Culture and Society

Will We Stop at Mars?

November 27, 2015

In the heady days of Apollo, Mars by 2000 looked entirely feasible. Now we’re talking about the 2030s for manned exploration, and even that target seems to keep receding. In the review that follows, Michael Michaud looks at Louis Friedman’s new book on human spaceflight, which advocates Mars landings but cedes more distant targets to […]

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The 3 Most Futuristic Talks at IAC 2015

November 23, 2015

Justin Atchison’s name started appearing in these pages all the way back in 2007 when, in a post called Deep Space Propulsion via Magnetic Fields, I described his work at Cornell on micro-satellites the size of a single wafer of silicon. Working with Mason Peck, Justin did his graduate work on chip-scale spacecraft dynamics, solar […]

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The Initiative for Interstellar Studies: A Three Year Update

November 13, 2015

Kelvin Long is chief editor of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and the author of Deep Space Propulsion (Springer, 2011). A founder and first project leader of Project Icarus, the ongoing re-design of the Project Daedalus starship, Kelvin is also a co-founder of the non-profit Icarus Interstellar. He now serves as executive director […]

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Science Fiction and the Symposium

October 30, 2015

Science fiction is much on my mind this morning, having just been to a second viewing of The Martian (this time in 3D, which I didn’t much care for), and having just read a new paper on wormholes that suggests a bizarre form of communication using them. More about both of these in a moment, […]

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Woven Light: The Orphan Obscura

October 2, 2015

Heath Rezabek began exploring Vessel, an evolving strategy for preserving Earth’s cultures and biology, in these pages back in 2013. A librarian and writer in Austin TX, Heath went on to push these ideas into the realm of science fiction, in the form of a series of excerpts from a longer work that is still […]

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Pluto, Bonestell and Richard Powers

September 28, 2015

Like the Voyagers and Cassini before it, New Horizons is a gift that keeps on giving. As I looked at the latest Pluto images, I was drawn back to Chesley Bonestell’s depiction of Pluto, a jagged landscape under a dusting of frozen-out atmosphere. Bonestell’s images in The Conquest of Space (Viking, 1949) took the post-World […]

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Greg Matloff: Conscious Stars Revisited

September 18, 2015

It’s no exaggeration to say that without Greg Matloff, there would have been no Centauri Dreams. After reading his The Starflight Handbook (Wiley, 1989) and returning to it for years, I began working on my own volume in 2001. Research for that book would reveal Matloff’s numerous contributions in the journals, especially on solar sail […]

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The Closed Loop Conundrum

September 10, 2015

In Stephen Baxter’s novel Ultima (Roc, 2015), Ceres is moved by a human civilization in a parallel universe toward Mars, the immediate notion being to use the dwarf planet’s volatiles to help terraform the Red Planet. Or is that really the motive? I don’t want to give too much away (and in any case, I […]

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The Prime Directive – A Real World Case

August 28, 2015

Trying to observe but not harm another civilization can be tricky business, as Michael Michaud explains in the article below. While Star Trek gave us a model for non-interference when new cultures are encountered, even its fictional world was rife with departures from its stated principles. We can see the problem in microcosm in ongoing […]

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The Scientific Imperative of Human Spaceflight

August 21, 2015

Interstellar distances seem to cry out for robotics and artificial intelligence. But as Nick Nielsen explains in the essay below, there is a compelling argument that our long-term goal should be human-crewed missions. We might ask whether the ‘overview effect’ that astronauts report from their experience of seeing the Earth from outside would have a […]

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