Members get a snapshot view of new Long Now content with easy access to all their member benefits.
Published quarterly, the member newsletter gives in-depth and behind the scenes updates on Long Now's projects.
Special updates on the 10,000 Year Clock project are posted on the members only Clock Blog.
Filmed on Monday August 17, 02009
Dr. Wayne Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum and research institution in the world. He currently serves as a member of the National Science Board and has received numerous awards for his work. Previously, he was the president of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Wayne Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In July 1998 he took the reins of the world's largest museum and research complex and has since initiated long-range planning for the Smithsonian that includes increasing its accessibility.
Many of the 137 million objects in the Institution's collection will be digitized and made available to the public along with curatorial content produced by Smithsonian experts.
[Note for those who mentally enunciate words while reading: the last name is pronounced “Cluff.”]
Secretary Clough reminded the audience that we own the Smithsonian, and what that amounts to is 19 museums and galleries containing 137 million objects, plus the National Zoo and 20 libraries. Each year the Smithsonian has 27 million visitors. In addition there are numerous research centers with activities in 88 countries.
That’s the Smithsonian’s short now—it’s current profile to fulfill its abiding mission to help society understand and remember itself. The Institution’s long now reaches back quite a ways and hopes to reach into the future well beyond the 300 years of national history it represents so far.
The greatest temporal reach comes from the one-sixth of all Smithsonian employees who engage in astronomy and astrophysics, operating such tools as the Kepler Telescope launched into orbit last March to discover remote planets that might harbor life and the Giant Magellan Telescope being built in Chile that will have the ten times the resolving power of the Hubble Space Telescope and may be able to examine the earliest remnants of the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago.
Much of our understanding of current climate hazards is coming from paleoclimatology. Ice core studies give us 800,000 years of data, but stratigraphic study of leaves is yielding crucial information about what happened 55 million years ago when the Earth warmed drastically and suddenly in what is called the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Clough described his visit with Smithsonian researcher Scott Wing doing field work in Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, where he saw evidence of palm trees growing in the area when the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was three times what we have now, and the newly evolving horse was the size of cat because hot climates make for smaller animals.
Clough sees the long-term role of the Smithsonian as working with the constant tension between the permanent and the ephemeral and the full exploration of what he called “collaborative long-term thinking.” He ended with a quote from Smithsonian curator David Shayt: “There’s an accurate perception that we are forever…, that we will care for and honor an object eternally. That perception of immortality is very precious to people.”--Stewart Brand
Condensed ideas about long-term thinking summarized by Stewart Brand
(with Kevin Kelly, Alexander Rose and Paul Saffo) and a foreword by Brian Eno.
Seminars About Long-term Thinking is made possible through the generous support of The Long Now Membership and our Seminar Sponsors. We offer $5,000 and $15,000 annual Sponsorships, both of which entitle the sponsor and a guest to reserved seating at all Long Now seminars and special events. In addition, we invite $15,000 Sponsors to attend dinner with the speaker after each Seminar, and $5,000 Sponsors may choose to attend any four dinners during the sponsored year. For more information about donations and Seminar Sponsorship, please contact email@example.com. We are a public 501(c)(3) non-profit, and donations to us are always tax deductible.
The Long Now Foundation • Fostering Long-term Responsibility • est. 01996 Top of Page