I wasn’t nervous. The interview had been scheduled for months. I’d been through makeup, and was now sitting in a comfy chair, surrounded by lights and cameras.
She began, “Dr John Cook, Child Prodigy, Physicist, Artist, Musician, Ambassador, Olympic Medalist, Inventor, Entrepreneur, Environmentalist, Billionaire, Philanthropist, Builder, Deal Maker, Media Mogul, advisor to world governments. It’s a big list, are there any accomplishments that you are most proud of?”
“Barbara, I think the thing I’m most proud of still remains one of my first accomplishments. Carbon felt filtration. It’s done so much for the environment, and keeps saving lives around the world,” I told her.
“What about your discovery of a cure for AIDS? Surely that’s saved lives too,” Barbara Walters asked.
“The discovery was really the work of the people at OkBio. I just took what they had discovered and created a treatment using the same principle. But let’s face facts, with proper funding and a real educational push to get everyone to use condoms, and not share needles we could have stopped HIV/AIDS. But because so much of the conversation involved sex, there just wasn’t the political will to do that. Now we have it stopped, the pills are only a few cents per dose, and are available everywhere. At risk populations take it daily as a preventative.
“In comparison, until clean water became easy and cheap it killed more than 15 million people every single year. Mostly the very poor. That’s more than the estimated number of actual HIV infections when we released the medication. Clean water is a much bigger success just by lives saved.
“The environmental impact is even bigger, it is inconceivable today that any company would dump waste into our rivers, streams, and oceans, but even two years ago it was allowed. Carbon felt filtration has made our waterways clean, and the wildlife is returning to levels not seen for decades.”
“The United Nations credited your support for climate change treaties and your SynFuel process for the drop of yearly CO2 emissions around the world by 65% since its announcement in January 1990. That’s been the largest source of your wealth, but you were quite wealthy before then.”
“My deal with Corning for production of carbon felt, the software company BaCHS, Euro Motors, General Atomics, TWP Media. They’ve all been big successes.”
“Forbes magazine had you listed as the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and richest person in the world. They estimated your net worth at 45 billion dollars, and a yearly income of five billion. How close were they?”
“I don’t know if it can be called self-made, I did have help from my grandfather. Otherwise, I just look at those numbers and think ‘this money needs to be working to help people.’”
“How much did you give to charity last year?” she asked.
“I think the figure ended up being around three billion. Disaster relief, flying in supplies, that started with the Midwest flood, but we did it all around the world, the typhoons, earthquakes, wildfires. Then we donated a lot of water cleaning equipment, and solar powered radios in Africa and India.”
“That’s a lot of money.”
“I own a couple islands, a couple of airplanes, a couple of cars, a few houses, what else do I need money for?” I asked. “The United States gives more than that away every year. It’s still only a tiny portion of the national budget, less than one percent. It still isn’t enough, though, we all need to do more.”
“Tell me about your island.”
“It’s small, but it’s beautiful. It wasn’t when I got it, it had suffered a hundred years of strip mining, had no water source, and a destitute population of around twenty five people. Now it has water, power, communications, and produces so much food it exports it to neighboring islands.”
“And you’re building a skyscraper.”
“Several of them, actually. It’s only a little over two square miles. The buildings will grow additional food, and provide housing for a much larger population.”
“Rumors are that it will be the tallest building in the world when completed.”
I smiled, eyes twinkling. “We haven’t given an official figure, but it’ll be somewhere above ¾ of a mile high.”
A picture came up with an artist drawing of both the central building, and the surrounding skyscrapers. A third picture was shown showing the island and the floating ring platform around it.
“It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful place.” She said.
“It will be. Eventually it will be the world’s first fully functioning arcology.” I told her.
“What about your other island?” She asked.
“I was so glad that the UK government let me change the name. Spaceport Island sounds so much cooler.”
“Five launches in the past year from your own company, plus dozens from other countries and groups. It seems to be the place to go to launch spacecraft outside the United States.”
“AMROC isn’t my company, but I am an investor in it. I’m very proud of their work. With the collapse of the USSR and the economic trouble Russia is having, there are thousands of space scientists and engineers in need of jobs. I gave them a place to work.”
“And you have your own personal spacecraft.”
