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This book explores the life-altering scientific progress that Matt Browne expects humankind will make in the next 50 years.
Here's the blurb:
Debrya Handsen, a 33-year-old professor in computational linguistics at the University of Minnesota, is ready for a career change. She decides to leave her academic post and move to Nevada, where she joins a top-secret project that is being sponsored by the American government.
Using powerful telescopes installed on the far side of the Moon, the project's astronomers have discovered an Earth-like planet that is eighty-two light years away; simultaneously a major breakthrough in bioengineering presents the project with the unique opportunity of long-distance space travel.
At first Debrya has no idea why the study of language is to play such a central role, and why twin studies are also so important. During her orientation week she discovers a disturbing secret that makes her wish she had never joined the project. Soon she is faced with the dilemma of revealing the dark secrets of the project or being part of the most ambitious undertaking in the history of humankind.
Matt Browne's beautifully worked space epic explores the bounds of human hope and invention and plumbs the depths of human duplicity. Tender relationships between the budding astronauts are pitched against the disillusion they feel when an embattled President confronts them with their true origins and purpose, only to reveal the real culprit in the entire project - something closer to all of us today.
The author's fascination with the fields of bioengineering and information technology sustains the reader's interest all the way in this futuristic roller-coaster ride. And he asks a terrifying question. Setting aside man's inhumanity to man, what if Nature herself turns against us?
This gripping novel of epic proportions skillfully mixes elements of drama, medical thriller and science fiction. As the story unfolds, Matt Browne takes his readers on a breathtaking journey through vast stretches of time and space.
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Book details of The Future Happens Twice:
Title: The Future Happens Twice - The Perennial Project
Genre: Science Fiction, Medical Thriller
Paperback: 732 pages
Publisher: Athena Press Publishing, London
Version: 1st edition (June, 2007)
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6 x 1.5 inches
Suggested Retail Price: $23.95 / £14.99 / €22.14
About the Author:
Matt Browne, M.S. is a senior team leader in the information technology division of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. His areas of expertise include enterprise content management, web technologies, knowledge management, intranet search engines and collaboration software. He earned his M.S. degree in Computer Science and Computational Linguistics from the University of Kansas. He started his information technology career at Siemens in Munich as a software engineer and project manager developing natural language processing tools with a strong focus on machine translation systems.
Matt Browne is also a part-time writer and has recently published his first science fiction novel called The Future Happens Twice which is based on the concept of embryo space colonization. Key elements in the first book of his planned trilogy are the detection of Earth-like extrasolar planets, the advancement of embryo-splitting technology, artificial wombs and the cryopreservation of human embryos as well as the construction of sophisticated androids for an interstellar space mission as human survival is threatened by an impending extinction-level event. The novel will be followed by two sequels called Human Destiny and The Andromeda Encounter. Matt is a member of the Lifeboat Foundation and lives near Frankfurt, Germany. He is married and has twin children.
What is humankind's place in the universe?
Why is space exploration important for our future?
How will space exploration continue over the next decades?
In what scientific areas can we expect significant progress?
Can our telescopes really find Earth-like planets near other stars?
Can human beings leave the solar system and reach for the stars?
Dreams have always shaped our future. We built ships to reach new continents and trains to cross countries and continents. The automobile revolutionized individual transport. Airplanes allowed us to travel long distances in a matter of hours. Rockets showed us all that even the sky must not be the limit. We put men on the Moon.
Our space probes have already explored large portions of our solar systems. And we have plans to send people to Mars. Our telescopes cannot only observe galaxies and distant stars, they are about to take a closer look at planets orbiting those stars. More than 200 exoplanets have already been found. Soon this number will grow into the thousands...
Science topics related to the book
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An extrasolar planet, or exoplanet, is a planet beyond the Solar System. Astronomers have discovered more than 200 extrasolar planets, most by indirect observation. Known exoplanets are members of planetary systems that orbit a star. The first confirmed detections were made in 1995; since 2002, more than twenty have been discovered every year. It is now estimated that at least 10% of sunlike stars have planets, and the true proportion may be much higher. The discovery of extrasolar planets raises the question of whether some might support extraterrestrial life.
