Friday, February 18, 2011

Starship Farms

Ultimately, starships will be grown, not built. The staggering information content and capacity for building macro structures from molecular code--currently known to us only in the DNA molecule--will not be ignored. As DNA grows life from inanimate matter, starships--entire self-contained, human-population-supporting ecosystems--will be grown from inanimate matter, raw materials harvested from asteroids, comets and planetary moons, grown into systems that can take humanity on interstellar voyages.

If no...well if not all human works go up in flames when the Sun burns out, and that is not _if_ but _when_, because the Sun is a simple chain reaction with a limited chemical fuel source. Long before that happens, though, it is much more likely that a 'civilization killer' asteroid or comet will strike the Earth. The 'safety' of Earth is a modern illusion cobbled together from a 5,000-year written human history that represents only 1 1/000th of the Earth's actual long and calamitous life, in which at least five times more than half of all Earth life has perished in one mass extinction event or another.

So -- it is time to get moving! It is time to learn from Nature how to survive extinction, and how to build systems that can sustain us outside our cradle Earth.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Choir Practice

Choir practice recorded in Durham Cathedral on my audio recorder. It settles down after a minute or so when I take my seat. This is in WMA format, I can't translate it to others while I'm traveling. When I was an undergraduate here, 20 years ago, I didn't spend much time in the cathedral; too busy. The other day, though, I spent half an hour at the crypt of St. Cuthbert and another half at the crypt of St. Bede, the two at opposite ends of the 1,000-year old cathedral.

The cold and dark atmosphere, with a glint of gold here and there, stone underfoot, a candle in a blood-red glass...I remembered a lot of this, deep down from so many cathedrals visited over the years, and here I realized this cavernous space and atmosphere are deep in my bones. They soaked in a long time ago. It seems I have been carrying the essence of this cold, darkling and immense void for a long time, somehow, inside, and I have sought to replicate it while exploring the world outside. It is not entirely welcoming in any conventional sense, but it is in some way home.

Link to WMA audio file.