New website:

A new website, “” aims to imagine the world 250 years after the world’s first manned spaceflight, and to do so with a meta-cultural / space-philosophy angle. It’s rather an empty ‘coming soon!’ site at present, but there’s a podcast with the founders in which they explain the site’s aims.

In the podcast they address the potential problem of a site with an open ethos becoming a grouch-fest for grumpy space nerds (e.g.: ‘we hate Elon Musk’s flange-widgets and they will dooom the new space race!’ etc.), or being hijacked by a whiny politically-correct leftist flame-war (e.g: ‘noooo, you can’t say ‘space race’ because it’s symbolic of of of… evil racist patriarchal oppression!’ etc.).

One of the most interesting elements (not yet on the site, seemingly) is the “new lexicon of space philosophy” now being developed by one of the site’s founders, Frank White. Such as…

* Homo Spaciens is a radically different kind of human being, one highly adapted to living in the conditions of space and poorly adapted to living on planets.

* An Overview System is a pattern of organized self-awareness in which the whole is perceived as the context of all the parts within it. An overview system can exist at any level within the universe, from a planet to a solar system to a galaxy and beyond.

* Solarius is a solar overview system manifesting as a solar civilization with a presence throughout the solar system, and based on awareness of the solar system as a whole.

* Technos is the worldwide technology system, or technosystem, consisting of satellites, networks, computers, tablets, smartphones, robots, androids, and other interconnected electronic entities.

Homo Spaciens is a bit clunky. Homo Solarius would be more mellifluous on the tongue.


Something for the weekend #19

A round-up of the week’s causes for optimism, discussions of optimism/pessimism gap, and debunkings of pessimism, as noticed in the media. We’re entering the ‘silly season’ for news, so this week there’s not as much around to find as otherwise.

* “Urban ‘forests’ can store almost as much carbon as tropical rainforests”. Mathias Disney, a Remote Sensing specialist in London, used UK Environment Agency LIDAR data to quantify “85,000 trees across Camden”, London. He found absorption… “rising to 380 t/ha in spots such as Hampstead Heath and Highgate Cemetery – that’s equivalent to values seen in temperate and tropical rainforests”.

* The Power Line podcast #72: Matt Ridley (The Rational Optimist). The 30-minute Ridley section is from 5:00 mins to 36:00 mins. (Direct .MP3 link via Podtrac). “Our conversation ranges from explaining why the left is so wedded to apocalypticism, what’s the latest on climate change research that you’re not hearing about from the mainstream media, and the latest things happening in domestic oil and gas production.”

* How technology is changing Ukrainian agriculture for better. From bread-basket, to socialist basket-case, and back to bread-basket again.

* Buzz Aldrin: How we can make Mars missions a reality.

* “Millennials have newfound optimism about the economy since Trump took office”, commenting on a Gallup sentiment survey about job prospects.

* Microsoft data centre placed on seabed, off Orkney coast. It’s self-powering via tidal turbines, and naturally cooled by the same tidal flows. The data centre should be able to operate… “untouched for up to five years”.

* Researchers locate world’s first known manta ray nursery.

Picture: Giant oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris) by Elias Levy.

Red Mars – bound for TV

The hard sci-fi colonisation epic Red Mars is to be adapted as a TV series. The news that a TV adaptation of the novels was being written has been around for a while now, but apparently the filming has now been approved (or ‘green lit’, as they say in the industry) for filming in 2016. It looks very promising, given the veteran team they have on board.

Asking the writer of the superb Babylon 5 (story-arc viewing/skipping order) to adapt seems like the perfect choice. The team on Mars suggests that they will stick close to the can-do ethos of the novels, and a tight ten episodes should ensure there’s no padding out the series with disposable ‘problem-of-the-week’ episodes.

“Author Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy is heading to television, under the title of its first novel Red Mars. American network Spike TV has confirmed a ten-episode season set to premiere in January 2017. Game of Thrones producer Vince Gerardis is attached as executive producer. Sci-fi veteran and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski will write. Robinson himself will oversee as a consultant on the show.”