“Yes, the Buran. We are hoping to fly it again at the beginning of next year. Did you know that the US shuttle program costs about 1 billion dollars a flight? The Russian space plane program, which built the Buran, cost them 17 million dollars. The engineers I’ve hired are amazing.”
“What are you going to do with your own shuttle if it flies?”
“We know it works. The Russians sent it on a fully automated test flight in 1988. Right now we are upgrading it.
“The US shuttle was built in the 70s using designs approved by President Nixon in the sixties. They were supposed to be prototypes for better systems. Unfortunately, their budget overruns meant that when they had something that worked, they couldn’t afford to use what they learned. Now that it costs so much for each flight, they still can’t afford to build the next generation.
“Between our upgrades, and the design which is really only superficially the same as the NASA shuttle, we hope to get an idea of what a next generation shuttle should really look like. If we can do that, then we can build it.”
“Would you say the Buran is better than the shuttle?”
“Different, and hopefully after the upgrades better. Kind of a shuttle version 1.5,” I said smiling. “We will be offering the upgrades to NASA and their shuttle program, if they prove to be real improvements.”
“1992 Barcelona Olympics. You were expected to return and win more gold medals. What happened?”
“My friends needed help. Ukraine was at a difficult point in its history, finding itself, becoming independent. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done there, with the green party, fighting corruption, waste, and graft.
“Then my friends in Britain needed my help too. They were in a difficult financial position, and outside forces were taking advantage of it at their expense. I helped them with their timing, and the economy there has been great ever since.”
“Will you return for the 1996 Summer Olympics?” She asked.
“I might. It is nice and close this time. But seven gold medals should be enough, don’t you think?”
“Speaking of your friends, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk credits you for writing most of the current Ukrainian Constitution.”
“I had been expecting the Ukrainian Declaration of Independence for about a year before it happened, so I spent my time researching and reading every document I could find on Ukrainian history, politics, and government systems around the world. When it happened, I sat down with Leonid and gave him what I called the framework. A starting point, with references to both local and world historical principles of government.
“From there it was just a matter of Leonid being willing to negotiate with everyone involved. They created their Constitution, I just helped them by giving them a starting point.”
“Last month was your birthday.”
“Yes, I turned 18.”
“People magazine just named you to the most eligible bachelor list.”
“I think they felt they had to wait till I turned 18, I don’t know, they didn’t ask me first,” I said chuckling.
“Any special person out there?” She asked.
“A number of good friends, but no significant other. I’m single, if that’s what you’re asking.” I turned and looked at the camera, “Still no girlfriend, Mom,” I said and laughed.
“You’re close to your family. How did they feel about your emancipation.”
“It was tough on everyone I think. It was done with their full permission, and understanding. I was only 10, but I needed the legal standing so I could go and do the things I’ve done for the past eight years.
“But yes, we are very close. My home has been just three blocks down the street from theirs for the last few years. It wasn’t about getting away from them, it was about going to California on my own and not getting picked up by social services and put in a foster home.”
“Was that a real worry for you?”
“Very much. Children have no rights in this world. We have some protections, but very little say in what happens to us. I donate every year to the children’s legal fund that helps kids make their voice heard. It part of why I pushed for the voting age in Ukraine to be 16. If 16 is old enough to operate a dangerous piece of equipment on a public roadway, why isn’t it old enough to vote?”
“You can vote now that you’re eighteen. Are you a Republican or a Democrat?”
“I come from a long line of independents. George Bush is a friend, and if I had been old enough I would have voted for him. This next election is going to be interesting. It’ll really set the stage for America and the next millennium. Will 1996 be a throwback to conservatism, or will the force of the new millennium, its hope, that excitement for a better world, push us forward? I’m looking forward to it.”
“Young people often call themselves progressive or liberal, would you call yourself that?”
“Fiscally I’m very conservative. I believe government should learn to do more with less. I don’t believe borrowing more is the answer to any financial debt problem, much less the government’s. A good start has been made on a balanced budget, and bringing down the national debt. As a fiscal conservative I’ll fight for that no matter who’s running, because I think it is terribly important for the economic health of the country.
“Lowering debt, including credit card debt in families, is especially important. Inflation is under control now, but the quality of life in the country has been dropping since the 1970s. People think things have gotten better because there are so many new and better things available to buy, but wages haven’t kept up with inflation. Credit cards are letting families increase their buying power without addressing their stagnant or dropping income. It’s a long term problem for families in this country.
