Searching for Interstellar Communications

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pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

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3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, V2 rocket, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

It can also let us vault over uncertainties in biological evolution and look for the hallmarks of intelligence and technology. For decades, science fiction writers have woven stories of aliens who are biologically bizarre or who have eclipsed us with their technology. Scientists play this game too, and it’s known by the acronym of SETI: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In an influential paper published in Nature in 1959, “Searching for Interstellar Communications,” Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison argued that a search was warranted even though there was no evidence for life any place other than Earth. They wrote: “The reader may seek to consign these speculations wholly to the domain of science-fiction. We submit, rather, that the foregoing line of argument demonstrates that the presence of interstellar signals is entirely consistent with all we now know, and that if signals are present the means of detecting them is now at hand.”21 They argued that we target nearby Sun-like stars and look for narrow-bandwidth microwave signals.

“Nanosats Are Go!” in The Economist magazine, online at http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21603240-small-satellites-taking-advantage-smartphones-and-other-consumer-technologies. 20. “NAIC Study of the Magnetic Sail” by R. Zubrin and A. Martin 1999 (slide presentation), online at http://www.niac.usra.edu/files/library/meetings/fellows/nov99/320Zubrin.pdf. 21. “Searching for Interstellar Communications” by G. Cocconi and P. Morrison 1959. Nature, vol. 184, pp. 844–46. 22. “The Drake Equation Revisited. Part 1,” a retrospective by Frank Drake in Astrobiology Magazine, online at http://www.astrobio.net/index.php?option=com_retrospection&task=detail&id=610. 23. SETI 2020: A Roadmap for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, ed. by R. D. Ekers, D. Culler, J. Billingham, and L.

