Culture and Society

Star Trek Plus Fifty

September 9, 2016

The founder of the Tau Zero Foundation takes a look at the promise of Star Trek, and asks where we stand with regard to the many technologies depicted in the series. My own first memory of Star Trek is seeing a first year episode and realizing only a few days later that it had been […]

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Interstellar Comparisons

July 1, 2016

No one thinks big better than Adam Crowl, a Centauri Dreams regular and mainstay of the Icarus Interstellar attempt to reconfigure the Project Daedalus starship design of the 1970’s. If you’re looking for ideas for science fiction stories, you’ll find them in the essay below, where Adam considers the uses to which we might put […]

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The Use of Extraterrestrial Resources to Facilitate Space Science and Exploration

June 10, 2016

We get to the stars one step at a time, or as the ever insightful Lao Tzu put it long ago, ​”You accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.” Right now, of course, many of the necessary ‘acts’ seem anything but small, but as Ian Crawford explains below, they’re a necessary part […]

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Interstellar Flight in Congressional Report

May 26, 2016

I hadn’t planned the conjunction of the Breakthrough Starshot forum’s opening here on Centauri Dreams and the interesting news out of the NASA budget for 2017, but some things just fall into your lap. In any case, what happened in Washington makes a nice follow-up to yesterday’s post, considering that it calls up visions of […]

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Breakthrough Starshot: ‘Challenges’ Forum Opens

May 25, 2016

Ever since coming back from the Breakthrough Discuss meeting in Palo Alto, I have been pondering the enormous issues the Breakthrough Starshot project will encounter. Getting a tiny spacecraft up to twenty percent of lightspeed is only the beginning of an effort that has to deal with power generation, a phased laser array of enormous […]

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Towards Producing Food in Space: ESA’s MELiSSA and NASA’s VEGGIE

May 20, 2016

Before we can go to the stars we’ll need to build a robust infrastructure in our own Solar System. While most attention seems to be devoted to propulsion issues, I’m convinced that an equally critical question is how we can create and sustain closed-loop life support systems for such missions. Our point man on this […]

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Extraterrestrial First Contact in Space Protocols

May 13, 2016

As we move into the outer Solar System and beyond, the possibility exists that we may encounter an extraterrestrial species engaged in similar exploration. How we approach first contact has been a theme of science fiction for many years (Murray Leinster’s 1945 story ‘First Contact’ is a classic treatment). In the essay below, Ken Wisian […]

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Toward a Space-based Anthropology

May 6, 2016

Cameron Smith is no stranger to these pages, having examined the role of evolution in human expansion into space (see Biological Evolution in Interstellar Human Migration), cultural changes on interstellar journeys (Human Universals and Cultural Evolution on Interstellar Voyages), as well as the composition of worldship crews (Optimal Worldship Populations). An anthropologist and prehistorian at […]

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Breakthrough Discuss: Initial Thoughts

April 18, 2016

The Breakthrough Initiatives conference I’ve just returned from, called Breakthrough Discuss 2016, had been a bit of a puzzle going in. Still bleary after an early morning arrival in Palo Alto, I was looking forward to getting to the Stanford campus for the first sessions the next day. Breakfasting at a small cafe near the […]

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On Track for ‘Breakthrough Discuss’

April 14, 2016

Expect no new posts until Monday and a slowdown in comment moderation as I attend the Breakthrough Initiatives event in Palo Alto. As has been my practice at previous such events, I won’t try to cover the talks and discussions live. While ‘live blogging’ has its place and seems to work for things like product […]

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