Tagged: science fiction

Space art, showing the Earth-like planet Alice with a remarkable landscape full of islands and lakes and in the background gas giant Goliath

Alice and Goliath – two worlds out of many

How many Earth-like planets are there in the universe? In other words: how many doubles does our beautiful water world have? We’ll never get anywhere near an exact answer but “very, very much” is, most likely, pretty close to the truth. There are about 200 billion stars in our own galaxy. The number of galaxies in the universe is, coincidentally, also around 200 billion. So we are talking about roughly 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. Even if only one in a million stars has an Earth-like planet orbiting around it, which seems like a pessimistic estimate, we still have an unimaginable number of...

Artist impression of the interior of a giant hollow asteroid, seen from the shore of a lake, with two men on a wooden pier, looking out towards a city and the hills, lakes and cliffs beyond

Psyche Station: living in an asteroid

Some people use Facebook to watch cat videos or to read fake news. I use this medium for completely different things. A few weeks ago, my attention was triggered by a sketch my Facebook friend Shaun Moss posted. A simple drawing of a fairly extensive project: the excavation of asteroid 16 Psyche for the establishment of a space colony. The blue lines indicate a huge cylindrical space (the distances are in meters). Rotating the big rock around its central axis creates a centrifugal force on the curved walls of the cylinder. That force feels like gravity, like in a spinning washing...

The author with a red jacket on television in a fictional "Summer Guests" talkshow

A Summer Guest in October

Every year in July and August there’s a show, made by VPRO on Dutch television, called Zomergasten (Summer Guests). From eight till eleven PM one guest shows and talks about his favorite television clips. The guests can be anyone, from the prime minister or celebrities from the world of entertainment to scientists or designers who are largely unknown outside their own field of expertise. Whining about the program is a kind of national sport. The skills of the host, the selection of guests and the fragments they choose, the occasions in which everyone is enthousiastic are very rare. One would...

A room with world map Mars 2.0, showing the planet as it may look after terraforming, as decoration on the wall, while Mars rover Sojourner is driving around between the furniture

Mars 2.0 – Return to the Red, Green and Blue Planet

Liquid water has just been found on Mars. The movie The Martian (the perfect blend of Castaway and Apollo 13, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever) is in cinemas right now. And NASA has announced detailed plans to send people to Mars in twenty years. A good moment for me to take a look at the planet again as well. Mars Society Netherlands Mars and I have a long history together. In 1999 I founded, together with Arno Wielders (currently involved in Mars One) the Dutch chapter of the Mars Society in a café in Leiden. In the first...

Impression of The Sulawesi Space Elevator, with a rotating space station and solar panels in the foreground, the Earth in the background and the cable with elevator cars in between.

The Space Elevator: It Ain’t Cheap, But…

An elevator into space: it sounds like science fiction. And that’s what it is: authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Kim Stanley Robinson wrote heavy books about it. But what’s science fiction today, is in the newspaper paper tomorrow and in the history books on the day after. And Arthur C. Clarke has been right more often; after all, he also conceived the communications satellite. An appealing concept In recent years, organizations such as NASA, but also companies like Google, started exploring the possibilities of the space elevator. And the concept certainly has some appeal. The traditional way to get...

Impression of solar sail Johannes Kepler on its way to the moons of Jupiter against a background of stars with the Earth on the left and the moon in the distance

Sailing on the Solar Wind

You can state by now that the wind is a recurring theme in my work. That’s shown most clearly by my triptych about wind energy on the North Sea. But also my plea for the rebuilding of windmill De Noord at Oostplein in Rotterdam fits perfectly into that story. Probably not everyone realizes that there’s wind also beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Another kind of wind, though: solar wind. The particles from which the sunlight is composed exert force on objects that are illuminated by it. Johannes Kepler was, in the 16th century, the first to realize this when he studied...

Orbital image of a terraformed Mars with the Northern ocean and the North Pole, Valles Marineris, Kasei Vallis, Arabia Terra and the Tharsis highlands, against a background of stars

Modified Mars Revisited

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone who asked my permission to use Modified Mars as a setting for a novel. Modified Mars is a project that I conceived eight years ago, and it’s about terraforming the world currently known as the Red Planet. Another Earth A brief explanation for those who rarely or never read science fiction: terraforming (literally earth formation) is the alteration of a planet in such a way that Earth organisms, including humans, can thrive there. Terraformers are especially interested in Mars for several reasons: the planet is not too big, not too...

One hundred pioneers on an epic journey to a new world; still from a fake trailer for the film adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars

Soundtrack for the Mars Trilogy

A still picture doesn’t need any music to go with it but it’s very boring to watch moving images without sound. For that reason, almost everyone who puts movies on YouTube adds music to it, paid or not. At youTube they got a little tired of all the complaints about illegal use of music, which is why they started offering music for free. One hundred pioneers The service has been around for over half a year, but I only found out this week. I immediately made ​​a new version of my trailer for Red Mars, the once to be made...

Ares, the spaceship from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, with the red Planet in the star spangled background

The Ares by Kim Stanley Robinson: a Sustainable Spaceship

Nothing is as good for your spatial understanding as building a 3d model of a spaceship. This is a reconstruction of the Ares from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars, based on the descriptions by Robinson and on the original cover illustration by Don Dixon (which contradict each other at some points). Sustainability The Ares was an early example of sustainable shipbuilding: Robinson, who wrote the book in the early nineties, imagined the Ares being composed of recycled space shuttle tanks. American tanks, recognizable from their brown foam insulation, in the outer ring, and Russian tanks for the central axis. The...