Brain Institute

“Are you ready?  Ready for the playoffs?”*

…Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen is — in a big way.  His “first love”*1, the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that he’s owned for the past 21 years,  has made it into the Playoffs, and no one is more excited than the owner.   One of the most devoted owners in the NBA, Paul Allen has always been his team’s biggest fan.   

Allen attends a majority of the Blazers games, bought the team’s game stadium twice and weighs in enthusiastically on every decision, often splurging on players and expenses.  He installed equipment aboard his ships that lets him watch Blazers games when he is away from home.  And when Allen was asked to give the commencement speech to the graduating class at WSU in 1999, he graciously agreed, but gave it long distance via satellite uplink, speaking to Washington graduates from the Portland Rose Garden Arena so he wouldn’t miss a Playoff game.

So his Trail Blazers’ entry this year into yet another Playoffs series is a thrill—still a major thrill— to a guy who has had more than a few thrilling moments in his lifetime.  Blazermania is back and no one is more caught up in the wave of excitement than the owner himself.

Current adventure, Trail Blazers. Past adventures?  This guy’s had a few.  Hopefully he’ll tell us more about all of them in his upcoming memoirs.   Don’t hold back, Paul—we want to know EVERYTHING !!!!! 🙂

In the meantime, here is a sampling of Paul Allen’s ideas about — Paul Allen, of course — from his statements to the press through the years.  So, here you go….Part Three of Paul Allen: In His Own Words:

The projects you have funded so far cover a wide range of fields. What are the criteria you look for?

“I ask myself: What are the great questions in science, the knowledge that we are just scratching the surface of?  The chance that we are going to pick up the phone and an alien is going to be on the other end is small, but it is certainly worth—on a modest scale, for me—seeing if we can enable some of that research.  There are these greenfield areas like the human brain, systems biology, ­understanding how cells work internally, and how the proteins interact inside the cell. That’s an area I’m thinking about. Then there are the global issues we have today: global warming, the environment, and disease. I don’t know that I could make a difference in theoretical physics; that’s basically a bunch of mathematical and theoretical geniuses at different places. I’m not sure how anyone could make them work any faster than they are.”
The Discover Interview, Evan Ratliff

On Advice to Young People
If you are starting any new venture, try to find people who share your
dreams with the same enthusiasm that you do and that can complement your
strengths and bolster your weaknesses.  Start with small but achievable
dreams and under the right circumstances, these small dreams can lead to
bigger ones. Remember that you have all of the open-mindedness,
fearlessness and enthusiasm of youth.  Believe in the possibility of success.
From Paul Allen’s WSU Speech to graduating class via satellite uplink from the Rose Garden Arena upon receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award—1999

Quote from the website (years ago):
  “What is the best advice, business or otherwise, you’ve had and from whom?
The best advice I’ve received came many years ago from my father.  He told me that you should love whatever work you do, you should try to find something you truly enjoy.  And I’ve been lucky through the years that the work I’ve been involved with has been challenging and for the most part, fun.”

On Trying New Things:

 You have to find and appreciate the joy and beauty of the world.  And
many times that comes if you force yourself to try things that you
otherwise might be skeptical of beginning.  In my case I discovered
scuba diving, but any kind of adventure that takes you totally out of
your normal life and into a different environment or meeting different
people can be very rewarding. Also, if you force yourself to be more
adventurous, the more ideas and different types of people you will meet
and the richer your life will become intellectually and otherwise…….
 From Paul Allen’s WSU Speech to graduating class via satellite uplink from the Rose Garden Arena upon receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award–1999

On His Childhood in Seattle:
From “Paul Allen Unplugged” Dec. 2003 Columns UW Magazine
Tom Griffin
 While many of our alumni know of your generous contributions to the University, most don’t know of the UW connections going back to your childhood. Your father Ken Allen began his career with the University libraries in 1951, two years before you were born, and was Associate Director of the libraries from 1960-1982. Did your Dad open the resources of the UW  libraries to you when you were a child?
A. I spent many weekends in Suzzallo Library as I was growing up. I remember spending hours just combing through the stacks of musty books, including early books about computers. Books about science and aviation in particular were some of my favorites.
Did your family have season tickets to Husky games?
A. Yes, my father had season tickets for the Huskies for my whole childhood and I remember going to many Husky games with him. One of the reasons that I really wanted to have an open-air stadium for SeahawksStadium is that I have fond memories of wandering around Husky Stadium with my Dad, eating hot dogs and being able to watch the Huskies play outdoors in the elements—I think it’s one of the best parts about football!
Do you recall attending any open houses or science fairs at the UW that might have sparked your interest in computers?
I went to science fairs many times and had a lot of fun. More than anything it enhanced my love of science— and I carry that excitement with me today. I am particularly interested in how the brain works, and what we might be able to learn by looking at the role of the human genome in the function and anatomy of the brain. 

On His Eclectic Interests

“Allen says his business success is partly a result of his wide range of interests, which he thinks allows him to see connections between disparate areas that others may miss. His credits his parents, who gave him an open-minded start, dragging  Paul and his sister Jody to galleries, the opera, science museums, dance concerts and aviation exhibits. “Even as a kid, every year I was interested in something different,” Allen says, “whether it was chemistry or cards or physics or electronics or space travel or music.”    (Over the Horizon with Paul Allen: Another Microsoft Billionaire Speaks. Fortune: 7/11/1994 by David Kirkpatrick.)


From The Discover Interview with Paul Allen (by Evan Ratliff )
What do you think are the chances of SETI’s succeeding—in other words, of finding intelligent life beyond our world?
“The scientists are optimistic because they think that if they have better instruments that look deeper or on more frequencies, there should be civilizations out there broadcasting. I think everybody would admit it’s a long shot, but if that long shot comes in… wow.”
If they do get the signal, will you be the first person they call?
“Actually, first they call the White House. At one point they told me I was third or fourth on the list. So I guess that’s one of the benefits of funding the project. But the phone hasn’t rung yet.”
What would that kind of discovery mean to you?
“That would be such a life-changing thing, for us all to know that there are other beings out there who we could potentially communicate with, or maybe we are listening to a signal that they transmitted hundreds of millennia ago. And then we’d say, “Well, what was in the message? Can we decode the message, and can we communicate back? What are they really like? Are they oxygen-breathing bipeds, or are they a gas cloud on some gas-giant planet?”

On Music   Gene Stout Seattle P-I
June 22, 2000   The Visionary: Jimi Hendrix set off a spark in Paul Allen’s Imagination  (On Jimi Hendrix, music and the Experience Music Project Music Museum):
I think Jimi expressed in some of his interviews, and in his songs, the idea that music serves as a magic carpet that can take you to different places,” Allen says. “There’s a churchlike feeling there, and great music makes the spirit soar.”  …..

“………..”It was really a challenge to come up with things that were hands-on, yet robust enough to stand up to thousands of people using them and still allow a level of instruction for someone who hasn’t had much experience playing an instrument,” Allen says. 
“We just want to get them excited about music and think, ‘Hey, here’s a door I can go through.’ There’s a lot of fun and excitement in self-expression.” 


