"In a windless environment making a structure that tall would almost be trivial. But when you build something that is going to poke up through and get hit by the jet stream from time to time, then it becomes shockingly much more difficult."
So whoever gets the contract will have to first line up a supply of who knows what, graphene nanotubes or something.
Snideness aside, you have to admire the guy's vision. Stephenson's idea came about after the president of Arizona State University challenged him and the science fiction community to inspire great accomplishments, the way Arthur C. Clarke and Jules Verne used to do.
The timing was perfect, as Stephenson, known for dark sci-fi novels and a dystopian view of the future, was changing his ways and veering toward optimism.
The next thing you know Stephenson helped ASU form the Center for Science and Imagination which opened a year ago and, where, for now, it's back to the drawing board for the towering tower.
Photo of toppled communications tower on Mt. Eva in Colorado is from Xnatedawgx via Wikimedia. It was not 12-miles high.