To find out, the European Science Foundation (ESF), European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) are co-hosting a conference in Vienna, on 11-12 October 2007, at which humanist scholars and space scientists will come together, for the first time in Europe, to discuss humankind’s presence in space from non-traditional perspectives. The conference Humans in Outer Space – Interdisciplinary Odysseys will give guiding insight into how once we find a way to survive in outer space we will also face issues that can be best addressed in the light of modern understanding of historical events.
Issues that conference delegates will explore include the philosophical and theological consequences of contacting alien intelligences, the marketing of space exploration, and the legal frameworks that will be needed if space-faring nations are to co-operate peacefully.
The event is being organised in part by an ESF Steering Committee chaired by Professor Luca Codignola, a historian at the University of Genoa. He is particularly interested in what history can tell us about the challenges we may face if space explorers make contact with alien civilisations.
“The so-called ‘Columbian Exchange’ that took place around 1492 was a typical case in point. It changed the Western way of conceiving the globe; it forcefully challenged its theology; it allowed for a free flow of bacteria, germs and microbes that almost wiped out the American peoples,” he explained.
Professor Codignola prepared for the upcoming Vienna conference by helping to organise a preliminary seminar, held earlier this year in Genoa. The seminar was attended by 21 leading thinkers from diverse humanist and scientific disciplines, 10 of whom presented short papers.
Gísli Pálsson, for example, an anthropologist from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, presented “Lucy in the Sky… Out of Africa, Out of Earth,” in which he looked at whether our understanding of how human cultures interact can help us imagine what it would be like to contact non-human cultures.
The seminar was also attended by a luminary in historical research, Dr Alfred Crosby, who originated the concept of the ‘Columbian Exchange’ in the 1970s. He presented a paper entitled ‘The Space-Roving Human Being and His and Her Inhabitants: Micro-Organisms and Extraterrestrial Travel.”
“The science community does not really seem to be aware of the fact that a number of issues and concerns that they are dealing with, such as the consequences of meeting with unknown pathogens, are known and have long been studied by historians and ethnologists,” Prof Codignola offered.
“As for the humanities scholars, technical difficulties relating to space voyaging and especially its time frame, usually escape them. We all felt it was rather strange that the two groups rarely, if ever, meet to discuss space-related issues,” he added.
The upcoming Vienna conference will feature six successive sessions and 21 speakers. The conclusions from these sessions will be documented by the ESF in a position paper entitled Vienna Vision on Humans in Outer Space. The ESF will distribute this paper to all interested stakeholders in the academic world, space agencies, intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations, the media and politicians involved in space and research-related initiatives.
Prof Kai-Uwe Schrogl, Secretary General of the ESPI and Chair of the conference, commented: “Mankind’s future in outer space will require a comprehensive view including the input in particular by the humanities and social sciences, as well as the reflection of the manifold trans-utilitarian aspects that make space exploration a province of all mankind."
Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich
Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine