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Interstellar Migration and the Human Experience (Los Alamos Series in Basic and Applied Sciences) Paperback – August 19, 1986


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Product Details

  • Series: Los Alamos Series in Basic and Applied Sciences
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (August 19, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520058984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520058989
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,815,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ray Van De Walker on September 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
The better nuts and bolts books about interstellar travel cover propulsion. This one is different. It compares interstellar migration to the only comparable effort ever before made by people, the exploration and conquest of the Pacific Ocean islands by Polynesians in outrigged canoes.

I think the most interesting articles for me were about the economic and genetic effects. For example, economically, colonists in a starship may find it very difficult to take enough skilled people with them (10,000!) to maintain an industrial civilization. Also, ramping up the tools, the physical capital, to actually settle a distant solar system is not credible with actual, existing systems: We need to minimize the shipped mass, so we start with... a blacksmith hammer and build Western Civilization? How much stuff do we take? Or the genetic founder effect: How many people is the minimum for a genetically stable population? Well, if they are from different ethnic groups, maybe as few as four to six mothers, and a sperm bank. Otherwise, about 300 is the minimum (ouch).

If you care about this stuff, get the book. It's cheap at the price.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Most other books about interstellar travel are the same, talking about only the technology. But this one talks about the human part of it. The ideas range from "why do it?" to "it's all sooo easy!". The multiple viewpoints are very interesting. I would recommend this to anyone interested in science fiction and/or space travel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Woodrow W. Denham on December 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since more than 850 extrasolar planets have been discovered and the search has only begun, it may be time to reconsider issues raised at the 1983 Los Alamos Conference on Interstellar Migration; namely, technology, demography, comparisons of migrating societies, speciation and SETI.

Science fiction often disregards the hard parts and cuts directly to the end results, but the Los Alamos conference decidedly focused on the hard parts of the human experience. Will we travel to other solar systems in fast ships that require tremendous amounts of power, or in slow ships that hitch rides through interstellar space with comets that happen to be going our way? Will we travel in small, compact groups (maybe 25 or fewer people) that may just barely sustain viable human biological populations, or in large groups (thousands or tens of thousands) that might be able to sustain the social, intellectual, artistic, and technical complexity of human civilizations? When we migrate, will we take our tecdhnology with us at great cost, send it on ahead to meet us there at much less cost, or travel only with something equivalent to a stone ax? Will we model our migrations on the concept of the ark whereby we cut free from our past cultures, or on the concept of the colony whereby we remain tethered to our home planet and culture? What can we learn from comparative studies of migrations over the last 10,000 years of human history on Earth? Will migrating populations diverge to form new species, and if so, how should we view the ethics of such transformations? With all of those observed exoplanets out there, we must wonder when, not whether, SETI will reveal new forms of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Perhaps the assumptions underlying all of these questions are wrong.
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