Culture and Society

Agriculture on Other Worlds

March 11, 2016

Because Centauri Dreams focuses on the outer system and beyond, I haven’t had much to say about Mars, knowing how many good sites there are that cover developments there. But today’s post is timely not only because of recent depictions of Mars in film but also because long-term sustainability is critical to a lasting human […]

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A Future We Can Choose

February 10, 2016

The very small may lead us to the very large. Payload sizes, for one thing, can be shrunk as we increasingly master the art of miniaturization, giving us far more bang for the buck. In that sense, we can think about tiny interstellar probes that may one day be sent, as Robert Freitas has envisioned, […]

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Starship Thinking

January 29, 2016

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Ian Crawford (Birkbeck College, London) — I think we last talked at one of the 100 Year Starship events — but I’m pleased to see his latest popular essay How to build a starship – and why we should start thinking about it now. A professor of planetary sciences […]

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In Search of the First Rocket Man

January 27, 2016

If you’re interested enough in space to be reading this site, you’ve probably run into the name of Wan Hu. He’s the subject of a tale that may well be spurious, but it’s certainly lively. It seems that some time around the year 1500 AD, Wan Hu took his fascination with rocketry to the logical […]

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‘A City Near Centaurus’

January 4, 2016

Let’s start the year off with a reflection on things past. Specifically, a story called “A City Near Centaurus,” set on a planet circling one of the Alpha Centauri stars. Just which star is problematic, because our author, Bill Doede, describes it as a planet circling ‘Alpha Centaurus II.’ I’m sure he means Centauri B, […]

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Can Social Insects Have a Civilization?

December 31, 2015

I first encountered Michael Chorost in his fine book World Wide Mind (Free Press, 2011), which looks at the relationship between biology and the machine tools that can enhance it. Mike’s thinking on SETI has already produced rich discussion in these pages (see, for example, SETI: Contact and Enigma). In today’s essay, he’s asking for […]

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Voyager to a Star

December 24, 2015

The essay that follows is a much expanded version of a brief post that ran here last April, the idea being to give our Voyager spacecraft one last (symbolic) mission. It will run later this year in a publication called ‘Handbook of the Unknowable,’ produced by Espen Gangvik (Director Trondheim Biennale, Norway) and edited by […]

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A Bill for a Starfaring Future

December 8, 2015

Back in 2012 I reported on Peter Garretson’s What Our Civilization Needs is a Billion Year Plan, an essay advocating a robust human expansion to the stars. Lt. Col. Garretson lives and breathes futuristic issues. A transformational strategist for the US Air Force, he has served as an airpower strategist and strategic policy advisor to […]

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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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