Onuissance

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223Two days ago, I wrote about the Consequences of our actions, and how they are often more important than the initial actions themselves.  Yesterday, I wrote about what makes humans Special, their ability to learn so much about our world and apply that knowledge to super-humanize ourselves.

Which means now it’s time to apply those lessons into Responsibility… or Onus. Continue reading

Khan, failed savior: A better alternate history

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KhanMust be all these hours snow-bound in front of my computer… maybe the sub-zero cold is starting to freeze some (some?) of my brain cells… but it occurred to me the other day that Khan Noonian Singh must have been railroaded.  (And so were we.)

Follow:

Star Trek’s Federation history includes, among many other things, the fact that Earth had a World War III, and later, a Eugenics War, the combination of which tore Terran countries and societies apart.  It was from this series of disasters that Earth’s leaders finally started working together on a platform of mutual trust and cooperation, rebuilding the first truly global society.  This society eventually came to provide a universal living wage, food and housing for all, worldwide access to medicine, education and opportunities to do what they wanted beyond basic subsistence.

We also know, from the Star Trek Original Series episode “Space Seed,” that Khan and his followers were part of a group of genetically-engineered superior humans who tried, in Khan’s own words, to “give the world order.”  He and his people were soundly defeated in the Eugenics Wars and forced to flee Earth to escape prosecution.

But I now believe there’s more to the story than that… and a hint as to how Star Trek Into Daftness could have actually become a great movie. Continue reading

What would get us to Star Trek’s utopia?

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London in Star Trek's futureNilofer Merchant, in a TED guest post from 2014, described his belief that the technological world of Star Trek has largely overtaken us (obviously, we’re not visiting other planets yet)… and the best news of all, that we should expect to reach the social world of Trek within 30 years.  And how could we not want to achieve Gene Roddenberry’s dream of a utopian Earth and bright, bright future?

Yet, there’s one thing that Nilofer neglects to mention, and it only happens to be the one absolutely non-negotiable thing that we on Earth must accomplish, or we won’t see Roddenberry’s utopia in 30 years, 300 years or 3,000 years.

In short, we need universal guaranteed minimal living conditions. Continue reading

Go Interstellar? No—go Orbital

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InterstellarInterstellar opens in theaters this week.  Its premise is that the Earth is becoming a global dustbowl, making it impossible to support the human race; so a band of astronauts heads out and through a wormhole to find another planet for human colonization.  (A non-spoiler-y review of the movie precedes this post.)

Would this be the best solution for human survival?  Not necessarily.  Physicists Gerard O’Neill and Tom Heppenheimer worked out a more practical solution four decades ago: Build artificial habitats and put them into orbit around the Earth or Sun.  This idea was described in O’Neill’s book The High Frontier and Heppenheimer’s book Colonies in Space, and it’s the idea I used as the premise of my novel Verdant Skies.
Continue reading

Could the moon fuel Earth for 10,000 years?

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mining Helium 3 from the MoonThis is the bold title of a Daily Mail article, in which the Chief Scientist of China’s Lunar Exploration Program, Professor Ouyang Ziyuan, describes an audacious plan to return to the Moon that will provide a direct benefit to Earth.

Lunar samples brought back by Apollo astronauts indicated a significant amount of Helium 3, a non-radioactive form of helium that scientists say could fuel clean fusion power plants.  Ouyang proposed a plan to place a mining facility on the Moon to extract helium 3 from the rock; then fly the helium to Earth in storage tanks and use it to provide power for the world, much as the movie Moon depicted the process.  He estimates that 40 tonnes of helium, when used in clean fusion plants, could power the United States for a year at the current rate of energy consumption.

Sounds great, right?

Oh, wait… “clean fusion plants”? Continue reading

4-Star Review of Verdant Pioneers

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The following is a review of Verdant Pioneers from Sift Book Reviews:

Verdant Pioneers was a real page turner for me. I haven’t read a ton of space operas, but I have to imagine this story is one of the better ones. Take a look at the description.

The city-satellite Verdant has spent a year out in deep space, moving from system to system in search of the raw materials it needs to survive, fighting off terrorist factions that seek to force their return to Earth influence, and unsure of Earth’s state. No one on Earth knows Verdant’s status, either, and both sides are afraid of aggression from the other.

And when the deep-space discovery of the age is spoiled by the unexpected disappearance of one of their freighters, Julian Lenz and his staff must make a difficult decision: To take Verdant into hiding, perhaps forever; or to return to Earth, and risk Verdant’s survival.  Continue reading