. I suspect his engineer stepfather Miguel paid a good bit of attention to this race, especially since he escaped Communist Cuba as a teenager.
Space faded from general interest after Apollo 11 – but not for some engineers, scientists and imaginative visionaries. One man who was a member of all these groups was one Gerard K. O'Neill) who was a physics professor at Princeton University. O'Neill got a good bit of attention in the larger world with his book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space that came out in 1976 which made an interesting case that the human race was on the brink of developing large space colonies that would house thousands and then millions of people doing things to benefit humans on Earth. Think, for example, building large satellites that would capture solar energy and beam it to Earth to power Earth cleanly and cheaply.
Jeff Bezos was a boy growing into a young man during the 1970s. He graduated from Miami Palmetto High in 1982 as class valedictorian. What was his valedictorian address about? Space colonies. The Miami Herald has an interesting article about this.
What was his next step in his education? He went to Princeton University, starting out as a physics major. I suspect Gerard K. O'Neill and his advocacy of space colonies had something to do with this decision. Bezos soon switched to his first loves of electrical engineering and computer software though. Jeff also became president of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space while at Princeton. People can find an interesting account of Bezos' work doing that on Gaiome.
After graduating from Princeton, Bezos first found work on Wall Street before starting Amazon in the 1990s. More recently he has started Blue Origin. Let me say Jeff Bezos is still quite interested in space exploration and development.
The event Transformers, while it does have some interesting people in fields outside of space who are working to make interesting changes in their fields, does have some interesting people who are working to change space as well. At least that is what I get from reading the Post's description of this upcoming event at the Washington Post website.
The big question in my mind is the timing of this event. Why is it on the Wednesday that is the start of ISDC and the middle day of Humans to Mars?