., 239 Los Angeles Times, 71 Losing My Virginity (Branson), 86, 87 Louis IX, king of France, 23 Louis XVI, king of France, 68 Lovelock, James, 286 Lowell, Percival, 163–64 Lucian of Samosata, 20 Lucretius, 18–19 Luna program, 50–51 Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, 156 Lunokhod rover, 143 Lynx rocket plane, 101 M5 fiber, 161 McAuliffe, Christa, 55, 74 Mack 3 Blackbird, 69 McKay, Chris, 173 McLellan, William, 283 magnetic implants, 207 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), 190 magnetic sails, 186, 223 magnitude of time, 248–50, 249 Manhattan Project, 36, 221 Manifest Destiny, applied to space, 146–47, 199 Manned Habitat Unit, 169 many worlds concept, 17–20, 17, 49, 267 Mao Zedong, 141 Marconi, Guglielmo, 237 Mariner 2, 51 Mariner 4, 164 Marino, Lori, 190 Marriott hotels, 145 Mars, 28, 237, 270 challenges of travel to, 166–70 distance from Earth to, 50, 148, 166 Earth compared to, 171–72, 216 establishing a colony on, 166–71, 169, 192, 195, 200–201, 203, 214, 248 evidence of water on, 124–25, 163–66, 165, 173 fly-bys of, 51, 170 imaginative perceptions of, 163–65 latency on, 178 map of, 163 obstacles to exploration of, 66–67, 148 one-way journey to, 166, 170–71, 200 as potentially habitable, 124–25, 163, 165–66, 171, 172–74, 234, 278 privately funded missions to, 170–71 probes to, 40, 51, 52, 164–65, 176, 246 projected exploration of, 94–98, 101, 104, 115, 119, 157, 161, 163–74, 178, 181, 182 property rights on, 145, 198–99 sex and reproduction on, 200 simulated journey to, 169–70 soil of, 170 staging points for, 161 terraforming of, 172–74, 182, 216, 227 tests for life on, 52 Mars Direct, 169 Mars500 mission, 169 Mars One, 170–71, 198–201 Mars Society, 166 Mars 3 lander, 51 Masai people, 120 Massachusetts General Hospital, 250 Masson-Zwaan, Tanja, 199 mathematics, 19 as universal language, 236–37 Matrix, The, 260 matter, manipulation of, 258 matter-antimatter annihilation, 220, 220, 221–22 Mavroidis, Constantinos, 182 Max-Q (maximum aerodynamic stress), 46 Maxwell, James Clerk, 183 Mayor, Michel, 126–28, 133 medicine: challenges and innovation in, 92–93, 263 cyborgs in, 205 medicine (continued) as lacking in space, 200 in life extension, 259 nanotechnology in, 225, 259 robots in, 180, 181, 182, 205 mediocrity, principle of, 261 Mendez, Abel, 278 mental models, 13–17, 18–19 Mercury: orbit of, 126, 215 property rights on, 145 as uninhabitable, 124 mercury poisoning, 118 Mercury program, 41, 42, 71, 74, 272 meta-intelligence, 94 meteorites, 152, 160, 160, 164, 195 methane, 52–53, 125, 132, 278 as biomarker, 217–18 methanogens, 217 “Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, A” (Goddard), 30, 31 Methuselah, 131 mice, in scientific research, 48–49, 250–51 microbes, microbial life, 97–98, 173, 174, 217, 241, 246, 286 habitable environments for, 122–25, 165–66, 186 microcephaly, 203 microgravity, 115 microsatellites, 90 Microsoft, 84, 188 microwaves: beaming of, 223–24 signals, 187 Microwave Sciences, 223 Middle East, population dispersion into, 8, 118 migration: early human population dispersion through, 5–9, 9, 15, 19 motivation for, 9–12, 11 military: covert projects of, 69–72 Eisenhower’s caveat about, 79 in Internet development, 77, 78–79 nanotechnology in, 180–81, 225 in rocket development, 30, 32–39, 55–56, 71 in space programs, 73, 76, 79, 144, 153 Milky Way galaxy, 227, 240, 253, 263, 270 ancient Greek concept of, 18 Drake equation for detectable life in, 188, 233–35 Earth-like exoplanets in, 129–33, 233, 291 formation and age of, 235 size of, 242 Millis, Marc, 290 mind control, 245 mind uploading, 259 miniaturization, see nanotechnology minimum viable population, 201, 251 mining: of asteroids, 155–56, 