It is easy these days to get a bit depressed about the state of the world and the prospects for the future. World pollution, religious wars, deforestation, decimation of wildlife, over-use of resources, poverty, disease, and other ills all result in a world lifestyle that is highly unsustainable. Things seem bad and bound to get worse while governments around the world?overseen by so-called leaders that are often pathetic?fiddle with weak ideas that have been tried and proven wrong by history and common sense. Yet there is hope. It does not come from politics or religion, but from knowledge mostly gained by science and technology and led mostly by private business.
Our cover article in this issue is about charge clusters, which are compact groups of electrons. They defy the common belief that such things cannot occur because of the great repelling forces these electrons should exert on each other. Yet they do appear to exist and are not even that difficult to create, once you know how. Ken Shoulders knows how and has been doing it for about 25 years. Ken and his son Steve experiment with charge clusters (also called exotic vacuum objects or EVOs) in a well-equipped, privately funded lab in California. Ken has a history of working at the edge of science and engineering. He worked at SRI International for ten years as a staff scientist and started a field now called vacuum nanoelectronics, which is based on field emission active devices. He also worked at MIT (during this time he fabricated the world's first microcircuits) and later did some exotic and confidential work for the CIA and others.