Asteroid mining memes have been around for decades. Recently, they molted out of their shell of science fiction into talk of technical feasibility. The rub about asteroid mining is that it’s actually a great idea worth your support because asteroid mining is a lie. This article will delve into the cynical underside of a big ‘sell’ only to enlighten you about why futurists everywhere should embrace farcical solicitations when the underlying story supports a practical and necessary futuristic pursuit;Deflecting Earthbound Asteroids.
Yesterday morning I was diverted to serve a stint as astronomy pundit - on BBC - regarding or planet's double encounter with asteroids. Wow. As one asteroid about 50 meters across zipped by earth, closer even than our communication satellites, another (probably just ten meters in size) gave up more energy than an atomic bomb … gradually, thank heavens, but right over a city in the Russian Urals… briefly outshining the sun and shattering hundreds of windows. My job on-air was to reassure that there would be no dangerous radiation… that in fact, bolides like this one seem to strike our planet once or twice a decade or so, but always till now over open ocean or deserts or countryside. (In the 1970s one such event, off Japan, almost triggered a rise in DEFCON alert level at the US NORAD!)
Why peer into this far-future? As scientists forecast significant catastrophes for our solar system, galaxy, and universe, it seems fitting that we should focus on solutions for these disruptive events…
Ever since Enrico Fermi questioned back in the 1950’s why, if a multitude of civilisations are likely to exist in the Milky Way, no sign of their existence in the form of probes or spacecraft has ever been detected, scientists and critical thinkers have struggled to resolve the problem by supplying a host of inventive arguments with mixed reception.
“In a distant future, adventurers prepare for a cosmic journey at Spaceport America, but they will not be boarding any rocket-driven spacecraft. Instead, they simply walk through a StarGate-like archway and instantly step onto a planet hundreds of light years from Earth.”
I was born with a romance for space, and so I was recently thrilled to read Benjamin Abbot’s argument on settling the future.  I too have been bothered by the trends I am seeing in the space industry and the vernacular used in reference to it.
Our hive culture has established a hierarchical pyramid where we, the greatest of the great apes, have crowned ourselves on top of a conceptual food chain that is confused / mixed with a superiority chain…
My latest novel, Existence, reveals dozens of scenario about first contact, including a couple of unique ones concerning the Fermi Paradox or The Great Silence, as the quandary of why we have never encountered extraterrestrial civilization has been called. I’ve written about all this extensively in scientific papers and in fiction.
12-4-12 Thursday was Yuri’s night, an international celebration of human achievement and ingenuity, in recognition of mankind’s achievements in space exploration—with hopes of inspiring a new generation to continue looking upward and reaching outward. Fifty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to launch into space: “Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty – not destroy it!”
On February 29, 2012, Iran’s Alborz Space Center, with much public fanfare, was opened to the international media for the first time. Situated 40 miles west of Tehran, the space facility is one of the keystones of the country’s ambitious space program, which has plans to land an astronaut on the moon by 2025.
The notion of gun-propelled launch goes back to Jules Verne. Such Mass Drivers have been envisioned in numerous Sci Fi tales, including Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Heart of the Comet by Benford & Brin. We’ve also seen them portrayed in Buck Rogers, Babylon 5 and Halo. Now, two researchers propose that a space-capable mass driver may be feasible.
Intelligent life is a fragile accident in an indifferent universe, and the first duty of intelligent life is to figure out how to transform itself and its environment in order to survive. Unfortunately intelligent creatures sometimes evolve suicidally conservative memetic straitjackets - condoms are a sin, the climate isn’t changing, doing this ghost dance will stop bullets, unregulated markets are always right. In this short story Ms. Donoho imagines a far future descendant of ours forced to witness the unnecessary deaths of the descendants of today’s Luddites and bioconservatives.
Anders Sandberg, a friend of the IEET and postdoctoral fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University, recently gave the keynote address at the May 9-12, 2011, Planetary Defense Conference in Bucharest sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics. He has kindly sent us a summary of encouraging progress documented at the meeting on mapping the trajectories of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and figuring out ways to deflect them if they will hit the Earth.
Peter Dickins has penned a provocative article in the Monthly Review: The Humanization of the Cosmos—To What End? Dickins approaches the subject of space colonization from a decidedly leftist perspective, and is wonders how the process can unfold without the exploitation of humans and the environment.
In science fiction, when humanity is faced with existential crises, we turn to great minds attached to great hearts. While we aren’t under alien attack or facing sentient machines, our world has its own share of problems. Human cognitive enhancement might just be the solution from which all other solutions are born; or maybe it brings too many risks of its own.
Slowly but surely, SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is starting to get the picture: if we’re going to find life out there-and that’s a big if-it’s probably not going to be biological.