- gave a talk at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of many of their projects involved with nanotech.
- took part in a 100 Year Starship Symposium and, in the process, was a panelist for Science Fiction Stories Night.
- attended a lecture on the state of fusion energy research, cosponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the National Electronics Museum.
On to starships ...
100YSS.org began with seed money from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- the same bunch who gave us the Internet and have contributed greatly toward the development of self-driving cars -- and NASA. Why do that? What is 100 Year Starship about? In 100YSS's words:
We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years. We unreservedly dedicate ourselves to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight, while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth. We actively seek to include the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration.
The recently completed annual symposium offered some of, well, everything a space-travel enthusiast could want. Speculative presentations, to be sure, about far-out propulsion methods and energy-storage systems of vast capacity. Insights into the state of SETI. The challenges of building closed-loop environmental systems robust and adaptable enough to sustain a crew for years -- if not decades or generations. Space elevators. Governance of future extra-solar colonies. Communications with extra-solar colonies. The social, cultural, and educational challenges of creating and maintaining broad, general interest in such a bold, long-term project. And much, much more, from an event membership well leavened with academics, industry scientists, and the occasional astronaut.
|And I call this work?|
And finally, on to the lecture on fusion research ...
|The fusion lecture|
It sure would be nice to have clean, limitless energy. Alas, it seems that commercial-scale fusion power generation won't come about -- even if all goes well -- for several decades.
There will be plenty of grist for the authorial mill from my participating in these three events. Beginning (as I take my leave) with that mystery, nanotech-intensive novel ...