Friday, January 31, 2014

The Search for Extra-solar Planetary Systems and the Search for Life In the Universe

Kepler Space Telescope

Had Carl Sagan been alive today he would have been extremely thrilled with the fact that new extra solar planetary systems are being discovered almost on a weekly basis. New planets mean more potential abodes for life and perhaps consciousness elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond.

An artist's conception shows the multiple planet system around a star designated HR 8799. The planets were seen directly in infrared wavelengths by the Gemini North telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory.

Today on Far Future Horizons we will be presenting six feature documentaries concerning the search for extra-solar planetary systems and the concomitant search for life and sentience throughout the Cosmos.

Also as our space missions to the outer solar system have revealed there are over a hundred other exotic worlds in our solar system that hold the promise of life. The moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, each a world in its own right. So join us on the most exciting odyssey made possible by the science of our age as we explore a plethora of Alien Worlds and Moons and embark on an Alien Safari.

An artist's concept of the planet HR 8799b (NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon/STScI)

Finally we look at the latest tool to be deployed in the search for worlds very much like our own- NASA’s NASA Kepler mission, which was launched on March 7, 2009. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Island One - Settlements in Space

A friend of mine by the name of Adam Manning, posted a short introductory film about the Island One space settlement concept on YouTube. This conceptual space colony is also referred to as a Bernal Sphere, after the space visionary James Desmond Bernal, who first proposed it back in 1929 in his book “The World, the Flesh and the Devil”.

This ideal was later championed by Gerard K. O'Neill in his book “The High Frontier.” This presentation is a concise, yet very informative look at O’Neil’s central ideas relating to the settlement and colonization of space and what that might mean for humanity.

Secrets of the Stone Age 1: The Wisdom of the Stones

Today on Far Future Horizons we begin a three-part series titled "Secrets of the Stone Age" in which anthropologist and author Richard Rudgley sets off on an epic journey back in time and around the world to discover the real roots of civilization.

Ġgantija temples on the Island of Gozo, Malta

In the first episode of this series “The Wisdom of the Stones” Richard Rudgley travels from New York to the Pyramids and beyond in search of evidence of writing, medicine and architecture from the Neolithic or New Stone Age (8000 – 3000 BC) way before conventional history says they existed. It was the time when human beings embarked on a bold experiment, settling down in fixed communities – and establishing a style of living that still exists today.

Voyage to Pandora: Humanity's First Interstellar Flight

Today on Far Future Horizons we take an imaginary voyage to the world of Pandora depicted in the motion picture Avatar and look at the possibility of humanity one day taking a very real interstellar odyssey to worlds beyond our solar system.

The setting of the movie Avatar takes place in the year 2154 on the terrestrial like moon of Pandora.

Pandora is a lush, Earth-like moon of the planet Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system. Pandora is inhabited by the Na'vi, a ten-foot-tall blue-skinned species of sapient humanoids, who live in harmony with nature, worshiping a mother goddess called Eywa.

Its location is a real place - Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to our Sun and the most likely destination for our first journey beyond the solar system.

Remarkably, it is anti-matter, the science fiction fuel of choice that could take us there. Normally, it's only created in powerful jets that roar out of black holes. We can now produce small quantities in Earth-bound particle colliders. Will we journey out only to plunder other worlds? Or will we come in peace? The answer may depend on how we view our home world, the Earth, at that time in the distant future.

Time Travel - The Truth

The Principle Behind Dr. Ronald Mallett’s Time Machine

Is time travel possible? It was long relegated to the realm of science fiction, but some scientists now believe that time travel is not only possible but inevitable.

Albert Einstein redefined our understanding about the nature of gravity and showed us we inhabit a universe in which the very fabric of space-time is malleable and can be warped by any object with mass. But, what happens when space-time is not only warped but twisted? And, could this be done with the help of a laser beam?

Ancient Aliens Debunked

Today on Far Future Horizons it gives us great pleasure to present a full length documentary that refutes and debunks the pseudo-historical, pseudo-scientific, pseudo-archaeological evidence and other outlandish claims presented by the History Channel’s prime time documentary series Ancient Aliens

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sky at Night ~ Bases on the Moon (1963)

Today on Far Future Horizons we present an episode of the late Patrick Moore’s highly acclaimed television series The Sky at Night from 1963 featuring the late Arthur C. Clarke titled Bases on the Moon.

Many of the early Sky at Night programmes were destroyed or lost from the BBC library. Recently this early and very rare programme from 1963 with Arthur C Clarke, was discovered in an African TV station. Patrick and Arthur were both members of the British Interplanetary Society and here they discuss bases on the Moon and Mars. Arthur C Clarke made very few interviews, so this really is a broadcasting gem- once lost, but now found.

