23 SEP 2023 by ideonexus

 Explorer VS Adventurer

As Ursula K. LeGuin writes in The Dispossessed, a novel in which a man returns to Earth for the first time from an anarchist colony: “The explorer who will not come back or send back his ships to tell his tale is not an explorer, only an adventurer.”
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This applies to reading and research as well.

03 JUN 2016 by ideonexus

 "No Man's Sky" as Humanist Adventure

The true value of No Man’s Sky lies in something both incredibly simple and breathtaking. The point of the game is to discover and share knowledge with the other inhabitants of the universe. It’s almost as if the developers took the Enlightenment-era Encycloédie and turned it into a science fiction video game; a true testament to the best qualities and powers of the Information Age. While the sheer size may overwhelm some or risk boredom for others, players shouldn’t ignore the larger...
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30 MAY 2016 by ideonexus

 The Universe is a Dark Forest for Civilization

The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life—another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire a...
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04 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 Literature About Exploration

This is an infinitely marvelous and beautiful universe which we are privileged to inhabit. Look inward to the molecules of life and the heart of the atom, or outward to moon, sun, planets, stars, the Orion Nebula where new suns and worlds are coming into being even as you watch, the Andromeda Nebula which is actually a whole sister galaxy: it is all the same cosmos, and every part of it is part of us. The elements of our flesh, blood, bones, and breath were forged out of hydrogen in stars lon...
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27 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 The Universe as a Game Where the Rules are Hidden

‘I talked to a woman of the Kaminari once,’ he says, ‘before the Spike. Don’t give me such a look, it wasn’t like that, we were just friends. But one night on Ganymede, we got philosophical. The Universe is a game, she said. It makes us into players. We can’t see the moves that are not allowed. Like in chess. There is perfect freedom in the black and white, except that the rules make invisible walls. Two squares forward, one left. One left, whole row forward and backward, one righ...
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29 OCT 2014 by ideonexus

 Wandering into the Scientific Woods

Sometimes in an upper-level class I’ll assign a problem I don’t expect students to solve. It either involves some subtle trick, or requires theoretical techniques they haven’t yet learned. I assign them because I want students to struggle a bit with problems for which the solutions aren’t clear. “Wander into the woods,” I’ll tell them. “Find out what it feels like to be lost and start struggling to find your way out.” It’s a good skill to develop, because often in theoreti...
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19 JUL 2014 by ideonexus

 Explorocracy / Homo Diaspora

So we’re to be ravaged by speculation and thrill-seekers. We’ll be the wilds. I’ve been to deadwood planets and pioneer towns: even those way stations have their good things. We’ll open up the sky. We’ll have knowledge to sell. Uniquely detailed maps. Immer byways only locals like us can find. We have to establish our credentials as an explorocracy; so to survive and rule ourselves, we have to explore. We’ll soon have one immership in our little navy, and at least one captain. Wh...
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26 FEB 2014 by ideonexus

 MarsOne Response to Muslim Fatwa

And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know. (Quran 30: 22) The Muslim world has a rich tradition of exploration. The verse from the Quran above encourages Muslims to go out and see the signs of God’s creation in the ‘heavens and the earth’. The most influential example of this was the Moroccan Muslim traveller, Ibn Battuta, who from 1325 to 1355 travelled 73,000 mile...
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...against voyaging to Mars because it constitutes "suicide."

03 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 Humanity has Reached the Hatching Point

To begin our position-fixing aboard our Spaceship Earth we must first acknowledge that the abundance of immediately consumable, obviously desirable or utterly essential resources have been sufficient until now to allow us to carry on despite our ignorance. Being eventually exhaustible and spoilable, they have been adequate only up to this critical moment. This cushion-for-error of humanity's survival and growth up to now was apparently provided just as a bird inside of the egg is provided wi...
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Thinking of our Earth as an egg, we have been living on the yolk so far. We are reaching the point, by burning our fossile fuels off and exceeding the production capacity of our agriculture, where our intellect must launch us into the stars.

13 MAY 2013 by ideonexus

 Look for the Improbable in Extraterrestrial Life

To land a spacecraft on Europa, with the heavy equipment needed to penetrate the ice and explore the ocean directly, would be a formidable undertaking. A direct search for life in Europa's ocean would today be prohibitively expensive. But just as asteroid and comet impacts on Mars have given us an easier way to look for evidence of life on that planet, impacts on Europa give us an easier way to look for evidence of life there. Every time a major impact occurs on Europa, a vast quantity of wat...
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We should look for freeze-dried live ejected from impacts with Europa rather than trying to send probes into the ice.