 On Football:

“Hail From the Chief” by Brian Davis from the Seahawks’ website:
“My experience with football goes back to watching Husky games with my father when I was under the age of 10—outdoors, eating a hot dog and cracking open some peanuts and seeing a game played out in the elements. That’s real football to me, so that was my dream and I think we’re delivering on that.”

On Science Fiction and  the Science Fiction Museum
  “The Microsoft billionaire, whose personal collection inspired the idea for a museum, hopes the facility attracts droves of sci-fi fans from around the galaxy.
“I was exposed to science fiction at an early age,” Allen says. “I think… it’s actually about science and where science is going to take humanity and culture in the future.”

On The Allen Institute for Brain Science

From “Piece of Mind” The Economist 
   “The scientists used state-of-the-art technology to dissect a mouse brain, photographed it sliver section by section, then reassembled it in a computer database that would allow easy access. But it was the speed at which the project was accomplished and what they did with it afterwards that changed the game.
They released it to the public. Over the Internet. Free.
When we first put the mouse-brain atlas online free, it was met by the research world with suspicion. People wondered what the catch was. Scientific research has long been a solitary endeavour—one researcher, one microscope. Findings are protected so that discovery credit can be clearly defined and awarded. This is a successful model and will continue to be.
However, the Human Genome Project demonstrated a different path: multiple teams working collaboratively towards a common goal. I believe a real acceleration in progress and innovation comes from the open sharing of ideas and collaboration. We wanted the mouse atlas to be free and available for all to use as the basis for foundational research and discovery.
A new generation of implantable pacemakers for the brain will be widely used to treat everything from depression to addiction and Parkinson’s disease
If we thought it would be a hit right out of the gate, we were slightly wrong. It took a while for people to trust that it really was free to use. No one believed in a free lunch.
Now, things have changed. Today we have many scientists using the atlas for their research into Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorders, Down’s syndrome, Parkinson’s, fragile x mental retardation and epilepsy. The atlas is also giving scientists insight into alcoholism, obesity, sleep, hearing and memory.”

And from a recent Wired Article:

In March 2002, Paul Allen—co-founder of Microsoft and 41st-richest person in the world—brought together a dozen neuroscientists for a three-day meeting aboard his 300-foot yacht, Tatoosh, which was anchored in Nassau, Bahamas. At the time, Allen’s philanthropic work consisted of an eclectic (some say frivolous) set of endeavors. There was the Experience Music Project in Seattle, a rock-and-roll museum designed by Frank Gehry; the Allen Telescope Array, 350 radio telescopes dedicated to deep-space observation and the search for extraterrestrial life; and SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded plane developed to put a human in space. But Allen was eager to start something new: a project involving neuroscience. He was excited by the sheer uncharted mystery of the mind—one of the last, great scientific frontiers—hoping a single large-scale endeavor could transform the field.
“I first got interested in the brain through computers,” Allen says. “There’s a long history of artificial intelligence programs that try to mimic what the brain is doing, but they’ve all fallen short. Here’s this incredible computer, a really astonishing piece of engineering, and we have no idea how it works.”
Over several days, Allen asked the neuroscientists to imagine a way to move their field forward dramatically. “I wanted them to think big,” he says. “Like the Human Genome Project, only for the brain.” (Jonah Lehrer 3/23/09)

and from The Discover Interview: Paul Allen by Evan Ratliff
Your interest in the workings of the brain seems like a logical step for someone who started out writing software.
“Yeah, if you are involved in computers, at some point you end up being fascinated by the idea of the human brain. The human brain works in a completely different fashion from a computer and does some things so much better than a computer, and this may remain true for the next 100, 200 years. How can that be? So I brought a bunch of neuroscientists together and asked, “What can I do that would be interesting and different that would potentially help the field of neuroscience move forward?” The answer was a genetic database of the mouse brain.”

On Space Travel:


Paul G. Allen
Remarks on Winning ‘The Robert J. Collier Trophy’
National Air and Space Museum
Washington, DC
April 19, 2005
from website

  “I feel I’ve been lucky to be part of three great waves of change—the personal computer, the Internet, and now private space travel.  All were extraordinary, but for sheer adrenaline, nothing will ever top that day last June when we first sent Mike Melvill to the edge of space in SpaceShipOne. 
I was always interested in flight and growing up in Seattle in the 1950s and ’60s was a great place to explore those interests. We had the World’s Fair, a strong local aeronautics industry, and I loved going to the library with my mother where I found books like Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo,” or Willy Ley’s “Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel.” 
Science fiction was great back then, but it was amazing how much trouble it had keeping up with the reality of actual space travel. Like millions of American kids, I followed the Mercury suborbital flights, then Gemini, and then the Apollo lunar missions. I remember how exciting it was to watch those events on our grainy black and white TV set. Like many kids back then, I built scores of airplane and rocket models, and naturally, I had a plastic Air Force helmet with a flip-down visor. I even had hopes to become an astronaut one day. But after my 5th grade teacher realized I was sitting in the front row of class and squinting—it became apparent that I was nearsighted and I realized that becoming an astronaut was not in the cards for me. 
I have no doubt that these formative early experiences with space exploration helped fuel my desire to build and program computers. That same spirit of invention was always in the air in the early days of Microsoft. With SpaceShipOne, the work we did with Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled reminded me in many ways of the work Bill Gates and I were doing when we were just starting out. There aren’t that many times in your life you get to work on a project that is challenging, groundbreaking, and just plain fun.”

Recently on space travel, while watching friend Charles Simonyi blast off into space for a trip to the International Space Station:

“It’s fantastic to see a launch, but when it’s one of your friends it’s just something so special,”  Allen told Associated Press.   Allen said he would not be interested into getting into orbit using Russian technology, but is hoping to using his own spacecraft. He is a major investor in SpaceShipOne, the first commercial space operation.,+Science+and+Technology+Figures/Paul+Allen/0dnL0857t8gym/4 )
 On SpaceShipOne:

” As an engineer, I’ve learned to avoid words like “awesome” or “amazing” that don’t describe things specifically; but I can’t think of any other way to describe Burt’s team and what they have achieved. With only 20-odd people, working out of a simple hangar in the Mojave Desert, they reinvented, for all time, the way we view space exploration—that we can accomplish it in new and cost-effective ways as private enterprise, and that soon it will be a possibility for a great many of us.

I’d also like to say a word about courage. Never in my career have I put my own life on the line to advance knowledge. Our pilots did just that. I can’t say enough to convey my thanks to Mike Melvill, Brian Binnie and their families for their commitment to SpaceShipOne. Without them, none of us would be here today. The early aircraft pioneer Otto Lilienthal once said, “To invent an airplane is nothing. To build one is something. To fly is everything.”…………………..
…………..But I hope SpaceShipOne does more than just bring people to the edge of space. I hope it helps to rekindle a passion for aviation, rocketry and exploration among kids. And I hope it motivates educators to lay the important foundation of making science and math really engaging to a new generation of students. ” (Collier speech as posted on
On the Biggest Thrill: 

 “I feel I’ve been lucky to be part of three great waves of change—the personal computer, the Internet, and now private space travel. All were extraordinary, but for sheer adrenaline, nothing will ever top that day last June when we first sent Mike Melvill to the edge of space in SpaceShipOne.” (Collier)
On what he wants to be his legacy:
 “You just try to create things or look for opportunities to do things for the world at large that are going to make the world a better place.”

