Culture and Society

Upcoming Interstellar Conferences

August 11, 2015

The interstellar community has seen a surprising number of conferences since the 2011 event in Orlando, which kicked off the 100 Year Starship effort and brought unusual media attention to the idea of travel between the stars. I had thought when 2015 began that further conferences were unlikely — it seemed to be a year […]

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Envisioning Starflight Failing

July 31, 2015

Science fiction has always had its share of Earthside dystopias, but starflight’s allure has persisted, despite the dark scrutiny of space travel in the works of writers like J. G. Ballard. But what happens if we develop the technologies to go to the stars and find the journey isn’t worth it? Gregory Benford recently reviewed […]

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The Exploratory Imperative

July 8, 2015

If you’re a long-time reader of this site, you doubtless share my fascination with the missions that are defining our summer — Dawn at Ceres, Rosetta at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and in the coming week particularly, New Horizons at Pluto. But have you ever wondered why the fascination is there? Because get beyond the sustaining network […]

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Science Fiction: An Updated Solar System

June 4, 2015

Having written yesterday about the constellation of missions now returning data from deep space, I found Geoffrey Landis’ essay “Spaceflight and Science Fiction” timely. The essay is freely available in the inaugural issue of The Journal of Astrosociology, the publication of the Astrosociology Research Institute (downloadable here). And while it covers some familiar ground — […]

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Transhumanism and Adaptive Radiation

May 29, 2015

Centauri Dreams regular Nick Nielsen here tackles transhumanism, probing its philosophical underpinnings and its practical consequences as civilization spreads outward from the Solar System. In a sense, transhumanism is what humans have always done, the act of transcendence through technology being a continuing theme of our existence. But accelerating technologies demand answers about human freedom […]

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NExSS: A ‘Virtual Institute’ for Deep Space

April 23, 2015

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or NExSS, is a collaborative initiative from NASA to draw on the collective talent of researchers from ten universities, three NASA centers and two research institutes. Conceived as a ‘virtual institute,’ the effort is both geographically diverse and multidisciplinary in nature, focusing not only on the search for exoplanets […]

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Voyager to a Star?

April 21, 2015

The latest imagery from New Horizons has me wondering what it must be like to be on the team for this mission. Although released a week ago, the photo at left was taken by the Ralph color imager aboard the spacecraft on April 9. The distance from Pluto and Charon in the shot is about […]

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Call for Participation: TVIW 2016

April 13, 2015

I like the theme of the just announced 2016 iteration of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. Set in Chattanooga, TN, the meeting will convene at a local landmark, the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, which is actually built around the old railroad station made famous in the Glenn Miller tune of the same name. What better way […]

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A Black Hole of Information?

February 17, 2015

A couple of interesting posts to talk about in relation to yesterday’s essay on the Encyclopedia Galactica. At UC-Santa Cruz, Greg Laughlin writes entertainingly about The Machine Epoch, an idea that suggested itself because of the spam his systemic site continually draws from “robots, harvesters, spamdexing scripts, and viral entities,” all of which continually fill […]

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We Have Fed Our Sea

February 9, 2015

One of the reasons I do what I do is that when I was a boy, I read Poul Anderson’s The Enemy Stars. Published as a novel in 1959, the work made its original appearance the previous year in John Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction as a two-part serial titled “We Have Fed Our Sea.” The […]

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