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Dr. Cameron Smith, Monday, 2-2-15 February 3, 2015

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Dr. Cameron Smith, Monday, 2-2-15


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Guest:  Dr. Cameron Smith.  Topics:  Interstellar human spaceflight, space settlement, our distant human future.  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 http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Dr. Cameron Smith to the program to discuss interstellar spaceflight and our distant human future.  You can see his lecture on this topic, “Interstellar Voyaging: An Evolutionary Transition” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CprziVZHqBk.  During the first segment of our 91 minute program, we talked about the biological and cultural challenges involving interstellar flight.  When asked why he was interested in this field and doing research in it, he talked about how important it was to influence for the good our distant human future.  He talked about human success over time in adaptation as humanity is adaptable.  He then spoke to the need for species insurance.  John in Florida called in with Mars archaeological questions, wondering what may be left of a civilization after a billion years or so. We also talked about models from Earth archaeology around the world in places like the Middle East.  Our guest said there were plenty of unknowns in trying to extrapolate Earth archeology to Mars.  Another listener asked about robots versus humans, a topic our guest had much to say about.  The bottom line is that humans are still a much better tool but robots are also needed.  We talked about ways to influence policy makers and the importance of influencing the public.  You might be surprised by some of our guest’s comments.  We talked about Mars and he said it was a good first step.  He was then asked about the Moon as a first step.  He cited a comment by Dr. Zubrin suggesting that regarding the Moon, “the cops are too close!” Listen to how our guest explained this comment.  I asked several questions about student interest in interstellar spaceflight.  Other topics in this segment included extra terrestrial life and questions about Cydonia which our guest said he had studied in detail and concluded it was not from a past civilization.

In the second segment, Cydonia questions continued to come in and Dr. Smith elaborated on his studies and conclusions.  The Swedish website Glanta came up as our guest had an article published on the site. Their English language site is http://glanta.org/?page_id=2.  The ISS came up with listener questions and our guest was critical of it since it still does not have closed loop environmental and life support.  The field of exobiology was discussed as was the need for low cost space access.  Paula in Denver asked about the need to be inspiring and to inspire students and others regarding space, interstellar flight, and our distant human future.   Cameron said we needed to start with kids and that it was important to do so.  He also spoke to the need to make sure our students have and know how to use the skills of critical thought.  The ARM came up and Cameron said it make no natural sense.  He also said we should be getting serious about going to Mars.  During the show he was asked why this was important, going to Mars, human spaceflight, interstellar flight, all of it.  He cited the need to have a humanity insurance policy as from studying the past as he has done in his field, he is all too familiar with species, nations, cultures, and such becoming extinct.  It does happen and space settlement and interstellar human spaceflight are the insurance programs for our survival.  His concluding remarks repeated saying that space colonization was a responsibility, not a luxury.

Please post your comments on TSS blog above.  You can reach Dr. Smith through me or his university website, http://pdx.academia.edu/CameronMSmith.


1. Kristophr - February 3, 2015

There was a question about setting up a telescope about 1% of the way to Alpha Centauri, and some confusion about the mechanics involved.

“Solar Lens” refers to setting up a space telescope far enough out to use the Sun’s gravitational field itself as a lens, with the space telescope acting as an “eyepeice”.

Matt - February 4, 2015

So far I know it was an idea of the Italian space scientist Claudio Maccone. Great stuff, worth to be investigated in detail.




B John - February 9, 2015

And it would be an important stepping stone to the interstellar world. There’s no need to decelerate, the gravitational focus of the Sun is an infinite line starting somewhere 550-1000 AU away. Even if it is still inside the Oort cloud, it would be as far out as we can go this century and it would work as a bridge to other stars. Not only by observation, but by working as an infrastructure for future interstellar communication too.

Matt - February 10, 2015

Yes, it could be a bridge mission. We have the physics or even the basic technology elements itself (as nuclear-electric propulsion) in principle available for such a mission, in contrast to that what we need a mission to next stars. However, it would be a very demanding mission (also in financial terms). It is not clear for me in the moment, which requirements apply to a telescope of this kind to observe surfaces of extrasolar planets. The working principle (or the distance of required both receivers) seems to depend from distance to the observed object.

Matt - February 10, 2015

Addition to my comment aboth: It is my believe that such a mission shall be done it we can reach the 700 AU in about 10 years flight (scientists shall not wait longer as in case of New Horizon). Such a objective requires about a velocity of 350 km/s or 20-times of that what we achieved up to now.

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