August 2013

Existential Risk and Far Future Civilization

August 30, 2013

How do we ensure the survival of our civilization over future millennia? Yesterday Heath Rezabek discussed installations called Vessels that would contain both archives and habitats to offset existential risk. Today Rezabek’s collaborator, author Nick Nielsen, broadens the view with an examination of risk itself and three possible responses for protecting our culture. Nick is […]

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Deep Time: The Nature of Existential Risk

August 29, 2013

At the recent Starship Congress in Dallas, writer, librarian and futurist Heath Rezabek discussed the Vessel Archives proposal — a strategy for sustaining and conveying Earth’s cultural and biological heritage — which was directly inspired by Gregory Benford’s idea of a Library of Life. Working with author Nick Nielsen, Rezabek is concerned with existential risk […]

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Sun-Skimming Planets (and a Riff on Brown Dwarfs)

August 28, 2013

It’s time to catch up with recent exoplanet finds out of MIT as I start weaving in recent news with conference notes and ideas from other reading. Kepler 78b is much in the news because of its orbit, which takes it around its star in a breathtaking 8.5 hours, so that you can cram almost […]

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Neil Armstrong: One Small Friendship Remembered

August 27, 2013

Neil McAleer is probably best known in these pages for his fine biography Visionary: The Odyssey of Arthur C. Clarke (Clarke Project, 2012), but this is just one of his titles. In fact, his book The Omni Space Almanac won the 1988 Robert S. Ball Award from the Aviation and Space Writers Association, and his […]

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Interstellar Studies in Context

August 26, 2013

With the beginning of a new week it’s time to ponder how best to move forward with coverage not only of the recent Starship Congress in Dallas, but the upcoming 100 Year Starship Symposium in Houston. For that matter, I still have material from the Starship Century event in San Diego, a gathering I was […]

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A Light Bridge to Nearby Stars

August 23, 2013

by Charles Quarra Charles Quarra tells me that like many kids who grow up dreaming about the stars, he realized early on that a career in physics would make sense. A book-filled childhood helped fix this focus, especially Carl Sagan’s The Cosmic Connection and Peter Nicholls’ The Science in Science Fiction. Charles went on to […]

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Sailcraft: Uses of the Beam

August 22, 2013

I’m always on the lookout for practical ways to use solar sails. We think long-term here and interstellar flight is the topic, but the other side of that coin is that we need to see incremental progress made that builds toward a significant human presence in space. Creating the installations to send powerful microwave or […]

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The Path to Beamed Sails

August 21, 2013

Several years ago in Italy Les Johnson told me that he had once had the coolest job description in NASA. And I remember those days in the early 2000s when I was just beginning to investigate interstellar issues, and Les, working at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, carried a NASA business card describing him […]

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Key Issues for Interstellar Sails

August 20, 2013

The evening after Jim Benford’s Starship Congress talk on his solar sail lab work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a small group of sail advocates joined him in the Hilton Anatole’s top floor restaurant to talk over the issues. Benford is organizing Project Forward, named after the legendary Robert Forward, as an Icarus Interstellar effort […]

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The Sail Comes to Texas

August 19, 2013

Low clouds had descended upon Dallas when I landed at Love Field, and by the time I got to the Hilton Anatole for the Starship Congress being hosted by Icarus Interstellar, the city outside was swathed in mist. This was last Wednesday evening, and it was late enough by the time I had dinner that […]

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