“Pushing to keep the economy growing means encouraging families to buy more than they can afford on credit. It also means pushing for deregulating the banking and financial system. That’s such a bad idea. Look at what the savings and loan bailout is costing taxpayers. It’s going to be decades paying that off. A little closer regulation, tighter monitoring of the problems, a willingness to step up and close banks instead of letting them see if they could borrow their way out, and it would have been one or two percent of the final total. A single year’s budget item, not a four decade debt.
“Our lawmakers are being pressured. Financial institutions want a relaxing if not outright reversing of finance regulations, the same ones that have kept the country financially stable since the Great Depression. Undoing that is just asking for an even bigger financial disaster than the savings and loan scandal.
“For social issues, I have some pretty strong opinions. I approve of gun control that makes sense. Calling something an assault weapon because how it looks, not what it does is ridiculous government pandering. That’s like saying only fast looking cars should be subject to speed limits.
“Requiring that gun owners be registered, trained, licensed makes sense to me. We do it for cars, it’s a matter of safety for everybody. Untrained drivers are a danger to themselves, other drivers and pedestrians. Untrained gun owners are equally a danger. A waiting period make sense to me for handguns, handguns are typically not hunting weapons. But, I’m still willing to support it for every gun purchase, if it means real background checks and waiting periods. I believe some people should not be trusted with a gun, or a driver’s license. Everybody else should have one, and be trained for it, if they want it. Additionally non profits, like the NRA should fund the permits and training so that there is no income barrier to legal and safe gun ownership.
“I think the war on drugs is the stupidest war this country has ever fought. It’s a medical issue, not a criminal one. Historically criminalization of a behavior does little to stop it. Murder has been against the law from the beginning of history. Last year, 1993, the number of murders was 24,430 in the United States. That’s both a tragedy, and actually a pretty good number. In comparison, car crashes killed 40,150 people in 1993, more than double gun deaths. Bambi killed 101 of those.
“I also don’t approve of the government doing anything more than registering marriages. Marriage has, throughout history been a religious institution. As far as I’m concerned separation of church and state should limit what government regulates about marriage. They can ask for them to be registered, but doing anything more than that, including taxing you differently because of your marriage seems like discrimination for participating in a religious ceremony, and overreach to me. The Supreme Court even agreed that rules on who you can marry, racial or blood type restriction are unconstitutional. Further limitations should be illegal as well. A registration requirement assists in preventing fraudulent bigamy, so it’s useful. The rest of the rules need to go.”
“Quite an extensive list, do you consider yourself religious?” she asked.
“I’m very religious,” I told her
“Oh, what religion do you belong to?” she asked, intensely curious.
“I consider myself Buddhist.”
“How did that come about?” she asked intrigued.
“As a child I began remembering past lives. One of those lives was as a direct disciple of the Buddha. What I remembered from his teaching, has affected my life ever since. It’s why I’m compelled to do as much as I can for as many people as I can.”
“That’s fascinating, have you ever talked about this with anyone else?”
“Never in an interview. My family knows my intelligence is only one of my gifts, but the only person I’ve really discussed this with is Master Koru. A friend at a Buddhist monastery in Japan.”
“What other gifts besides your intelligence?” She asked eagerly.
“Part of my gift of learning languages, comes from my past lives. I speak over 90 languages, remembering a lifetime of speaking them helps very much, and gives me a head start learning new languages.”
“How many lives do you remember?”
“That’s a fascinating claim, any other special gifts?”
“I’m happy to have what I have,” I told her evasively.
“One of the things you do have is the world’s largest airplane. Tell me about flying in it.”
“The Mriya, it’s Ukranian for Inspiration or Dream. It’s the ultimate in dreaming big. I’ve only been on it twice in flight, once when I accompanied it on a trip moving the Buran spacecraft, and the second time when we brought in relief supplies to Los Angeles after the Northridge earthquake. It really is huge. But its smaller brother, that’s my favorite aircraft.”
She showed pictures of it on the screen, “It’s not very small either.”
“It started life as the largest production cargo plane in the world. Working with designers, and engineers we fitted it with everything I might need anywhere in the world. It’s basically become a 3000 SQ foot flying house, with a three car garage. The whole house is actually a couple of self-loading cargo containers that slide in through the front and rear hatches, connecting in the middle. It can be installed in any AN-124 aircraft, in about an hour. I particularly like how I get a 9000 mile range when using it.”
