In the Year 3000 – WIF into the Future

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3000-001

A Vision Of The World

In 1000 years

“What will the world will be like in 1,000 years” seems like an absurd question to even ask, especially since the degree to which the world changes in 100 years is overly ambitious enough to consider.  Yet curious people do wonder, and certain people like Ray Kurzweil (thought by many to be the Thomas Edison of today) spend all their time working to find the answers.

According to Ray, some of the same people living today will still be around in 1,000 years!  Technological visionary, leading inventor of our time, the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, inductee into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, and the recipient of 19 Doctorates and Honors from 3 U.S. Presidents, Ray gives us the top ten reasons to look ahead.

10.  A Future With Aliens?

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Contact with other species, other civilizations?  With technological advancements looming large in the distance, a future with aliens may in fact be on the horizon.  Ray believes that advancements in technology will soon enable us to travel farther and longer into space, where we may encounter other planets and other life.

According to Arthur C. Clarke, another futurist, inventor, and science-fiction writer, technology is advanced enough already for us to make contact with aliens.  To our good humor, some people already believe they have come in contact with alien life, and television shows like “Alien Hunters” and the like are around to prove it.  Ray, more of a humanist than an alien hunter, focuses more on technology and of the progress of humankind and our current world, which takes us to our next topic – the future of the Earth itself.

9.  The Future Of The Earth?

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When people think of the future, they tend to think of the planet Earth, and the mark we are leaving on its oceans and forests, and the havoc we have brought to it.  Which lands will be swallowed up by rising sea levels?  About climate changes: how to support a rapidly growing population in respect to food, fuel and natural resources?

Many pessimists foresee the worst (many doubt we will even survive another 1,000 years).  Material greed is swallowing up the Earth’s resources faster than it can replenish itself.  The future, in this vein, sounds rather dark, but Ray believes technology is going to help solve many environmental problems.

Still, who can stop asteroids and comets from colliding with the Earth?  Who can keep it from spinning off its axis like a marble shot out of bounds on the play yard?  And what about exploding stars in space shooting out bursts of gamma-rays stronger than millions of atomic bombs in far-away galaxies, with power strong enough to obliterate everything within millions of light years?  What kind of future exists for the Earth then?  According to Ray, much more interesting things, and less destructive possibilities, are on the horizon.

8.  Solutions To Energy And Environmental Concerns?

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Ray believes that environmental and energy concerns can, and will, be solved with technological solutions in the future.  He claims that that the Earth will not turn into a polluted, over-crowded, tumultuous wasteland, but instead believes that nanotechnology will be capable of cleaning up environmental damage, meet our energy needs, purify water and air, and capture the energy of the Sun through solar panels and more.

He believes that we will meet our projected energy needs by 2030, with the development of these new technologies.  Will his overly-positive predictions win out to restore the planet Earth, or will the technology only be more waste to add to the heap?  Certainly the next 1,000 years will reveal the correct answers to Ray’s claims, either about our resourcefulness or about our inability to solve the problems we have created.

7.  Population Growth Problems Solved?

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1,000 years from now, the world population is estimated to be roughly 14 billion.  Although such predictions are unlikely to be accurate, the concern is real, and more and more people are working fast and hard for solutions.  Will engineered food solve hunger and meet with growing food needs, or will it prove to be harmful to our health and environment in the end?

According to Ray, one day we will take in our nutrition like plants take in the sun, and as technology grows more advanced, our dependence on the Earth’s resources with become less and less.  Sounds like something straight out of a science fictionbook, only better, if it proves to be true.

6.  Technology Of The Future

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Ray calls it “the singularity,” a time when technology itself will merge with those creating it.  From devices in our eyeglasses and contact lenses, to displays being written directly into our retinas, emergent technology will not only change us, but will change everything.  There will be a time when we can use space itself to generate energy.

By changing our DNA, Ray believes that farther and farther space travel will be possible.  Sound like a technological utopia?  Certainly.  Taking it a step further, the technology we are currently creating will soon grow more intelligent than we are.  What to do then?  Simple: merge with that technology in order to compete.  Due to our slower evolutionary processes, only by doing this will we be able to survive against the uprising of future intelligent machines.  One day soon, Ray says, you will not be able to tell the difference between human and artificial intelligence.  This brings us to the next section on our list: intelligent machines.

5.  Visions Of Intelligent Machines

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The emergence of intelligent machines, Ray believes, will quantify in the future as another species, regardless of whether we encounter life outside of our solar system or not.  He believes we will be sharing our planet with robots, who will soon surpass our own intelligence, and only by becoming like the technology we create, will we be able to compete with those intelligent machines.  Ray says “the result will be an intimate merger between the technology-creating species and the technological evolutionary process it spawned.”