On The Future:

 “I was always thinking about the future as a kid,” he says. “When you’re
a kid, you think anything is possible. You don’t know about constraints.”

  Living: Sunday, June 14, 1998  A Wealth Of Interests — The Big-Idea Billionaire — Paul Allen Is Into
Sports, Technology, Music, Real Estate, Movies – And He’s Not Done Yet”  by Richard Seven
  (He still does think anything is possible, or at least he seems to….)
 “From technology to science to music to art, I’m inspired by those who’ve blurred the boundaries, who’ve looked at the possibilities, and said, “What if…? 
 In my own work, I’ve tried to anticipate what’s coming over the horizon, to hasten its arrival, and to apply it to people’s lives in a meaningful way. Challenges inspire me, whether it’s pushing further into space than any private citizen ever has, as with SpaceShipOne or into the inner reaches of the human mind, as with the Allen Brain Atlas initiative. The varied possibilities of the universe have dazzled me since I was a child, and they continue to drive my work, my investments, and my philanthropy.”
 I hope you believe, as I do, in the inexhaustible ability of human beings to find answers to problems, to create works of beauty and originality, and to craft vital new ideas inspired by those who’ve gone before. The possible is constantly being redefined, and I care deeply about helping humanity move forward. “
(From Paul Allen’s website
 And as he said a couple of years ago, in Paul Allen’s own words…..

  “I’m not near the end of the story.”  (Microsoft Co-founder’s Dreams Funded into Reality  by Allison Linn   1/17/05)
I can’t wait to hear more…..looking forward to hearing the rest of the story in your memoirs, Paul!!!!…. 🙂


*From Jason Quick of the Oregonian: (

“A scene that shows how fired up owner Paul Allen is: As the media was waiting to get inside the postgamelocker room, Allen emerged from his private suite. As he walked through the gauntlet of reporters he looked at me and smiled. “Are you ready? Ready for the playoffs?” And with that, he extended a fist for a fist-bump. I think it’s safe to say Paul is ready for the playoffs. And I think it’s safe to say Paul is glad he didn’t sell the team a couple of years ago. I still contend he is one of the best owners in sports.”




“…All my life I’ve wanted to see the day when men would conquer space and explore the planets—and I wanted to take part in it. I don’t have to tell you how that feels…”

From Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo” p.23



Escaping from earth will not always be automatically expensive; contrary to the impression created by a Saturn launch, the energy needed to reach space is remarkably small…..Commercial space flight is now beginning to be technologically feasible and will soon become economically viable.”

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

From the Foreword to Dan Linehan’s “SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History”



“Tourism is the first market for the new spaceflight industry, as thousands of people with the dream to see the earth from space for themselves sign up for rides on suborbital spaceships, which will become increasingly affordable.”

From the book “Rocketeers” by Michael Belfiore



Space travel was exciting to any kid growing up in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen was no exception. Like millions of American kids, Allen followed the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and recalled the excitement he felt when the television cart was wheeled into his classroom so that he and fellow students could view the historic events on a black and white TV. Science fiction books fascinated him, like Robert Heinlein’s “Rocketship Galileo” which told the story of a group of kids who built their own spaceship; and a visit to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair offered a simulated rocket journey into space in the world’s first “Spacearium.” 

As a kid, Allen built dozens of model rockets and even tried his hand at building a homemade rocket of his own out of an old lawn chair (it melted:-).  And he was awed by science fiction stories that made the big screen, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he saw at Seattle’s local Cinerama theater.


So when brilliant inventor Burt Rutan introduced the idea of a low cost suborbital spacecraft, Paul Allen was very, very interested.


The relationship between the billionaire and the inventor began with a different business venture, but by the Spring of 2000, when Burt Rutan felt that his idea was ready for funding, he asked for a meeting with Paul Allen and told him about the spaceship he was designing. Allen responded with a handshake and an enthusiastic—“Let’s do it.”



“”I always had in the back of my mind, would I ever have the opportunity to do something in a space-related initiative? Allen recalled. “And so when the SpaceShipOne opportunity came up, I was very excited to pursue it.”

From Dan Linehan’s “SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History”(p. 19)



And the rest is history. The Allen-funded SpaceShipOne soared into space, and on October 4th, 2004, it became the first privately funded spaceship to make it into suborbital space twice in two weeks with an equivalent weight of 3 people, thereby winning the Ansari X-prize. It also thereby effectively jumpstarted the commercial space travel industry, something which had previously been thought so impossible that it had a “giggle factor.”


On that October 4th date, back in mission control, as SpaceShipOne was still floating in space, Paul Allen shook another hand—the hand of billionaire Richard Branson—who purchased the rights to Allen’s spaceship development program for his own commercial “spaceline,” Virgin Galactic.  The handshake symbolized the next great step in the commercial space travel industry—as “Rocketeers” author Michael Belfiore commented, “That moment marked the end of the beginning of the commercial space age.”


And on July 28, 2008, just a couple of weeks ago, the reality of private space travel—of ordinary people becoming astronauts and sailing off into space—just got closer with the unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s mothership, Eve, otherwise known as WhiteKnightTwo.  The WhiteKnightTwo, a beautifully designed carrier aircraft, will be launching rocket SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts into suborbital space in the near future.


In fact, if you have a couple hundred thousand dollars (or A LOT of Virgin Atlantic frequent flier miles)*, and a dream to be an astronaut, you can sign up to be a passenger on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight right now:





and for “Virgin Atlantic Frequent Fliers”*


Apparently, a large number of people have already signed up.






It’s all pretty exciting when you think about it, and it had me wondering what space travel might look like, say, 50 years from now.  So just for fun, I thought I’d write a story about an astronaut from the year 2058, who is also, since spaceships are so common at that time, basically just an ordinary businessman on his way home from work.


Just one more thought… case you hadn’t guessed, this story is NOT real. And one more thing—if you see Microsoft Co-founder,  Paul Allen’s name (and related stuff) pop up in the story, remember that this IS the Six Degrees of Paul Allen site…….. 🙂






Businessman Bo Nunez stepped inside the gleaming spaceship and trudged wearily down the narrow aisle leading to the first class section of the 8 pm Virgin Galactic Transport Shuttle. It had been a long day.


He looked forward to getting home. Although the commute to his condo on the Rutan Community Moon Colony was a long one—roughly an hour’s journey—he did not regret the purchase of his new dream home there last year in 2057.  The price was admittedly astronomical, but it was a nice little community—the amenities were unparalleled, and the views—well, the views were literally out of this world.