She showed a number of pictures of the inside, she paused at one. “A grand piano?” she asked.
“It’s specifically built for airplanes, light weight. I’ve played since I was little. My mom is a piano teacher,” I told her.
She went thru some more pictures, before stopping at the master bath. “No hot tub?”
“The jacuzzi bathtub was a compromise. The designers thought I should have a hot tub for parties, but I didn’t want to have that kind of reputation on my plane. When I’m on board I’m usually working. I do some entertaining, but it’s mostly for business.”
“You have a pretty large staff these days. What about your first bodyguard, Matthew Preston. He doesn’t follow you around anymore. Does he still work for you?”
“People used to tease him about the way he followed me around. Shark chasing a minnow. But he did his job, and learned a lot about my business interests. When he reconnected with his old high school girlfriend he got an instant family, including a daughter he hadn’t known about. He is still in Tulsa. He’s President of Rescue Squad now.”
“Rescue Squad, that’s your charitable relief organization. But that’s not where they got their name from, tell me about Mogadishu.”
“One of my new AN-124 cargo planes had just returned to the Ukraine from the US with newly installed avionic systems. It was carrying additional system components and technical staff to train the people at Antonov on installation and operation for the Cook Air Cargo Fleet.
“There had been extra room in the plane’s cargo hold, so my security staff decided to bring one of my personal armored vehicles for transport in Kiev. There had been even more room than expected, so they decided to include the remote controlled ground platform that AM General had been developing.
“It was small enough that we could carry two on board the 767. We had them on board, and were on our way to Spaceport Island, when we received information about the two helicopters that were shot down. We weren’t too far away so we diverted to the US base in Somalia.
“We got the platforms loaded on a military cargo plane, and they airdropped it over the city. It was able to bring supplies and weapon reloads. They deployed shielding, protecting the trapped soldiers, and high intensity fire to push back the attackers. Under the cover of inflated bulletproof rescue shelters they led the evacuation of the troops.”
“Somalis still call it the ‘Day of the Robots.’” she said.
“It’s not much of a robot, it’s all remote control. Everything it did was remote controlled by highly trained American soldiers at Edwards Air Force Base in California. It was built specifically to provide emergency rescue and evacuation under fire, which is why they sent it with me. It wasn’t actually expected to be used. They primarily wanted to real world test the remote satellite linkages. They got a much better test than expected.”
“That was the beginning of Rescue Squad?” she asked.
“That’s when it got named. Until then it had just been me and my staff airlifting supplies to disaster areas.”
A new picture came up on the screen. I smiled. “Scientific American called you the man who saved big physics. Your confrontation with Republican led Congress earlier this year made the news. What do you hope that the superconducting super collider will achieve.”
“They had spent two and a half billion dollars on the project, and were worried about cost overruns. They saw what NASA was projecting to need for building the space station, and figured that maybe they could save some money.
“I had to beg, plead, and finally offer to just buy it to keep the project alive. Since my nonprofit took control of the project we’ve been under budget, and ahead of schedule. But it’s not about the money, it’s about understanding the universe. This sort of project is a long term investment. The return on investment of understanding the fundamental nature of the universe is usually huge, but it takes six or seven decades to see the benefit. The electronics revolution is a good example of that cost to benefit ratio.
“The current Congress is simply too short sighted to see the benefit. They want to be able to claim that they cut the budget, and they don’t care where, as long as it’s not near where they call home. The superconducting super collider was an excellent example, one big project, only one elected representative harmed. We are expecting to start operations next summer.”
“And what will it do?”
“Right now there are two mathematical models of the universe. They are mutually exclusive, but the collider will tell us it’s either number one, number two, or even more exciting that both are wrong.”
“Why is both being wrong more exciting?”
“The common misconception about science is that scientists perform experiments to prove their theories. In reality, good science does just the opposite. You want to try to disprove the theory. If you can disprove it, then you’ve learned something new. If you can’t, then you really haven’t learned anything new.
“I’m really hoping we learn something new. I keep looking at the equations and they seem to be missing something. I’m hoping that the super collider will give us a clue as to what we are missing.”
“Any new projects or adventures you are looking forward to?” She asked.
