Walter Kistler bigraphy, stories - Physicists

Walter Kistler : biography

1918 -

Walter P. Kistler is a physicist, inventor, and philanthropist, born in 1918 in Biel, Switzerland. Kistler is a life member of the Swiss Physical Society and a member of AIAA and ISA, which presented him the Life Achievement Award in 2000. He is listed in American Men of Science, Who’s Who in Aviation, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, and Who’s Who in the World. He holds patents on more than 50 inventions in the scientific and industrial instrumentation fields, and has published a number of papers published in scientific and trade journals.

Later life and the Foundation For the Future

In his later life, Kistler played a central role as Director or Chairman in the startup of several high-technology companies. These companies include Kistler Products, SRS, ICI, Interpoint, Paroscientific, and SPACEHAB, Inc. In 1993 he co-founded Kistler Aerospace Corporation “to pursue his life-long dream of designing and building the world's first totally reusable space vehicle,” hoping to reduce the cost of access to space by 80 to 90%.

Though Kistler’s life was predominantly spent in science and engineering, he was always concerned about where humanity was headed, and in 1996 he co-founded (with Bob Citron) the Foundation For the Future. The Foundation’s goal is to “increase knowledge about the factors that may have a major impact on the long-term future of humanity.”

Foundation For the Future programs include awarding the annual Kistler Prize; awarding of other Walter P. Kistler prizes to recognize book authors, film producers, or teachers who promote scientific knowledge and understanding related to the long-term future of humanity; funding research grants (up to US $25,000) to support scholars undertaking research directly related to better understanding the factors affecting the long-term future of humanity; hosting/sponsoring conferences to bring together scientists and scholars from multiple disciplines and various parts of the world for discussions focused on the thousand-year future of our species and our planet; and undertaking public awareness concerning the long-term future of the human species. A new program established in fall 2009 is the Walter P. Kistler Lecture Series, which brings to the public, free of charge, direct access to expert information on urgent issues facing humanity today and into the future.

Hundreds of scholars have participated in Foundation For the Future seminars and workshops. Here are comments from a few of them:

“The conference was especially valuable for bringing together exceedingly bright persons from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary specializations to think seriously and provocatively about the future.” — Professor Howard Wiarda, University of Massachusetts.Foundation For the Future News, Vol. 9.1, 2006

“I found that in this experience I have become much more optimistic about the future.” — Dr. John Skoyles, London School of Economics.

“If the intention of the organizers was to make people who have never thought about the far future do so, then it succeeded gloriously with me, and I have not stopped since. I learned how hopeless we are at predicting the near future – let alone a thousand years ahead – but how important it is for us to try.” — Dr. Susan Blackmore, author of The Meme Machine.

“I learned that it’s important to share your ideas with your peers and even other people that you come into contact with because that way you actually get a holistic view of what everyone thinks and you get a more rounded view of what the problem is and you can, as a group, think of ways to come up with a resolution for it.” — Albert, high school student.

“I have been devoted to futures studies for almost 30 years, and this is my great pleasure to have this opportunity to meet so many futurists at the same time. I have learned a great deal because this is an interdisciplinary approach, and it touches politics, education, economics, sociology, anthropology, etc. It will be most helpful that we can widen our perspectives.” — Clement C.P. Chang, Tamkang University, Taipei

Living octopus

Living octopus

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