The department of mad scientists : how DARPA is remaking our world, from the internet to artificial limbs by Michael Belfiore is the first-ever inside look at DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the maverick and controversial group whose futuristic work has had amazing civilian and military applications, from the Internet to GPS to driverless cars. America's greatest idea factory isn't Bell Labs, Silicon Valley, or MIT's Media Lab. It's the secretive, Pentagon-led agency known as DARPA. Founded by Eisenhower in response to Sputnik and the Soviet space program, DARPA mixes military officers with sneaker-wearing scientists, seeking paradigm-shifting ideas in varied fields—from energy, robotics, and rockets to peopleless operating rooms, driverless cars, and planes that can fly halfway around the world in just hours. DARPA gave birth to the Internet, GPS, and mind-controlled robotic arms. Its geniuses define future technology for the military and the rest of us. Michael Belfiore was given unprecedented access to write this first-ever popular account of DARPA. Visiting research sites across the country, he watched scientists in action and talked to the creative, fearlessly ambitious visionaries working for and with DARPA. Much of DARPA's work is classified, and this book is full of material that has barely been reported in the general media. In fact, DARPA estimates that only 2 percent of Americans know much of anything about the agency. This fascinating read demonstrates that DARPA isn't so much frightening as it is inspiring—it is our future.
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About the Author
Michael Belfiore became a full-time writer in 1995, first working as a freelance technical writer and then moving into public relations writing for large corporations, still with a focus on technology. He covered the launch of the first privately built spaceship for the New York Post and Reuters as a freelance journalist in 2004. Since then he has written about spaceflight and advanced technology for Popular Science, New Scientist, Wired.com, Air & Space, Financial Times, and other outlets. He has appeared as a commentator on the Fox Business Network, CTV's Canada AM, NPR's Marketplace, Showtime's Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, and on radio programs across the United States. Michael's book Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots Is Boldly Privatizing Space (Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins, 2007) is the first book to chronicle the birth of the commercial space age. His blog, Dispatches from the Final Frontier, is a well-regarded source of news and commentary about the industry. His book The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs (Smithsonian Books, 2009) is the first book to go behind the scenes at the Pentagon agency that gave us the Internet, the first satellite positioning system, and many other breakthrough technologies that have had a positive impact on society. In addition to his work as a journalist, Michael provides marketing and public relations writing services to advanced technology companies. He lives in Woodstock, New York with his wife, fellow writer Wendy Kagan, and their daughters Amelie and Jade.
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