“My animation company will be releasing its first film next year. I’m really looking forward to that. ‘Toy Story’ is a really wonderful movie. Star Trek, the Next Generation just ended but the cast’s first movie comes out in November combining the original cast and the next generation, that’s pretty exciting. Also, a team of film preservationists just started working on the Star Wars trilogy. Once we get the films fully restored we are looking at beginning to re-release them to theaters for the 20th anniversary so a whole new generation can enjoy it.
“AMROC will be testing a new heavy lift rocket in September, and then offering geostationary satellite launch services if everything goes well. I’m also looking forward to the launch of my new restaurant chain, ‘Weekday Veg’ it will offer vegetarian only options on weekdays, including a veggie burger that you would swear was beef, and on the weekend offering low environmental impact meat options like rabbit.”
“So you’re very busy still, with lots of projects going. Thank you for your time, John. I wish you the best in all your endeavors.”
“Thank you Barbara, it has been a pleasure,” I told her, and waited for the announcement that we were clear.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and let it out. It would be a few weeks until the interview was broadcast. It was scheduled for the first Friday in September. I shook hands and signed autographs. I eventually made my way to security, who drove me to the airport.
My Antonov dwarfed everything else at the airport. The vehicle rolled up into the rear cargo hatch, and we exited. I found my seat, and got comfortable checking my email. We had filmed in New York, where I had just closed a deal purchasing the Empire State Building. It had been a complicated purchase as the land it sat on had one owner, and the building itself a second, I now owned both parts.
I got the word from the flight attendant that everything was locked down and we would be taking off in a few minutes, so I buckled in. A few moments later Arthur and Jane joined me. They were on their way to see their daughter in Los Angeles, and I had offered a ride.
We talked about a few different things as we took off, but there was a palpable strain between the parents of my friend Sam. They were worried about their daughter. She had become a full time actress in Hollywood. Recent tabloids had reported she was involved in a wild Hollywood party and drug scene, and while she denied it, her parents wanted to go check. They had called me asking if I knew anything, as she had been my date for the Oscars earlier in the year. I offered the ride after they told me the story.
The flight was comfortable, and the Smiths enjoyed my hospitality. We landed at the airport in San Bernardino, where I took a helicopter to General Atomics in San Diego, and the Smiths took a limo I had waiting for them to Sam’s house.
GA had a new president, as Dr Dancer had retired. It was still a wholly owned subsidiary of Cook Holdings, which was the parent company of all my holdings, including the offshore investment company Cook Island Investments that had funded much of my early acquisitions. I sat down with Dr Porter in his office.
“Peter, how’s the first week been? Adjusting well?” I asked him.
“It’s going well John. I’m sorry to see Dr Dancer go, but I’ve been at his elbow for the last year, I’m sure that I’ve got a good handle on everything.”
“What’s the status on the Thar pipeline?”
“Almost complete, it’ll be bringing in water to the new SynFuel plant in India before the end of the year.”
“And production capacity there?”
“The Solar SynFuel plant is complete, it finished ahead of schedule. Just like the Lubbock, Texas plant it’ll bring in twice the water required for fuel production, placing the rest into local irrigation networks. The delay now is getting the pipeline finished.”
“What about China, any word from them?” I asked.
“I’m expecting a call from their energy office tomorrow. You’re going to be needed for that negotiation. They like dealing directly with the boss, and despite my job title, that’s you.”
“Ok, we can plan to fly over to finish the negotiation. The requirements remain the same. Either a huge pipeline into the desert for a solar plant, or multiple coastal ISPB plants. They’ve got to promise to cut out coal power regardless. The air quality in Beijing is terrible, and only getting worse.”
“That’s a sticking point, they just completed three new coal power plants.”
“We can reconfigure them for ISPB. But I don’t want to see any existing fresh water consumed for SynFuel production, solving the energy problem by creating a water shortage problem is bad environmental management.”
“I agree, the permanent ISPB at Ocean City comes online next month, do you plan to be there?”
“Yes, I’ll need to be there. We will be announcing the final height of the building as well. It’s been the tallest structure for a while, but until the ISPB comes online I haven’t wanted to announce it.”
“Two hundred floors?” he asked.
“Two hundred floors, 25 feet each floor, plus the 280 foot cooling tower at the top. Brings it to a mile tall.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ve only had reports to read. When will it actually be complete?”