182, 214 of Enceladus, 227 on Moon, 214 by robots, 178, 182 Minsky, Marvin, 177, 179 MirCorp, 75 mirrors, 173 Mir Space Station, 75, 115, 167–68 Miss Baker (monkey), 47–48, 48 Mission Control, 43, 100, 158, 269 MIT, 38, 77, 90, 141, 226, 257 mitochondrial DNA, 6, 9 Mittelwerk factory, 33, 35 Mojave Desert, 71, 82, 83 population adaptation to heat in, 118–19 molecules, in nanotechnology, 151 Mongols, 23, 24 monkeys, in space research, 47–48, 48 Montgolfier brothers, 68 Moon: age of, 50 ancient Greek concept of, 18 in asteroid capture, 156 distance from Earth to, 49–50, 150, 166, 267 first animals on, 49 first man on, 71, 158 latency on, 178 lunar base proposed for, 157–63, 158, 160, 195, 214, 248 manned landings on, 44–45, 49–50, 54, 56, 63, 71, 84, 99, 104, 108, 143, 157, 158, 176, 219, 270, 272 obstacles to exploration of, 66 orbit of, 25 probes to, 40, 51, 129, 140, 143 projected missions to, 92, 143, 157–63, 166, 214, 275 property rights on, 145–47, 198–99 proposed commercial flights to, 102 in science fiction, 20, 26 soil of, 159, 160, 162 as staging point for Mars, 161 staging points for, 148 telescopic views of, 31, 49–50 as uninhabitable, 124, 166 US commitment to reach, 41–45 Moon Treaty (1979), 146 Moon Treaty, UN (1984), 279 Moore, John, 203 Moravec, 259–60 Morgan, Barbara, 74 Morrison, Philip, 187, 239 Mosaic web browser, 79 Moses, 148 motion, Newton’s laws of, 25, 67–68 multistage rockets, 29 multiverse, 252–57, 255 Musk, Elon, 94–98, 97, 100–101, 112–13, 148, 205 mutation, 6–7 cosmic rays and, 204 7R, 10–12, 11, 15 mutually assured destruction, 42 Mylar, 184, 225 N1/L3 rocket, 44, 54 nanobots, 179–82, 181, 224–28 NanoSail-D, 184, 185 nanosponges, 180 nanotechnology, 151–52, 179–82, 208, 214, 245, 280, 283 projected future of, 257–59 see also nanobots National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 83, 90, 96, 97–98, 114, 116–17, 128, 144, 153, 156, 176, 178, 182, 184–85, 185, 195, 200, 205, 206, 216, 224, 226, 271, 275, 280, 290 and Air Force, 71 artistic depiction of space colonies by, 196, 196 budget of, 39, 42, 43, 49, 54, 64, 75, 99, 104, 140, 144, 158, 166, 188, 238, 270, 272, 284 cut back of, 45, 49, 54, 188 formation of, 38–39, 145, 269 private and commercial collaboration with, 99–102, 104 revival of, 103–5 space program of, 51, 55–56, 71–76, 92, 157–58, 285–86 stagnation of, 63–67, 141, 147, 166 National Geographic Society, 7, 265 National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 187–88 National Science Foundation (NSF), 78–79 Native Americans, 118 naturalness, 256 natural selection, 6, 16, 123, 164, 251, 291 Nature, 187 Naval Research lab, 37 Navy, US: Bureau of Aeronautics, 30 in rocket development, 36–37 Nayr, Ernst, 238 Nazis, 48 Propaganda Ministry of, 32 von Braun and, 32–34, 141, 269 NBC, 75 Nedelin, Mitrofan, 43 “needle in a haystack” problem, 188–89, 242–43 “Nell” (rocket), 29 Neptune, 127, 131, 225 as uninhabitable, 125 Nergal, 163 Netscape, 80 New Mexico, 88, 88, 105 Newton, Isaac, 24–25, 25, 30, 67–68, 110, 262, 267 New York Times, 30, 94 Nicholas, Henry, 214 Niven, Larry, 198, 253 Nixon, Richard, 108, 167 Nobel Prize, 126, 180, 214 nomad planets, 128 Noonan, James, 266 nuclear fission, 220, 220, 221 nuclear fusion, 110, 161–62, 220, 221, 221, 222 nuclear reactors, 224 nuclear weapons, 36, 42, 78, 129, 146, 197–98, 222, 234–35, 244, 245, 246, 286 Nuremberg Chronicles, 17 Nyberg, Karen, 200 Obama, Barack, 104 Oberth, Hermann, 28, 31–32, 36, 268 oceans: acidification of, 195 sealed ecosystem proposed for, 197 Oculus Rift, 176 Ohio, astronauts from, 74 Okuda, Michael, 228 Olsen, Ken, 213 100 Year Starship project, 224 100 Year Starship Symposium, 229 101955 Bennu (asteroid), 156 O’Neill, Gerard, 