Ray explains extensively the exponential growth of technology versus the growth of evolutionary processes.  Intelligent machines will make it imperative to change ourselves and, in the process, we will be changing the evolution of life through intelligent machines.

4.  Space Exploration In 1,000 Years

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Humanity has not kept its feet on the ground and, whether it be to the limits of the Earth or our own biology, we are always on a quest to discover and explore our world, and the space beyond it.  In 1,000 years, just how far will we have gone?  According to Ray, we will have mapped out much more of the the cosmos.  We will be able to foretell future cosmological occurrences that can affect the Earth, and the repercussions that any those events could incur for humankind.

The biggest reason for space exploration, however, is not only to discover how the universe works, but to scout out new and interesting planets that have the potential to support human life, should unfavorable conditions appear.  So far, possible planets to live on that we have discovered are too far out of our reach, which brings us to our next section on the list.

3.  The Future Of Space Travel

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Futurist Arthur C. Clarke, considered a visionary about space travel, believes it is only a matter of time before we have safe and economical space propulsion systems.  The questions, however, are not just in building that technology and making it affordable, but to change ourselves to withstand the negative effects that space travel has on the human body.  Ray believes that we will soon be able to alter our own DNA with emerging technology in order to withstand space travel, as DNA does not fare well in space. By doing so, we will be able to take farther and farther journeys out into space.

2.  Progress With Extending Human Life?

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Of all that has been listed, number two probably has the most evidence to support it, specifically in recent years. Gerontologists and scientists are finding more and more evidence that the aging process can be slowed down.  Ray speaks extensively on how nanotechnology and nano-bots will slow the aging process, by travelling into the bloodstream to destroy pathogens, reverse the aging process, and correct DNA errors.  To add to that, Ray even talks about downloading the mind into another carrier, which is easily the most unlikely, but most thought-provoking, idea that Ray has introduced yet.

1.  Future Visions Of The Elimination Of Death

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If stopping the aging process wasn’t enough to shock you, try taking it even farther by saying that future technologies will stop aging completely, one day making death obsolete.  Ray believes that, one day, humans will live forever.  He refutes the idea that “the purpose of life is to accept death,” that “death always means a profound loss in relationships, talent and potential, but that up until now we have had no choice but to rationalize it.”

In Ray’s earlier book, “Fantastic Voyage:  Live Long Enough to Live Forever,” Ray writes about how people can start taking steps now to extend their lives, until the advancements in medical technology have a chance to catch up.  Nanotechnology will develop over time, becoming more capable to repair and restore our body parts.  Biotechnology is advancing and will soon make it possible to turn on and off enzymes, the workhorses of biology.  Current medical technology is taking its first steps in using these techniques to destroy HDL in the blood to stop atherosclerosis, as well as many other diseases.  By creating ever-increasingly powerful technology, the future means extending human life.  Life expectancy grows longer and longer every year: where life expectancy was 37 years in the 1800’s, a thousand years from now, according to Ray, it may just be infinite!

Technology merging with biology? There is no doubt you will peruse our Top Ten list with all kinds of skepticism, and you certainly should be; these are perhaps some of the most radical ideas about the future yet.  Still, for someone like Ray Kurzweil, who has accomplished great feats within his lifetime, is there some value in even considering it?  Whether you are a believer in science, futurists, in prophets or Gods, or merely in the “little things,” certainly these visions of the future are big enough to color your imagination, and light up a place where space, time and possibility surrounds us all on every side.

In the Year 3000

– WIF into the Future

Space Traveler’s Guide to the Universe

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Methods of Space Travel

We Might See One Day

Traveling to far away planets has been a dream of humanity and a staple of science fiction for over a century. In reality, there are many problems holding us back from these quests, including a lack of adequate technology. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from theorizing how advanced space travel could one day be possible.

10. Ion Thrusters

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Ion thrusters shouldn’t be a new concept to Star Wars diehards, because they power TIE Fighters. They’re a real thing that was used on NASA’s Dawn probe that was launched in September 1997 to study the dwarf planets Vesta and Ceres.

Ion thrusters work when xenon atoms are hit with electrons, forming ions. At the back of the engine, there are metal grids charged to about 1,000 volts that shoot out ions at 90,000 miles per hour. The thrust is quite small, but since space is a frictionless environment with zero gravity it gradually builds up. The top speed of Dawn is 24,000 miles per hour.