“The bottom fifty stories are in use already. It will take a couple years for the full fit out. The spiral platforms are finished, there are twenty of them on each side of the building, they make one full circle of the building.”
“Is there really a river that runs down the spiral platforms?”
“Once the ISPB comes online there will be. Excess water from the cooling tower pools out to the top spiral platform. Then it crosses it to plunge ten stories down to the next platform sticking out from the building. It goes all the way around, and down.”
“That’s going to be awesome to watch run for the first time,” he said.
“Not everyday you get to see a small river start down a new mountain. We will be recording it for the news media, and the documentary about it,” I agreed.
“How is the integration of Sikorsky going with AM General?” I asked.
“Really well. The employees are really happy you cancelled the layoffs with your purchase. That new S-69 derived design is pretty cool. I’m surprised you’re putting so much into research and development.”
“Aircraft speed, helicopter landing. It’s the Holy Grail of flight, especially in Kiribati. Between that capability and a helicopter equipped hospital ship we can cover the entire South Pacific. It also has the Naval Air Force guys drooling. The real difference is the improved engines and rotors. The rotor blade tips are engineered to exceed Mach 3 without shattering, or vibrating the craft to pieces.”
“What range are they expecting?” He asked.
“Two hours flight, 1200 miles. With drop tanks, we can double that for medical rescue.”
“Next on our agenda is the contract with National Science Foundation. They are very happy with our information services contract. The algorithms you provided have made us the number one search provider of the internet. The page rank system is working beautifully. Monitoring where the users search ends is providing even better data.
“It’s pushing our data storage capacity. We are looking at doubling current storage capacity by the end of the year, and tripling connectivity bandwidth.”
“I want you to look at setting up a second and third data center for search requests. Tulsa has the bandwidth, and I’d like to see greater use of it. Find an East coast location with good bandwidth to Europe. We can provide search results to Japan and the East via the San Diego data center, Europe via the east coast data center, and domestic via the Tulsa data center. While the data centers will share data, and software, the optimization algorithms will begin to evolve the results based on search location, and local users.”
“That’s a big expansion, and beyond what we are contracted or paid to do,” he said.
“Internet search is a business. Once they end their contract, we will be able to monetize the search business with ads. Small unobtrusive, text only, search based ads. We will charge the advertiser only if their ad is displayed, and again if their ad link is clicked. Pennies for a display, pennies for a click.
“Once we are the dominant search engine, we have to stay that way. We will need to be constantly optimizing the search results to give people what they are searching for. It’ll be a great demographic tool as well. This is billions of dollars a year in potential income.
“I also want the team to start working on a web based email service. Once we give out free email addresses, we can use their login information to track the searches of individual users. That data will let us micro target ads.”
“OK, I’ll get a network team started on that. We’ve started getting gem quality diamond requests. Our industrial diamond manufacturing plant wants to know whether to fulfill them. We haven’t pursued that avenue as a company, but I know you’ve made some diamonds that went onto the market, and in that crown you gave to the Queen. Did you want to open up production for that market?”
“We don’t need the cash, and manufactured diamonds are going to eventually kill the mined diamond industry. Ethically it’s a good thing. Too many mined diamonds are soaked in the blood of slavery and violence. Economically it will hurt Russia the most, another source of income disappearing. What’s your opinion?” I ask him.
“We have the spare capacity, and I don’t like to see unused capacity. If we laser inscribe an identification number on each gem quality diamond it will mark them as manufactured. That will help the mined diamond sellers group not scream and yell so much. A minimum diamond size also benefits the project, and reduces manufacturing demands. Anyone with the cash would be able to buy a 10 carat diamond.”
“Okay, only on request, we won’t spend money to advertise. We will do custom diamonds. Minimum size 10 carats, but only as capacity allows, industrial production for ISPB pebbles comes first. A limit on products will keep prices up. There is not a huge glut of big diamonds in the market anyway, as they, at least, remain rare.
“I also have a new project for them. I’ve got an idea I’ll want them to work on. It’s something I can give out, and use that event as the demonstration of our custom non-industrial production capacity.”
“Zach Thompson is the engineer handling that at the plant in Carlsbad. Should I have him get a hold of you? I think your personal jewelry order is complete.”
