February 2013

Mars Flyby: Daring to Venture

February 28, 2013

Existential risks, as discussed here yesterday, seem to be all around us, from the dangers of large impactors to technologies running out of control and super-volcanoes that can cripple our civilization. We humans tend to defer thinking on large-scale risks while tightly focusing on personal risk. Even the recent events near Chelyabinsk, while highlighting the […]

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Bostrom: From Extinction to Transcendence

February 27, 2013

At the top of my list of people I’d someday like to have a long conversation with is Nick Bostrom, a philosopher and director of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute. As Centauri Dreams readers will likely know, Bostrom has been thinking about the issue of human extinction for a long time, his ideas playing interestingly […]

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Life Around Dying Stars

February 26, 2013

Where is the best place to look for life? At first glance, a red dwarf would seem to be the ideal choice because a transiting terrestrial-class world in the habitable zone of a red dwarf is going to block a larger part of the star’s light than a similarly sized world orbiting a larger star. […]

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Looking Back from Deep Space

February 25, 2013

It’s reasonable to call the two Voyager spacecraft our first interstellar probes, in the sense that they are approaching the heliopause and are still transmitting data. Long before controllers shut them down — which should occur somewhere in the 2020s — Voyager 1 will have left the Solar System and we’ll have data on what […]

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Starships of the Mind

February 22, 2013

Michael Michaud wrote the essay that follows back in 1978 for a now-defunct magazine that never published it. In recent correspondence about Daedalus designer Alan Bond, Michael referred to the essay and I asked him to forward a copy, which had also passed through the hands of Freeman Dyson and Bob Forward not long after […]

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Small Planets Confirm Kepler’s Capabilities

February 21, 2013

The planetary system around Kepler-37, some 210 light years from Earth in the constellation Lyra, had its place in the media spotlight yesterday, although it will surely be a brief one. But it’s heartening to see the quickening interest in exoplanets that each new discovery brings. Will the interest continue? In the Apollo days, public […]

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Resources Between the Stars

February 20, 2013

Yesterday we looked at the possibility of colonizing worlds much different from the Earth. Seen in one light, pushing out into the Kuiper Belt and building settlements there is part of a slow migration to the stars that may occur without necessarily being driven by that purpose. Seen in another, experimenting with human settlements in […]

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Interstellar Expansion: Colonizing Ice Dwarfs

February 19, 2013

Are habitable planets the best places to look for life? The question seems odd, because we’re assuming life has to have clement conditions to emerge and survive. But step beyond the question of life’s formation and the issue can be framed differently. Where beyond its birthplace might life migrate? In SETI terms, where might we […]

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Near-Misses and their Uses

February 18, 2013

We can hope that the celestial events of February 15, including the spectacular fireball over Chelyabinsk and the near-miss from asteroid 2012 DA14, have raised public consciousness about Earth’s neighbors in space. And indeed, this seems to be the case. Media outlets were flooded with articles, photos and video, and talk show hosts found themselves […]

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Alpha Centauri Sunrise

February 15, 2013

If the title of this piece conjures up exotic images, that’s all to the good. In fact, I’m surprised that “Alpha Centauri Sunrise” hasn’t been the title of a science fiction story somewhere along the line, but a quick check shows no such reference. Thus when Robert Kennedy (The Ultimax Group) created a drink called […]

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