He sank down into his plush leather seat, buckled his seat belt and settled in for the ride home. Donning headphones, he began to listen to a song he designed last night on his computer with the help of the latest Drumcore software. He had become a pro at mixing tracks—and by blending a little U2, Blues and drum solos from his favorite artists, he had come up with a pretty decent song. In fact, the recording would have been perfect were it not for the vocalist. He chuckled as he heard his own voice. “OK, so I guess I won’t quit my day job,” he laughed.


He pulled his Kiha* out of his shirt pocket and gently set it down on the pull-down table in front of him. Immediately the surface of the table began to shimmer and ripple as if it were made of water. Multicolored tropical fish appeared to swim deep into the surface of the table and across the screen in 3D, as the scene reflected the underwater beauty of Bo’s favorite dive spot in Palau. This was clearly his favorite screen saver, this underwater video that Bo took last summer, and it always put him in a good mood after a hard day’s work.


“Hello, Bo” said a soft, pleasant voice coming from the table. “Where do you want to go today?”


“To the moon, Alice!” he thought, remembering the ancient Jackie Gleason reruns that were so popular in the 2040’s. But instead he smiled and said:


“How about checking today’s headlines?”


Immediately the surface of the table changed to reveal the top stories and photos of the day. One headline in particular caught his eye:


“The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Changes Its Name.”

AP Seattle, Washington


“The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has announced that it is changing its name and its focus due to the recent development of the Cancer/HIV vaccine.  Since the vaccine was discovered a few years ago, these diseases have been effectively made obsolete in the civilized world.


The newly renamed Fred Hutchinson Research Center will now merge with neighboring charitable organizations; The Allen Institute for Brain Science, founded by Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen and the Gates Foundation, founded by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, to refocus its efforts and collaborate its resources in order to bring the vaccine, along with other recent Allen Institute cures for MS, MD and Alzheimer’s Disease, and the latest spinal cord regeneration treatment, to underdeveloped countries.


“We are extremely pleased and honored to be a part of this wonderful project,” stated Jo Allen Patton, chairman of the Allen Family Foundation. “We are grateful to the remarkable men and women who have developed breakthrough medicines that are now capable of defeating these devastating diseases, and we hope to continue to provide the funding necessary to bring these cures to every person who needs them in every corner of the world.”


Nunez paused for a moment to absorb the information. “Another scientific breakthrough from the Allen District of Seattle! What a place it must be!


“And Paul Allen—I’ve heard of that guy,” he thought. “I wonder what he’s doing now?”


Curious, Nunez did an EVRI  search and discovered that at 105 years old the Microsoft Co-founder had just cut his 4th best-selling rock album.


“So he finally broke down and released another set of songs,” Nunez thought. He remembered what terrific hits the first three albums had become nearly 20 years ago, but he had heard that Allen hesitated to issue another album.  It was important to him that people remembered him for more than just his music.


Right under that headline was an article about Allen and Gates:


“Dynamic Duo Strikes Again


People Weekly


‘Holy smokes, Batman!’  The Dynamic Duo is at it again, battling the forces of evil.


No, we’re not talking about ancient comic book superheroes, but about an unbeatable team of philanthropists named Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Not quite a century ago, when the pair was barely out of their teens, they wrote a language that changed the world, and founded a company that is still one of the most successful organizations in the history of business.


And now they’ve joined forces again to take on a new villain—-disease.


Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have been in the disease vanquishing business since the turn of the century. Through their efforts with the Gates Foundation, the disease Malaria, a horrible scourge that plagued millions of people many years ago has long gone the way of Microsoft’s early competitors. But Gates has begun to tackle other dark forces and has taken on a new partner to do it—his old Microsoft partner, Paul Allen.


Allen has been on a disease fighting mission of his own for many years. The Allen Institute for Brain Science, a charitable organization that he founded in 2003, has made major breakthroughs recently in combating a number of debilitating illnesses that have plagued the world. The Allen Institute has historically ventured into a number of research projects such as the brain map and spinal cord map, and has published its findings for free, assisting researchers to find cures for diseases in their particular fields. Recognizing that this kind of information-sharing leads to scientific breakthroughs that benefit everyone, other researchers have followed suit, and the speed of progress in fighting these infirmities has taken off like lightning in recent years, most recently leading to cures.


The Gates’ will now join The Allen Family Foundation and the recently renamed Fred Hutchinson Research Center in bringing these cures for a number of diseases, among them Alzheimer’s, MD, Multiple Sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as the recently discovered Cancer/HIV Vaccine and Spinal Regeneration and Regrowth treatments, to countries that currently do not have access to this kind of medicine.


May their battle against disease take them to the ends of the earth and to the farthest reaches of space; or, in the words of another Superhero,


‘To Infinity and Beyond!’ “




This was great news. Bo remembered a friend of his from years ago, a good friend whom he’d lost…….”I wish those cures had been around earlier,” he thought to himself.


He was deep in thought when the seat belt light clicked off and nudged him out of his reverie. Bo looked up from the screen on the table in front of him and gazed out the window. What a view! He could never get used to how beautiful the earth looked from up here.


Some of the passengers had taken off their seat belts and were floating around the room, laughing and doing somersaults, and noisily calling each other over to the many windows of the spacecraft to check out the spectacular scenery. When the cabin was full, this was considered bad manners—-this bouncing around the room, sometimes bumping into people who just wanted to get home. But tonight, perhaps because of the late flight, the cabin was nearly empty, and there was plenty of room to move around.


As many times as he had made this trip, Bo could not resist feeling completely thrilled by this part of the ride. The feeling of weightlessness made him feel, well, even a little giddy, like a kid riding on a roller coaster for the first time.


But today for some reason, he was overwhelmed by the feeling.  Maybe it was the stress of the day or the good news he’d just read. Or maybe he had just taken it all for granted for too long. Whatever the reason, today he couldn’t resist taking off his seat belt and joining the floaters.  As he released the latch of his seat belt and floated away from the restraint, suddenly Bo Nunez forgot the seriousness of the day he had just had. He forgot his age, his business, his life back on earth. For this moment, none of those things mattered. He was 10 years old again—free—and if he wanted to jump off of his first class leather seat and bounce around the walls of this luxury craft in his business suit, he could care less how it looked to anyone else.


The seat belt sign came on again, much too soon it seemed, and he belted himself in once more for the lightening-fast ride home. He was breathless, elated from his venture climbing around the cabin and he felt a little like a school kid who had misbehaved in class and had gotten away with it.  By the time the Virgin Galactic Shuttle descended upon the Lunar Spaceport and touched down on the surface of the moon, Bo Nunez was in a very, very good mood.




Just for fun…so that means that none of this is real. But impossible? Maybe not …… J




Check out these links…….

Dan Linehan’s SpaceShipOne: an Illustrated History:

Michael Belfiore’s “Rocketeers”


“Rocketship Galileo” Robert Heinlein

Other References:
Remarks upon winning the Robert J. Collier Trophy from Allen’s website

Other Links:

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Ready for Trips into Space::

Upcoming conference on what’s next in the tourism industry:


Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne:


Condos on the moon in 50 years?

