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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reading List: Interstellar Travel and Multi-Generation Space Ships

Kondo, Yoji, Frederick Bruhweiler, John Moore, and Charles Sheffield eds. Interstellar Travel and Multi-Generation Space Ships. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Apogee Books, 2003. ISBN 1-896522-99-8.
This book is a collection of papers presented at a symposium organised in 2002 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. More than half of the content discusses the motivations, technology, and prospects for interstellar flight (both robotic probes and “generation ship” exploration and colonisation missions), while the balance deals with anthropological, genetic, and linguistic issues in crew composition for a notional mission with a crew of 200 with a flight time of two centuries. An essay by Freeman Dyson on “Looking for Life in Unlikely Places” explores the signatures of ubiquitous vacuum-adapted life and how surprisingly easy it might be to detect, even as far as one light-year from Earth.

This volume contains the last published works of Charles Sheffield and Robert L. Forward, both of whom died in 2002. The papers are all accessible to the scientifically literate layman and, with one exception, of high quality. Regrettably, nobody seemed to have informed the linguist contributor that any interstellar mission would certainly receive a steady stream of broadband transmissions from the home planet (who would fund a multi-terabuck mission without the ability to monitor it and receive the results?), but that chapter is only four pages and may be deemed comic relief.

Posted at June 13, 2007 23:47