Dear i4is Member,
Welcome to the member newsletter of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. We hope you are keeping well. In this newsletter we bring your attention to some new Principium preprints as well as two new article by the i4is Technical Team.
We have also added a large collection of videos of the online classes from the module we recently delivered for the International Space University (ISU). We have received kind permission from the ISU to share these videos with our members. More details below.
Also, a reminder that members who have been with us for at least one year now have access to a single-use code that they can share with a friend, giving them a one year free trial on their new membership of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies! More details are available here.
Here are some new items for you to explore:
ISU Interstellar Studies Module Videos
Members of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies now have access to 6 videos of lectures that we delivered remotely for the ISU Interstellar Studies module at the end of April 2020. These videos include detailed discussions on world ships.
Near-Term Self-replicating Probes — A Concept Design
The Initiative for Interstellar Studies have just released our first concept design for a near-term self-replicating space probe. Although often talked about, due to their huge potential impact on space exploration and settlement, no recent feasibility study of such a probe exists. Here, we have explored, what is possible by using near-term technologies.
A big thank you to our new team member Olivia Borgue, who has conducted the study and Adrian Mann, who has contributed the beautiful image above!
This paper is also a tribute to the late Chris Corner, a dedicated i4is member, who passed away in March 2019. He initiated Project von Neumann in 2015 and laid the groundwork for this research.
Breakthrough Starshot Communications workshop
Five members of the i4is Technical Team participated in the Breakthrough Starshot Communications Workshop recently, on the 8th May and 9th May. The session took place entirely via video conferencing. It was very productive sessions in which they came up with novel concepts for transmitting data over interstellar distances via a gram-sized spacecraft.
Energy Limits to the Gross Domestic Product on Earth
The Initiative for Interstellar Studies have recently released another paper. This paper is about sustainability and further developing a space based economy. There is a video about the paper here. The video is in French, however English subtitles can be enabled.
We have more Principium Preprints available exclusively to you, our members. We try to make these available as soon as they are ready. Sometimes the public release will differ to these early access versions if an article is later revised.
PREPRINT Cassidy Cobbs - Bioscientist
interviewed by Robert Kennedy and John Davies
"Cassidy Cobbs is an evolutionary biologist by training. A a student she participated in the discovery of a “lateral gene transfer event” between a fungus and an animal—that is, a seemingly humble fungus donated a gene complex allowing the second known instance of an animal’s de novo production of carotenoid compounds. She was the lead author of Carotenoids in unexpected places: Gall midges, lateral gene transfer, and carotenoid biosynthesis in animals (Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Elsevier doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2013.03.012 *) - see the midges discussion in this interview - and has contributed to research in related fields. Currently, she is a Scientific Liaison at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (www.mskcc.org), New York, New York. She joined the Center as a Senior Research Technician in 2015 working in Sanger sequencing as part of the Integrated Genomics Operation core facility. With her lab she is now on the front line of the defence against Covid-19 in New York. Opinions expressed in this interview represent only her own point of view, and do not imply anything about those of her employer."
"Cassidy is the Secretary of the Institute for Interstellar Studies, the US-based part of our organisation. She was lead author of Ecological Engineering Considerations for I.S.U.'s Worldship Project published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society Volume 68 (3/4), p.81-85, and supported the team delivering the Astra Planeta Final Report from the 2015 MSS Worldship Study at the International Space University (isulibrary.isunet.edu/doc_num.php?explnum_id=731)."
"This article is the lightly-edited transcript of an interview with Cassidy conducted by Robert Kennedy III and John I Davies on 14th April 2020. In subsequent issues, we hope to bring further interviews with significant figures in i4is and interstellar studies."
"This article appears in two parts in Principium 29 & 30 and in one part as a preprint in the i4is members area of the website."
PREPRINT Become an i4is member
Patrick J Mahon
"How becoming a member of i4is helps our work and delivers exclusive benefits to you"
PREPRINT The i4is Members Page
"The i4is membership scheme launched in December 2018 and we are now adding new members-only material to the website regularly. This page features currently available content and what is planned. Membership of i4is draws together all who aspire to an interstellar future for humanity. Your contribution, together with the voluntary work of our team and their donation of their own expenses, helps us to take the vital early steps toward that goal."
PREPRINT Freeman Dyson (1923-2020)
"A version of this tribute by i4is Executive Director, Andreas Hein, was published on the BIS website on February 29 2020"
PREPRINT The Interstellar Ram Jet at 60
A A Jackson
"Principium readers are likely to be familiar with the fusion ramjet proposed by Robert Bussard in 1960. In this anniversary year Al Jackson revisits this ground-breaking attempt to defeat the tyranny of Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation. Its a tour through the work of brilliant minds - Bussard himself, his predecessors and his successors. Since Tsiolkovsky set the bounds for reaction propulsion we have been trying to defeat it. like Bussard, or avoid it like the current workers on laser-push propulsion."
"Al is a retired NASA engineer and a long-standing contributor to interstellar studies. He presented papers at both our Foundations of Interstellar Studies workshops, New York 2017 and Gloucestershire UK 2019."
"A version of this article appeared recently on Paul Gilster's interstellar blog, Centauri Dreams (www.centauri-dreams.org/2020/04/03/the-interstellar-ramjet-at-60/)."
We still have opportunities available to take part in a mini-research project!
Interstellar mini-research project topics
Our Executive Director and Technical Research Committee chair, Andreas Hein, has compiled a list of short (~2 weeks) research projects that you can work on if you have some free time over the coming weeks. These projects are real research topics that address important research gaps in the interstellar field. Their titles are:
- Concepts for decelerating interstellar probes
- Settling rogue planets
- Settling exoplanets
- Hibernation and interstellar travel
- Life extension and interstellar travel
- Artificial intelligence on a world ship: concepts
Full descriptions of these projects along with references to previous research are available for download in the Members Area.
Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in exploring any of these topics or if you have any further questions. We look forward to hearing from you!
Principium 29 – May 2020
This issue features:
- Cassidy Cobbs - Bioscientist
- Interstellar News
- The Interstellar Ram Jet at 60
- IAC2019 the Interstellar Papers #3
- FAST radio telescope & Breakthrough Listen
- Rings round exoplanets - possible megastructures
- Mariner model part 2: The initial construction phase
- i4is Members Page
- Freeman Dyson (1923-2020)
- Feasibility of self-replicating probes for interstellar exploration
- Book Review: Religions and Extraterrestrial Life