I’m sure many readers of Universe Today are like me, fans of the science fiction genre. From the light sabres of Star Wars to the neuralyzer of Men in Black, science fiction has crazy inventions aplenty and once science fiction writers dream it, scientists and engineers try and create it. Perhaps the holy grail of science fiction creations is the warp drive from Star Trek and it is fair to say that many have tried to work out if it is even possible to travel faster than the speed of light. To date, alas, to no avail but if the warp drive eludes us, what about faster than light communication!Continue reading “If Warp Drives are Impossible, Maybe Faster Than Light Communication is Still on the Table?”
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos may harbor multibillion-dollar dreams of sending millions of people to live on Mars, on the moon and inside free-flying space habitats — but a newly published book provides a prudent piece of advice: Don’t go too boldly.
It’s advice that Kelly and Zach Weinersmith didn’t expect they’d be giving when they began to work on their book, titled “A City on Mars.” They thought they’d be writing a guide to the golden age of space settlement that Musk and Bezos were promising.
“We ended up doing a ton of research on space settlements from just every angle you can imagine,” Zach Weinersmith says in the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast. “This was a four-year research project. And about two and a half years in, we went from being fairly optimistic about it as a desirable, near-term likely possibility [to] probably unlikely in the near term, and possibly undesirable in the near term. So it was quite a change. Slightly traumatic, I would say.”Continue reading “Get a Reality Check on Plans to Build Cities in Space”
This summer, experts in fields ranging from astronomy and astrophysics to astrobiology, astrogeology, and cosmology all convened at the University of McGill for the 8th Interstellar Symposium: In Light of Other Suns. In partnership with McGill, this event was hosted by the Interstellar Research Group (IRG), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and Breakthrough Initiatives. Between July 10th and 13th, students, press, and space enthusiasts attended presentations and outreach events that addressed the big questions on interstellar spaceflight exploration.
To learn more, Universe Today sat down with NASA technologist, author, and engineer Les Johnson who attended the event and hosted many of its panel discussions. This included the public outreach event “Interstellar Travel: Are We Ready?” where he and a panel of experts (including Alan Stern, AJ Link, Prof. Philip Lubin, Erika Nesvold, and Trevor Kjorlien) discussed the technological, social, and ethical dimensions of traveling nearby stars. He was also a featured guest for the Science Fiction Author Panel, where he was joined by fellow SF authors Karl Schroeder, Eric Choi, and Sylvain Neuvel.Continue reading “Universe Today Interviews Author, Engineer & Technologist Les Johnson About the 8th Interstellar Symposium”
Tractor beams make intuitive sense. Matter and energy interact with each other in countless ways throughout the Universe. Magnetism and gravity are both natural forces that can draw objects together, so there’s sort of a precedent.
But engineering an actual tractor beam is something different.Continue reading “Scientists Build a Teeny Tiny Tractor Beam”
Efforts to create a memorial celebrating the legacy of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played a pointy-eared alien named Spock on “Star Trek,” have shifted to warp speed nearly eight years after his death.
A six-figure contribution from Rich Miner, the co-founder of Android, is energizing the campaign to create an illuminated 20-foot-high sculpture depicting Spock’s famous “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture. The sculpture would be placed at Boston’s Museum of Science, near the West End neighborhood where Nimoy grew up.
Nimoy’s daughter, Julie Nimoy, and her husband David Knight are working with the museum to hit a $500,000 fundraising goal for the project. Thanks to Miner’s contribution, Knight said that the stainless-steel monument, designed and created by sculptor David Phillips, could begin taking shape as early as this year.Continue reading “Spock-tacular! Tech Pioneer Boosts Plan for Leonard Nimoy Memorial”
* Warning: Mild Spoilers Ahead *
The Apple TV+ series, For All Mankind, just wrapped up Season 3 and is a smash hit for both critics and fans, garnering Rotten Tomatoes ratings of 90% and 81%, respectively. It’s a show that (probably) came about from the Amazon hit, The Man in the High Castle, which depicted a world after the Allies lost World War II, and also garnered favorable ratings of 84% and 81%, respectively, having both fantastic characters and writing.Continue reading “‘For All Mankind’ Gives Harsh Reality Check About Human Space Exploration”
The world’s richest human wants to build a city on Mars: Fifty years ago, Elon Musk’s vision of our future on the Red Planet might have sounded like science fiction — but today, Musk is actually serious about the idea of using billions of dollars from ventures like SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network to finance the move to Mars.
“In looking in the long term, and saying what’s needed to create a city on Mars, well, one thing’s for sure: a lot of money,” Musk said back in 2015. “So we need things that will generate a lot of money.”
What kind of city would Musk want to see on Mars? His vision calls for a place that offers “everything from iron foundries to pizza joints to nightclubs” while getting rid of “special interests and coercion of politicians.” But what if cities on Mars turn out to be like cities on Earth, complete with wealth disparity, racism — and ambitious billionaires?Continue reading “Will Earth’s Follies Take Root on Mars? Black Comedy Explores the Frontier”
What is the multiverse? The idea that the universe we inhabit is just one of many parallel universes gets a superhero shout-out in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the latest movie based on Marvel comic-book characters.
And in the opinion of Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist at Columbia University, giving some screen time to the multiverse isn’t such a bad thing — even if the plot has some horror-movie twists.
“I think it’s really good if some of these ideas are brought out in a variety of different ways,” Greene says in the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast, which focuses on the realm where science and technology intersect with fiction and popular culture.Continue reading “Why Believing in the Multiverse Isn’t Madness”
The master of disaster has struck again, and this time our Moon is the ominous villain.
In “Moonfall,” film director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) has created yet another sci-fi disaster film where the world faces obliteration from mysterious forces.
The movie opens in theaters today.Continue reading “The Science — and Fun — Behind “Moonfall””
On March 4th, 2021, the Perseverance rover began driving from its landing site on Mars. During this drive, the rover covered 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) and conducted some basic maneuvers and instrument tests. In keeping with a NASA tradition where mission controllers give unofficial nicknames to various geological features, the team also consecrated the landing site by naming it after a famous science fiction author.
Henceforth, the site where Perseverance landed will be known as the “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” in honor of the groundbreaking science fiction author who passed away in 2006 (she was 59 years old). Butler is renowned for being the first African-American woman to win both the Hugo and Nebula Award and was the first science fiction author honored with a MacArthur Fellowship (in 1995).Continue reading “Perseverance’s Landing Site Named for Octavia Butler”