September 20, 2014 12:30 pm

Sunday: Discover How The X-Prize Is Making the Impossible Possible

Photo of Leonard "Bones" McCoy  with a tricorder. Image Credit: Paramount Home Television

Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy with a medical tricorder. Image Credit: Paramount Home Television

Back when Peter Diamandis was first on StarTalk Radio during Season 4, in Eureka! Asteroid Mining, comic co-host Chuck Nice referred to the co-founder of Planetary Resources as a “real-life James Bond villain.” And perhaps he may have seemed that way, as he described his company’s plans to capture resource-rich asteroids and exploit their mineral wealth for profit.

But when you listen to Peter describe the goal of the X-Prize Foundation he co-founded, “our goal is to accelerate the future and bring about capabilities that are going to benefit humanity,” it becomes clear there’s more to the man than asteroid mining.

“Ultimately, we’re genetically bred to compete as humans… my goal is to try and sort of drive that human nature into solving the world’s greatest problems.”

So far, as we find out in the conclusion of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s interview with Diamandis, the foundation has created prizes that encourage outside of the box thinkers to “make the impossible possible.”

For instance, the completed Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X-Prize, which rewarded its winner for inventing a process for cleaning up oil spills that is 6 times more effective than anything that existed at the time of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Then there’s the pending $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize, that currently has private teams competing to build a robot, land it on the surface of the moon, take photos and videos, travel 500 meters, take more photos and videos, and transmit them back to Earth. Also awaiting the winning team: an additional $30 million in NASA contracts.

But of course, the X-Prize that has Star Trek fans everywhere paying attention is the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize, that will award the winning team $10 million for creating a consumer-friendly medical diagnostic tool that would force Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy to change his opinion about the barbaric state of our medical technology.

The prize hasn’t just inspired Trekkers: 230 teams in 30 countries competed for the reward, a field that has been narrowed to 10 finalists. And before you dismiss their efforts as a fantasy better left to science fiction, tell that to the teams that shared the $10 million Progressive Automotive X-Prize for developing 100 mpg car, or to Richard Branson, who will start flying passengers into low Earth orbit using a new version of the X-Prize winning SpaceShip One.

Join us for the conclusion of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s interview with Peter Diamandis, X-Prize – Beyond Space this Sunday, September 21 at 7:00 PM ET on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and SoundCloud.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up.

–Jeffrey Simons

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