Culture and Society

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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An Emerging Interstellar Bibliography

May 9, 2014

Today begins Heath Rezabek’s survey as we look at the curation of a booklist on interstellar flight, using as basis a list of books I’ve gradually accumulated over the years. Before Heath introduces the survey, a few words about my methods: Many of the books listed below are ones that I used in preparing my […]

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Curation of an Interstellar Booklist

May 8, 2014

As a librarian with a futuristic bent, Heath Rezabek has developed the Vessel Project as a way of studying how we can preserve our knowledge and culture against future risk. That work — and Heath’s ongoing engagement with the Long Now Foundation — asks what we might put into a long-term archive housing the essence […]

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Thoughts on Karl Schroeder’s ‘Lockstep’

May 5, 2014

We last heard from Karl Schroeder in his essay Creative Constraints and Starflight, published here back in March. Schroeder was describing his new novel Lockstep, whose ingenious plot is in the service of a daring idea: If we are limited to speeds well less than that of light, can we still find a way to […]

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Interstellar Conferences for 2014

April 28, 2014

2014 isn’t nearly as top-heavy with interstellar conferences as the year before, but we do have two to discuss this morning, both of them slated for fall in North America. Looking through the preliminary information, I’m remembering how many good sessions grew out of last year’s meetings. For a field that grew up fueled largely […]

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Envisioning Alien Worlds

April 23, 2014

How we conceive of distant worlds is important. After all, we want to be scientifically accurate even as we deal with subjects that fire the public imagination. Thinking about planets in the habitable zones of other suns invariably makes us think of ‘Earth 2.0’ and the prospect of green and blue planets filled with life. […]

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An Outward-Looking Grand Strategy

April 18, 2014

We use strategies to weigh the issues around us and maximize our chances for success. Can we create a strategy not just for a specific short-term goal but for the survival and growth of our entire species? In the essay that follows, Michael Michaud looks at the elements of such a vision, one that by […]

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