Five Ways To Save The World

How will humanity survive the coming century if our global civilization never manages to overcome its addiction to fossil fuels, curb carbon emissions and global warming continues unabated? What effect will a four degree Celsius rise in temperature have for our planet and the future prospects of our world’s ability to support and sustain a global population of some nine billion people?

The World: 40C Warmer

According to an article by Gaia Vince from the weekly science magazine New Scientist of February 25, 2009 the human species is facing a major existential risk that places our long term future into question. We face a nightmarish scenario:

ALLIGATORS basking off the English coast; a vast Brazilian desert; the mythical lost cities of Saigon, New Orleans, Venice and Mumbai; and 90 per cent of humanity vanished. Welcome to the world warmed by 4 °C.

The Earth of the year 2099 may be so altered by global warming and sea level rise that the carrying capacity of our planet is debilitated to the extent that we may see a massive die off of the human species and may face the prospect of a massive relocation effort of its surviving members to the few remaining slivers of land that can sustain them.

If humanity does indeed face such a bleak prospect then it has clearly reached the point in its history where it must take a more active role in managing its planet and all its life sustaining resources as well as the activities of its inhabitants on an unprecedented scale.

Clearly this is a vision of the future that no one wants, but it might happen. Fearing that the best efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions may fail, or that planetary climate feedback mechanisms will accelerate warming, some scientists and economists are considering not only what this world of the future might be like, but how it could sustain a growing human population. They argue that surviving in the kinds of numbers that exist today, or even more, will be possible, but only if we use our uniquely human ingenuity to cooperate as a species to radically reorganise our world.

In Search of Mermaids

Today on Far Future Horizons we present an alternate history of hominid evolution. What if early humans branched off into two major subdivisions? One branch adapting to an entirely terrestrial existence, the pedigree that gave rise to Homo sapiens, the other settling to an entirely aquatic existence, the lineage that eventually gave rise to aquatic humanoids (or Aquanoids), the mermaids of myth and legend. This was the main thrust of the mock documentary “Mermaids: The Body Found” which first aired in the United States on May 27th, 2012.

As mock documentaries (or mockumentaries) go I rather liked “Mermaids: The Body Found” because the scenes depicting the early evolution of Mermaids from Aquatic Apes is very reminiscent of Elaine Morgan’s work in connection to the Aquatic Ape hypothesis. This mockumentary does an excellent job of presenting a plausible, even if doubtful, scientific hypothesis of how Aquatic humanoids could have evolved. No fossil evidence has yet come to light that supports the Aquatic Ape hypothesis . Nor has any evidence of aquatic humanoids ever been found.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NASA's Day of Remembrance

Today on Far Future Horizon we join with NASA in a Day of Remembrance  to honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting the agency's missions.

NASA's Day of Remembrance 

The Aquatic Ape

In Reverend Charles Kingsley’s satirical novel “The Water Babies” his central protagonist Tom, a young chimney sweep, dies and is transformed into a "water baby". 

The novel is both a critique of Victorian England’s treatment of the poor and the closed-minded approaches of many scientists of the day in their response to Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.

The Water Babies was also a portent of things to come in the field of human evolution.  A century after Kinsley’s novel many paleoanthropologists were to greet another theory concerning the distinctly aquatic origins of modern humans with equal vitriolic scorn.

When Space Changed History

Today on Far Future Horizons we present an exciting episode of the acclaimed documentary series The Universe which examines how objects from space may have altered the course of Earth's history.

Monday, January 27, 2014

95 Worlds and Counting

All These Worlds Are Our's Including Europa.

Today on Far Future Horizons we take an exciting voyage to some of the most exotic worlds in our solar system - the moons of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, each a world in its own right in this exciting documentary which first aired on the Discovery Channel in the year 2000.

Real Life Time Travellers

"The thing the Time Traveller held in his hand was a glittering metallic framework, scarcely larger than a small clock, and very delicately made. There was ivory in it, and some transparent crystalline substance. And now I must be explicit, for this that follows--unless his explanation is to be accepted--is an absolutely unaccountable thing. He took one of the small octagonal tables that were scattered about the room, and set it in front of the fire, with two legs on the hearthrug. On this table he placed the mechanism. Then he drew up a chair, and sat down. The only other object on the table was a small shaded lamp, the bright light of which fell upon the model. There were also perhaps a dozen candles about, two in brass candlesticks upon the mantel and several in sconces, so that the room was brilliantly illuminated. I sat in a low arm-chair nearest the fire, and I drew this forward so as to be almost between the Time Traveller and the fireplace. Filby sat behind him, looking over his shoulder. The Medical Man and the Provincial Mayor watched him in profile from the right, the Psychologist from the left. The Very Young Man stood behind the Psychologist. We were all on the alert. It appears incredible to me that any kind of trick, however subtly conceived and however adroitly done, could have been played upon us under these conditions.