196, 251–52 Opportunity rover, 165 optical SETI, 190, 243 Orbital Sciences Corporation, 100–101, 275 orbits: concept of, 25 geostationary, 149–50, 150 legislation on, 146 low Earth, 49, 54, 63, 70–71, 70, 74–75, 97, 100, 110, 113–14, 151, 155, 184 manned, 40–41, 141–42 staging points from, 148 orcas, 190 Orion spacecraft, 104 Orteig, Raymond, 90 Orteig Prize, 90–91 Orwell, George, 35 OSIRIS-REx, 156 Outer Space Treaty (1967), 145–47, 198–99 “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking” (Clarke), 201 oxygen, 156, 159, 161, 170, 172, 173–74, 182, 193–95, 214 Oymyakon, Siberia, population adaptation to cold in, 119–20 ozone, as biomarker, 217 Pacific Ocean, 9, 224 Pac-Man, 175 Page, Larry, 92 Paine, Thomas, 167 Pale Blue Dot (Sagan), 121 “Pale Blue Dot,” Earth as, 53, 118–22, 121, 130 Paperclip, Operation, 141 parabolic flight, 93 paradox, as term, 241 Paratrechina longicornis (crazy ant), 193 Parkinson’s disease, 202–3 particle physics, standard model of, 256 Pascal, Blaise, 120 Pauley, Phil, 196–97 PayPal, 95, 97 Pensées (Pascal), 120 People’s Daily, 162 People’s Liberation Army, 144 Pericles, 18 Pettit, Don, 100, 273 phenotype, 6 philanthropy, 95 PhoneSat, 185 photons, 183, 186 in teleportation, 229, 230, 231 photosynthesis, as biomarker, 217 pigs, 250 Pinker, Steven, 16 Pioneer probes, 50, 51–52 piracy, 24 Pitcairn Island, 202 planetary engineering, 172 Planetary Resources, 156 planetary science, 51–52, 176 Planetary Society, 184 planets: exploration of, 49–53 formation of, 156 plate techtonics, 132, 241 play, imagination in, 10, 14 pluralism, 17–20, 17, 49 plutonium, 66 poetry, space, 272–73 politics, space exploration and, 63–64, 104, 141, 214, 238 Polyakov, Valeri, 115, 167–68 population bottleneck, 201–2, 287 Poynter, Jane, 193 Princess of Mars, A (Burroughs), 164 Principia (Newton), 25 Project Orion, 221, 221 Project Ozma, 187–88, 237, 253 prokaryotes, 172 property rights, in space, 145–47, 198 Proton rockets, 65, 113 proton scoop, 222–23 Proxmire, William, 238 Puerto Rico, 239, 243 pulsar, 131 Pythagorean Theorem, 238 Qian Xuesen, 141 Qi Jiguang, 24 Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize, 92 quantum entanglement, 230–32, 230 quantum genesis, 255 quantum mechanics, 258 quantum teleportation, 230–32, 230 quantum theory, 189 qubits, 230 Queloz, Didier, 126–28, 133 R-7 rocket, 37 R-16 rocket, 43 radiation, infrared, 109, 253–54, 254 radioactivity, as energy source, 124, 181 radio waves, 66, 187, 189, 242 ramjets, 222–23 RAND Corporation, 222 Rare Earth hypothesis, 241 RCS Energia, 106 RD-180 engine, 72 Reagan, Ronald, administration of, 167, 271 reality TV, 75, 171, 214, 282 “Realm of Fear,” 229 reasoning, human capacity for, 13–17, 18–19 red dwarfs, 131 Red Mars (Stanley), 174 Red Scare, 141 Redstone rocket, 36–37, 71 reindeer, 119–20 remote sensing, 175–91, 224 RepRap Project, 227 reproduction, sexual, 6, 172 Ride, Sally, 74 “Right Stuff,” as term, 71, 114 Right Stuff, The (Wolfe), 272 Ringworld series (Niven), 253 risk: as basic to human nature, 9, 262 genetic factor in, 10–12 of living on Mars, 167–70 in pushing human limits, 120 of space tourism, 102, 105–9, 155 of space travel, 42–43, 55–56, 56, 106–9, 152–53 Robinson, Kim Stanley, 174 robonaut project, 179 robots, robotics: as aids to humans, 249, 250 in asteroid redirection, 104 commercial, 178 ethical issues of, 179 nanotechnology in, 179–82, 181 remote control of, 177–78 remote sensing through, 176 self-assembly and self-replication by, 226–28, 258, 259 in spacecraft, 50, 100, 100 space exploration by, 53–57, 66, 98, 133, 161, 177–79, 179, 208, 224–28 see also cyborgs; nanobots Rocketdyne, 112 rocket equation, 27, 53, 72–73, 110–11, 111, 148, 220, 268 