Summary

From Smithsonian Books, The Department of Mad Scientists is the first trade book ever on DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the maverick and controversial agency whose futuristic work has had amazing military and civilian application, from the Internet to GPS to driverless cars. Michael Belfiore, author of Rocketeers, visited science research sites across the country to provide this unprecedented look at the people who shape our country’s future technology.


The first-ever inside look at DARPA--the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency--the maverick and controversial group whose futuristic work has had amazing civilian and military applications, from the Internet to GPS to driverless cars

America's greatest idea factory isn't Bell Labs, Silicon Valley, or MIT's Media Lab. It's the secretive, Pentagon-led agency known as DARPA. Founded by Eisenhower in response to Sputnik and the Soviet space program, DARPA mixes military officers with sneaker-wearing scientists, seeking paradigm-shifting ideas in varied fields--from energy, robotics, and rockets to peopleless operating rooms, driverless cars, and planes that can fly halfway around the world in just hours. DARPA gave birth to the Internet, GPS, and mind-controlled robotic arms. Its geniuses define future technology for the military and the rest of us.

Michael Belfiore was given unprecedented access to write this first-ever popular account of DARPA. Visiting research sites across the country, he watched scientists in action and talked to the creative, fearlessly ambitious visionaries working for and with DARPA. Much of DARPA's work is classified, and this book is full of material that has barely been reported in the general media. In fact, DARPA estimates that only 2 percent of Americans know much of anything about the agency. This fascinating read demonstrates that DARPA isn't so much frightening as it is inspiring--it is our future.