“Let him know I’ll drop by tomorrow. I think he will like the idea I have. We can tap the diamond cutter resources we already contract with for our industrial production.”
“I’ll let Zach know. Anything else to cover?” he asked.
“I think that’s it. How about you let the boss treat you to nice dinner?” I told him.
I took him to a not yet open ‘Weekday Veg’ where we tried everything on the menu. He was blown away by the vegan burger. I explained how we were using the bioreactor technology to produce vegetable based heme to give it that authentic meaty flavor. The production plant was in West Texas so it could be near the source of ingredients for the rest of the burger patty.
It was also the location of our rabbit farm. The rest of the vegetables were all coming from small organic farms located near the restaurants. Each farm was capable of providing all the veggies for ten restaurants, using high intensity growing and hydroponic systems developed by a company I had purchased originally to feed the workers at Ocean and Spaceport Islands.
The production meant that the restaurants, a fast casual dining experience, would highlight a seasonal menu. Except for cheese, the restaurant was completely vegan during weekdays. Peter loved the food, and was sure the restaurant would be a hit. The main items were salads, noodle stir fry using an automated cooker, and veggie burgers.
We also had vegan chicken like nuggets, available with a number of sauces, as an appetizer, or as an add-on ingredient to salads and stir fry. Peter and I sampled the nine sauces, which ranged from sweet to tangy, and mild to spicy. I gave him a stack of free meal coupons to give out to our employees at the GA headquarters.
The next day I took a helicopter over to the diamond manufacturing plant, just outside Carlsbad, California. My La Jolla beach house had a helicopter pad, so commuting was very easy. I met with Zach, and explained my idea.
“I want to make a globe. Figure a twelve inch diameter diamond. The outside surface is to be smooth, but I want accurate planetary surface features under the diamond surface. The outer layer will be clear, and stand in for the atmosphere above the contours.
“The center should have a small solar powered light, that will come on in the dark, to illuminate the sphere. We will use doping agents in the diamond to create a full color replica of Earth without clouds. Tiny holes to the center light to make pinpoint dots at the location of every city with a million or more people. Otherwise no other man made markings, no national borders, no roads, just Earth, with lights marking cities.”
“That sounds really complicated, but I like it a lot. How many do you want to make?”
“Let’s make one as a test, but plan on a few dozen. Make sure you use sea floor maps for the ocean. Make those areas blue, but get satellite photography for the colors of everything else. You’ll have to exaggerate the topography or it won’t be noticeable at this scale.”
“It will need a stand, or it will roll right off the table. Any particular requirements for that?”
“I’ll take care of that, I’m thinking carved wood would be appropriate, just a ring for it to set in.”
“I’m thinking we could do versions of the solar system planets as well. NASA has that Mars orbiter they are planning. There is good data on Venus topography from the Mariner probe,” he suggested.
“That’s a great idea, but let’s do Earth first.”
“This is going to be great. Did you want to pick up your jewelry while you are here?”
“Why yes, I’d like to get that while I’m here. If it is all completed?”
“Yes everything’s done, that diamond link necklace was quite the challenge, but we figured it out. We are actually using the process now to create diamond chain cutting tools.”
“Each diamond is physically locked to the next?” I asked.
“Yes, let’s go get it, I’ll show it to you,” he said excitedly.
We headed deep into production, then past it to secure holding. Secure holding was divided into two sections, radioactive, and non-radioactive. We headed into non-radioactive, where the security guard unlocked the cabinet that was holding the presents I was giving out that year.
He carefully showed me how each link was a single diamond, cut so that it penetrated thru neighboring diamond rings in a series of unbroken looping links.
“You cut the loops from a larger block?” I asked.
“Yes, we’ve got some very precise automated tooling now. We were able to form the necklace as a single large diamond block, then cut the connection loops. It’s an old wood carving technique to create wooden chains.”
“Well it’s gorgeous, and you made five, just like I asked. The single diamond rings look good, ten in all the sizes I asked for. I love the way the secondary color in the center makes them glow. Where is the ‘one ring’?” I asked.
He pulled out a second box, and opened it. Inside was a single diamond, cut in the shape of a simple circular ring. Embedded in the center of the ring were gold letters, suspended inside the diamond. I smiled at Zach, “My dad is going to love this!”
“We have requests from a number of the guys who worked on this. They want to make more for themselves,” he told me.