(What about 15?)


Institutes mentioned as they are in 2008: 

The Allen Institute for Brain Science:


Allen Institute Spinal Cord Map:


Allen Institute Brain Atlas:


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:


 Other Stuff Mentioned:









The Paul Allen Band:




*(BTW, I have no idea what they’re up to—just took a guess….:-)


Microsoft’s “Surface” 



SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo Videos and more:


 Inside SpaceShipTwo

 From the Discovery Channel and Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions “Black Sky”   (Mike Melville)

 SpaceShipTwo Demo

SpaceShipOne winning the X-Prize (Brian Binnie)

 Space Travel future

 Virgin Galactic SpacePort

 Virgin Galactic video narrated by Richard Branson

 Animation of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo from a year ago

 Private industry moves to take over space race

Honeymoon in Space, Anyone? 🙂


So what is Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen’s connection to Life, the Universe and Everything?  

Well, to begin with, it’s not through “Life Itself” although he is linked to the author of a book by that name.*1 See…  
And it’s not through the Universe, although Paul Allen built a spaceship (and launched an industry) in order to traverse it. *2

    And it’s not even through “Everything,” although Alanis Morissette was one of the artists who opened Paul Allen’s music museum, the Experience Music Project in June of 2000.   

So what’s the connection? Perhaps the best way to answer the second question is to start with the first. So:  Q: What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?  A:  (To quote Google Calculator:) 


The answer to life, the universe and everything = 42

    More about calculator.,_the_Universe,_and_Everything

 42—-The answer to life, the universe and everything—comes from Douglas Adam’s series, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” In the story, a “simple answer” to the Ultimate Question is requested from the computer “Deep Thought,” which was specially designed for this very purpose.  After 7 ½ million years and much anticipation, the computer arrives at its disappointing conclusion— “42.”


“Forty two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.” [2] ( from Wikipedia)  

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy began as a BBC Radio 4 series which first aired in March of 1978. The story has since been transformed into a series of best selling novels, a TV series, a record album and computer game and several stage adaptations, including a movie which was released in 2005.   

So what is Paul Allen’s connection to Life, the Universe and Everything?

Let’s start with Allen’s connection to the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.  Paul Allen is connected to writer Douglas Adams, who was sometimes affectionately referred to as “DNA,” because Adams and Allen were both portrayed in the movie “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires.” See…   and  and   

Douglas Adams also worked on Monte Python’s Flying Circus with Eric Idle, who has been a guest at Paul Allen’s parties. See… 

And through the Hitchhiker movie, Paul Allen is also connected to Kevin Bacon—-

(through John Malkovich, who starred in Hitchhiker as well as “Queen’s Logic” with Kevin Bacon)


to Scarlett Johansson, of  The Perfect Score—–

 (through Hitchhiker’s Zooey Deschanel).

See this Gap commercial: 

 Finally, “Deep Thought,” the computer that took 7 ½ million years to come up with the answer “42” from the movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” has an IBM counterpart by the same name that plays a mean game of chess. 


  According to Wikipedia,   IBM’s “Deep Thought” was named after Douglas Adam’s fictional AI computer.    (And IBM is linked to Paul Allen because IBM played a key role in the history of Microsoft’s rise to fame. See… )   

Paul Allen has invested in his own kind of “Deep Thought” computer—the  “Digital Aristotle” — “an application capable of answering novel questions and solving advanced problems in a wide range of scientific disciplines.” 

Whether Allen’s Digital Aristotle will come up with a better answer to “Life, the Universe and Everything” than “Deep Thought” did remains to be seen. J *2.5  

But since “the answer” is 42, then maybe the real question is this: 

How is Paul Allen connected to the number 42?   

Well, let’s see… 

Star Trek, Production #42  “The Trouble with Tribbles,” was written by David Gerrold, an award-winning science fiction writer who started his career in 1966 as a college student by submitting an unsolicited story outline for the television series, Star Trek. He was invited to submit several premises, and the one chosen by Star Trek was filmed as “The Trouble with Tribbles.” (from Wikipedia)     Gerrold is a featured sci fi writer at Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, Washington. 

Jupiter 42  Paul Allen’s friend, Gina Gershon, starred in the little known animated series “Tripping the Rift” about 5 misfits who live on the starship Jupiter 42.  


Vertigo 42   And Vertigo42, in the building Tower 42 in London, England (pictured on an episode of the BBC Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy)   is an exclusive London hotspot. Equally hot and exclusive is Paul Allen and Dave Stewart’s Hospital, which opened in Covent Garden in the same city just a few years ago.  The Hospital website     Tower 42 (Vertigo 42)

  42 years ago,     In 1965, Paul Allen’s parents enrolled him in the seventh grade at Lakeside school, where he met lifelong friend and future business partner, Bill Gates and began his life-changing fascination with computers. 

42 Canines:    Allen’s family show dog, Keira, had 42 teeth.

(No, I didn’t count….. 🙂   See.. 


BTW, why 42?

All sorts of theories have been floating around about it, but according to Douglas Adams himself,

           The answer to this is very simple.  It was a joke.  It had to be
        a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that
        one.  Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are
        all complete nonsense.  I sat at my desk, stared into the
        garden and thought `42 will do'.  I typed it out.  End of


So those are the answers……but, while we’re on the subject, what about Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen’s connection to Life IN the Universe (and everything…)? 

Funny you should ask, because a week or so ago, Allen and SETI unveiled the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California.  The ATA is a giant array of telescopes designed to explore the heavens in search of natural and unnatural phenomena in the universe.

From The New York Times:*3

”When the Allen Telescope Array, as it is known, is complete, it will consist of 350 antennas, each 20 feet, or 6 meters, in diameter. Using the separate antennas as if they were one giant dish, radio astronomers will be able to map vast regions of the sky cheaply and efficiently. The array will help search for new phenomena like black holes eating each other and so-called dark galaxies without stars, as well as extend the search for extraterrestrial radio signals a thousandfold, to include a million nearby stars over the next two decades. On Thursday, 42 of the antennas, mass-produced from molds and employing inexpensive telecommunications technology, were to go into operation.    “It’s like cutting the ribbon on the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria,” said Seth Shostak, an astronomer at the Seti Institute in Mountain View, California, who pointed out that this was the first radio telescope ever designed specifically for the extraterrestrial quest. The telescope, named for Paul Allen, who provided $25 million in seed money, is a joint project of the Radio Astronomy Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Seti Institute.

“If they do find something, they’re going to call me up first and say we have a signal,” Allen said in an interview, adding, “So far the phone hasn’t rung.” Describing himself as “a child of the ’50s, the golden age of space exploration and science fiction,” Allen, a founder of Microsoft, said he first got interested in supporting the search for extraterrestrial intelligence after a conversation 12 years ago with Carl Sagan, the Cornell University astronomer and exuberant proponent of cosmic wonder. When the idea later arose to build a telescope array on the cheap, using off-the-shelf satellite dish technology and advanced digital signal processing, Allen was intrigued. “If you know anything about me,” he said, “you know I’m a real enthusiast for new unconventional approaches to things.” *3


Over and over again you can see that Paul Allen has a soft spot for the impossible dream, the quixotic quest, the science project that crosses the boundaries of current possibility.