A terrestrial planet, telluric planet or rocky planet is a planet that is primarily composed of silicate rocks. Terrestrial planets are substantially different from gas giants, which might not have solid surfaces and are composed mostly of some combination of hydrogen, helium, and water existing in various physical states. Terrestrial planets all have roughly the same structure: a central metallic core, mostly iron, with a surrounding silicate mantle. The majority of planets found outside our solar system to date have been gas giants, simply because gas giants are larger and therefore easier to see or infer from observation. However, a number of extrasolar planets are known or suspected to be terrestrial.
Terrestrial Planet Finder:
The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) is a plan by NASA for a telescope system that would be capable of detecting extrasolar terrestrial planets. In May 2002, NASA chose two TPF mission architecture concepts for further study and technology development. Each would use a different means to achieve the same goal to block the light from a parent star in order to see its much smaller, dimmer planets. That technology challenge has been likened to finding a firefly near the beam of a brilliant searchlight from far away. Additional goals of the mission would include characterizing the surfaces and atmospheres of newfound planets, and looking for the chemical signatures of life. In May 2004, both architectures were approved.
Darwin is a proposed European Space Agency (ESA) mission designed to directly detect Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars, and search for evidence of life on these planets. The launch date will be at or after 2015. The current design envisions three free-flying space telescopes, each at least 3 meters in diameter, flying in formation as an astronomical interferometer. These telescopes will redirect the light to the main spacecraft which will contain the beam combiner, spectrographs and cameras for the interferometer array, and which will also act as a communications hub.
Far side of the Moon:
The far side of the Moon is the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away from the Earth. The opposite side is known as the near side of the Moon. Because the far side of the Moon is shielded from radio transmissions from the Earth, it is considered a good location for placing radio telescopes for use by astronomers. Small, bowl-shaped craters provide a natural formation for a stationary telescope similar to Arecibo in Puerto Rico. For much larger-scale telescopes, the 100-kilometer diameter crater Daedalus is situated near the center of the far side, and the 3-km-high rim would help to block stray communications from orbiting satellites.
L2 Lagrangian Point:
The Lagrangian points are the five positions in interplanetary space where a small object affected only by gravity can theoretically be stationary relative to two larger objects (such as a satellite with respect to the Earth and Moon). The Lagrange Points mark positions where the combined gravitational pull of the two large masses provides precisely the centripetal force required to rotate with them. The L2 point lies on the line defined by the two large masses, beyond the smaller of the two. The Earth-Moon L2 would be a good location for telescopes and communications satellites covering the Moon's far side.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a subject of study in computer science, psychology and engineering that deals with intelligent behavior, learning, and adaptation in machines. Research in AI is concerned with producing machines to automate tasks requiring intelligent behavior. Examples include control, planning and scheduling, the ability to answer diagnostic and consumer questions, handwriting, speech, and facial recognition. As such, the study of AI has also become an engineering discipline, focused on providing solutions to real life problems, software applications, traditional strategy games like computer chess and other video games.
Strong artificial intelligence:
In the philosophy of artificial intelligence, strong AI is the supposition that some forms of artificial intelligence can truly reason and solve problems; strong AI supposes that it is possible for machines to become sapient, or self-aware, but may or may not exhibit human-like thought processes. Beyond general AI we speak of strong AI if a machine approaches or supersedes human intelligence, if it can do typically human tasks, if it can apply a wide range of background knowledge and has some degree of self-consciousness. Since human-bound definitions of measurable intelligence, like the IQ, cannot easily be applied to machine intelligence, a proposal to define a more easily quantifiable measure of artificial intelligence is: Intelligence is the possession of a model of reality and the ability to use this model to conceive and plan actions and to predict their outcomes. The higher the complexity and precision of the model, the plans, and the predictions, and the less time needed, the higher is the intelligence.
Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical and logical modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. This modeling is not limited to any particular field of linguistics. Computational linguistics was formerly usually done by computer scientists who had specialized in the application of computers to the processing of a natural language. Recent research has shown that language is much more complex than previously thought, so computational linguistics work teams are now sometimes interdisciplinary. Computational linguistics draws upon the involvement of linguists, computer scientists, experts in artificial intelligence, cognitive psychologists and logicians, amongst others.
The Turing Test is a proposal for a test of a machine's capability to perform human-like conversation. Described by Professor Alan Turing in the 1950 paper "Computing machinery and intelligence," it proceeds as follows: a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test. It is assumed that both the human and the machine try to appear human. In order to keep the test setting simple and universal (to explicitly test the linguistic capability of the machine instead of its ability to render words into audio), the conversation is usually limited to a text-only channel such as a teletype machine. Turing predicted that machines would eventually be able to pass the test. In fact, he estimated that by the year 2000, machines with a billion bits of memory would be able to fool 30% of human judges during a 5-minute test. By extrapolating an exponential growth of technology over several decades, futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted that Turing-capable computers would be manufactured around the year 2020, roughly speaking.
