Culture and Society

What We Want to Hear

August 5, 2014

“A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” So sang Simon & Garfunkel in their 1968 ballad “The Boxer.” Human nature seems to drive us to look for what we most want to happen. It’s a tendency, though, that people who write about science have to avoid because it can lead […]

Read the full article →

Dining with Dirac

August 1, 2014

Ever wonder what it would have been like to sit in on a great occasion? I used to think about this in relation to a dinner party the painter Benjamin Haydon threw in 1817 at his London studio. At the ‘immortal dinner’ were, among others, William Wordsworth, John Keats and Charles Lamb, leading literary figures […]

Read the full article →

A Needle in the Cosmic Haystack: Formal and Empirical Approaches to Life in the Universe

July 25, 2014

Are we alone in the universe? Nick Nielsen muses on the nature of the question, for the answer seems to depend on what we mean by being ‘alone.’ Does a twin of Earth’s ecosystem though without intelligent life suffice, or do we need a true peer civilization? For that matter, are we less alone if […]

Read the full article →

First Words: Remembering July 20, 1969

July 21, 2014

I had hoped that the anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing would stir up some memories for Centauri Dreams regular Al Jackson, and I was not to be disappointed. Here, spurred partly by weekend news reports questioning who said the first words from the Moon, Al thinks back to a time of Champagne and jubilation, […]

Read the full article →

Neil Armstrong: ‘A Little Bit of Bedlam’

July 18, 2014

As we approach the 45th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon, journalist and author Neil McAleer has been looking back at an interview he conducted with Neil Armstrong on March 16, 1989. The author of Visionary: The Odyssey of Sir Arthur C. Clarke (Clarke Project, 2012), McAleer has lived among and written about […]

Read the full article →

A Manifesto for Expansion

July 4, 2014

Michael Michaud gave the speech that follows in 1988 at the 39th International Astronautical Congress, which met in Bangalore, India in October of that year. Reading through it recently, I was struck by how timely its theme of spaceflight advocacy and human expansion into the cosmos remains today. When he wrote this, Michaud was director […]

Read the full article →

Fritz Zwicky On Moving Stars

July 2, 2014

The great Ukrainian mathematician Israil Moiseyevich Gelfand was famous for his weekly seminars in Moscow, where sudden switches in topics and impromptu presentations were the norm. Although his listeners had heard it many times, Gelfand liked to tell this story: In the early 20th Century, a man approaches a physicist at a party and says […]

Read the full article →

Building the Bowl of Heaven

June 30, 2014

Because his new novel Shipstar had just reached the top of my reading stack, and because I had been writing about Shkadov Thrusters last week, I asked Gregory Benford if he could provide a deeper explanation of how these enormous structures might work. Greg had already noted in an email to me that a Shkadov […]

Read the full article →

Stars as Stellar Engines

June 27, 2014

I’ve always loved the idea of an O’Neill space habitat because of the possibility of engineering a huge environment to specification. That notion translates well to worldship ideas — a multi-generational journey would certainly be easier to take in an environment that mimicked, say, a Polynesian island, than aboard something more akin to a giant […]

Read the full article →

Transcendence Going Interstellar: How the Singularity Might Revolutionize Interstellar Travel

June 13, 2014

Andreas Hein, who has appeared in these pages before on the subject of worldships, here speculates about a much different kind of traveling: The uploading of consciousness. Andreas is Deputy Director of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (I4IS), as well as Director of its Technical Research Committee. He founded and leads Icarus Interstellar’s Project Hyperion: […]

Read the full article →