September 2012

Time and Distance in Houston

September 15, 2012

 At left is Mae Jemison, snapped from my seat as she spoke to open yesterday morning’s sessions. I couldn’t tweet about her comments because the hotel Wi-Fi wasn’t working in the room. Several people asked me today why I was still using a ‘netbook’ to take notes and send out tweets from the Houston […]

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Houston: Meetings and Reconnections

September 14, 2012

Bring an umbrella to Houston? I figured it would be unnecessary and left it out of my luggage. Lo and behold yesterday morning it began to rain and it seems to have continued off and on most of the day. That hardly matters when you’re in a huge high-rise hotel, but it’s a good thing […]

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A Stellar Thursday in Texas

September 13, 2012

A few words before a long day begins. I’m in meetings all Thursday here in Houston as the 100 Year Starship Symposium gets going, having slept well last night on the gigantic bed provided by the Hyatt. The travel day was uneventful. I had decided to make this a non-digital flight as much as possible […]

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On to Houston

September 12, 2012

I’m on my way to Houston for the 100 Year Starship symposium, and I should be airborne before this clicks into visibility through the wonders of automation. I’m involved in meetings all day Thursday and then into regular symposium activities for the rest of the weekend, about which I’ll be reporting next week and to […]

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The Psychology of Space Exploration: A Review

September 11, 2012

By Larry Klaes A new book looking at the inner lives of astronauts is Larry Klaes’ subject today. Planning for long-term missions like a manned trip to Mars requires a great deal of work on closed systems, as we’ve recently discussed. But we also have to consider the psychological issues raised by confinement in a […]

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Crowdsourcing Breakthrough Propulsion Ideas

September 10, 2012

Making Progress on Star Trek Physics is Marc Millis’ foray into crowdsourcing, a just announced project on Kickstarter. For those new to the concept, Kickstarter allows the general public to make donations to projects that are described on the site. A deadline is established and so is a minimum funding goal — if the goal […]

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100 Year Starship Symposium Next Week

September 7, 2012

The 100 Year Starship 2012 Public Symposium begins next week, with the recently announced news that former president Bill Clinton will serve as honorary chair for the event. I’m not sure whether a US president has ever spoken about starships before, but what Clinton said was this: “This important effort helps advance the knowledge and […]

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Space Imperative: Building Closed Ecologies

September 6, 2012

Long journeys by spaceship are a staple of science fiction, but we know all too little about how to sustain a human habitat in a hostile environment. Experiments in closed ecosystems simply reveal how much work will have to go toward this subject before we can talk about moving out into the Solar System, much […]

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Robotics: Pushing the Envelope

September 5, 2012

“My increasingly sophisticated laptops are starting to develop personalities of their own,” says Charles Lineweaver (Australian National University), as interviewed by Peter Spinks in The Age. It’s a whimsical remark in the context of a discussion on robotics in space missions, but I think many of us can relate to it. We all tend to […]

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Small Town Among the Stars

September 4, 2012

As we’ve had increasing reason to speculate, travel to the stars may not involve biological life forms but robotics and artificial intelligence. David Brin’s new novel Existence (Tor, 2012) cartwheels through many an interstellar travel scenario — including a biological option involving building the colonists upon arrival out of preserved genetic materials — but the […]

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