Ion thrusters require minimal fuel. In fact, they’re 10 times more effective than chemical fuels. They gets their power from large solar panels, so there’s no need to build storage for fuel. That also gives them an inexhaustible source of energy. The current problem with ion thrusters is that they’re a bit too slow to transport humans. With that being said, they could be used to transport supplies to, say, a settlement on Mars.

9. Bussard Ramjet

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As alluded to above, one of the biggest problems facing space travel is the amount of fuel needed. One attempt to overcome this came from the 1960s and was called the Bussard Interstellar Ramjet. The idea is that the spacecraft would pick up protons in the universe while traveling. If these protons could then be fused together, the spacecraft could use nuclear rockets.

However, there are a number of problems with the Ramjet. Only a certain amount of protons could be picked up, and a lot of drag would be generated when the vessel would collect protons. Also, there’s the little matter of getting a stable nuclear fusion device functioning.

8. Nuclear Pulse Propulsion

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The idea of using nuclear power to launch spaceships dates back to the 1950s. Project Orion was an endeavor by NASA that entailed a ship the size of the Empire State Buildingbeing launched by exploding a nuclear bomb under it. You can probably guess some of the problems with this. For starters, this method would leave a tremendous amount of radiation behind and give the astronauts radiation poisoning. When the bomb went off, it would create an electromagnetic pulse that would wipe out all the on-board electronics. That’s if the launch was successful and didn’t result in a deadly accident. Despite all of this, Project Orion was actually considered because it could travel to Mars and back in three months, while it would take a spacecraft using normal propulsion 18 months to do the same trip.

Orion was abandoned, but ideas from the project lived on. Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and theCassini spacecraft use a form of nuclear power that takes decaying plutonium and converts it to electricity.

7. Laser Beamed-power Propulsion

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Aerospace engineer and awesomely named Leik Myrabo got the idea of using laser beamed-power propulsion in 1988 when he was working on the Star Wars missile defense project. Myrabo’s craft would be conical. A powerful laser beam would be fired into the narrow end of the cone, which would contain a parabolic reflector. This would heat the air inside to about 30,000 degrees, which would cause explosions that would create thrust. Myrabo believes that he could have a spacecraft ready in 20 years, but his peers are skeptical as to whether laser technology will be adequate.

6. Daedalus Interstellar Spacecraft

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The British Interplanetary Society conducted a five year study beginning in 1973 to see if it was possible for humans to travel to Barnard’s Star, which is about six light years away. Their solution was the Daedalus Interstellar Spacecraft. The Daedalus was a huge spacecraft, also nearly the size of the Empire State Building, and would need to beconstructed in the Earth’s orbit.

Similar to Project Orion, it would use fusion engines. Pellets of fuel would be injected at high velocity into a reaction chamber, where high-energy electron beams would ignite them. The first stage would launch from Earth with 46,000 tons of fuel, and then once in space it would launch a smaller part of the ship that would carry 4,000 tons of fuel. The fuel needed was Helium-3. Helium-3 is incredibly rare on Earth, but it’s believed there’s quite a bit on the moon, and there are also clouds of it in space. Collecting enough could take 20 years. Helium-3 is also the most difficult fusion fuel to ignite because of the incredible amount of heat needed. However, if it worked, the spacecraft would eventually travel at 12.2 percent of the speed of light, meaning it would get to Barnard’s Star in 50 years.

In 2009, an update called Project Icarus began its five year study to see how interstellar travel might now be done after years of scientific advancement. Hopefully they’re putting more thought into the science than the name.

5. Asteroid Hopping

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One of the big problems with traveling in space is exposure to cosmic rays. If a person were to do a 1,000 day round trip to Mars, they would be exposed to so much radiation that it would increase their chances of getting cancer from one to 19 percent. Spacecraft are made of light material, and radiation shields are too heavy. That’s why a professor of physics at MIT believes the best way to travel would be to land on an asteroid and then tunnel below its surface.

The asteroid would need to be 33 feet wide and pass within a couple million miles of both Earth and Mars for the plan to work. There are five known asteroids that would be excellent candidates that will pass by Earth before 2100. The trip would only be one way, because there isn’t an asteroid that would make a round trip feasible. However, new discoveries are being made all the time, so it’s possible there’s an asteroid that will head back towards Earth that we haven’t discovered yet.

4. Solar Sail

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While sails are low-tech by today’s standards, they’re getting a modern update in space travel. Instead of using wind, these sails would use the power of the sun. Solar sails would only give a spacecraft a small push, but since there’s no friction in space the sails would continually build up speed. For example, a solar sail that’s 1,300 feet wide could travel 1.3 billion miles per year. That’s faster than a vessel using chemical propulsion. That would also be relatively cheap compared to fuel use.

