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Sir Martin Rees, Monday, 9-2-13 September 3, 2013

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Sir Martin Rees, Monday, 9-2-13


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Guest:  Sir Martin Rees.  Topics: Interstellar travel, the future of space &science, quasars, life extension, Mars missions & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

We welcomed back Sir Martin Rees to discuss his chapter in the new book Starship Century: Toward the Grandest Horizon, edited by James & Gregory Benford.  Sir Martin’s chapter, titled “To the Ends of the Universe,” looks forward through time and centuries to address human spaceflight, eventual interstellar travel, life extension & more.  In looking forward, he levies criticism on the past. We talked about several of his comments regarding our past & current space program. Dr. Rees mentioned the need for life extension though for Mars he said we could do that without life extension but we should not fool ourselves as it will prove far less comfortable than Mt. Everest or the South Pole.  We talked about finding planets & the possibilities for life, then we switched to the discovery of quasars soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Listeners asked our guest about his comments that the political impetus for current & future space work seems to have been lost, especially in contrast to the Apollo era.  In his response, our guest suggested we need low cost and reusable launch vehicles given how costly everything is today.  He commented that mining asteroids did not make sense other than for ISRU purposes. Before going to break, he was asked about the UK government investment in Skylon which he supported.

In the second segment, we spoke about changes in the UK space activity over the past decade.  Sir Martin made comparisons with the UK, ESA & NASA, especially regarding long term planning & our very short one year budgets.  He suggested our budget process makes us unreliable partners in many respects.  Quasars were again a discussion topic, plus Sir Martin fielded a question from a high school student wanting to know how we know the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe.  Another listener wanted to know about science fiction as a leading indicator for science.  Dr. Rees suggested some excellent books for those interested in reading specific science fiction works. James Benford, editor Starship Century called to point out the excellent reading list in the back of the book, plus he offered us important comments about the book & authors. Near the end, Sir Martin was asked to look forward 10-15 years & tell us his thoughts.  His response focused on finding even more planets around the stars, identifying more threatening NEOs, & even more attention given to life extension issues.  The last two questions asked our guest dealt with the ISS living beyond 2020 asking if that was valuable and also the recent podcast by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson that SpaceX would not be able to go to Mars.  Throughout the discussion, he mentioned the private sector doing things government could not, especially due to less risk averseness.

Please post your comments/questions for Sir Martin Rees on The Space Show blog.  You can reach him through me or his Cambridge website, www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~mjr.



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