Whether it’s saving a football team or an old theater where he used to see 2001 A Space Odyssey, or building a space ship to reach the stars, Allen rescues the underdog, tilts at windmills and sometimes ends up with the last laugh on projects that started out with a giggle factor.


 Inspired by his love of science fiction (Allen also founded a Science Fiction Museum in Seattle) and SETI enthusiasts such as Arthur C. Clarke, Allen became involved in supporting SETI when his friend Carl Sagan asked him to help keep the SETI program alive after the Government decided to stop funding it. In 2001 he joined with the University of California, Berkeley, and the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute to install a set of 42 dish antennas in Hat Creek, California.    On October 11, the first phase of the ATA was put into operation.


From Time Magazine:*4

“The so-called Allen Telescope Array (ATA), which was scheduled to go live on Oct. 11, does what conventional radio telescopes do.  That is to say, it listens to the faint whisper of radio signals from celestial objects like quasars, which make up the collective voice of the universe.  But the ATA can listen on a private line too—the one on which suspiciously regular pulses emanating from the vicinity of sunlike stars would be carried. That’s how our broadcasts would sound to beings out there, and that’s how their broadcasts—if they exist—would sound to us.”*4

   Which leaves us with the question…. Is there really intelligent life out there in the Universe?  

 According to Paul Allen….  “It’s the longshot of longshots, but if we did hear a signal from another civilization, that would be world-changing.” *5 

  In any case, if there isn’t life somewhere out there in the incredibly vast, seemingly illimitable universe, then, to quote Ellie Arroway from the movie, “Contact,”   “…it’s an awful waste of space.”



One final thing——

In case you missed it, when Paul Allen flipped the switch on the Allen Telescope Array on October 11, 2007, guess how many of the 350  20ft radio telescopes were activated?

 42, of course…… J

Stay tuned for more 6 degrees connections…. 



Footnotes:*1 Sir Francis Crick, author of “Life Itself.” co-discovered the Double Helix
in 1953, (the year Paul Allen was born), with scientist James Watson.

Watson  is a friend of Paul Allen’s.   Not only was he a guest at Allen’s St. Petersburg party, but he is also currently a Senior Advisor for Paul Allen’s Institute for Brain Science. ,  

* 2. NASA is asking the same questions…   (NASA Seeks Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything June 2, 05, news service Jeff Hecht)

*2.25 Adams, who died unexpectedly in 2001, was well-loved by his fans.   See…  Htichhiker’s guide review   

*2.5 Perhaps some of Allen’s latest web intelligence Ventures, including Twine or Hypertext Solutions, could do better as well ….:-)

  *3 “New telescope array to listen to the universe for signs of life”
By Dennis Overbye The New York Times
Thursday, October 11, 2007

*4.   Time Magazine online  “Looking Up” by Jeffrey Kluger and Michael D. Lemonick ,9171,1670525,00.html

Excerpt from Time article:  “I’m someone who likes to invent what the future of science and technology looks like,” Allen says. Grandiose maybe, except that he and a Seattle school pal did that once before. The ATA could grow to 350 dishes, but it may not have to. If it gets us asking questions that go beyond the usual noise of the news, it has done its job even before its switch is thrown.”

*5.  Seattle Times “Allen’s Newest Venture for a Galaxy Far, Far Away” 



Everything you wanted to know about SETI but were afraid to ask….  

 Paul Allen’s Interview last week with Boing Boing…….

SETI webcam:

SETI webcam, Alternate View:

 (Just kidding—this is a clip from the movie, “Contact.” J)


Youtube Tutorial on SETI—great 6 part video 

1)  Edna Devore (2) Space Suits Space Craft Images (3)  Thomas Pierson (4) (CEO–SETI) Jill Tartar  Frank Drake (5) Darwin and Orchids  The Drake Equation (6)_   


 SETI History:  `Hello, Is Anyone Out There?’ Congress Thinks Not
Source: Morning Edition (NPR)
Date: 2/25/1994

Allen Telescope Array (early stages)

From a 2004 article about SETI: The ATA will be a general-purpose radio telescope that will provide fundamentally new measurements and insights into the density of the very early universe, the formation of stars, the magnetic fields in the interstellar medium, and a host of other applications of deep interest to astronomers. At the same time, this 21st Century radio telescope will also have the capability to search for possible signals from technologically advanced civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy.    Paul Allen: “I am very excited to be supporting one of the world’s most visionary efforts to seek basic answers to some of the fundamental questions about our universe and what other civilizations may exist elsewhere,” said Allen. “I am a big proponent of leveraging revolutionary technology and design and applying it to important problems in science. The developments taking place with this new instrument will not only enables us to realize a lot of bang for our research and development buck, but it will also change the landscape of how telescopes will be built in the future. An instrument of this magnitude, which will result in the expansion of our understanding of how the universe was formed, and how it has evolved, and our place therein, is the reason I am the primary supporter of its development, design and construction.”  


Some Great Links on the ATA:,9171,1670525,00.html

 Miscellaneous: Carl Sagan on Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence   Search for Life on other planets DYI channel
Hat Creek home video

‘Ever wanted to be someone else? Now you can….’ 

That line was the promo to the movie, “Being John Malkovich” 

The movie featured a little door on the 7 ½ floor that lead into the mind of actor John Malkovich.

But just for fun, let’s change the script a little.  Let’s say that you’ve discovered a similar little door in the wall underneath your desk; a portal to another dimension of reality that leads not into the brain of John Malkovich, but directly into the mind of Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen.

Wouldn’t it be fun, just for a week or so, to step through that door and see what’s on the other side?

 It is true that Paul Allen is a remarkable person. But he also has a very, very interesting life. So let’s step on in and take a slice of life tour through the “Paul Allen Experience.”


Now, before we go, let me brief you a little about the world you’re about to enter… Let’s start with the basics:    

 Here’s a copy of this year’s Wired, Time, Seattle Magazine and Discover. As you can see, you’ve been interviewed, dubbed a “hero,” pictured on a magazine cover, hailed as one of the world’s most influential and chosen as “person of the year.”  The Brain Institute you founded a few years ago just made a major scientific breakthrough, but it’s not the first time you’ve tried to change the world. A couple of years ago you helped to jumpstart the private space travel industry with a really brilliant spaceship designer, Burt Rutan. You’ve been renovating the city of Seattle for awhile now. And then there’s that “Basic” thing you invented years ago and that company you co-founded with Bill Gates that nobody ever seems to forget about.  And, of course, the story’s not over yet; you still have a few ideas up your sleeve.

What you do:    You are the CEO of some really big companies, you have a few gazillion dollars in pocket change, you own 2 professional sports teams, and things are going really well. A couple of years ago your football team went to the SuperBowl. And your basketball team is not doing too badly either (more on that later).

