August 2012

Tau Zero: The Steps Ahead

August 31, 2012

by Marc Millis Recently I asked you, our readership, what you want from an interstellar organization, given the emergence of Kelvin Long’s Interstellar Institute and the pending symposium of the 100 Year Starship Organization. How to sort out which organization does what? I suspect that the 100YSS will start inviting memberships (fee-based) at their Sept […]

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A Circumbinary Planetary System

August 30, 2012

Among the more interesting items coming out of the XXVIII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Beijing is news of a circumbinary system containing two planets. We’ve seen circumbinary worlds before — Kepler-16b is a planet orbiting not one but two stars, as are Kepler-34b and Kepler-35b. There was a time that […]

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Remembering the Early Robotic Explorers

August 29, 2012

Reflecting back on the history of robotic space missions, Larry Klaes offers a look at the early missions to Venus and Mars, harbingers of the far more complex probes we would later send into the Solar System. The Pioneers, Veneras and Mariners were, in their day, on the forefront of planetary research, blazing the trail […]

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The Magicians of Confidence

August 28, 2012

Centauri Dreams regular Al Jackson responded to yesterday’s post about Neil Armstrong with reminiscences of the Apollo program, but because the first of these ran as a comment to the story, I was afraid a lot of readers wouldn’t see it — we have far more subscribers through RSS than any other medium, and many […]

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On Neil Armstrong

August 27, 2012

“Neil Armstrong may well be the only human being of our time to be remembered 50,000 years from now.” — J. G. Ballard, “Back to the Heady Future,” Daily Telegraph, 17 April 1993. If anything, Neil Armstrong was almost too perfect for the role he played. If I had been asked to script the kind […]

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Magellanic Clouds a Celestial Rarity

August 24, 2012

The Magellanic Clouds, visible in the southern hemisphere, are two dwarf galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, a fact that has always captivated me. We see the galaxy from the inside, but I have always wondered what it would be like to see it from the perspective of the Magellanics. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) […]

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A Planet Engulfed by a Red Giant?

August 23, 2012

Polish astronomer Aleksander Wolszczan (Penn State) is best known as the discoverer of the first confirmed planet outside our Solar System. That was back in the early 1990s, when Wolszczan was working with Dale Frail (NRAO), using observations from the Arecibo dish to demonstrate that the pulsar PSR B1257+12 was orbited by two planets. These […]

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Exotic Detections: Wormholes and Worldships

August 22, 2012

SETI always makes us ask what human-centered assumptions we are making about extraterrestrial civilizations. When it comes to detecting an actual technology, like the starships we’ve been talking about in the last two posts, we’ve largely been forced to study concepts that fit our understanding of physics. Thus Robert Zubrin talks about how we might […]

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SETI: Starship Radiation Signatures

August 21, 2012

Yesterday we pondered the possibility of detecting an interstellar craft as a new kind of SETI. If the energies needed to drive such a vessel are as titanic as we think, there could be a detectable signature, as Robert Zubrin pointed out in a 1995 paper. Zubrin’s best case in visible light involved an antimatter […]

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To Detect a Starship

August 20, 2012

Several Centauri Dreams readers passed along Seth Shostak’s latest article on SETI in IEEE Spectrum, a piece that invokes the ‘Wow!’ signal at Ohio State and goes on to make the case for continuing the hunt. Shostak thinks both the ongoing search for exoplanets and refinements in our signal detection technology, including optical SETI, should […]

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