rocket fuel, 110–13, 148, 156, 159, 161 comparison of efficiency of, 219–24 Rocket Performance Calculator, 222 rockets: alternatives to, 148–53 “bible” of, 267 challenges in launching of, 43–44, 46–49, 106, 107, 111–12, 148 comparison of US and Soviet, 44 cost of, 112–13, 113 developing technology of, 21–39, 43, 101, 103, 112–13, 183, 262 fuel for, 110–13, 148, 156, 159, 161, 220–21 launched from planes, 84 liquid-fueled, 28–29, 29 physics and function of, 110–14 proposed energy technologies for, 220–24 reusable, 101, 103, 111, 112, 113 solar sails compared to, 183 as term, 23 visionaries in development of, 26–30, 94 in warfare, 22–24, 30, 32–34 see also specific rockets “Rockets to the Planets in Space, The” (Oberth), 28 Rogers Commission, 271 Rohrabacher, Dana, 284 Rome, ancient, 18, 67, 163 Rovekamp, Roger, 207 rovers, 66–67, 92, 125, 140, 143, 158, 165, 167 nanotechnology in, 181–82 remote sensing through, 176 Rozier, Jean-François de, 68 RP-1 kerosine, 110 RS-25 rocket, 112 Russia, 23, 26–27, 149, 178 space program of, 37, 65–66, 72, 75, 84, 91, 104, 106, 107–8, 113, 114, 140, 143, 168, 184, 195, 200, 271 space tourism by, 75, 102 tensions between US and, 72 see also Soviet Union Russian Revolution, 27, 47 Russian Space Agency, 102 Rutan, Burt, 72, 82–86, 85, 88, 88, 89, 91, 97–98, 105–6, 214 Rutan, Dick, 83–84 Rutan Aircraft Factory, 83 Saberhagen, Fred, 177, 259 Sagan, Carl, 53, 121–22, 121, 176–77, 184, 198, 234–35, 238, 240 Sahakian, Barbara, 98 Sahara Desert, 238 sails: solar, 183–86, 185 wind-driven, 67–68, 183, 262 Salyut space station, 54, 108 satellites: artificial Earth, 36–39, 37, 40, 65, 71, 106 commercial, 96, 105 communications, 101, 142, 153 in energy capture, 253 geostationary, 149 GPS, 144 launching of, 154, 154 miniature, 90, 184–85 Saturn: moon of, 125, 227 probes to, 52–53 as uninhabitable, 125 Saturn V rocket, 43, 44, 46, 54, 83, 104, 111, 113, 113, 166 Scaled Composites, 83, 89 science fiction, 192, 196, 222, 223, 239, 250, 253 aliens in, 186–87 in film, 28, 204 Mars in, 164, 174 roots of, 20 technologies of, 228–32, 259 see also specific authors and works scientific method, 213 Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), 187–90, 234, 239, 254 evolution and technology of, 237–39, 242–43, 242 lack of signals detected by, 236–37, 240–44 new paradigms for, 258 “Searching for Interstellar Communications” (Cocconi and Morrison), 187 sea travel: early human migration through, 8, 9 exploration by, 109, 262 propulsion in, 67–68 self-replication, 226–28, 258, 259 Senate, US, Armed Services Preparedness Committee of, 39 SETI Institute, 188 78–6 (pig), 250 sex: promiscuous, 12 in reproduction, 6, 172 in space, 200, 214 Shackleton Energy Company, 161 Shane, Scott, 98 Shatner, William, 88–89 Shelley, Mary, 206 Shenlong (“Divine Dragon”), 145 Shenzhou 10, 142–43 Shepard, Alan, 41, 84 Shostak, Seth, 243 Siberia, 65, 119–20, 238 population dispersion into, 8, 118, 218 Sidereal Messenger, The (Galileo), 270 Siemienowicz, Kazimierz, 267 Simonyi, Charles, 75 Sims, 175 simulation: infinite regression in, 261 living in, 257–62 simulation hypothesis, 261 Sinatra, Frank, 45 singularity, 207 in origin of cosmos, 255 and simulation, 257–62 technological, 258–59 Singularity University, 94, 259 Skylab space station, 54, 116 Skype video, 176 smart motes, 181, 225 smartphones, 92, 185 Smithsonian Institution, 30, 81 Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, 85, 91, 271 Snow Crash (Stephenson), 103 Snowden, Edward, 178 social media, 195 Sojourner rover, 165 SolarCity, 96–97 solar flares, 167 solar power, 96, 181, 183–86 solar sails, solar sailing, 183–86, 185, 223, 225, 227 Solar System: discovery of first planet beyond, 126–27 edge