There are currently a number of projects using solar sails. One comes from NASA and is called the Sunjammer, after a short story by Arthur C. Clarke. The Sunjammer sail would be made out of a material called Kapton and be just five microns (about 0.0002 inches) thick, weigh less than 70 pounds and be about the size of a dishwasher when packed up.

It’s suggested that, while it make take a few centuries to develop, a solar sail could be used to carry a spacecraft into another solar system. This sail would need to be the size of Texas, and a strong laser would need to shine on it as it got further away from the sun.

3. Magnetic Sail

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The sun releases mostly protons and electrons at speeds that range from 248 to 370 miles per millisecond. A magnetic sail would use this energy and push against it. A loop of conducting material would produce a magnetic field that’s perpendicular to the solar wind, and this would push the craft to the desired location. The problem is that in order to do this, the sail would need to be 62 miles long. The technology to make the superconducting material for a sail of that size, and keep it at the right temperature, just isn’t available right now. Magnetic sails are just a theory until better technology is developed.

2. Wormhole

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A staple of science fiction, wormholes have fascinated people ever since they were first theorized in 1921. While they’re believed to exist, there’s no visible evidence. Wormholes are essentially tunnels in space, which objects could theoretically travel through. But wormholes are unstable — if someone were to travel through them, the walls would probably collapse. In order to safely travel through, the craft would to use an anti-gravitational force. Physicists say we most likely wouldn’t be able to collect enough energy. If there was a wormhole humans could travel through, it wouldn’t naturally occur; it would have to be constructed by an advanced civilization. So until we either get to that point or someone constructs a wormhole for us, it will remain in the realm of science fiction.

1. Warp Drive

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Made popular by Star Trek, a warp drive allows for faster than light travel. It’s often thought to be impossible because of the incredible amount of energy needed to run a drive. However, researchers believe that they’ve found a way. The first idea was to use a design by physicist Miguel Alcubierre, who proposed a spacecraft shaped like an American Football with a flat circular ring around it. But in order to power that design, you would need a ball of antimatter the size of Jupiter.

To make the spacecraft more feasible, NASA’s Dr. Harold White tweaked the design. In theory, the modified ship would require much less antimatter, about 500 kilograms. The proposed spacecraft would warp space-time and reach speeds 10 times the speed of light. It would make trips to the closest star about four or five months long.

Unfortunately, antimatter is incredibly volatile. Just one third of a gram could release the same amount of energy that was released during the bombing of Hiroshima. The amount of antimatter that White’s design needs would be the equivalent of 1.5 million Hiroshimas, enough to destroy the Earth.

Space Traveler’s

Guide to the Universe

Cast of Characters — THE RETURN TRIP

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MCKINNEY - THE RETURN TRIP-001

 Cast of Characters

Let’s meet the people and visit the places you will be reading about in:

THE RETURN TRIP

 Primary CharactersTHE RETURN TRIP

  • Sampson McKinney is the Commander of the expedition to establish a colony on Mars
  • Celeste McKinney is the wife of Sampson and the LT. Commander of the Space Colony 1 mission
  • Deke McKinney – the elder son of Sampson & Celeste
  • Gus McKinney – younger brother to Deke
  • Deimostra Samantha McKinney – sister of Deke & Gus, conceived on the way to Mars and named after Mras’ larger moon Deimos
  • Joyner McKinney – child of Deke and Cerella, heir to Eupepsia
  • ALL THE ABOVEThe Space Family McKinney

  • Braden King – family friend to the McKinneys and voice of Mission Control
  • Roy Crippen – Director of NASA and the SPACE COLONY 1 project
  • Rick Stanley – Commander of the New Mayflower rescue
  • Francine Bouchette – Houston USA television anchor who lands squarely in the middle of everything
  • Aldona Alfridia Talibanistani (see below) scientist who is asked to conspire against SPACE COLONY but refuses — Fletcher Fitch – name given Aldona when he defected to the United States to help with the SOL Project. Fatima – his wife (and 2 unnamed daughters)
  • Nae Tan-DanUnited Korean operative who is cahoots with Talibanistan
  • Shaikh Kamran Khan-Nutkani – Talibanistan leader determined to undermine an otherwise global effort
  • Ekcello – The Supreme Leader of the High Counsel of Eridanus
  • Cerella – daughter of Ekcello and heiress to the High Counsel
  • Fortan – Mate to Ekcello, Mother of Cerella

