Stunning Views of the Earth…
Odry rapped on the metal hatch of the blister. After a moment, the bolt slid back and the door opened.
Odry entered through the first access door and directed herself across the spacious open expanse of the module’s laboratory section toward her office, located in the fore starboard corner. Inside the office, she powered up her communications console and called the headquarters in Huston. She had a selection of voice encryption chips at her disposal. The chips broke up the voice transmission into meaningless signals that would be reassembled by another chip at the receiving station. Eavesdropping ham-radio operators would hear nothing but Chinese violins. Odry didn’t often use encryption when talking to the Earth, but today the language could become dicey. So she pressed a chip into its slot. (more…)
We are made of stellar ash. Something in us recognises the Cosmos as home, as our origin and evolution have been tied to distant cosmic events, and we are the children of equally of the sky and the Earth.
However, the Cosmos was discovered only yesterday, as for many years it was clear to everyone that there were no other places than the Earths. Indeed, in the last tenth of a percent of the lifetime of our species, in the instant between Aristarchus and ourselves, we reluctantly noticed that we were not the purpose and center of the Universe, but rather lived on a fragile world lost in immensity and eternity of the Cosmos. Our small world drifts in a great cosmic ocean dotted here and there with a hundred billion galaxies and a billion trillion stars… (more…)
After leaving Daniel in the command module, Odry made her way down the station’s central tunnel until she passed through the double hatch marking the boundary between the station proper and the Jupiter module.
The lab of the Jup Module was even murkier than the connecting tunnel. The gray floor and salmon ceiling blended into a single, dismal blah. Odry moved through the snadows cast by the equipment and floated toward the end of the module, heading for the bulky figure waiting for her there.
The station’s goal is to develop bioremediation techniques, using genetically engineered microorganisms, to help reverse the environmental damage done to our planet by generation water, soil and air pollution. (more…)
The Survival of Our Civilisation
Space and time are interwoven. We cannot look out into space without looking back into time.
In our tenure of the Earth we have accumulated hereditary propensities for submission to leaders and hostility to outsiders, propensities for aggression and rituals, which place sometimes the survival of our species in some question. However, even if have accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage, we have also acquired a desire to learn from history, compassion for others, love for our children and soaring passionate intelligence, which are the tools for our survival and prosperity. (more…)
Battle of the Cemetery
Our choice is stark and ironic. The same rocket boosters used to launch probes to the planets are poised to send nuclear warheads to the nations. The radioactive power sources used on Viking, Voyager and other spacecraft and probes derive from the same technology that makes nuclear weapons.
The radar and radio techniques employed to track and guide ballistic missiles and defend against attack are also used to monitor and command those tiny unmanned exploratory spacecraft from Earth which are moving, glistening and elegant, through the solar system and to listen for signals from civilisations near other stars. (more…)
Electric Blue Eyes
It was a face built of contradictions: hawk’s nose and finely sculpted cheekbones. Strong stubborn jaw with a mouth that seemed almost too small and lips as this and sensitive as a poet’s. She kept her light hair long enough to cover her eyes, and liked to throw it forward to conceal her large forehead, which bothered her, even though men called it distinguished.
The eyes: electric blue, brilliant, vital. The eyes of an eagle, a flier, probing incessantly, never still, never satisfied, but wary, guarded, the eyes of a woman who had never been defeated or banished. The yeas of a woman who wanted to be alone and live in a deep forest, but found herself smothered in the responsibilities of commanding a space-station that plodded along a calculated and fixed orbit. (more…)
How to Survive Technological Adolescence
Yes, civilizations would take billions of years of tortuous evolution to arise, and then snuff themselves out in an instant of unforgivable neglect. But let’s consider the alternative, the prospect that at least some civilizations learn to live with high technology. Just imagine that the contradictions posed by the vagaries of past brain evolution are consciously resolved and do not lead to self-destruction. Or, may be, even if major disturbances do occur, they are reversed in the subsequent billions of years of biological evolution.
Such societies might live to a prosperous old age, their lifetime measured perhaps on geological and stellar evolutionary time scales. (more…)
What percentage of the lifetime of a planet is marked by a technical civilisation? In our case, the Earth has harbored a technical civilisation characterized by radio astronomy for only a few decades out of a lifetime of a few million years. So far, then, for our planet the lifespan is less than 1/108, a millionth of a percent! And unfortunately for us, it is hardly out of the question that we might destroy ourselves tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
Suppose this were to be a typical case, and the destruction so complete that no other civilisation (technical or biological, of the human or any other species) were able to emerge in the billions of years remaining before our Sun dies. Then a simple mathematical equation would prove that at any given time there would be only a handful, a tiny smattering, a pitiful few civilisations which achieved technical phase in the Galaxy, the steady state number maintained as emerging societies replace those recently self-immolated. (more…)
Divert the Danger From the Earth
Norma turned her attention to the calculations she had been working on just prior to the explosion in the Cloud and birth of the sphere.
She called up the program she had written to create a suppression beam. Half of the emitters in the cockpit didn’t work, and it took her over a minute to find a portable field emitter, which she stationed as near as she dared to the core. With shaking hands she coded the beam. (more…)