The Time Traveller looked at us, and then at the mechanism. `Well?' said the Psychologist.

`This little affair,' said the Time Traveller, resting his elbows upon the table and pressing his hands together above the apparatus, `is only a model. It is my plan for a machine to travel through time. You will notice that it looks singularly askew, and that there is an odd twinkling appearance about this bar, as though it was in some way unreal.' He pointed to the part with his finger. `Also, here is one little white lever, and here is another.'

The Medical Man got up out of his chair and peered into the thing. `It's beautifully made,' he said.

`It took two years to make,' retorted the Time Traveller. Then, when we had all imitated the action of the Medical Man, he said: `Now I want you clearly to understand that this lever, being pressed over, sends the machine gliding into the future, and this other reverses the motion. This saddle represents the seat of a time traveller. Presently I am going to press the lever, and off the machine will go. It will vanish, pass into future Time, and disappear. Have a good look at the thing. Look at the table too, and satisfy yourselves there is no trickery. I don't want to waste this model, and then be told I'm a quack.'

There was a minute's pause perhaps. The Psychologist seemed about to speak to me, but changed his mind. Then the Time Traveller put forth his finger towards the lever. `No,' he said suddenly. `Lend me your hand.' And turning to the Psychologist, he took that individual's hand in his own and told him to put out his forefinger. So that it was the Psychologist himself who sent forth the model Time Machine on its interminable voyage. We all saw the lever turn. I am absolutely certain there was no trickery. There was a breath of wind, and the lamp flame jumped. One of the candles on the mantel was blown out, and the little machine suddenly swung round, became indistinct, was seen as a ghost for a second perhaps, as an eddy of faintly glittering brass and ivory; and it was gone--vanished! Save for the lamp the table was bare.

Everyone was silent for a minute. Then Filby said he was damned.

The Psychologist recovered from his stupor, and suddenly looked under the table. At that the Time Traveller laughed cheerfully. `Well?' he said, with a reminiscence of the Psychologist. Then, getting up, he went to the tobacco jar on the mantel, and with his back to us began to fill his pipe.

We stared at each other. `Look here,' said the Medical Man, `are you in earnest about this? Do you seriously believe that that machine has travelled into time?'

`Certainly,' said the Time Traveller, stooping to light a spill at the fire. Then he turned, lighting his pipe, to look at the Psychologist's face. (The Psychologist, to show that he was not unhinged, helped himself to a cigar and tried to light it uncut.) `What is more, I have a big machine nearly finished in there'--he indicated the laboratory--`and when that is put together I mean to have a journey on my own account.'

`You mean to say that that machine has travelled into the future?' said Filby.

`Into the future or the past--I don't, for certain, know which.'

After an interval the Psychologist had an inspiration. `It must have gone into the past if it has gone anywhere,' he said.

`Why?' said the Time Traveller.

`Because I presume that it has not moved in space, and if it travelled into the future it would still be here all this time, since it must have travelled through this time.'

`But,' I said, `If it travelled into the past it would have been visible when we came first into this room; and last Thursday when we were here; and the Thursday before that; and so forth!'

`Serious objections,' remarked the Provincial Mayor, with an air of impartiality, turning towards the Time Traveller.

`Not a bit,' said the Time Traveller, and, to the Psychologist: `You think. You can explain that. It's presentation below the threshold, you know, diluted presentation.'

`Of course,' said the Psychologist, and reassured us. `That's a simple point of psychology. I should have thought of it. It's plain enough, and helps the paradox delightfully. We cannot see it, nor can we appreciate this machine, any more than we can the spoke of a wheel spinning, or a bullet flying through the air. If it is travelling through time fifty times or a hundred times faster than we are, if it gets through a minute while we get through a second, the impression it creates will of course be only one-fiftieth or one-hundredth of what it would make if it were not travelling in time. That's plain enough.' He passed his hand through the space in which the machine had been. `You see?' he said, laughing.

We sat and stared at the vacant table for a minute or so. Then the Time Traveller asked us what we thought of it all.

`It sounds plausible enough to-night,' said the Medical Man; 'but wait until to-morrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.'