Knowledge representation is a research and application domain in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, as well as in the knowledge management and knowledge engineering. Some people think it would be best to represent knowledge in the same way that it is represented in the human mind, which is the only known working intelligence so far, or to represent knowledge in the form of human language. Richard L. Ballard Ph.D., for example, has developed a theory-based semantics system that is language independent, which claims to capture and reason with the same concepts and theory as people.
A humanoid robot is a robot with its overall appearance based on that of the human body. In general humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots may model only part of the body, for example, from the waist up. Scientists and specialists from many different fields including engineering, cognitive science, and linguistics combine their efforts to create robots as human-like as possible (then sometimes also called androids). Their creators' goal for the robot is that one day it will be able to both understand human intelligence, reason and act like humans. If humanoids are able to do so, they could eventually work alongside humans. Another important benefit of developing androids is to understand the human body's biological and mental processes, from the seemingly simple act of walking to the concepts of consciousness and spirituality.
Biotechnology is technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has come up with one of many definitions of biotechnology: 'Biotechnology means any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.' Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field which addresses biological problems using computational techniques. The field is also often referred to as computational biology. It plays a key role in various areas, such as functional genomics, structural genomics, and proteomics, and forms a key component in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.
Bioengineering or biological engineering deals with engineering biological processes in general. It is a broad-based engineering discipline that also may involve product design, sustainability and analysis of biological systems. Biological engineers are similar to biologists in that they study living organisms. They are engineers because they have a practical design aim in mind - they use research to create usable tangible products. In general, biological engineers attempt to mimic biological systems in order to create products or modify and control biological systems so that they can replace, augment, or sustain chemical and mechanical processes.
Protein engineering is the application of science, mathematics, and economics to the process of developing useful or valuable proteins. It is a young discipline, with much research currently taking place into the understanding of protein folding and protein recognition for protein design principles. There are two general strategies for protein engineering. The first is known as rational design, in which the scientist uses detailed knowledge of the structure and function of the protein to make desired changes. This has the advantage of being generally inexpensive and easy, since site-directed mutagenesis techniques are well-developed. However, there is a major drawback in that detailed structural knowledge of a protein is often unavailable, and even when it is available, it can be extremely difficult to predict the effects of various mutations. Computational protein design algorithms seek to identify amino acid sequences that have low energies for target structures. While the sequence-conformation space that needs to be searched is large, the most challenging requirement for computational protein design is a fast, yet accurate, energy function that can distinguish optimal sequences from similar suboptimal ones. Using computational methods, a protein with a novel fold has been designed, as well as sensors for unnatural molecules.
Cryopreservation is a process where cells or whole tissues are preserved by cooling to low sub-zero temperatures, such as (typically) -80 or -196 degrees Celsius (the boiling point of liquid nitrogen). At these low temperatures, any biological activity, including the biochemical reactions that would lead to cell death, is effectively stopped. However, when vitrification solutions are not used, the cells being preserved are often damaged due to freezing during the approach to low temperatures or warming to room temperature. One of the difficult compromises faced in artificial cryopreservation is limiting the damage produced by the cryoprotectant itself. Nevertheless, suitable combinations of cryoprotectants and regimes of rapid cooling and rinsing during warming often allow the successful cryopreservation of biological materials, particularly cell suspensions or thin tissue samples. For human embryos that were 2, 4 or 8 cells pregnancies have been reported from embryos stored for 9 years. Many studies have evaluated the children born from frozen embryos. The result has uniformly been positive with no increase in birth defects or development abnormalities.
Nature versus nurture:
Nature vs. Nurture is a shorthand expression for debates about the relative importance of an individual's innate qualities ('nature') versus personal experiences ('nurture') in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. Interaction of genes and environment: In only a very few cases is it fair to say that a trait is due almost entirely to nature, or almost entirely to nurture. In the case of most diseases now strictly identified as genetic, such as Huntington's disease, there is a better than 99.9% correlation between having the identified gene and the disease and a similar correlation for not having either. On the other hand, such traits as one's native language are entirely environmentally determined: linguists have found that any child (if capable of learning a language at all) can learn any human language with equal facility. With virtually all psychological traits however, there is an intermediate mix of nature and nurture, and opinions about the relative importance of each will often vary widely.
A twin study is a kind of genetic study done to determine heritability. The premise is that since identical twins have identical genotypes, differences between them are solely due to environmental factors. By examining the degree to which twins (especially twins raised apart) are differentiated, a study may determine the extent to which a particular trait is influenced by genes or the environment. For a group of twins in which at least one member of each pair is affected, pairwise concordance is a measure of how many of each pair will have both members affected. For a group of twins in which at least one member of each pair is affected, probandwise concordance is a measure of the proportion of twins who have the illness who have an affected twin.
A multiple birth occurs where more than one fetus exits the womb in a single pregnancy. Different names for multiple birth are used, depending on the actual multiple. Common multiples are two and three, known as twins and triplets respectively. Twins, triplets, quadruplets, and other multiple births occur to varying degrees in most animal species, although the term is most applicable to placental species. There are two common types of multiple births, fraternal (dizygotic) and identical (monozygotic). Identical siblings arise where one egg is fertilised and the resulting zygote splits into more than one embryo. Identical siblings therefore have the same genetic material. Fraternal siblings result from the fertilisation and implantation of more than one egg, so fraternal siblings are not genetically identical, and instead have an analogous genetic similarity of any brothers and sisters.
Earth is the third planet in the solar system in terms of distance from the Sun, and the fifth largest. It is also the largest of its planetary system's terrestrial planets, making it the largest solid body in the solar system, and it is the only place in the universe known to humans to support life.
Global warming is the observed increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans in recent decades. The current scientific consensus is that 'most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been attributable to human activities'. The primary causes of the human-induced component of warming are the increased amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. They are released by the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing and agriculture, etc. and lead to an increase in the greenhouse effect. An increase in global temperatures can in turn cause other changes, including a rising sea level and changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation. These changes may increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, and tornados. Other consequences include higher or lower agricultural yields, glacial retreat, reduced summer stream flows, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.
In biology and ecology, extinction is the cessation of existence of a species or group of taxa, reducing biodiversity. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of that species. Through evolution, new species arise through the process of speciation where new varieties of organisms arise and thrive when they are able to find and exploit an ecological niche and species become extinct when they are no longer able to survive in changing conditions or against superior competition. A typical species becomes extinct within 10 million years of its first appearance, although some species, called living fossils, survive virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. Only one in a thousand species that have existed remain today. Prior to the dispersion of humans across the earth, extinction was a purely natural phenomenon that generally occurred at a continuous low rate (mass extinctions being relatively rare events).
Extinction Level Event (ELE):
An extinction-level event or Extinction event, also known as mass extinction, occurs when there is a sharp decrease in the number of species in a relatively short period of time. Mass extinctions affect most major taxonomic classes present at the time birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates and other simpler life forms. They may be caused by one or both of extinction of an unusually large number of species in a short period, or a sharp drop in the rate of speciation. Based on the fossil record, the background rate of extinctions on Earth is about two to five taxonomic families of marine invertebrates and vertebrates every million years. Since life began on Earth, a number of major mass extinctions have greatly exceeded the background extinction rate present at other times.
Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are asteroids whose orbits are close to Earth's orbit. Some NEAs' orbits intersect Earth's so they pose a collision danger. On the other hand, NEAs are most easily accessible for spacecraft from Earth. Two NEAs have been visited by spacecraft: 433 Eros, by NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous probe, and 25143 Itokawa, by the JAXA Hayabusa mission. Roughly 1000 near-Earth asteroids are known, ranging in size up to about 32 kilometres (1036 Ganymed). Tens of thousands probably exist, with estimates placing the number of NEAs larger than one kilometer in diameter at up to 2,000.
NEAs only survive in their orbits for 10 million to 100 million years. They are eventually eliminated by orbital decay and accretion by the Sun, collisions with the inner planets, or by being ejected from the solar system by near misses with the planets. Such processes should have eliminated them all long ago, so they are resupplied on a regular basis by orbital migration of objects from the asteroid belt.
