Culture and Society

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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: […]

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The Worldship of 1953

June 12, 2014

Les Shepherd’s 1952 paper “Interstellar Flight” appears in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society,” a fitting place given Shepherd’s active involvement in the organization. He would, in fact, serve the BIS as its chairman, first succeeding Arthur C. Clarke in that role in 1954, and returning in 1957 and again in 1965 for later […]

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Cultural Evolution: The View from Deep Space

June 11, 2014

I didn’t have the chance to meet Mark Lupisella at the first 100 Year Starship symposium in Orlando, but the publication of Cosmos & Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context in 2013 made me wish I had sought him out. Co-edited with Steven J. Dick (about whom there are so many interesting things to […]

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Putting the ‘Giggle Factor’ to Rest

June 9, 2014

Can we overcome our preconceptions about extraterrestrial life? Kathleen Toerpe thinks the answer is yes, for we’re moving from the era of ill-informed jokes about ‘little green men’ to a widening appreciation of our place in the cosmos. Dr. Toerpe is the Deputy CEO for Programs and Special Projects at the Astrosociology Research Institute and […]

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Starflight, Simulation and Deception

June 2, 2014

In our email conversations leading up to my publishing Human Universals and Cultural Evolution on Interstellar Voyages, Cameron Smith confirmed that there were few anthropologists engaged in studying long-term spaceflight. The same can be said for historians and sociologists, although we do have some prominent names devoting themselves to changing that. Kathleen Toerpe is doing […]

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Human Universals and Cultural Evolution on Interstellar Voyages

May 30, 2014

Cameron Smith last joined us just over a year ago with an essay on human interstellar migration in the context of biological evolution. Here he turns to issues of culture and change over time. An anthropologist and prehistorian at Portland State University in Oregon, Dr. Smith brings insights he has gained in the study of […]

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How We Get There Matters

May 23, 2014

Nick Nielsen’s new essay follows up his speculations on interstellar infrastructure with a look at the kind of starships we might one day build. The consequences are profound. What if we master interstellar technologies without needing the Solar System-wide infrastructure many of us assume will precede them? A civilization’s interstellar ‘footprint’ would be radically altered […]

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