Supporting cast

Fredrick C. Cabell – Human Resources NASA, deceased

Phil Jansky – NASA Spatial Debris specialist, deceased

Mike Judge – Okaloosa County Florida Sheriff

Geraldo Franco – Okaloosa County Coroner

Miles Scheffeldink – Space Colony Mission Physician

Abdullah Ashtaar – the key to Istanbul

Mehmet Ali Erim – Turkish taxi driver

Elliot Deming – Consulate General – US Turkish Embassy

Senator Broyles – Texas legislator

“Larry” – Francine Bouchette’s fiancee & KHST director, VP

Randi Gilbert – NASA test pilot & news source for Francine Bouchette

Steven Sharkey – Francine’s co-anchor at KHST

Karl – NASA Chief Engineer

Grandma Savta Bergestrom – Celeste’s Mother from Sweden

Aunt Sassy McKinney – Sampson’s crazy Scottish/Irish sister

Jimmy D – Silver Seas Bartender

Roger Rodrigues – Roy & Francines’s Jamaican tour guide

Kim Jong-un – United Korea’s Supreme Leader

Silvia Freelove – Bud Cauley – Pres/vice pres candidates 2032

Skip Chandler – Freelove’s campaign strategist

Hector Grisbaum – Susannah Grisbaum – New Mexico Congressman & daughter (who sets up Deke M.)

 

The Interstellar Transportation

  • Space Colony 1 the orbiting portion of the Mars Colony
  • The Chronicle – the deep-space shuttle that carries the McKinneys to Mars
  • Tycho – the Mars lander where Sam & Celeste are stranded when the orbiting colony blows up
  • The New Mayflower the mission to rescue the McKinneys on Mars
  • Newfoundlander – the Eridani spacecraft that hijacks the McKinneys (Sam, Celeste, Deimostra)
  • Stellar Explorer the speed-of-light cruiser that takes Deke & Gus on a detour to Orion’s Belt

The many and varied locales in THE RETURN TRIP

  • 2030 Earth
  • Talibanistan – the very large country that absorbs all the rest of the “-stans” and is a haven for global mischief
  • United Korean Peninsula – the combined country formerly North & South where the South is consumed by the evil & secretive North
  • Istanbul/Constantinople Turkey
  • Sultan Ahmet Mosque
  • Mars the Red Planet – the fourth planet from the sun
  • KHST Television Houston Texas
  • Jamaica
  • Silver Seas Resort/Hotel
  • Epsilon EridaniA star in Orion’s Belt and where Sampson & Celeste are hijacked to
  • EridanusA planet in the Epsilon star system
  • Eupepsia – The home tower/city of Ekcello and Cerella and THE SPACEFLIGHT EXPOSITORY
  • The Seljuk –  An tele-transport alien race located in the Triangulum Galaxy. Has a “history” with the Eridanians

 Cast of Characters

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— THE RETURN TRIP

The Speed of Light – Facts & Figures

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The Speed of Light – Facts & Figures

 

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Speed of light
The distance from the Sun to the Earth is shown as 150 million kilometers, an approximate average. Sizes to scale.

Sunlight takes about 8 minutes 17 seconds to travel the average distance from the surface of the Sun to theEarth.
Exact values
metres per second 299792458
Planck length per Planck time
(i.e., Planck units)
1
Approximate values
kilometres per second 300,000
kilometres per hour 1,080 million
miles per second 186,000
miles per hour 671 million
astronomical units per day 173
Approximate light signal travel times
Distance Time
one foot 1.0 ns
one metre 3.3 ns
from geostationary orbit to Earth 119 ms
the length of Earth’s equator 134 ms
from Moon to Earth 1.3 s
from Sun to Earth (1 AU) 8.3 min
from nearest star to Sun (1.3 pc) 4.2 years
from the nearest galaxy (the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy) to Earth 25,000 years
across the Milky Way 100,000 years
from the Andromeda Galaxy (the nearest spiral galaxy) to Earth 2.5 million years

 

The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c

, is a universalphysical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is exactly299,792,458 metres per second because the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time.[1] This is, to three significant figures, 186,000 miles per second, or about 671 millionmiles per hour. According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all matter and information in the universe can travel. It is the speed at which all massless particles and changes of the associated fields (includingelectromagnetic radiation such as light and gravitational waves) travel in vacuum. Such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial frame of reference of the observer. In the theory of relativity, c interrelates space and time, and also appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2.[2]

 

The Speed of Light – Facts & Figures