Interstellar beyond time and space pdf
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- Interstellar: Beyond Time and Space
- Interstellar Travel and Post-Humans
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Handbook of Exoplanets pp Cite as. Experience in exploring our own solar system has shown that direct investigation of planetary bodies using space probes invariably yields scientific knowledge not otherwise obtainable. In the case of exoplanets, such direct investigation may be required to confirm inferences made by astronomical observations, especially with regard to planetary interiors, surface processes, geological evolution, and possible biology.
Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. The journey to interstellar space began 50 years ago with a discovery and a prediction. Launched during the International Geophysical Year, Explorers 1 and 3 revealed that belts of energetic protons and electrons trapped in the geomagnetic field encircle Earth. Soon to be named the Van Allen belts, they were the first major discovery of the Space Age that had begun only months earlier with the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union.
Interstellar: Beyond Time and Space
Astronomers like myself are professionally engaged in thinking about huge expanses of space and time. We view our home planet in a cosmic context. We wonder whether there is life elsewhere in the cosmos. But, more significantly, we are mindful of the immense future that lies ahead—the post-human future where our remote descendants may transcend human limitations—here on Earth but more probably far beyond.
This is my theme in the present chapter. The stupendous timespans of the evolutionary past are now part of common culture. But the even longer time-horizons that stretch ahead—though familiar to every astronomer —have not permeated our culture to the same extent.
Our Sun is less than half way through its life. It formed 4. It will then flare up, engulfing the inner planets and vaporizing any life that might still remain on Earth. Post-human evolution could be as prolonged as the Darwinian evolution that has led to us, and even more wonderful—and will have spread far from Earth, even among the stars.
Indeed, this conclusion is strengthened when we realize that future evolution will proceed not on the million-year timescale characteristic of Darwinian selection, but at the much accelerated rate allowed by genetic modification and the advance of machine intelligence and forced by the drastic environmental pressures that would confront any humans who were to construct habitats beyond the Earth. Natural selection may have slowed: its rigors are tempered in civilized countries.
Already, performance enhancing drugs, genetic modification, and cyborg technology are changing human nature, and these are just precursors of more drastic changes. And we know that the cosmos, through which life could spread, offers a far more extensive and varied habitat than he ever imagined. So humans are surely not the terminal branch of an evolutionary tree, but a species that emerged early in the overall roll-call of species, with special promise for diverse evolution—and perhaps of cosmic significance for jump-starting the transition to silicon-based and potentially immortal entities that can more readily transcend human limitations.
For nearly fifty years we have had pictures of the Earth taken from space, showing how its delicate biosphere contrasts with the sterile moonscape where the astronauts left their footprint. These have become iconic, especially for environmentalists.
Over nearly all that immense time, 4. The continents drifted; the ice cover waxed and waned; successive species emerged, evolved, and became extinct. This signalled the start of agriculture. The pace of change accelerated as human populations rose. Some were propelled into orbits around the Earth; some journeyed to the Moon and planets. If they understood astrophysics, the aliens could confidently predict that the biosphere would face doom in a few billion years when the Sun flares up and dies.
If they continued to keep watch, what might they witness in the next hundred years? Will the spasm be followed by silence? Will the planet make a transition to sustainability? And, most important of all for the long-term future, will an armada of rockets leaving Earth have led to new communities elsewhere—on Mars and its moons, on asteroids, or freely floating in space? And we live at a crucial time.
Our Earth has existed for forty-five million centuries, and still more lie ahead. But this century may be a defining moment. We humans are entitled to feel uniquely significant, as the first known species with the power and the responsibility to mold its own future —and perhaps the future of intelligence in the cosmos. These are all advancing so fast that we cannot confidently predict even to the end of the present century: we must keep our minds open to transformative advances that may now seem science fiction.
After all, the smartphone, the web, and their ancillaries pervade our lives today, but they would have seemed magic as little as twenty years ago. And within just a decade the costs of each such sequencing have fallen by a factor of ten thousand.
New techniques for gene editing e. But they open up new ethical dilemmas, and great fears of misuse, because the relevant expertise will be widespread. The physicist Freeman Dyson conjectures a time when children will be able to design and create new organisms just as routinely as his generation played with chemistry sets.
But on the other hand there is a downside, stemming from the risk of bioerror or bioterror. But what about a second transformative technology: robotics and artificial intelligence AI?
In contrast, the Go-playing machine gained expertise by absorbing huge numbers of games and playing itself over and over again. Its designers do not themselves know how the machine makes its decisions. And they learn to translate by reading millions of pages of for example multilingual European Union documents they never get bored! But advances are patchy. Robots are still clumsier than a child in moving pieces on a real chessboard.
They cannot tie your shoelaces or cut your toenails. But sensor technology, speech recognition, information searches, and so forth are advancing apace.
They will not just take over manual work indeed plumbing and gardening will be among the hardest jobs to automate , but routine legal work conveyancing and suchlike , medical diagnostics, and even surgery. Or is it really different this time? These concerns are sufficiently near-term that they are on the political agenda.
