Editor's Note: Light Years

Magazine Contributor
Former Editor in Chief
3 min read

This story appears in the October 2014 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

My family celebrated celestial things. My sister and I weren’t witches; we were small scientists. We always, always took out our telescope to spy on the unknown. Even on school nights. And usually in a very ’80s way, listening to Blondie. We learned early on about the laws of physics, including the first law of thermodynamics: Energy can be neither created nor destroyed—only changed. 

Our nocturnal lessons reached their apex on Sunday nights, when we tuned in to PBS to hear Carl Sagan’s iconic mantra: “Billions upon billions of stars.” We celebrated the vague idea of what stars represented: energy, magic, opportunity, potential and the vastness of the unknown. Who would dare to go there? It seemed so … unfamiliar, so uncomfortable.

Cosmos—as brought to you by Sagan and his deep, wise scientist’s voice, and witnessed by a young girl in Texas—meant something beyond the cosmos, beyond the stars. It represented possibilities. Not impossible distances, but the closeness we have to the stars. 

Space was a different place then, at least in our minds. A surrealistic fantasy. The magic of stardust and the possibilities that come with that stardust. The magic of my dad and Carl Sagan.

This is the type of stuff that excites entrepreneurs. The unknown, where the impossible and the possible collide. It’s not so much space as it is the space between. That voice in your head that screams, “Whoa, hold on, and … holy shit.”

Today space feels very possible. There is something about that final frontier that is waiting for us—something less Cosmos and more commercial. This crazy idea is not only very real but it’s the next big thing being embraced by bold entrepreneurs willing to take the ultimate risk. 

Is space a place where angels fear to tread? Of course not. It’s a place where pioneers dare to dream. It is big, and the possibilities are literally limitless, bound only by fears. This story is told in Carren Jao’s excellent examination of the entrepreneurs and dreamers of the new space race (page 40). We love the idea of the unknown, and we celebrate those bold enough to explore.

In that spirit, we urge you to take a cue from those adventurers. Even if space isn’t your thing, there are always new frontiers closer to home. Terrestrial ideas are cool, too. All you have to do is find yours. There are plenty.

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