of, 50, 53, 121 formation of, 156 habitability potential in, 122, 124–26 latency variations in, 178 probes into, 51–52, 66, 177, 185–86, 208, 270 projected travel within, 248–49, 263 property rights in, 145–47, 198 worlds beyond, 126–29, 156, 208, 215, 250, 263 solar wind, 162, 223 sound barrier, breaking of, 69, 71 South America, 11, 202, 218 Soviet Union, 30, 34, 37, 141 fall of, 47, 65, 75, 197, 271–72 rocket development in, 35–39 space program failures and losses of, 43, 47, 50–51, 54, 269 space program of, 37–39, 40–43, 141, 149, 237, 271 Soyuz spacecraft, 43, 55, 75, 84, 91, 102, 106, 113, 143 crash of, 107–8 space: civilians in, 55, 74 civilian vs. military control of, 37–39, 69–71, 79, 153 commercialization of, 55, 63, 73–76, 79–80, 88–89, 92, 97, 99–109, 100, 110, 147, 153–56, 154, 199, 214, 249, 275 debris in, 144, 152 first American in, 41 first man in, 40–41, 41 first women in, 40, 74 as infinite, 18, 19, 22 as inhospitable to human beings, 53–54, 114–17, 121 legislation on, 39, 78, 90, 144, 145–47, 198–200 living in, 192–208 “living off the land” in, 166, 200 peaceful exploration of, 39 potential for human habitabilty in, 123 prototype for sealed ecosystem in, 192–97 Space Act (1958), 39, 90 Space Adventures, 102, 275 space colonization: challenges of, 197–201 cyborgs in, 204–8 evolutionary diversion in, 201–4 legal issues in, 198–200 of Mars, 166–71, 169, 192, 195, 203 off-Earth human beings in, 215, 250–51 prototype experiments for, 192–97 space elevators, 27, 148–53, 150, 160–61, 185, 280 “Space Exploration via Telepresence,” 178 Spaceflight Society, 28 space hotels, 102–3 Space Launch System (SLS), 104 space mining, 155–56, 161–62 “Space Oddity,” 142 spaceplanes, 71–72, 85, 144 Spaceport America, 1–6, 105 Space Race, 35–39, 37, 40–43, 50, 55, 139 SpaceShipOne, 72, 85, 85, 88–89, 88, 91 SpaceShipTwo, 88, 101, 105 Space Shuttle, 45, 46, 49, 64, 72, 84, 85, 111–13, 112, 159, 167, 194, 219–20, 222, 275 disasters of, 55–56, 56, 74–75, 107, 111–13 final flight of, 271 limitations of, 55–56, 64–65 as reusable vehicle, 54–55 space sickness, 114 spacesuits, 89, 182, 195–96 space-time, 255, 255 manipulation of, 258 space tourism, 63, 73, 75–76, 79–80, 88–89, 91, 101–3, 154, 170, 214 celebrities in, 88, 101–2 revenue from, 154–55, 155 risks of, 102, 105–9, 155 rules for, 105 space travel: beyond Solar System, see interstellar travel bureaucracy of, 105–10, 271 cost of, 39, 42, 45, 49, 54, 55, 66, 75, 81–82, 91, 112–14, 113, 139–49, 153, 155–56, 158–59, 161, 166, 179, 183, 198, 214, 217, 222, 224–26, 252, 270, 275, 284 early attempts at, 21–22, 22 effect of rocket equation in, see rocket equation entrepreneurs of, 81–98 erroneous predictions about, 214 failures and disasters in, 21–22, 22, 38, 43, 47, 50–51, 54–56, 56, 63–64, 68, 72, 74–75, 101, 102, 107, 142, 184, 269, 271, 275 fatality rate of, 107–9 fictional vignettes of, 1–4, 59–62, 135–38, 209–12 Internet compared to, 76–80, 77, 80 life extension for, 250–51 lifetimes lived in, 251 living conditions in, 114–17 new business model for, 99–105 Newton’s theories as basis of, 25 obstacles to, 21, 63, 66–67, 105–109 space travel (continued) as part of simulation, 261–62 public engagement in, 45, 73, 85, 93, 162, 177, 217 remote sensing vs., 175–91 risks of, 43–44, 83, 89, 93, 105–9 speculation on future of, 76–80, 133, 213–32, 248–52 suborbital, 84 telescopic observation vs., 49–50 visionaries of, 26–39, 80, 94, 109 SpaceX, 96, 97, 100–103, 113–14, 275 SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, 96, 100, 100, 102, 170 special theory of relativity, 228, 231 specific impulse, 220 spectroscopy, 127, 165, 176 spectrum analyzer, 237 Speer, Albert, 34 Spielberg, Steven, 238 Spirit of St.