But let us speculate further ahead. If robots became less clumsy and limited, they might eventually be able to observe, interpret, and alter their environment as adeptly as we do. They would then truly be perceived as intelligent beings, to which or to whom we can relate.
Such machines pervade popular culture—in movies like Her , Transcendence , and Ex Machina. Do we have obligations toward them? We worry if our fellow-humans, and even animals, cannot fulfill their natural potential. Should we feel guilty if our robots are frustrated, underemployed or bored? We have a long way to go before we really confront these issues. As an indicator of the gap still to be bridged, the Go-playing computer probably consumed several hundreds of kilowatts during the game.
There is disagreement about the route toward human-level intelligence. Some think we should emulate nature, and reverse-engineer the human brain. Others say that is as misguided as designing a flying machine by copying how birds flap their wings. It may have goals utterly orthogonal to human wishes—or even treat humans as an encumbrance. Some AI pundits take this seriously, and think the field already needs guidelines—just as biotech does. But others regard these concerns as premature—and worry less about artificial intelligence than about real stupidity.
Back in the s the British mathematician I. Good pointed out that superintelligent robots if sufficiently versatile could be the last invention that humans need ever make.
Once machines had surpassed human capabilities, they could themselves design and assemble a new generation of even more intelligent ones, as well as an array of robotic fabricators that could transform the world physically. Kurzweil thinks that humans could transcend biology by merging with computers. Few doubt that machines will gradually surpass more and more of our distinctively human capacities—or enhance our capabilities via cyborg technology.
Disagreements are basically about the timescale: the rate of advance, not the direction of advance. The cautious among us think these transformations may take centuries. More relevantly, they are less than a millionth of the vast expanses of time lying ahead. So I think it is inevitable that the long-range future lies with machines.
Maybe we humans are close to these limits already. But there are no such constraints on electronic computers still less, perhaps, on quantum computers : for these, the potential for further development could be as dramatic as the evolution from monocellular organisms to humans.
Moreover, the evolution toward ever-greater complexity will take place on a technological timescale—far faster than the slow Darwinian selection that has driven evolution on the Earth up till now. This post-human intelligence will surely spread far beyond the Earth. So I turn next to the prospects for space technology.
This is an arena where despite human spaceflight robots already have the dominant role. These two instruments were designed and built fifteen years ago: they took five years to construct, and then ten years journeying to their remote targets. Think how much better we could do today. I would venture a confident forecast that, during this century, the entire Solar System—planets, moons, and asteroids—will be explored and mapped by flotillas of tiny robotic craft.
The next step would be space mining and fabrication. And fabrication in space will be a better use of materials mined from asteroids than bringing them back to Earth. Every man-made object in space has had to be launched from Earth. But later this century giant robotic fabricators will be able to assemble, in space, huge solar-energy collectors and huge computer networks.
But what role will humans play? But robotic techniques are advancing fast, allowing ever more sophisticated unmanned probes, whereas the cost gap between manned and unmanned missions remains huge. The practical case for manned spaceflight gets ever weaker with each advance in robots and miniaturization: indeed, as a scientist or practical man, I see little purpose in sending people into space at all.
But, as a human being, I am an enthusiast for manned missions. The last men on the Moon returned in Since then, hundreds of humans have been into space, but only into low orbit—circling the Earth only a few hundred kilometers about its surface, many in the hugely expensive but uninspiring International Space Station.
I hope some people now living will walk on Mars—as an adventure, and as a step toward the stars. They may be Chinese: China has the resources, the dirigiste government, and maybe the willingness to undertake an Apollo-style program. There would, despite the risks, be many volunteers—driven by the same motives as early explorers, mountaineers, and the like.
Private companies already offer orbital flights. Wealthy adventurers are signing up for a week-long trip round the far side of the Moon—voyaging further from Earth than anyone has been before but avoiding the greater challenge of a Moon landing and blast-off. I am told they have sold a ticket for the second flight but not for the first flight.
Interstellar Travel and Post-Humans
Access options available:. Reviewed by: Interstellar dir. In Interstellar , the final frontier is not outer space but the fifth dimension, which exists beyond the three dimensions of space and the time dimension of relativity. This is not surprising: director Christopher Nolan conducted ambitious experiments with space and time in his prior films Memento and Inception. Here he returns to the set with a hypothesis that rests somewhat uneasily on both the hardheaded persistence of science and the earnest vulnerability of the human condition. For instance, it is noteworthy that Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist who specializes in gravitational physics, served as a consultant and executive producer.
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It sounds almost like science fiction: a tiny world that formed around another star, visiting our cosmic neighborhood for us to study. It will only happen more often this decade. The first known interstellar object — meaning it formed outside of our solar system — dropped by in late It was a skyscraper-size, tumbling little world, fairly elongated and smaller than most asteroids or comets that we regularly observe.
Interstellar is a epic science fiction film directed and produced by Christopher Nolan. Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive, the film follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new home for mankind.