What you own:   You also own—well—a lot of stuff. In addition to some other toys and some really valuable art, you are also in possession of a few Megayachts, (the 414 ft. one is parked in Australia right now), a submarine and a couple of nice jets that take you to your many gorgeous mansions in beautiful cities all around the world. 

What’s happening now:   A month or two ago you were partying with a few celebrity friends at the Cannes Film Festival when you discovered that your basketball team, The Portland Trail Blazers, had just won the NBA lottery, entitling them to the first choice in the NBA Draft. The news created such a frenzy of excitement among Trail Blazer fans that your team sold 3000 season tickets in one week, thereby reviving a phenomenon called “Blazermania.”

And, oh yeah, you like to play the guitar.


O.k., let’s get started. You are entering the “Experience” on June 28, 2007. And as Paul Allen, you and your staff have a few decisions to make……

1….On June 28th you choose the number one Draft pick—phenom Greg Oden—for your basketball team, the Portland Trail Blazers. Click on the Trail Blazers link below and choose the icon that says “Portland Selects Greg Oden” to watch the actual moment the choice was made, how it aired nationally and how the fans reacted.  

 The Experience: Watch the excitement generated by a simple phone call—a phone call that you got to make because, well, you’re the owner of the team.

2….Afterwards, with a little extra pocket money, you, Blazers owner, Paul Allen, do a little player trading and buy up a few more hot draft picks, just to make sure that you make it to the NBA Finals this year.    

 The Experience: This is real-life NBA Monopoly, and you own the bank.

3….A few days later, on the 4th of July, you jet off to Europe to attend an exclusive party, the Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1993 International Launch hosted by Karl Lagerfeld and super model Claudia Shiffer, held at a private mansion in Paris. Some of the celebrities who join you there include Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes, Paz Vega, Maria Bello, Pedro Almodovar, Zhang Ziyi and Mia Maestro.

Your date for the evening is a beautiful French actress named Aure Attika.  See … adad-7272d984af66%7d%7C%7bffffffff-ffff-ffff-ffff-ffffffffffff%7d&qsPageNo=1&fdid=&Area=Search&TotalCount=302&CurrentPos=2&WinID=%7b506e9a89-3fe0-4739-adad-7272d984af66%7d   and   

The Experience: Need I say more?

4….On July 7, 2007, you’re in London, backstage at Wembley Stadium with British actor Ricky Gervais and a group of young friends. You’re at London’s Live Earth Concert, one of a number of concerts that were hosted around the world to raise awareness about climate change issues.*1 The upbeat concerts, which featured more than a 100 music artists and celebrities appearing across the globe, were organized by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, and attended by billions of fans, including over 10 million who watched it via MSN streaming video. The reason why you’re backstage at Wembley right now is that you were invited by your friend Al Gore to perform at the concert too.  

So, several minutes later, you and a number of other Bass guitarists from rock bands like Foo Fighters, James Blunt, Madonna, Bloc Party and Beastie Boys are introduced by newly reunited Spinal Tap* and brought onto the Wembley Stadium stage.  The stadium is packed, and as you look out over the sea of fans jamming to the music, you begin to play Spinal Tap’s tongue-in-cheek song, “Big Bottom” on your guitar, accompanied by Spinal Tap and all of the other musicians onstage.


Here’s the video —-(Note: you’re the guy in the baseball cap)

Scroll sideways to video #58 Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom” (You’ll have to wait a moment for the menu to appear—there’s a commercial that appears first. The menu is on the left…..”play clip” segment 57-63.) 

The Experience: Check out that crowd—is that cool or what? You’re a rock star, man!

And now we’ve come to the end of our tour. We hope that you’ve enjoyed the Paul Allen Experience.

Before you go, don’t forget to take a souvenir photo of your trip… (see Gettyimages link below).

Thank you, come again….|1&axs=0|75311819%2c75310590%2c75310353%2c75309335%2c75304894%2c75304807%2c75303893%2c75302275%2c75301480%2c75300360%2c75298446%2c75298047%2c75297513%2c75297320%2c75297150%2c75295795%2c75295750%2c75295748%2c75294775%2c75294773%2c75294770%2c75294277%2c75293858%2c75293856%2c75293416%2c75293415%2c75293396%2c75265577%2c75263776%2c75263296%2c75263254%2c75031140%2c74336436%2c74153467%2c74153462%2c74079982%2c74079290%2c74079289%2c73745004%2c73578657%2c73687379%2c73539310%2c73645874%2c73465454%2c73408586%2c73408469%2c73408458%2c73389532%2c73389455%2c73389446%2c73392428%2c73392384%2c73556097%2c73556052%2c73556031%2c74679586%2c73533779%2c73533777%2c73279992%2c73279984&id=75265577  (p. 28 of 60, Gettyimages–Also check out 29-31–scroll to the right)


* Http://    BTW, “This is Spinal Tap” is one of the funniest movies ever made–if you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve got to check it out. The reunited group that performed at Live Earth was the actual rock group from the movie…..

*1     You’re quite an environmentalist in your own right, and here’s the proof:

Your “OneWorld Challenge:”

You invest in alternative energy companies:§or=Capital&subsector=VentureCapital   

Over 14% of Allen Family Foundation charity $$ goes towards environmental causes.

And, your Vulcan Productions movie company produced a PBS show on the issue:


*2 Six Degrees Trivia:

Your new one degree connections include the musicians who performed at Wembley Stadium for Live Earth London:

Beastie Boys United Kingdom Hip-hop/Rap
Black Eyed Peas United Kingdom Hip-hop/Rap
Bloc Party United Kingdom Rock
Corinne Bailey Rae United Kingdom Pop
Damien Rice United Kingdom Rock
David Gray United Kingdom Rock
Duran Duran United Kingdom Rock
Foo Fighters United Kingdom Rock
Genesis United Kingdom Rock
James Blunt United Kingdom Pop
John Legend United Kingdom R&B/Soul
Kasabian United Kingdom Rock
Keane United Kingdom Rock
Madonna United Kingdom Pop
Metallica United Kingdom Rock
Paolo Nutini United Kingdom Rock
Pussycat Dolls United Kingdom Rock
Razorlight United Kingdom Rock
Red Hot Chili Peppers United Kingdom Rock
Snow Patrol United Kingdom Rock
Spinal Tap United Kingdom Rock
Terra Naomi United Kingdom Rock

 (From ) 

As I passed by the magazine rack at the gym today, a headline on the cover of Wired Magazine caught my eye:

“Heroes of the Wired World.”

I’m a sucker for that kind of news, so I grabbed the magazine and started looking for the story. And guess whose name was included among those “Heroes?” That’s right, Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen! The May issue of Wired listed its 2007 Rave Awards for the “innovators, instigators and investors who are changing the world,” and Allen was given the award for his most recent contribution to science, The Allen Brain Institute’s Brain Atlas.    