A supervolcano refers to a volcano that produces the largest and most voluminous kinds of eruption on Earth. The actual explosivity of these eruptions varies, but the sheer volume of extruded magma is enough to radically alter the landscape and severely impact global climate for years, with a cataclysmic effect on life (see also nuclear winter). Eruptions with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (VEI-8) are mega-colossal events that extrude at least 1000 cubic kilometers magma and pyroclastic material. Such an eruption would erase virtually all life within a radius of hundreds of kilometers from the site, and entire continental regions further out can be buried meters deep in ash. VEI-8 eruptions are so powerful that they form circular calderas rather than mountains because the downward collapse of land at the eruption site fills emptied space in the magma chamber beneath. The caldera can remain for millions of years after all volcanic activity at the site has ceased.
Megatsunami is an informal term used mostly by popular media and popular scientific societies to describe a very large tsunami wave beyond the size reached by typical tsunamis. A megatsunami is associated with waves beyond the norm for tsunamis, ranging from over 40 meters (131 feet) to giants over 100 meters (328 feet) tall. Note that the waves are often higher when they meet land, as the water often floods upwards from the force of impact. Megatsunamis are caused by a very large impact or landslide into a body of water when the water cannot disperse in all directions. For this reason, they are usually a highly localized effect, either occurring when the origin of a tsunami is extremely close to the shore, or in deep, narrow inlets, lakes or other water passages.
The technological singularity is the hypothesized creation, usually via AI or brain-computer interfaces, of smarter-than-human entities who rapidly accelerate technological progress beyond the capability of human beings to participate meaningfully in said progress. Futurists have varying opinions regarding the timing and consequences of such an event. Some futurists, such as Ray Kurzweil, consider it part of a long-term pattern of accelerating change that generalizes Moore's law to technologies predating the integrated circuit. Critics of this interpretation consider it an example of static analysis.
In futures studies and the history of technology, accelerating change is a perceived increase in the rate of technological (and sometimes social and cultural) progress throughout history, which some claim suggests faster and more profound change in the future. Kurzweil in his 2001 essay The Law of Accelerating Returns extends Moore's law to describe an exponential growth of technological progress. Moore's law describes an exponential growth pattern in the complexity of integrated semiconductor circuits. Kurzweil extends this to include technologies from far before the integrated circuit to future forms of technology. Whenever a technology approaches some kind of a barrier, according to Kurzweil, a new technology will be invented to allow us to cross that barrier. He cites numerous past examples of this to substantiate his assertions. He predicts that such paradigm shifts have and will continue to become increasingly common, leading to "technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history." He believes the Law of Accelerating Returns implies that a technological singularity will occur before the end of the 21st century, in 2045.
A brain-computer interface (BCI), sometimes called a direct neural interface, is a direct communication pathway between a human or animal brain (or brain cell culture) and an external device. In one-way BCIs, computers either accept commands from the brain or send signals to it (for example, to restore vision) but not both. Two-way BCIs would allow brains and external devices to exchange information in both directions but have yet to be successfully implanted in animals or humans. In this definition, the word brain means the brain or nervous system of an organic life form rather than the mind. Computer means any processing or computational device, from simple circuits to silicon chips (including hypothetical future technologies such as quantum computing).
Nanorobotics is the technology of creating machines or robots at or close to the scale of a nanometres. More specifically, nanorobotics refers to the still largely hypothetical nanotechnology engineering discipline of designing and building nanorobots. Nanorobots (nanobots, nanoids or nanites) would be typically devices ranging in size from 0.1-10 micrometres and constructed of nanoscale or molecular components. As no artificial non-biological nanorobots have so far been created, they remain a hypothetical concept at this time. Future medical nanotechnology has been posited to employ nanorobots injected into the patient to perform treatment on a cellular level. Such nanorobots intended for use in medicine are posited to be non-replicating, as replication would needlessly increase device complexity, reduce reliability, and interfere with the medical mission. Instead, medical nanorobots are posited to be manufactured in hypothetical, carefully controlled nanofactories in which nanoscale machines would be solidly integrated into a supposed desktop-scale machine that would build macroscopic products. Utility fog is a hypothetical collection of tiny robots. They would be microscopic, with extending arms reaching in several different directions, and could perform lattice reconfiguration. Grabbers at the ends of the arms would allow the robots (or foglets) to mechanically link to one another and share both information and energy, enabling them to act as a continuous substance with mechanical and optical properties that could be varied over a wide range. Each foglet would have substantial computing power, and would be able to communicate with its neighbors. Utility fog is sometimes thought of as a nanotechnological version of the Swiss Army Knife.
Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as stupidity, suffering, disease, aging and involuntary death. Transhumanist thinkers study the possibilities and consequences of developing and using human enhancement techniques and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Possible dangers, as well as benefits, of powerful new technologies that might radically change the conditions of human life are also of concern to the transhumanist movement. In general, transhumanists support the emergence and convergence of technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (NBIC), and hypothetical future technologies such as simulated reality, artificial intelligence, mind uploading, and cryonics. They believe that humans can and should use these technologies to become more than human. They therefore support the recognition and/or protection of cognitive liberty, morphological freedom, and procreative liberty as civil liberties, so as to guarantee individuals the choice of using human enhancement technologies on themselves and their children, and progressively become transhuman and ultimately posthuman, which is seen as the climax of participant evolution.
Mind uploading (also referred to as mind transfer or whole brain emulation) refers to the hypothetical transfer of a human mind to an artificial substrate, such as a computer simulation. Uploading consciousness into bodies created by robotic means is a goal of some in the artificial intelligence community. In the uploading scenario, the physical human brain does not move from its original body into a new robotic shell; rather, the consciousness is assumed to be recorded and/or transferred to a new robotic brain, which generates responses indistinguishable from the original organic brain.
Spaceflight is the transportation of manned or unmanned spacecraft into and through space. The first man-made object to achieve spaceflight was the German V-2 Rocket in 1942. The next major milestone was the Russian satellite Sputnik 1 in 1957 which became the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. A key component of spaceflight is the launch, which is the initial thrust to overcome the force of gravity from the surface of the Earth. Once in space, astrodynamics is used to determine the motion of a spacecraft, and spacecraft propulsion is used to control the motion. Spacecraft are vehicles capable of controlling their trajectory through space. The first 'true spacecraft' is sometimes said to be Apollo Lunar Module since this was the only vehicle to have been designed for, and operated only in space; and is notable for its non aerodynamic shape.
Propulsion means to add speed or acceleration to an object, by an engine or other similar device. Spacecraft propulsion is used to change the velocity of spacecraft and artificial satellites. There are many different methods. Each method has drawbacks and advantages, and spacecraft propulsion is an active area of research. Most spacecraft today are propelled by heating the reaction mass to high temperatures and exhausting it from the back/rear of the vehicle at very high speed. This sort of engine is called a rocket engine. All current spacecraft use chemical rockets (bipropellant or solid-fuel) for launch, though some (such as the Pegasus rocket and SpaceShipOne) have used air-breathing engines on their first stage. Interplanetary vehicles mostly use chemical rockets as well, although a few have experimentally used ion thrusters (a form of electric propulsion) with some success. Some spacecraft propulsion methods such as solar sails provide very low but inexhaustible thrust. Spacecraft for interstellar travel also need propulsion methods. No such spacecraft has yet been built, but many designs have been discussed. Since interstellar distances are very great, a tremendous velocity is needed to get a spacecraft to its destination in a reasonable amount of time. Rockets emitting plasma can potentially carry out reactions inside a magnetic bottle and release the plasma via a magnetic nozzle, so that no solid matter need come in contact with the plasma. Of course, the machinery to do this is complex, but research into nuclear fusion has developed methods, some of which have been used in speculative propulsion systems.
Interstellar space travel is unmanned or manned travel between stars, though the term usually denotes the latter. There is a tremendous difference between interstellar travel and interplanetary travel, mainly due to the much larger distances involved. Many scientific papers have been published about related concepts. Given sufficient travel time and engineering work, unmanned and generational interstellar travel seems possible, though representing a very considerable technological and economic challenge unlikely to be met (particularly for crewed probes) for some time. NASA has been engaging in research into these topics for several years, and has accumulated a number of theoretical approaches. Interstellar travel poses a number of difficulties. There are all the difficulties of interplanetary travel, including hard vacuum, radiation, micrometeoroids, and free-fall. These difficulties seem tractable; robot missions have been sent to every planet in the Solar system, humans have been sent to the Moon, and manned missions to Mars have been planned for years. Interstellar travel is made enormously more difficult by the million-fold greater distances to nearby stars.
