Sunday, September 16, 2012

100 Year Starship Study

Headed home from the 100 Year Starship Study conference in Houston, Texas. My paper was on some genetic and cultural issues implicated in a 100-year (say, 3-human-generation) interstellar starship voyage. I'll dive much more deeply into this matter in a paper and a book chapter that will derive from this talk, looking at a number of population genetics and demographics issues. At the conference, plenty of interesting discussion points came up! At the social--after two days of papers on such a range of topics as antimatter propulsion, quantum radar, and advanced textiles--the actor LaVar Burton (among others of a panel of celebs) was clear, funny and eloquent on the reasons to put into action this project to, by 100 years from now, have the capacity to build and propel a starship with a colony of humans aboard, to another star. Humans, individually, buy insurance to avert disaster in the future. Our species should do the same. Plenty of projects and organizations in our history have persisted for a century, and of course in Europe, cathedrals often took more than a century to build. At low expense, spread over this time (which also prevents us rushing into things), this project seems reasonable. Of course, we have plenty of issues to address on Earth -- but it is possible to do more than one thing at once, and you have to keep an eye on the future, and plan for it, lest it come up and smite thee :)

In the photo, retired astronaut and 100 Year Starship Study director Dr. Mae Jamison (left), National Museum of African Art Director Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole (center) and actor LaVar Burton (right) have a laugh during a wide-ranging, informal discussion of many aspects of space colonization. Who would have believed, 40 years ago, that the 100YSS Director would be a female, African-American astronaut???

Lower photo shows a new book in the early gastrulation stage!

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