I finished this book a couple of days ago. It's basically a review of all the methods we could use to send a probe to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri. Ramjets, solar sails, anti-matter, fusion - Gilster covers it all. He discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each approach .. and basically right now the disadvantages outweigh everything. We could do it, but the cost would be abhorrently high, it would take hundreds (if not thousands) of years for the probe to reach its destination, and so on.
Overall I liked this book ... then again I love astronomy so I'm a bit biased. This book makes you respect and appreciate the tremendous distances we need to cover just to reach our closest star outside our solar system. Barring some phenominal breakthrough in warp drive technology, we're going to have to think long, long-term missions to pull it off. Humans are out of the picture right now as well, so we'd need to have autonomous systems in place to survive the journey. There are some slow spots in the book and the writing wavers a bit here and there, but it's a nice book that keeps its feet in reality. It doesn't want you to stop dreaming of exploring space, though, and maybe ... someday ... we'll get there.
* Posted at 12.30.2009 07:20:22 PM CST | Link *