Centauri Oak

One of my favourite blogs is Paul Gilster's Centauri Dreams. The frequency and quality of posts is fantastic!

All the recent news about Proxima b and the Breakthrough Starshot project spurred me to start reading his earlier book by the same name that inspired the blog. I like this bit ...

Even as a starship embodies our dreams, it also casts light on our history. Lord Collingwood (1748-1810) was Nelson's second in command at the battle of Trafalgar, taking command of the fleet when Nelson was mortally wounded. Collingwood knew that the British oak used in ships built during the Napoleonic wars had been planted during the reign of the Stuarts, some two hundred years earlier, and that it had been designed for future use in the Royal Navy. He would go on to encourage plantings of oak that would be ready for the Navy a hundred and fifty years after his death.

In an era of quickly fabricated materials, we forget our once deep reliance on the slow processes of nature, and the need to adapt to their rhythms. Interstellar flight demands perspectives as profoundly attuned to its goals as those of Collingwood's foresters, and a commitment to what Tennyson once called "the long result of time." Alpha Centauri, or other dazzling, distant targets like Epsilon Eridani or Tau Ceti, may one day help us recalibrate our vision, while reminding us that no worthwhile goal has ever been easy [emphasis added]. (p29-30)

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