People everywhere are thinking about the future. Think-tanks like the Gaiaville Conference are happening in all fields. Check out this article from the NY Times.
New York Times Article August 17, 2001
An artist's rendering of a hypothetical interstellar craft on a test flight near Jupiter.
Alpha Centauri or bust.
The government agency that helped invent the Internet now wants to do the same for travel to the stars.
In what is perhaps the ultimate startup opportunity, Darpa, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, plans to award some lucky, ambitious and star-struck organization roughly $500,000 in seed money to begin studying what it would take — organizationally, technically, sociologically and ethically — to send humans to another star, a challenge of such magnitude that the study alone could take a hundred years.
The awarding of that grant, on Nov. 11 — 11/11/11 — is planned as the culmination of a yearlong Darpa-NASA effort called the 100-Year Starship Study, which started quietly last winter and will include a three-day public symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Sept. 30 on the whys and wherefores of interstellar travel. The agenda ranges far beyond rocket technology to include such topics as legal, social and economic considerations of interstellar migration, philosophical and religious concerns, where to go and — perhaps most important — how to inspire the public to support this very expensive vision.
In January, Mr. Neyland and Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory in Mountain View, quietly invited about 30 scientists, entrepreneurs and science fiction writers to a two-day brainstorming session in northern California. Mr. Neyland described the first meeting as an attempt to get past “the giggle factor” associated with the subject. Participants included scientists like J. Craig Venter of the J. Craig Venter Institute, who was one of the first to sequence the human genome, and writers like Joe Haldeman, author of the award-winning novel, “The Forever War.” One participant said, “There were a few people on the other side of reality.”
Then again, nobody is smart enough now to know what could come of the starship effort, Mr. Neyland pointed out. It would be naïve to think we even know the right questions to ask.
“If you had asked Einstein and Marconi in 1910 to define a worldwide communication system for the common man,” Mr. Neyland asked, “would he have come up with the iPhone?”
A call for ideas for the Orlando meeting drew hundreds of responses, which are being sorted to decide who will get to speak. Dr. Tarter, the astronomer at SETI, will coordinate talks on where to go. She has received 50 or 60 proposals, which she called a “mixed bag,” some of which read like U.F.O. reports. “Maybe,” she said, “you have to be a little bit crazy to think about this seriously.” She added, “We’ve all read enough science fiction to be fundamentally optimistic about the possible outcome.”