`Would you like to see the Time Machine itself?' asked the Time Traveller. And therewith, taking the lamp in his hand, he led the way down the long, draughty corridor to his laboratory. I remember vividly the flickering light, his queer, broad head in silhouette, the dance of the shadows, how we all followed him, puzzled but incredulous, and how there in the laboratory we beheld a larger edition of the little mechanism which we had seen vanish from before our eyes. Parts were of nickel, parts of ivory, parts had certainly been filed or sawn out of rock crystal. The thing was generally complete, but the twisted crystalline bars lay unfinished upon the bench beside some sheets of drawings, and I took one up for a better look at it. Quartz it seemed to be.

`Look here,' said the Medical Man, `are you perfectly serious? Or is this a trick--like that ghost you showed us last Christmas?'

`Upon that machine,' said the Time Traveller, holding the lamp aloft, `I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was never more serious in my life.'

None of us quite knew how to take it.

I caught Filby's eye over the shoulder of the Medical Man, and he winked at me solemnly.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Is time travel possible? Would you like to become a real life Chrononaut? Will we ever be able to transverse the fourth dimension as easily as we transverse the three spatial dimensions of length, breath and height? And if it were possible to travel through time freely what will this reveal to us about the fundamental nature of reality? Will our forays into the fourth dimension reveal to us that we inhabit an infinite multiverse were any conceivable historic outcome is possible? Will we discover alternate realities in which Hitler was victorious and the Nazis won the Second World War or the American Revolution ended in disaster for the American Colonists and the British still rule the Americas? Or will we discover that time is in fact linear and that altering history will lead to strange mind boggling paradoxes?

Today we explore these questions on Far Future Horizons.

Frankenstein - The True Story

The story of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley or as it is known by its alternative title “The Modern Prometheus”, has thrilled, frightened and chilled us in equal measure since it was first published in anonymously in London in 1818.

Here is the fascinating story behind the genesis of this novel:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The War of the Worlds and Beyond

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.               ~ H.G Wells, The War of the Worlds (1898)

Thus began H.G. Wells’ legendary novel of the Martian assault of planet Earth. This novel started a whole genre of alien invasion literature that has been one of the mainstays of science fiction ever since. 

Our Incredible Space Station Luna

"If God wanted man to become a spacefaring species, He would have given man a moon." ~ Krafft Ehricke

The Moon will play an important role in humanity’s future expansion into space. A revitalized manned lunar exploration program over the next ten years is the only next logical step if our planetary culture is truly going to evolve into a spacefaring civilization.

An Early Lunar Outpost

Today’s video selection takes a closer look at our nearest neighbor in space in all its majesty and mystery and the role it played in shaping the geological and biological development of our own world. We will also glimpse the brave new era of lunar exploration and the incredible potential of using lunar resources in jump starting the second phase of the Space Age with the goal of establishing a permanent human presence in the high frontier of space.

Lunar Base

This second era of lunar exploration will be much more exciting and inspiring for it will help to create a new branch of human civilization out amongst the stars.

A Lunar Biospheric Colony

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Known Universe - Construction Zone

The inside of the O'Neil colony that can house cities, rolling mountains and cloud formations.

Humanity may one day make its home amongst the stars. Our ability to build large scale structures in outer space will make that vision a reality. Engineering in space represents the future of human civilization, but also poses some of our greatest technical challenges.

Today on Far Future Horizons we present an exciting episode of the acclaimed documentary series the Known Universe – Construction Zone.

Evacuate Earth

"Since, in the long run, every planetary society will be endangered by impacts from space, every surviving civilization is obliged to become spacefaring--not because of exploratory or romantic zeal, but for the most practical reason imaginable: staying alive."  ~ Carl Sagan

Today on Far Future Horizons we examine a nightmarish scenario namely the imminent countdown to the destruction of our home planet and our immediate necessity to evacuate the Earth.  

Destination Mars

Today on Far Future Horizons we present a Discovery Channel documentary produced in 1996 titled Destination Mars, about the possibility of human missions to the red planet.

Ever since ancient astronomers noticed its strange movements in the night sky, Mars has always been our exploration goal.

This film looks at how scientists have begun to unravel the mysteries of the Red Planet and are planning to send humans there.

To Mars and Beyond by A-Bomb

Project Orion represents one of the grandest and most audacious “might have beens” in the fifty year history of space exploration. I have a special interest in this particular project because Project Orion may yet serve as an essential element in a future planetary defence project as George Dyson has hinted in a recent TED talk presentation.

