From a leading planetary scientist and an award-winning science writer: a propulsive account of the developments and initiatives that have transformed the dream of space colonization into something that may well be achievable.
We are at the cusp of a golden age in space science, as increasingly more entrepreneurs - Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos - are seduced by the commercial potential of human access to space. But Beyond Earth does not offer another wide-eyed technology fantasy: instead it is grounded not only in the human capacity for invention and the appeal of adventure but also in the bureaucratic, political, and scientific realities that present obstacles to space travel - realities that have hampered NASA's efforts ever since the Challenger fiasco. In Beyond Earth, the authors offer groundbreaking research and argue persuasively that not Mars but Titan - a moon of Saturn with a nitrogen atmosphere, a weather cycle, and an inexhaustible supply of cheap energy, where we will be able to fly like birds in the minimal gravitational field - offers the most realistic and thrilling prospect of life without support from Earth.
©2016 Charles Wohlforth and Amanda R. Hendrix (P)2016 Random House Audio
"An engaging mind game. It's hard not to get swept up in the authors' wide-ranging enthusiasm for space exploration and settlement. They find optimism in some surprising places - even in the gloomy prospects for our current planetary home." (Tom Kizzia, author of Pilgrim's Wilderness)
"Long ago I'd come to doubt that humans might ever leave this planet to homestead another. But this impeccably researched, imaginative, and gracefully written book seized me right from its introduction and kept me rapt to the end, rooting for our future. Beyond Earth is epic science writing, the rare kind that I can't get out of my mind - or my dreams." (Alan Weisman, author of Countdown)
"Beyond Earth is an important contribution. It's a thought-provoking introduction to our unlimited future in the outer solar system and beyond." (S. Pete Worden, executive director, Breakthrough StarShot; former NASA Ames Center director)
This is one of the most disappointing books I've read in a long time. The authors spend half the time painting a dystopian global warming future as the "motivation" for leaving the planet. Never mind that the society they describe would not have the discretionary resources to support such an investment, or that they've cherry picked the worst case scenarios to build this future, this odiversion has nothing to do with the actual subject of the book.
To be clear, I believe we face a real problem with global warming. If I wanted a book on climate change, I would have bought one, but not this one. In dealing with both planetary science, space exploration, and climate change, the authors make broad generalizations to support questionable conclusions. There was some interesting material sprinkled in, but I find it suspect based on the other material.
According to these authors
- NASA is an incompetent, closed minded bureaucracy (not entirely untrue, but not credible as presented)
- There is no point in going back to the moon, or going to Mars
- Titan will be a garden spot with beaches and people flying under their own power
- The ocean will rise and swallow the cities overnight, but people won't be smart enough to move inland. The rich will move to fortress homes in the mountains. In the midst of this, someone is building great spaceships.
The strangest part is that the book starts by talking about the difficulties predicting the future, and describes how one person accurately predicted the future of the airline industry. They show how the prediction was based on simple extrapolation of existing technology and basic consideration of economic incentives. It's as if that chapter was never considered again, because the authors certainly didn't take that approach. That approach would put us establishing and growing a settlement on the moon, not leaping to Titan.
I must admit, this review is only based on the first five chapters. I'm not going to waste any more time. There are much better books on the subject.
Yes...as a space cowboy this book is loaded with information...Titan is the tight choice and the exchange between now and future is a fine frame.
The settlement of Titan
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