Slow interstellar travel designs generally use near future spacecraft propulsion technologies. As a result, voyages are extremely long, lasting hundreds or thousands of years. Voyages might be one-way trips to set up colonies. A generation ship would be large enough to hold a colony of people. These people would live out their lives on board the ship, and their descendants would arrive at a new solar system. These descendants might establish a colony, or perhaps stop only to explore and perhaps to build other ships. A generation ship would be large enough to hold a colony of people. These people would live out their lives on board the ship, and their descendants would arrive at a new solar system. These descendants might establish a colony, or perhaps stop only to explore and perhaps to build other ships. A robotic space mission carrying some number of frozen early stage human embryos is another theoretical possibility. This method of space colonization requires, among other things, the development of a method to replicate conditions in a womb, the prior detection of a habitable terrestrial planet, and advances in the field of fully autonomous mobile robots. A variant is based on the development of substantial human life extension. If a ship crew had lifespans of some thousands of years, they could traverse interstellar distances without the need to replace the crew in generations. The psychological effects of such an extended period of travel would potentially still pose a problem.
Wormholes are probably the least conjectural of faster-than-light options under current science. Wormholes are distortions in space-time that theorists postulate could connect two arbitrary points in the universe, across an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. It is not known whether or not wormholes are possible in practice. Although there are solutions to the Einstein equation of general relativity which allow for wormholes, all of the currently known solutions involve some assumption, for example the existence of negative mass.
A starship is a spaceship designed for interstellar travel, specifically between star systems. Space-going vessels that are not intended for travel between star systems are often referred to as spaceships. This Wikipedia article focuses on starships as they are encountered in science fiction, as humanity has not yet constructed any true starships, although many scientists and enthusiasts have discussed serious proposals for interstellar travel, such as the Project Daedalus. A common literary device is to posit a faster-than-light propulsion system (such as warp drive) or travel through hyperspace, although some starships may be outfitted for centuries-long journeys of slower-than-light travel. Other designs posit a way to boost the ship to near-lightspeed, allowing relatively 'quick' travel i.e. decades, not centuries to nearer stars. This results in a general categorization of the kinds of starships:
sleeper ships, which put their passengers into stasis during a long trip
generation ships, where the destination will be reached by descendants of the original passengers
relativistic ships, taking advantage of time dilation at close-to-light-speeds, so long trips will seem much shorter, but still take the same amount of time for outside observers
faster-than light ships, which can move between places very quickly transcending current understanding of physics or using interdimensional shortcuts
Space colonization (also called space settlement, space humanization, or space habitation) is the concept of permanent autonomous (self-sufficient) human habitation of locations outside Earth. The first step is the permanent human presence in space, as with the International Space Station. While most people think of space colonies on the Moon or Mars, others argue that the first colonies will be in orbit (see International Space Station). Several design groups at NASA and elsewhere have examined orbital colony feasibility. They have determined that there are ample quantities of all the necessary materials on the Moon and Near Earth Asteroids, that solar energy is readily available in very large quantities, and that no new scientific breakthroughs are necessary, although a great deal of engineering would be required. Current NASA chief Michael Griffin has identified space colonization as the ultimate goal of current spaceflight programs.
(from peer reviewers of the manuscript)
"Anyone looking for a truly gripping and action-packed story must read the book The Future Happens Twice. It was so suspenseful, I couldn't put it down for days." -- Debra Baker
"This remarkable book is not so much about science fiction as such, but rather about psychology and the human mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game between the project and the outside world." -- Thom Buschhorn
"It's stories like this one that gets women interested in reading science fiction novels. Although there's a lot of science and technology in it, the main focus is on the rich characters and their relationships." -- Agnes Moyene
"A very creative plot with many colorful characters." -- Barry McConnell
"An intellectually stimulating book based on a powerful plot." -- Thomas Gossen
"What an extraordinary story!" -- Susan Tuck
"The science part is well researched and it gives the reader valuable insights into a wide range of topics. This book will appeal to both space buffs and science-keen readers." -- Ken Herder
"The Future Happens Twice is captivating, educational, genuinely suspenseful and believable." -- Robert Darkins
"Both Julara and Debrya are absolutely amazing women. I admired their visionary mindsets." -- Sonya Wels
"Brilliant story, very well written and I hope to see it on the big screen soon." -- Anthony W.
"I just wanted to compliment you on a truly amazing book. I've never been so glued to a book as this one. Not only that but I cannot wait until your next installment of this wonderful trilogy comes out! Keep up the good work and please don't have second thoughts about finishing the series! -- Malik M.