In many popular science fiction works habitable worlds often seem plentiful. Every week, or in every movie, some new world and race is brought on stage (and sometimes ushered off equally quickly). Star Trek has its Klingons, Vulcans, and Andorians, among numerous others, while Star Wars has its Wookies, Hutt, Mandalorians, and of course, the despicably evil Ewoks. A lot of other SF is similarly populated, and in some ways Continue reading “Exo-planet habitability”
When people write science fiction, they’re often extrapolating current technology and devices and looking into the future of what they may become. This can lead to some quite odd parallels as science catches up with what the authors once just dreamed about.
For instance, in 1945 Arthur C. Clarke wrote about “extraterrestrial relays”–geostationary artificial satellites–which were the inspiration for the subsequent development of communication Continue reading “Science meets science fiction”
In a little while we’re going to have the “Great American Eclipse”–say it loud and proud and wave those flags! This will be the first eclipse contained entirely within the US, and as such offers the people there a fantastic opportunity to steep themselves in understanding the science and physics behind the event. Unfortunately, some people can’t apparently deal with that..
A few days ago, I stumbled across a video on youtube (I’m not going to promote it by linking to it), claiming that the moon is only seventy miles wide and Continue reading “Eclipse Madness”
It’s incredibly interesting to see the newest developments in nanotechnology. The research holds so much promise for development in materials’ science that the possibilities are almost boundless. Imagine for example, clothes (or even buildings!) that can never get dirty. Imagine super-strong, super-light conductors that could rewire electricity grids and make them fifty times more efficient. Or how about adaptive armor materials that could be strong light and flexible, and yet protect a soldier from a bullet–or a car’s occupants in a collision.
One of the fantastic possibilities in this area is the development of molecular self-assembly, where materials actually grow into objects”spontaneously” because they are designed to do that. We see this effect in nature in the formation of everything from chemical molecule to crystals and even entire galaxies, but now we’re on the verge of being able to control and shape these processes directly into creating things that are useful to us.
In Mathematics Of Eternity, I imagine a community of space-living humans who dominate the Earth from giant “Atolls.” These Atolls are not built in the traditional way, but instead are grown through a self -organizing process, much like crystals are created but on a much larger scale. The idea is that as the population of the Atoll increases, they would “bud” new areas to provide room for the extra people.
The new volumes would create themselves from a “seed” and a supply of the appropriate raw materials, forming chambers, walls, and basic infrastructure components such as ducts, walkway,s and partitioned spaces. Once the growth is complete, people and machines would move in and finish the process to make the space habitable. How much of the basic construction could be achieved this way? That’s hard to speculate on, but in my imagination I think something in the order of sixty percent.
I imagined the Atolls looking like a kind of futuristic snowflake, the growth process constantly being extended in multiple directions to maintain a balance to the structure, and each new section being grown on to existing sections. Here’s a render of what was in my head when I came up with the idea.
While much of this is fanciful, architecture as a whole is on the verge of an explosion of new ideas and concepts, only made possible through the use of these new materials. A few years ago almost no-one had heard of 3D printing and now not only can you buy small desktop versions for the same price as a computer but we also have the first 3D printed buildings.
Imagine the process as the crystalline buds grow, organizing themselves in to the shapes and forms needed to create a station in space. Swarms of robots, both at a macro level but also at the nano-scale, guiding and nurturing the process.The end result? A building, or a skyscraper, or a space station.
Perhaps my vision isn’t so far off after all.
I’ve speculated a couple of times on the possibilities of life on other planets (Life Everywhere and Water, Ceres and Life for example). Now we have more information to add to the growing likelihood that life is likely to be found anywhere that the right conditions exist, no matter how remote they may seem.
Recent discussion suggests that microbial life may exist in the dark clouds within the Venusian atmosphere, while other research shows yet more evidence that Mars may also have, at least at one time, been hospitable to life.
Planning for new missions to both worlds is currently underway and may finally confirm these speculations in the not too distant future. If it does, it will be a great day for the world and especially the exobiologists trying to determine the course that life may take outside the realms of our small planet.
Hopefully this will happen soon, and I stand firmly behind my “prediction” that we will find life everywhere. The nature of chemistry seems to naturally move in the direction of life-supporting compounds, making and almost inevitably to life itself. Just imagine–the entire galaxy or even universe as one giant breeding ground for living organisms in all their myriad forms.
Just what might we find out there…? (Cue Twilight Zone music…)