Review by Sid Perkins
In the wake of the Manhattan Project and the Apollo program, almost anything seemed possible. And some scientists of the late 20th century went beyond the fanciful notions of futurists and science fiction writers to seriously explore where technology might take humans, society and culture.
McCray chronicles the main players in two trends that captured imaginations at the time, focusing on notable techno-evangelists Gerard O’Neill, a Princeton physicist who advocated colonizing space, and MIT-trained engineer Eric Drexler, who championed nanotechnology.
Dubbed “visioneers” — the author’s blending of “visionary” and “engineer” — these researchers and fellow enthusiasts didn’t stop at back-of-the-envelope calculations. They used scientific principles to offer bold yet careful extrapolations of existing technological