 

pages: 212 words: 68,754

Thinking in Numbers by Daniel Tammet

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, computer age, dematerialisation, Edmond Halley, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, index card, Isaac Newton, Paul Erdős, Searching for Interstellar Communications

His formative years were spent in Chicago, a city so populous that it could sustain the livelihoods of more than a hundred full-time piano tuners. His thoughts ran often to the many, many worlds far above his head. He wondered about their cities, about their cars, about whether they knew war or cancer. After graduating from Harvard with a doctorate in radio astronomy, Drake conducted the first ever search for interstellar communication. On 8 April 1960, he aimed the radio at two stars much like our sun, twelve light years from Earth. Over the next two months he and his colleagues listened sedulously for a signal, but heard nothing. Not a peep. But the numbers! Drake believed the numbers were on his side. The number of stars in our galaxy amount to at least one hundred billion. One hundred billion! And how many of these stars were suns to planets?

 

pages: 326 words: 97,089

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway

I owe the following sources many thanks for their time and expertise: Roger Angel, Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Mike Arthur, William Bains, Natalie Batalha, Charles Beichman, David Bennett, Michael Bolte, Xavier Bonfils, Alan Boss, John Casani, Webster Cash, John Chambers, Phil Chang, David Charbonneau, Nick Cowan, Paul Davies, Drake Deming, Frank Drake, Alan Dressler, Michael Endl, Debra Fischer, Kathryn Flanagan, Eric Ford, Colin Goldblatt, Mark Goughan, Jeff Greason, John Grunsfeld, Javiera Guedes, Olivier Guyon, Robin Hanson, Tori Hoehler, Andrew Howard, Jeremy Kasdin, Jim and Sharon Kasting, Heather Knutson, Antoine Labeyrie, David Latham, Greg Laughlin, Doug Lin, Jonathan Lunine, Kevin McCartney, Claudio Maccone, Bruce Macintosh, Geoff Marcy, John Mather, Greg Matloff, Michel Mayor, Vikki Meadows, Jon Morse, Matt Mountain, Phil Nutzman, Ben Oppenheimer, Bob Owen, Ron Polidan, Marc Postman, Sean Raymond, Dimitar Sasselov, Jean Schneider, Sara Seager, Michael Shao, Seth Shostak, Rudy Slingerland, Chris Smith, Rémi Soummer, David Spergel, Alan Stern, Peter Stockman, Jill Tarter, Philippe Thébault, Wes Traub, Michael Turner, Stéphane Udry, Steve Vogt, Jim Walker, Bernie Walp, Andrew Youdin, and Kevin Zahnle. CHAPTER 1: Looking for Longevity Ronald N. Bracewell, The Galactic Club: Intelligent Life in Outer Space (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1974). Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison, “Searching for Interstellar Communications,” Nature, vol. 184 (1959), pp. 844–46. Frank Drake and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There? The Scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (New York: Delacorte Press, 1992). I quote Drake from page 27. Stanislaw Lem, Summa Technologiae (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013; first edition, 1964). Translated by Joanna Zylinska, this is the first complete English translation of Lem’s prescient classic on cosmic evolution.

 

pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

Cosmic Search, Summer 1979, p. 43. See also F.M. Cornford, “Innumerable Worlds in Presocratic Philosophy,” Classical Quarterly, January 1934, p. 13. 2. In Bailey, Cyril, 1926, p. 25. 3. In Lange, 1925, p. 233. 4. In Debus, 1978, p. 87. 5. In Dick, 1984, p. 111. 6. Fontenelle, 1929, pp. 12, 82. 7. Ibid., p. 55. 8. Ibid., pp. 114–115. 9. Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison, “Searching for Interstellar Communications,” Nature, September 19, 1959. 10. William Proxmire, press release dated February 16, 1978, p. 2. The senator did not reveal the source of his intelligence on this point. 11. In Barrow and Tipler, 1986, p. 26. CHAPTER TWENTY: THE PERSISTENCE OF MYSTERY 1. Lewis Thomas, “Debating the Unknowable,” The Atlantic Monthly, July 1981; address to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, reprinted in The New York Times, July 2, 1978, p. 15. 2.