“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but it is impossible to live forever in the cradle”
Interstellar flight is a human journey, even if we never get off this planet.
As long as people have been gazing into the night sky, we’ve wondered: “what’s out there?” When we learned those stars were other suns with other worlds around them, we wanted to go there. Even today, with no starships at our docks, the allure is strong. It is in our science fiction. It is in our folklore about alien expectations. It is in our soul to wonder about our place in the Universe.
Getting there is another matter, which includes both technical challenges and human factors – the influence from, and on, society. If our culture perceives star flight to be too far, too expensive, or simply irrelevant, then humanity will be stuck here no matter what technology could achieve.
Making Life Better Today
It is hoped that this pursuit will give people something positive to work toward.
- Conquer frontiers together, instead of conquering each other
- A challenge so provoking as to bring out our best
- A neutral venue to responsibly solve contentious societal questions (world ships: sustainable population limits, governance, life purpose, etc.)
- Technological spinoffs from revolutionary pursuits instead of just innovations
How will humanity's views change when:
- The first habitable world is discovered?
- Extraterrestrial intelligence is detected?
Starflight will enable humanity to advance beyond our solar system, opening vast opportunities never before possible.
It will also raise profound questions:
- Colony ships – Who goes, with what cultures, united or independent?
- New worlds – Are they ours to inhabit?
- New life – Are we predators or co-inhabitants?
- New civilizations – Friend or Foe? Will we be like the bad guys depicted in our own alien visitation fiction?
- Harnessing energy levels great enough to vaporize the surface of planets – How do we become responsible stewards of such prowess?
How humanity will make or break our future
Will humanity establish homesteads beyond Earth before going extinct on Earth?
Today, we do not have solid estimates to compare the pace of our progress to how much time we have left on Earth. Provisional estimates suggest that we are still two centuries away from star flight at our current rate of advancement [Millis 2010]. On the other hand, we have 500 million years before life on Earth is certain to end [Dorminey 2010], but several risks already exist today (doomsday asteroids, calderas, disease and famine, climate change, over-population, war, etc.).
What will it take to accelerate our progress toward living beyond our planet, and decelerate the rate at which we are risking our own extinction?
Accelerating Starflight Progress
- Find the pioneers and support them to make progress.
- Apply the scientific method.
- Use science fiction to depict possible futures, and inspire the best choices.
- Break habit of waiting until the last minute to start solving the problem.
- Break habit of premature choice.
- Break habit of non-essential distractions.
Decelerating Extinction Risks
- Stop population growth before reaching unsustainable level.
- Prevent possibility of global war.
- Repair Global Warming.
- Predict and mitigate risk of killer asteroids.
- Predict and mitigate risk of calderas.
- Predict and mitigate risk of famine and disease.
- Predict and mitigate loss of Earth's protective magnetic field.
The Tau Zero Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to pioneering advancements toward interstellar flight.