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the BBC documentary To Mars By A-Bomb - The Secret History of Project Orion.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Someday Somewhere Beyond - Colonizing Space

The visualizations in “Someday Somewhere Beyond” were created by Bryan Versteeg, based on a proposal by Al Globus, a NASA researcher who has gathered an enormous online archive of resources and historic images of NASA’s space settlement proposals to “bring space to life and life to space.”

Today on Far Future Horizons we take an exciting look at humanity’s future in space as envision by students who were inspired by such bold visionaries as Gerald K. O’Neil and Robert Zubrin.

Living, Loving and Dying in Space

"Lovers in Space" - OUT OF THE CRADLE by Pamela Lee from Out of the Cradle; copyrighted material 1984. Many thanks Pam for your kind help.

Someday humanity will leave its planetary abode and will eventually embark on the grand enterprise of humanizing the high and final frontier of space. This will be a venture that will benefit humanity and transform it into a multi-planetary species. As humankind expands its presence beyond the confines of its single planet it will face high adventure, make new and exciting discoveries and confront many new challenges and dangers. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Humans v2.0:Human Evolution at the Cross Roads

Will the human species take the course of its own future evolution into its hands as a result of advances in genetic engineering and the merging of the human mind with advanced computer technologies?

We are approaching a very uncertain future beyond which we can barely glimpse. On our immediate horizon lies Vernor Vinge's "
Singularity", the point at which computers reach and surpass human intelligence. Will humans become extinct or will we merge with our machines in a symbiosis that will create a new player in the future evolutionary story of planet Earth. We are at the cross roads of evolution and what really lies ahead is anybody’s guess.

In the following BBC Horizon documentary meet the scientific prophets who claim we are on the verge of creating a new type of human - a human v2.0.

Can We Make It To Mars?

Today on Far Future Horizons we explore the question - Can humans survive a trip to Mars and back that could take two to three years?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Voyage to Mars as Envisioned by Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter’s alternate-history novel “Voyage” envisions a possible manned mission to Mars employing Apollo–Skylab technology. Written back in 1996 Voyage is a wonderful novel outlining in detail a possible Post-Apollo Space Program that could have place people on Mars as early as 1986.

Baxter’s novel is epic in scope and spans a period of time from 1963 to 1986 interweaving real history with his alternate timeline. In this alternate history John F. Kennedy survives the assassin’s bullet in 1963 (although Jackie was killed) and steps down from office. Vice president Lyndon B. Johnson serves out the rest of Kennedy’s term of office and wins the 1964 presidential election and remains in office until 1968. On the day of the Apollo 11 Moon landing former president Kennedy sets into motion a series of events that will culminate with humans setting foot on Mars on March 28th, 1986.

Voyage is a thoroughly enjoyable novel and a very realistic depiction of a doable but very risky Mars mission scenario utilizing Apollo technology to its limits.

The Day I Died: Can Science Provide Proof for Life After Death?

Can the mind survive the death of the body and does life exist after death? These are questions central to many of the world’s religious faiths. Can science provide answers to these questions?

“The Day I Died” is one of the very few documentaries concerning the
Near Death Experience (NDE) that has really aroused my interest to the point of taking a serious look at the scientific research going on in this fringe science. This documentary highlights the serious yet somewhat controversial scientific research being conducted on Out of Body Experiences (OBEs) and Near Death Experiences (NDEs).

Modern Marvels - Doomsday Tech

Today on Far Future Horizons we explore the technologies that can either ensure the long term survival of the human species or lead to its ultimate extinction.

Does the human species have the technology to prevent its own extinction from an asteroid? Can we wipe out our own species by a super engineered disease? Cyber terrorism, genetic engineering are just some scenarios for a twenty-first century doomsday.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2057 - The Future Is Nearer than you think

Today on Far Future Horizons we present a documentary series hosted by theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku titled "2057".

2057 is a Discovery Channel television trilogy which premiered on the Discovery Channel on January 28, 2007 and attempts to predict what the world will be like in 50 years based on current trends. The show takes the form of a docu-drama with the three separate episodes, each having informative stories ingrained into the plot. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why Ancient Egypt Fell

Once the envy of the ancient world, the mighty civilization of Egypt stood for thousands of years until it underwent a swift decline and eventual fall. Find out how such a magnificent empire could collapse so entirely given its wealth, power and rich culture.

Preventing Armageddon

Sooner or later without warning the human species will face a natural calamity which will threaten our existence. 

Today on Far Future Horizons we present another episode of the acclaimed  National Geographic documentary series Naked Science which explores the technologies that will ensure the long term survival of the human species and prevent Armageddon.