Here is a link to Wired’s terrific article about Paul Allen’s Brain Atlas: See… 

 From the article:         “If the brain is the ultimate computer, the Allen Brain Atlas is the ultimate tech-support manual. Launched with $100 million in seed money from Paul Allen — Microsoft’s other founder turned philanthropist — the atlas provides researchers with the first complete genetic map of the mouse brain. The map identifies more than 21,000 genes, and because mice share 90 percent of their genetic material with humans, the project is a huge step toward understanding how genes regulate the brain’s structure and function. (The next rev of the atlas will map the human neo cortex.) Allen, who survived Hodgkin’s disease in the 1980s, funded the atlas after asking neuro scientists what single project would give them the boost they needed to better tackle disorders like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia at the genetic level. By determining which genes are active in each cell of the mouse brain, the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science has given researchers a breakthrough tool to understand how things go wrong, while giving drug developers the data they need to design innovative treatments with minimal side effects.”  

It got me to thinking….you know, Paul Allen is having a pretty good summer. 

Before the season even started, Allen was named among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential…. see…,28804,1595326_1595329_1616322,00.html  

In May, Wired Magazine called him a “Hero.” 

And a little while later that same month,  Paul Allen joined celebrities like Bono at the Cannes Film festival in France, where Mr. Allen learned, in between movie screenings and lavish parties, that his basketball team, the Portland Trailblazers, unexpectedly won the NBA lottery, entitling the team to the number one draft pick.    

So right now, in June, Paul Allen is in Portland, Oregon making some exciting decisions about his basketball team, the Portland Trail Blazers.  Ever since
the Blazers won the first round draft pick in May,
Allen has had a smile on his face. Watch the “pinch me I must be
dreaming” comment he made at this press conference the other day)

Tomorrow, June 28th, he and his staff have the daunting task of deciding which phenomenally
talented player (Kevin Durant or Greg Oden) will be taking the Blazers
to the NBA finals this year. And to do it he’s been getting to talk to them, watch
them practice and watch mountains of basketball videos.
(It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it… :).

Among the good things that have happened recently, Allen’s Trail Blazer franchise has made an incredible turnaround. Allen has a terrific staff this year (how can anyone NOT like Kevin Pritchard?) and everyone seems to be excited about the future of the team. In fact, after the draft pick win was announced, the Trail Blazers sold 3000 season tickets, making it the all-time greatest week in franchise history.*1 (BTW—check out the free Blazer Draft party at 3 pm at the Rose Garden Arena on June 28 th  *2 )

So what happens in July?  

I don’t know for sure, but Mark Bowling from down under ( ) writes that Allen’s spectacular 414 ft. yacht Octopus is moored right now in Darwin, Australia beside the beautiful “Athena,” software mogul Jim Clark’s megayacht . ( ( PMY reports that Allen’s ship arrived in Darwin on June 16th, and apparently it hasn’t sailed away yet.

And there are a few exciting things going on in Darwin right now. In less than a week, starting July 3rd at Darwin Stokes Hill Wharf, Baz Lurhmann will be filming his epic movie, “Australia” starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Lord of the Rings’  “Faramir” (David Wenham). (see….  and … ) * Supermodel Kristy Hinze, granddaughter of Queensland politician Russ Hinze, could be in the area too, as she is rumored to be Netscape Co-founder, Jim Clark’s girlfriend. 

 But if and when Paul Allen joins the party down
under remains to be seen.   And of course, t
he fact that his ship is in Darwin might mean nothing at all—it could all be a really big coincidence. But I don’t think
so.  Despite the fact that this guy is a visionary and a philanthropist, and despite the fact that he has some serious business to attend to right now—the daunting task of choosing the most talented new player in the NBA for his own personal basketball team—there is always room in Allen’s life for another party. 

Yep—I think he’s having a pretty good summer………..  

Links:  * Baz Lurhman’s Australia *1 The Trail Blazers won the NBA lottery and then proceeded to sell 3000 new season tickets and have their all-time greatest week financially in franchise history.  *2

Time magazine has unveiled its list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Listed as a Scientific Philanthropist, Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen is on Time’s list this year: 


Harvard Professor Steven Pinker wrote a short but eloquent synopsis of Allen’s life and achievements—in fact, I couldn’t help wishing that I had been the one to say it.:-). 

Here’s an excerpt from the Time Magazine article:

“Paul Allen is the world’s most obscure celebrity, its hippest geek, its most flamboyant introvert….………

………….Having made his fortune as innovatively as he did, Allen has always been diligent about spending it just as imaginatively.  He bought the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL and the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA to keep them in his beloved
Pacific Northwest, and he bankrolled SpaceShipOne, winner of the Ansari X Prize for the first private manned spaceflight.

Most promisingly, he established the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which has produced an atlas of gene activity in the mouse brain, mapping 20,000 genes so far. Nobody, arguably, needs to know that much about the brain of the mouse, but science always needs to know more about the human brain, and since the first often serves as such a fine template for the second, Allen’s work can help advance the entire neuroscience field.

Shy in personality but dashing in vision, Allen shows how a thoughtful billionaire can make the world not just a better place but also a far more interesting one. ” _______________________________________

Pretty nice, eh? 

It is interesting that the Psychology Professor who wrote the article noticed the contradictions in this man—Allen really is a mystery.  He’s also a deeply spiritual hedonist, a playboy philanthropist, a sentimental technologist, and a left-brained artist. He’s a guy who lives the life of 10 people with such reckless creativity that it reminds me of that Jack Kerouac quote: 

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

Not that I’m partial or anything……

Just a quick note to tell you about the PBS show that aired last night about Paul Allen’s

Brain Institute and the remarkable things that are happening there.

You can find a transcript of the show at:


Here are few excerpts from the show:

SUSAN DENTZER: One researcher who’s used the Allen Brain Atlas is Dr. Susan Swedo. She oversees autism research at the National Institute of Mental Health.

DR. SUSAN SWEDO: To be able to go online and just map various areas of the brain and what genes are being expressed in that area is phenomenal. I, in five minutes, was able to do what used to take a graduate student four years for one tiny, little nerve cell connection, and now they have it for the entire brain.


A few unexpected findings from the Brain Institute:

*80 percent of all the genes expressed elsewhere in the body are also expressed in the brain. That sheds light on how the human species found new uses for the body’s genes as our brains evolved.

*Most genes active in the brain are turned on in multiple regions, not just one.

(Apparently, the Allen Brain Institute’s next step is to make a map of the human cortex, the part of the brain associated with higher functions, such as thinking.)


And finally, here are a few other quotes from the show…… DR. SUSAN SWEDO: I think that we have reason to hope that, within our lifetime, we’re going to know what causes autism, and we’re going to have meaningful treatments and prevention strategies. The value of the Brain Atlas is it has just leapfrogged us to the next level of understanding.………………………………………………..

DR. GREGORY FOLTZ: I’m not sure what to compare it to in the history of medicine, but I can tell you that it’s going to be something that we will look back on decades from now and say that we were there when this was discovered. I believe it’ll have widespread impact on all patients who have neurologic disease.

And from Paul Allen:

 “The world will develop new treatments for these diseases over the next few decades, I believe. So if what we did was a key to making any of that happen, that will be just incredibly rewarding for everyone involved.”


Way to go, Paul!

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