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"I still believe in e=mc˛, but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to. I happen to believe that mankind can do it.” General Wesley Clark

 

Clark Campaigns at Light Speed 

By Brian McWilliams

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,60629,00.html  2:00 AM Sep. 30, 2003 PT

Wesley Clark: Rhodes scholar, four-star general, NATO commander, futurist? During a whirlwind campaign swing Saturday through New Hampshire, Clark, the newest Democratic presidential candidate, gave supporters one of the first glimpses into his views on technology.

"We need a vision of how we're going to move humanity ahead, and then we need to harness science to do it," Clark told a group of about 50 people in Newcastle attending a house party -- a tradition in New Hampshire presidential politics that enables well-connected voters to get an up-close look at candidates.

Then, the 58-year-old Arkansas native, who retired from the military three years ago, dropped something of a bombshell on the gathering. "I still believe in e=mc2, but I can't believe that in all of human history, we'll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go," said Clark. "I happen to believe that mankind can do it." "I've argued with physicists about it, I've argued with best friends about it. I just have to believe it. It's my only faith- based initiative."

Clark's comment prompted laughter and applause from the gathering. Gary Melnick, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said Clark's faith in the possibility of faster-than-light (FTL) travel was "probably based more on his imagination than on physics."

While Clark's belief may stem from his knowledge of sophisticated military projects, there's no evidence to suggest that humans can exceed the speed of light, said Melnick. In fact, considerable evidence posits that FTL travel is impossible, he said. "Even if Clark becomes president, I doubt it would be within his powers to repeal the powers of physics," said Melnick, whose research has focused on interstellar clouds and the formation of stars and planets.

Einstein's theory of special relativity says that time slows down as an object approaches the speed of light. Some scientists say that FTL travel therefore implies time travel, or being able to travel to the future or the past. Clark's comment about FTL travel came at the end of a long answer to a question about his views of NASA and the U.S. space program.

Clark said he supports the agency and believes "America needs a dream and a space program." But Clark said the nation must prioritize its technological goals and take a pragmatic approach to focusing its scientific resources and talent. "Some goals may take a lifetime to reach," he said. "We need to set those goals now. We need to re-dedicate ourselves to science, engineering and technology in this country."

Clark used his visit to New Hampshire -- which will hold the nation's first primary election in January -- to demonstrate that he hasn't forgotten the cyberspace activists who cajoled him into running in the first place, as well as to introduce voters to his views on a range of subjects. "You have changed American politics, with the power of the Internet, modern communications and committed people who care," Clark told a handful of supporters Saturday at the Draft Clark movement's New Hampshire headquarters in Dover.

At the brief meeting prior to a noisy noontime rally on the steps of Dover's City Hall, Clark met some of the New England organizers of the Internet-based movement for the first time. Those are the supporters who had worked for the past six months to convince the former general to seek the Democratic nomination.

Clark's visit to the humble office -- the first opened by the nationwide draft movement-- came just 10 days after his decision to enter the race, and amid reports that some members of the draft have felt cast aside as Clark's official campaign swings into full gear under the control of seasoned political organizers, many with connections to former President Clinton.

But Dover resident Susan Putney, one of the four founders of the Draft Clark movement, said she had no hurt feelings. According to Putney, organizers of the draft have offered to stay on, or to turn over their infrastructure to Clark's official Little Rock, Arkansas-based campaign, whichever the campaign chooses. "They're the professionals," Putney said. "I'm just a business person, I'm not a politico. We got him to this point, and we'll let the best team possible field it to carry him through." At this early stage of his campaign, it was obvious that Clark sometimes still leans heavily on the Internet-savvy volunteers who convinced him to run.

The rally in Dover, which was attended by around 300 people, was first publicized on the New Hampshire Draft Clark (now re-named New Hampshire for Clark/04) website and drew supporters from all over New England. The audio engineer who donated his services for the rally's public-address system said he heard about Clark's visit from the site. Even the placards waved by supporters were printed up by the movement and bore the words "Draft Clark 2004."

During Clark's last visit to New Hampshire on May 12, Putney presented him with a stack of 1,000 letters collected through the Internet and urging him to run. But did the Internet draft really make Clark run, or would the ambitious former NATO commander have thrown his hat into the ring anyway? "No question this draft movement was what convinced him to get into the race," said George Bruno, a former Democratic National Committee member and personal friend of Clark's. "They persuaded him. We've never seen anything like this in politics before."

Time Travel Clarification

 

What Wesley Clark Really Said About Time Travel

by Brian McWilliams

October 14, 2003

http://www.pc-radio.com/clark-timetravel.html

On September 30, I published an article at Wired News entitled Clark Campaigns at Light Speed.

The article reported on remarks made by Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark during a campaign event Sept. 27 in New Castle, New Hampshire. At the event, Clark stated his belief that humans will someday be able to travel faster than the speed of light.

Due to a faulty understanding of physics on my part, I originally reported that Clark had professed a belief in the possibility of time travel. While some experts have previously said that travelling faster than light implies time travel, Clark in fact did not specifically profess an interest in time travel.

After several readers e-mailed me about this aspect of my article, later on Sept. 30 I revised the online version of the story to avoid suggesting Clark had advocated research into time travel. (The quotes attributed to him, of course, remained unchanged.)

Unfortunately, my reporting error is travelling at light speed and has been duplicated in media outlets around the world. Newspapers including the Washington Post and New York Times as well as late-night TV show hosts Jay Leno and Dave Letterman have borrowed the time travel idea from my story.

Given the current impossibility of rewinding time, my efforts now to undo this mistake may be futile. But I hope to prevent this mis-reporting of Clark's remarks from spreading further. To that end, I have made an audio recording of the relevant section of Clark's Sept. 27 campaign speech available here:

http://www.pc-radio.com/clark-nasa.mp3

The audio is about 3 min. 45 sec. and the file is about 668 KB. Clark's comments about faster-than-light travel are at about 3:05. Feel free to publicize this link, and/or to download the file and distribute it freely. I can also provide on request a high fidelity version of the audio for broadcast.

Sincerely,

Brian S. McWilliams
PC-radio.com